HASTE AND WASTE
THE YOUNG PILOT OF LAKE CHAMPLAIN
A STORY FOR YOUNG PEOPLE
BIOGRAPHY AND BIBLIOGRAPHY
William Taylor Adams, American author, better known and loved by boys and girls through his pseudonym "Oliver Optic," was born July 30, 1822, in the town of Medway, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, about twenty-five miles from Boston. For twenty years he was a teacher in the Public Schools of Boston, where he came in close contact with boy life. These twenty years taught him how to reach the boy's heart and interest as the popularity of his books attest.
His story writing began in 1850 when he was twenty-eight years old and his first book was published in 1853. He also edited "The Oliver Optic Magazine," "The Student and Schoolmate," "Our Little Ones."
Mr. Adams died at the age of seventy-five years, in Boston, March 27, 1897.
He was a prolific writer and his stories are most attractive and unobjectionable. Most of his books were published in series. Probably the most famous of these is "The Boat Club Series" which comprises the following titles:
"The Boat Club," "All Aboard," "Now or Never," "Try Again," "Poor and Proud," "Little by Little." All of these titles will be found in this edition.
Other well-known series are his "Soldier Boy Series," "Sailor Boy Series," "Woodville Stories." The "Woodville Stories" will also be found in this edition.
THE SQUALL ON THE LAKE
"Stand by, Captain John!" shouted Lawry Wilford, a stout boy of fourteen, as he stood at the helm of a sloop, which was going before the wind up Lake Champlain.
"What's the matter, Lawry?" demanded the captain.
"We're going to have a squall," continued the young pilot, as he glanced at the tall peaks of the Adirondacks.
There was a squall in those clouds, in the judgment of Lawry Wilford; but having duly notified the captain of the impending danger to his craft, he did not assume any further responsibility in the management of the sloop. It was very quiet on the lake; the water was smooth, and the tiny waves sparkled in the bright sunshine. There was no roll of distant thunder to admonish the voyagers, and the youth at the helm was so much accustomed to squalls and tempests, which are of frequent occurrence on the lake, that they had no terrors to him. It was dinner-time, and the young pilot, fearful that the unexpected guest might reduce the rations to a low ebb for the second table, was more concerned about this matter than about the squall.
Captain John, as he was familiarly called on board the Missisque, which was the name of the sloop, was not a man to be cheated out of any portion of his dinner by the approach of a squall; and though his jaws may have moved more rapidly after the announcement of the young pilot, he did not neglect even the green-apple pies, the first of the season, prepared with care and skill by Mrs. Captain John, who resided on board, and did "doctor's" duty at the galley. Captain John did not abate a single mouthful of the meal, though he knew how rapidly the mountain showers and squalls travel over the lake. The sloop did not usually make more than four or five miles an hour, being deeply laden with lumber, which was piled up so high on the deck that the mainsail had to be reefed, to make room for it.
The passenger, Mr. Randall, was a director of a country bank, journeying to Shoreham, about twenty miles above the point where he had embarked in the Missisque. He had crossed the lake in the ferry, intending to take the steamer at Westport for his destination. Being a man who was always in a hurry, but never in season, he had reached the steamboat landing just in time to see the boat moving off. Procuring a wherry, and a boy to row it, he had boarded the Missisque as she passed up the lake; and, though the sloop was not a passenger-boat, Captain John had consented to land him at Shoreham.
Mr. Randall was a landsman, and had a proper respect for squalls and tempests, even on a fresh-water lake. He heard the announcement of Lawry Wilford with a feeling of dread and apprehension, and straightway began to conjure up visions of a terrible shipwreck, and of sole survivors, clinging with the madness of desperation to broken spars, in the midst of the storm-tossed waters. But Mr. Randall was a director of a country bank, and a certain amount of dignity was expected and required of him. His official position before the people of Vermont demanded that he should not give way to idle fears. If Captain Jones, who was not a bank director, could keep cool, it was Mr. Randall's solemn duty to remain unmoved, or at least to appear to remain so.
The passenger finished the first course of the dinner, which Mrs. Captain John had made a little more elaborate than usual, in honor of the distinguished guest; but he complained of the smallness of his appetite, and it was evident that he did not enjoy the meal after the brief colloquy between the skipper and the pilot. He was nervous; his dignity was a "bore" to him, and was maintained at an immense sacrifice of personal ease; but he persevered until a piece of the dainty green-apple pie was placed before him, when he lacerated the tender feelings of Mrs. Captain John by abruptly leaving the table and rushing on deck.
This hurried movement was hardly to be regarded as a sacrifice of his dignity, for it was made with what even the skipper's lady was compelled to allow was a reasonable excuse.
"Gracious!" exclaimed Mr. Randall, as the tempting piece of green-apple pie, reeking with indigenous juices was placed before him.
At the same moment the bank director further indicated his astonishment and horror by slapping both hands upon his breast in a style worthy of Brutus when Rome was in peril.
"What's the matter, squire?" demanded Captain John, dropping his knife and fork, and suspending the operation of his vigorous jaws till an explanation could be obtained.
"I've left my coat on deck," replied Mr. Randall, rising from his chair.
"It's just as safe there as 'twould be on your back, squire," added the skipper.
"There's six thousand dollars in the pocket of that coat," said the bank director, with a gasp of apprehension. "Where's my coat?" demanded he.
"There it is," replied Lawry Wilford, pointing to the garment under the rail. "We had a flaw of wind just now, and it came pretty near being blowed overboard."
"Gracious!" exclaimed Mr. Randall, as he clutched the coat. "I'm too careless to live! There's six thousand dollars in a pocket of that coat."
"Six thousand dollars!" ejaculated Lawry, whose ideas of such a sum of money were very indefinite. "I should say you ought not to let it lie round loose in this way."
"I'm very careless; but the money is safe," continued the director.
"Stand by, Captain John!" suddenly shouted Lawry, with tremendous energy, as he put the helm down. The squall was coming up the lake in the track of the Missisque; a dull, roaring sound was heard astern; and all the mountain peaks had disappeared, closed in by the dense volume of black clouds. The episode of the bank director's coat had distracted the attention of the young pilot for a moment, and he had not observed the rapid swoop of the squall, as it bore down upon the sloop. He leaped over the piles of lumber to the forecastle, and had cast loose the peak-halyard, when Captain John tumbled up the companionway in time to see that he had lingered too long over the green-apple pie, and that one piece would have been better for his vessel, if not for him.
"Let go the throat-halyard!" roared he. "Down with the mainsail! down with the mainsail!"
Lawry did not need any prompting to do his duty; but before he could let go the throat-halyard, the squall was upon the sloop. Mr. Randall had seized hold of the rail, and was crouching beneath the bulwark, expecting to go to the bottom of the lake, for he was too much excited to make a comparison of the specific gravities of pine boards and fresh water, and therefore did not realize that lumber would float, and not sink.
The squall did its work in an instant; and before the bank director had fairly begun to tremble, the rotten mainsail of the Missisque was blown into ribbons, and the "flapping flitters" were streaming in the air. Piece after piece was detached from the bolt-rope, and disappeared in the heavy atmosphere. The sloop, in obedience to her helm, came about, and was now headed down the lake. The rain began to fall in torrents, and Mr. Randall was as uncomfortable as the director of a country bank could be.
"Go below, sir!" shouted Captain John to the unhappy man.
"Is it safe?" asked Mr. Randall.
"Won't she sink?"
"Sink? no; she can't sink," replied the skipper. "The wu'st on't's over now."
The fury of the squall was spent in a moment, and then the fury of Captain John began to gather, as he saw the remnants of the sail flapping at the gaff and the boom. The Missisque and her cargo were safe, and not a single one of the precious lives of her crew had been sacrificed; but the skipper was as dissatisfied as the skipper of a lake sloop could be; more so, probably, than if the vessel had gone to the bottom, and left him clinging for life to a lone spar on the angry waters, for men are often more reasonable under great than under small misfortunes.
"Why didn't you let go that throat-halyard?" said he, as he walked forward to where the young pilot stood.
"I did," replied Lawry quietly.
"You did! What was the use of lettin' it go after the squall had split the sail? Why didn't you do it sooner?"
"I did it as soon as I saw the squall coming down on us."
"Why didn't you see it before then?" growled Captain John.
"I told you the squall was coming half an hour ago. Why didn't you come on deck, and attend to your vessel?"
"Don't be sassy," said Captain John.
"I'm not the skipper of this craft. If I had been, that sail would have been safe. I told you the squall was coming, and after that I did the best I could."
"You ain't good for nothin' 'board a vessel. I thought you knew enough to take in sail when you saw a squall comin'."
"I should have taken in sail long ago if I had thought the captain didn't know enough to come on deck when there was a squall coming up," replied Lawry.
"I don't want nothin' more of you."
"And I don't want anything more of you," added Lawry smartly. "I've got almost home."
"What do you s'pose I'm goin' to do here, eighty mile from Whitehall, with the mainsail blowed clean out?" snarled Captain John, as he followed Lawry.
"Mind your vessel better than you have, I hope."
"Don't be sassy, boy."
"You needn't growl at me because you neglected your duty. I did mine. I was casting off the halyards when the squall came."
"Why didn't you do it before? That's what I want to know."
"I had no orders from the captain. Men on board a vessel don't take in sail till they are told to do so. When I saw the squall coming, half an hour ago, I let you know it; that was all I had to do with it."
"I don't want you in this vessel; you are too smart for me," continued Captain John.
"I'll leave her just as soon as we get to Port Rock," said Lawry, sitting down on the rail.
The rain ceased in a few moments, and the skipper ordered the jib, which had before been useless, to be set. At the invitation of Mrs. Captain John, Lawry went below and ate his dinner, to which he felt himself entitled, for he was working his passage up from Plattsburg. By the time he had disposed of the last piece of green-apple pie on board, the Missisque was before Port Rock, which was the home of the young pilot, and he saw his father's ferry-boat at the shore as he came on deck.
"Will you put me ashore here, Captain John?" asked Lawry.
"Yes, I will; and I'm glad to get rid of you," replied the captain testily.
"I think I will land here, also," added the bank director. "Now you have lost your sail, I'm afraid you won't get along very fast."
"I don't expect I shall. I sha'n't get to Shoreham till to-morrow morning with this wind. I'm sorry it happened so; but that boy didn't mind what he was about."
"The captain didn't mind what he was about," added Lawry. "He needn't lay it to me, when it was all his own fault."
"I will cross the lake, and get a horse at Pointville, so that I shall be in Shoreham by five o'clock," continued the bank director.
Captain John ordered one of the men to pull Mr. Randall and Lawry ashore in the boat, and in a few minutes they were landed at Port Rock.
THE PORT ROCK FERRY
Lawrence Wilford was a full-fledged water-fowl. From his earliest childhood he had paddled in Lake Champlain. His father had a small place, consisting of ten acres of land with a small cottage; but it was still encumbered with a mortgage, as it had been for twenty years, though the note had passed through several hands, and had been three times renewed. John Wilford was not a very sagacious nor a very energetic man, and had not distinguished himself in the race for wealth or for fame. He wanted to be rich, but he was not willing to pay the price of riches.
His place was a short distance from the village of Port Rock, and John Wilford, at the time he had purchased the land and built his house, had established a ferry, which had been, and was still, his principal means of support; for there was considerable travel between Port Rock and Pointville, on the Vermont side of the lake.
The ferryman was a poor man, and was likely to remain a poor man to the end of his life. Hardly a day passed in which he did not sigh to be rich, and complain of the unequal and unjust distribution of property. He could point to a score of men who had not worked half so hard as he had, in his own opinion, that had made fortunes, or at least won a competence, while he was as poor as ever, and in danger of having his place taken away from him. People said that John Wilford was lazy; that he did not make the most of his land, and that his ferry, with closer attention to the wants of passengers, might be made to pay double the amount he made from it. He permitted the weeds to grow in his garden, and compelled people to wait by the hour for a passage across the lake.
John Wilford wondered that he could not grow rich, that he could not pay off the mortgage on his place. He seldom sat down to dinner without grumbling at his hard lot. His wife was a sensible woman. She did not wonder that he did not grow rich; only that he contrived to keep out of the poorhouse. She was the mother of eight children, and if he had been half as smart as she was, prosperity would have smiled upon the family. As it was, her life was filled up with struggles to make the ends meet; but, though she had the worst of it, she did not complain, and did all she could to comfort and encourage her thriftless husband.
The oldest son was as near like his father as one person could be like another. He was eighteen years old, and was an idle and dissolute fellow. Lawrence, the second son, inherited his mother's tack and energy. He was observing and enterprising, and had already made a good reputation as a boatman and pilot. He had worked in various capacities on board of steamers, canal-boats, sloops, and schooners, and in five years had visited every part of the lake from Whitehall to St. Johns.
Speaking technically, his bump of locality was large, and he was as familiar with the navigation of the lake as any pilot on its waters. Indeed, he had occasionally served as a pilot on board steamers and other vessels, which had earned for him the name of the Young Pilot, by which he was often called. But his business was not piloting, for there was but little of this work to be done. Unlike his father, he was willing to do anything which would afford him a fair compensation, and in his five years of active life on the lake he had been a pilot, a deck-hand, a waiter, and a kitchen assistant on board steamers, and a sailor, helmsman, and cook on board other craft. He picked up considerable money, for a boy, by his enterprise, which, like a good son with a clear apprehension of domestic circumstances, he gave to his mother. At the time of his introduction to the reader, Lawry had just piloted a canal-boat, with movable masts, from Whitehall to Plattsburg, and was working his passage home on the "Missisque.
"Captain John feels bad about the loss of his sail," said Mr. Randall, as the sloop's boat pulled off from the shore.
"Yes, he does; but it was his own fault," replied Lawry. "He paid too much attention to his dinner at the time."
"That's true; he was very fond of the green-apple pies."
"Well, they were good," added the young pilot.
"I'm sorry he lost his sail."
"It wasn't worth much, though it was a bad time to lose it."
"He lost his temper, too. I wanted to land on the other side, but the captain was so cross I didn't like to ask him when we were so close to this shore. Your father is the ferryman, I believe."
"Will you ask him to take me over?"
"He's going right over in the large boat, for there's a team waiting for him," replied Lawry, pointing to a horse and wagon, the owner of which had sounded the horn just as the passengers from the boat landed.
"Ask him to be as quick as possible, for I'm in a hurry," added the bank director.
"Won't you come into the house, sir?"
"No, I will sit down under this tree."
Lawry went into the house, where the family were at dinner, the meal having been delayed by the absence of the ferryman on the other side of the lake. The youth was greeted coldly by his father, and very warmly by his mother.
"I'm glad you've got home, Lawry, for Mr. Sherwood has been after you three times," said Mrs. Wilford, when the young pilot had been duly welcomed by all the family.
"What does he want?" asked Lawry.
"His little steamboat is at Port Henry, and he wants you to go up and pilot her down."
"Yes, that's her name, I believe."
"Well, I'm all ready to go."
"Sit down and eat your dinner.
"I've been to dinner."
"Mr. Sherwood wanted you to go up in the Sherman; but it is too late for her, and he may go in the night boat."
"I'm ready when he is. Father, there is a gentleman outside who wants to go over the lake; and there is a team waiting in the road," continued Lawry.
"They must wait till I've done my dinner," replied the ferryman. "Who is the gentleman?"
"Mr. Randall; he is a director in a bank, and has six thousand dollars with him."
"I suppose so; every man but me has six thousand dollars in his pocket. Where's he going to?"
"To Shoreham, and he wants to get there by five o'clock, if he can."
"What's he traveling with so much money for?"
"I don't know. It is in his coat pocket, and it would have gone overboard if it hadn't been for me."
The ferryman finished his dinner in moody silence. He seemed to be thinking of the subject always uppermost in his mind, his thoughts stimulated, no doubt, by the fact that his expected passenger carried a large sum of money on his person.
"Mr. Randall is in a hurry, father," interposed Lawry, when the ferryman had sat a good half-hour after his son's arrival.
"He must wait till I get ready. He's got money, and I haven't; but I'm just as good as he is. I don't know why I'm poor when so many men are rich. But I'm going to be rich, somehow or other," said he, with more earnestness than he usually exhibited. "I'm too honest for my own good. I'm going to do as other men do; and I shall wake up rich some morning, as they do. Then I sha'n't have to go when folks blow the horn. They'll be willing to wait for me then."
"Don't keep the gentleman waiting, father," added Mrs. Wilford.
"I'm going to be rich, somehow or other," continued the ferryman, still pursuing the exciting line of thought he had before taken up. "I'm going to be rich, by hook or by crook."
"This making haste to get rich ruins men sometimes, husband; and haste makes waste then."
"If I can only get rich, I'll risk being ruined," said John Wilford, as he rose from the table and put on his hat.
He looked more moody and discontented than usual. Instead of hastening to do the work which was waiting for him, he stood before the window, looking out into the garden. Mrs. Wilford told him the gentleman would be impatient, and he finally left the house and walked down to the ferry-boat.
"I wonder what your father is thinking about," said Mrs. Wilford, as the door closed behind him.
"I don't know," replied Lawry; "he don't seem to be thinking that people won't wait forever for him. I guess I'll go up to Mr. Sherwood's, and see when he wants me."
"You must fix up a little before you go," replied the prudent mother. "They are very grand people up at Mr. Sherwood's, and you must look as well as you can."
"I'll put on my best clothes," added Lawry.
In half an hour he had changed his dress, and looked like another boy. Mrs. Wilford adjusted a few stray locks of his hair, and as he put on his new straw hat, and left the house, her eye followed him with a feeling of motherly pride. He was a good boy, and had the reputation of being a very smart boy, and she may be pardoned for the parental vanity with which she regarded him. While he visits the house of Mr. Sherwood, we will follow his father down to the ferry, where the bank director was impatiently waiting his appearance.
After the shower the sun had come out brightly, and the wind had abated so that there was hardly breeze enough to ruffle the waters of the lake. It was intensely warm, and Mr. Randall had taken off his coat again, but he was careful to keep it on his arm. At the approach of the ferryman he went into the boat, where he was followed by the vehicle that had been waiting so long for a passage across the lake.
John Wilford pushed off the boat with a pole, and trimmed the sail, which was the motive power of the craft when there was any wind. The ferry-boat was a large bateau, or flatboat, the slope at the ends being so gradual that a wagon could pass down over it to the bottom of the boat. This inclined plane was extended by a movable platform about six feet wide, which swung horizontally up and down, like a great trap-door. When the ferry-boat touched the shore, this platform was let down upon the ground, forming a slope on which carriages were driven into and out of the bateau.
The wind was very light, and the clumsy craft moved very slowly—so slowly that the passage promised to be a severe trial to the patience of Mr. Randall, who hoped to reach Shoreham by five o'clock. He was not in a very amiable frame of mind; he was angry at the delay in starting, and he was vexed because the wind would not blow. He walked nervously from the forward platform to the after one, with his coat still on his arm.
"We shall not get over to-night," said he impatiently, as he stopped by the side of the ferryman, and threw his coat down upon the platform, while he wiped the perspiration from his brow.
"Yes, I guess we shall," replied John Wilford.
"I'll give you a dollar if you will land me at Pointville by three o'clock."
"I can't make the wind blow, if you would give me a hundred dollars."
"Can't you use the pole or the oars?" said the bank director petulantly; "you kept me waiting half an hour before you started."
"I couldn't help that," replied John Wilford.
Mr. Randall walked to the forward platform, fretting with impatience at the indifference of the ferryman. He stood for a few moments gazing at the Vermont shore, and appeared to be engaged in estimating the distance yet to be accomplished. The calculation was not satisfactory, and the bank director's wrath was on the increase. With hasty step he walked aft again.
"I think we shall have more wind in a minute," said John Wilford, as he stepped down from the platform and adjusted the sheet.
"If we don't, I shall go crazy," replied Mr. Randall.
When he had placed one foot on the platform, by some means the drop, true to its name, went down and splashed in the water. The bank director stepped back in season to save himself from a cold bath or a watery grave, as the case might be.
"My coat! save my coat!" shouted Mr. Randall, as the garment rolled off the platform into the water.
"Why didn't you hold on to it?" said John Wilford.
"Save my coat! There is six thousand dollars in the pocket," groaned the unhappy bank director.
SIX THOUSAND DOLLARS
Within half a mile of the ferryman's cottage, at Port Rock, was the summer residence of Mr. Sherwood, who, two years before, had become the husband of Bertha Grant, of Woodville. The scenery in the vicinity was beautiful, and the mansion commanded a splendid view of the Adirondack Mountains and of the lake.
Mr. Sherwood was an enthusiastic admirer of the scenery of Lake Champlain. His constant visits at Woodville had given him a taste for aquatic sports, in which he was disposed to indulge on a larger scale than ever had been known at Woodville. He had been remarkably fortunate in his financial operations, and was already a wealthy man. Though he did not retire from active business, he had taken a partner, which enabled him to spend a part of his time during the summer at his country house on the lake.
Mr. Grant had gone to Europe a second time, to be absent during the summer, and Miss Fanny and Fanny Jane had accepted Bertha's invitation to spend a few weeks at Port Rock. A splendid time had been promised them by Mrs. Sherwood, who had made extensive preparations for their visit. The arrangements included a novelty which offered a very brilliant prospect to the party, and excited the imagination even of the older ones to the highest pitch.
This novelty was nothing less than a miniature steamboat, which had already been christened the Woodville, in honor of the home of the owner's lady. She was a splendid little craft, and as perfect in her machinery and appointments as any steamer that ever floated. She was a side-wheel boat, sixty feet in length, by twelve feet beam. Forward there were a regular wheel-house, a small kitchen, and other rooms usually found in a steamer. Abaft the wheels there were a saloon and two staterooms. Of course all these apartments, as well as the cabin below, were very contracted in their dimensions; but they were fitted up in the most elegant style.
The Woodville had cost a great deal of money; but her owner expected to realize a full return for it in the enjoyment she would afford him, his wife, and their friends. She had been sent up the Hudson, and through the canal to Whitehall, and thence to Port Henry, where she had arrived on the day before Lawry Wilford's return to Port Rock.
On board of the little steamer there is an old friend of our readers. He may be found in the engine-room; and as he rubs up the polished iron of the machinery, he is thinking of Fanny Jane Grant, with whom he escaped from the Indians in Minnesota, and whom he expects on board with Mr. Sherwood's party. The young man, now sixteen years of age, is the engineer of the Woodville. Though he has been but two years learning the trade of machinist, he is as thoroughly acquainted with every part of a marine-engine as though he had spent his lifetime in studying it.
The engine of the Woodville was built at the works where Ethan French was learning his trade, and he had been employed in its construction. As he was a frequent visitor at Woodville, he had petitioned for the situation he now held. At first, Mr. Sherwood was not willing to trust him; but Ethan's employers declared that he was a man in everything but years, and was fully competent to manage the engine, and even to build one after the designs were made. He had come up from New York in the steamer. He had seen Mr. Sherwood at Port Henry, on his arrival, and had been ordered to have the boat in readiness to start on the following morning, when the family would be passengers.
Mr. Sherwood had already selected Lawry Wilford as the pilot of the Woodville. He was small in stature, and would look better in the wheel-house than a full-grown man. He had often met the young pilot, and had been greatly pleased with his energy and decision. Lawry had been employed by Miss Fanny several times to row her on the lake; and he had served her so faithfully that her influence was not wanting in procuring for him the situation.
Lawry, not yet informed of the honorable and responsible position which had been awarded to him, walked up to Mr. Sherwood's house. He had heard Miss Fanny speak of the Woodville, while in the boat with him, and had listened with delight to her enthusiastic description of the beautiful craft. He was quite as anxious to see her as any of the party who were more directly interested in her.
"Can I see Mr. Sherwood?" asked Lawry.
"He has gone away," replied the man.
"Where has he gone?"
"To Port Henry; he went in the carriage, and is coming back in the new steamboat."
"Has he got a pilot?" continued Lawry anxiously.
"I don't know; he expected you, I believe; but when you didn't come back, he couldn't wait any longer. I heard him say he could pilot her himself, and I suppose he is going to do so."
"I'm sorry I didn't see him; I have but just got home," replied Lawry.
He wanted to pilot the beautiful little steamer up from Port Henry. He wanted to see her; wanted to make her acquaintance, for she promised to be the belle of the lake. He was sorry to lose the chance, for it might prove to be a valuable one to him. Mr. Sherwood was very liberal, and he hoped he would not engage another pilot. It was no use to complain, and Lawry walked back to the ferry, where he could see the steamer when she arrived. When he reached the landing-place, the ferry-boat was about halfway across the lake, and his attention was attracted by the strange movements of those on board of her. His father was laboring at the steering-oar with a zeal which indicated that some unusual event had occurred. The ferry-boat was thrown up into the wind, and while Lawry was waiting to ascertain what the matter was, his father leaped into the water.
It was now evident to Lawry that something serious had happened, and he sprang into the small keel-boat, used for conveying foot-passengers across the lake, which was fastened to a stake on the shore. Taking the oars, he pulled with all his might toward the ferry-boat. He was a stout boy, and handled his oars very skillfully; but before he could reach the scene of the excitement, his father had returned to the bateau.
"There's your coat," said John Wilford.
Mr. Randall seized the garment with convulsive energy, and with trembling hands felt for the pocketbook in which the six thousand dollars had been kept.
"It is gone!" gasped he; and he seemed ready to sink down in the bottom of the boat when he discovered his loss.
"Gone!" exclaimed John Wilford.
"What's the matter?" asked Lawry.
"I've lost my pocketbook with six thousand dollars in it," groaned the bank director.
"How did you lose it?" demanded Lawry.
"That drop came down and let my coat into the lake; but I don't see how my pocketbook could get out of the coat."
"I don't believe the money was in the pocket," added the ferryman.
"Yes, it was," persisted Mr. Randall.
"I don't see how it could fall out of the pocket," said John Wilford.
"Nor I; but the money is gone," answered the bank director, with a vacant stare. "I'm ruined!"
"Well, I can't help it. I've done all I could for you. I tried to save it; and if I get the rheumatism for a month or two, it will be a bad job for me."
"Wasn't the pocketbook in the pocket when you picked up the coat?" asked Mr. Randall, walking up to the ferryman.
"How should I know?" replied John Wilford. "I gave you the coat just as I found it."
"I don't believe the pocketbook would sink," added the director. "There was nothing but paper in it."
"Of course it wouldn't sink, then," interposed the owner of the vehicle in the ferry-boat.
"I don't think it would," said Mr. Randall.
"I know it wouldn't," protested the stranger. "I dropped my pocketbook into the lake once, and it floated ten minutes before I could get it again."
"Then it must be floating about on the water," added Lawry. "I will try to find it."
"I'll go with you," said Mr. Randall.
They got into the boat, and Lawry pulled about the spot where the coat had fallen into the water for half an hour without discovering the pocketbook.
"I suppose I must give it up," sighed the director.
"I'm sure it's not on the water," replied Lawry.
"Do you suppose it would sink?"
"I don't know; the gentleman in the ferry-boat says it wouldn't."
"Stop a minute, boy, and I will soon find out," continued the unfortunate loser of the money.
He took all the money and papers out of his wallet, and stuffed it with pieces of newspaper which Lawry gave him. Having thus prepared the wallet, which he said was of the same material as the lost pocketbook, he placed it on the surface of the water, holding his hand underneath to save it, in case the trial should result differently from his anticipations. It floated, and he removed his hand from under it to exhibit his confidence in the law he had tested.
"That's plain enough," said he. "My pocketbook hasn't gone to the bottom."
"It certainly has not," replied Lawry.
"Then where is it?—that's the next question."
"Are you sure it was in your pocket when you got into the ferry-boat?"
"Just as sure as I am that I sit here."
"You were very careless about your coat on board of the sloop."
"I know I was."
"I don't see how a man could throw down his coat with six thousand dollars in the pocket," said Lawry.
"I know I'm careless; but I'm so used to carrying money that I don't think much about it. I always carry it in a pocket inside of my vest," continued the director, putting his hand in the place indicated; "but this is a new vest, and hasn't any such pocket. Things don't look all right to me. Is the ferryman your father?"
"Yes, sir; he is."
"Well, the money's gone," added Mr. Randall. "We will go back to the ferry-boat."
"Did you find it?" asked John Wilford, as the bank director stepped into the bateau.
"No; but I'm certain it has not gone to the bottom."
"Where is it, then?"
"I don't know; can you tell me?"
Mr. Randall looked at the ferryman very sharply. His manner indicated that he had some suspicions.
"How can I tell you?" replied John Wilford.
"The money was in the coat pocket when you picked it up in the water— I know it was."
"Do you mean to say I took it out?" demanded the ferryman angrily.
"If you didn't, I don't see what has become of it."
"Do you mean to accuse my father of stealing?" said Lawry indignantly.
"I don't accuse him of anything; but here are the facts, and you can all see for yourselves."
"You throw your coat down anywhere. It would have gone overboard from the sloop if I hadn't saved it; and it won't do for so careless a man as you are to accuse anybody of stealing your money," added Lawry angrily.
"Very likely you lost it out of the pocket before you got into the ferry-boat."
"Never mind him, Lawry. I haven't got his pocketbook," interposed the ferryman.
"I know you haven't, father; and it makes me mad to hear him accuse you of stealing it."
"Mr. Randall, if you think I've got your money, I want you to satisfy yourself on the point at once," continued John Wilford, turning to the director.
"I hope you haven't."
"But you think I have. Search me, then."
Greatly to the indignation of Lawry, Mr. Randall did search the ferryman; turned out his pockets, and examined every part of his wet garments. The pocketbook was not upon his person; and the loser, in spite of the laws of specific gravity, which he had just demonstrated, was almost compelled to believe that his money had gone to the bottom of the lake.
THE STEAMER "WOODVILLE"
Mr. Randall, now that his money was lost, declared that he had no business in Shoreham, and it was useless for him to go there. The six thousand dollars belonged to his bank, and, having an opportunity to put this sum in circulation, where it would be "kept out" for several weeks, he was making this journey to accomplish the business. He facetiously remarked that it was likely to be kept out longer than was desirable.
Lawry was so sure Mr. Randall had dropped the pocketbook on the shore before he got into the ferry-boat, that he insisted upon returning to Pork Rock and having the ground searched. Though the bank director was satisfied that the pocketbook was safe in his possession when he entered the bateau, he was willing to return, since the object of his journey had been defeated, and Lawry pulled him back to the landing-place. The ground under the tree, and over which Mr. Randall had walked while waiting for the ferryman, was carefully examined, but the lost pocketbook could not be found.
The bank director had very little to say after he left the ferry-boat; but he was very thoughtful, as a man who had lost six thousand dollars might reasonably be. After the search on shore was completed, he walked off toward the village without mentioning his intentions, but he looked as though he purposed to do something.
"What's the matter, Lawry?" asked Mrs. Wilford, who had been watching the movements of Mr. Randall and her son from the window, as she came out of the house.
"The gentleman has lost his money—six thousand dollars," replied Lawry.
"Lost it!" exclaimed Mrs. Wilford, recalling the conversation with her husband at dinner.
"His coat fell overboard, and the pocketbook dropped out."
"Fell into the lake," added she, with a feeling of relief.
"Yes; father swam out and got the coat, but the money was gone."
Mrs. Wilford returned to the house. Perhaps she had some misgivings, and felt more than before that those who make haste to be rich are often ruined; but she said nothing. Lawry was perplexed at the disappearance of the money. Mr. Randall had proved that a pocketbook with nothing but paper in it would not sink within a reasonable time. If the lost treasure had fallen into the water, he would certainly have found it. If it had been dropped on shore or in the ferry-boat, it would not have disappeared so strangely.
Lawry was so positive that the pocketbook was still in the ferry-boat, or on the shore, that he renewed the search, and carefully scrutinized every foot of ground between the house and the landing-place, but with no better success than before. By this time the ferry-boat, which had been favored by a good wind during the last half-hour, returned.
"What do you suppose became of that pocketbook, father?" asked Lawry, as he stepped into the boat.
"I don't know. I don't believe he lost any pocketbook," replied John Wilford.
"He says he did, and I saw it myself."
"Perhaps you did, but I don't believe there was any six thousand dollars in it. If there had been, he wouldn't have thrown it about as he did."
"He says there was six thousand dollars in the pocketbook."
"I don't believe it. It's a likely story that a man would throw down his coat, with all that money in the pocket, on the drop. In my opinion it's some trick to cheat his creditors out of their just due."
"It don't seem possible."
"That's the truth, you may depend upon it. That's the way men make money."
Lawry was by no means satisfied with this explanation. He went into the boat, and carefully searched every part of it. His father watched him with considerable interest, declaring that it was useless to look for what had not been lost.
"You had better go up and see Mr. Sherwood now," said Mr. Wilford.
"I have been up, and he was not at home."
"You better go again, then."
"He has gone to Port Henry after the new steamer."
"Has he got a pilot?"
"Not that I know of."
"He can't get one at Port Henry," said the ferryman.
"I suppose he is going to pilot her himself."
"He will pilot her on the rocks, then. He don't know anything about Lake Champlain. Why don't you row up the lake till you meet the boat?"
"I was thinking of doing so, but I can't keep this money out of my mind."
"Why need you trouble yourself about that?" demanded the father impatiently.
"It was lost in your boat, and I am very anxious that it should be found. I'm sure Mr. Randall thinks you've got it."
"Well, he searched me, and found out that I hadn't got it—didn't he?" added Mr. Wilford, with a sickly smile.
"I don't like to have you suspected of such a thing, and for that reason I want to find the money."
"You can't find it, and I tell you he hasn't lost any money. He's going to cheat the bank or his creditors out of six thousand dollars."
"I don't believe he would do such a thing as that."
"We have looked everywhere for the money, and it can't be found. It's no use to bother any more about the matter. It's gone, and that's the end of it—if he lost it at all. You have looked all over the ferry-boat, and it isn't there. If it had been floating in the lake, you couldn't help seeing it. Now, you better take your boat and row up the lake till you meet the steamer."
"I'm going pretty soon."
"Better go now. I'm going up after a drink of water. If you don't go pretty soon, you will be too late to do any good on board the steamer," said Mr. Wilford, hoping, if he left the spot, his son would depart also.
Lawry hauled in the rowboat, ready to embark; but, before he did so, he made one more search in the bateau for the pocketbook. The timbers of the ferry-boat were ceiled over on the bottom, leaving a space for the leakage between the inner and the outer planking. Near the mast there was a well, from which, with a grain-shovel, the water was thrown out. Lawry examined this hole, feeling under the planks, and thrusting the shovel in as far as he could. This search was unavailing, and he gave it up in despair. As he stepped on shore, his curiosity prompted him to look under the platform outside of the boat.
The pocketbook was there!
In a space between the planks, a foot above the surface of the water, and the same distance from the side, the pocketbook was thrust in. It could not be seen from the inside of the boat, nor from the platform; and it could not have got there of itself.
Lawry's face turned red, and his heart bounded with emotion, for the situation of the pocketbook pointed to but one conclusion. It had been placed there by his father, who had evidently taken it from the pocket of the coat, and concealed it, either before or after the garment had fallen into the water. He was appalled and horrified at the discovery. He knew that his father was discontented with his lot; that he was indolent and thriftless; but he did not think him capable of committing a crime.
He reached under the platform, and took the pocketbook from its hiding-place. It was perfectly dry; it had not been in the water. John Wilford had probably taken it from the coat pocket, and after thrusting it into the aperture beneath the drop, had let the platform fall into the water for the purpose of dislodging the coat, and making it appear that the money had been lost in the lake.
The pocketbook seemed to burn in Lawry's fingers, and he returned it to the place where he had found it; for he was confused, and did not know what to do. He stood, with flushed face and beating heart, on the shore, considering what course he should take. He could not think of exposing his father's crime, on the one hand, or of permitting him to retain the money, on the other.
After long and painful deliberation, he decided to take the pocketbook, follow Mr. Randall, and return it to him, telling him that he had found it under the drop of the boat. He was about to adopt this course when his father came out of the house, and walked down to the ferry-boat.
"Not gone yet?" said Mr. Wilford.
"No, sir; that money has troubled me so much that I could not go," replied Lawry.
"What's the use of bothering your head about that any longer?" added the father petulantly.
"It troubles me terribly."
"Let it go; it can't be found, and that's the end of it."
"But it can be found."
"Why don't you find it, then?"
"I have found it, father!"
"It's in a crack under the platform," replied Lawry.
"You don't mean so!" exclaimed the ferryman.
"It's no use to talk round the barn, father; the pocket-book is just where you put it."
"Where I put it? What do you mean, Lawry?"
"There it is in the crack under the drop, a foot above the water. It did not wash in there of itself. Oh, father!"
Lawry, unable longer to control his feelings, burst into tears.
"What are you crying about, Lawry? Do you think I hid the pocketbook?"
"I know you did, father," sobbed Lawry.
"Do you accuse me of stealing?" demanded Mr. Wilford, with a weak show of indignation.
"I don't accuse you of anything, father; but there it is."
"You mean to say that I stole it?"
"Stop your whining, Lawry! What possessed you to poke round after what did not concern you? Now, shut up, and go off about your business."
"You will not keep it, father?"
"I haven't got it. If you have found it, I suppose there is time enough to think what is best to be done."
"I don't want any time to think of it," replied Lawry; and before his father could prevent him, he took the pocketbook from its place of concealment.
"What are you going to do with it?" demanded Mr. Wilford.
"I'm going to find Mr. Randall, and give it back to him, as quick as I can."
"What's the use of doing that?"
"Because it's the right way to do."
"That isn't the way to get rich."
"But it's the way to keep honest."
"Give it to me, Lawry."
"What are you going to do with it, father?"
"That's my business."
"I shall give it back to the owner."
"No, you won't, Lawry. Do you want to get me into trouble—to have me sent to jail?"
"If I give it back to Mr. Randall, there will be no trouble."
"Lawry, I've been poor and honest long enough. I'm going to do as other men do. I'm going to get rich."
"By keeping this money?" exclaimed the son.
"You needn't talk any more about it; I put the money where you found it."
"I know you did."
"Give it to me."
"I will not, father, if you mean to keep it."
"I do mean to keep it. Do you think I have run all this risk for nothing? Give me the pocketbook."
"Don't think of such a thing as keeping it, father," pleaded Lawry.
"I'm going to be rich," replied the father doggedly.
"You know what mother said about making haste to be rich: 'Haste makes waste.'"
"It will make waste if you don't give me the pocket-book."
"Mr. Randall will not be satisfied till he gets his money, and you will certainly be found out."
"No, I shall not be found out. I'll go to New York and change off the money this very night."
"But only think of it, father. You will be a thief. You never will have a moment's peace as long as you live."
"I never did have, and I shall not be any worse off," said Mr. Wilford coldly. "There comes your steamer. She hasn't got any pilot on board; I know by the way she steers. You had better go and see to her, for she is running right for the Goblins."
Lawry glanced at the Woodville, as she appeared rounding a point, two miles distant.
"If you will go and find Mr. Randall, I will give you the pocketbook, father," replied Lawry.
"Well, I guess you are right, Lawry, and I'll do it."
"He has gone up to the village," added Lawry, as he handed the money to his father.
HASTE AND WASTE
Lawry, satisfied that his father had come to his senses, and would restore the pocketbook to Mr. Randall, hastened into the boat, and pulled toward the Woodville. He was afraid Mr. Sherwood had been too venturesome in attempting to pilot the little steamer in waters with which he was entirely unfamiliar; but he hoped for the best, and rowed as hard as he could, in order to give him timely warning of the perils which lay in the path of the beautiful craft.
About half a mile above the landing at Port Rock there was a dangerous ledge, called the Goblins, some of whose sharp points were within a foot of the surface of the water when the lake was low. They were some distance from the usual track of steamers, and there was no buoy, or other mark, on them. The Woodville was headed toward the rocks, as the ferryman had said, and it was impossible for Lawry to get within hailing distance of her before she reached them. He pulled with all his strength, and had hoped to overhaul her in season to avert a catastrophe.
Occasionally, as he rowed, he looked behind him to observe the course of the steamer. She was almost up to the Goblins, while he was too far off to make himself heard in her wheel-house. He was appalled at her danger, and the cold sweat stood on his brow, as he saw her hastening to certain destruction. He could no longer hope to reach her, and he ceased rowing.
Standing up in his boat, he waved his hat, and made other signs to warn the imprudent pilot of his danger. With one of the oars he tried to signify to him that he must keep off; but no notice was taken of his warning. On the forward deck of the little craft stood three ladies, who, taking the boatman's energetic gestures for friendly salutations, were waving their handkerchiefs to him.
"Hard aport your helm!" shouted Lawry.
Mr. Sherwood sounded the whistle, evidently taking the shout as a cheer of congratulation at his safe arrival.
"Keep off!" roared Lawry.
Again the whistle sounded, and the ladies waved their handkerchiefs more vigorously than before. The young pilot was in despair. The Woodville was going at full speed directly upon the rocks, whose sharp points would grind her to powder if she struck upon them.
"Hard aport!" repeated Lawry desperately.
Once more the supposed cheer was answered by the whistle and the waving of the ladies' handkerchiefs, and still the fairy craft dashed on toward the rocks.
"By gracious! she's on them, as sure as the world!" exclaimed Lawry to himself, hardly able to breathe.
He had hardly uttered the words before he heard the crash which announced the doom of the Woodville. Her sharp bow slid upon the ledge, and she suddenly stopped in her mad flight.
Lawry bent on his oars again, horrified by the accident. He pulled as he had never pulled before. A moment or two after the steamer struck, he was startled by a succession of shrill shrieks from the ladies, and he turned to see what had happened. The Woodville had filled, rolled off the rock, and sank in deep water, leaving her passengers floating helplessly on the lake. The upper half of her smokestack was all that remained in sight of the beautiful craft which three minutes before had been a thing of beauty.
The young pilot did not pause an instant to contemplate the scene of destruction. He saw only the helpless persons struggling for life in the water, and he renewed his labors with a vigor and skill which soon brought him to the sufferers. Mr. Sherwood was supporting his wife; but both of them were nearly exhausted. Lawry helped Bertha into the boat, and told her husband to hold on at the rail.
Ethan French, with his arm around the waist of Fanny Jane, was holding on at the smokestack, where also the fireman of the boat was supporting himself.
"Where is Fanny?" gasped Mr. Sherwood.
"I'm afraid she has gone down," replied Ethan French. "I saw her just there a moment since."
"I see her!" said Lawry, as he dived into the lake.
Fanny, exhausted by her struggles, had sunk, and Lawry, with a strong arm, bore her to the surface again; but she was too large and heavy for him, and he could not support her.
Before the arrival of the boat, Ethan was in the act of transferring his helpless burden to the arms of the fireman, that he might go to the assistance of Miss Fanny; and, as soon as Lawry appeared, he swam out to help him. With the aid of the young engineer, the exhausted lady was lifted into the boat. Fanny Jane was next taken in, but there was no room for any more.
Though Miss Fanny was in a worse condition than the other ladies, she still had her senses; and none of the party was in danger. Mr. Sherwood, Ethan, and the fireman were still in the water, holding on at the rail of the boat. Lawry took the oars and pulled toward the ferry-landing.
"Thank God, we are all safe!" said Mr. Sherwood.
"Some of us must have been drowned if Lawry had not come to our assistance," added Miss Fanny. "I had given up, and was sinking to the bottom. My senses were leaving me, when I felt his grasp on my arm."
"You have done bravely, Lawry," added Bertha.
But the party did not feel much like talking. They were all grateful to God, who had, through the agency of the young pilot, saved them from their perilous situation. When the boat reached the landing- place, the ladies were conducted to the cottage of John Wilford, where everything was done by Mrs. Wilford to promote their comfort. Lawry hastened up to Mr. Sherwood's house to procure the carriage, which had fortunately just returned from Port Henry, and the party were soon conveyed to their home.
Dry clothing and a little rest soon restored Mr. Sherwood and the ladies to their wonted spirits, and all of them wished to see their brave deliverer. He was sent for, and presented himself to the ladies in the drawing-room. Lawry, anxious to learn the condition of the ladies after their cold bath, and their terrible fright, had followed the carriage up to the house, and was telling the coachman the particulars of the catastrophe when he was summoned to the presence of the family.
Never was a young man more earnestly and sincerely thanked for a brave and noble deed; and Mr. Sherwood hinted that something more substantial than thanks would be bestowed upon him.
"Thank you, sir; I don't need anything more," replied Lawry, blushing. "What will be done with the steamer, now?" he asked.
"I have got enough of her," said Mr. Sherwood. "She has given me a shock I shall never forget."
"I don't think it was the fault of the boat, sir," suggested Lawry. "I did all I could to have you keep off the rocks."
"We all thought you were crazy, you shook so in your boat."
"I was trying to warn you of your danger."
"Was that what you meant? We thought you were cheering the Woodville."
"I saw you were going on the rocks, and I shouted and made signs for you to keep off."
"You certainly did all you could for us, both before and after the accident," added Mr. Sherwood. "When did you get home, Lawry?"
"To-day noon, just after you went to the house for me. I came right up to see you; but I found you had gone."
"Yes; I was so impatient to get that little steamer up here, that I couldn't wait any longer."
"And what a waste your haste has made!" laughed Mrs. Sherwood. "There is our fine little steamer at the bottom of the lake."
"She may lie there, for all me," added Mr. Sherwood.
"I should not dare to put my foot on board of her again," said Miss Fanny.
"Nor I," chimed in Fanny Jane.
"She isn't to blame, Mr. Sherwood," interposed Ethan French. "She worked as though she had been alive."
"No steamer could stand such a thump on the Goblins," added Lawry.
"I don't blame the boat, of course," replied Mr. Sherwood; "but this adventure has cured me of my love for steamboating. I don't want to see another one."
"Shall you let the Woodville lie there?" asked Lawry.
"She's a wreck now, stove in and ruined."
"But she can be raised and repaired, and be as good as ever, or nearly so," continued Lawry.
"She is good for nothing to me now. I will give her to any one who wants her."
"There are plenty who will want her," said Lawry.
"It will cost them a fortune to raise and repair her—almost as much as she is worth, if she is to be used as a plaything. But I have come to the conclusion that she is a dangerous machine for me, and I don't want anything more to do with her. I came very near drowning my wife and my friends with her; and this fills me with disgust for the boat and for myself."
"Just now you spoke of a reward for what I had the good luck to do for you, Mr. Sherwood," continued Lawry.
"I did; and you may be assured I shall never forget your noble conduct," replied Mr. Sherwood warmly.
"If you are going to give the Woodville away, sir—"
"Well, what?" asked Mr. Sherwood, as the young pilot paused.
"I don't know as I ought to say what I was going to say."
"Say it, Lawry, say it," added Mr. Sherwood kindly.
"You said you would give the steamer to any one who wanted her," continued Lawry, hesitating.
"And you want her?" laughed the wealthy gentleman.
"Yes, sir; that is what I was going to say."
"Then she is yours, Lawry; but I might as well give you the fee simple of a farm in Ethiopia. I don't feel as though I had given you anything, my boy."
"Indeed you have, sir! I feel as though you had made my fortune for me; and I am very much obliged to you, sir."
"I don't believe you have anything to thank me for, Lawry. As I understand it, the Woodville lies on the bottom of the lake, with her bow stove in, and her hull as useless as though the parts had never been put together. The engine and the iron and brass work are worth a good deal of money, I know; but it will cost all they will bring to raise them."
"I don't think the steamer is ruined, sir. I hope you are not giving her away believing that she is not worth anything," said Lawry.
"I don't think she is worth much."
"I think she stove a great hole in her bow, and that is all that ails her. If we can get her on the ways, she can be made as good as ever she was in a week."
"Whatever her condition, Lawry, she is yours. I will give you a bill of sale of her at once."
Mr. Sherwood executed the paper in due form, affixed the stamp, and gave the document to the young pilot.
"I can hardly help weeping when I think of the beautiful little steamer," said Mrs. Sherwood. "She was a perfect little fairy. How elated we were as we moved up the lake in her! What fine times we were promising ourselves on board of her! Now the dear little craft lies on the bottom of the lake, broken and spoiled!"
"I shouldn't dare to put my foot in her again," added Miss Fanny. "I shudder when I think of her."
"I shudder when I think of you, Fanny. You were sinking when Lawry dived down after you," said Mr. Sherwood.
"We ought all to be grateful to God for His mercy in saving us," added Fanny Jane.
"I trust we are grateful to Him; and I am sure we shall never forget what Lawry has done to-day," responded the gentleman.
"Never!" exclaimed Fanny warmly.
"It was all my fault," continued Mr. Sherwood. "I am ashamed of myself, and disgusted with the boat."
"The boat is not to blame, sir," said Ethan French. "She behaved like a lady."
"I know she is not to blame. It was my silly impatience. I was in such a hurry to try the steamer that I could not wait for a pilot. Bertha, do you know what your father used to say to me when I was in a hurry?"
"I don't know; but I have heard him say that you were too impatient for your own good."
"'Haste and Waste' was his maxim, when I was not disposed to wait the natural development of events. By neglecting this precept, I have nearly sacrificed the lives of my best friends. Lawry, if you are going to be a steamboat man, let me give you this maxim for your government—'Haste and Waste.'"
THE SHERIFF'S VISIT
Lawry put the bill of sale of the Woodville in his pocket, and felt like a steamboat proprietor; for the fact that his steamer lay at the bottom of the lake did not seem to lessen her value. She was in a safe place, and there was no danger of her "blowing up" or drifting away from him. The haste of Mr. Sherwood had been "a windfall" to him, though Lawry would not willingly have purchased the steamer at the peril of so many precious lives. He was ready to accept the moral and prudential deductions from the catastrophe, and really believed that the rich man's maxim was a safe and valuable one.
In his own limited experience, Lawry could recall many instances where haste had made waste; but the foolish conduct of Mr. Sherwood in attempting to navigate the Woodville in water with which he was totally unacquainted was the most impressive example of the worth of the proverb, and he felt that the steamer, in his own possession, would always mean "haste and waste" to him.
"I have often heard my father speak of the folly of unconsidered action and blind haste," said Bertha. "He lost a valued friend in the steamship Arctic, which was sunk, and hundreds of lives sacrificed, by running at full speed in a dense fog. In her case, haste was not only a terrible waste of property, but of life."
"That will be worth remembering, Lawry, when you are in command of a steamer," added Mr. Sherwood.
"I don't think I ever shall be in such a position," replied Lawry modestly.
"I am afraid you never will be on board of the Woodville."
"I'm pretty sure she can be raised, though I may not have the means to do it myself," continued Lawry.
"You shall have all the means you want, my boy," replied Mr. Sherwood. "We owe you a debt of gratitude which we shall never be able to pay, and if you want anything, don't fail to call upon me."
"If you need any help, Lawry, I'm with you," said Ethan French.
"Thank you; I dare say I shall want all the help I can get," answered Lawry, as he took his leave of the family.
"I'm the owner of a steamboat!" thought he. "I'm a lucky fellow, and I shall make my fortune in the Woodville. I can take out parties, or I can run her on a day route from Burlington up the lake; and there is towing enough to keep me busy all summer."
Excited by the brightest visions of the future, he came in sight of his father's cottage. It looked poorer and meaner than it had ever looked before; and perhaps he thought it was hardly a fit abode for a steamboat proprietor. When he saw the tall mast of the ferry-boat, with the sail flapping idly in the wind, he was reminded of the events which had occurred on board of her that afternoon. It was mortifying to think that his father had even been tempted to steal; but he was rejoiced to know that he had been induced to return the six thousand dollars to the owner.
Lawry had not seen his father since he left the landing-place to board the Woodville. He was not at the house when the party landed, after the catastrophe, and Lawry was glad he was not there, for his absence assured the anxious son that he had gone in search of Mr. Randall. Amid the exciting events which had followed the painful discovery that his father intended to steal the six thousand dollars, the young pilot had not thought of the matter, for his mind was entirely relieved by Mr. Wilford's promise to give up the money.
Lawry went into the house; his father had not yet returned, and his mother asked him a hundred questions about the steamboat disaster, as she set the table for supper. When the meal was ready, Mrs. Wilford went to the door and blew a tin horn, which was intended to summon the ferryman to his tea.
"I think father has not got back yet," said Lawry.
"Where has he gone?"
"Up to the village, I believe," replied Lawry, who had determined not to tell his mother of the great temptation to which his father had almost yielded.
"What has he gone up there for?" inquired Mrs. Wilford, who perhaps saw in the anxious looks of her son that something had been concealed from her.
"He had a little business up there," answered the young pilot. "I think we had better not wait for him, for he may not be back for some time. I haven't shown you this paper, mother," he continued, wishing to draw off her attention from his father, as he handed her the bill of sale of the Woodville, and seated himself at the table.
"What is it, Lawry?"
"It is a bill of sale of the little steamer."
"A what?" demanded Mrs. Wilford, as she paused with the teapot suspended over a cup.
"A bill of sale of the new steamer."
"What, the one that was sunk?"
"Yes; Mr. Sherwood has given her to me, just as she lies."
"Humph! He might as well have given you a five-acre lot at the bottom of the lake. What in the world can you do with a steamboat smashed to pieces and sunk?"
"I can raise her."
"You may as well think of raising the Goblins on which she sank."
"She can be raised, mother."
"Perhaps she can, but you can't raise her."
"I shall try, at any rate," replied Lawry confidently.
The conversation was interrupted by the arrival of the ferryman. The son cast an anxious glance at his father, as the latter took his accustomed place at the table. A forced smile played about the lips of Mr. Wilford; but Lawry interpreted it as an effort to overcome the sense of humiliation his father must feel at having his dishonest intentions discovered by his son.
"Well, Lawry, I found him," said Mr. Wilford.
"Did you? I'm very glad you did," replied the son.
"Who?" asked Mrs. Wilford.
"The bank man—the one that lost the money," replied the ferryman.
"What did you want of him?"
"We found his money after he had gone."
"Did you? I'm so glad! And neither of you said a word to me about it."
"I gave it back to him, and it's all right now."
Unhappily, it was not all right; and the ferryman had scarcely uttered the words before a knock was heard at the door. Without awaiting the movements of Mrs. Wilford, who rose from the table to open the door, the visitors entered. Mr. Wilford turned deadly pale, for the first person that passed the threshold was the sheriff, whose face was familiar to the ferryman. He was followed by Mr. Randall and a constable.
Lawry's heart sank within him when he saw who the visitors were. He feared that his father, in spite of his statement to the contrary, had been led to appropriate the six thousand dollars. It was a moment of agony to him, and he would have given his right, title, and interest in the sunken steamer for the assurance that his parent was an honest man.
"I come on rather unpleasant business, Mr. Wilford," the sheriff began; "but I suppose I may as well speak out first as last."
"Goodness! what can you want here!" exclaimed Mrs. Wilford.
"Don't be alarmed, Mrs. Wilford," said the sheriff. "It may be all right, for what I know. Mr. Randall, here, has lost a large sum of money, and he thinks he has been robbed. I'm sure I hope it's all right."
"Why, husband!" ejaculated Mrs. Wilford; "didn't you just say—"
"I didn't say anything," interposed the ferryman.
Lawry was quite as pale as his father. He would rather have been accused of the crime himself than had it charged upon his father; he would rather have gone to prison himself than had him dragged away on such an infamous accusation. The sheriff's encouraging words that it might be all right, had no force or comfort for him. Lawry knew that his father was guilty, and he was in despair.
Mrs. Wilford had only heard that the money was lost, at first; and then, from her husband, that it had been found and restored to the owner. It was plain that he had told her a falsehood; that if he had found the money, it was still in his possession. The case was too plain to need much reflection. Mr. Randall and the sheriff knew less than the ferryman, less than his wife and his son; but in the good woman's estimation, it was far worse to be guilty than it was to be detected.
It would be difficult to fathom the motives which induced John Wilford to tell his wife and son that the money had been restored to the owner. Perhaps he had some plan by which he hoped to escape detection and punishment for his crime; or it may be that he told the falsehood to satisfy Lawry for the present moment. His calculations, whatever they may have been, were exceedingly stupid and ill digested. There was an utter want of skill and judgment in his operations. He was not a strong-minded man, and his guilt seemed to have paralyzed his weak faculties. His failure to be rich in the path of dishonesty was even more signal than his honest but weak efforts in a legitimate business.
"What did he just say?" asked the sheriff, whose attention was attracted by Mrs. Wilford's words, but more by the sharp manner of her husband as he interrupted her.
"What is your business with me?" demanded the ferryman of the sheriff, earnestly.
"What did he say?" repeated the sheriff.
"If my husband has been doing anything wrong, I'm sorry for it," replied Mrs. Wilford.
"Mr. Randall thinks he has taken his money," added the sheriff. "If you can tell me what your husband just said, it might throw some light on the matter."
"Oh, husband!" cried the poor wife, throwing herself into a chair and weeping bitterly.
"Mr. Randall knows I haven't taken his money," protested the ferryman stoutly.
"Don't cry, marm," said the sheriff, moved by the distress of the afflicted wife. "Nothing has been proved yet, and for all I know, your husband may be as honest as any man in Essex County."
"I've always been an honest man, and I always expect to be," added the culprit. "I haven't got the money. If any of you think I have, why don't you do something about it—not try to frighten my wife?"
Mr. Wilford was searched by the sheriff and constable, but the money was not upon his person. The house was then carefully examined, but with no different result.
"Do you know anything about this business, Lawry?" said the sheriff, when the search was completed.
"I don't think he had anything to do with it," interposed Mr. Randall. "The boy helped me look for the pocketbook, and behaved very handsomely; but I didn't like the looks of his father."
"What did your father say just before we came?" asked the sheriff.
Lawry was stupefied with grief and shame. He knew not what to say, and he dropped his head upon the table, and sobbed like a little child.
"Things look bad, Mr. Wilford. Your wife and Lawry know more than they are willing to tell," continued the officer.
"You have scared them half out of their wits," replied the ferryman, trying to smile.
"It isn't likely we can find out anything here," said the constable. "If he has got the money, he has hid it round the house somewhere."
Adopting this suggestion, the officers, followed by Mr. Randall, left the cottage to examine the vicinity. The constable was a shrewd man, and for a country locality, quite distinguished as a thief- taker. The shower early in the afternoon had left the ground in condition to receive the tracks of every individual who had been near the ferry.
The sharp officer examined all the marks in the earth, and finally followed the footsteps of John Wilford, through a corn-field, above the cottage.
Mrs. Wilford and Lawry wept as though their hearts would break, while the ferryman, trembling with apprehension, paced the kitchen.
"What are you crying for?" said he impatiently.
"Oh, John!" sobbed his wife.
"Nothing has been proved."
"Yes, there has. You told me you had given the money to Mr. Randall."
"You told me you would restore it to the owner, when I gave you the pocketbook," added Lawry.
"Lawry, if you say a word about it, you shall go to jail with me," said Mr. Wilford angrily.
"THE FERRYMAN'S CRIME"
Mr. Wilford, in spite of his faults and peculiarities, was a kind father, and never before had been heard to utter such terrible words as those which had just passed his lips. It was a consolation to Lawry and his mother to believe that the words were only a threat which was never intended to be executed, and only made to awe the youth into silence. It was needless; for, right or wrong, the son would have died rather than betray his father.
John Wilford's operations in hiding the money were as transparent as his efforts to quiet the suspicions of his family. The constable followed his tracks in the soft ground of the corn-field till he came to a stump in one corner of the lot. It was decayed and hollow, and in one of the cavities the pocketbook was discovered. Mr. Randall laughed for joy when it was handed up to him. Its contents were undisturbed, and not a dollar of the money was missing. The party walked back to the house, having been absent less than half an hour. The ferryman was just coming out as they entered the gate.
"I hope you are satisfied," said he, confident that the officers would never think of crossing the corn-field in search of the lost treasure.
"I'm satisfied, Mr. Wilford," said the sheriff.
"Don't you think it is a mean thing to come here and accuse me of robbing one of my passengers?" continued the ferryman.
"I don't think so."
"In my opinion, Mr. Randall hasn't lost any money. I don't believe a man would throw his coat down anywhere if there was six thousand dollars in the pocket."
"But the money was lost, whether you believe it or not," interposed the bank director, irritated by this charge.
"I've heard of such a thing as men losing money to cheat their creditors, or something of that sort," added the ferryman.
"Don't talk so, husband," said Mrs. Wilford, who, with Lawry, had come out of the house when they heard the voice of the sheriff, anxious to learn the result of the search.
"Don't you think that's mean, to accuse a man of cheating his creditors, after you have stolen his money?" retorted Mr. Randall.
"What right have you to say I stole your money?" demanded Mr. Wilford, with a show of intense indignation.
"Because you did."
"Can you prove it?"
"I think I can."
"No, you can't. I don't believe you lost any money. It's only a trick to cheat the bank or your creditors."
"We shall see."
"Don't talk so, husband," repeated Mrs. Wilford.
"Keep still, wife. When a man hasn't done anything, it's hard to be charged with stealing six thousand dollars. They can't prove anything."
"Yes, we can, Mr. Wilford," interposed the sheriff. "It becomes my duty to arrest you, though I would rather have done it when your family were not present."
"Arrest me! What for?" exclaimed John Wilford. "You can't prove anything."
"Yes, we can," replied the sheriff.
"What can you prove?"
"I think it would be better for you not to talk so much," added the sheriff, in a low tone. "Come with me, and I will do my duty as quietly as possible."
"Come with you! What for?" said Mr. Wilford, in a loud tone. "I didn't steal the money."
"It's a plain case. It's no use for you to deny it any longer."
"But I didn't."
"We have found the money, just where you put it."
"Found—what!" stammered the guilty man.
"Oh, husband!" groaned Mrs. Wilford.
"Oh, father!" sobbed Lawry.
"I'm sorry, Mrs. Wilford," said the kind-hearted officer; "but it's all as plain as daylight. He took the money and hid it in a stump in the corn-field, where we found it."
"What shall we do?" cried Mrs. Wilford.
"It's a bad business, marm, but I can't help it. I must do my duty."
Mr. Wilford leaned on the garden-fence, with his gaze fixed upon the ground. He could not look the loved ones in the face, after the crime he had committed. The smaller children, who had been at play around the house, were now gathered about the group, unable fully to comprehend the terrible misfortune which had befallen them; though, as they gazed on Lawry and their mother, they could not help realizing that something very sad had happened.
"I'm ready to go with you," said John Wilford to the sheriff, for the scene was too affecting and humiliating.
"Oh, husband, why did you do it?" exclaimed Mrs. Wilford, as she grasped one of his arms, clinging to him like a true woman, in spite of his shame and infamy.
"I don't know why I did it. I was crazy. I wanted to be rich," replied the unhappy man.
"I wish you had given back the money, as you said you did."
"I wish I had now."
"Can nothing be done?" continued Mrs. Wilford, appealing to the sheriff. "Must he go with you?"
"He must; my duty is as plain as it can be."
The poor woman suggested various expedients to avoid the fearful consequences; she appealed to the bank director, and begged him not to prosecute her husband. Mr. Randall, though he had been greatly irritated by the cruel insinuations of the culprit, was not a malignant man; and he was disposed to grant the petition of the disconsolate wife. He had recovered his money, and had no malice against the ferryman. But the sheriff declared that no such arrangement could be tolerated. The matter had been placed in his hands, and, as a sworn officer of the law, he should be obliged to arrest the offender.
In vain Mrs. Wilford pleaded for her husband; in vain Lawry pleaded for his father; the sheriff, kind and considerate as he had shown himself to be, was inexorable in the discharge of his duty. There was no alternative; and John Wilford must go to jail. The poor wife, when she found that her tears and her pleadings were unavailing, submitted to the stern necessity. She insisted that her husband should be allowed to change his dress, which the sheriff readily granted; and in a short time the culprit appeared in his best clothes. It was a sad parting between him and his family, and even the ferryman wept as he passed out from beneath his humble roof, not again to come beneath its friendly shelter for many, many weary months.
Mrs. Wilford and Lawry were stunned by the heavy blow. The light of earthly joys seemed suddenly to have gone out, and left them in the gloom and woe of disgrace. There was nothing to be said at such a time, and they sobbed in silence, until the sound of the ferry-horn roused Lawry from his lethargy of grief. Some one wished to cross the lake, and had given the usual signal with the tin horn, placed on a post for the purpose, at the side of the road.
"There is no ferryman here now," said Mrs. Wilford gloomily.
"I will go, mother," replied Lawry.
"It may be many a day before your father comes back," added Mrs. Wilford, as she wiped away her tears. "It is a great deal worse than a funeral."
"We can't help it, mother, and I suppose we must make the best of it."
"I suppose we must; but I don't know what we are going to do."
"We shall do well enough, mother. I will attend to the ferry; but poor father—"
Lawry, finding he could not speak without a fresh flow of tears, hastened out of the house. There were two wagons waiting for him; and when they were embarked in the boat, he pushed off, and trimmed the sail for the gentle breeze that was blowing up the lake. The passengers asked for his father; but Lawry could only tell them that he had gone away: the truth was too painful for him to reveal. He returned to his desolate home when he had ferried the wagons over the lake. There was nothing but misery in that humble abode, and but little sleep for those who were old enough to comprehend the sadness and shame of their situation.
Before morning the news of John Wilford's crime had been circulated through the village of Port Rock and its vicinity. Some knew that the ferryman was lazy and thriftless, and wondered he had not robbed somebody before. Others had always regarded him as a person of no sagacity or forethought, but did not think he would steal. Many pitied his family, and some said that Lawry was "as smart as two of his father," and that his mother and the children would be well provided for.
The intelligence went to the mansion of Mr. Sherwood, and there it touched the hearts of true friends. Though none of them knew much about the ferryman and his family, yet for Lawry's sake they were deeply interested in them.
After breakfast Mr. Sherwood went down to the ferry-house; and the young pilot, with many tears and sobs, told him the whole of the sad story of his father's crime. The rich man was full of sympathy, but nothing could be done. He volunteered to be the culprit's bail, and to provide him with the best counsel in the State. But John Wilford was guilty, and nothing could wipe out this terrible truth.
Mr. Sherwood did all he had promised to do; but the ferryman, after he had been examined and fully committed for trial, declined to furnish bail, declaring that he did not wish to be seen at Port Rock again. At the next session of the court, two months after his committal, he pleaded guilty of the robbery and was sentenced to three years' imprisonment in the penitentiary at Sing Sing.
After the sentence the prisoner was permitted to see his family for the last time for many months. It was a sad and touching interview; but from it Lawry and his mother derived much consolation. John Wilford was penitent; he was truly sorry for what he had done, and declared that, when he had served out his time, he would be a better man than he had ever been before. It was comforting to the mother and son to know that the wanderer was not hardened and debased by his crime and the exposure; and they returned to their home submissive to their lot, sad and dreary as it was.
From the day his father had been arrested, Lawry felt that the care of the family devolved upon him. His older brother was away from home, and was indolent and dissipated. The ferry and the little farm must be cared for, as from them came the entire support of his mother and his brothers and sisters. Though he was oppressed by the burden of sorrow which his father's crime cast upon him, he did not yield to despair.
Half a mile below the ferry-landing he could see the smokestack of the Woodville projecting above the water. She was his property; and if she had seemed to be a prize to him before the calamity had fallen upon his father's household, she was doubly so now. As he crossed the ferry, he gazed up at the Goblins, with less of exultation, but more of hope, than before. In his opinion, as he expressed it to his mother, there was "money in her." Mrs. Wilford was in great tribulation lest the man who now held the mortgage upon the little farm should insist upon being paid, as there was now no hope that, the debtor, in prison, would be able to do anything. Lawry told her that the steamboat would enable them to pay all claims upon his father.
Mrs. Wilford had but little confidence in her son's schemes, but she did not discourage them; and Lawry racked his brain for expedients to accomplish the task he had imposed upon himself. He had no money, and he was too proud to ask Mr. Sherwood for the assistance which that gentleman would so gladly have rendered. Ethan French came down to see him every day, and the prairie boy was so kind and considerate that they soon became fast friends.
"When are you going to work on the steamer, Lawry?" asked Ethan. "I suppose you don't feel much like meddling with her yet."
"I don't; but she ought to be raised as soon as possible," replied Lawry. "I am going to work upon her right off. I went down to see how she lies this morning, and I have got my plans all laid."
"Do you think you can get her up?"
"I know I can."
"Well, how are you going to do it?" inquired Ethan.
"Do you know Mr. Nelson, over at Pointville? I suppose you don't. Well, he is a great oil man; he has got some oil-wells down on the St. Johns River. He is getting together all the barrels and hogsheads he can find, to send down to his works. He has as many as a hundred at his place in Pointville. I'm going to borrow a lot of these casks, if I can, and raise the Woodville with them."
"How are you going to manage with them?" asked Ethan, deeply interested in the plan.
"Sink them round the boat, and fasten them to her hull, till there is enough to float her."
"But how are you going to sink them?"
"There's some one to go over the ferry," replied Lawry, as a blast of the tin horn was heard. "If you will go over with me, I will tell you all about it, and we will call and see Mr. Nelson while we are at Pointville."
Ethan embarked with his friend, and when the boat started the subject was resumed.
RAISING THE "WOODVILLE"
Ethan French, during the two years he had been a resident of the State of New York, had been an earnest and diligent student. His mind was even more improved than his manners. His taste for mechanics had prompted him to study the various subjects included in this science, and as he stood by his companion, the pilot, he talked quite learnedly about the specific gravity of wood and iron, about displacement, buoyancy, and similar topics.
"The hull of the steamer—that is, the woodwork—will not float itself, but it will sustain considerable additional weight," said he.
"Yes, I understand all that," replied Lawry. "If there had been no iron in the Woodville she would not have gone down."
"The iron in her engines is seven or eight times as heavy as the same bulk of water. Its weight carried the hull down with it."
"Then we must put down empty casks enough to float the engine," added Lawry.
"No; the woodwork of the hull will hold up a portion of the weight of the engine, and we must furnish buoyancy enough to sustain the rest of it."
"It will not take a great many casks, then—will it?"
"Not a great many; but the difficulty is to get them down to the bottom, and fasten them to the hull."