HotFreeBooks.com
Marco Paul's Voyages and Travels; Vermont
by Jacob Abbott
1  2  3     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

MARCO PAUL'S VOYAGES & TRAVELS: VERMONT

by

JACOB ABBOTT

1852



Preface.

The design of the series of volumes, entitled MARCO PAUL'S ADVENTURES IN THE PURSUIT OF KNOWLEDGE, is not merely to entertain the reader with a narrative of juvenile adventures, but also to communicate, in connection with them, as extensive and varied information as possible, in respect to the geography, the scenery, the customs and the institutions of this country, as they present themselves to the observation of the little traveler, who makes his excursions under the guidance of an intelligent and well-informed companion, qualified to assist him in the acquisition of knowledge and in the formation of character. The author has endeavored to enliven his narrative, and to infuse into it elements of a salutary moral influence, by means of personal incidents befalling the actors in the story. These incidents are, of course, imaginary—but the reader may rely upon the strict and exact truth and fidelity of all the descriptions of places, institutions and scenes, which are brought before his mind in the progress of the narrative. Thus, though the author hopes that the readers who may honor these volumes with their perusal, will be amused and interested by them, his design throughout will be to instruct rather than to entertain.



Contents.

I. Journeying II. Accidents III. The Grass Country IV. The Village V. Studying VI. The Log Canoe VII. A Dilemma VIII. A Confession IX. Boating X. An Expedition XI. Lost In The Woods



Engravings.

The Great Elm The Hill The Accident Who Are You? The Lumber Box The Tire The Risk The Study Marco's Desk Boat Adrift Cap Gone The Millman's House Paddling Marco's Room Toss Bad Rowing Good Rowing The Portage The Expedition The Drag The School House The Ride



Order Of The Volumes.

Marco Paul,

I.—In New York. II.—On the Erie Canal. III.—In Maine. IV.—In Vermont. V.—In Boston. VI.—At the Springfield Armory.



Principal Persons

MR. BARON, a merchant of New York. MARCO, his son, a boy about twelve years old. JOHN FORESTER, Marco's cousin, about nineteen years old.

Marco is traveling and studying under Forester's care.



Marco Paul in Vermont.



Chapter I.

Journeying.



When Mr. Baron, Marco's father, put Marco under his cousin Forester's care, it was his intention that he should spend a considerable part of his time in traveling, and in out-of-door exercises, such as might tend to re-establish his health and strengthen his constitution. He did not, however, intend to have him give up the study of books altogether. Accordingly, at one time, for nearly three months, Marco remained at Forester's home, among the Green Mountains of Vermont, where he studied several hours every day.

It was in the early part of the autumn, that he and Forester went to Vermont. They traveled in the stage-coach. Vermont lies upon one side of the Connecticut river, and New Hampshire upon the other side. The Green Mountains extend up and down, through the middle of Vermont, from north to south, and beyond these mountains, on the western side of the state, is lake Champlain, which extends from north to south also, and forms the western boundary. Thus, the Green Mountains divide the state into two great portions, one descending to the eastward, toward Connecticut river, and the other to the westward, toward lake Champlain. There are, therefore, two great ways of access to Vermont from the states south of it; one up the Connecticut river on the eastern side, and the other along the shores of lake George and lake Champlain on the western side. There are roads across the Green Mountains also, leading from the eastern portion of the state to the western. All this can be seen by looking upon any map of Vermont.

Marco and Forester went up by the Connecticut river. The road lay along upon the bank of the river, and the scenery was very pleasant. They traveled in the stage-coach; for there were very few railroads in those days.

The country was cultivated and fertile, and the prospect from the windows of the coach was very fine. Sometimes wide meadows and intervales extended along the river,—and at other places, high hills, covered with trees, advanced close to the stream. They could see, too, the farms, and villages, and green hills, across the river, on the New Hampshire side.

On the second day of their journey, they turned off from the river by a road which led into the interior of the country; for the village where Forester's father resided was back among the mountains. They had new companions in the coach too, on this second day, as well as a new route; for the company which had been in the coach the day before were to separate in the morning, to go off in different directions. Several stage-coaches drove up to the door of the tavern in the morning, just after breakfast, with the names of the places where they were going to, upon their sides. One was marked, "Haverhill and Lancaster;" another, "Middlebury;" and a third, "Concord and Boston;" and there was one odd-looking vehicle, a sort of carryall, open in front, and drawn by two horses, which had no name upon it, and so Marco could not tell where it was going. As these several coaches and carriages drove up to the door, the hostlers and drivers put on the baggage and bound it down with great straps, and then handed in the passengers;—and thus the coaches, one after another, drove away. The whole movement formed a very busy scene, and Marco, standing upon the piazza in front of the tavern, enjoyed it very much.

There was a very large elm-tree before the door, with steps to climb up, and seats among the branches. Marco went up there and sat some time, looking down upon the coaches as they wheeled round the tree, in coming up to the door. Then he went down to the piazza again.



There was a neatly-dressed young woman, with a little flower-pot in her hand, standing near him, waiting for her turn. There was a small orange-tree in her flower-pot. It was about six inches high. The sight of this orange-tree interested Marco very much, for it reminded him of home. He had often seen orange-trees growing in the parlors and green-houses in New York.

"What a pretty little orange-tree!" said Marco. "Where did you get it?"

"How did you know it was an orange-tree?" said the girl.

"O, I know an orange-tree well enough," replied Marco. "I have seen them many a time."

"Where?" asked, the girl.

"In New York," said Marco. "Did your orange-tree come from New York?"

"No," said the girl. "I planted an orange-seed, and it grew from that. I've got a lemon-tree, too," she added, "but it is a great deal larger. The lemon-tree grows faster than the orange. My lemon-tree is so large that I couldn't bring it home very well, so I left it in the mill."

"In the mill?" said Marco. "Are you a miller?"

The girl laughed. She was a very good-humored girl, and did not appear to be displeased, though it certainly was not quite proper for Marco to speak in that manner to a stranger. She did not, however, reply to his question, but said, after a pause,

"Do you know where the Montpelier stage is?"

The proper English meaning of the word stage is a portion of the road, traveled between one resting-place and another. But in the United States it is used to mean the carriage,—being a sort of contraction for stage-coach.

"No," said Marco, "we are going in that stage."

"I wish it would come along," said the girl, "for I'm tired of watching my trunk."

"Where is your trunk?" said Marco.

So the girl pointed out her trunk. It was upon the platform of the piazza, near those belonging to Forester and Marco. The girl showed Marco her name, which was Mary Williams, written on a card upon the end of it.

"I'll watch your trunk," said Marco, "and you can go in and sit down until the stage comes."

Mary thanked him and went in. She was not, however, quite sure that her baggage was safe, intrusted thus to the charge of a strange boy, and so she took a seat near the window, where she could keep an eye upon it. There was a blue chest near these trunks, which looked like a sailor's chest, and Marco, being tired of standing, sat down upon this chest. He had, however, scarcely taken his seat, when he saw a coach with four horses, coming round a corner. It was driven by a small boy not larger than Marco. It wheeled up toward the door, and came to a stand. Some men then put on the sailor's chest and the trunks. Mary Williams came out and got into the coach. She sat on the back seat. Forester and Marco got in, and took their places on the middle seat. A young man, dressed like a sailor, took the front seat, at one corner of the coach. These were all the passengers that were to get in here. When every thing was ready, they drove away.

The stage stopped, however, in a few minutes at the door of a handsome house in the town, and took a gentleman and lady in. These new passengers took places on the back seat, with Mary Williams.

This company rode in perfect silence for some time. Forester took out a book and began to read. The gentleman on the back seat went to sleep. Mary Williams and Marco looked out at the windows, watching the changing scenery. The sailor rode in silence; moving his lips now and then, as if he were talking to himself, but taking no notice of any of the company. The coach stopped at the villages which they passed through, to exchange the mail, and sometimes to take in new passengers. In the course of these changes Marco got his place shifted to the forward seat by the side of the sailor, and he gradually got into conversation with him. Marco introduced the conversation, by asking the sailor if he knew how far it was to Montpelier.

"No," said the sailor, "I don't keep any reckoning, but I wish we were there."

"Why?" asked Marco.

"O, I expect the old cart will capsize somewhere among these mountains, and break our necks for us."

Marco had observed, all the morning, that when the coach canted to one side or the other, on account of the unevenness of the road, the sailor always started and looked anxious, as if afraid it was going to be upset. He wondered that a man who had been apparently accustomed to the terrible dangers of the seas, should be alarmed at the gentle oscillations of a stage-coach.

"Are you afraid that we shall upset?" asked Marco.

"Yes," said the sailor, "over some of these precipices and mountains; and then there'll be an end of us."

The sailor said this in an easy and careless manner, as if, after all, he was not much concerned about the danger. Still, Marco was surprised that he should fear it at all. He was not aware how much the fears which people feel, are occasioned by the mere novelty of the danger which they incur. A stage-driver, who is calm and composed on his box, in a dark night, and upon dangerous roads, will be alarmed by the careening of a ship under a gentle breeze at sea,—while the sailor who laughs at a gale of wind on the ocean, is afraid to ride in a carriage on land.

"An't you a sailor?" asked Marco.

"Yes," replied his companion.

"I shouldn't think that a man that had been used to the sea, would be afraid of upsetting in a coach."

"I'm not a man" said the sailor.

"What are you?" said Marco.

"I'm a boy. I'm only nineteen years old; though I'm going to be rated seaman next voyage."

"Have you just got back from a voyage?" asked Marco.

"Yes," said the sailor. "I've been round the Horn in a whaler, from old Nantuck. And now I'm going home to see my mother."

"How long since you've seen her?" asked Marco.

"O, it's four years since I ran away."

Here the sailor began to speak in rather a lower tone than he had done before, so that Marco only could hear. This was not difficult, as the other passengers were at this time engaged in conversation.

"I ran away," continued the sailor, "and went to sea about four years ago."

"What made you run away?" asked Marco.

"O, I didn't want to stay at home and be abused. My father used to abuse me; but my mother took my part, and now I want to go and see her."

"And to see your father too," said Marco.

"No," said the sailor. "I don't care for him. I hope he's gone off somewhere. But I want to see my mother. I have got a shawl for her in my chest."

Marco was shocked to hear a young man speak in such a manner of his father. Still there was something in the frankness and openness of the sailor's manner, which pleased him very much. He liked to hear his odd and sailor-like language too, and he accordingly entered into a long conversation with him. The sailor gave him an account of his adventures on the voyage; how he was drawn off from the ship one day, several miles, by a whale which they had harpooned;—how they caught a shark, and hauled him in on deck by means of a pulley at the end of the yard-arm;—and how, on the voyage home, the ship was driven before an awful gale of wind for five days, under bare poles, with terrific seas roaring after them all the way. These descriptions took a strong hold of Marco's imagination. His eye brightened up, and he became restless on his seat, and thought that he would give the world for a chance to stand up in the bow of a boat, and put a harpoon into the neck of a whale.

In the mean time, the day wore away, and the road led into a more and more mountainous country. The hills were longer and steeper, and the tracts of forest more frequent and solitary. The number of passengers increased too, until the coach was pretty heavily loaded; and sometimes all but the female passengers would get out and walk up the hills. On these occasions Forester and Marco would generally walk together, talking about the incidents of their journey, or the occupations and amusements which they expected to engage in when they arrived at Forester's home. About the middle of the afternoon the coach stopped at the foot of a long winding ascent, steep and stony, and several of the passengers got out. Forester, however, remained in, as he was tired of walking, and so Marco and the sailor walked together. The sailor, finding how much Marco was interested in his stories, liked his company, and at length he asked Marco where he was going. Marco told him.

"Ah, if you were only going on a voyage with me," said the sailor, "that would make a man of you. I wouldn't go and be shut up with that old prig, poring over books forever."

Marco was displeased to hear the sailor call his cousin an old prig, and he felt some compunctions of conscience about forming and continuing an intimacy with such a person. Still he was so much interested in hearing him talk, that he continued to walk with him up the hill. Finally, the sailor fairly proposed to him to run away and go to sea with him.

"O no," said Marco, "I wouldn't do such a thing for the world. Besides," said he, "they would be after us, and carry me back."

"No," said the sailor; "we would cut across the country, traveling in the night and laying to by day, till we got to another stage route, and then make a straight wake, till we got to New Bedford, and there we could get a good voyage. Come," said he, "let's go to-night. I'll turn right about. I don't care a great deal about seeing my mother."

Though Marco was a very bold and adventurous sort of a boy, still he was not quite prepared for such a proposal as this. In the course of the conversation the sailor used improper and violent language too, which Marco did not like to hear; and, in fact, Marco began to be a little afraid of his new acquaintance. He determined, as soon as he got back to the coach to keep near Forester all the time, so as not to be left alone again with the sailor. He tried to hasten on, so as to overtake the coach, but the sailor told him not to walk so fast; and, being unwilling to offend him, he was obliged to go slowly, and keep with him; and thus protracted the conversation.



About half-way up the hill there was a small tavern, and the sailor wanted Marco to go in with him and get a drink. Marco thought that he meant a drink of water, but it was really a drink of spirits which was intended. Marco, however, refused to go, saying that he was not thirsty; and so they went on up the hill. At the top of the hill, the stage-coach stopped for the pedestrians to come up. There was also another passenger there to get in,—a woman, who came out from a farm-house near by. The driver asked the sailor if he was not willing to ride outside, in order to make room for the new passenger. But he would not. He was afraid. He said he would not ride five miles outside for a month's wages. Marco laughed at the sailor's fears, and he immediately asked Forester to let him ride outside. Forester hesitated, but on looking up, and seeing that there was a secure seat, with a good place to hold on, he consented. So Marco clambered up and took his seat with the driver, while the other passengers re-established themselves in the stage.



Chapter II.

Accidents.



Marco liked his seat upon the outside of the stage-coach very much. He could see the whole country about him to great advantage. He was very much interested in the scenery, not having been accustomed to travel among forests and mountains. The driver was a rough young man,—for the boy who drove the coach up to the door was not the regular driver. He was not disposed to talk much, and his tone and manner, in what he did say, did not indicate a very gentle disposition. Marco, however, at last got a little acquainted with him, and finally proposed to the driver to let him drive.

"Nonsense," said he, in reply, "you are not big enough to drive such a team as this."

"Why, there was a boy, no bigger than I, that drove the horses up to the door when we started, this morning," replied Marco.

"O yes,—Jerry,"—said the driver,—"but he'll break his neck one of these days."

"I didn't see but that he drove very well," said Marco.

The driver was silent.

"Come," persisted Marco, "let me drive a little way, and I'll do as much for you some day."

"You little fool," said the driver, "you never can do any thing for me. You are not big enough to be of any use at all."

Marco thought of the fable of the mouse and the lion, but since his new companion was in such ill-humor, he thought he would say no more to him. A resentful reply to the epithet "little fool," did in fact rise to his lips, but he suppressed it and said nothing.

It was fortunate for Marco that he did so. For whenever any person has said any thing harsh, unjust, or cruel, the most effectual reply is, generally, silence. It leaves the offender to think of what he has said, and conscience will often reprove him in silence, far more effectually than words could do it. This was the case in this instance. As they rode along in silence, the echo of the words "little fool," and the tone in which he had uttered them, lingered upon the driver's ear. He could not help thinking that he had been rather harsh with his little passenger. Presently he said,

"I don't care though,—we are coming to a level piece of ground on ahead here a little way, and then I'll see what you can make of teaming."

Marco was quite pleased at this unexpected result, and after ten or fifteen minutes, they came to the level piece of road, and the driver put the reins into Marco's hand. Marco had sometimes driven two horses, when riding out with his father in a barouche, up the Bloomingdale road in New York. He was therefore not entirely unaccustomed to the handling of reins; and he took them from the driver's hand and imitated the manner of holding them which he had observed the driver himself to adopt, quite dexterously.

The horses, in fact, needed very little guidance. They went along the road very quietly of their own accord. Marco kept wishing that a wagon or something else would come along, that he might have the satisfaction of turning out. But nothing of the kind appeared, and he was obliged to content himself with turning a little to one side, to avoid a stone. At the end of the level piece of road there was a tavern, where they were going to stop to change the horses, and Marco asked the driver to let him turn the horses up to the door. The driver consented, keeping a close watch all the time, ready to seize the reins again at a moment's notice, if there had been any appearance of difficulty. But there was none. Marco guided the horses right, and drawing in the reins with all his strength, he brought them up properly at the door; or rather, he seemed to do it,—for, in reality, the horses probably acted as much of their own accord, being accustomed to stop at this place, as from any control which Marco exercised over them through the reins.

There was, however, an advantage in this evolution, for Marco became accustomed to the feeling of the reins in his hand, and acquired a sort of confidence in his power over the horses,—greater to be sure than there was any just ground for, but which was turned to a very important account, a few hours afterward, as will be seen in the sequel.

The sailor went several times into the taverns on the way, in the course of the afternoon, to drink, until, at length, he became partially intoxicated. He felt, however, so much restrained in the presence of the passengers within the coach, that he did not become talkative and noisy, as is frequently the case in such circumstances; but was rather stupid and sleepy. In fact, no one observed that any change was taking place in his condition, until, at last, as he was coming out from the door of a tavern, where he had been in to get another drink, the driver said,

"Come, Jack, you must get up with me now, there is another passenger to get in here."

Marco, who was still in his seat, holding the reins of the horses, looked down, expecting that the sailor would make objections to this proposal,—but he found, on the contrary, that Jack, as they called him, acquiesced without making any difficulty, and allowed the driver to help him up. The new passenger got inside. Forester felt somewhat uneasy at having Marco ride any longer on the top, especially now that the sailor was going up too. But the coach was full. He himself was wedged into his seat, so that he could not get out easily. He knew, too, that two or three of the passengers were going to get out at the next stage, and so he concluded to let Marco remain outside until that time, and then to take him in again.

Marco's admiration for the sailor was very much diminished when he saw how helpless he had rendered himself by his excesses, and how unceremoniously the driver pulled and hauled him about, in getting him into his seat.

"There! hold on there," said the driver to him, in a stern voice,—"hold on well, or you'll be down head foremost under the horses' heels, at the first pitch we come to."

The poor sailor said nothing, but grasped an iron bar which passed from the top of the coach down by the side of the seat, and held on as well as he could.

They rode on in this manner for some miles, the head of the sailor swinging back and forth, helplessly, as if he was nearly asleep. Whenever Marco or the driver spoke to him, he either answered in a thick and sleepy tone of voice, or he did not reply at all. Marco watched him for a time, being continually afraid that he would fall off. He could do nothing, however, to help him, for he himself was sitting at one end of the seat while the sailor was upon the other, the driver being between them. In the mean time the sun gradually went down and the twilight came on, and as the shadows extended themselves slowly over the landscape, Marco began to find riding outside less pleasant than it had been before, and he thought that, on the whole, he should be very glad when the time arrived for him to get into the coach again, with his cousin.

At length they came to a bridge, covered with planks, which led across a small stream. It was in rather a solitary place, with woods on each side of the road. Beyond the bridge there was a level piece of road for a short distance, and then a gentle ascent, with a farmhouse near the top of it, on the right hand side of the road. At the end of the bridge, between the planks and the ground beyond them, there was a jolt, caused by the rotting away of a log which had been imbedded in the ground at the beginning of the planking. As it was rather dark, on account of the shade of the trees, the driver did not observe this jolt, and he was just beginning to put his horses to the trot, as they were leaving the bridge, when the forward wheels struck down heavily into the hollow, giving the front of the coach a sudden pitch forward and downward. Marco grasped the iron bar at his end of the seat, and saved himself; and the driver, who was habitually on his guard, had his feet so braced against the fender before him, that he would not have fallen. But the poor sailor, entirely unprepared for the shock, and perhaps unable to resist it if he had been prepared, pitched forward, lost his hold, went over the fender, and was tumbling down, as the driver had predicted, head foremost, under the horses' heels. The driver seized hold of him with one hand, but finding this insufficient dropped his reins and tried to grasp him with both. In doing it, however, he lost his own balance and went over too. He, of course, let go of the sailor, when he found that he was going himself. The sailor fell heavily and helplessly between the pole and the side of one of the horses, to the ground. The driver followed. He seized the pole with one hand, but was too late to save himself entirely, and thinking there was danger of being dragged, and finding that the horses were springing forward in a fright, he let himself drop through to the ground also. The coach passed over them in a moment, as the horses cantered on.

All this passed in an instant, and Marco, before he had a moment's time for reflection, found himself alone on his seat,—the driver run over and perhaps killed, and the horses cantering away, with the reins dangling about their heels. The first impulse, in such a case, would be to scream aloud, in terror,—which would have only made the horses run the faster. But Marco was not very easily frightened; at least, he was not easily made crazy by fright. So he did not scream; and not knowing what else to do, he sat still and did nothing.



In the mean time, the passengers inside knew nothing of all this. Many of them had been asleep when they came over the bridge. The jolt had aroused them a little, but there was nothing to indicate to them the accident which had occurred forward, so they quietly adjusted themselves in their seats, and endeavored to compose themselves to sleep again.

The horses were well trained and gentle. They cantered on as far as the level ground extended, and then they slackened their pace as they began to rise the ascent. The idea then occurred to Marco, that perhaps he might clamber down over the fender to the pole, and then walk along upon that a little way till he could gather up the reins. Then he thought that if he could get back again with them to the driver's seat, perhaps he could stop the horses. Marco was an expert climber. He had learned this art in his gymnasium at New York; so that he had no fears in respect to his being able to get down and back again. The only danger was, lest he might frighten the horses again and set them to running anew.

After a moment's reflection, he concluded that at any rate he would try it; so he cautiously stepped over the fender and clambered down. When his feet reached the pole, he rested them a moment upon it, and clung with his hands to the fender and other parts of the front of the coach. He found his position here more unstable than he had expected; for the coach being upon springs, the forward part rose and fell with many jerks and surges, as the horses traveled swiftly along, while the pole was held in its position straight and firm. Thus the different parts of his body were connected with different systems of motion, which made his position very uncomfortable.

He found, however, after a moment's pause, that he could stand, and probably walk upon the pole; so he advanced cautiously, putting his hands on the backs of the horses, and walking along on the pole between them. The horses were somewhat disturbed by the strange sensations which they experienced, and began to canter again; but Marco, who felt more and more confidence every moment, pushed boldly on, gathered up the reins, and got all the ends together. Then taking the ends of the reins in one hand, he crept back, supporting himself by taking hold of the harness of one of the horses with the other hand. By this means he regained the coach, and then, though with some difficulty, he clambered up to his seat again.

He then endeavored to stop the horses by gathering the reins together, and pulling upon them with all his strength; but it was in vain. The horses had by this time reached a part of the road where it was more level, and they began to press forward at a more rapid pace. Marco thought of calling to Forester to get out of the window and climb along the side of the coach to the box, in order to help him; but just at that moment he saw that they were coming up opposite to the farm house, which had been in sight, at a distance, when they were crossing the bridge. So he thought that though he could not stop the horses, he might perhaps have strength enough to turn them off from the road into the farmer's yard; and that then they could be more easily stopped. In this he succeeded. By pulling the off rein of the leaders with all his strength, he was able to turn them out of the road. The pole horses followed as a matter of course,—the coach came up with a graceful sweep to the farmer's door, and then the horses were easily stopped. The farmer came at once to the door, to see what strange company had come to visit him in the stage,—his wife following; while several children crowded to the windows.

"What's here?" said a voice from the window of the coach,—"a post-office?" They thought the stage had been driven up to the door of some post-office.

Marco did not answer; in fact he was bewildered and confounded at the strangeness of his situation. He looked back over the top of the coach down the road to see what had become of the driver. To his great joy, he saw him running up behind the coach,—his hat crushed out of shape, and his clothes dusty. The passengers looked out at the windows of the stage, exclaiming,

"Why, driver! what's the matter?"

The driver made no reply. He began to brush his clothes,—and, taking off his hat, he attempted to round it out into shape again.

"What is the matter, driver?" said the passengers.

"Nothing," replied he, "only that drunkard of a sailor tumbled off the stage."

"Where?" "When?" exclaimed half a dozen voices. "Is he killed?"

"Killed? no," replied the driver; "I don't believe he is even sobered."

Forester and another gentleman then urgently asked where he was, and the driver told them that he was "back there a piece," as he expressed it.

"What! lying in the road?" said Forester; "open the door, and let us go and see to him."

"No," said the driver; "he has got off to the side of the road, safe. I don't believe he's hurt any. Let him take care of himself, and we'll drive on."

But Forester remonstrated strongly against leaving the poor sailor in such a condition, and in such a place; and finally it was agreed that the farmer should go down the road and see to him, so as to allow the stage-coach with the passengers to go on.

Forester was not willing, however, to have Marco ride outside any longer; and so they contrived to make room for him within. As Marco descended from his high seat, the driver said to him, as he passed him, in a low voice,

"How did you get the reins? I thought they all came down with me, under the horses' heels."

"Yes," said Marco, "they did, and I climbed down upon the pole and got them."

"Well," said the driver, "you're a smart boy. But don't tell them inside that I tumbled off. Tell them I gave you the reins, and jumped down to see the sailor."

After receiving this charge, Marco would have been under a strong temptation to tell a falsehood, if the company in the coach had asked him any questions about it. But they did not. They were so much occupied in expressing their astonishment that the sailor did not break his neck, that they asked very few questions, and after riding a short time, they relapsed into silence again. The fact that both the driver and the sailor escaped being seriously hurt, was not so wonderful as it might seem. Horses have generally an instinctive caution about not stepping upon any thing under their feet. If a little child were lying asleep in the middle of a road, and a horse were to come galloping along without any rider, the mother, who should see the sight from the window of the house, would doubtless be exceedingly terrified; but in all probability the horse would pass the child without doing it any injury. He would leap over it, or go around it, as he would if it were a stone. This is one reason why, in so many cases, persons are run over without being hurt. The driver and the sailor, however, fell rather behind the horses' heels, and escaped them in that way, and they came down so exactly into the middle of the road, that they were out of the way of the track of the wheels, and thus they escaped serious injury.

The misfortunes of the evening, however, did not end here. The road was rather rough, and there were many ruts and joltings; and one or two of the passengers seemed to feel some fear lest the stage should upset. One, who sat near the door, put his arm out at the window over the door, so as to get his hand upon the handle of the catch, in order, as he said, to be ready to open the door and spring out, at a moment's warning. The gentleman on the back seat advised him not to do it.

"If you have your arm out," said he, "the coach may fall over upon it, and break it. That's the way people get hurt by the upsetting of coaches, by thrusting out their legs and arms in all directions, when they find they are going over, and thus get them broken. You ought to fold your arms and draw in your feet, and when you find that we are going over, go in an easy attitude, with all the muscles relaxed, as if your body was a bag of corn."

The passenger laughed and took his arm in; and all the other passengers, seeing that the advice of the gentleman was reasonable, concluded to follow it if they should have occasion. And they did have occasion sooner than they had expected. For, just after dark, as they were going down a long hill at a pretty rapid rate, with a wagon a short distance before them, one of the horses of the wagon stumbled and fell, which brought the wagon to a sudden stand just before the coach. The driver perceived in an instant that there was not time to stop his horses, and that the only chance was to turn out of the road and drive by. The ground at the road-side was so much inclined, that he was almost afraid to venture this expedient, but he had no time for thought. He wheeled his horses out,—just escaped the hind wheel of the wagon—ran along by the road-side a short distance, with the wheels on one side, down very near the gutter,—and then, just as he was coming back safely into the road again, the forward wheel nearest the middle of the road, struck a small stone, and threw the coach over. The top rested upon the bank, and the horses were suddenly stopped. Sometimes, on such occasions, the transom bolt, as it is called, that is, the bolt by which the forward wheels are fastened to the carriage, comes out, and the horses run off with the wheels. It did not come out in this case, however. The man who had put his arm out of the window, immediately called out, in great alarm, "Hold the horses! Hold the horses! Don't let the horses run and drag us." But this vociferation was needless. A coach full of passengers and baggage is a full load for four horses, when it is mounted on wheels. It would require an exertion far beyond their strength to drag it when on its side. The horses remained quiet, therefore, while the wagoner and the driver, who was not hurt, opened the door in the upper side of the coach. The passengers then climbed out, one by one, without injury. Mary Williams came out last, with her orange-tree safe in her hand.



Chapter III.

The Grass Country.



The scene of confusion, produced by the double accident described in the last chapter, was great, but not long continued. The wagoner got his fallen horse up, and then the passengers, with the driver and wagoner, all taking hold together, soon righted the stage. None of the passengers were hurt, but the coach itself was so much injured that the driver thought it was not safe to load it heavily again. The female passengers got in, but the men walked along by the side of it, intending to travel in that way about four miles to the next tavern. Forester, however, was not inclined to take so long a walk. Fortunately, at a small distance before them, was a farmhouse which looked as if it belonged to a large and thrifty farmer. The great barns and sheds, the neat yards, the well-built walls and fences, and the large stock of cattle in the barn-yard, indicated wealth and prosperity. Forester concluded to apply here for a lodging for the night, for himself and Marco. The farmer was very willing to receive them. So the driver took off their trunks, and then the stage-coach, with the rest of the passengers, went on.

"How long shall we have to stay here?" asked Marco.

"Only till to-morrow," said Forester. "Another stage will come along to-morrow. We can stop just as well as not, as we are in no haste to get home. Besides, I should like to have you see something of the operations of a great grass farm."

Marco and Forester went into the house, and were ushered into a large room, which seemed to be both sitting-room and kitchen. A large round table was set in the middle of the floor, for supper. A monstrous dog was lying under it, with his chin resting upon his paws. There was a great settle in one corner, by the side of the fire. There were chairs also, with straight backs and seats of basket-work, a spinning-wheel, an open cupboard, and various other similar objects, which, being so different from the articles of furniture which Marco had been accustomed to see in the New York parlors, attracted his attention very strongly. Marco went and took his seat upon the settle, and the dog rose and came to him. The dog gazed into his face with an earnest look of inquiry, which plainly said, "Who are you?" while Marco patted him on the head, thereby answering as plainly, "A friend." The dog, perfectly understanding the answer, seemed satisfied, and, turning away, went back to his place again under the table.



One of the farmer's young men carried the trunks into a little bed-room, which opened from the great room; and then the farmer sat down and began to enter into conversation with Forester and Marco about their accident. Forester told him also about the sailor, who had tumbled off the coach a mile or two back, and been left behind. Forester said that he should like to know whether he was hurt much. Then the farmer said that he would let him take a horse and wagon the next morning and ride back and inquire. This plan was therefore agreed upon. Marco and Forester ate a good supper with the farmer's family, and then spent the evening in talking, and telling stories about horses, and sagacious dogs, and about catching wild animals in the woods with traps. About nine o'clock the family all assembled for evening prayers. After prayers Marco and Forester went to bed in their little bed-room, where they slept soundly till morning.

In the morning they were both awakened by the crowing of the cocks, at an early hour. They also heard movements in the house and in the yard before sunrise; so they arose and dressed themselves, and after attending to their morning devotions together in their room, a duty which Forester never omitted, they went out. Marco was very much interested in the morning occupations of the farm. There was the milking of the cows, and the feeding of the various animals, and the pitching off a load of corn, which had been got in the evening before and allowed to stand on the cart, on the barn-floor, over night. The cows were then to be driven to pasture, and the boy who went with them, took a bridle to catch a horse for Forester and Marco to have for their ride. Forester and Marco went with him. It was only a short walk to the pasture bars, but they had to ramble about a little while, before they found the horses. At last they found them feeding together at the edge of a grove of trees. There were two or three horses, and several long-tailed colts. The boy caught one of the horses, which he called Nero. Nero was a white horse. Marco mounted him and rode down, with the other horses and the colts following him. They put the horse in the stable until after breakfast, and then harnessed him into the wagon. When all was ready, the farmer told them to bring the sailor along with them to his house, if they found that he was hurt so that he could not travel.

When they were seated in the wagon, and had fairly commenced their ride, Marco asked Forester, what he meant last evening by a grass farm. "You told me," said he, "that you wanted me to see a great grass farm."

"Yes," replied Forester. "The farms in this part of the United States may be called grass farms. This is the grass country."

"Isn't it all grass country?" asked Marco. "Grass grows everywhere."

"Grass is not cultivated everywhere so much as it is among the mountains, in the northern states," replied Forester. "The great articles of cultivation in the United States are grass, grain, and cotton. The grass is cultivated in the northern states, the grain in the middle states, and the cotton in the southern states. The grass is food for beasts, the grain is food for man, and the cotton is for clothing. These different kinds of cultivation are not indeed exclusive in the different districts. Some grass is raised in the middle and southern states, and some grain is raised in the northern states; but, in general, the great agricultural production of the northern states is grass, and these farms among the mountains in Vermont are grass farms.

"There is one striking difference," continued Forester, "between the grass farms of the north, and the grain farms of the middle states, or the cotton plantations of the south. The grass cultivation brings with it a vast variety of occupations and processes on the farm, making the farm a little world by itself; whereas the grain and the cotton cultivation are far more simple, and require much less judgment and skill. This is rather remarkable; for one would think that raising food for beasts would require less skill than raising food or clothes for man."

"I should have thought so," said Marco.

"The reason for the difference is," replied Forester, "that in raising food for animals, it is necessary to keep the animals to eat it, on the spot, for it will not bear transportation."

"Why not?" said Marco.

"Because it is so cheap," replied Forester.

"I don't think that is any reason," replied Marco.

"A load of grass"—said Forester.

"A load of grass!" repeated Marco, laughing.

"Yes, dried grass, that is, hay. Hay, you know, is grass dried to preserve it."

"Very well," said Marco; "go on."

"A load of grass, then, is so cheap, that the cost of hauling it fifty miles would be more than it is worth. But cotton is worth a great deal more, in proportion to its bulk. It can therefore be transported to distant places to be sold and manufactured. Thus the enormous quantity of cotton which grows every summer in the southern states, is packed in bags, very tight, and is hauled to the rivers and creeks, and there it is put into steamboats and sent to the great seaports, and at the seaports it is put into ships, which carry it to England or to the northern states, to be manufactured; and it is so valuable, that it will bring a price sufficient to pay all the persons that have been employed in raising it, or in transporting it. But the grass that grows in the northern countries can not be transported. The mills for manufacturing cotton may be in one country, and the cotton be raised in another, and then, after the cotton is gathered, it may be packed and sent thousands of miles to be manufactured. But the sheep and oxen which are to eat the hay, can not be kept in one country, while the grass which they feed upon grows in another. The animals must live, in general, on the very farm which the grass grows upon. Thus, while the cotton cultivator has nothing to do but to raise his cotton and send it to market, the grass cultivator must not only raise his grass, but he must provide for and take care of all the animals which are to eat it. This makes the agriculture of the northern states a far more complicated business, because the care of animals runs into great detail, and requires great skill, and sound judgment, and the exercise of constant discretion.

"You observe," continued Forester, "that it is by the intervention of animals that the farmer gets the product of his land into such a shape that it will bear transportation. For instance, he feeds out his hay to his sheep, attending them with care and skill all the winter. In the spring he shears off their fleeces; and now he has got something which he can send to market. He has turned his grass into wool, and thus got its value into a much more compact form. The wool will bear transportation. Perhaps he gave a whole load of hay to his sheep, to produce a single bag of wool. So the bag of wool is worth as much as the load of hay, and is very much more easily carried to market. He can put it upon his lumber-box, and drive off fifty miles with it, to market, without any difficulty."

"His lumber-box?" asked Marco. "What is that?"

"Didn't you ever see a lumber-box?" asked Forester. "It is a square box, on runners, like those of a sleigh. The farmers have them to haul their produce to market."

"Why do they call it a lumber-box?" asked Marco.



"Why, when the country was first settled, they used to carry lumber to market principally; that is, bundles of shingles and clapboards, which they made from timber cut in the woods. It requires some time for a new farm, made in the forests, to get into a condition to produce much grass for cattle. I suppose that it was in this way that these vehicles got the name of lumber-boxes. You will see a great many of them, in the winter season, coming down from every part of the country, toward the large towns on the rivers, filled with produce."

"What else do the farmers turn their grass into, besides wool?" asked Marco.

"Into beef," said Forester. "They raise cows and oxen. They let them eat the grass as it grows, all summer, and in the winter they feed them with what they have cut and dried and stored in the barn for them. The farmers are all ambitious to cut as much hay as they can, and to keep a large stock of cattle. Thus they turn the grass into beef, and the beef can be easily transported. In fact, it almost transports itself."

"How do you mean?" asked Marco.

"Why, the oxen and cows, when they are fat and ready for market, walk off in droves to Boston, to be killed. They don't kill them where they are raised, for then they would have to haul away the beef in wagons or sleighs, but make the animals walk to market themselves, and kill them there. But the farmers don't generally take their own cattle to market. Men go about the country, and call upon the farmers, and buy their cattle, and thus collect great droves. These men are called drovers. In traveling in this part of the country, late in the fall, you would see great droves of cattle and sheep, passing along the road, all going to Boston, or rather Brighton."

"Where is Brighton?" asked Marco.

"It is a town very near Boston, where the great cattle market is held. The Boston dealers come out to Brighton, and buy the cattle, and have them slaughtered, and the beef packed and sent away all over the world. Thus the farmers turn the grass into beef, and in that shape it can be transported and sold."

"And what else?" asked Marco.

"Why, they raise a great many horses in Vermont," replied Forester. "These horses live upon grass, eating it as it grows in the pastures and on the mountains, in the summer, and being fed upon hay in the barn in the winter. These horses, when they are four or five years old, are sent away to market to be sold. They can be transported very easily. A man will ride one, and lead four or five by his side. They will be worth perhaps seventy-five dollars apiece; so that one man will easily take along with him, three or four hundred dollars' worth of the produce of the farm, in the shape of horses; whereas the hay which had been consumed on the farm to make these horses, it would have taken forty yoke of oxen to move."

"Forty yoke!" repeated Marco.

"I don't mean to be exact," said Forester. "I mean it would take a great many. So that, by feeding his hay out to horses, the farmer gets his produce into a better state to be transported to market. The Vermont horses go all over the land. Thus you see that the farmers in the grass country have to turn the vegetable products which they raise, into animal products, before they can get them to market; and as the rearing of animals is a work which requires a great deal of attention, care, patience, and skill, the cultivators must be men of a higher class than those which are employed in raising cotton, or even than those who raise grain. The animals must be watched and guarded while they are young. There are a great many different diseases, and accidents, and injuries which they are exposed to, and it requires constant watchfulness, and considerable, intelligence, to guard against them. This makes a great difference in the character which is required in the laborers, in the different cases. A cotton plantation in the south can be cultivated by slaves. A grain farm in the middle states can be worked by hired laborers; but a northern grass farm, with all its oxen, cows, sheep, poultry, and horses, can only be successfully managed by the work of the owner."

"Is that the reason why they have slaves at the south?" asked Marco.

"It is a reason why slaves can be profitable at the south. In cultivating cotton or sugar, a vast proportion of all the work done in the year is the same. Almost the whole consists of a few simple processes, such as planting, hoeing, picking cotton, &c., and this is to be performed on smooth, even land, where set tasks can be easily assigned. But the work on a grass farm is endlessly varied. It would not be possible to divide it into set tasks. And then it is of such a nature, that it could not possibly be performed successfully by the mere labor of the hands. The mind must be employed upon it. For instance, even in getting in hay, in the summer season, the farmer has to exercise all his judgment and discretion to avoid getting it wet by the summer showers, and yet to secure it in good time, and with proper dispatch. A cotton planter may hire an overseer to see to the getting in of his cotton, and he can easily tell by the result, whether he has been faithful or not. But hay can not be got in well, without the activity, and energy, and good judgment, which can come only from the presence and immediate supervision of an owner. This produces vast differences in the nature of the business, and in the whole state of society in the two regions."

"What are the differences?" asked Marco.

"Why, in the first place," said Forester, "the fact that cotton and sugar can be cultivated by hired overseers, with slaves to do the work, enables rich men to carry on great plantations without laboring themselves. But a great grass farm could not be managed so. A man may have one thousand acres for his plantation at the south, and with a good overseer and good hands, it will all go on very well, so far as his profit is concerned. They will produce a great amount of cotton, which may be sent to market and sold, and the planter realize the money, so as to make a large profit after paying all his expenses. But if a man were to buy a thousand acres of grass land, and employ an overseer and slaves to cultivate it, every thing would go to ruin. The hay would get wet and spoiled,—the carts, wagons, and complicated tools necessary, would get broken to pieces,—the lambs would be neglected and die, and the property would soon go to destruction. Even when a rich man attempts to carry on a moderate farm by hired laborers, taking the best that he can find, he seldom succeeds."

"Does he ever succeed?" said Marco.

"Yes," replied Forester, "sometimes. There is Mr. Warner, who lives near my father's; he was brought up on a farm, and is practically acquainted with all the work. He has been very successful, and has a very large farm. He works now very little himself, but he watches every thing with the greatest care, and he succeeds very well. He has a great stock. He cuts fifty tons of hay."

"I should like to see his farm," said Marco.

"We'll go some day," replied Forester.

"So you see," continued Forester, "that the work of a cotton or sugar plantation, is comparatively simple and plain, requiring little judgment or mental exertion, and a great deal of plain straightforward bodily labor; while on a northern stock farm the labors are endlessly varied. Every month, every week, and almost every day brings some change. New emergencies are constantly arising, which call for deliberation and judgment. It is necessary to have a great variety of animals, in order to consume all the different productions of the farm to advantage. I can explain it all to you better, when you come to see Mr. Warner's farm."

As Nero traveled very fast, they began by this time to draw near to the place where they had left the sailor. When they came up to the house, they fastened the horse to a post, and went in. The man who lived there had gone away, but the woman said that the sailor was somewhat hurt, and asked them to come in and see him. They found him in the kitchen, with his foot up in a chair. He seemed to be in some pain. There was a great bruise on his ankle, made by the cork of one of the horses' shoes. These corks, as they are called, are projections, made of steel, at the heel of a horse-shoe, to give the horse a firm footing. They are made quite sharp in the winter season, when there is ice and snow upon the ground, but they are generally more blunt in the summer. This prevented the ankle's being cut as badly as it would have been, if the corks had been sharper. Forester looked at the ankle, and found that nothing had been done for it. It was inflamed and painful. He got the woman to give him a basin of warm water, and then he bathed it very carefully, which relieved the sense of tension and pain. Then he made an ointment of equal parts of tallow and oil, which he put upon the end of a bandage, and thus bound it up. This treatment relieved the poor sailor very much. Then Forester proposed to the sailor to get into the wagon and go with him to the next house, and the sailor consented. Forester was then going to pay the woman for his night's lodging, but the sailor said at once,—"No, squire, not at all. I'm much obliged to you for doing up my foot, but you need not pay any thing for me. I've got plenty of shot in the locker."

So saying, he put his hand in his pocket and drew out a handful of gold and silver pieces. But the woman, who began now to feel a little ashamed that she had not done something for the wounded foot, said he was welcome to his lodging; and so they all got into the wagon, and Nero carried them rapidly back to his master's.



Chapter IV.

The Village.



In due time, and without any farther adventure, Forester and Marco arrived at the end of their journey. The village where Forester's father lived was situated in a gorge of the mountains, or rather at the entrance of a valley, which terminated at last in a gorge. There was a river flowing through this valley, and the village was upon its banks. At the upper end of the village a branch stream came in from the north, and there was a dam upon it, with some mills. The river itself was a rapid stream, flowing over a sandy and gravelly bottom, and there were broad intervals on each side of it, extending for some distance toward the higher land. Beyond these intervals, the land rose gradually, and in an undulating manner, to the foot of the mountains, which extended along the sides of the valley, and from the summits of which, one might look down upon the whole scene, with the village in the center of it as upon a map.

Marco was very much pleased with the situation, and with the appearance of the village. The street was broad, and it was shaded with rows of large maples and elms on each side. The houses were generally white, with green blinds. Most of them had pleasant yards before them and at their sides; these yards were planted with trees and shrubbery. There were also gardens behind. The mountains which surrounded the scene, gave a very secluded and sheltered appearance to the valley.

The house in which Forester lived was the largest in the village. It was a square house of two stories. It stood back a little from the road, in the middle of a large yard, ornamented with rows of trees along the sides, and groups of shrubbery in the corners and near the house. There were gravel walks leading in different directions through this yard, and on one side of the house was a carriage-way, which led from a great gate in front, to a door in one end of the house, and thence to the stable in the rear. On the other side of the house, near the street, was the office,—for Forester's father was a lawyer. The office was a small square building, with the lawyer's name over the door. There was a back door to the office, and a footpath, winding among trees and shrubbery, which led from the office to the house.

The morning after they arrived, Forester took Marco out to see the village. He intended not only to show him the various objects of interest which were to be seen, but also to explain to him why it was that such villages would spring up in a farming country, and what were the occupations of the inhabitants.

"The first thing which causes the commencement of a village in New England," said Forester, "is a water-fall."

"Why is that?" asked Marco.

"There are certain things," replied Forester, "which the farmers can not very well do for themselves, by their own strength, particularly grinding their corn, and sawing logs into boards for their houses. When they first begin to settle in a new country, they make the houses of logs, and they have to take the corn and grain a great many miles on horseback, through paths in the woods, or, in the winter, on hand-sleds, to get it ground. But as soon as any of them are able to do it, they build a dam on some stream in the neighborhood, where there is a fall in the water, and thus get a water power. This water power they employ, to turn a saw-mill and a grist-mill. Then all the farmers, when they want to build houses or barns, haul logs to the mill to get them sawed into boards, and they carry their grain to the grist-mill and get it ground. They pay the owner of the mills for doing this work for them. And thus, if there are a great many farms in the country around, and no other mills very near, so that the mills are kept all the time at work, the owner gets a great deal of pay, and gradually acquires property.

"Now, as soon as the mills are built, perhaps a blacksmith sets up a shop near them. If a blacksmith is going to open a shop anywhere in that town, it will be better for him to have it near the mills, because, as the farmers all have to come to the mills at any rate, they can avail themselves of the opportunity, to get their horses shod, or to get new tires to their wheels, when they are broken."

"Tires?" repeated Marco. "What are tires?"

"They are the iron rims around wheels. Every wheel must have an iron band about it, very tight, to strengthen it and to hold it firmly together. Without a tire, a wheel would very soon come to pieces, in rattling over a stony road.

"Besides," continued Forester, "there is a great deal of other iron work, which the farmers must have done. Farmers can, generally, do most of the wood work which they want themselves. They can make their rakes, and drags, and cart-bodies, and sleds, and tool handles; but when they want iron work, they must go to the blacksmith's. They can make a harrow-frame, but the blacksmith must make the teeth."

"Now I should think," said Marco, "that it would be easier to make the teeth than the frame."

"Perhaps it is as easy, if one has the forge and tools," replied Forester; "but the tools and fixtures, necessary for blacksmith's work, are much more expensive than those required for ordinary wood work. There must be a forge built on purpose, and an anvil, supported on a solid foundation, and various tools. All these are necessary for shoeing a single horse, and when they are all procured, they will answer for all the horses of the neighborhood. Thus it happens, that though farmers do a great deal of their wood work themselves, at their own farms, in cold and stormy weather, they generally have their iron work done at a blacksmith's at some central place, where it is easy and convenient for all of them to go."

The above conversation took place between Marco and Forester, as they were walking along together through the village, toward the part of the town where the mills were situated. Just at this moment, Marco happened to cast his eyes across the street a short distance before them, and he saw a fire on the ground in a little yard. He asked Forester what that fire could be. As soon as Forester saw the fire, he exclaimed,

"Ah! they are putting a tire upon a wheel; that's quite fortunate; we'll go across and see them."

So they left the path under the trees where they had been walking, and went obliquely across the street toward the fire. Marco saw that there was a large blacksmith's shop there. It was a very neat-looking building, painted red. There was a large door in the front, and a very low window, with a shutter hanging over it, by the side of the door. In an open yard, by the side of the shop, was the fire. The fire was in the form of a ring. There were several men standing about it; one of them, whom Marco supposed was the blacksmith, by his leather apron, was putting on small sticks of wood and chips, here and there, around the ring. Marco saw that there was a large iron hoop, as he called it, on the fire. It was not really a hoop, it was a tire. It was made of a much larger and thicker bar of iron, than those which are used for hoops. It was a tire belonging to a wheel. The wheel was lying upon the ground near, ready to receive the tire. It was the hind wheel of a wagon. The wagon itself was standing in front of the shop, with one end of the hind axletree supported by a block.

"What do they heat the tire for?" asked Marco.

"To swell it," replied Forester. "It is necessary to have the tire go on very tight, so as to hold the wheel together with all the force of the iron. Now when iron is heated it swells, and then shrinks again when it cools. So they heat the tire hot, and put it upon the wheel in that state. Then when it cools it shrinks, and binds the whole wheel together with a very strong grip."

"But if they put it on hot, it will burn the wood," said Marco.

"Yes," replied Forester, "it will burn the wood a little. They can not help that entirely; but they stand ready with water, to pour on, as soon as the tire is in its place, and so cool it immediately, so that it does not burn the fellies enough to injure them."

"What are the fellies?" asked Marco.

"They are the parts of the wooden rim of the wheel. The rim is made of several pieces of wood, which are called fellies."

So Forester took Marco to the wheel, and showed him the parts of which the rim was composed. While Marco was looking at the wheel, the blacksmith began to push away the burning brands a little from the tire, as it began to be hot enough. Presently he went into his shop and brought out several pairs of tongs. With these the men lifted the tire out of the fire, but the blacksmith said it was a little too hot, and he must let it cool a minute or two.

"Why, if it's very hot," said Marco, "it will grip the wheel all the harder."

"It will grip it too hard," said Forester. "Sometimes a tire shrinks so much as to spring the spokes out of shape. Didn't you ever see a wheel with the spokes bent out of shape?"

"I don't know," said Marco. "I never noticed wheels much."

"They do get bent, sometimes," said Forester. "It requires great care to put on a tire in such a manner, as to give it just the right degree of force to bind the wheel strongly together, without straining it."



As soon as the tire became of the right temperature, the men took it up again with the pairs of tongs—taking hold with them at different sides of it—and then they put it down carefully over the wheel. The wheel immediately began to smoke on all sides. In one or two places it burst into a flame. The blacksmith, however, paid no attention to this, but with a hammer, which he held in his hand, he knocked it down into its place, all around the rim; then he took up a brown pitcher full of water, which was standing near, and began to pour the water on, walking round and round the wheel as he did it, so as to extinguish the flames in every part and cool the iron. When this process was completed, Forester and Marco walked on.

"Let me see," said Forester, "where did I leave off, Marco, in my account of the growth of a village? I was telling you about the blacksmith's shop, I believe."

"Yes," said Marco.

"The next thing to the blacksmith's shop, in the history of a New England village," said Forester, "is generally a store. You see the farmers can not raise every thing they want. There are a great many things which come from foreign countries, which they have to buy."

"Such as sugar and tea," said Marco.

"Yes," replied Forester, "only they make a great deal of sugar in Vermont out of the sap of the maple-tree. We will go and see Mr. Warner's sugar bush next spring. But there are a great many things which the farmers must buy. One of the most important articles is iron. Now when a man concludes to open a store, the best place that he can have for his business is near the mills and the blacksmith's shop; because the people have to come there on other business, and so that is the most convenient place for them to visit his store. And so, by and by, when a carpenter and a mason come into the country, the little village which has thus begun to form itself, is the best place for them to settle in, for that is the place where people can most conveniently call and see them. After a while a physician comes and settles there, to heal them when they are sick, and a lawyer to prevent disputes."

"To prevent disputes!" said Marco. Marco had not much idea of the nature of a lawyer's business, but he had a sort of undefined and vague notion, that lawyers made disputes among men, and lived by them.

"Why, I know," said Forester, laughing, "that lawyers have not the credit, generally, of preventing many disputes, but I believe they do. Perhaps it is because I am going to be a lawyer myself. But I really believe that lawyers prevent ten disputes, where they occasion one."

"How do they do it?" asked Marco.

"Why, they make contracts, and draw up writings, and teach men to be clear and distinct in their engagements and bargains. Then besides, when men will not pay their debts, they compel them to do it, by legal process. And there are a vast many debts which are paid, for fear of this legal process, which would not have been paid without it. Thus, knowing that the lawyers are always ready to apply the laws, men are much more careful not to break them, than they otherwise would be. So that it is no doubt vastly for the benefit of a community, not only to have efficient laws, but efficient lawyers to aid in the execution of them."

By this time, Forester and Marco had reached the part of the village where the mills were situated. Forester showed Marco the dam. It was supported by ledges of rocks on each bank, and there was a flume, which conducted the water to the wheels of the mills. There were two mills and a machine-shop. They went into the machine-shop. There was a lathe here carried by water. A man was at work at it, turning hoe handles. Forester asked him what other articles were turned there; and he said posts for bedsteads, and rounds for chairs, and such other things as were used in quantities in that part of the country. Forester asked him whether the lathe would turn brass and iron as well as wood; but he said it would not. It was not fitted for that work.

"I suppose you might have a lathe here, to work in the metals," said Forester.

"Yes," replied the man, "but it would not be worth while. There is very little of that kind of work wanted in this part of the country."

After looking at the mills, Forester and Marco walked along up the stream a little way, to look at the mill-pond. Whenever a dam is made, it causes a pond to be formed above it, more or less extensive, according to the nature of the ground. In this case there was quite a large pond, formed by the accumulation of the water above the dam. The pond was not very wide, but it extended more than a mile up the stream. The banks were picturesque and beautiful, being overhung with trees in some places, and in others presenting verdant slopes, down to the water's edge.

"That's a good pond to go a-fishing in," said Marco.

"Yes," said Forester, "and it makes fine skating ground in the winter."

Marco and Forester followed the banks of the mill-pond, until they came to the end of the still water; beyond that they saw a rapid running stream, coming down from the mountains. Marco wished to follow this stream up farther, to see what they would come to, and Forester consented. The ground ascended more and more the farther they proceeded, and the view began to be shut in by forests, precipices and mountains. Marco liked clambering over the rocks, and he found a great deal to interest him at every step of the way. He saw several squirrels and one rabbit. He wanted Forester to get him a gun and let him come out into those woods a-gunning.

"No," said Forester.

"Why not?" asked Marco.

"That is dangerous amusement."

"Why? Do you think I should get killed with my sun?" asked Marco.

"No," replied Forester, "I don't think you would; but you might get killed. The risk would be too great for the benefit."

"Why, you told me the other day, that it was a great thing to learn to take risks coolly. If I had a gun I could practice and learn."

"Yes," said Forester, "it is well to take risks coolly, when the advantage is sufficient to justify it. For instance, when you crept down upon the pole the other day, to get the reins, you took a great risk, but perhaps you saved the lives of the passengers by it. That was right—but to hazard your life, for the sake of the pleasure of shooting a squirrel, is not wise." Marco had before this time told him about his getting the reins.

"I shouldn't think, there was much danger," said Marco.

"No," said Forester, "there's very little danger. In using a gun, you put yourself in a very little danger of a very great calamity. There's very little probability that your gun would burst, or that you would ever shoot accidentally any other person;—very little indeed. But if the gun were to burst, and blow off one of your arms, or put out your eyes, or if you were to shoot another boy, the calamity would be a very terrible one. So we call it a great risk."

"It seems to be a small risk of a great calamity," said Marco.

"Yes," replied Forester, "but we call it a great risk. We call the risk great, when either the evil which we are in danger of is great, or when the chance of its befalling us is great. For example, if you and I were to walk over that log which lies across the stream, we should run a great risk; but that would be, not a small chance of a great evil, but a great chance of a small evil. There would be a great chance that we should fall off into the stream; but that would not be much of an evil as we should only get ourselves wet."



"Let us go and try it," said Marco. "Not I," said Forester. "You may, however, if you please. I am willing to have you take such a risk as that, for your amusement."

Marco went to the log and walked back and forth across it, as composedly as if it were a broad plank, lying upon the ground. Finally, he hopped across it on one foot, to show Forester his dexterity. Forester was surprised. He did not know how much skill in such feats Marco had acquired by his gymnastics in New York.

After this, Forester and Marco clambered up some rocks on an elevated summit, where they had a fine view of the village below them. They could trace the river, winding through the valley, with the green intervals on both sides of it. They could see the village and the streets, with the spire of the meeting-house in the center. The mill-pond was in full view also; and Marco's attention was attracted by a boat, which he saw gliding over the surface of the water.

"O! there is a boat," said Marco.

"Yes," said Forester. "I have paddled over the water many a time in her."

"How many oars does she pull?" asked Marco.

"Oars?" said Forester, "no oars; they use paddles."

"I wish they had some oars," said Marco, "and then I would get a crew of boys, and teach them to manage a boat man-o'-war fashion."

"How do you know any thing about it?" asked Forester.

"O, I learned at New York, in the boats at the Battery."

"Well," said Forester, "we'll have some oars made, and get a crew. I should like to learn myself."

"Let us go down and see the boat," said Marco, "now."

"No," replied Forester, "it is time to go to dinner now; but we'll come and see the boat the next time we go to take a walk."

So Marco and Forester came down the hill, and thence went across the fields home to dinner. They dined at half-past twelve o'clock, which seemed a very strange hour to Marco.



Chapter V.

Studying.



The little building where Forester's father had his office, had a small back room in it, which opened from the office proper, and which was used as a library and private study. It had a small fire place in it, and there was a table in the middle of the room, with a large portable writing-desk upon it. This desk was made of rosewood. The sides of the room were lined with book-shelves. There was one large window which looked upon the yard and garden behind. The books in this room were principally law-books, though there were some books of history and travels, and great dictionaries of various kinds. Forester conducted Marco into this room, a day or two after their arrival in the village, saying,

"Here, Marco, this is to be our study. How do you like it?"

"Very well," said Marco. "It is a very pleasant room. Am I to study all these books?"

"Not more than one at a time, at any rate," said Forester.

"This is my place, I suppose," said Marco; and so saying he sat down in a great arm-chair, before the portable writing-desk, which was open on the table.



"No," said Forester, "that is my place. I am going to arrange your establishment near the window. James has gone to bring your desk now."

While he was speaking, the door opened, and James, the young man who lived at Forester's father's came in, bringing a desk. It was painted blue, and had four legs. These legs were of such a length as to make the desk just high enough for Marco. James put it down, at Forester's direction, near the window. It was placed with the left side toward the window, so that the light from the window would strike across the desk from left to right. This is the most convenient direction for receiving light when one is writing. Forester then placed a chair before the desk, and Marco went into the house and brought out all the books and papers which he had, and arranged them neatly in his desk. While he was gone, Forester took an inkstand and a sand-box out of a closet by the side of the fire, and filled them both, and put them on the desk. He also placed in the desk a supply of paper, in quarter sheets. After Marco had come back, and had put in his books and papers, Forester gave him a ruler and a lead pencil; also a slate and half a dozen slate pencils; also a piece of sponge and a piece of India-rubber. He gave him besides a little square phial, and sent him to fill it with water, so that he might have water always at hand to wet his sponge with.

"Now is that all you will want?" asked Forester.

"Why, yes, I should think so," said Marco. "If I should want any thing else, I can ask you, you know. You are going to stay here and study too?"

"Yes," said Forester; "but your asking me is just what I wish to avoid. I wish to arrange it so that we shall both have our time to ourselves, without interruption."

"But I shall have to ask you questions when I get into difficulty," said Marco.

"No," said Forester, "I hope not. I mean to contrive it so that you can get out of difficulty yourself. Let me see. You will want some pens. I will get a bunch of quills and make them up into pens for you."

"What, a whole bunch?" said Marco.

"Yes," replied Forester. "I don't wish to have you come to me, when I am in the midst of a law argument, to get me to make a pen."

Steel pens were very little used in those days.

While Forester was making the pens, he said,

"There are twenty-five quills in a bunch. I shall tie them up, when they are ready, into two bunches, of about a dozen in each. These you will put in your desk. When you want a pen, you will draw one out of the bunches and use it. You must not stop to look them over, to choose a good one, but you must take any one that comes first to hand, because, if any one should not be good, the sooner you get it out and try it, and ascertain that it is not good, the sooner you will get it out of the way."

"Well," said Marco, "and what shall I do with the bad ones?"

"Wipe them clean,—by the way, you must have a good penwiper,—and then put them together in a particular place in your desk. When you have thus used one bunch, tie them up and lay the bunch on my desk to be mended, and then you can go on using the other bunch. This will give me opportunity to choose a convenient time to mend the first bunch again. When I have mended them, I will tie them up and lay them on your desk again. Thus you will always have a supply of pens, and I shall never be interrupted to mend one. This will be a great deal more convenient, both for you and for me."

"Only it will use up a great many more pens," replied Marco.

"No," said Forester; "not at all. We shall have more in use at one time, it is true, but the whole bunch may last as long as if we had only one cut at a time."

"We shall begin to study," continued Forester, "at nine o'clock, and leave off at twelve. That will give you half an hour to run about and play before dinner."

"And a recess?" said Marco,—"I ought to have a recess."

"Why, there's a difficulty about a recess," said Forester. "I shall have it on my mind every day, to tell you when it is time for the recess, and when it is time to come in."

"O no," replied Marco, "I can find out when it is time for the recess. Let it be always at ten o'clock, and I can look at the watch."

Marco referred to a watch belonging to Forester's father, which was kept hung up over the mantel-piece in their little study.

"I think it probable you would find out when it was time for the recess to begin," said Forester, "but you would not be so careful about the end of it. You would get engaged in play, and would forget how the time was passing, and I should have to go out and call you in."

"Couldn't you have a little bell?" said Marco.

"But I don't wish to have any thing of that kind to do," said Forester, "I am going to instruct you half an hour every morning, beginning at nine o'clock, and I want to have it all so arranged, that after that, I shall be left entirely to myself, so that I can go on with my studies, as well as you with yours. If we can do this successfully, then, when noon comes, I shall feel that I have done my morning's work well, and you and I can go off in the afternoon on all sorts of expeditions. But if I have to spend the whole morning in attending to you, then I must stay at home and attend to my own studies in the afternoon."

"Well," said Marco, "I think I can find out when to come in."

"We'll try it one or two mornings, but I have no idea that you will succeed. However, we can give up the plan if we find that you stay out too long. You may have five minutes' recess every day, at eleven o'clock. On the whole it shall be ten minutes. And this shall be the plan of your studies for the morning. At nine o'clock, I shall give you instruction for half an hour. Then you may study arithmetic for one hour; then write half an hour; then have a recess for ten minutes: then read for the rest of the last hour. That will bring it to twelve o'clock."

"But I can't study arithmetic, alone," said Marco.

"Yes," said Forester, "I shall show you how, in the first half-hour when I am giving you my instructions. Now, are you willing really to try to carry this system into effect, pleasantly and prosperously?"

"Yes," said Marco, "I'll try."

"We shall find some inconveniences and troubles at first, I have no doubt," said Forester; "but if we are patient and persevering, we shall soon make the system go smoothly."

Forester then said, that as Marco might forget what he had to do each hour, he would make a sort of map of the hours, with the name of the study which he was to pursue marked in each. This he called a schedule. The schedule, when it was completed, was as follows:

IX. X. XI. XII. Instruction. Arithmetic. Writing. Recess. Reading.

This schedule was drawn neatly on a piece of paper, and fastened with wafers to the under side of the lid of Marco's desk, so that he could look at it at any time, by opening his desk.

It was in the afternoon that this conversation was held, and these preparations made. The next morning, at nine o'clock, Marco and Forester went into the little study, and Forester gave him his instructions. He took his arithmetic, and explained to him how to perform some examples, under one of the rules. Forester performed one or two of them himself, explaining very particularly all the steps. He then rubbed out his work, and directed Marco to perform them by himself in the same manner. "If you succeed in doing these right," said he, "you may set yourself some others of the same kind, with different numbers, and perform those too. If you get into any difficulty, you must not ask me, but you may set yourself sums in addition, and spend the rest of the hour in doing them. That, you can certainly do without help."

"Yes," said Marco, "I can do that."

"The next half-hour is for writing," said Forester. "I will set you some copies."

So Forester took a writing-book, which he had prepared, and wrote Marco some copies, one on the top of each page. Marco looked over him while he wrote. It is very important that a child should see his teacher write his copies, for thus he will see how the letters should be formed. Forester wrote four or five copies for Marco, and while he was writing them he gave him particular instructions about the manner of holding his pen, and shaping the letters.

"Now," said Forester, "you can not possibly have occasion to come to me about your writing; for here are pages enough for you to write upon for several days, and you have plenty of pens."

"But I should think you would want to see whether I write it well," said Marco.

"I shall examine it carefully to-morrow morning," said Forester.

"Very well," said Marco; "after the writing will come the recess."

"Yes," said Forester, "and then the reading."

"What shall I read?" asked Marco.

Forester then rose and went to one of the book-shelves, where there was a set of books, entitled the American Encyclopedia. There were thirteen octavo volumes in the set. It was rather too high for Marco to reach it, and so Forester took all the volumes down and placed them on a lower shelf, not far from the window, in a place where Marco could get easy access to them.

"There," said Forester; "there is your library. The American Encyclopedia is a sort of a dictionary. When your reading hour comes, you may take down any volume of this Encyclopedia, and turn to any article you please. Or you may think of any subject that you would like to read about, as for instance, boat, cannon, camel, eagle, trout, horse, or any other subject, and take down the proper volume and find the article. You can find it by the letters which are printed on the backs of the volumes."

"Let us look now," said Marco, "and see what it says about trouts."

"No, not now," replied Forester; "when your reading hour comes, you may read what you choose. Only you must have a piece of paper at hand, and write upon it the title of every article which you read, and show it to me the next morning, because I shall wish to know what you have been reading, and perhaps to question you about it. Now you understand your work, do you not?"

"Yes," said Marco; "and what are you going to do?"

"O, I'm going to study my law-books."

"Shall you stay here and study?"

"Yes," replied Forester, "I shall be here most of the time. Sometimes I shall be called into the other room, perhaps, on business with my lather; but that need not make any difference with you."

"Only, then there will be nobody to watch me," said Marco.

"O, I shall not watch you any, even when I am here. I shall pay no attention to you at all. I can judge to-morrow morning, when I come to look at your work and give you new instructions, whether you have been industrious or not.

"Even if I accidentally see you doing any thing wrong, I shall not probably say any thing about it. I shall remember it, and speak to you about it to-morrow morning, in my half-hour. I shall do everything in my half-hour."

Marco felt somewhat relieved, to think that he was not going to be under a very rigid observation in his studies.

"I do not expect," said Forester, "that you will do very well for the first few days. It will take some time to get this system under full operation. I presume that you will come to me as many as ten times the first day."

"O, no," said Marco, "I don't mean to come to you once."

"You will,—I have no doubt. What shall I say to you if you do? Will it be a good plan for me to answer your question?"

"Why, no," said Marco, "I suppose not."

"And yet, if I refuse to answer, it will not be very pleasant to you. It will put you out of humor."

"No," said Marco.

"I will have one invariable answer to give you," said Forester. "It shall be this,—Act according to your own judgment. That will be a little more civil than to take no notice of your question at all, and yet it will preserve our principle,—that I am to give you no assistance except in my half-hour. Then, besides, I will keep an account of the number of questions you ask me, and see if they do not amount to ten."

By this time Forester's half-hour was out, and Marco went to his desk.

"There's one thing," said Marco, "before I begin:—may I have the window open?"

"Act according to your own judgment," said Forester, "and there is one question asked." So Forester made one mark upon a paper which he had upon the table.

"But, cousin Forester, it is not right to count that, for I had not begun."

Forester made no reply, but began arranging his note-books, as if he was about commencing his own studies. Marco looked at him a moment, and then he rose and gently opened the window and began his work.



Marco was but little accustomed to solitary study, and, after performing one of the examples which Forester had given him, he thought he was tired, and he began to look out the window and to play with his pencil. He would lay his pencil upon the upper side of his slate, and let it roll down. As the pencil was not round, but polygonal in its form, it made a curious clicking sound in rolling down, which amused Marco, though it disturbed and troubled Forester. Whatever may have been the nice peculiarities in the delicate mechanism of Forester's ear, and of the nerves connected with it, compared with that of Marco's, by which the same sound produced a sensation of pleasure in one ear, while it gave only pain in the other, it would require a very profound philosopher to explain. But the effect was certain. Forester, however, did not speak, but let Marco roll his pencil down the slate as long as he pleased.

This was not long, however; Marco soon grew tired of it, and then began to look out the window. There was a little staple in the window sill, placed there as a means of fastening the blind. Marco pushed the point of his pencil into this staple, in order to see if it would go through. It did go through in an instant, and slipping through his fingers, it fell out of the window.

"Dear me! there goes my pencil. My pencil has dropped out of the window, cousin Forester; shall I go out and get it?"

"Act according to your own judgment," said Forester. At the same time he was saying this, he made another mark upon his paper.

"Why, you ought not to count that, cousin Forester," said Marco, "for I don't know whether you'd wish me to go and get that pencil, or take another out of my desk."

"Act according to your own judgment," replied Forester.

Marco looked perplexed and troubled. In fact, he was a little displeased to find that Forester would not answer him. He thought that, it was an unforeseen emergency, which Forester ought to have considered an exception to his rule. But he was obliged to decide the question for himself, and he concluded to go out for his pencil. It took him some time to find it in the grass, and after he had found it, he stopped for some time longer, to watch some ants which were passing in and out, at the entrance to their nest, each one bringing up a grain of sand in his forceps. When Marco came in, he found that his hour for arithmetic was so nearly expired, that he should not have time to finish another sum, if he should begin it; so he put his arithmetical apparatus away, and took out his writing-book.

Marco went through the whole forenoon pretty much in the same way. He spent a large part of his time in looking out of the window and about the room. He went out at the time for the recess, but he stayed out twenty minutes instead of ten. He was astonished, when he came in, to see how rapidly the time had passed. He then took down a volume of the Encyclopedia, and read until twelve o'clock, and then, leaving the volume of the Encyclopedia and his writing-book on his desk, he told Forester that the study hours were over, and went away.

The next morning, at nine, Forester asked him how he had got along the day before. Marco had the frankness to admit that he did not get along very well.

"Still," said Forester, "I am well satisfied on the whole. You did very well for a first experiment. In the first place, you did really make some effort to carry out my plan. You kept the reckoning of the hours, and changed your studies at the appointed time. You did not speak to me more than three or four times, and then you acquiesced pretty good-naturedly in my refusing to help you. To-day you will do better, I have no doubt, and to-morrow better still. And thus, in the course of a week, I have great confidence that you will learn to study for three hours by yourself, to good advantage."

"Two hours and a half it is," said Marco.

"Yes," said Forester.

It resulted as Forester predicted. Marco, finding that Forester was disposed to be pleased with and to commend his efforts, made greater efforts every day, and, in the course of a week, he began to be a very respectable student. In the afternoon he used to ramble about, sometimes with Forester, and sometimes alone. He was very fond of fishing, and Forester used to allow him to go to certain parts of the river, where the water was not deep, alone, trusting to his word that he would confine himself strictly to the prescribed bounds.



Chapter VI.

The Log Canoe.



Every thing went on very prosperously, for a week or two, in the little study. Marco became more and more attentive to his studies, and more and more interested in them. He was often getting into little difficulties, it is true, and giving trouble to his uncle and aunt; but then he generally seemed sorry afterward for the trouble which he had thus occasioned, and he bore reproof, and such punishments as his cousin thought it necessary to inflict, with so much good-humor, that they all readily forgave him for his faults and misdemeanors.

1  2  3     Next Part
Home - Random Browse