Marco Paul's Voyages and Travels; Vermont
Part 2 out of 3
If there had been a door leading directly from the study into the
yard, Marco would have left his studies and have gone out at once; but
as it was, he could not get out without going through the office where
his uncle was sitting. At last the thought struck him that he might
jump out the window. He felt some hesitation at taking this step, but
finally he concluded that he would do it, and just go near enough to
see what the boys were hiding, and exactly where they were putting it,
so that he could go afterward and find it without fail. He determined
to return then immediately.
"I shall not be out longer than five minutes," said he to himself,
"and I will let it go for my recess."
So he took his cap from the nail where he was accustomed to hang it,
while he was at his studies, and then climbing out the window, feet
foremost, he let himself down gently to the ground. He then crept
slyly along through the yards and gardens, until he got pretty near
the place where the boys were at work. The mystery, however, was
rather increased than diminished by the near view. He could make
nothing of the operations which they were engaged in; and while he was
hesitating whether to go nearer, one of the boys happened to look up
and spied him. Marco had intended to keep himself concealed by a tree,
behind which he had taken his station, but the boy having looked up
suddenly, at a moment when he happened to be off his guard, saw him
before he had time to draw back under the cover he had chosen.
"Holloa, Marco," said the boy, "come here."
Marco was astonished at this frank and open invitation. He had
expected that the boys, when they saw him, would have dropped at once
behind the fence to conceal themselves, or that they would have caught
up what he supposed they were burying, and have run away. Their
accosting him in this fearless manner deranged his ideas about their
probable object, and increased his curiosity to know what they were
doing. So he came forth from his concealment and went toward them.
When he reached the spot, the mystery was suddenly dispelled by his
finding out that they were digging worms for bait, to go a-fishing.
Marco's curiosity was now changed to eager desire. The boys told him
that they were going down to the river to fish for eels, and Marco's
soul was all on fire to accompany them. He had never fished for eels.
He knew the boys very well, and they offered to lend him a hook and
line. But Marco thought that on the whole it would not do. He tried to
persuade them to wait until the afternoon, but they would not consent
to such a postponement of their pleasure. So Marco wished them good
luck, and began to mount the fence again, with the intention of
returning to his studies.
On looking toward the office, he saw his uncle coming out of the door
in the rear of it, and walking toward the house. Marco immediately
reflected that it would not answer for him to meet his uncle, and he
descended from the fence again on the same side with the boys, until
his uncle should go back. The boys thought he came back because he
was undecided whether to go with them or not, and they renewed their
invitations with redoubled urgency. Marco did not reply, but looked
steadily toward the house. He saw a man standing in the yard with a
small ladder in his hand. A moment afterward, Marco's uncle came out
of the house, and, to Marco's great consternation, he perceived that
he had a saw and a hatchet in his hand, and then he recollected that
his uncle had been intending to prune some trees that forenoon. The
trees were situated in various positions about the yard, so that Marco
could neither go in at the front door of the office, nor climb in at
the window, without being discovered. He did not know what to do.
In the mean time, the boys urged him to go with them. They did not
know any thing about his studies, and supposed that his hesitation was
only owing to his want of interest in the object of the expedition.
Finally, Marco concluded to go. He supposed that he should not be able
to get back into his study till noon, as he recollected that his
uncle expected to be employed all the forenoon about his pruning.
He thought, therefore, that his chance of detection would not be
increased by staying out an hour or two longer, and so he told the
boys that he would go.
When they had procured sufficient bait, they went toward the river.
Their way led them not very far from the house, and they were several
times in situations where they were exposed to view, in case Marco's
uncle had looked toward them. Marco, however, contrived to walk by
these places in such a manner as to cover himself as much as possible
from view by the other boys; and besides, he hoped that his uncle was
too much occupied with his pruning, to notice what boys were prowling
about the village. They passed across the street in this manner, and
then went down over the intervales toward the river. Marco felt quite
relieved at seeing that his uncle kept steadily at his work, holding
the ladder for the other man to mount by, or sawing off low branches
himself, without appearing to notice the boys at all.
The river was circuitous in its course, and its banks were in some
places steep, and in others low and sandy. The water was generally
shallow, but in some places it was deep,--especially under the high
banks. In many places there were willows and elms, overhanging the
water. It was in one of these places that the boys were going to fish
for eels. It was a point where the river took a sudden turn, forming a
sort of angle in the stream, where the water was very dark and deep.
The bank was high at that place, and it was covered with trees and
bushes. Some of these trees had been undermined, and their roots and
branches were floating in the water. The boys scrambled down to the
brink and made ready for fishing. They cut slender poles in the
bushes, for fishing-poles. There was a trunk of a tree lying along
the shore, extending obliquely out a little way over the water, which
furnished them a convenient footing. They stood or sat upon it, baited
their hooks, and threw them over into the water. They followed the
bait with their eyes as it sunk slowly down into the dark depths,
among the logs, and roots, and trunks of trees, which were lying
submerged in the water.
The boys remained here an hour, but they caught no eels. Either there
were none there, or for some reason or other they chose not to bite.
They had some talk about going to another place, but before they
decided upon that plan, Marco's attention was arrested by the sight of
what appeared to be a large log floating down the river. He pointed it
out to the other boys, and, on closer examination, they saw that it
was an old canoe, of the kind that are formed by hollowing out a log.
It was not of very large size and it appeared to be rather old and
decayed. Still, the boys wanted to get it very much. They gathered in
their lines, and ran along the bank, keeping pace with the boat as it
[Illustration: BOAT ADRIFT.]
They very soon came to a reach of the river,--that is, to a length
of it between one bend and another, where the water was swift and
shallow. So the two boys who had been fishing with Marco threw off
their shoes, and pulled up their trowsers, and ran down the bank, and
into the river. The boat was far out in the stream, and they had to
wade some distance before they came to it. Besides, as the boat was
floating down all the time, while they were wading across, it got some
distance down the stream before they could reach it. They, however,
succeeded in getting it at last, and, with much floundering in the
water and many shouts of laughter, they brought it over to Marco.
Marco was much pleased with the prize. It was in better condition than
they had expected to find it. There was, indeed, a piece knocked out
at one end, near the upper edge, but they found that it would support
all three of the boys, if they sat in it carefully, and with their
weight principally at the other end. For want of oars or paddles they
cut poles on the banks, thinking that they could push the boat along,
by planting the poles against the bottom, as the water was not deep.
They drew the boat up to the shore, and poured out some water which
had got into her, and then they all carefully embarked, intending to
make a little voyage.
It happened that just below the place to which the boat had drifted
before they overtook it, the water became somewhat deeper, and of
course more smooth and still, so that it afforded a favorable place
for navigating such a boat. In fact, the character of the stream,
throughout its whole course for several miles, was to present a
constant succession of changes, from deep and almost still water, to
shallow and rapid currents, rippling over beds of sand and gravel.
One of these rapids, or rips, as they were called, the boys had just
passed; it being in one of them, though one more broad and less rapid
than many of the others, that they had pursued and overtaken the
boat. In the smooth and still water below, therefore, they had a very
favorable opportunity to try their boat, for the water, though not so
shallow as it was above, was still not so deep as to prevent their
propelling their boat, by pushing their poles against the bottom. It
required some care to preserve their equilibrium, but then the water
was not deep, and they knew, therefore, that there was no danger of
being drowned if they should upset.
Things went on very prosperously, until, after a few minutes, the boys
suddenly found themselves drifting into deeper water. Their poles
would scarcely touch the bottom. Marco, who was not much accustomed to
this kind of navigation, was at first somewhat alarmed, but the other
boys told him to keep quiet, and they would soon drift into shallow
water again. They accordingly drew in their poles, and began to look
over the edge of the boat into the water, to see if they could see
any eels. They saw no eels, but the water soon began to grow shallow
again, and so the boys, feeling that they were in no danger, remained
quietly in their places, looking idly into the water, talking about
the various objects which they saw upon the bottom.
After some minutes spent in this manner, one of the boys looked down
the stream, and saw that the boat was gradually approaching another of
"Come, boys," said he, "we must go to work, or we shall be down over
So the boys all took their poles and began to push the boat up the
stream; but they found it harder than they had expected. In fact, the
boat had drifted down nearer to the rapids than they ought to have
allowed it to go. The water was running quite swiftly where they were,
and they soon found that all their efforts were not sufficient to stem
the current. The boat was carried round and round in every direction,
excepting up the stream. In fact the current was rapidly acquiring the
entire mastery over them, and hurrying them down to a point where the
water poured on in a furious torrent through a long narrow passage
between beds of stone and gravel.
"Pull, boys, pull!" said Marco; "we shall go down over the rips in
spite of every thing."
The boys did pull, but they could effect nothing. The water was
sweeping them along with great rapidity, notwithstanding all their
struggles. Finally, when they found that they could not make head
against it, so as to go up the stream, they concluded to pull for the
shore. They were not in any great fear, for the river was very narrow
and not more than knee deep in the rapids, so that there was no real
danger of any calamity greater than getting well wet. They seemed to
be also in a fair way to escape this, for they found that they could
make some progress in getting their boat toward the shore. But, just
as they began to think their object was about to be accomplished, they
were arrested by a sudden mishap. It happened that there was a little
snag in the river, nearly in the direction in which they were going.
It was the end of a small log, which rose almost to the surface of the
water. The greater part of the log was firmly imbedded in the sand,
but there was a small portion of it which projected so far as barely
to be submerged. The boys did not notice this, and, in their eagerness
to run the boat ashore, it happened that they were running it across
the current, just above this snag. But as the current was sweeping
them down the stream at the same time that they were pushing
themselves across it, it carried the boat with great force against
this snag. The bottom of the boat was confined by it, while the force
of the current, still pressing upon the side, overset it in a moment,
and threw all the boys out into the water.
The boys scrambled out without much difficulty, and stood upon the
gravelly beach. They saw at the same moment a man on the bank of the
river above, who looked as if he was about to run to their aid; but
when he saw that they were safe, he turned around immediately and
disappeared. An instant afterward, Marco, finding that his cap was not
upon his head, looked around for it, and, to his dismay, he saw it
floating swiftly away down the rapids. He ran into the water and
seized the boat, which was then beginning also to go away. He called
upon the boys to help him pull it up and pour the water out. He then
lanched it again with all speed, seized one of the poles, clambered
into it, and pushed off into the swiftest part of the current, and
away he went after his cap.
[Illustration: CAP GONE.]
He resorted to this desperate measure, because he was greatly alarmed
at the idea of going home without his cap. It would have certainly
insured his detection, and, as he supposed, a double punishment. He
now was as eager to go down the rapids as he had before been to escape
them. His only care was to keep his boat head down, so that if he
should encounter any snag or rock he might not be thrown broadside on.
He kept a good lookout too ahead. The boat shot through the water like
an arrow, and was soon clear of the rapids in the comparatively still
Marco contrived to paddle with his pole, so as to overtake the cap and
recover it. Then he went to the shore and landed. He drew up the
boat as high as he could, and went back to seek the other boys. He
concluded that it was time to go home. His conscience now began to
reproach him with the wrong which he had been doing. His promised
pleasure had failed. His clothes were wet and uncomfortable. His mind
was anxious and unhappy. With a heavy heart he began to retrace his
steps, sure of detection when he reached home, and of punishment. He
did not, however, dread the punishment so much as the just displeasure
which his cousin would manifest, and the evidence of the pain which he
knew his cousin would suffer, when he came to learn how his pupil had
betrayed the confidence which had been reposed in him. Before he set
out for home, however, he took off such of his clothes as were most
wet, and wrung out the water as well as he could, and then put them on
When he drew near to the house, he expected to see his uncle still at
work, but he was not there. Marco reconnoitered the place carefully,
and then went into the office. His uncle was not in the office. He
passed through into the study. He was afraid that Forester would be
there, but, to his surprise and joy, he was not, and there was no sign
that he had been there since the morning. Marco looked at the watch,
and found that it was only about half-past eleven. So he took down
a volume of the Encyclopedia and began to read. He read the article
_canoe_, and he found some information about the bark canoes made
by Indians, but nothing about log canoes. In about fifteen minutes he
heard the office door open, and his cousin Forester came in. Forester
walked into the study, but said nothing to Marco. Marco kept at his
work, without speaking to his cousin. He began to hope that he might
yet escape. His only fear now was lest his wet clothes should be
observed. He put his hand down many times to his knees, to ascertain
how fast they were drying. The clothes that he wore were of woolen,
and of a dark color, so that they did not show the wet very
distinctly, and, besides, the sun and the air were warm that day, and
the clothes had dried fast. In a word, when twelve o'clock arrived and
Marco put his books away, nobody would have observed that his clothes
had been wet. He ran about in the open air until dinner-time, and
though, when he went in to dinner, he felt oppressed with a sense of
guilt and of self-condemnation, he was satisfied that no one suspected
him. Marco thought that he had had a very lucky escape.
Though Marco's first feeling was that of relief, to find that he had
got back from his truancy without detection, he felt, after all, ill
at ease. He kept out of sight till the dinner-bell rang, and then he
was almost afraid to go in, for fear that, by some accident or other,
his uncle might have noticed his absence, and might ask him something
about it. He was usually much interested at dinner-time in talking
with Forester about plans for the afternoon; but now he felt guilty
and afraid, and he was disinclined to look his uncle or his cousin in
the face, or to speak a word.
And yet it was not punishment that Marco was afraid of. There were
very few boys who could bear punishment of any kind with more
fortitude than he, or to whom the idea of punishment gave less
concern. It was the detection itself, rather than what was to come
after it, that he feared. There is something in the very act of being
detected and exposed in guilt, which the heart instinctively shrinks
from; and many a boy would willingly bear in secret twice the pain
which the punishment of an offense would bring, rather than have his
commission of the offense discovered and made known.
There was, however, no indication, at the dinner table, that Marco's
cousin or uncle suspected him of any wrong. They talked of various
subjects in their usual manner. Forester had arranged it with Marco,
to go that afternoon down to the mill-pond, to examine the boat, in
order to see whether they could have it fitted with oars, and to
make arrangements to that effect. Marco now hoped that Forester had
forgotten this plan, and would not go. Though he had been very much
interested in the plan the day before, he now felt disinclined to go.
He wished to be alone, or at least out of sight of Forester. He felt
as if he had a terrible secret on his mind, and that there was great
danger that something or other would occur to discover it. So he hoped
that Forester would have forgotten the appointment, and that it would
be thus postponed to some future time.
But Forester had not forgotten it; and after dinner, he asked Marco
how soon he should be ready to go. Marco said that he should be ready
at any time; and in about half an hour they set out. They walked
together to the mill-pond. Forester said that the boat belonged to
a man who worked in the mills, but he lived a little distance above
them. His house was near the water, in a little valley. The water of
the pond extended up into this valley, forming a sort of bay.
[Illustration: THE MILLMAN'S HOUSE.]
A road led to the house, but did not go beyond it. The house was
small, but it had pleasant little yards and gardens about it, and
various pens and coops for different sorts of animals. The man who
lived there was famous for keeping a great many animals. He had pigs,
and cows, and Malta cats, and two dogs,--one of them a water dog,--and
ducks and geese,--among the latter, two wild geese,--and hens and
rabbits; and there were two gray squirrels, hanging up in a cage by
the side of the front door. Forester told Marco about these animals as
they walked along.
Marco was very fond of animals, and he began to anticipate great
pleasure in seeing these. When they came near the house, he ran
forward to look at the wild geese. The water dog ran to meet Forester.
He knew Forester, having often seen him there before. Forester and
Marco rambled about the yards, looking at the animals for some time,
and then went to the water's edge, which was very near the house. The
ducks and geese were swimming in the water. Forester called the dog
there, and Marco amused himself for some time in throwing sticks into
the water, and ordering the dog, whose name was Nelson, to plunge in
and go and bring them back. The boat was there too, fastened by a rope
to a post in the bank. At length, after Marco had satisfied himself
with these amusements, he said,
"Well, cousin Forester, here is the boat."
"Yes," said Forester, "but the man don't seem to be at home. I presume
he's at the mill."
"And what shall we do in that case?" asked Marco.
"Why, I will go into the house first, and ascertain the fact, and get
So Forester went into the house, and soon afterward returned, bringing
with him a paddle. He said that the man was at the mill, but that
his wife said that they might have the boat to go and find him. "I
thought," said Forester, "that you would rather go in the boat than
"Yes," said Marco, "I should."
"Besides," continued Forester, "I can teach you to paddle."
Marco took the paddle from Forester's hand. He had never seen one
before. He said that they always used oars, not paddles, in New York
harbor. A paddle is shaped very differently from an oar. It is much
shorter and lighter,--though the blade is broader. A paddle is worked,
too, differently from an oar. An oar acts as a lever against the side
of the boat,--the middle of it resting in a small notch called a
row-lock, or between two wooden pins. But a paddle is held in the
"What do they have paddles for in this country?" said Marco. "Oars are
"You are not competent to decide that question," replied Forester.
"Why not?" said Marco; "I have rowed boats many a time."
"Yes, but you have never paddled much. You have used oars, but not
paddles, and so you can not compare them."
"Well," said Marco, "I mean to try this paddle now, and then I can
Marco had seen the boys who were with him in the boat that morning,
using their poles as paddles, and he had used one of the poles in that
manner himself; and he was just upon the point of saying something
upon the subject, when suddenly he recollected that it would betray
him. In fact, Marco found that having such a secret as this upon his
mind, was a source of great embarrassment and constraint, as he more
than once came very near making some allusion inadvertently, which
would have resulted in his exposure. While speaking of boats, and
oars, and paddles, and such subjects, he had to be continually upon
his guard and to watch all his words.
They got into the boat and pushed out upon the water. Forester taught
Marco how to use the paddle. He gave him his seat in the stern of the
boat, and directed him to grasp the lower end of the handle with the
other hand. Then, by dipping the blade in the water and pushing the
water back, the boat was propelled forward. He also explained to him
how, by turning the blade of the paddle, one way or the other, he
could give the bow of the boat an impulse toward the right or toward
"Thus you see," said Forester, "with a paddle you can steer, but with
an oar you can not."
"With two oars I can," said Marco.
"Yes." replied Forester. "You must have two oars to guide a boat, but
you can do it with one paddle. Therefore, if you can have but one, a
paddle is better than an oar. There is another advantage in a paddle;
that is, in using it, your face looks the way that you are going."
"Yes," rejoined Marco, "that is a great advantage."
"In rowing, you must sit with your back to the bow of the boat, and
look over your shoulder to see where you are going."
"Yes," said Marco, "unless you have a steersman."
"True," replied Forester. "When you have several men to row, and one
to steer, you get along very well with oars, but in case of only one
man, there is an advantage in a paddle. There is still another point
to be considered,--a paddle is better for a narrow boat and oars for
"Why so?" asked Marco.
"Because," said Forester, "a certain width is required in a boat in
order to work oars well. The oarsman must sit upon the seat, and
extend the oar off upon one side of the boat, and there must be a
certain distance between the part which he takes hold of, and the
row-lock, in order to work to advantage. But it is no matter how
narrow the boat is if he has a paddle, for he holds it perpendicularly
over the side."
"So paddles are better," said Marco, "for one kind of boat, and oars
"Yes," replied Forester, "and paddles are better for one kind of
_navigation_, and oars for another. Oars require greater breadth
of water to work in. In a narrow, crooked stream flowing among logs
and rocks, oars would not answer at all. But with a paddle a man can
worm a boat through anywhere."
"That is, if it is only wide enough for the boat to go," said Marco.
"Of course," replied Forester. "The paddle itself requires no
additional space. But oars extend so far laterally"--
"Laterally?" asked Marco.
"Yes," rejoined Forester; "that is, on each side. Oars extend so far
on each side, that they require a great breadth of water. If you
attempt to go through a narrow place, the oars would strike."
"Why, no," said Marco. "You can give orders to trail oars."
"I don't know any thing about that," said Forester.
"That's a beautiful manoeuver," said Marco, "only it is hard to do.
You see, you order them to give way hearty, so as to get a good
headway, till just as you get to the narrow place, and then
_trail_ is the word. Then the oarsmen all whip their oars out of
the row-locks in an instant, and let 'em trail alongside under the
boat's counters, and she shoots through the narrow place like a bird."
Marco became very enthusiastic in describing this manoeuver, but
Forester did not get a very clear idea of it, after all.
"You'll teach it to us," said Forester, "when we get our oars and
a good boat's crew of boys. At any rate, a boat can be paddled
continuously through a narrow space, better than it can be rowed.
Therefore, paddles are generally used on rivers, where there are many
narrow places to pass through. Indians and savages almost always use
paddles, for they navigate many intricate and narrow passages of
By this time they began to draw near the mill. They landed near some
great logs which were floating in the water, ready to be drawn up into
the mill and sawed. They went up the bank and thence into the mill.
The man who owned the boat, was tending the mill. When he wanted a
log, he would take the end of a long chain down a sloping plane of
planks which led to the water, and fasten it to a log. The other end
of the chain was fastened round an axle in the mill, and when all was
ready, the man would set the axle in motion by the machinery, and that
would draw the log up. When the log was in the mill, the man would
roll it over into its place, on a long platform of timber, where it
was to be sawed. Then he would set the saw machinery in motion, and
the platform would begin to move forward, and the saw at the same time
to go up and down, sawing the log as it advanced. Thus it would saw
it through, from end to end, and then, by reversing the motion of the
machinery, the log was carried back again. The man would then move it
a little to one side, just far enough for the thickness of the board
which he wished to make, and then begin to saw again. He moved the log
by means of an iron bar with a sharp point, which he struck into the
end of the log, and thus pried it over, one end at a time. When the
log was placed in its new position, the machinery was set in motion
again, and the log was sawed through in another place, from end to
end, parallel to the first sawing, leaving the width of a board
between. This process was continued until the log was sawed entirely
into boards, except a piece in the middle, which it was necessary to
leave of double thickness, and this answered for a plank.
Marco was much interested in watching this process, and when the
sawing of this log was completed, and another log drawn up into its
place, Forester introduced the subject of the boat. He told the man
what he wished to do, namely, to have some row-locks or thole-pins
made along the sides of the boat, and some oars to row it with. It
would also be necessary to have seats, or thwarts, as they are called,
placed in such a manner that there should be one just before each
row-lock. These seats were for the oarsmen to sit upon, in rowing. The
man told Forester that he might do any thing he pleased with the boat.
He was sure that Forester would do it no injury. Forester asked him
who would be a good man to do the work, and the man recommended to him
a wagon-maker who had a shop very near the mill.
They went to the wagon-maker and explained to him what they wanted.
The wagon-maker readily undertook the work. They all went down to the
boat together, to plan the seats and the places for the thole-pins.
They concluded to have three pairs on each side. This would require
six oars. These oars the wagon-maker promised to make, and to have all
the work done by the beginning of the next week. They also concluded
to have the boat taken out of the water and thoroughly calked again,
and her bottom _payed_ over with pitch, as she was not perfectly
tight. This being all arranged, Forester and Marco began to walk
"It seems to me strange to get a wagon-maker to work on a boat," said
"In New York, I suppose you would go to a boat-builder," said
"Yes," replied Marco, "to be sure."
"There are no boat-builders here," rejoined Forester. "In fact, there
are very few trades represented here, and workmen are willing to do
any kind of jobs that they can."
As only a small part of the afternoon was yet passed away, Marco asked
Forester if he might go down to the river a-fishing. "I can keep
within my bounds, you know," said he.
"Yes," said Forester, "you _can_ keep within your bounds."
"And I will," said Marco. "Don't you suppose I will?"
"Why, you can tell better than I can about that," said Forester.
"You have been here now some weeks, and I have treated you with
considerable trust and confidence,--have I not?"
"Why, yes," said Marco.
"I have given you leave to go a-fishing, trusting to your fidelity
in keeping within your bounds. I have left you alone in your study,
several times in the forenoons. I have let you go up on the mountains
with other boys, and lent you my watch, so that you might know when
it was time to come back. Now you can tell better than I, whether you
have been faithful to all of these trusts."
Marco did not answer. He did not know what to say. He walked along in
"I will leave it with you to decide," said Forester. "Here we are just
home; now you may go into the study and reflect a few moments upon the
subject. Call to mind all the cases in which I have treated you with
trust and confidence, and consider whether you have always been
faithful to the trust. If, on reflection, you think that you have, you
may take your fishing-line and go a-fishing. If you feel conscious
that you have at any time betrayed my confidence, you must not go this
afternoon. You may go out to play wherever you please about the house
and garden, but you must not go a-fishing. If you are in doubt whether
you have betrayed my confidence or not, and wish to ask my opinion
about some particular case which comes up to your mind, you may remain
in the study till I come in, and ask me, and I will tell you. I shall
be in, in a few minutes."
There was a pause here. Marco looked very serious, and walked along in
silence. Such a turn to the conversation was entirely unexpected to
him, and he did not know what to say.
"It is possible," continued Forester, "that you may be conscious that
you have clearly been guilty of betraying the confidence which I have
placed in you in some instance which I know nothing of, or which you
suppose I know nothing of, and you may wish to confess it to me. If
you have been guilty of any such act, the best thing that you can do
is to confess it to me at once; and if you wish to do it, you may wait
till I come, for that purpose. So you may wait till I come either to
ask me a question, or to confess a fault. If you do not wish to do
either, you may go out without waiting for me; but you must not go
a-fishing unless you can truly say that you have been faithful and
honest, whenever I have trusted you before."
So saying, Forester parted from Marco and went into the house. Marco
slowly walked into the office, and through it into the little study.
He was greatly perplexed to know what to make of this address. "Can
it be," thought he, "that he knows that I went away this morning? How
could he have found it out? Or did he say that, only to find out now
whether I have been honest or not heretofore?"
On mature reflection, Marco concluded that Forester did not probably
know any thing about his having gone away. He thought that what he had
just said was only a part of Forester's general plan of managing
his case, and that it did not imply that Forester entertained any
particular suspicions. Marco thought that he might therefore safely go
a-fishing that afternoon if he was disposed; but we must do him the
justice to say, that he did not entertain the idea of doing it a
moment. He determined that he would not go. But as he was not prepared
to confess his fault, and as he had no question to ask, he determined
to go and play about the garden. He thought a little of waiting till
his cousin came in, and then honestly making a confession; but he
could not quite conclude upon this, and so he determined to go and
think more of it. Besides, he concluded that if he were going to make
a confession at all, he should rather do it that evening when he went
to bed; for Forester always came up to his room after he went to bed,
to have a little friendly and serious conversation with him, and to
bid him good night.
He accordingly went out before Forester came in. He spent the
afternoon in a miserable state of mind. He could not divest himself of
the feeling of anxiety, that in some way or other, Forester had found
out his transgression. He rather wondered, that, if it were true that
Forester had found it out, he had not said something to him directly
about it,--but then he knew it was Forester's way not always to make
known, at once, all that he knew in such cases. But then he thought,
again, that Forester _could_ not know any thing about it. There
was no way for him to have known it. He was away all the morning, and
did not come home until after Marco got back. So he concluded that
Forester did not know; but he began to wish that he did. He could not
bear to think of telling him, but he wished that he knew. The burden
of such a secret became intolerable to him. He strolled about the
yards and garden, not knowing what to do with himself, and growing all
the time more and more anxious and unhappy. He was in a very serious
Marco cast his eyes occasionally toward the office, expecting to see
Forester come out. He thought Forester would want to know whether he
went a-fishing or not. But he did not come. Marco spent some time in
the garden with James, who was at work there raking over the ground,
and gathering in such things as might be hurt by any sudden frost.
Marco worked with him for some time, and endeavored to converse with
him, but he did not find him very communicative, and at last he went
into the house and sat on the sofa in the parlor, reading, until
Marco fully expected that Forester would ask him at supper time
whether he had been a-fishing or not; but he said nothing about it.
Forester told his father and mother about their plan for a boat, and
gave them a full account of their visit to the mill. His mother seemed
quite interested in the account, and told Marco, that, after he got
his crew well trained, she should hope that he would invite her on an
excursion in the boat.
"Yes," said Marco, "we will. We must have a seat, cousin Forester, for
passengers and visitors, in the stern sheets."
"The stern sheets?" said Forester, "what do you mean by the stern
"Why, it is aft," said Marco, "between the coxswain's place and the
"You'll have to show us," said his aunt, "when we come to see the
This kind of conversation somewhat relieved Marco's mind,--but still
he was ill at ease, and he determined to tell Forester the whole story
at bedtime, if he could only summon up courage to begin.
In the room where Marco slept, there was a large, stuffed arm-chair,
which was commonly called the easy chair; it was one that was seldom
used by the family, except in sickness. It stood in a corner of the
room not far from the head of Marco's bed. Forester used to sit in
this chair while he remained conversing with Marco, when he came up to
take his light.
When Forester had taken his seat in the great chair this evening,
according to his usual custom, he began his conversation by saying.
"Well, Marco, have you been helping James in the garden this
"Why, no," said Marco, "I did not help him much,--I don't like James
"Why not?" asked Forester.
"Why, I don't think he is very accommodating," replied Marco.
"What has he done to-day, which is unaccommodating?" asked Forester.
"He would not lend me his knife. I wanted to borrow his knife to cut
me a cane from some apple-tree trimmings, and he would not let me have
"Haven't you got a knife of your own?" asked Forester.
"Yes," said Marco, "but mine won't open."
"Won't open?" repeated Forester. "What's the cause of that?"
"Why, I suppose because the joint is rusty," replied Marco.
"How came it rusty?" asked Forester.
"Why, you see I laid it down one day on a stone, where I was at work
with it, and left it there, and there happened to come a rain in the
night and rusted it. I did not know where it was, and so I didn't find
it for a good many days."
"Then, I presume," said Forester, "that James supposed that you would
leave his knife out in the same way and spoil it."
"No," replied Marco, "that was not the reason."
"You are sure that you asked him for it distinctly, and he refused?"
"Yes," said Marco.
Here there was a moment's pause. Marco thought that his cousin
Forester was considering what should be done to James, for being so
unaccommodating. He did not know but that he would report him to his
father and have him turned away; though Marco did not really wish to
have him turned away.
But Forester said, after reflecting a moment, "That makes me think of
a story I have got here; listen and hear it."
[Illustration: MARCO'S ROOM.]
So Forester took out his pocket-book and opened it, and then appeared
to be turning over the leaves, for a moment, to find a place. Then he
began to read, or to appear to read, as follows:
Once there was a little girl named Anne. She came to her mother one
day, as she was sitting in the parlor, and began to complain bitterly
of her sister Mary. Her sister Mary was older than she was, and had a
doll. Anne complained that Mary would not lend her her doll.
"Are you sure that she refused to lend you her doll?" asked her
"Yes, mother, I am _sure_ she did," replied Anne.
"Perhaps she is playing with it herself," said her mother.
"No," replied Anne, "she is ironing in the kitchen."
"I think you must be mistaken," said her mother. "Go and ask her
again. Don't tell her I sent you, but ask her yourself, whether she
really meant that she was not willing to lend you her doll."
So Anne ran off to put the question to Mary again; presently she
returned with the same answer. "Mary," she said, "would not lend it to
"I am very sorry to hear it," said her mother, "for now I suppose I
shall have to punish you."
"To punish _her_, you mean," said Anne.
"No," said her mother, "to punish you. I don't suppose _she_ is
"Why, mother--how can _I_ be to blame, for her not being willing
to lend me her doll?"
"You _are_, I've no doubt," said her mother. "Mary is a
good-natured, accommodating girl,--always ready to do kindnesses, and
if she has any unwillingness to lend any thing to you, it must be that
you have created it yourself, by some misconduct. So that it will
prove, no doubt, that you are the one to be punished."
Here Anne began to hang her head and look a little ashamed. Her
mother's supposition proved to be correct, for, on inquiring, it
appeared that Mary had lent her doll to Anne a few days before, and
that when she wanted it again, Anne was unwilling to give it to her,
and when Mary insisted on her bringing it to her, she became angry and
threw the doll out the window.
"I never heard that story before, cousin Forester," said Marco. "And I
did not know that you had stories in your pocket-book."
Forester laughed and put up his pocket-book.
"I don't believe there is any story there," said Marco. "You made it
up for me, I verily believe."
"Yes," said Forester, "I did. Don't it fit your case pretty well?"
"Why, I don't know," said Marco. "I don't see why he could not let me
have his knife."
"Suppose _I_ had asked him for his knife; don't you suppose he
would have lent it to me?"
"Yes," said Marco, "I've no doubt he would; he would do any thing for
_you_, of course, because you pay him--or uncle pays him, which
is the same thing."
"I don't think that that is the reason altogether," replied Forester.
"There was the man at the mill to-day, who said that I might take his
boat and do any thing I chose to do with it."
"Yes," said Marco, "I noticed that."
"And perhaps you thought it was very much to his credit that he did
"Yes," said Marco.
"But the fact is," rejoined Forester, "as I think, it was more to
my credit than his; because I have had his boat a great many times
heretofore, and his having so much confidence in me now, shows how I
have acted with his property before. I have always taken a great deal
of pains to use it carefully, to bring it back to its place safely, to
get the water out, if there was any in it, and leave every thing in
order. I have done this, not only because it is just and right that I
should not make him suffer inconvenience on account of his doing me a
favor, but as a matter of policy."
"What do you mean by a matter of policy?" asked Marco.
"Why, regard to my own interest. If I did not do so, I should soon
make people unwilling to lend me their things. And I think there must
be some good reason why James is not willing to lend you his knife."
"Why, he says," answered Marco, "that I don't bring back his things."
"Ah!" rejoined Forester, "that's it. I thought there must be some such
reason as that. You have lost your character with James, and I advise
you to acquire a new one as soon as you can. Besides, you have done
him injustice this evening. You represented him as refusing you his
knife because he was unaccommodating and selfish, whereas it was
only proper regard to the safety of his property. What you said was
calculated to make an unfavorable impression on my mind against him,
and one which would have been unjust."
Marco perceived that it was so, and was silent.
"I am sorry that your knife is rusty," resumed Forester. "Perhaps I
can get it open for you."
"How?" asked Marco.
"Why, I believe the best way is to soak the joint in oil. The oil will
insinuate itself into the joint, and then we can get hold of the blade
with a pair of nippers, or something of the kind, and open it; and
then, by working it to and fro a few times, the rust will work out,
and the knife be as good as it was before. If it is very rusty indeed,
this plan will not answer."
"What must be done in that case?" asked Marco.
"The only way then is to carry it to some kind of smith and get him to
punch out the rivet. Then we can take the blade out entirely. By this
means we can clean it of its rust, and then put it in again with a new
rivet. If you will give me your knife to-morrow, I will try to put it
in order for you again, in one or the other of these ways.
"And now," continued Forester, after a short pause, "it is time for me
to go down, unless you have something which you wish to say."
Although it was not unusual for Forester to close his evening
conversation in this manner, Marco's attention was particularly
arrested by the excellent opportunity which this remark afforded him
to make his confession. He really wished to make it,--but he did not
know how to begin. He wished that his cousin would ask him something
about it, or introduce the subject in some way or other, but Forester
was silent. Presently he rose, came to Marco's bedside, and asked him
if he was warm enough,--for the nights at this season of the year were
beginning to be cool.
"Yes," said Marco, "I'm very comfortable."
"Well, then, good night." So Forester took the lamp and walked slowly
toward the door.
"Cousin Forester," said Marco.
"What?" said Forester.
"Don't go just yet."
Forester turned back and advanced to the foot of the bed. There was a
high foot-board at the foot of the bed, and Forester leaned upon it
with the lamp in his hand.
"Is there any thing that you want to say to me?"
Marco was silent. He looked distressed and embarrassed, and moved his
head restlessly on his pillow.
"There's something wrong, isn't there, Marco," said Forester, "that
you are thinking whether to confess to me or not? If there is, do just
as you choose about it. I like to have you confess what you have done
that is wrong, but then, if you do it at all, it must be done of your
"Well," said Marco, "I want to tell you about my going away to play
"How long were you gone?" asked Forester.
"Pretty much all the forenoon," replied Marco.
"Well," said Forester, "I am very glad you concluded to confess it of
your own accord, but I know all about it."
Marco started up in his bed and looked his cousin in the face, and
"Why, cousin Forester, how did you know?"
"To prove to you that I really did know, I will tell you what you did.
You got out of the window soon after I went away, and went over into
Mr. Eldon's garden, where George Eldon and Samuel Warner were digging
worms for bait. Then you went with them down to the river. You hid
behind them when you passed in sight of the house, for fear that
father would see you, as he was out in the yard, pruning trees.
Then you went down to the river and sat on a log under some bushes,
fishing. After a while you spied an old log canoe, drifting down the
river, and the other boys waded out and got it. Then you all got into
it and paddled about a while, and afterward got carried over the rips
and upset in the water. Your cap drifted down the stream, and you
went after it in the canoe and got it. After that, you took off your
stockings and wrung out the water from them, and then came home. You
got into the study only about a quarter of an hour before I came."
Marco listened to this minute account of his adventures with eager
interest, wondering how his cousin could have obtained so early and
such complete information. After Forester had concluded, he paused a
moment and breathed a long sigh. Then he laid his head down upon his
pillow again, saying,
"Well, I don't see how you found it out; and I am sorry that you did,
for I meant to have told you all about it myself."
Marco seemed really disappointed at having lost the opportunity to
make his full confession, but Forester told him that he considered
that he _had_ made full confession. "You made up your mind to
do it," said he, "and you did begin, and it was the beginning which
required all the effort. I only refrained from asking you about the
details, from a wish to show you that I really knew all about it."
"I don't see how you found it out," said Marco. "I suppose it must
have been that the boys told you."
"No," replied Forester; "I have not seen either of the boys, or heard
any thing from them, directly or indirectly."
"Then you must have watched me yourself," said Marco, "instead of
"Do you think," said Forester, "that I would pretend that I was going
away, and then just go out a little way and lie in wait to watch you?
"Why, no,"--said Marco,--"I don't really suppose that you would."
"No," said Forester, "I really went away nut of town. I went to visit
a sick man and help him make his will, and I did not return until just
before you saw me."
"Then I don't see how you knew," said Marco.
"It is of very little consequence to you to know that," said Forester,
"but I want to ask you a little more about the affair. Are you willing
to answer any question that I may ask?"
Marco said that he was, and Forester asked him about the circumstances
which led him to go away. Marco explained to him how he saw the boys,
and what he thought that they were doing, and what induced him to go
and see them, and how he was prevented from coming back as he had
intended. There was an air of openness and honesty in the manner in
which Marco related these facts, which convinced Forester that he was
telling the truth.
Forester was glad to find that it was not a deliberate and
preconcerted plan, between Marco and the other boys, to go off on this
expedition; for, bad as it was for Marco to allow himself to be drawn
away by such temptations, it would have been worse, or rather it would
have indicated a worse state of character, if he had deliberately
planned such a truancy.
"Well," said Forester, as he was about to close the conversation, "I
am very glad that you concluded to confess your fault. I am very glad,
too, that you did not go a-fishing this afternoon under the sort of
permission which I gave you. I infer from these two things that you
wish to be cured of these faults, and to become a boy of firm moral
principle. Now it is a rule with me, generally, not to punish a boy
for what he confesses of his own accord. Still, I think it probable
it would be better for you to have some punishment for this. It would
help to make a strong impression upon your mind, and make it much more
easy for you to resist such temptations in time to come. But you
may decide this question yourself. If you choose to submit to a
punishment, and will tell me so to-morrow morning, I will think of
some suitable one for you. If you do not say any thing to me about it,
I shall not punish you." So saying, Forester bade Marco good night.
The next morning, Marco met Forester on the stairs, as he was coming
down to breakfast, and told him that he thought he should feel better
to be punished. So Forester reflected upon the subject, and at nine
o'clock, when Marco went in to commence his studies, Forester told him
that he had concluded upon his punishment.
"What is it to be?" said Marco.
"It is for me not to allow you to study," replied Forester, "all this
forenoon, but to require you to sit still at your desk, with nothing
to do. You see it will be a sort of solitary imprisonment, only your
prison will in itself be a pleasant place."
Marco thought that this would not be a very severe punishment, but he
found, in enduring it, that it was in fact much more severe than he
had imagined. He got very tired indeed, long before the forenoon was
out. He concluded that solitary imprisonment for years, in a gloomy
dungeon, must be a terrible punishment indeed.
A year or two after this time, when Marco had been entirely cured of
all such faults, he one day asked Forester to explain to him how he
knew where he went on this memorable forenoon; and Forester willingly
explained it to him. It seems that Forester's father, though a very
gentle and kind-hearted man, was a very shrewd one, and having been
accustomed to the discovery, in the course of his practice, of all
sorts of pranks and roguery, was less disposed to place confidence in
others till he knew the confidence was deserved, than Forester himself
was, who had less experience. And when he knew that Forester had gone
away, leaving Marco alone, he doubted a little whether he would remain
industriously at his work. While he was thinking of this, he heard a
slight noise which Marco made with his feet against the clapboards of
the house in getting out the window. He therefore came into the study
a moment afterward, and found that Marco had gone. He looked out the
window and saw him going off toward the other boys. Just at that
moment the man came to help him prune his trees, but before he began
this work he went into the house to James, called him to a window and
pointed out Marco to him, and said,
"I want you, James, to follow him, and keep in sight of him until he
returns, but if possible don't let him see you. Say nothing to
me about it, but give my son Forester an account of all that you
James did as he was directed, and when Forester came back he told him
the whole story, just before Forester went into the study. So that
Forester knew all about it, before Marco saw him. James managed the
affair very adroitly, for he kept himself entirely out of sight except
in one instance, and that was when the boys fell into the water. He
then rushed toward them for fear that they might be drowned, but
he stopped on the bank when he saw that there was no danger, and
disappeared again before Marco had time to recognize him.
The alterations and improvements, which Forester had ordered in the
boat, were completed at the time promised. Marco said that it would
require a crew of eight to man the boat properly: six oarsmen, a
bowman, and a coxswain. Marco pronounced this word as if it was spelt
_coxen_. This is the proper way to pronounce it. It means the one
who sits in the stern, to steer the boat and direct the rowers. In
fact, the coxswain is the commander of the boat's crew.
"_I_ will be bowman," said Marco, "and you can be coxswain, and
then we shall want six boys for oarsmen."
"You will have to explain to me then what my duties will be," said
Forester, "for I don't even know what a coxswain is."
"Why, he's the commander," said Marco. "He gives all the orders."
"Then you must be coxswain at first," said Forester, "for I don't know
any thing about it. You have got to teach us all. After I have learned
to manage a boat with six oars, man-of-war fashion, I should like to
be coxswain sometimes very much. And it seems to me," added Forester,
"that you and I had better go down first alone, until you get me
taught, and then we can get the boys to come afterward."
"O no," said Marco, "you'll all learn easily enough together. I can
tell you all exactly what to do."
Forester acceded to this proposal, and they made out a list of six
boys, and Forester authorized Marco to invite them to come. "Be sure,"
said Forester, "to tell their parents that we are going out in a boat,
and tell them that I am going too." Marco did this. The boys all
gladly accepted the invitation. They came first to the house, and then
proceeded by a path, from the foot of the garden, which led to the
mill-pond. It was about half-past one when they reached the boat.
Here there was a great scene of confusion, as the boys all commenced
talking and asking questions together. They found the boat in fine
order, being perfectly tight and dry, and the new seats being all in
their places. The oars, however, were not there. Forester recommended
to Marco to send a detachment of his men, to go to the wagon-maker's
shop and get them. So Marco sent off three of the boys, calculating
very correctly that they could bring two oars apiece. Before many
minutes they returned, each of the boys having two oars, one on each
The other boys immediately began to take the oars, and they all
advanced together toward the boat, to get in.
"Stop," exclaimed Marco, "stop, boys! you must not go aboard without
an order. I'm coxswain; you must wait till I tell you, before one of
you goes aboard. John, come out."
John, who had stepped into the boat, came back again on hearing this
peremptory order, and the boys waited on the bank. Marco then
told them to put the oars in. The boys began to pitch them in, in
confusion, some falling upon the thwarts, and some into the bottom of
"No,--stop," said Marco; "that isn't the way. Put 'em in in order."
"Yes, put 'em in order," said John. "Let's put 'em in order."
"Lay 'em along the thwarts," said Marco, "the blades forward."
Marco explained to the boys how to place the oars. They were laid
along the middle of the thwarts so as to leave room to sit by the side
of them. They were placed in such a manner that the handle of one came
upon each seat.
"_Aboard!_" said Marco, in a military tone.
The boys did not understand that order, and of course did not obey it.
"_Aboard_, I say!" repeated Marco; "when I say _Aboard_, you
must all get into the boat."
With this explanation of the word of command, the boys understood what
they were to do, and got aboard the boat as fast as they could. There
was much confusion among them in getting their seats. Several of them
began to take up their oars, until they were forbidden to do so by
Marco, in a loud voice.
"You must not touch the oars," said he, "until I say _Toss_. Then
you must take them and toss them right up in the air."
"How?" said one of the boys, named Joseph. "How, Marco?"
This question was scarcely heard amid the confusion.
"Be silent, boys; don't talk, and don't stop to ask _how_, but do
just as I tell you."
Marco was so much accustomed to the idea which sailors attach to
the word _toss_, and to the manner in which they perform the
evolution, that he forgot how many different ways there might be of
tossing up an oar. The proper way is, when the command is given, for
each oarsman to raise the blade of his oar quick, but gently, into the
air, letting the end of the handle rest upon the thwart. It is then in
a position to be let down into the water conveniently when the next
order, which is, _Let fall_, is given.
The raising of the oars, and then letting them fall, all exactly
together, by the crew of a man-of-war's boat, makes a very pretty
The boys, however, knew nothing about this, for Marco, as it was all
very plain and familiar to him, did not realize the necessity of
making very minute explanations to such new recruits as those
that were under his command. Accordingly, when the order came to
_toss_, some of the boys sat still, looking at Marco, and not
knowing what to do; others raised their oars into the air, some one
way and some another; and Joseph, who was a little discomposed by the
rebuff he had met with, concluded that he would obey as literally as
possible, let what would come of it and he gave his oar a high toss
into the air. It fell at a short distance from him into the water,
went down for a moment out of sight, and then, shooting out for half
its length, it fell over upon its side and began to float away.
Hereupon ensued just such a scene of laughter shouts, and confusion
as might have been expected. All began to shout out exclamations and
orders, and to give directions how to proceed to recover the lost oar.
The boys whose oars were still left, thrust them confusedly into the
water, and began pushing, poking, and paddling with them, in order to
get the boat out to where Joseph's oar was floating. All this time
Forester remained on the bank, laughing at this specimen of nautical
command and subordination.
After a time the oar was recovered, and Marco, after much scolding and
vociferation, got his crew in order again. Forester said that he would
remain where he was, on the bank, until Marco had tried his oarsmen a
little. So Marco went on giving his orders. He succeeded finally in
getting the boys all in their seats again, with their oars in their
"Now, boys, mind," said he, "and I'll tell you exactly what to do.
_Attention!_ When I say _Attention_, you must all stop talking.
_Attention!_ Now you mustn't speak a word. You must hold your oars out
over the water and have them all ready, the handles in your hands, and
when I say _Give way_, then you must all begin to row, all together
exactly, so as to keep the stroke. You must keep the stroke with the
But the boys did not know who the stroke-oarsman was, and they began
clamorously to inquire, notwithstanding the injunction to silence
which they had received. Marco explained to them that the
stroke-oarsman was the one who sat nearest to him, that is, the one
farthest aft. As the oarsmen were all sitting with their backs toward
the bow of the boat, their faces were toward the stern, and therefore
the one who sat farthest aft could be seen by the rest. This is the
reason why the thwart which is farthest aft is made the seat of the
best oarsman, and the others are required to make their motions keep
time with his. For the oars in a boat that is fully manned are so
close together, that, unless they keep time exactly with each other,
the blades would cross and hit one another in utter confusion. But
if they keep the stroke, as they call it, exactly together, all goes
right. For this reason the oarsman who sits aft, by whose oar the
movements of all the other oars are to be regulated, is called the
The boys, however, knew nothing of all this. Marco contented himself
with giving one general direction to them, to keep the stroke with
the stroke-oarsman, and to begin when he gave the order, "_Give
way_." Accordingly, after all were silent again, the oars being
extended over the water, and Forester standing on the bank watching
the operation, Marco called out in the tone of command, "_Give
The boys immediately began to row, all looking at the stroke-oarsman,
but failing entirely to keep time with him. The oars thumped against
each other, crossed each other, and made all manner of confusion.
Some could not get into the water, and others could not get out; and
Joseph's oar, which somehow or other came out too suddenly, while he
was pulling hard upon it, caused him to pitch backward off his seat
and tumble over into the bottom of the boat.
[Illustration: BAD ROWING.]
"_Oars!_" said Marco, "OARS!"
What Marco meant by _oars_ they did not know, so they paid no
attention to the command, but some stopped rowing in despair, while
others kept on, banging the blades of the oars against one another,
and plashing the water, but produced no effect whatever in respect to
propelling the boat. In the mean time the air was filled with shouts
of laughter and loud vociferations.
"_Oars!_" exclaimed Marco again, with the voice of a colonel at
the head of his regiment. "_Oars!_ Why don't you stop when I say
The boys began to stop, shouting to one another, "Stop!" "Stop!" In a
few minutes all was still again. The boys began to take their oars in
and one of them rose and said,
"Poh! this is all nonsense. You can't do any thing with oars. I'd
rather have one good paddle than all the oars in New York."
In fact, Marco himself began to despair. He uttered some impatient
exclamations, and tried to paddle the boat toward the shore. But he
found he was almost as awkward in managing a paddle, as the other boys
were in working oars. He succeeded, however, at last, in getting the
boat to the shore, and then he told the boys that they might as well
get out, for they could not do any thing at all about rowing.
"You don't seem to get along very well, Marco," said Forester: "what
is the matter?"
"Why, I havn't got any crew. They don't know any thing about it."
"It seems to me the fault is in the commander," said Forester.
"In me?" said Marco. "Why, I ordered them right, but they wouldn't
"Yes, your orders would have been right, if you had had a trained
crew. But you don't manage in the right way to teach raw recruits."
"I wish you would try, then, cousin Forester," said Marco.
"Well," said Forester, "I have no objection to try. Boys, are you
willing to have me for commander?"
"Yes, sir," "Yes, sir," said all the boys.
"I shall be a great deal more strict than Marco," said Forester. "So I
don't expect that you will like me. But I will try. I don't want quite
so many oarsmen to begin with; I should rather teach a few at a time.
Are there any of you that would like to come ashore, and let the rest
None of the boys moved. They all wished to practice first. This was
just as Forester expected.
"Very well," said Forester; "I know how I can thin out my crew. As
fast as I find that you don't obey my orders, I shall put you ashore."
"But suppose we don't understand?" said one of the boys.
"I shall explain fully beforehand what you are to do. And, Marco, you
must observe how I manage, and then you will know another time. When
you have got any thing to teach, the art consists in dividing the
lesson into a great many very short steps, and letting your pupils
take one at a time."
Forester knew nothing about managing a boat's crew until that day, but
he had observed very attentively all the orders which Marco had given,
and noticed their meaning, and thus he was prepared to manoeuver the
boat as far as Marco had gone in giving his orders. He accordingly
stepped into the boat and took Marco's place; while Marco himself
walked forward and took his place at the bow of the boat, saying that
he was going to be bowman.
"Marco," said Forester, "you say that when the order is
_Attention_, the crew must be silent; what is the order when I
want to give them liberty to talk again?"
"_Crew at ease_" said Marco.
"Very well. Now, boys, when I say _Attention_, you must be still,
look at me, hear all I say, and obey the orders as exactly as you can,
but ask no questions and give me no advice, nor speak to one another,
till I say, _Crew at ease_. Then you can talk again. Perhaps two
or three of you will disobey, and I have no objection to that, as I
should like some excuse for putting some of you ashore."
Forester smiled as he said this, and every boy determined that he
would not be the one to be sent ashore.
"_Attention!_" said Forester.
Forester then put his paddle into the water and paddled the boat out
into the pond a little way. While he was doing this, there was a dead
silence on board the boat. Not a boy spoke a word; and when, at last,
Forester stopped paddling, the boat floated on a little way gently
through the water, and not a sound was to be heard except the distant
barking of a dog on the opposite shore.
"_Crew at ease_," said Forester. The boys laughed, changed their
positions, and began to talk.
"I didn't get any of you ashore then," said Forester, "but I shall
succeed the next time, for I shall watch my opportunity when you are
all busy talking, and say, _Attention_, suddenly; then you will
not all stop in an instant, but some will go on just to finish their
sentence, and this will be disobeying the order, and so I shall get
The boys laughed; they thought that it was not very good policy for
Forester to give them this warning of his intention, as it put
them all upon their guard. Presently the word of command came very
suddenly--"_Attention!_" Every voice was hushed in an instant;
the boys assumed immediately an erect position, and looked directly
"Joseph," said Forester, "when I give order _Toss_, you are
to take up your oar and raise the blade into the air, and hold it
perpendicularly, with the end of the handle resting on the thwart by
your side, on the side of the boat opposite to the one on which you
are going to row,--_Toss!_"
So Joseph raised his oar in the manner directed, the other boys
"Let it down again," said Forester. Joseph obeyed.
"_Crew at ease_," said Forester.
Forester acted very wisely in not keeping the attention of the crew
very long at a time. By relieving them very frequently, he made the
distinction between being under orders and at ease a very marked
and striking one, so that the boys easily kept it in mind. In a few
moments he commanded attention again, with the same success as before.
He then ordered another boy to toss his oar, then another, and so on,
until he had taught the movement to each one separately. He gave to
each one such explanations as he needed, and when necessary he made
them perform the evolution twice, so as to be sure that each one
understood exactly what was to be done. Then Forester gave the command
for them all to toss together, and they did so quite successfully. The
oars rose and stood perpendicularly like so many masts; while Forester
paddled the boat slowly through the water. Then he directed the boys
to let the oars down again, gently, to their places along the thwarts,
and put the crew at ease.
The boys perceived now that they were making progress. They were
gaining slowly, it is true, but surely, and Marco saw where the cause
of his failure was. He had not realized how entirely ignorant all
these boys were of the whole mystery of managing an oar and of acting
in concert; and besides, he had not had experience enough as a
teacher, to know how short the steps must be made, in teaching any
science or art which is entirely new.
In the same slow and cautious manner, Forester taught the boys to let
the blades of their oars fall gently into the water, at the command,
"_Let fall_." He taught one at a time, as before, each boy
dropping the blades into the water and letting the middle of the oar
come into the row-lock, while he held the handle in his hands ready
to row. Then, without letting them row any, he ordered them to
_toss_ again; that is, to raise the oars out of the water and
hold them in the air, with the end of the handle resting upon the
thwart. He drilled them in this exercise for some time, until they
could go through it with ease, regularity, and dispatch. He then gave
the order, "_Crew at ease_," and let the boys rest themselves and
While they were resting, Forester paddled them about. The boys asked
him when he was going to let them row, and Forester told them that
perhaps they had had drilling enough for one day, and if they chose he
would not require any thing more of them, but would paddle them about
and let them amuse themselves. But they were all eager to learn to
row. So Forester consented.
He taught them the use of the oar, in the same slow and cautious
manner by which his preceding instructions had been characterized. He
made one learn at a time, explaining to him minutely every motion. As
each one, in turn, practiced these instructions, the rest looked on,
observing every thing very attentively, so as to be ready when their
turn should come. At length, when they had rowed separately, he tried
first two, and then four, and then six together, and finally got them
so trained that they could keep the stroke very well. While they were
pulling in this manner, the boat would shoot ahead very rapidly. When
he wanted them to stop, he would call out, "_Oars_." This was
the order for them to stop rowing, after they had finished the stroke
which they had commenced, and to hold the oars in a horizontal
position, with the blades just above the water, ready to begin again
whenever he should give the command.
At first the boys were inclined to stop immediately, even if they were
in the middle of a stroke, if they heard the command, _oars_. But
Marco said that this was wrong; they must finish the stroke, he said,
if they had commenced it, and then all take the oars out of the water
regularly together. Forester was careful too to give the order always
between the middle and the end of a stroke, so that the obeying of the
order came immediately after the issuing of it.
By this means Forester could stop them in a moment, when any thing
went wrong. He would order, "_Give way_," and then the boys would
all begin to pull their oars. As soon as any of them lost the stroke,
or whenever any oars began to interfere, or any other difficulty or
accident occurred, he would immediately give the order, "_Oars_."
This would instantly arrest the rowing, before the difficulty became
serious. Then, after a moment's pause he would say, "_Give way_,"
again, when they would once more begin rowing all together. All this
time, he sat in the stern and steered the boat wherever they wanted to
[Illustration: GOOD ROWING.]
Marco wished to have Forester teach the boys how to back water, and to
trail oars, and to put the oars apeak, and to perform various other
evolutions. But Forester was very slow in going on to new manoeuvers
before the old ones were made perfectly familiar. He accordingly spent
nearly an hour in rowing about the pond, up and down, to make the boys
familiar with the stroke. He found, as is, in fact, universally the
case with beginners in the art of rowing, that they were very prone to
row faster and faster, that is, to accelerate their strokes, instead
of rowing regularly, keeping continually the same time. They gradually
improved, however, in respect to this fault, and by the middle of the
afternoon Marco began to think that they were quite a good crew.
They practiced several new evolutions during the latter part of the
afternoon, and just before tea time they all went home, much pleased
with the afternoon's enjoyment, and with the new knowledge and skill
which they had acquired. They also planned another excursion the
Forester and Marco got their boat's crew well trained in the course of
a week or two, and one pleasant day in September they planned a long
expedition in their boat. The boys collected at the house of the owner
of the boat, at one o'clock. Two of them carried a large basket which
Forester had provided. It was quite heavy, and they did not know what
was in it; but they supposed that it was a store of some sort of
provisions for a supper, in case they should be gone so long as to
need a supper. Forester carried a hatchet also.
At the proper word of command, the boys got into the boat and took
their several stations. Marco took his place forward to act as bowman.
It is the duty of the bowman to keep a lookout forward, that the boat
does not run into any danger; and also, when the boat comes to land,
to step out first and hold it by the painter, that is, the rope which
is fastened to the bow, while the others get out. Marco had a pole,
with an iron spike and also an iron hook in the end of it, which he
used to _fend off_ with, as they called it, when the boat was in
danger of running against any obstacle. This was called a boat-hook.
"_Attention!_" said Forester, when the boys were all seated.
Hereupon the boys raised the oars into the air, ready to let them down
into the water.
"_Let fall!_" said Forester. The oars all fell gently and
together into their places.
"_Give way!_" said Forester.
The boat began immediately to glide rapidly over the water, under the
impulse which the boys gave it in rowing. "_Crew at ease_," said
So the boys went on rowing, but understood that they had liberty to
talk. One of them wished to know where Forester was going with them;
but Forester said it was entirely contrary to the discipline aboard
a man-of-war for the crew to ask the captain where they were going.
"Besides," said Forester, "though I could easily tell you, I think you
will enjoy the expedition more, to know nothing about it beforehand,
but to take every thing as it comes."
Forester steered in such a manner as to put the head of the boat
toward a bank at some distance from where they started, on which there
was a thick forest of firs and other evergreens, growing near the
water. When they got pretty near the land, he gave the order for
attention, that they might observe silence in going through whatever
manoeuvers were required here. The next order was, _Oars_. At
this the oarsmen stopped rowing, and held their oars horizontally over
the water. The boat in the mean time was gliding on toward the shore.
"_Aboard!_" said Forester.
The crew then gently raised their oars into the air, and passed them
over their heads into the boat, laying them upon the thwarts in their
proper position, along the middle of the boat. By this order the crew
supposed that Forester was going to land.
"Bear a hand, Mr. Bowman," said Forester, "and fend off from the
Forester, by means of his paddle, had steered the boat up to a log
which lay in the edge of the water, and Marco, at first fending off
from the log, to keep the boat from striking hard, and then holding on
to it with his hook, got it into a good position for landing, and held
"_Crew ashore_," said Forester.
The crew, who had learned all these orders in the course of the
repeated instructions which Forester and Marco had given them, began
to rise and to walk toward the bow of the boat and to go ashore. Marco
landed first, and held the boat with his boat-hook, while the rest got
out. Forester then ordered Marco to make the boat fast, until they
were ready to embark again.
Forester then went up in the woods a little way, with his hatchet
in his hand, and began to look about among the trees. Finally, he
selected a small tree, with a round, straight stem, and began to cut
it down. The boys gathered around him, wondering what it could be for.
Forester smiled, and worked on in silence, declining to answer any of
their questions. Marco said it was for a mast, he knew, but when they
asked him where the sail was, he seemed perplexed, and could not
As soon, however, as the tree was cut down, it was evident that it was
not intended to be used as a mast, for Forester began at once to cut
it up into lengths of about two feet long. What could be his design,
the boys were utterly unable to imagine. He said nothing, but ordered
the boys to take these lengths, one by one, and put them into the
boat. There were five in all. Then he ordered the crew on board again.
Marco got in last. When all were seated, the order was given to shove
off, the oars were _tossed_--then _let fall_ into the water.
He ordered them to _back water_ first, by which manoeuver the
boat was backed off from the land into deep water. Then he commanded
them to _give way_, and at the same time bringing the stern of
the boat round by his paddle, the boat was made to shoot swiftly down
The boat went rapidly forward along the shores of the pond, and
presently, on coming round a wooded point, the mills appeared in
sight. As they approached the mills, they kept pretty near the shore,
and at length landed just above the dam.
Forester ordered the crew ashore, at a place where there was a road
leading down to the water's edge. This road was made by the teams
which came down to get logs and lumber from the water. At Forester's
direction, the boys drew the bow of the boat up a little way upon the
land. Then he ordered the boys to take out the pieces of the stem of
the little tree, and he placed one of them under the bow as a roller.
The boys then took hold of the sides of the boat, three on each side,
each boy opposite to his own row-lock, while Marco stood ready to put
under another roller. The ascent was very gradual, so that the boat
moved up easily, and the boys were very much surprised and delighted
to see their boat thus running up upon the land.
It seemed to them an exercise of great power to be able to take so
large a boat so easily and rapidly up such an ascent upon the land.
They were aided to do it by two principles. One was the combination of
their strength in one united effort, and the other was the influence
of the rollers in preventing the friction of the bottom of the boat
upon the ground.
Presently the whole length of the boat was out of water and resting
on four rollers, which Marco had put under it, one by one, as it had
advanced. Forester would then call out, "_Ahead with her!_" when
the boys would move about two steps. Then Forester would give the
command, "_Hold on_," and they would stop. By this time one of
the rollers would come out behind, and Marco would take it up and
carry it round forward, and place it under the bow, and Forester
would then say, "_Ahead with her!_" again, and the boat would
immediately advance again up the acclivity.
[Illustration: THE PORTAGE.]
In a very few minutes the boat was thus rolled up into a sort of a
road, where the way was level. Here it went very easily. Presently it
began to descend, and soon the boys saw that Forester was taking a
sort of path which led by a gentle slope down to the water immediately
below the mill. They were very much pleased at this, for, as they had
had a great many excursions already on the mill-pond, they had become
familiar with it in all its parts, and they were much animated at the
idea of exploring new regions. In going down to the water on the lower
side of the mill, they had, of course, no exertion to make to draw the
boat, as its own weight was more than sufficient to carry it down upon
the rollers. They only had to hold it back to prevent its running down
too fast, and to keep it properly guided.
"It goes down pretty easy," said Marco; "but I don't see how you are
ever going to get it back again."
It was, in fact, a long and rather steep descent. The boys thought
that it would require far more strength than they could exercise, to
bring the boat _up_ such an inclination. Forester told them not
to fear. He said that a good commander never put too much upon his
men, or voluntarily got them into any difficulty without planning
beforehand a way to get out.
They soon got down to the water's edge again. Here, instead of the
broad and smooth pond which they had above the dam, they found a
stream eddying, and foaming, and flowing rapidly down between rocks
and logs. There was a bridge across the stream too, a short distance
below. The boys were a little inclined to be afraid to embark, in what
appeared to be a rather dangerous navigation, but they had confidence
in Forester, and so they readily obeyed when Forester ordered the crew
"Now, Mr. Bowman," said Forester, "keep a sharp lookout ahead for
rocks and snags, and fend off well when there is any danger."
So Marco kneeled upon a small seat at the bow of the boat, and looked
into the water before him, while Forester propelled and guided the
boat with his paddle. They advanced slowly and by a very tortuous
course, so as to avoid the rocks and shallows, and at length, just
above the bridge, they came to a wider and smoother passage of water:
and here Forester ordered the oars out. There was only room for them
to take four or five strokes before they came to the bridge, and under
the bridge there was only a very narrow passage where they could go
through. This passage was between one of the piers and a gravel
bed. As they advanced toward it, Forester called out, "_Give way
strong!_" and all the boys pulled their oars with all their
strength, without, however, accelerating the strokes. This gave
the boat a rapid headway, and then Forester gave the order to
_trail_, when the boys simultaneously lifted the oars out of the
row-locks and let them drift in the water alongside of the boat. As
the boat was advancing very swiftly, the oars were immediately swept
in close to her sides, and thus were out of the way, and the boat
glided safely and swiftly through the passage, and emerged into a
broader sheet of smooth water beyond.
"_Recover!_" said Forester. The boys then, by a peculiar
manoeuver which they had learned by much practice, brought back their
oars into the row-locks, and raised the blades out of the water, so
as to get them into a position for rowing. "_Give way!_" said
Forester, and immediately they were all in motion, the boat gliding
swiftly down the stream.
After they had gone on in this way a few minutes, Forester ordered the
oars _apeak_, and put the crew at ease. When the oars are apeak,
they are drawn _in_ a little way, so that the handle of each oar
may be passed under a sort of cleat or ledge, which runs along on the
inside of the boat near the upper edge of it. This keeps the oar firm
in its place without the necessity of holding it, the handle being
under this cleat, while the middle of the oar rests in the row-lock.
Thus the oarsmen are relieved from the necessity of holding their
oars, and yet the oars are all ready to be seized again in a moment,
whenever it becomes desirable to commence rowing.
Meantime the boat slowly drifted down the stream. The water was here
deep and comparatively still, and the boys amused themselves with
looking over the sides into the depths of the water. They glided
noiselessly along over various objects,--now a great flat rock, now
a sunken tree, and now a bed of yellow sand. Every now and then,
Forester would order the oars out, and make the oarsmen give way for
a few strokes, so as to give the boat what they called steerage way,
that is, way through the water, so that holding the paddle in one
position or the other would steer it. In this way Forester guided the
boat in the right direction, keeping it pretty near the middle of the
This mill-stream, as has already been stated, emptied into the river,
and the boat was now rapidly approaching the place of junction. In a
few minutes more the river came into view. The boys could see it at
some distance before them, running with great rapidity by a rocky
point of land which formed one side of the mouth of the brook.
"Now, boys," said Forester, "is it safe for us to go out into that
"Yes," said Marco, "by all means,--let us go."
"Perhaps we shall upset in the rips," said some of the boys.
"No matter if we do," said Marco; "it is not deep in the rips, and of
course there is no danger."
"That is in our favor certainly," said Forester. "Whenever the current
sets strong, there it is sure to be shallow, so that if we upset
we should not be drowned; and where it is deep, so as to make it
dangerous for us to get in, it is always still, and thus there is no
danger of upsetting."
"What is the reason of that?" said one of the boys.
"The reason is given in this way," said Forester, "in the college
mathematics. The velocity of a stream is inversely as the area of the
The boys did not understand such mathematical phraseology as this, and
so Forester clothed his explanation in different language. He said
that where the stream was shallow or narrow, the current must be more
rapid, in order to get all the water through in so small a space, but
where it is deep, it may move slowly.
Forester landed his crew upon the rocky point, where they had a very
pleasant view up and down the river. He proposed to them to have their
luncheon there, and to this they agreed. So they went back to the edge
of the rocks, where there was a little grove of trees, and they sat
down upon a log which had been worn smooth by the action of the water
in floods, and bleached by the sun.
There were plenty of dry sticks and slabs lying about upon the shore,
which Forester ordered the crew to collect in order to build a fire.
It was not cold, and they had no need of a fire for any purposes
of cooking, but a fire would look cheerful and pleasant, and they
accordingly made one. Forester had some matches in his pocket. Two of
the crew brought the basket from the boat, and when they had opened
it, they found an abundant store of provisions. There was a dozen or
more of round cakes, and a large apple-pie, which, as there were just
eight of them, gave forty-five degrees to each one. There was also a
jug of milk, and a silver mug, which Forester's mother had lent them
for the excursion, to drink out of.
The boys, whose appetites had been sharpened by their exertions in the
portage of the boat round the falls, and in rowing, did not cease
to eat until the provisions were entirely exhausted, and then they
carried the empty basket back to the boat. Soon after this, Forester
summoned what he called a council of war, to consider the question
whether they had better go down the river. He said he wanted their
true and deliberate judgment in the case. He did not wish them to say
what they would like, merely, but what they thought, on the whole,
was best. He told them that he should not be _governed_ by their
advice, but, after hearing all that they had to say, he should act
according to his own judgment.
"Then what's the use of asking us at all?" said Marco.
"Why, what you will say may modify my judgment. I did not say that I
shall decide according to my judgment as it is now, but as it will be
after I have heard what you will have to say. I shall be influenced
perhaps by your reasons, but I shall decide myself. That is the theory
of a council of war. The commander may be influenced by the arguments
of his subalterns, but he is not governed by their votes."
Forester then called upon each of the boys, in succession, to give his
opinion on the point. Marco was in favor of going down the river, but
all the rest, though they said that they should like to go very much,
thought it would not answer, as it would be almost impossible to get
the boat up again over the rips. After the consultation was concluded,
Forester said, "Well, boys, you have all given wise opinions except
Marco, and his is not wise. Now we'll go aboard the boat."
"_Crew aboard!_" said Forester. The other orders followed in
rapid succession: _Attention! Toss! Let fall! Backwater! Oars! Give
way!_ The boys considered it settled, on hearing what Forester had
said of the wisdom of their several opinions, that they were now going
back toward the mill; but how they were going to get the boat back
above the dam they did not know, though they did not doubt that
Forester had some good plan which he had not explained to them.
Instead, however, of turning the head of the boat up the stream,
Forester pointed it toward the river. They supposed that he was going
out to the edge of the river, and that then he would turn and come
back; but, to their utter amazement, he pushed boldly on directly into
the current, and then, putting his helm hard up and calling out to the
crew to give way strong, the boat swept round into the very center of
the stream and shot down the river over the rips like an arrow.
[Illustration: THE EXPEDITION.]
"Give way, boys, hearty," said Forester. "Give way strong."
The boys pulled with all their strength, and the boat went swifter
and swifter. Forester kept it in the middle of the current, where the
water was deepest, though even here it was very shallow. Marco, in
the mean time, who was stationed at the bows, kept a sharp lookout
forward, and gave Forester notice of any impending danger. They soon
got through the rips and came to the deep and still water below, where
the current was gentle and the surface smooth. Here Forester ordered
the oars apeak, and the crew at ease.
"We never shall get back in the world," said one of the boys; "forty
men couldn't row the boat up those rips."
"Let us try," said Forester. So he ordered the oars out again, and
put the boat under way. He brought her head round so as to point up
stream, and calling upon the crew to give way strong, he forced her
back into the rapid water. They went on a few rods, but long before
they reached the most rapid part, they found that with all their
exertions they could make no progress. The boat seemed stationary.
"_Oars_," said Forester. The boys stopped rowing, holding their
oars in the air, just above the water. Forester then, by means of his
paddle, turned the boat round again, saying, "Well, if we can't go up,
we can go down stream." He then ordered the crew to give way again,
and they began to glide along swiftly down the river.
The boys wondered how Forester was going to get back, but he told them
to give themselves no concern on that score. "That responsibility
rests on me," said he.
"But how came you to come down here," said Marco, "when you said my
advice wasn't good?"
"I said your opinion was not wise. The boys who advised me not to come
were wiser than you. They gave better advice, so far as they and you
understood the case. But I know something which you do not, as is
usual with commanders,--and therefore I came down. In view of all that
_you_ know, it would have been wisest to have gone back, but in
view of all that _I_ know, it is wisest to come down."
The curiosity of the boys was very much excited to know what it could
be that Forester knew which rendered coming down the river wise; but
Forester would make no explanations. He said that commanders were not
generally very communicative to their crews. In the mean time the boat
went on, sometimes shooting swiftly through the rapids, and sometimes
floating in a more calm and quiet manner on the surface of the stiller
water. In this way they went on more than a mile, enjoying the voyage
very highly, and admiring the varied scenery which was presented to
their view at every turn of the stream.
At one place the boys landed upon a small sandy beach under some
overhanging rocks. They amused themselves in climbing about the rocks
for a time, and then they were ordered aboard again, and sailed on.
Now it happened that the river, in the part of its course over which
this voyage had been performed, took a great circuit, and though they
had followed its course for more than a mile, they were now drawing
near to a place which was not very far from Forester's father's
house,--being about as much below it, as the place where the boat
belonged in the mill-pond was above it. As they approached the point
where the river turned again, Marco, who was looking out before, saw a
sort of landing, where there was a man standing, together with a yoke
of oxen. It was just sunset when they approached this spot. When they
arrived at it, the whole mystery was explained, for they found that
the man was James, who lived at Forester's father's, and the oxen were
his father's oxen. James had come down, under an appointment which
Forester had secretly made with him, with the oxen and a drag, and by
means of them he hauled the boat across to the mill-pond again, by
a back road which led directly across the pastures, and lanched it
safely again into the water close to the dwelling of its owner. So the
boys had, as it were, the pleasure of sliding down hill, without the
labor of drawing their sleds up again.
[Illustration: THE DRAG.]
Marco was very much pleased with this expedition. Forester told him
when they got home, that the Indians often carried their canoes around
falls, or from one river to another, and that such carrying-places
were called _portages_.
Lost In The Woods.
While Marco Paul was in Vermont, he and Forester had a remarkable
adventure in the woods. They got lost in fact, and for a time it
seemed quite doubtful how they were ever to find their way home. It
One morning in the fall of the year, Marco, walking along toward the
barn with James, asked James what he was going to do that day.
"I expect that I am going to gather apples," said James.
"Well," said Marco. "Are you going in the cart?"
"Yes," said James.
"And may I go with you?" asked Marco.
"Yes," said James.
"And help gather the apples? said Marco.
"Yes," said James.
"And drive the oxen a little way?" asked Marco.
"Yes," said James.
"Well." said Marco. "I will run and get my goad-stick."
Marco went toward the house intending to go in and get his goad-stick.
On his way he met his uncle. His uncle asked him whether James was out
in the barn. Marco said that he was, and his uncle then asked him to
go and request James to come to him. Marco did so, and he and James
then came along toward the house together.
Marco's uncle stood upon the step of the door.
"James," said he, "I was thinking that we ought to send for the
horses;--and the apples ought to be gathered too. Which is it best to
"I hardly know, sir," said James. "It is high time that the apples
were gathered, and yet we promised to send for the horses to-day."
"I can go and get the horses," said Marco,--"just as well as not.
Where is it?"
"Oh no," said his uncle. "It is ten or fifteen miles from here. Isn't
"Yes," said James, "by the road. I suppose it is about _four_
miles through the woods. I was intending to walk there, through the
woods, and then to come home round by the road. It is rather a rough
road for horses through the woods."
"Let cousin Forester and me go," said Marco. "I will go and ask him."
So Marco went and found Forester. When Forester heard of the plan
he was quite inclined to accede to it. He had been much engaged
in studying for some time, and had had very little exercise and
recreation, so that he was easily persuaded to undertake an
expedition. The plan was all soon agreed upon. The horses had been put
out to pasture at a farmer's up the river about twelve miles. In going
that twelve miles the river took a great turn, so that in fact the
farm where the horses were pastured was not, in a straight line,
more than four miles from Mr. Forester's house. But the intermediate
country was a desolate and almost impassable region of forests and
mountains. There was, indeed, a sort of footpath by which it was
possible for men to get through, but this path was dangerous, and in
fact almost impracticable for horses. So James had formed the plan of
walking through the woods by the path, and then of coming home by the
road, riding one of the horses and leading the other.
Forester and Marco concluded to adopt the same plan; except that in
coming home there would be just a horse a-piece for them to ride. They
put up some provisions to eat on the way, packing them in Marco's
knapsack. The knapsack, when it was ready, was strapped upon Marco's
back, for he insisted on carrying it. Forester consented to this
arrangement, secretly intending, however, not to allow Marco to carry
the load very far.
Forester asked James if there would be any difficulty about the way.
James said that there would not be. The path, though it was not an
easy one to travel, was very easy to find.
"You go on," said he, "along the back road about three quarters of a
mile, and then you will come to a small school-house on the left hand
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