Frank, the Young Naturalist
Part 2 out of 4
Hastily casting his eyes over the group that surrounded him, he
discovered that Frank and Harry, the ones he most feared, were still
absent. This was exactly what he had wished for. With the assistance
of his companions, the Rangers, who, he was confident, would uphold
him, he could settle up all old scores, without fear of suffering in
Addressing himself to James, he continued, in an insulting tone,
"We don't go to get the game to _eat_, you blockhead, but only for
the sport of killing it."
"I know that," answered James, in a mild voice, not the least
disconcerted by the other's furious manner; "but wouldn't it be better
"Shut up!" shouted Charles. "I'll do just as I please. Besides, I
never allow any one to dictate to me."
"I didn't intend to dictate at all, Charley. I was going to say--"
"Are you going to keep still," roared the bully, "or shall I make
And he began to advance toward James.
"See here, old fellow," said Ben. Lake, suddenly striding up, and
placing himself directly in front of Charles, "don't begin another
"I'll show you whether I will or not!" exclaimed Charles; and, turning
to the Rangers, he continued, "Come on, boys! We can have things all
our own way now. We'll see if--"
"Hold on!" shouted William Johnson. "Here comes Frank. Now you had
better take yourself off in a hurry."
Charles's hostile demonstrations ceased in an instant; and, hastily
whispering a few words to the Rangers, they disappeared.
In a few moments, Frank, accompanied by George and Harry, arrived,
and the boys, in a few words, explained to them what had just
"I hope," said Frank, "that Charley will see, before long, how
unreasonably he acts. He makes himself, and every one around him,
"Well," said James Porter, "all I have got to say is that those
fellows who go with him are very foolish. However, we can't help it.
But, come," he added, "we were trying to find some pleasant way of
spending the Fourth."
"Let's have a picnic on Strawberry Island," said one.
"We want something exciting," said another "Let's have a boat-race."
"Come, Frank," said Ben. Lake, "let's hear what you have got to say.
"Well," answered Frank, who was always ready with some plan for
amusement, "I have been thinking, for two or three days, of something
which, I believe, will afford us a great deal of sport. In the first
place, I suppose, we are all willing to pass part of the day on the
"Yes, of course," answered the boys.
"The next thing," continued Frank, "is to ascertain how many
sail-boats we can raise."
"I'll bring mine."
"And mine," called out several voices.
"Oh, that's no way to do business," exclaimed William Johnson, who
always liked to see things go off in order. "Let all those who have
boats hold up their hands."
Sixteen hands came up, and Frank said,
"We shall be gone all day, and, of course, we want plenty of
"Well, then, what I thought of proposing is this: Let us take three or
four of the swiftest sailing-boats, and give the provisions into their
charge, and call them smugglers, and let the other boats play the part
of revenue-cutters, or a blockading squadron, and let the smugglers
try to land the provisions on Strawberry Island, without being
"That's capital!" shouted several.
"It's better than shooting game, at this time of year," said one.
"Yes, and being scolded all day by that tyrant," observed another, who
had belonged to the Regulators.
"It will take some time to make all our arrangements," said William,
"and I move that we adjourn to our house, where we can hold our
meeting in order."
This was readily assented to, and William led the way, followed by all
the boys, who were highly delighted at Frank's plan of spending the
George Butler was speedily chosen president of the meeting, and, in
less than half an hour, their arrangements were completed.
The Speedwell, Champion, and Alert--the latter a fine little schooner,
owned by George and Harry--were to act the part of smugglers, and Ben.
Lake and Thomas Benton, who had no boats, were chosen by the smugglers
to assist them. The provisions, of which each boy was expected to
furnish his share, were all to be left at Mr. Butler's boat-house by
six o'clock on the following evening, where they were to be taken
charge of by the smugglers, of whom Frank was chosen leader. It was
also understood that the smugglers were to carry the provisions all in
one boat, and were to be allowed to take every possible advantage of
the "men-o'-war," and to make every effort to land the provisions on
The other thirteen boats, which were to act as "coast-guards," were to
be under the command of Charles Sheldon, a shrewd, cunning fellow, who
had the reputation of being able to handle a sail-boat as well as any
boy in the village.
The coast-guards were also divided into divisions of three boats each,
and a captain was appointed for each division.
These arrangements, as we have said, were speedily completed; and,
although the coast-guards were almost wild with delight at the
prospect of the exciting times that would occur during the race, they
were confident that the smugglers could be easily caught, and even
some of the smugglers themselves seemed to think that their chances of
landing the provisions were small indeed.
As the meeting was about to break up, one of the coast-guards
"We'll have easy times catching you smugglers."
"Do you think so?" asked Harry Butler. "It would be funny if you
should slip up on it, wouldn't it?"
"We'll risk that," said another, "for we've got thirteen boats to your
"I say, Frank," said Charles Sheldon, "don't you think we can catch
"Oh, yes," answered Frank, "easily enough, if you only try. Now,
boys," he continued, "remember that we want all the refreshments left
at Mr. Butler's boat-house, by six o'clock to-morrow evening."
They all promised to be on hand, and the meeting broke up.
But the coast-guards gathered in little knots in front of the house,
or walked slowly toward home, talking the matter over, and
congratulating themselves on the easy manner in which the capture of
the "contrabands" was to be effected.
The smugglers remained together, and, as soon as the others were out
of hearing, George inquired,
"Do you think we can give them the slip?"
"Yes," answered Frank, "I am certain we can. We must not think of
beating them in sailing, because there are too many of them, but we
must outwit them."
"What do you propose to do?" inquired Ben.
"We must get up in the morning before they do."
"We shall be obliged to get up at twelve o'clock, then," said Thomas.
"I had rather stay up all night than have them beat us," said Harry.
"Well, boys," said George, "you must all come and sleep at our house
to-morrow night. Some of us will be sure to wake up early, and, I
think, we shall have no trouble in getting the start of the
The boys spent some time in talking over their plans, and, finally,
reluctantly separated, and started for home.
The Coast-guards Outwitted.
About three o'clock in the afternoon of the following day, Frank bade
his mother and sister good-by, and he and Brave got into the
Speedwell, and sailed slowly down the creek. He found the Champion
already moored at Mr. Butler's dock, and the smugglers were all
waiting for him. As soon as he landed, Ben. Lake said,
"Frank, it is a gone case with us. I _know_ we shall be caught."
"You think so, do you?" asked Frank, as if not at all concerned.
"Yes, I'm certain of it. I overheard some conversation among the
coast-guards, this afternoon, and one of them said that Charley
Sheldon would have the whole fleet anchored before the mouth of the
creek at half-past two to-morrow morning."
"Besides," said William Johnson, "they are all going to sleep in their
boats to-night, and the North Star and Sampson are to act as police."
"And I heard Charley Sheldon say," chimed in Harry, "that strict watch
must be kept of the Speedwell, and no attention paid to the other
"That's all right," said Frank. "I'm glad of it."
"Why are you?" asked George, in surprise. "You know, we agreed to
carry the provisions all in one boat, and yours is the only one that
will hold them all."
"I tell you, Frank, we're gone suckers," said Ben.
"You fellows seem to be pretty well posted as to the coast-guards'
intentions," said Frank.
"Yes," said George; "we've been spying about and playing eavesdroppers
"I have learned one thing to-day," said Frank, "that pleased me very
much, and that is that the coast-guards intend to keep spies about the
boat-house all night."
"Why does that please you?" inquired Harry. "Do you want them to
discover all our plans, so that they may be ready for us?"
"By no means. I'll risk good deal that they will not learn more than
we want them to know. I've thought of a way to set them on the wrong
scent, and, from what I have heard, I think it will work first-rate."
"What is it?"
"I'll show you in half a minute," said Frank, "All we have got to do
is to fool the spies; then we are all right."
At this moment several boys, belonging to the blockading squadron,
entered the boat-house, bringing their refreshments, and this, of
course, put a stop to all further conversation between the smugglers.
By six o'clock the last basket of provisions had been brought in, and
the coast-guards took their departure, after repeatedly assuring the
smugglers that their capture was certain.
The provisions had been brought in twenty medium-sized market-baskets,
and one large clothes-basket that belonged to George and Harry, and
seven pails. There was, also, a small bag filled with lemons, which
had been brought by Charles Sheldon.
The boys stood for some time looking at them without speaking. At
length, Thomas Benton said,
"You will have to carry them, Frank. They will make too large a load
for either of the other boats."
"I know that," said Frank; "but we must make the coast-guards think
that the Alert is going to carry them."
"How can we manage that?" inquired George.
"Have you got three or four market-baskets, a clothes-basket, one or
two pails, and a salt-bag?" asked Frank, without stopping to answer
"I guess so," said Harry. "I'll go up to the house and see."
He led the way, followed by three or four of the smugglers, and the
articles in question were soon brought into the boat-house.
"Now, Bill," said Frank, "you take this salt-bag, if you please, and
fill it with smooth, round stones, about the size of lemons."
"All right," answered William, who began to see through the trick.
"Now," continued Frank, "we want some pieces of cloth, large enough to
tie over the tops of these baskets and pails."
These were speedily procured, and, in a few moments, William returned
with the salt-bag filled with stones.
"Now, tell us what you intend to do," exclaimed Harry, whose patience
was well-nigh exhausted.
"We are making some sham provisions," said Frank.
"Oh, yes, I thought so," said Thomas; "but we haven't got pails and
"Oh, that's nothing," said Frank. "We'll fill half a dozen of these
old bags with shavings, and, as soon as it grows dark, we'll pull the
Alert alongside the wharf, and tumble these sham provisions into her;
then we will cover them up with that piece of sail, as if we wanted to
keep them dry. We'll be sure to fool the men-o'-war."
"I don't exactly see it," said Thomas.
"Why," said Harry, "as soon as we are out of sight, their spies, who
are, of course, watching every movement, will go and tell Charley
Sheldon that we have got the things stowed away in the Alert."
"That's very well, as far as you go," said Ben; "but suppose they
should mistrust that something is in the wind, and should go to work
and examine the provisions?"
"What if they do?" said Frank. "It will be too dark for them to make
much of an examination; and, if they put their hands into the boat,
they will feel the baskets and pails there, and will go away
The boys now saw through the trick, and there was no longer any
feeling of doubt in their minds. They were now as certain of success
as they had before been of being captured.
In a few moments the "sham provisions," as Frank had called them,
were all completed, and, placing them where they could be easily taken
out, they locked the door, to prevent surprise, and started for the
As they were about to enter the gate, George suddenly exclaimed,
The boys looked in the direction George indicated, and saw the
blockading squadron, with the exception of two boats, anchored in the
creek, just opposite the long dock. The North Star, a fine,
swift-sailing little schooner, was anchored near the middle of the
stream, and a boy sat in the stern sheets, reading a book. The
Sampson, a very large sloop-rigged boat, was standing up the creek,
under full sail. These were the "police boats," and they were taking
"I wonder where the Sampson is going," said Harry.
"She's going to take her station in Duck's Creek," said Ben.
Upon hearing this, Harry's expectations fell again.
"It's no use," he exclaimed. "Charley Sheldon knows too much for us."
"Not a bit," said Frank. "This arrangement is only for to-night. When
we get up in the morning, we shall find the boats all out in the
This immediately reassured Harry; and, after watching the Sampson
until she disappeared in Duck's Creek, he led the way to the house.
After supper, as soon as it began to grow dark, they proceeded to put
their plans into execution; but, before they started, Frank said,
"Now, boys, we must watch and see how the trick takes, for I know that
there are spies now around that boat-house. As soon as we get the sham
provisions into the boat, one or two of us had better slip down into
the willows behind the wharf, and see what course things are going to
"Well," said Harry, "suppose you and Bill act as spies."
"Agreed. Come on, but don't act as if you suspected anything."
And he led the way toward the boat-house.
Two of the boys busied themselves in bringing out the sham provisions,
and the others brought the Alert alongside, and fastened her to the
dock, in front of the boat-house. Frank and Harry then got down into
the boat, and the other boys passed the provisions down to them, and
they placed them in such a manner as to take up as much space as
possible. They were soon all stowed away, and covered over with a
large sail, as if to keep off the dew.
Ben and George then got into a small skiff that lay at the dock, and
towed the Alert out into the middle of the creek, and anchored her.
As soon as this was done they returned, and the smugglers began to
amuse themselves by pushing each other about the wharf. They all
appeared to enter heartily into the sport, and kept nearing the
willows which extended along the bank of the creek, close to the
wharf, and Frank and William, watching their opportunity, concealed
themselves, and the others ran toward the house. They had hardly
disappeared, when the smugglers saw several boys steal cautiously
around the corner of the boat-house, where they had been concealed,
and one of them crept up the bank, to assure himself that the coast
was clear, while the others remained in the shadow of the house. The
former, who proved to be Charles Sheldon, the commander of the
coast-guards, as soon as he had satisfied himself that the smugglers
had gone into the house, called out, in a low whisper, to the others,
who were the captains of the divisions of the squadron,
"All right, boys; go ahead, but be careful not to make any noise. I
didn't see Frank Nelson's dog go into the yard," he continued; "he
must be around here somewhere. We must not let him hear us."
Brave _was_, as Charles had said, "around there somewhere." He was
lying by his master's side, among the willows, no doubt wondering at
the strange things that were going on, and, well-trained as he was,
it was with great difficulty that Frank could keep him quiet.
The coast-guards crossed the wharf with noiseless steps, and,
unfastening the skiff which the smugglers had just used, they climbed
down into it, and pushed off toward the Alert. A few strokes brought
them alongside of her, and, thrusting their arms under the sail, they
began the examination which the smugglers had so much dreaded.
"What do you find?" inquired Charles, who still kept watch at the top
of the bank.
"Here are a lot of baskets and pails," said one
"And here's the large basket that George and Harry brought," said
"What are these round things in this bag, I wonder?" said the one who
had first spoken.
"Oh, those are the lemons I brought," said Charles.
"Gracious! how hard they are!" continued the boy, trying to dig his
fingers into them.
At this, Frank and William, who, of course, had heard every word of
the conversation, and had sat fairly trembling with excitement,
fearful that their trick would be discovered, could scarcely refrain
from laughing outright. Had it been daylight, the ruse of the
smugglers would certainly have been detected, but, as it was, the
coast-guards never mistrusted that any thing was wrong. The night was
rather dark, and the sham provisions were so neatly tied up, and so
carefully stowed away, that the deception was complete.
"I guess they are all here," said one of the boys, at length.
"Well, come ashore, then," said Charles, "and let's be off."
The boys pulled back to the wharf, and Charles continued,
"I didn't think that the Alert would hold all of the refreshments, did
"No," answered one of the boys, whom the smugglers recognized as James
Porter; "I guess it was a tight squeeze; I could hardly get my hand in
between the baskets."
"What do you suppose the smugglers intend to do?" inquired another.
"I don't know," answered Charles, "unless they propose to get up in
the morning before we do, and slip over to the island before we know
it. I wonder how they felt when they saw us taking our positions."
"But what do you suppose made them put the provisions in the Alert?"
"Oh, I think I can see through that easily enough," said James. "Frank
knows that we expected that he was going to carry them over to the
island, and he calculates to get us to chase him and give the Alert a
chance to land the provisions. He is a cunning fellow, but this time
we are too sharp for him."
"I wonder why Frank don't send some one out to act as a spy," said
"I guess he's afraid that he would be taken prisoner."
We may as well state here (and we should have done so before) that it
had been agreed that if one side could catch any of the other acting
as spies, they were at liberty to hold them as prisoners until the
race was over, and that the prisoner should, if required, give his
captors all the information possible relative to the movements and
plans of his party, and they could also require him to lend assistance
in carrying out their own. The prisoner, of course, was allowed the
privilege of escaping, if he could.
This _was_ the reason why the smugglers had not sent out any spies;
and, if the coast-guards had been aware that Frank and William were
hidden away in the willows, they could easily have captured them, and,
according to the agreement, obliged them to divulge all their plans.
"Well," said Charles, "we don't want any prisoners now, for we know
all their plans; but I wanted to catch Frank this morning, for I was
afraid he would beat us. If he should find out that this trick was
discovered, he would plan another in five minutes. I guess we had
better remain where we are to-night," he continued, "and, at
half-past two o'clock, we will pull out into the river, and blockade
the creek. All we have to do is to take care of the Alert, and let the
other boats do as they please. But we had better be off, or the
smugglers may slip out and make some of us prisoners."
And the spies departed as cautiously and quickly as they had come.
As soon as they had gone, the smugglers arose from their places of
concealment, and stole into the house, and acquainted the other boys
with the success of their stratagem.
After enjoying a hearty laugh at the expense of the coast-guards, led
by George and Harry, they ran up stairs into the "large chamber," a
room containing three beds, and they were soon snug between the
sheets. But sleep was, for a long time, out of the question; they
laughed and talked until their jaws ached, and the hands of the old
clock that stood in the room pointed to twelve; then they allowed
their tired tongues to rest, and lay for a long time, each occupied
with his own thoughts, and, finally, one after the other fell asleep.
The hours passed on, and nothing was heard but their gentle breathing.
Suddenly Harry, who always talked in his sleep when any thing exciting
was going on, turned over in bed with a jerk, and began to mutter
some unintelligible words. All at once, raising himself to a sitting
posture, he sang out, at the top of his voice,
"Starboard your helm there, George--starboard your helm; bring her
around quick. The Alert can show as clean a pair of heels as any boat
about the village."
In an instant the other boys were awake, and Harry continued to shout
his directions, until several hearty thumps on the back caused him to
change his tune.
"Let me alone!" he shouted. "We haven't cheated you. We promised to
carry the provisions all over in one boat, and we've done it."
Harry was quickly dragged out of bed and placed upon his feet, and he
was wide awake in an instant, but he stood in the middle of the room,
as if bewildered, while the others rolled on the beds, convulsed with
At length, William Johnson, who was the first that could speak,
"I wonder what time it is."
"Wait until I light this candle, and we'll see," said George.
"No, no, don't do that," said Frank. "The coast-guards may be on the
watch, and, if they see a light in the house, will be getting ready
And, going to the clock, he opened it, and, feeling of the hands,
"It's about ten minutes to three."
"What shall we do?" inquired Ben.
"Let us go and see what our friends of the squadron are doing," said
Thomas; "and, if they are not on hand, we can slip over and land our
By this time every one was dressed, and they crept carefully down
stairs and out of the house.
"Hold on a minute, boys," said Frank. "I will bet there are spies
around that boat-house now."
"Let's take them prisoners," exclaimed Harry.
"That's just what I was about to propose," said Frank; "but, in order
to do it, we had better divide into two parties, so as to surround the
"Well," said George, "three of us will go up the road, and cross over
by the bridge, and the rest of you can go down the road, and get into
the willows behind the mill."
"That's a good idea," said Frank. "We will meet at the back of the
The boys accordingly separated, and started in different directions.
Frank and his party, which consisted of Harry and Ben, threaded their
way through the garden, and across a meadow, until they arrived
opposite Mr. Butler's mill. Here they crossed the road, and, after a
careful reconnoissance, entered the willows, and crawled, almost on
their hands and knees, toward the boat-house. At length they arrived
at the place where they were to meet their companions, but nothing was
to be seen or heard of them.
"I hope they have not been taken prisoners," whispered Frank.
"I don't think they have," said Ben, "because we should have heard
something of it. They are not the ones to give up without a struggle.
But I don't see any thing of the spies."
"Neither do I," said Harry. "They must be around the other side of the
"If they are there," said Frank, "we will soon make them show
And, as he spoke, he seized a branch above his head, and shook it
"Oh, that's no way," whispered Harry, excitedly; "you will frighten
"--sh! there they are!" said Frank.
And, as he spoke, the smugglers saw a boy come cautiously around the
corner of the boat-house. He gazed impatiently toward the willows, and
uttered a low whistle.
Frank instantly answered it, and the boy came down the bank, and said,
in a low voice,
"Come out here, Jim. I thought you would never relieve us. No signs of
the smugglers yet--"
"You must be mistaken," said Frank, springing lightly from his
concealment; and, before the coast-guard could recover from his
surprise, he found himself a prisoner.
"Don't make any noise," said Frank. "Where's your companion? There
must be two of you."
"Yes, there is another one," answered the prisoner. "Ned Wilbur is
around the other side of the boat-house."
"Well, Ben," said Frank, "if you will watch this fellow, Harry and I
will see what we can do for Ned."
So saying, he went carefully around one side of the boat-house, and
Harry disappeared around the other. Frank reached the end of the house
first, and discovered the coast-guard standing in the door-way, as
motionless as a statue. He was waiting for Harry to make his
appearance at the opposite end, when the sentinel suddenly uttered an
ejaculation of surprise, and bounded up the bank; but, just as he
reached the top, a dark form, which seemed to rise out of the ground,
clasped the fleeting coast-guard in its arms, and a voice, which Frank
recognized as William Johnson's, said, in a low whisper,
"You're my prisoner!"
"It's just my luck," said the crest-fallen sentinel, bitterly, as
William led him down the bank. "I told Charley Sheldon that we would
be sure to be gobbled up if we were stationed here. Now, I suppose,
you want me to tell all our plans."
"No, we don't," answered Harry; "we know all your plans already."
By this time the smugglers had all come in, and, holding fast to their
captives, they held a consultation, in which it was decided that it
would be best to reconnoiter before attempting to leave the creek. It
was very dark, and not a sound broke the stillness of the night; but
the smugglers were too cunning to believe that the coast was clear,
for they knew that the enemy would resort to every possible means to
effect their capture.
Three of the smugglers were directed to get into Mr. Butler's yawl,
taking one of the prisoners with them, and drop down to the mouth of
Glen's Creek, and note the position of the enemy there; and Frank and
the other boys stepped into the skiff, and started up toward Ducks'
Creek, to ascertain the condition of affairs, taking Ned with them.
They pulled rapidly, but noiselessly, along, and had almost reached
the creek, when a strong, cheery voice, directly before them, called
"There," whispered Harry, "we're discovered."
"No, I guess not," said Frank. "Ned," he continued, turning to the
prisoner, "you must talk for us. Answer them."
"Ay, ay, sir," shouted Ned, in reply to the hail.
"What boat is that?"
"Dispatch boat," answered Ned, prompted by Frank; "and we bring orders
for you to pull down and join the fleet, which is now blockading the
mouth of Glen's Creek."
"All right," answered the voice. "We've been waiting an hour for that
order. This playing police is dull business."
And the smugglers heard the rattling of a chain, as if the anchor was
being pulled up.
"Tell them to make haste," whispered Frank.
"Come, hurry up there, now," shouted Ned.
"Ay, ay," was the answer.
And, in a few moments, the Sampson, propelled by four oars, shot past
them, on her way down the creek.
"That's what I call pretty well done," said Ben, as soon as the
coast-guards were out of hearing.
"I don't," said Ned. "It goes against me to fool a fellow in that way;
and my own friends, too."
The smugglers now continued on their way, and a few strong pulls
brought them within a short distance of the mouth of Ducks' Creek; and
Frank, who was at the helm, turned the boat's head toward the shore,
and, as soon as her keel touched the bottom, he and Ben sprang out,
leaving Harry to watch the prisoner.
They had landed upon Reynard's Island, and immediately started for the
opposite side, to learn, if possible, what was going on upon the
river. Every thing was as silent as midnight; and the smugglers were
obliged to move very carefully, for the slightest sound--the snapping
of a twig or the rustling of a leaf--could be heard at a long
distance. After proceeding a quarter of a mile in this cautious
manner, they reached the opposite side of the island.
"Well," said Ben, after trying in vain to peer through the darkness,
"how do matters stand? I wonder if we could not have slipped by their
police, and reached the island, before they knew it?"
"No, sir," said Frank, "not by a good deal. We should certainly have
"How do you know? I can't see any thing."
"Neither can I; but listen, and you will _hear_ something. They are
taking their positions."
The boys remained silent, and the suppressed murmur of voices, the
strokes of muffled oars, and, now and then, a gentle splashing in the
water, as of an anchor dropped carefully overboard, could be
"I am still of the opinion," said Ben, "that we could run the blockade
before they could catch us."
"And I still think that we should get caught," said Frank. "If we
should attempt to hoist a sail, it could be heard across the river;
besides, there is no breeze."
"Then, try the oars."
"They would overtake us before we had gone twenty rods. You must
remember that they outnumber us, six to one, and could easily tire us
out, or cut us off from the island. Wait until the breeze springs up,
and then we will see what we can do."
"Listen," whispered Ben, suddenly; "some of the boats are coming down
this way. They are sending a division of the fleet to guard Ducks'
And so it proved. The slow, measured strokes of oars came nearer and
nearer, and, finally, the tall, raking masts of three of the
swiftest-sailing boats in the squadron could be dimly seen moving down
the river toward the creek. As they approached, the smugglers
discovered that two boys, in a light skiff, led the way, and one of
them, who proved to be Charles Sheldon, pointed out the position he
wished each boat to occupy. The places assigned them were not directly
opposite the mouth of the creek, but a little up the river, and about
twenty feet from the shore; and this, afterward, proved to be a very
favorable circumstance for the smugglers.
"Now, boys," said Charles, after he had placed the little vessels to
his satisfaction, "keep a good look-out up the river."
"I should think," said the captain of the division "that you ought to
have us anchor directly in the mouth of the creek. We shall have a
good stiff breeze before long, and the Alert might slip out at any
time, and, before we could hoist a sail, she would be half-way across
"I don't think she will trouble you down here," said Charles. "Frank
Nelson wouldn't be foolish enough to send her out here, for it's a
good quarter of a mile below the foot of the island; and, even if she
does come out here, and succeeds in getting by you, all we will have
to do will be to send a division down to the foot of the island to
meet her there, and then her capture is certain. Now, remember, keep
an eye open to everything that goes on up the river. Never mind the
Speedwell and Champion--let them go where they please; but, if you see
the Alert, why, you know what to do."
And Charles and his attendant pulled back up the river.
"Now, Ben," said Frank, "we've heard enough to know that we have
fooled them nicely; so let's go back."
This, however, was no easy undertaking. The way to their boat lay
through bushes that could scarcely be penetrated, even in the
day-time. The coast-guards were anchored close by the shore, and the
slightest noise would arouse their suspicions.
Frank led the way on his hands and knees, carefully choosing his
ground, and they, at length, succeeded in reaching their boat, without
disturbing the coast-guards.
A few moments' pulling brought them alongside Mr. Butler's wharf,
where they found the others waiting for them.
"What news?" inquired George, as they clambered up out of the boat.
Frank explained, in a few words, the position of the squadron at the
mouth of Ducks' Creek, as well as the conversation they had overheard,
and also inquired of George the result of his observations.
"It was too dark to see much," he answered; "but we could plainly hear
them taking their positions opposite the mouth of the creek. It will
be hard work to get through them, I tell you."
"How are you going to work it, Frank?" inquired Ben.
"I'll tell you what I thought of doing," he answered "By the way
Charley Sheldon spoke, I should judge that he expects to see the Alert
start from Glen's Creek; so, I think, it would be a good plan, as soon
as the breeze springs up, to have the Champion and Alert drop down
Ducks' Creek, and let the former run out and start for the island.
The coast-guards will not give chase, of course, but will think it is
only a ruse of ours to make them believe that the Alert is going to
start from the same place, and that will make them watch Glen's Creek
closer than ever, and the Alert will have a chance to get a good start
before they can hoist their sails, and, while they are after her, Ben
and I will run out and land our goods."
"That's the way to do it," said William, approvingly. "We will fool
them so completely that they will not want to hear of smugglers again
for six months."
"Let's go and get some breakfast," said George. "Never go to work on
an empty stomach, you know."
"Yes, come on," said Harry, taking each of the captive coast-guards by
the arm; "we never feed our prisoners on half rations."
After "stowing away" a large supply of bread and milk, the smugglers,
in company with their prisoners, again repaired to the boat-house. By
this time it was five o'clock, and the breeze which the coast-guards
had predicted began to spring up, and promised to freshen into a
capital "sailing wind."
In a few moments the _real_ provisions were all packed away, as
closely as possible, in the Speedwell, and the load was as large as
she could well carry, there being scarcely room enough left for the
action of the sails.
"I guess we are all ready now," said Frank; "so, Bill, you might as
well drop down Ducks' Creek and sail out."
"All right," answered William.
And he and Thomas clambered down into the boat, with the prisoners,
the sails were hoisted, and the Champion was soon hidden from sight by
the tall reeds and bushes that lined the banks of the creek.
"Now, Harry," continued Frank, "Ben and I will take our boat and hide
behind the point, and, in about five minutes, you may follow the
"Now, make use of your best seamanship," said Ben. "You can lead them
a long chase, if you try."
"I assure you that we will do our best," said George.
The Speedwell's sails were hoisted, and Frank took his seat at the
helm, while Ben placed himself so as to assist in managing the sails.
Brave took his usual station in the bow, and they moved slowly down
The point of which Frank had spoken was a long, low neck of land,
covered with trees, which completely concealed the mouth of Glen's
Creek. In a few moments they reached this point, and the Speedwell's
bow ran high upon the sand, and the boys sprang out, and hurried over
to the other side of the point, to watch the proceedings on the river,
while Brave, at his master's command, remained in the boat. Concealing
themselves behind a large log, they waited impatiently for the
appearance of the Champion.
The vessels of the squadron, with the exception of the division
stationed at the foot of Reynard's Island, were anchored in a
semicircle directly before the mouth of Glen's Creek, from which it
was expected that the Alert would start. Each sloop was manned by two
boys, and the schooners had a crew of four. Every one stood at his
post, and was ready to move at the word.
"They meant to be ready for us, didn't they?" asked Frank. "I wonder
if they thought we would be foolish enough to send the Alert out of
this creek, in the face of all those boats?"
"I don't know," answered Ben. "I suppose they thought--See there!
there goes the Champion."
Frank looked down the river, and saw that the stanch little sloop had
already run the blockade, and was standing boldly toward the island.
Her appearance was sudden and wholly unexpected and several of the
coast-guards sprang to their feet, and a dozen sails were half-way up
the mast in a twinkling; but, as soon as they discovered that it was
not the Alert, they quickly returned to their posts, and, in a moment,
all the bustle and confusion was over.
The eye of every boy in the squadron was now directed toward Glen's
Creek, expecting, every moment, to see the schooner round the point.
The Champion had accomplished, perhaps, half the distance across the
river, when the Alert suddenly shot from Ducks' Creek, and, hauling
around before the wind, ran in between two of the blockading fleet, so
close as to almost graze them, and stood toward the foot of the
As soon as the coast-guards could recover from their surprise, Charles
The next moment he called out,
"Jim, take your division, and creep down the shore of the island, and
be ready to catch her there, if she gets away from us."
For a few moments there was a "great hurrying" among the coast-guards.
The anchors were drawn up with a jerk, the sails flew up the masts,
and the little fleet bore rapidly down upon the smuggler.
As soon as Frank saw that the race had fairly begun, he exclaimed,
"Now's our time, Ben!"
They ran back to their boat, and hastily shoved from the shore, and
the Speedwell, making good her name, was soon plowing the river, in
the direction of the island.
So intent were the coast-guards upon catching the Alert, that they
thought of nothing else; and Frank rounded the head of the island, and
landed, without being discovered.
Meanwhile, George and Harry were leading their pursuers a long chase.
Under their skillful management--standing first on one tack and then
on the other--they had succeeded in outmaneuvering several of the
swiftest-sailing vessels in the squadron.
Two or three small sloops had succeeded in getting between the Alert
and the island; but Harry, who was at the helm, did not deem them
worthy a moment's notice. He was confident that his schooner, by her
superior sailing qualities, would soon leave these behind also.
The smugglers began to grow jubilant over their success, and George
"Where are your men-o'-war now? Throw us a line, and we'll tow you."
"Come on, you coast-guards," chimed in Harry. "You will never catch
us, at this rate."
If the smugglers _had_ succeeded in eluding their pursuers, it would,
indeed, have been an achievement worth boasting of; but they had to
deal with those who were as cunning and skillful as themselves.
Charles was not to be beaten so easily; and, although he said nothing,
the smugglers saw him smile and shake his head, as if he were certain
that he could yet win the day.
"Can you discover any fast boats ahead of us, George?" inquired Harry.
George rose to his feet to take a survey of the squadron, and
"No, there are only two or three little things standing across our
bows, but we'll soon--We're caught, sure as shooting!" he suddenly
exclaimed, changing his tone. "Bring her around before the
wind--quick! There's the North Star, Sunshine, and Sampson. We might
as well haul down the sails."
James Porter's division, which had been "laying to" at the foot of
Glen's Island, now bore down upon the Alert, and George had just
discovered them; and they were coming on in such a manner that escape
"Yes," answered Harry, as soon as he had noted the positions of the
approaching vessels, "we are caught. We began to brag too soon."
"Well, we don't lose any thing," said George. "Frank has landed the
provisions long before this."
"I know it; but still I wish we could have beaten them."
"What do you think now, Harry?" asked Charles, whose boat was
following close in the wake of the Alert.
"I think we are done for."
And, as Harry "luffed in the wind," George drew down the sails, and
gave up the struggle.
In a moment the little fleet closed about the smuggler, and, to
prevent accident, the sails were all hauled down, and the boats lay
motionless on the water.
"I tell you," said Charles, "you fellows worked it pretty well."
"Yes," answered George, as if a little crest-fallen at their defeat.
"We did the best we could."
"I thought we had more provisions than this," said one of the captains
of the squadron, pulling his boat alongside of the Alert. "I didn't
think you could get them all in here."
And he pulled up the covering, and looked under it.
"They are packed in tight, you see," said Harry, who wished to keep up
the "sell," as he called it, as long as possible.
"What are in these bags?" inquired one.
"Shavings," answered George. "We thought we might want to kindle a
fire for something."
"I say, George," said James Porter, standing up in his boat to get a
good view of the things in the Alert. "I wish you would feel in my
basket, and get a cup that is in there, and pass it over this way. I'm
thirsty. I was so excited," he continued, taking off his hat and
wiping the perspiration from his forehead, "that I sweat as if I had
been dumped in the river. There isn't a dry rag on me."
"Which is your basket?" inquired Harry, struggling hard to suppress a
"It's a brown basket, with a white cover," answered James.
George and Harry were too full of laughter to trust themselves to
speak; but Charles exclaimed, as he drew aside the covering,
"There's no brown basket here."
"There ought to be," said one of the coast-guards; "I brought my
things in a brown basket."
"So did I," exclaimed another.
"There's a cheat somewhere," said James.
"You haven't done as you agreed," said Charles. "You promised to carry
all the things in one boat."
"Yes, that's what you agreed to do," shouted several.
"And we've kept our promise," said Harry.
"Then, where's _my_ basket?" inquired one of the boys, who had failed
to discover it among the things in the Alert.
"I'll bet the Champion carried some of the provisions over," said
another, "for there are not half of them here."
"No, the Champion didn't have a thing in her," said a third. "She
passed so close to my boat, that I could have jumped into her, and I
took particular pains to see that she was empty."
"Well, here are the things that I brought, at any rate," said Charles,
who had just caught sight of the bag which contained, as he supposed,
his lemons. "My goodness!" he continued, as he lifted them out of the
boat, "how heavy they are!"
And he began to untie the bag, and soon disclosed to the view of the
coast-guards, not the lemons, but almost half a peck of smooth, round
George and Harry, who could contain themselves no longer, rolled on
the bottom of the boat, convulsed with laughter; and several ready
hands tore off the coverings of the baskets and pails, and they were
found to be empty.
A more astonished set of boys one never saw; and, as soon as they
could speak, they burst out with a volley of ejaculations that will
hardly bear repetition.
"We've been chasing the wrong boat," said one.
"Yes," answered another, "and I knew it would be so. That Frank
Nelson is too much of a Yankee for us."
"The Speedwell--the Speedwell!" shouted another; "keep a good look-out
"Oh, you're too late," said Harry, with a laugh, "the provisions were
landed long ago."
"I don't believe it. I didn't see any thing of her."
"Of course you didn't," said Charles; "you were too intent on catching
the Alert. Boys," he continued, "we're fairly beaten. Let's start for
The coast-guards silently obeyed, and the smugglers refrained from
making any remarks, for they saw that the squadron's crew took their
defeat sorely to heart.
In a few moments the little fleet rounded the foot of the island, and
the boys discovered the Champion and Speedwell, lying with their bows
high upon the sand, and their crews were busy carrying the provisions
under the shade of a large oak, that stood near the water's edge.
As soon as the last vessel came in sight, the smugglers on shore
greeted them with three hearty cheers, which George and Harry answered
with a will, but the coast-guards remained silent.
In a few moments they had all landed, and the smugglers joined their
companions; and Charles took off his hat, and said to the
"Boys, I want to have just one word with you. We have been beaten," he
continued, as they gathered silently about him, "completely outwitted;
but it was fairly done. We took all the advantage of the smugglers
that we could, but they have beaten us at our own game. I feel as
cheap as any of you do, but it can't be helped now; and there's no use
of having unpleasant feelings about it, for that would spoil a good
day's sport. If we didn't catch them, we did our best, and we had a
good, exciting race--one that I wouldn't have missed for a good deal.
Now, boys, show that you appreciate the good trick that has been
played on us, by giving the smugglers three hearty cheers."
This little speech--showing Charles to be a boy of good feeling--had
the effect of convincing the coast-guards that to manifest any
ill-will at their defeat would be both unkind and selfish, and the
cheer that rose from forty strong lungs was almost deafening. The
smugglers, who had heard what Charles had said, cheered lustily, in
turn, for the coast-guards, and instantly every unkind feeling
vanished. The coast-guards readily entered into conversation with the
smugglers, and the latter explained the trick of which they had made
use, as well as the manner in which the capture of the prisoners was
affected, and the adventure with the police-boat; and, although the
coast-guards were provoked at themselves for "not having more sense,"
as they termed it, they could not refrain from joining in a hearty
By this time the refreshments had all been carried under the tree of
which we have spoken, where there was a smooth grass-plat, which made
a nice place to set the table.
The boys had spent some time relating various incidents that had
occurred during the chase, when Ben suddenly inquired,
"Well, boys, what's to be the order of the day? You know that we came
over here to enjoy ourselves, and we had better be about it."
"I think," said Charles, "that it would be a good plan to appoint a
committee to arrange those eatables. We came away without our
breakfast, and I, for one, feel hungry."
"There's where we had the advantage of you," said Thomas. "While you
were hurrying around, and taking your positions, we were eating our
breakfast. You see, we took matters easy."
"And beat us, after all," said one of the coast-guards; "it's too bad.
But let's have that committee appointed."
A dozen boys were speedily chosen to set the table, and the others,
catching up all the empty pails and baskets they could find, scattered
over the island in search of strawberries.
In about an hour they met again under the tree, and found the
refreshments all ready for them, and they fell to work in earnest. So
full were they of their sport, that it took them two hours to eat
their dinner, as they had said they had come to enjoy themselves, and
felt in duty bound to eat all their baskets contained.
After dinner, one of the smugglers proposed to go squirrel-hunting;
but many of the coast-guards had passed the preceding night without
any sleep, and, to use their own expression, they "didn't feel like
it;" so this project was abandoned, and the boys lay on the grass,
under the tree, telling stories, until almost three o'clock, and then
began to get ready to start for home.
A Queer Cousin.
As every one knows, it would be almost an impossibility for sixteen
sail-boats to go any where in company without trying their speed,
especially if they were sailed by boys. When our heroes stepped into
their vessels, each skipper made up his mind that his boat must be the
first one to touch the opposite shore. Not a word was said about a
race, but every one knew that one would be sure to come off. Every
thing was done in a hurry, and the little vessels were all afloat in a
moment. They were on the leeward side of the island--that is, the side
from the wind--and they would be obliged to get around to the opposite
side before they could use their sails.
The coast-guards shoved their boats out into the current, and allowed
themselves to float down toward the foot of the island, thinking that
course easier than pulling, against the current, up to the head of
Frank noticed this movement, and said, in a low voice, to the
"Don't follow them, boys. They will find themselves becalmed in less
than a quarter of an hour. The breeze is dying away. If you want to
beat them, hoist your sails, and get out your oars, and row up to the
head of the island; we can reach it before they reach the foot, and,
besides, the current will carry them further down the river than they
want to go."
The smugglers did as Frank had directed; and as they moved from the
shore, and turned up the river, one of the coast-guards called out,
"Where are you fellows going?"
"Home," answered Ben.
"You are taking the longest and hardest way."
"The longest way around is the nearest way home, you know," answered
"I don't believe it is, in this instance," said James Porter. "Let's
see who will be at the long dock first."
"All right," answered the smugglers.
And they disappeared behind a high-wooded promontory of the island.
It was hard work, pulling against a current that ran four miles an
hour, but they were accustomed to it, and the thought of again
beating the coast-guards gave strength to their arms.
In a few moments a sudden filling of the sails announced that they had
caught the breeze. The oars were drawn in, and every sheet hauled
taut, and, when they rounded the head of the island, not one of the
squadron was in sight.
"I expected," said Harry, speaking in a loud voice, so that the others
could hear, "that they would feel the wind long before this."
"Even if they had," answered Frank, "we could have beaten them easily
enough. You see, when they come around the foot of the island, they
will be some distance below the long dock, and the current will carry
them still further down, while we are above it, and can sail right
down to it. Here they come!"
The boys looked down the river, and saw the men-o'-war rapidly
following each other around the foot of the island.
"I guess they have discovered their mistake before this time," said
William. "Now," he continued, as he drew his mainsail down a little
closer "the Champion is going to be the first to sail into the creek."
"That's the game, is it?" said Frank. "Ben, perch yourself up on the
windward side, and we'll see which is the best boat."
Ben did as he was desired, and the little vessels increased their
speed, and bounded over the gentle swells as if some of their crews'
spirit had been infused into them. They had started nearly even--the
Alert and Champion being a little in advance of the Speedwell--and the
boys knew that the race was to be a fair trial of the speed of their
boats. The Alert and Speedwell had never been "matched" before, and
the boys were anxious to learn their comparative speed. The former was
the "champion" boat of the village, and Harry and George were
confident that Frank's "tub," as they jokingly called it, would soon
be distanced. Frank thought so, too; but the reputation of owning the
swiftest boat in the village was well worth trying for, and he
determined to do his best.
Since his race with the Champion, he had made larger sails for his
boat, and added a flying-jib and a gaff-topsail, and he found that her
speed was almost doubled.
The Champion soon fell behind, and the two rival boats were left to
finish the race, which, for a long time, seemed undecided. But, at
length, the Speedwell, with her strong mast groaning and creaking
under the weight of the heavy canvas, began to gain steadily, and soon
passed the Alert. Ten minutes' run brought them across the river; and
when Frank, proud of the victory he had gained, rounded the long dock,
the Alert was full four rods behind.
The breeze was rapidly dying away, and not one of the coast-guards had
yet reached the shore. Some of them had been carried almost a mile
below the creek, and lay with the sails idly flapping against the
Frank and Ben sailed slowly along up the creek, and, when they arrived
at the end of the dock, the Speedwell was "made fast," and the boys
started to get their mail.
As they entered the post-office, Frank stepped up to the
"pigeon-hole," and the postmaster handed him two letters; one was
addressed to his mother, and the other bore his own name, written in a
full, round, school-boy's hand.
"Ben," he exclaimed, as he broke the seal, "I've got a letter from
Archie. I wrote to him a month ago; I should think it was about time
to get an answer."
"See if he says any thing about getting a letter from me," said Ben.
"I haven't heard from him in a long time."
Before proceeding further, it may not be improper to say a word about
Archie Winters. He was, as we have already said, Frank's cousin, and
lived in the city of Portland. He was just Frank's age, and, like him,
was kind and generous; but he was not the boy for books. When in
school, he was an obedient and industrious pupil, and learned very
readily; but, when four o'clock came, he was the first to lay aside
his books. He was very fond of rural sports, and, for a city boy, was
a very expert hunter; he even considered himself able to compete with
Frank. He was also passionately fond of pets, and, if he could have
had his own way, he would have possessed every cat and dog in the
city. His father was a wealthy ship-builder, and Archie was an only
child. But he was not, as is generally the case, spoiled by
indulgence; on the contrary, his parents always required his prompt
and cheerful obedience, and, when out of their sight, Archie was very
careful to do nothing of which he thought his parents would not
approve. Every vacation he paid a visit to his cousin, and sometimes
staid until late in the winter, to engage in his favorite sport. He
was well known to the village boys, among whom his easy and obliging
manners had won many a steadfast friend.
But let us now return to the letter, which ran as follows:
PORTLAND, _June_ 28, 18--.
DEAR COUSIN: Your letter of the 16th of last month was duly
received, and, I suppose, you think it is about time for me
to answer it. They say that a person who is good at making
excuses is good for nothing else; but, I suppose, you will
expect some apology for my seeming neglect. You perhaps
remember hearing your mother speak of James Sherman, a cousin
whom we had never seen. About two weeks since, father
received a letter from his mother, stating that she and James
would be at our house in about three days. Well, they came
agreeably to notice, and I have had the pleasure of
entertaining our cousin ever since. I have had to pilot him
around, and show him all the sights, and I have had time for
I will not tell you what sort of a fellow he is; I will leave
you to judge of his general character, etc. He and his mother
are now on their way to Lawrence, and they expect to be at
your house about the 6th (July). They intend to remain about
two weeks. When I saw them getting into the train, and knew
that in a few days they would be with you, I wanted very much
to accompany them. But mother says _one_ noisy boy in the
house is sufficient. (I wonder whether she means you or
James!) But as soon as they have ended their visit, if
nothing happens, you may expect to see our family landing
from the Julia Burton, some fine morning. I have been pent up
in the city now almost six months, and I am impatient to get
into the country again--especially among the trout-streams
about your quiet little village.
I have often thought of the sport we had the day we went up
to Dungeon Brook. I know it rained hard, but the string of
trout we caught beat any thing of the kind I ever happened to
But I've got some good news for you. Father has decided to
spend part of the winter at Uncle Joe's, and he promises to
take you and me with him; so you can begin to pack up your
duds as soon as you wish.
That trout-pole you made for me last winter met with a
serious accident a few days since. One of my schoolmates
invited me to go up the river with him, and try a perch-bed
he had accidentally discovered. I had sent off my heavy pole
to the painters, so I was obliged to take my trout-pole. I
was afraid that I should break it, but it behaved beautifully
for about two hours, during which time I drew in sixty fine
perch and rock-bass--some of the former weighing between one
and two pounds--and I began to think that the pole was too
tough to break. But I was very soon convinced of my mistake,
for, as bad luck would have it, I hooked on to a black-bass.
I thought I handled him very carefully, but, before we could
land him, he broke my pole in three pieces; but the line
held, and he was soon floundering in the boat. He was a fine
fellow--a regular "sockdologer"--weighing six pounds and a
half. But I heartily wished him safe in the bottom of the
river. I have laid the pole away, and intend to bring it to
you for repairs.
But it is ten o'clock, and father suggests that, if I wish to
get to the post-office before the mail closes, I had "better
make tracks." So I must stop. Love to all.
Yours affectionately, A. Winters.
P.S.--Please tell Ben and Harry that I will answer their
letters immediately. A.W.
By this time the rest of the smugglers had arrived, and, as soon as
Frank had run his eye over the letter, and began to fold it up, George
"Well, what does he say? Did he receive Harry's letter?"
"Yes, and also one from Ben. He says he will answer them at once."
After a few moments' conversation, the boys separated, and started for
home, expressing themselves highly delighted at Frank's way of
spending the Fourth.
The day on which Mrs. Sherman and her son were expected at length
arrived. As a fine breeze was blowing, Frank and his sister--accompanied,
of course, by Brave--stepped into the Speedwell, and started to enjoy a
sail on the river.
It was now the summer vacation, and the boys were determined to have
plenty of recreation after their long siege of study; and, when Frank
reached the mouth of the creek, he found the river dotted with white
sails as far as he could see. Several of the boats had started on
fishing excursions, but the majority of them were sailing idly about,
as if nothing particular had been determined on.
Frank turned the Speedwell's head down the river, and soon joined the
little fleet. He had hoisted every stitch of canvas his boat could
carry, and she flew along, passing several of the swiftest vessels,
and finally encountered the Alert. The race was short, for the
Speedwell easily passed her, and George and Harry were compelled to
acknowledge that, to use their own expression, "the Alert was
In about two hours the Julia Burton was seen rounding the point, and a
loud, clear whistle warned the villagers of her approach. Frank turned
the Speedwell toward home, and arrived at the wharf about ten minutes
after the steamer had landed.
As they sailed along up the creek, Julia suddenly exclaimed,
"I wonder who those people are!"
Frank turned, and saw a lady just getting into a carriage, and a boy,
apparently about his own age, stood by, giving orders, in a loud
voice, to the driver, about their baggage. Both were dressed in the
hight of fashion, and Frank knew, from the description his aunt had
given his mother, that they were the expected visitors.
As soon as the boy had satisfied himself that their baggage was safe,
he continued, in a voice loud enough to be heard by Frank and his
"Now, driver, you're sure you know where Mrs. Nelson lives?"
"Yes, sir," answered the man, respectfully.
"Well, then, old beeswax, hurry up. Show us how fast your cobs can
So saying, he sprang into the carriage, and the driver closed the door
after him, mounted to his seat, and drove off.
"Why," said Julia, in surprise, "I guess that's Aunt Harriet--don't
"Yes," answered her brother, "I know it is."
"I am afraid I shall not like James," continued Julia; "he talks too
Frank did not answer, for he was of the same opinion. He had inferred
from Archie's letter that James would prove any thing but an agreeable
The brisk wind that was blowing carried them rapidly along, and, in a
few moments, they came to a place where the road ran along close to
the creek. The distance to Mrs. Nelson's, by the road, was greater, by
a quarter of a mile, than by the creek, and, consequently, they had
gained considerably on the carriage. Soon they heard the rattling of
wheels behind them, and the hack came suddenly around a turn in the
James was leaning half-way out of the window, his cap pushed on one
side of his head, and, not knowing Frank, he accosted him, as he came
up, with his favorite expression.
"Hallo, old beeswax! Saw-logs must have been cheap when you had that
boat built. You've got timber enough there to finish off a good-sized
Frank, of course, made no reply; and, in a moment more, the hack was
out of sight.
They soon reached the wharf, in front of the house, and Frank helped
Julia out, and, after making his boat fast, started toward the house,
and entered the room where their visitors were seated.
His aunt's greeting was cold and distant, and she acted as if her
every motion had been thoroughly studied. James's acknowledgment was
scarcely more than agreeable. To Frank's inquiry, "How do you do,
sir?" he replied,
"Oh, I'm bully, thank you, old beeswax. Not you the cod I twigged[A]
navigating that scow up the creek?"
[Footnote A: Saw.]
Frank acknowledged himself to be the person, and James continued,
"I suppose she's the champion yacht, isn't she?"
"Yes," answered Frank, "she is. There's no boat about the village that
can beat her."
"Ah, possibly; but, after all, you had better tell that to the
marines. I've seen too much of the world to have a country chap stuff
me, now I tell you, old beeswax."
We will not particularize upon James's visit. It will suffice to
relate one or two incidents that will illustrate his character.
A day or two after his arrival, he discovered the schooner standing on
Frank's bureau, and he could not be contented until he should see "how
she carried herself in the water," and Frank, reluctantly, carried it
down to the creek and set it afloat.
For a few moments James seemed to have forgotten his evil
propensities, and they amused themselves by sailing the schooner from
one side of the creek to the other. But he very soon grew tired of
this "lame, unexciting sport," as he called it, and, gathering up an
armful of stones, he began to throw them into the water near the
"Storm on the Atlantic! See her rock!"
"Please don't, James," urged Frank; "I'm afraid you will hit the
"No fear of that," answered James, confidently, still continuing to
throw the stones; "I can come within a hair's-breadth of her, and not
touch her. Now, see."
And, before Frank could speak, away flew a large stone, with great
force, and, crashing through the mainsail of the little vessel, broke
both masts and the bowsprit short off.
"There," exclaimed Frank, "I was afraid you would do that."
James did not appear to be in the least sorry for it, but he skipped
up the bank, shouting, in an insulting tone,
"There's your boat, old beeswax. When do you expect her in port?"
Frank did not answer, but drew what remained of the schooner to the
shore, and, taking it under his arm, started for his shop, saying,
"Now, that's a nice cousin for a fellow to have. I'll do my best to
treat him respectfully while he stays, but I shall not be sorry when
the time comes to bid him good-by."
And that time was not far distant. James often complained to his
mother that Frank was a "low-minded, mean fellow," and urged an
immediate departure. His mother always yielded to his requests, or
rather _demands_, no matter how unreasonable they might be; and they
had scarcely made a visit of a week, when they announced their
intention of leaving Lawrence by the "next boat."
On the day previous to their departure, Mrs. Nelson had occasion to
send Frank to the village for some groceries, and, as a favorable wind
was blowing, he decided to go in his boat. But, before starting, he
managed to slip away from James long enough to write a few lines to
Archie, urging him to come immediately.
Frank intended to start off without James's knowledge; but the uneasy
fellow was always on the look-out, and, seeing his cousin going
rapidly down the walk, with a basket on each arm, and his dog--which,
like his master, had not much affection for James--he shouted,
"Hallo, old beeswax, where are you bound for?"
"For the village," answered Frank.
"Are you going to take the tow-path?"
"The tow-path! I don't know what you mean."
"Are you going to ride shanks' horses?"
"I don't understand that, either."
"Oh, you are a bass-wood man, indeed," said James, with a taunting
laugh. "Are you going to _walk_? Do you think you can comprehend me
"Yes," answered Frank, "I can understand you when you talk English.
No, I am not going to walk."
"Then I'll go with you, if you will leave that dog at home."
"I don't see what objections you can have to his company. He always
goes with me."
"I suppose you think more of him than you do of your relations; but
I'm going with you, at any rate."
And he quickened his pace to overtake Frank.
While his cousin was hoisting the sails, James deliberately seated
himself in the stern of the boat, and took hold of the tiller.
"Do you understand managing a sail-boat?" inquired Frank, as he stood
ready to cast off the painter.
"If any one else had asked me that question," answered James, with an
air of injured dignity, "I should have considered it an insult. Of
course I _do_."
"All right, then," said Frank, as he pushed the boat from the wharf.
"Go ahead. We shall be obliged to tack a good many times, going down
but we can sail back like a book, and--"
"Oh, you teach your grandmother, will you?" interrupted James. "I've
sailed more boats than you ever saw."
Frank, at first, did not doubt the truth of this assertion, for James
lived in a seaport town, and had had ample opportunity to learn how to
manage a yacht; but they had not made twenty feet from the wharf, when
he made up his mind that his cousin had never before attempted to act
Instead of keeping as close as possible to the wind, as he should have
done, he turned the boat's head first one way and then another, and,
of course, made no headway at all.
"I never saw such a tub as this," said James, at length; "I can't make
her mind her helm."
Just at this moment a strong gust of wind filled the sails, and, as
James was not seaman enough to "luff" or "let go the sheet," the
Speedwell same very near capsizing. As she righted, the wind again
filled the sails, and the boat was driven with great speed toward the
shore. Frank had barely time to pull up the center-board before her
bows ran high upon the bank, and the sheet was roughly jerked from
James's hand, and flapped loudly against the mast.
"There," said Frank, turning to his cousin, who sat, pale with terror,
"I guess it's a long time since you attempted to sail a boat; you seem
to have forgotten how, I tell you," he continued as he noticed
James's trepidation, "if I hadn't pulled up that center-board just as
I did, we should have been obliged to swim for it."
"I can't swim," said James, in a weak voice.
"Then you would have been in a fix," said Frank. "Now, let me see if I
can have any better luck."
James very willingly seated himself on one of the middle thwarts, and
Frank pushed the boat from the shore, and took hold of the tiller,
and, under his skillful management, the Speedwell flew through the
water like a duck.
James soon got over his fright, and his uneasy nature would not allow
him to remain long inactive, and, as he could find nothing else to do,
he commenced to rock the boat from one side to the other, and, as she
was "heeling" considerably, under the weight of her heavy canvas, the
water began to pour in over her side. Although the speed of the boat
was greatly diminished, Frank, for some time, made no complaint,
hoping that his cousin would soon grow tired of the sport. But James
did not seem inclined to cease, and Frank, at length, began to
He reminded James that it would not require much to capsize the boat,
and, as the creek was very deep, and as he (James) had said he could
not swim, he might be a "gone sucker."
This, at first, had the effect of making James more careful, but he
soon commenced again as bad as ever.
Brave was seated in his usual place, and directly behind James. He
seemed to dislike the rocking of the boat as much as his master, but
he bore it very patiently for awhile, thinking, no doubt, that the
best way to deal with James was to "let him severely alone." But the
rocking increased, and Brave began to slide from one side of the boat
to the other. This was enough to upset his patience; and, encouraged,
perhaps, by some sly glances from Frank, he sprang up, and, placing a
paw on each shoulder of his tormentor, barked fiercely, close to his
James screamed loudly; and Brave, evidently thinking he had punished
him enough, returned to his seat.
"Let me ashore," shouted James; "I shan't stay in here any longer."
Frank gladly complied, and, the moment the Speedwell's bows touched
the bank, James sprang out.
"I wouldn't risk my life in that tub again for any money," he shouted;
"you may bet on that, old beeswax."
Frank made no reply, but pushed the boat from the shore again as soon
James now felt safe; and, gathering up a handful of stones,
determined to wreak his vengeance on Brave. The sensible
Newfoundlander, at first, paid no attention to this cowardly assault;
but the stones whizzed by in unpleasant proximity, now and then
striking the sail or the side of the boat, and he began to manifest
his displeasure, by showing his teeth and growling savagely.
Frank stood it as long as possible, knowing that the best plan was to
remain silent; but James continued to follow the boat, and the stones
struck all around the object of his vengeance.
"I wish you wouldn't do that," said Frank, at length.
"You do, eh?" said James. "How are you going to hinder it? But perhaps
you would rather have me throw at you."
And, picking up a large stone, he hurled it at his cousin with great
force. It fell into the creek, close to the boat, and splashed the
water all over Frank.
This seemed to enrage Brave more than ever, and he sprang into the
water, and swam toward the shore, and no amount of scolding on Frank's
part could induce him to return. James, fearing that he was about to
be punished in a way he had not thought of, turned and took to his
At this moment a loud shout was heard, and several boys sprang over
the fence into the road, and James was speedily overtaken and
surrounded. They were a ragged, hard-looking set of fellows, and Frank
knew that they were the Hillers; besides, he recognized the foremost
of them as Lee Powell. They had their fishing-rods on their shoulders,
and each boy carried in his hand a long string of trout.
"Look'e here, you spindle-shanked dandy," said Lee, striding up and
laying hold of James's collar with no friendly hand, "does yer know
who yer was a heavin' rocks at? Shall we punch him for yer?" he added,
turning to Frank.
"No," answered Frank; "let him go; he's my cousin."
Lee accordingly released him, and James said, in a scarcely audible
"I was only in fun."
"Oh, only playin', was yer?" said Lee; "that alters the case
'tirely--don't it, Pete?"
The boy appealed to nodded his assent, and Lee continued,
"We thought yer was in blood arnest. If yer _had_ been, we wouldn't a
left a grease-spot of yer--would we, Pete?"
"Mighty cl'ar of us," answered Pete.
As soon as James found himself at liberty, he started toward home at
full speed, hardly daring to look behind him. Brave had by this time
gained the shore, and was about to start in pursuit, but a few sharp
words from Frank restrained him.
"Whar are yer goin'?" inquired Lee, walking carelessly down the bank.
"I'm going to the village," answered Frank.
"Will yer give a feller a ride?"
"Certainly. Jump in."
The Hillers accordingly clambered into the boat, and, in a few
moments, they reached the wharf, at the back of the post-office.
Lee and his companions immediately sprang out, and walked off, without
saying a word; and Frank, after fastening his boat to the wharf, began
to pull down the sails, when he discovered that the Hillers had left
two large strings of trout behind them.
Hastily catching them up, he ran around the corner of the post-office,
and saw Lee and his followers, some distance up the road.
"Hallo!" he shouted, at the top of his lungs; "Lee Powell!"
But they paid no attention to him.
"I know they heard me," said Frank.
And he shouted again, but with no better success.
At length, one of the village boys, who was coming across the fields,
with a basket of strawberries on his arm, shouted to the Hillers,
and, when he had gained their attention, pointed toward Frank,
"See here!" Frank shouted, as he held up the fish; "you have forgotten
"No, I guess not," shouted Lee, in reply. "We Hillers don't forget
favors as easy as all that comes to. Ye're welcome to 'em."
And he and his companions walked rapidly off.
A few days after the events related in the preceding chapter
transpired, Frank, with one or two companions, was standing in the
post-office, waiting for the opening of the mail. The steamer had just
landed, and the passengers which she had brought were slowly walking
toward the hotel, where they intended to take dinner. At length, a
village hack came rapidly down the road leading from the wharf, and,
when it came opposite the post-office, a head was suddenly thrust out
at the window, the driver reined in his horses, the door flew open,
and Archie Winters sprang out.
We shall not attempt to describe the meeting of the cousins, nor the
joy that prevailed among the village boys at the arrival of their city
Archie had not written that it was his intention to come so soon, and
his sudden appearance among them took them completely by surprise.
After a few moments' conversation, Frank and Archie got into the
carriage, and, in a short time, were set down at the door of Mrs.
Frank's mother and sister expressed much joy at Archie's arrival, and,
after the excitement of meeting was over, they inquired after his
"When are they coming?" asked Frank.
"They intended to come in the fall," answered Archie, "but father has
more business on his hands than he expected, and they may not be here
before the holidays; but I couldn't wait."
"I'm glad you didn't," said Frank. "You are not going home before
spring, are you?"
"No," said Archie, "I'm going to stay as long as you will keep me."
Frank was overjoyed at this, and, if he had not been in the house, he
would have given, as he said, "a yell that would have done credit to
But, before going further, we must say a word about Archie's
companions--we mean his dogs. One of them, that answered to the name
of Sport, was as fine a fox-hound as one would wish to see. He was a
large, tan-colored animal, very fleet and courageous, and was well
acquainted with all the tricks of his favorite game, and the boys
often boasted that "Sport had never lost a fox in his life." The black
fox, which had held possession of Reynard's Island so long, was
captured by Frank and his cousin, with the assistance of Sport, after
a chase of three hours. Lightfoot--for that was the name of the
other--was an English grayhound. He stood full three feet high at the
shoulders, and his speed was tremendous. He was young, however, and
knew nothing about hunting; but he had been taught to "fetch and
carry," and, as he learned very readily, the boys expected plenty of
sport in training him.
After supper, Archie's trunk was carried into the "study," and the
boys busied themselves in taking out its contents. The clothing was
all packed away in the bureau; and then came Archie's "sporting
cabinet," as he called it--a fine double-barreled shot-gun, which was
hung upon the frame at the foot of the bed; a quantity of ammunition,
a small hatchet, powder-flasks, shot bags, and a number of other
things, which were stowed away in safe places.
At length Archie drew out two fish-poles, neatly stowed away in strong
bags, and one of them proved to be the one about which Archie had
written. This was placed away in one corner, and Frank promised to
mend it immediately.
"See here," said Archie, as he drew out two queer-looking implements;
"I have been acting on the suggestion of Uncle Joe Lewis."
"What are they?" inquired Frank.
One of them was a thin rod of steel, about three feet in length, very
pointed and sharp at the end the other looked very much like a
fish-spear, only the "tines" were smaller and sharper.
"They are spears," said Archie, in answer to Frank's question.
"So I see; but what use can you put them to?"
"This," said Archie, taking up the rod of steel, "is a mink-spear.
Last winter we lost a good many minks, when, if we had had an
instrument like this, we could have secured them easily enough. You
know that sometimes you get a mink into a place where you can see him,
but, if you go to work to chop a hole large enough to get a stick in
to kill him, he will jump out before you know what you are about. You
will remember a little incident of this kind that happened last
winter--that day we had such good luck. We were following a mink up
the creek on the ice, when Brave suddenly stopped before a hollow
stub, and stuck his nose into a hole, and acted as if there was a mink
in there; and, you know, we didn't believe there was, but we thought
we could stop and see. So we cut a hole in the stub, and, sure enough,
there was a mink, and, as good luck would have it, we had cut the hole
close to the place where he was, and we thought we had him sure; and,
while Harry Butler went to cut a stick to kill him with, I chopped the
hole a little larger, so that we could see him plainer, when, all of a
sudden, out popped the mink, and, before we could say 'scat,' it was
under the ice."
"Yes," said Frank, "I remember it very well; and, I guess, there were
some mad boys around that place, somewhere."
"Yes," said Archie, "I was provoked because it was all my fault that
we lost him. If we had had this spear, we could have killed him easy
enough. We wouldn't be obliged to cut a hole larger than an inch
square, and no mink I ever saw could get through that. And this," he
continued, taking up the other instrument, "is a muskrat-spear. The
way to proceed is this: Go to a muskrat's house, and, with an ax, cut
a chunk out of the top, directly over where they sleep."
"And, by the time you get that done," said Frank, with a laugh, "the
muskrats will be out of your way."
"I know that; they will undoubtedly start off the first blow you
strike, and swim to some breathing-hole; but in a quarter of an hour
they will be sure to return. While they are gone, you will have plenty
of time to cut the chunk, and, after taking it out, place it carefully
back, in such a manner that it can be removed instantly; then, if
there are any other houses near, serve them in the same way. Then, in
half an hour or so, take your spear and go to the houses, making as
little noise at possible, and let your companion lift out the chunk
suddenly, and you be ready to strike. Father says he has seen Uncle
Joe Lewis catch half a dozen in one house, in this way, very
frequently. He always spears the one nearest the passage that leads
from the house down into the water, and this will prevent the others
"I don't much like the idea," said Frank.
"Neither do I," said Archie. "It will do well enough for those who
make their living by hunting; but, if I want to hunt muskrats, I would
rather wait until the ice breaks up, in spring; I can then shoot them
quite fast enough to suit me, and the sport is more exciting."
One morning, about a week after Archie's arrival, they arose, as
usual, very early, and, while they were dressing, Frank drew aside the
curtain, and looked out.
"I say, Archie," he exclaimed, "you've got your wish; it's a
first-rate morning to go trout-fishing."
Archie had been waiting impatiently for a cloudy day; he was very fond
of trout-fishing, and he readily agreed to his cousin's proposal to
"take a trip to Dungeon Brook," and they commenced pulling on their
"hunting and fishing rig," as they called it, which consisted of a
pair of stout pantaloons that would resist water and dirt to the last
extremity, heavy boots reaching above their knees, and a blue flannel
While Archie was getting their fishing-tackle ready, Frank busied
himself in placing on the table in the kitchen such eatables as he
could lay his hands on, for he and his cousin were the only ones up.
Their breakfast was eaten in a hurry; and, after drawing on their
India-rubber coats--for Frank said it would rain before they
returned--they slung on their fish-baskets, and took their trout-poles
in their hands, and started out.
Dungeon Brook lay about five miles distant, through the woods. It was
a long tramp, over fallen logs and through thick bushes; but it was
famous for its large trout, and the boys knew they would be well
repaid for their trouble.
In about two hours they arrived at their destination; and, after
partaking of a lunch, which Frank had brought, they rigged their
"flies," and Archie went up the brook a little distance, to try a
place known among the boys as the "old trout-hole," while Frank
dropped his hook down close to a large log that lay across the stream,
near the place where he was standing. The bait sank slowly toward the
bottom, when, suddenly, there was a tremendous jerk, and the line
whizzed through the water with a force that bent the tough, elastic
pole like a "reed shaken with the wind." Frank was a skillful
fisherman, and, after a few moments' maneuvering, a trout weighing
between three and four pounds lay floundering on the bank.
Archie soon came up, having been a little more successful, as two
good-sized fish were struggling in his basket.
They walked slowly down the brook, stopping now and then to try some
favorite spot, and, about three o'clock in the afternoon, they reached
the place where the brook emptied into Glen's Creek, and were about
two miles from home. They had been remarkably successful; their
baskets were filled, and they had several "sockdologers" strung on a
branch, which they carried in their hands.
After dropping their hooks for a few moments among the perch, at the
mouth of the brook, they unjointed their poles, and started toward
home, well satisfied with their day's work.
The next day, as Frank and Archie were on their way to the village, on
foot--the wind being contrary, they could not sail--they met George
and Harry, who had started to pay them a visit.
"Hallo, boys!" exclaimed the former, as soon as they came within
speaking distance, "we've got news for you."
"And some that you will not like to hear, Frank," said Harry, with a
"What is it?" inquired Archie.
"Why, you know, Charley Morgan, some time since, sent to New York for
a couple of sail-boats, a sloop and schooner. They arrived yesterday,
and he thinks they are something great, and says the Speedwell is
"Yes," chimed in Harry, "he said, when those boats came, he would show
us 'country chaps' some sailing that would make us open our eyes; but,
come to find out, they are perfect tubs. I saw the sloop coming up the
creek, and she made poor headway. The Alert can beat her all hollow,
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