Infomotions, Inc.Dab Kinzer A Story of a Growing Boy / Stoddard, William O.



Author: Stoddard, William O.
Title: Dab Kinzer A Story of a Growing Boy
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): kinzer; dab; dabney; ford; dab kinzer; dick; ham; dick lee; dabney kinzer; annie; foster; ford foster; ham morris; lee; frank harley; joe; annie foster; dab kinzer's; fish; jenny walters
Contributor(s): Dickson, William P. (William Purdie), 1823-1901 [Translator]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
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Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 70,329 words (short) Grade range: 6-9 (grade school) Readability score: 75 (easy)
Identifier: etext10340
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Title: Dab Kinzer
       A Story of a Growing Boy

Author: William O. Stoddard

Release Date: November 30, 2003 [EBook #10340]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII

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                          DAB KINZER

                   A STORY OF A GROWING BOY

                              BY

                     WILLIAM O. STODDARD

                             1884




CONTENTS.

CHAPTER I.
THE KINZER FARM, THE NEW SUIT, AND THE WEDDING.

CHAPTER II.
DAB'S OLD CLOTHES GET A NEW BOY TO FIT.

CHAPTER III.
A MEMBER OF ONE OF THE OLDEST FAMILIES MEETS A YOUNG
GENTLEMAN FROM THE CITY.

CHAPTER IV.
TWO BOYS, ONE PIG, AND AN UNFORTUNATE RAILWAY-TRAIN.

CHAPTER V.
NEW NEIGHBORS, AND GETTING SETTLED.

CHAPTER VI.
CRABS, BOYS, AND A BOAT-WRECK.

CHAPTER VII.
A VERY ACCIDENTAL CALL.

CHAPTER VIII.
A RESCUE, AND A GRAND GOOD TIME.

CHAPTER IX.
THERE ARE DIFFERENT KINDS OF BOYS.

CHAPTER X.
A CRUISE IN "THE SWALLOW".

CHAPTER XI.
SPLENDID FISHING, AND A BIG FOG.

CHAPTER XII.
HOW THE GAME OF "FOLLOW MY LEADER" CAN BE PLAYED
AT SEA.

CHAPTER XIII.
"HOME AGAIN! HERE WE ARE!".

CHAPTER XIV.
A GREAT MANY THINGS GETTING READY TO COME.

CHAPTER XV.
DABNEY KINZER TO THE RESCUE.

CHAPTER XVI.
DAB KINZER AND HAM MORRIS TURN INTO A FIRE-DEPARTMENT.

CHAPTER XVII.
DAB HAS A WAKING DREAM, AND HAM GETS A SNIFF OF SEA-AIR.

CHAPTER XVIII.
HOW DAB WORKED OUT ANOTHER OF HIS GREAT PLANS.

CHAPTER XIX.
A GRAND SAILING-PARTY, AND AN EXPERIMENT BY RICHARD LEE.

CHAPTER XX.
A WRECK AND SOME WRECKERS.

CHAPTER XXI.
DAB AND HIS FRIENDS TURN THEMSELVES INTO COOKS AND WAITERS.

CHAPTER XXII.
THE REAL MISSION OF THE JUG.

CHAPTER XXIII.
ANOTHER GRAND PLAN, AND A VERY GRAND RUNAWAY.

CHAPTER XXIV.
DABNEY'S GREAT PARTY.

CHAPTER XXV.
THE BOYS ON THEIR TRAVELS. A GREAT CITY, AND A GREAT DINNER.

CHAPTER XXVI.
THE FIRST MORNING IN GRANTLEY, AND ANOTHER EXCELLENT JOKE.

CHAPTER XXVII.
A NEW KIND OF EXAMINATION.

CHAPTER XXVIII.
AN UNUSUAL AMOUNT OF INTRODUCTION.

CHAPTER XXIX.
LETTERS HOME FROM THE BOYS.--DICK LEE'S FIRST GRIEF.

CHAPTER XXX.
DABNEY KINZER TRIES FRESH-WATER FISHING FOR THE FIRST TIME.

CHAPTER XXXI.
A FIGHT, AND WHAT CAME OF IT.

CHAPTER XXXII.
OLD FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS OF HIS COME TO VISIT DABNEY.




DAB KINZER


CHAPTER I.

THE KINZER FARM, THE NEW SUIT, AND THE WEDDING.


Between the village and the inlet, and half a mile from the great "bay,"
lay the Kinzer farm. Beyond the bay was a sandbar, and beyond that the
Atlantic Ocean; for all this was on the southerly shore of Long Island.

The Kinzer farm had lain right there--acre for acre, no more, no
less--on the day when Hendrik Hudson long ago sailed the good ship "Half
Moon" into New-York Bay. But it was not then known to any one as the
Kinzer farm. Neither was there then, as now, any bright and growing
village crowding up on one side of it, with a railway-station and a
post-office. Nor was there, at that time, any great and busy city of New
York, only a few hours' ride away, over on the island of Manhattan. The
Kinzers themselves were not there then. But the bay and the inlet, with
the fish and the crabs, and the ebbing and flowing tides, were there,
very much the same, before Hendrik Hudson and his brave Dutchmen knew
any thing whatever about that corner of the world.

The Kinzer farm had always been a reasonably "fat" one, both as to size
and quality; and the good people who lived on it had generally been of a
somewhat similar description. It was, therefore, every way correct and
becoming for Dabney Kinzer's widowed mother and his sisters to be the
plump and hearty beings they were, and all the more discouraging to poor
Dabney that no amount of regular and faithful eating seemed to make him
resemble them at all in that respect.

Mrs. Kinzer excused his thinness, to her neighbors, to be sure, on the
ground that he was "such a growing boy;" but, for all that, he caught
himself wondering, now and then, if he would never be done with that
part of his trials. For rapid growth has its trials.

"The fact is," he said to himself one day, as he leaned over the north
fence, "I'm more like Ham Morris's farm than I am like ours. His farm is
bigger than ours, all round; but it's too big for its fences, just as
I'm too big for my clothes. Ham's house is three times as large as ours,
but it looks as if it had grown too fast. It hasn't any paint to speak
of, nor any blinds. It looks as if somebody'd just built it there, and
then forgot it, and gone oft and left it out of doors."

Dabney's four sisters had all come into the world before him; but he was
as tall as any of them, and was frequently taken by strangers for a good
two years older than he was. It was sometimes very hard for him, a boy
of fifteen, to live up to what was expected of those extra two years.

Mrs. Kinzer still kept him in roundabouts; but they did not seem to
hinder his growth at all, if that was her object in so doing.

There was no such thing, however, as keeping the four girls in
roundabouts of any kind; and, what between them and their mother, the
pleasant and tidy little Kinzer homestead, with its snug parlor and its
cosey bits of rooms and chambers, seemed to nestle away, under the
shadowy elms and sycamores, smaller and smaller with every year that
came.

It was a terribly tight fit for such a family, anyway; and, now that
Dabney was growing at such a rate, there was no telling what they would
all come to. But Mrs. Kinzer came at last to the rescue; and she
summoned her eldest daughter, Miranda, to her aid.

A very notable woman was the widow. When the new railway cut off part of
the old farm, she had split up the slice of land between the iron track
and the village into "town lots," and had sold them all off by the time
the railway company paid her for the "damage" it had done the property.

The whole Kinzer family gained visibly in plumpness that year, except,
perhaps, Dabney.

Of course the condition and requirements of Ham Morris and his big farm,
just over the north fence, had not escaped such a pair of eyes as those
of the widow; and the very size of his great barn of a house finally
settled his fate for him.

A large, quiet, unambitious, but well-brought-up and industrious young
man was Hamilton Morris, and he had not the least idea of the good in
store for him for several months after Mrs. Kinzer decided to marry him
to her daughter Miranda; but all was soon settled. Dab, of course, had
nothing to do with the wedding arrangements, and Ham's share was
somewhat contracted. Not but what he was at the Kinzer house a good
deal; nor did any of the other girls tell Miranda how very much he was
in the way. He could talk, however; and one morning, about a fortnight
before the day appointed, he said to Miranda and her mother,--

"We can't have so very much of a wedding: your house is so small, and
you've chocked it so full of furniture. Right down nice furniture it is
too; but there's so much of it, I'm afraid the minister'll have to stand
out in the front yard."

"The house'll do for this time," replied Mrs. Kinzer. "There'll be room
enough for everybody. What puzzles me is Dab."

"What about Dab?" asked Ham.

"Can't find a thing to fit him," said Dab's mother. "Seems as if he were
all odd sizes, from head to foot."

"Fit him?" exclaimed Ham. "Oh, you mean ready-made goods! Of course you
can't. He'll have to be measured by a tailor, and have his new suit
built for him."

"Such extravagance!" emphatically remarked Mrs. Kinzer.

"Not for rich people like you, and for a wedding," replied Ham; "and
Dab's a growing boy. Where is he now? I'm going to the village, and I'll
take him right along with me."

There seemed to be no help for it; but that was the first point relating
to the wedding, concerning which Ham Morris was permitted to have
exactly his own way. His success made Dab Kinzer a fast friend of his
for life, and that was something. There was also something new and
wonderful to Dabney himself, in walking into a tailor's shop, picking
out cloth to please himself, and being so carefully measured all over.
He stretched and stretched himself in all directions, to make sure
nothing should turn out too small. At the end of it all, Ham said to
him,--

"Now, Dab, my boy, this suit is to be a present from me to you, on
Miranda's account."

Dab colored and hesitated for a moment: but it seemed all right, he
thought; and so he came frankly out with,--

"Thank you, Ham. You always was a prime good fellow. I'll do as much for
you some day. Tell you what I'll do, then: I'll have another suit made
right away, of this other cloth, and have the bill for that one sent to
our folks."

"Do it!" exclaimed Ham. "Do it! You've your mother's orders for that.
She's nothing to do with my gift."

"Splendid!" almost shouted Dab. "Oh, but don't I hope they'll fit!"

"Vit," said the tailor: "vill zay vit? I dell you zay vit you like a
knife. You vait und zee."

Dab failed to get a very clear idea of what the fit would be, but it
made him almost hold his breath to think of it.

After the triumphant visit to the tailor, there was still a necessity
for a call upon the shoemaker, and that was a matter of no small
importance. Dab's feet had always been a mystery and a trial to him. If
his memory contained one record darker than another, it was the endless
history of his misadventures with boots and shoes. He and leather had
been at war from the day he left his creeping-clothes until now. But now
he was promised a pair of shoes that would be sure to fit.

So the question of Dab's personal appearance at the wedding was all
arranged between him and Ham; and Miranda smiled more sweetly than ever
before upon the latter, after she had heard her usually silent brother
break out so enthusiastically about him as he did that evening.

It was a good thing for that wedding, that it took place in fine summer
weather; for neither kith, kin, nor acquaintances had been slighted in
the invitations, and the Kinzers were one of the "oldest families."

To have gathered them all under the roof of that house, without either
stretching it out wider or boiling the guests down, would have been out
of the question; and so the majority, with Dabney in his new clothes to
keep them countenance, stood out in the cool shade of the grand old
trees during the ceremony, which was performed near the open door; and
were afterwards served with the refreshments in a style which spoke
volumes for Mrs. Kinzer's good management, as well as for her
hospitality.

The only drawback to Dab's happiness that day was that his acquaintances
hardly seemed to know him. He had had almost the same trouble with
himself, when he looked in the glass that morning.

Ordinarily, his wrists were several inches through his coat-sleeves, and
his ankles made a perpetual show of his stockings. His neck, too, seemed
to be holding his head as far as possible from his coat-collar, and his
buttons had no favors to ask of his button-holes.

Now, even as the tailor had promised, he had received his "first fit."
He seemed to himself, to tell the truth, to be covered up in a prodigal
waste of new cloth. Would he ever, ever, grow too big for such a suit of
clothes as that? It was a very painful thought, and he did his best to
put it away from him.

Still, it was a little hard to have a young lady, whom he had known
since before she began to walk, remark to him,--

"Excuse me, sir, but can you tell me if Mr. Dabney Kinzer is here?"

"No, Jenny Walters," sharply responded Dab, "he isn't here."

"Why, Dabney!" exclaimed the pretty Jenny. "Is that you? I declare, you
have scared me out of a year's growth!"

"I wish you'd scare me, then," said Dab. "Then my clothes would stay
fitted."

Every thing had been so well arranged beforehand, thanks to Mrs. Kinzer,
that the wedding had no chance at all except to go off well. Ham Morris
was rejoiced to find how entirely he was relieved of every
responsibility.

"Don't worry about your house," the widow said to him, the night before
the wedding. "We'll go over there, as soon as you and Miranda get away,
and it'll be all ready for you by the time you get back."

"All right," said Ham. "I'll be glad to have you take the old place in
hand. I've only tried to live in a corner of it. You don't know how much
room there is. I don't, I must say."

Dabney had longed to ask her if she meant to have it moved over to the
Kinzer side of the north fence, but he had doubts as to the propriety of
it; and just then the boy came in from the tailor's with his bundle of
new clothes.





CHAPTER II.

DAB'S OLD CLOTHES GET A NEW BOY TO FIT.


Hamilton Morris was a very promising young man, of some thirty summers.
He had been an "orphan" for a dozen years; and the wonder was that he
should so long have lived alone in the big, square-built house his
father left him. At all events, Miranda Kinzer was just the wife for
him.

Miranda's mother had seen that at a glance, the moment her mind was
settled about the house. As to that and his great, spreading,
half-cultivated farm, all either of them needed was ready money and
management.

These were blessings Ham was now made reasonably sure of, on his return
from his wedding-trip, and he was likely to appreciate them.

As for Dabney Kinzer, he was in no respect overcome by the novelty and
excitement of the wedding-day. All the rest of it, after the departure
of Ham Morris and the bride, he devoted himself to such duties as were
assigned him, with a new and grand idea steadily taking shape in his
mind. He felt as if his brains too, like his body, were growing. Some of
his mother's older and more intimate friends remained with her all day,
probably to comfort her for the loss of Miranda; and two or three of
them, Dab knew, would stay to tea, so that his services would be in
demand to see them safely home.

All day long, moreover, Samantha and Keziah and Pamela seemed to find
themselves wonderfully busy, one way and another, so that they paid even
less attention than usual to any of the ins and outs of their brother.

Dabney was therefore able, with little difficulty, to take for himself
whatever of odd time he might require for putting his new idea into
execution.

Mrs. Kinzer herself noticed the rare good sense with which her son
hurried through with his dinner, and slipped away, leaving her in
undisturbed possession of the table and her lady guests, and neither she
nor either of the girls had a thought of following him.

If they had done so, they might have seen him draw a good-sized bundle
out from under the lilac-thicket in the back yard, and hurry down
through the garden.

A few moments more, and Dabney had appeared on the fence of the old
cross-road leading down to the shore. There he sat, eying one passer-by
after another, till he suddenly sprang from his perch, exclaiming,--

"That's just the chap! Why, they'll fit him, and that's more'n they ever
did for me."

Dab would probably have had to search along the coast for miles before
he could have found a human being better suited to his present
charitable purposes than the boy who now came so lazily down the road.

There was no doubt about his color, or that he was all over of about the
same shade of black. His old tow trowsers and calico shirt revealed the
shining fact in too many places to leave room for a question, and shoes
he had none.

"Dick," said Dabney, "was you ever married?"

"Married!" exclaimed Dick, with a peal of very musical laughter, "is I
married? No. Is you?"

"No," replied Dabney; "but I was very near it, this morning."

"Dat so?" asked Dick, with another show of his white teeth. "Done ye
good, den; nebber seen ye I look so nice afore."

"You'd look nicer'n I do if you were only dressed up," said Dab. "Just
you put on these."

"Golly!" exclaimed the black boy. But he seized the bundle Dab threw
him, and he had it open in a twinkling.

"Any t'ing in de pockets?" he asked.

"Guess not," said Dab; "but there's lots of room."

"Say dar was," exclaimed Dick. "But won't dese t'ings be warm?"

It was quite likely; for the day was not a cool one, and Dick never
seemed to think of getting off what he had on, before getting into his
unexpected present. Coat, vest, and trousers, they were all pulled on
with more quickness than Dab had ever seen the young African display
before.

"I's much obleeged to ye, Mr. Kinzer," said Dick very proudly, as he
strutted across the road. "On'y I dasn't go back fru de village."

"What'll you do, then?" asked Dab.

"S'pose I'd better go a-fishin'," said Dick. "Will de fish bite?"

"Oh! the clothes won't make any odds to them," said Dabney. "I must go
back to the house."

And so he did: while Dick, on whom the cast-off garments of his white
friend were really a pretty good fit, marched on down the road, feeling
grander than he ever had before in all his life.

"That'll be a good thing to tell Ham Morris, when he and Miranda get
home again," muttered Dab, as he re-entered the house.

Late that evening, when Dabney returned from his final duties as escort
to his mother's guests, she rewarded him with more than he could
remember ever receiving of motherly commendation.

"I've been really quite proud of you, Dabney," she said, as she laid her
plump hand on the collar of his new coat, and kissed him. "You've
behaved like a perfect little gentleman."

"Only, mother," exclaimed Keziah, "he spent too much of his time with
that sharp-tongued little Jenny Walters."

"Never mind, Kezi," said Dab: "she didn't know who I was till I told
her. I'm going to wear a label with my name on it when I go over to the
village to-morrow."

"And then you'll put on your other suit in the morning," said Mrs.
Kinzer. "You must keep this for Sundays and great occasions."

"Any more weddings coming, right away?" said Dab, with a sharp glance
around upon what remained of the family; but the girls were all very
busy just then, with their books and their sewing, and he did not get
any direct reply. Even his mother walked away after something she had
left in the dining-room.

When the next morning came, Dabney Kinzer was a more than usually early
riser, for he felt that he had waked up to a very important day.

"Dabney," exclaimed his mother, when he came in to breakfast, "did I not
tell you to put on your other suit?"

"So I have, mother," replied Dab: this is my other suit."

"That?" exclaimed Mrs. Kinzer.

"So it is!" cried Keziah.

"So it isn't," added Samantha. "Mother, that is not what he had on
yesterday."

"He's been trading again," mildly suggested Pamela.

"Dabney," said Mrs. Kinzer, "what does this mean?"

"Mean!" replied Dabney. "Why, these are the clothes you told me to buy.
The lot I wore yesterday were a present from Ham Morris. He's a splendid
fellow. I'm glad he got the best of the girls."

That was a bad thing for Dabney to say just then, for it was vigorously
resented by the remaining three. As soon as quiet was restored, however,
Mrs. Kinzer remarked,--

"I think Hamilton should have consulted me about it, but it's too late
now. Anyhow, you may go and put on your other clothes."

"My wedding suit?" asked Dab.

"No, indeed! I mean your old ones,--those you took off night before
last."

"Dunno where they are," slowly responded Dab.

"Don't know where they are?" responded a chorus of four voices.

"No," said Dab. "Bill Lee's black boy had em on all yesterday afternoon,
and I reckon he's gone a-fishing again to-day. They fit him a good sight
better 'n they ever did me."

If Dabney had expected a storm to come from his mother's end of the
table, he was pleasantly mistaken; and his sisters had it all to
themselves for a moment. Then, with an admiring glance at her son, the
thoughtful matron remarked,--

"Just like his father, for all the world! It's no use, girls: Dabney's a
growing boy in more ways than one. Dabney, I shall want you to go over
to the Morris house with me after breakfast. Then you may hitch up the
ponies, and we'll do some errands around the village."

Dab Kinzer's sisters looked at one another in blank astonishment, and
Samantha would have left the table if she had only finished her
breakfast.

Pamela, as being nearest to Dab in age and sympathy, gave a very
admiring look at her brother's second "good fit," and said nothing.

Even Keziah finally admitted, in her own mind, that such a change in
Dabney's appearance might have its advantages. But Samantha inwardly
declared war.

The young hero himself was hardly used to that second suit, as yet, and
felt any thing but easy in it.

"I wonder," he said to himself, "what Jenny Walters would say to me now.
Wonder if she'd know me."

Not a doubt of it. But after he had finished his breakfast, and gone
out, his mother remarked,--

"It's really all right, girls. I almost fear I have been neglecting
Dabney. He isn't a little boy any more."

"He isn't a man yet," exclaimed Samantha. "And he talks slang
dreadfully."

"But then, he does grow so!" remarked Keziah.

"Mother," said Pamela, "couldn't you get Dab to give Dick Lee the slang,
along with the old clothes?"

"We'll see about it," replied Mrs. Kinzer.

It was very clear that Dabney's mother had begun to take in a new idea
about her son.

It was not the least bit in the world unpleasant to find out that he was
"growing in more ways than one," and it was quite likely that she had
indeed kept him too long in roundabouts.

At all events, his great idea had been worked out into a triumphant
success; and, before the evening was over, Pamela replied to a remark of
Samantha's,--

"I don't care. He's taller than I am, and I'd ever so much rather have a
frock-coat walk beside me to meeting."





CHAPTER III.

A MEMBER OF ONE OF THE OLDEST FAMILIES MEETS A YOUNG GENTLEMAN FROM THE
CITY.


Dick Lee had been more than half right about the village being a
dangerous place for him, with such an unusual amount of clothing over
his ordinary uniform.

The very dogs, every one of whom was an old acquaintance, barked at him
on his way home that night; and, proud as were his ebony father and
mother of the improvement in their son's appearance, they yielded to his
earnest entreaties, first, that he might wear his present all the next
day, and, second, that he might betake himself to the "bay" early in the
morning, and so keep out of sight "till he got used to it."

"On'y, you jist mind wot yer about!" said his mother, "and see't you
keep dem clo'es from gettin' wet. I jist can't 'foard to hab dem spiled
right away."

The fault with Dab Kinzer's old suit, after all, had lain mainly in its
size rather than its materials; for Mrs. Kinzer was too good a manager
to be really stingy.

Dick succeeded in reaching the boat-landing without falling in with any
one who seemed disposed to laugh at him; but there, right on the wharf,
was a white boy of about his own age, and he felt a good deal like
backing out.

"Nebber seen him afore, either," said Dick to himself. "Den I guess I
ain't afeard ob him."

The stranger was a somewhat short and thick-set, but bright and
active-looking boy, with a pair of very keen, greenish-gray eyes. But,
after all, the first word he spoke to poor Dick was,--

"Hullo, clothes! Where are you going with all that boy?"

"I knowed it, I knowed it!" groaned Dick. But he answered as sharply as
he knew how,--

"I's goin' a-fishin'. Any ob youah business?"--

"Where'd you learn how to fish?" the stranger asked, "Down South? Didn't
know they had any there."

"Nebbah was down Souf," was the somewhat surly reply.

"Father run away, did he?"

"He nebber was down dar, nudder."

"Nor his father?"

"'Tain't no business ob yourn," said Dick, "but we's allers lived right
heah, on dis bay."

"Guess not," said the white boy knowingly. Dick was right, nevertheless;
for his people had been slaves among the very earliest Dutch settlers,
and had never "lived South" at all. He was now busily getting one of the
boats ready to shove off; but his white tormentor went at him again,
with,--

"Well, then, if you've lived round here as long as that, you must know
everybody."

"Reckon I do."

"Are there any nice fellows around here? Any like me?"

"De nicest young gen'lman round dis bay," replied Dick, "is Mr. Dab
Kinzer. But he ain't like you. Not nuff to hurt him."

"Dab Kinzer," exclaimed the stranger. "Where'd he get his name?"

"In de bay, I 'spect," said Dick, as he shoved his boat off; "caught 'im
wid a hook."

"Anyhow," said the strange boy to himself, "that's probably the kind of
fellow my father would wish me to associate with. Only it's likely he's
very ignorant."

And he walked away towards the village, with the air of a man who had
forgotten more than the rest of his race were ever likely to find out.

At all events, Dick Lee had managed to say a good word for his
benefactor, little as he could guess what might be the consequences.

Meantime Dab Kinzer, when he went out from breakfast, had strolled away
to the north fence, for a good look at the house which was thenceforth
to be the home of his favorite sister. He had seen it before, every day
since he could remember; but it seemed to have a fresh and almost
mournful interest for him just now.

"Hullo!" he exclaimed, as he leaned against the fence. "Putting up
ladders? Oh, yes, I see! That's old Tommy McGrew, the house-painter.
Well, Ham's house needs a new coat as badly as I did. Sure it'll fit
too. Only it ain't used to it, any more'n I am."

"Dabney!"

It was his mother's voice, and Dab felt like "minding" very promptly
that morning.

"Dabney, my boy, come here to the gate."

"Ham Morris is having his house painted," he remarked, as he walked
towards his mother.

"Is he?" she said. "We'll go and see about it."

The gate between the two "side-yards" had been there from time
immemorial, and-they walked right through. As they drew nearer the
Morris house, however, Dabney discovered that carpenters as well as
painters were plying their trade in and about the old homestead. There
were window-sashes piled here, and blinds there; a new door or so, ready
for use, a great stack of bundles of shingles, some barrels of lime, and
a heap of sand. Whichever way Dab looked, there were visible signs of an
approaching renovation.

"Going to fix it all over," he remarked.

"Yes," replied his mother: "it'll be as good as new. It was well built,
and will bear mending. I couldn't say that of some of the shackling
things they've been putting up around the village."

When they entered the house it became more and more evident that the
"shabby" days of the Morris mansion were numbered. There were men at
work in almost every room.

Ham's wedding-trip would surely give plenty of time, at that rate, for
an immense amount of "mending;" and his house would be, as the widow had
promised, "all ready for him on his return."

There was nothing wonderful to Dabney in the idea of his mother going
about and inspecting work, and finding fault, and giving directions. He
had never seen her do any thing else, and he had the greatest confidence
in her knowledge and ability. He noticed too, before they left the
place, that the customary farm-work was going ahead with even more
regularity and energy than if the owner himself had been present.

"Ham's farm'll look something like ours, one of these days," he said,
"if things go on at this rate."

"I mean it shall," replied his mother, a little sharply. "Now go and get
out the ponies, and we'll do the rest of our errands."

Dab started for the barn at a half trot; for, if there was one thing he
liked better than another, it was to have the reins in his hands and
that pair of ponies before him. Time had been when Mrs. Kinzer did her
own driving, and only permitted Dab to "hold the horses" while she made
her calls, business or otherwise; but that day had been safely put away
among Dab's unpleasant memories for a good while.

It was but a few minutes before the neat buggy held the widow and her
son, and the ponies were taking them briskly down the road towards the
village.

It they had only known it, at that very moment Ham Morris and his
blooming bride were setting out for a drive, at the fashionable
watering-place where they had made their first stop in their
wedding-tour.

"Ham," said Miranda, "it seems to me as if we were a thousand miles from
home."

"We shall be a good deal farther before we get any nearer," said Ham.

"But I wonder what they are doing there, this morning,--mother, and the
girls, and dear little Dabney."

"Little Dabney!" exclaimed Ham, with a queer sort of laugh on his face.
"Why, Miranda, do you think Dab is a baby yet?"

"No, not a baby, but"--

"Well, he's a boy, that's a fact; but he'll be as tall as I am in three
years."

"Will he? Do you think so? But will he ever get fat?"

"Not till after he gets his full length," said Ham. "We must have him at
our house a good deal, after we get home, and feed him up. I've taken a
liking to Dab."

"Feed him up!" said Miranda. "Do you think we starve him?"

"No, I suppose not; but how many meals a day does he get?"

"Three, of course, like the rest of us; and he never misses one of
them."

"Exactly," said Ham: "I shouldn't suppose he would. I never miss a meal,
myself, if I can help it. But don't you think three meals a day is
rather short allowance for a boy like Dab?"

Miranda thought a moment, but then she answered positively,--

"No, I don't. Not if he does as well at each one of them as Dabney is
sure to."

"Well," said Ham, "that was in his old clothes, that were too tight for
him. Now he's got a good loose fit, with plenty of room, you don't know
how much more he may need. No, Miranda, I'm going to have an eye on
Dab."

"You're a dear good fellow, anyway," said Miranda, with one of her very
best smiles, "and I hope mother'll have the house all ready for us when
we get back."

"She will," replied Ham, after a moment spent in somewhat thoughtful
silence. "Do you know, Miranda, I shall hardly be easy about that till I
see what she's done with it? It was in a dreadfully baggy condition."





CHAPTER IV.

TWO BOYS, ONE PIG, AND AN UNFORTUNATE RAILWAY-TRAIN.


"That's him!"

Dab was standing by his ponies, in front of a store in the village. His
mother was making some purchases in the store, and Dab was thinking how
the Morris house would look when it was finished; and it was at him the
old farmer was pointing in answer to a question which had just been
asked him.

The questioner was the sharp-eyed boy who had bothered poor Dick Lee
that morning, and he was now evidently making a sort of "study" of Dab
Kinzer.

At that moment, however, a young lady--quite young--came tripping along
the sidewalk, and was stopped by Dabney, with,--

"There, Jenny Walters! If I didn't forget my label!"

"Why, Dabney! Is that you? How you startled me! Forgot your label?"

"Yes," said Dab; "I'm in another new suit today; and I meant to have a
label on the collar, with my name on it. You'd have known me then."

"But I know you now," exclaimed Jenny. "Why, I saw you yesterday."

"Yes, and I told you it was me. Can you read, Jenny?"

"Why, what a question!"

"Because, if you can't, it won't do me any good to wear a label."

"Dabney Kinzer!" exclaimed Jenny, "there's an other thing you ought to
get."

"What's that?"

"Some good manners," said the little lady snappishly. "Think of your
stopping me in the street to tell me I can't read!"

"Then you mustn't forget me so quick," said Dab. "If you meet my old
clothes anywhere you must call them Dick Lee. They've had a change of
name."

"So he's in them, is he? I don't doubt they look better than they ever
did before."

Jenny walked away at once, at the end of that remark, holding her head
pretty high, and leaving her old playmate feeling as if he had had a
little the worst of it. That was often the way with people who stopped
to talk with Jenny Walters, and she was not as much of a favorite as she
otherwise might have been.

Dabney looked after her with his mouth puckered into shape for a
whistle; but she had hardly disappeared before he found himself
confronted by the strange young gentleman.

"Is your name Dabney Kinzer?"

"Yes, I believe so."

"Well, I'm Mr. Ford Foster, from New York."

"Come over here to buy goods?" suggested Dabney. "Or to get something to
eat?"

Ford Foster was apparently of about Dab's age, but a full head less in
height, so that there was more point in the question than there seemed
to be; but he treated it as not worthy of notice, and asked,--

"Do you know of a house to let anywhere about here?"

"House to let?" suddenly exclaimed the voice of Mrs. Kinzer, behind him,
much to Dab's surprise. "Are you asking about a house? Whom for?"

Ford Foster had been quite ready to "chaff" Dick Lee, and he would not
have hesitated about trying a like experiment upon Mr. Dabney Kinzer;
but he knew enough to speak respectfully to the portly and business-like
lady before him now.

"Yes, madam," he said, with a ceremonious bow: "I wish to report to my
father that I have found an acceptable house in this vicinity."

"You do!"

Mrs. Kinzer was reading the young gentleman through and through, as she
spoke; but she followed her exclamation with a dozen questions, all of
which he answered with a good deal of clearness and intelligence. She
wound up at last, with,--

"Go right home, then, and tell your father the only good house to let in
this neighborhood will be ready for him next week. I'll show it to him
when he comes, but he'd better see me at once. Dabney, jump into the
buggy. I'm in a hurry."

The ponies were in motion, up the street, before Ford Foster quite
recovered from the shock of being told to "go right home."

"A very remarkable woman," he muttered, as he turned away, "and she did
not tell me a word about the house, after all. I must make some more
inquiries. The boy is actually well dressed, for a place like this."

"Mother," said Dabney, as they drove along, "you wouldn't let 'em have
Ham's house, would you?"

"No, indeed. But I don't mean to have our own stand empty."

With that reply a great deal of light broke in upon Dab's mind.

"That's it, is it?" he said to himself, as he touched up the ponies.
"Well, there'll be room enough for all of us there, and no mistake. But
what'll Ham say?"

That was a question which he could safely leave to the very responsible
lady beside him; and she found "errands" enough for him, during the
remainder of that forenoon, to keep him from worrying his mind about any
thing else.

As for Ford Foster, it was not until late on the following day that he
completed all his "inquiries" to his satisfaction. He took the afternoon
train for the city, almost convinced that, much as he undoubtedly knew
before he came, he had actually acquired a good deal more knowledge
which might be of some value.

Ford was almost the only passenger in the car he had selected. Trains
going towards the city were apt to be thinly peopled at that time of
day; but the empty cars had to be taken along all the same, for the
benefit of the crowds who would be coming out later in the afternoon and
in the evening. The railway-company would have made more money with full
loads both ways, but it was well they did not have a full load on that
precise train.

Ford had turned over the seat in front of him, and stretched himself out
with his feet on it. It was almost like lying down, for a boy of his
length; and it was the very best position he could possibly have taken
if he had known what was coming.

Known what was coming?

Yes: there was a pig coming.

That was all; but it was quite enough, considering what that pig was
about to do. He was going where he chose, just then; and not only had he
chosen to walk upon the railroad-track, but he had also made up his mind
not to turn out for that locomotive and its train of cars.

He saw it, of course, for he was looking straight at it; and the
engineer saw him, but it would have been well for the pig if he had been
discovered a few seconds earlier.

"What a whistle!" exclaimed Ford Foster at that moment. "It sounds more
like the squeal of an iron pig than any thing else. I"--

But at that instant there came to him a great jolt and a shock; and Ford
found himself tumbled all in a heap, on the seat where his feet had
been. Then came bounce after bounce, and the sound of breaking glass,
and then a crash.

"Off the track," shouted Ford, as he sprang to his feet. "I wouldn't
have missed it for any thing. I do hope, though, there hasn't anybody
been killed."

In the tremendous excitement of the moment he could hardly have told how
he got out of that car; but it did not seem ten seconds before he was
standing beside the engineer and conductor of the train, looking at the
battered engine, as it lay upon its side in a deep ditch. The
baggage-car, just behind it, was broken all to pieces, but the
passenger-cars did not seem to have suffered very much; and nobody was
badly hurt, as the engineer and fireman had jumped off in time.

There had been very little left of the pig; but the conductor and the
rest seemed much disposed to say unkind things about him, and about his
owner, and about all the other pigs they could think of.

"This train'll never get in on time," said Ford to the conductor, a
little later. "How'll I get to the city?"

The railway man was not in the best of humors; and he answered, a little
groutily, "Well, young man, I don't suppose the city could get along
without you over night. The junction with the main road is only two
miles ahead, and if you're a good walker you may catch a train there."

Some of the other passengers, none of whom were much more than "badly
shaken up," or down, had made the same discovery; and in a few minutes
more there was a long, straggling procession of uncomfortable people,
marching by the side of the railway-track, in the hot sun. They were
nearly all of them making unkind remarks about pigs, and the faculty
they had of not getting out of the way.

The conductor was right, however; and nearly all of them managed to walk
the two miles to the junction in time to go in on the other train.

Ford Foster was among the first to arrive, and he was likely to reach
home in season, in spite of the pig and his outrageous conduct.

As for his danger, he had hardly thought of that; and he again and again
declared to himself that he would not have missed so important an
adventure for any thing he could think of. It almost sounded once or
twice as if he took to himself no small amount of personal credit, not
to say glory, for having been in so remarkable an accident, and come out
of it so well.

Ford's return, when he should make it, was to take him to a great,
pompous, stylish, crowded "up-town boarding-house," in one of the
fashionable streets of the great city. There was no wonder at all that
wise people should wish to get out of such a place in such hot weather.
Still it was the sort of home Ford Foster had been acquainted with all
his life; and it was partly owing to that, that he had become so
prematurely "knowing."

He knew too much, in fact, and was only too well aware of it. He had
filled his head with an unlimited stock of boarding-house information,
as well as with a firm persuasion that there was little more to be
had,--unless, indeed, it might be scraps of such outside knowledge as he
had now been picking up over on Long Island.

In one of the large "parlor-chambers" of the boarding-house, at about
eight o'clock that evening, a middle-aged gentleman and lady, with a
fair, sweet-faced girl of about nineteen, were sitting near an open
window, very much as if they were waiting for somebody. Such a kind,
motherly lady! She was one of those whom no one can help liking, after
seeing her smile once, or hearing her speak.

Ford Foster himself could not have put in words what he thought about
his mother. And yet he had no difficulty whatever in expressing his
respect for his father, or his unbounded admiration for his pretty
sister Annie.

"O husband!" exclaimed Mrs. Foster, "are you sure none of them were
injured?"

"So the telegraphic report said; not a bone broken of anybody, but the
pig that got in the way."

"How I wish he would come!" groaned Annie. "Have you any idea, father,
how Ford could get to the city?"

"Not clearly, my dear," said her father; "but you can trust Ford not to
miss any opportunity. He's just the boy to look out for himself in an
emergency."

Ford Foster's father took very strongly after the son in whose presence
of mind and ability he expressed so much confidence. He had just such a
square, active, bustling sort of body, several sizes larger; with just
such keen, penetrating, greenish-gray eyes. Anybody would have picked
him out at a glance for a lawyer, and a good one.

That was exactly what he was; and, if anybody had become acquainted with
either son or father, there would have been no difficulty afterward in
identifying the other.

It required a good deal more than the telegraphic report of the
accident, or even her husband's assurances, to relieve the motherly
anxiety of good Mrs. Foster, or even to drive away the shadows from the
face of Annie.

No doubt, if Ford himself had known the state of affairs in his family
circle, they would have been relieved earlier; for, even while they were
talking about him, he had reached the end of his adventures, and was
already in the house. It had not so much as occurred to him that his
mother would hear of the disaster to the pig and the railway-train until
he himself should tell her; and so he had made sure of his supper down
stairs before reporting his arrival. He might not have done it perhaps;
but he had entered the house by the lower way, through the area door,
and that of the dining-room had stood temptingly open, with some very
eatable things spread out upon the table.

That had been too much for Ford, after his car-ride, and his smash-up,
and his long walk.

Now, at last, up he came, three stairs at a time, brimful of new and
wonderful experiences, to be more than a little astonished by the manner
and enthusiasm of his welcome.

"Why, mother," he exclaimed, when he got a chance for a word, "you and
Annie couldn't have said much more if I'd been the pig himself!"

"The pig!" said Annie.

"Yes, the pig that stopped us. He and the engine won't go home to their
families to-night."

"Don't make fun of it, Ford," said his mother gently. "It's too serious
a matter."

Just then his father broke in, almost impatiently, with,--

"Well, Ford, my boy, have you done your errand? or shall I have to see
about it myself? You've been gone two days."

"Thirty-seven hours and a half, father," replied Ford, taking out his
watch. "I've kept an exact account of my expenses. We've saved the cost
of advertising."

"And spent it on railroading," said his father, with a laugh.

"But, Ford," asked Annie, "did you find a house?--a good one?"

"Yes," added Mrs. Foster: "now I'm sure you're safe, I do want to hear
about the house."

"It's all right, mother," said Ford confidently. "The very house you
told me to hunt for. Neither too large nor too small. I've only seen the
outside of it, but every thing about it is in apple-pie order."

There were plenty of questions to answer now, but

Ford was every way equal to the occasion. Some of his answers might have
made Mrs. Kinzer herself open her eyes, for the material for them had
been obtained from her own neighbors.

Ford's report, in fact, compelled his father to look at him with an
expression of face which very plainly meant,--

"That's my boy. He resembles me. I was just like him, at his age. He'll
be just like me, at mine."

There was excellent reason, beyond question, to approve of the manner in
which the young gentleman had performed his errand in the country; and
Mr. Foster promptly decided to go over in a day or two, and see what
sort of an arrangement could be made with Mrs. Kinzer.





CHAPTER V.

NEW NEIGHBORS, AND GETTING SETTLED.


The week which followed the wedding-day was an important one.

The improvements on the Morris house were pushed along in a way that
astonished everybody. Every day that passed, and with every dollar's
worth of work that was done, the good points of the long-neglected old
mansion came out stronger and stronger.

The plans of Mrs. Kinzer had been a good while in getting ready, and she
knew exactly what was best to be done at every hole and corner.

Within a few days after Ford's trip of investigation, he and his father
came over from the city; and Mr. Foster speedily came to a perfect
understanding with Dabney's mother.

"A very business-like, common-sense sort of a woman," the lawyer
remarked to his son. "But what a great, dangling, overgrown piece of a
boy that is! Still, he seems intelligent, and you may find him good
company."

"No doubt of it," said Ford. "I may be useful to him too. He looks as if
he could learn if he only had a fair chance."

"I should say so," responded Mr. Foster. "We must not expect too much of
fellows brought up away out here, as he has been."

Ford gravely assented, and they went back to report their success to
Mrs. Foster and Annie.

There was a great surprise in store, consequently, for the people of the
village. Early in the following week it was rumored from house to
house,--

"The Kinzers are all a-movin' over to Ham Morris's."

And then, before the public mind had become sufficiently settled to
inquire into the matter, the rumor changed itself into a piece of
positive news:--

"The widder Kinzer's moved over into Ham's house, bag and baggage."

So it was; although the carpenters and painters and glaziers were still
at work, and the piles of Kinzer furniture had to be stored around as
best could be. Some part of them had even to be locked up over night in
one of the barns.

The Kinzers, for generations, had been a trifle weak about furniture;
and that was one of the reasons why there had been so little room for
human beings in their house. The little parlor, indeed, had been filled
until it put one in mind of a small furniture-store, with not room
enough to show the stock on hand; and some of the other parts of the
house required knowledge and care to walk about in them. It was bad for
a small house, truly, but not so much so when the same articles were
given a fair chance to spread themselves.

It was a treat to Dab to watch while the new carpets were put down, and
see how much more at home and comfortable all that furniture looked,
after it was moved into its new quarters. He remarked to Keziah,--

"It won't be of any use for anybody to try to sit on that sofa and play
the piano. They'll have to get up and come over."

Mrs. Kinzer took good care that the house she left should speak well of
her to the eyes of Mrs. Foster, when that lady came to superintend the
arrival of her own household goods.

The character of these, by the way, at once convinced the village
gossips that "lawyer Foster must be a good deal forehanded in money
matters." And so he was, even more so than his furniture indicated.

Ford had a wonderful deal to do with the settlement of his family in
their new home; and it was not until nearly the close of the week that
he found time for more than an occasional glance over the north fence,
although he and Dab had several times exchanged a word or two when they
met each other on the road.

"Take the two farms together," his father had said to him, "and they
make a really fine estate. I learn, too, that the Kinzers have other
property. Your young acquaintance is likely to have a very good start in
the world."

Ford had found out very nearly as much as that on his own account; but
he had long since learned the uselessness of trying to teach his father
any thing, however well he might succeed with ordinary people, and so he
said nothing.

"Dabney," said Mrs. Kinzer, that Friday evening, "you've been a great
help all the week. Suppose you take the ponies to-morrow morning, and
ask young Foster out for a drive."

"Mother," exclaimed Samantha, "I shall want the ponies myself. I've some
calls to make, and some shopping. Dabney will have to drive."

"No, Sam," said Dabney: "if you go out with the ponies to-morrow, you'll
have my old clothes to drive you. I'll go and speak to them about it."

"What do you mean?" asked Samantha.

"I mean, with Dick Lee in them."

"That would be just as well," said Mrs. Kinzer. "The ponies are gentle
enough, and Dick drives well. He'll be glad enough to go."

"Dick Lee, indeed!" began Samantha.

"A fine boy," interrupted Dab. "And he's beginning to dress well. His
new clothes fit him beautifully. All he really needs is a shirt, and
I'll give him one. Mine are getting too small."

Samantha's fingers fidgeted a little with the tidy they were holding;
but Mrs. Kinzer said composedly,--

"Well, Dabney, I've been thinking about it. You ought not to be tied
down all the while. Suppose you take next week pretty much to yourself:
Samantha won't want the ponies every day. The other horses have all got
to work, or I'd let you have one of them."

Dabney got up, for want of a better answer, and walked over to where his
mother was sitting, and gave the thoughtful matron a good sounding kiss.

At the same time he could not help thinking,--

"This comes of Ham Morris and my new rig."

"There, Dabney, that'll do," said his mother; "but how'll you spend
Saturday?"

"Guess I'll take Ford Foster out in the bay, a-crabbing, if he'll go,"
replied Dabney. "I'll run over and ask him."

It was not too late, and he was out of the house before there was any
chance for further remarks from the girls.

"Now," he muttered, as he walked along, "I'll have to see old lawyer
Foster, and Mrs. Foster, and I don't know who all besides. I don't like
that."

Just as he came to the north fence, however, he was hailed by a clear,
wide-awake voice,--

"Dab Kinzer, is that you?"

"Guess so," said Dab: "is that you, Ford?"

"I was just going over to your house," said Ford.

"Well, so was I just coming over to see you. I've been too busy all the
week, but they've let up on me at last."

"I've got our family nearly settled," replied Ford; "and I thought I'd
ask if you wouldn't like to go out on the bay with me to-morrow. Teach
you to catch crabs."

Dabney drew a long, astonished sort of whistle; but he finished it
with,--

"That's about what I was thinking of. There's plenty of crabs, and I've
got a tip-top boat. We won't want a heavy one for just us two."

"All right, then. We'll begin on crabs, but some other day we'll go for
bigger fish. What are you going to do next week?"

"Got it all to myself," said Dab. "We can have all sorts of a good time.
We can have the ponies, too, when we want them."

"That's about as good as it knows how to be," responded the young
gentleman from the city. "I'd like to explore the country. You're going
to have a nice place of it, over there, before you get through. Only, if
I'd had the planning of that house, I'd have set it back farther. Too
much room all round it. Not enough trees either."

Dab came stoutly to the defence of not only that house, but of
Long-Island architecture generally, and was fairly overwhelmed, for the
first time in his life, by a flood of big words from a boy of his own
age.

He could have eaten up Ford Foster, if properly cooked. He felt sure of
that. But he was no match for him on the building question. On his way
back to his new home, however, after the discussion had lasted long
enough, he found himself inquiring,--

"That's all very nice, but what can he teach me about crabs? We'll see
about that to-morrow."

Beyond a doubt, the crab question was of special importance; but one of
far greater consequence to Dab Kinzer's future was undergoing
discussion, at that very hour, hundreds of miles away.

Quite a little knot of people there was, in a hotel parlor; and while
the blooming Miranda, now Mrs. Morris, was taking her share of talk very
well with the ladies, Ham was every bit as busy with a couple of elderly
gentlemen.

"It's just as I say, Mr. Morris," said one of the latter, with a
superfluous show of energy: "there's no better institution of its kind
in the country than Grantley Academy. I send my own boys there; and I've
just written about it to my brother-in-law, Foster, the New-York lawyer.
He'll have his boy there this fall. No better place in the country,
sir."

"But how about the expenses, Mr. Hart?" asked Ham.

"Fees are just what I told you, sir, a mere nothing. As for board, all I
pay for my boys is three dollars a week. All they want to eat, sir, and
good accommodations. Happy as larks, sir, all the time. Cheap, sir,
cheap."

If Ham Morris had the slightest idea of going to school at a New-England
academy, Miranda's place in the improved house was likely to wait for
her; for he had a look on his face of being very nearly convinced.

She did not seem at all disturbed, however; and probably she knew that
her husband was not taking up the school question on his own account.

Nevertheless, that was the reason why it might have been interesting for
Dab Kinzer, and even for his knowing neighbor, to have added themselves
to the company Ham and Miranda had fallen in with on their wedding-tour.

Both of the boys had a different kind of thinking on hand; and that
night Dab dreamed that a gigantic crab was trying to pull Ford Foster
out of the boat, while the latter calmly remarked to him,--

"There, my young friend, did you ever see anything just like that
before?"





CHAPTER VI.

CRABS, BOYS, AND A BOAT-WRECK.


That Saturday morning was a sad one for poor Dick Lee.

His mother, the previous night, carefully locked up his elegant apparel,
the gift of Mr. Dabney Kinzer. It was done after Dick was in bed; and,
when daylight came again, he found only his old clothes by the bedside.

It was a hard thing to bear, no doubt; but Dick had been a bad boy on
Friday. He had sold his fish instead of bringing them home, and then had
gone and squandered the money on a brilliant new red necktie.

"Dat's good 'nuff for me to wear to meetin'," said Mrs. Lee, when her
eyes fell upon the gorgeous bit of cheap silk. "Reckon it won't be
wasted on any good-for-nuffin boy. I'll show ye wot to do wid yer fish.
You' a-gettin' too mighty fine, anyhow."

Dick was disconsolate for a while; but his humility took the form of a
determination to go for crabs that day, mainly because his mother had
long since set her face against that tribe of animals.

"Dey's a wasteful, 'stravagant sort ob fish," remarked Mrs. Lee, in
frequent explanation of her dislike. "Dey's all clo'es and no body, like
some w'ite folks I know on. I don't mean de Kinzers. Dey's all got body
nuff."

And yet that inlet had a name and reputation of its own for crabs. There
was a wide reach of shallow water, inside the southerly point at the
mouth, where, over several hundred acres of muddy flats, the depth
varied from three and a half to eight feet, with the ebb and flow of the
tides. That was a sort of perpetual crab-pasture; and there it was that
Dick Lee determined to expend his energies that Saturday.

Very likely there would be other crabbers on the flats; but Dick was not
the boy to object to that, provided none of them should notice the
change in his raiment. At an early hour, therefore, Dab and Ford were
preceded by their young colored friend, they themselves waiting for
later breakfasts than Mrs. Lee was in the habit of preparing.

Dick's ill fortune did not leave him when he got out of sight of his
mother. It followed him down to the shore of the inlet, and compelled
him to give up, for that day, all idea of borrowing a respectable boat.

There were several, belonging to the neighbors, from among which Dick
was accustomed to take his pick, in return for errands run and other
services rendered to their owners; but on this particular morning not
one of them all was available. Some were fastened with ugly chains and
padlocks. Two were hauled away above even high-water mark, and so Dick
could not have got either of them into the water even if he had dared to
try; and as for the rest, as Dick said,--

"Guess dar owners must hab come and borrered 'em."

The consequence was, that the dark-skinned young fisherman was for once
compelled to put up with his own boat, or rather his father's.

The three wise men of Gotham were not much worse off when they went to
sea in a bowl than was Dick Lee in that rickety little old flat-bottomed
punt.

Did it leak?

Well, not so very much, with no heavier weight than Dick's; but there
was reason in his remark that,--

"Dis yer's a mean boat to frow down a fish in, when you cotch 'im. He's
done suah to git drownded."

Yes, and the crabs would get their feet wet, and so would Dick; but he
resigned himself to his circumstances, and pushed away. To tell the
truth, he had not been able to free himself from a lingering fear lest
his mother might come after him, before he could get afloat, with orders
for some duty or other on shore; and that would have been worse than
going to sea in the little old scow, a good deal.

"Reckon it's all right," said Dick as he shoved off. "It'd be an awful
risk to trus' dem nice clo'es in de ole boat, suah."

Nice clothes, nice boats, a good many other nice things, were as yet
beyond the reach of Dick Lee; but he was quite likely to catch as many
crabs as his more aristocratic neighbors.

As for Dabney Kinzer and his friend from the city, they were on their
way to the water-side, after all, at an hour which indicated either
smaller appetites than usual or greater speed at the breakfast-table.

"Plenty of boats, I should say," remarked Ford, as he surveyed the
little "landing" and its vicinity with the air of a man who had a few
fleets of his own. "All sorts. Any of 'em fast?"

"Not many," said Dab. "The row-boats, big and little, have to be built
so they will stand pretty rough water."

"How are the sail-boats?"

"Same thing. There's Ham Morris's yacht."

"That? Why, she's as big as any in the lot."

"Bigger; but she don't show it."

"Can't we take a cruise in her?" asked Ford.

"Any time. Ham lets me use her whenever I like. She's fast enough, but
she's built so she'll stand 'most any thing. Safe as a house if she's
handled right."

"Handled!"

Ford Foster's expression of face would have done honor to the Secretary
of the Navy, or the Chairman of the Naval Affairs Committee in Congress,
or any other perfect seaman, Noah included. It seemed to say,--

"As if any boat could be otherwise than well sailed, with me on board!"

Dabney, however, even while he was talking, had been hauling in from its
"float and grapnel," about ten yards out at low water, the very
stanch-looking little yawl-boat that called him owner. She was just such
a boat as Mrs. Kinzer would naturally have provided for her boy,--stout,
well-made, and sensible,--without any bad habits of upsetting or the
like. Not too large for Dabney to manage all alone, "The Jenny," as he
called her, and as her name was painted on the stern, was all the better
for having two on board, and had room in her then for more.

"The inlet's pretty narrow for a long reach through the marsh," said
Dabney, "and as crooked as a ram's horn. I'll steer, and you pull, till
we're out o' that, and then I'll take the oars."

"I might as well row out to the crab-grounds," said Ford, as he pitched
his coat forward, and took his seat at the oars. "All ready?"

"Ready," said Dab; and "The Jenny" glided gracefully away from the
landing with the starting-push he gave her.

Ford Foster had had oars in his hands before, but his experience had
been limited to a class of vessels different in some respects from the
one he was in now.

He was short of something, at all events. It may have been skill, or it
may have been legs or discretion; but, whatever was lacking, at the
third or fourth stroke the oar-blades went a little too deeply below the
smooth surface of the water. There was a vain tug, a little out of
"time;" and then there was a boy on the bottom of the boat, and a pair
of well-polished shoes lifted high in the air.

"You've got it," shouted Dabney.

"Got what?" exclaimed an all-but angry voice from down there between the
seats.

"Caught the first 'crab,'" replied Dabney: "that's what we call it. Can
you steer? Guess I'd better row."

"No, you won't," was the very resolute reply, as Ford regained his seat
and his oars. "I sha'n't catch any more crabs of that sort. I'm a little
out of practice, that's all."

"I should say you were, a little. Well, it won't hurt you. 'Tisn't much
of a pull."

Ford would have pulled it now if he had blistered all the skin off his
hands in doing so; and he did very creditable work for some minutes,
among the turns and windings of the narrow inlet.

"Here we are," shouted Dabney at last. "We are in the inlet yet, but it
widens out into the bay."

"That's the bay, out yonder?"

"Yes; and the island between that and the ocean's no better'n a mere bar
of sand."

"How d'you get past it?"

"Right across there, almost in a straight line. We'll run it next week
in Ham's yacht. Splendid weak-fishing right in the mouth of that inlet,
on the ocean side."

"Hurrah!" exclaimed Ford, "I'm in for that. Is the bay deep?"

"Not very," replied Dabney; "but it gets pretty rough sometimes."

Ford was getting pretty red in the face just then, with his unaccustomed
exercise; and his friend added,--

"You needn't pull so hard: we're almost there. Hullo! if there isn't
Dick Lee, in his dry-goods box. That boat'll drown him some day, and his
dad too. But just see him pull in crabs!"

Ford came near "catching" one more as he tried to turn around for the
look proposed, exclaiming,--

"Dab, let's get to work as quick as we can. They might go away."

"Might fly?"

"No; but don't they go and come?"

"Well, you go and drop the grapnel over the bows, and we'll see 'em come
in pretty quick."

The grapnel, or little anchor, was thrown over quickly enough; and the
two boys were in such an eager haste that they had hardly a word to say
to Dick, though he was now but a few rods away.

Now, it happened that when Ford and Dab came down to the water that
morning, each of them had brought a load. The former had only a neat
little japanned tin box, about as big as his head; and the latter,
besides his oars, carried a seemingly pretty heavy basket.

"Lots of lunch, I should say," had been Ford's mental comment; but he
had not thought it wise to ask questions.

"Plenty of lunch in that box," thought Dab at the same moment, but only
as a matter of course.

And they were both wrong. Lunch was the one thing they had both
forgotten.

But the box and the basket.

Ford Foster came out, of his own accord, with the secret of the box; for
he now took a little key out of his pocket, and unlocked it with an air
of--

"Look at this, will you?"

Dab Kinzer looked, and was very sure he had never before seen quite such
an assortment of brand-new fish-hooks, of many sorts and sizes, and of
fish-lines which looked as if they had thus far spent their lives on dry
land.

"Tip-top," he remarked. "I see a lot of things we can use one of these
days, but there isn't time to go over 'em now. Let's go for the crabs.
What made you bring your box along?"

"Oh!" replied Ford, "I left my rods at home, both of 'em. You don't
s'pose I'd go for crabs with a rod, do you? But you can take your pick
of hooks and lines."

"Crabs? Hooks and lines?"

"Why, yes. You don't mean to scoop 'em up in that landing-net, do you?"

Dab looked at his friend for a moment in blank amazement, and then the
truth broke upon him for the first time.

"Oh, I see! You never caught any crabs. Well, just you lock up your
jewellery-box, and I'll show you."

It was not easy for Dab to keep from laughing in Ford Foster's face; but
his mother had not given him so many lessons in good-breeding for
nothing, and Ford was permitted to close his ambitious "casket" without
any worse annoyance than his own wounded pride gave him.

But now came out the secret of the basket.

The cover was jerked off; and nothing was revealed but a varied
assortment of clams, large and small, but mostly of good size,--tough
old customers, that no amount of roasting or boiling would ever have
prepared for human eating.

"What are they for,--bait?"

"Yes, bait, weight, and all."

"How's that?"

Dabney's reply was to draw from his pocket a couple of long, strong
cords, bits of old fishing-lines. He cracked a couple of clams one
against the other; tied the fleshy part of one to each of the cords;
tied bits of shell on, a foot or so from the ends, for sinkers; handed
one cord to Ford, took the other himself, and laid the long-handled
scoop-net he had brought with him down between them, saying,--

"Now we're ready. Drop your clam down to the bottom, and it won't be
half a minute before you feel something pull on it. Then you draw it up
gently,--steady as you know how. You mustn't jerk the crab loose. You'll
get the knack of it in five minutes. It's all knack. There isn't any
thing else so stupid as a crab."

Ford watched carefully, and obeyed in silence the directions he had
received.

In a minute or so more the operation of the scoop-net was called for,
and the fun began.

"You got him!" exclaimed Ford in a loud whisper, as he saw Dab quickly
plunge the net into the water, and then shake out of it into the bottom
of the boat a great sprawling "blue-legged" crab. "He's a whopper!"

"He'll do for one."

"There's one on mine! I declare, he's let go!"

"You jerked the clam away from him. Sink it again. He's mad about it.
He'll take right hold again."

"He's pulling now, or it's another one."

"Let him pull. Lift him easy. Long as he thinks he's stealing something,
he'll hold on. There he comes,--see him?"

Ford saw the white flesh of the clam coming slowly up through the water,
and he held his breath; for just behind and below it was a sprawling
shadowy something that was tugging with all its might at that tough
shell-fish.

"It's an awful big one!"

"Shall I scoop him?"

"No, indeed: I want to scoop him myself. I saw how you did it."

Splash went the net, as the prize came nearer the surface; and Ford
began, somewhat excitedly, to shake it all over the bottom of the boat.

"Why, where's that crab? You don't mean to say he was quick enough to
dodge away?"

"Quick? well, no, that isn't just the trouble. I forgot to tell you to
scoop way under him. You hit him, square, and knocked him ever so far.
The water deceives your eyes. Drive the net under him quick, and then
lift. I've got one--now just you see how I scoop."

Ford felt dreadfully disappointed over the loss of his first crab, but
the rapidity with which he caught the "knack of it" after that was a
great credit to him. He did not miss the next one he pulled up.

It was great fun; but it had its slack moments, and in one of these Dab
suddenly exclaimed,--

"The young black rascal! If he hasn't gone and got a sheep's-head!"

"A sheep's-head?"

They were both staring at the old punt, where Dick Lee was apparently
enjoying the most extraordinary good fortune.

"Yes, that's it. That's why he beats us so badly. They're a sight
better'n clams, only you can't always get one. I wonder where he picked
up that one."

"But how he does pull 'em in!"

"We're doing well enough," began Dabney, when suddenly there came a
shrill cry of pain from the black boy's punt.

"He's barefooted," shouted Dab, with, it must be confessed, something
like a grin; "and one of the little pirates has pinned him with his
nippers."

That was the difficulty exactly, and there need not have been any very
serious result of such an expression of a crab's bad temper. But Dick
Lee was more than ordinarily averse to any thing like physical pain, and
the crab which now had him by the toe was a very muscular and vicious
specimen of his quarrelsome race.

The first consequence of that vigorous nip was a momentary dance up and
down in the punt, accompanied by exclamatory howls from Dick, but not by
a word of any sort from the crab.

The next consequence was, that the crab let go; but so at the same
instant, did the rotten board in the boat-bottom, upon which Dick Lee
had so rashly danced.

It let go of the rest of the boat so suddenly that poor Dick had only
time for one tremendous yell, as it let him right down through to his
armpits.

The water was perfectly smooth; but the boat was full in an instant, and
nearly a bushel of freshly-caught and ill-tempered crabs were
manoeuvring in all directions around the woolly head, which was all
their late captor could now keep in sight.

"Up with the grapnel, Ford," shouted Dab. "Take an oar: we'll both row.
He can swim like a duck, but he might split his throat."

"Or get scared to death."

"Or those crabs might go for him, and eat him up."

"How he does yell!"





CHAPTER VII.

A VERY ACCIDENTAL CALL.


At the very moment when the angry crab closed his nippers on the bare
big toe of Dick Lee, and his shrill note of discomfort rang across the
inlet, the shriller whistle of the engine announced the arrival of the
morning train from the city, at the little station in the village.

A moment or so later, a very pretty young lady was standing beside a
trunk on the platform, trying to get some information from the flagman.

"Can you tell me where Mr. Foster lives?"

"That's the gimlet-eyed lawyer from New Yark?"

"Yes, he's from New York," said the young lady, smiling in his face.
"Where does he live?"

"He's got the sassiest boy, thin. Is it him as took the Kinzer house?"

"I think likely it is. Can you tell me how to get there?"

"Thim Kinzers is foine people. The widdy married one of the gurrels to
Misther Morris."

"But how can I get to the house?"

"Is it there ye're afther goin'?--Hey, Michael, me boy, bring up yer
owld rattlethrap, and take the leddy's thrunk. She'll be goin' to the
Kinzer place. Sharp, now."

"I should say it was," muttered the young lady, as the remains of what
had been a carryall were pulled up beside the platform by the skinny
skeleton of what might once have been a horse. "It's a rattletrap."

There was no choice, however; for that was the only public conveyance at
the station, and the trunk was already whisked in behind the dashboard,
and the driver was waiting for her.

He could afford to wait, as it would be some hours before another train
would be in.

There was no door to open in that "carriage." It was all door except the
top and bottom, and the pretty passenger was neither helped nor hindered
in finding her place on the back seat.

If the flagman was more disposed to ask questions than to answer them,
Michael said few words of any kind except to his horse. To him, indeed,
he kept up a constant stream of encouraging remarks, the greatest part
of which would have been difficult for an ordinary hearer to understand.

Very likely the horse knew what they meant; for he came very near
breaking from a limp into a trot several times, under the stimulus of
all that clucking and "G'lang, now!"

The distance was by no means great, and Michael seemed to know the way
perfectly. At least he answered, "Yes'm, indade," to several inquiries
from his passenger, and she was compelled to be satisfied with that.

"What a big house it is! And painters at work on it too," she exclaimed,
just as Michael added a vigorous jerk of the reins to the "Whoa!" with
which he stopped his nag in front of an open gate.

"Are you sure this is the place?"

"Yes'm; fifty cints, mum."

By the time the trunk was out of the carriage and swung inside of the
gate, the young lady had followed; but for some reason Michael at once
sprang back to his place, and whipped up his limping steed. It may have
been from the fear of being asked to take that trunk into the house, for
it was not a small one. The young lady stood for a moment irresolute,
and then left it where it was, and walked on up to the house.

No bell; no knocker. The workmen had not reached that part of their
improvements yet. But the door was open; and a very neatly furnished
parlor at the left of the hall seemed to say, "Come right in, please;"
and in she went.

Such an arrival could not possibly have escaped the notice of the
inmates of the house; and, as the young lady from the railway came in at
the front, another and a very different-looking lady marched through to
the parlor from the rear.

Each one would have been a puzzle to the other, if the elder of the two
had not been Mrs. Kinzer, and the widow had never been very much puzzled
in all her life. At all events, she put out her hand, with a cordial
smile, saying,--

"Miss Foster, is it not? I am Mrs. Kinzer. How could he have made such a
mistake?"

"Yes, Miss Annie Foster. But do please explain Where am I? and how do
you know me?"

The widow laughed cheerily.

"How do I know you, my dear? Why, you resemble your mother almost as
much as your brother Ford resembles his father. You are only one door
from home here, and I'll have your trunk taken right over to the house.
Please sit down a moment. Ah! my daughter Samantha, Miss Foster. Excuse
me a moment, while I call one of the men."

By the time their mother was fairly out of the room, however, Keziah and
Pamela were also in it; and Annie thought she had rarely seen three
girls whose appearance testified so strongly to the healthiness of the
place they lived in.

The flagman's questions and Annie's answers were related quickly enough,
and the cause of Michael's blunder was plain at once.

The parlor rang again with peals of laughter; for Dab Kinzer's sisters
were ready at any time to look at the funny side of things, and their
accidental guest saw no reason for not joining them.

"Your brother Ford is on the bay, crabbing with our Dabney," remarked
Samantha, as the widow returned. But Annie's eyes had been furtively
watching her baggage through the window, and saw it swinging upon a
broad, red-shirted pair of shoulders, just then; and, before she could
bring her mind to bear upon the crab question, Keziah Kinzer
exclaimed,--

"If there isn't Mrs. Foster, coming through the garden gate!"

"My mother!" and Annie was up and out of the parlor in a twinkling,
followed by all the ladies of the Kinzer family. It was really quite a
procession.

Now, if Mrs. Foster was in any degree surprised by her daughter's sudden
appearance, or by her getting to the Kinzer house first instead of to
her own, it was a curious fact that she did not say so by a word or a
look.

Not a breath of it. But, for all the thorough-bred self-control of the
city lady, Mrs. Kinzer knew perfectly well there was something odd and
unexpected about it all. If Samantha had noticed this fact, there might
have been some questions asked possibly; but one of the widow's most
rigid rules in life was to "mind her own business."

The girls, indeed, were quite jubilant over an occurrence which made
them at once so well acquainted with their very attractive new neighbor;
and they might have followed her even beyond the gate in the north
fence, if it had not been for their mother. All they were allowed to do
was to go back to their own parlor, and hold "a council of war," in the
course of which Annie Foster was discussed, from her bonnet to her
shoes.

Mrs. Foster had been abundantly affectionate in greeting her daughter;
but, when once they were alone in the wee sitting-room of the old Kinzer
homestead, she put her arms around her, saying,--

"Now, my darling, tell me what it all means."

"Why, mother, it was partly my mistake, and partly the flagman's and the
driver's; and I'm sure Mrs. Kinzer was kind. She knew me before I said a
word, by my resemblance to you."

"Oh, I don't mean that! How is it you are here so soon? I thought you
meant to make a long visit at your uncle Hart's."

"So I would, mother, if it had not been for those boys."

"Your cousins, Annie?"

"Cousins, mother! You never saw such young bears in all your life. They
tormented me from morning till night."

"But, Annie, I hope you have not offended"--

"Offended, mother? Aunt Maria thinks they're perfect, and so does uncle
Joe. They'd let them pull the house down over their heads, you'd think."

"But, Annie, what did they do? and what did you say?"

"Do, mother? I couldn't tell you in all day; but when they poured ink
over my cuffs and collars, I said I would come home. I had just one pair
left white to wear home, and I travelled all night."

Poor Mrs. Foster! A cold shudder went over her at the idea of that ink
among the spotless contents of her own collar-box.

"What boys they must be! but, Annie, what did your aunt say?"

"Uncle Joe laughed till he cried; and Aunt Maria said, 'Boys will be
boys;' and I half believe they were sorry; but that was only a sort of a
winding-up, I wouldn't stay there another day."

Annie had other things to tell; and, long before she had finished her
story, there was no further fault to be found with her for losing her
temper. Still her mother said mildly,--

"I must write to Maria at once, for it won't do to let those boys make
trouble between us."

Annie looked at her with an expression of face which very plainly
said,--

"Nobody in the wide world could have the heart to quarrel with you."





CHAPTER VIII.

A RESCUE, AND A GRAND GOOD TIME.


Dab Kinzer and his friend were prompt enough coming to the rescue of
their unfortunate fellow-lubber; but to get him out of the queer wreck
he had made of that punt looked like a tough task to both of them, and
they said as much.

"I isn't drownin'," exclaimed Dick heroically, as the other boat was
pulled alongside of him. "Jest you take your scoop-net, and save dem
crabs."

"They won't drown," said Ford.

"But they'll get away," said Dab, as he snatched up the scoop. "Dick's
head is perfectly level on that point."

The side-boards of the old punt were under water half the time, but the
crabs were pretty well penned in. Even a couple of them, that had
mistaken Dick's wool for another sheep's-head, were secured without
difficulty, in spite of the firmness with which they clung to their
prize.

"What luck he'd been having!" said Ford.

"He always does," said Dab. "I say, Dick, how'll I scoop you in?"

"Has you done got all de crabs?"

"Every pinner of 'em."

"Den you jest wait a minute."

Waiting was all that was left them to do, for the shining black face and
woolly head disappeared almost instantly.

"He's sunk," exclaimed Ford.

"There he comes," replied Dab: "he'd swum ashore from here, and not half
try. Why, I could swim twice as far as that myself, and he can beat me."

"Could you? I couldn't."

That was the first time Dab had heard his city acquaintance make a
confession of inability, and he could see a more than usually thoughtful
expression on his face. The coolness and skill of Dick Lee, in his hour
of disaster, had not been thrown away upon him.

"If I had my clothes off," said Ford, "I believe I'd try that on."

"Dab Kinzer, you's de bes' feller dar is. But wot'll we do wid de old
boat?" burst out Dick, on coming to the surface.

"Let the tide carry her in while we're crabbing. She isn't worth
mending, but we'll tow her home."

"All right," said Dick, as he grasped the gunwale of Dab's boat, and
began to climb over.

"Hold on, Dick."

"I is a-holdin' on."

"I mean, wait a bit. Ain't you wet?"

"Of course I's wet."

"Well, then, you stay in there till you get dry It's well you didn't
have your new clothes on."

"Ain't I glad 'bout dem!" enthusiastically ex-claimed the young African.
"Nebber mind dese clo'es. De water on 'em's all good, dry water, like de
res' ob de bay."

And, so saying, Dick tumbled over in, with a spatter which made Ford
Foster tread on two of three crabs in getting away from it. It was not
the first time, by many, that Dick Lee had found himself bathing in that
bay without any time given him to undress.

And now it was discovered that the shipwrecked crabber had never for one
instant lost his hold of the line, to the other end of which was
fastened his precious sheep's-head.

They made a regular crabbing crew now,--two to pull up, and one to scoop
in; and never had the sprawling game been more plentiful on that
pasture, or more apparently in a greedy hurry to be captured.

"What on earth shall we do with them all?" asked Ford.

"Soon's we've got enough for a mess for both our folks," said Dab,
"we'll quit this, and go for some fish. The clams are good bait, and we
can try some of your tackle."

Ford's face brightened a good deal at that suggestion, for he had more
than once cast a crest fallen look at his pretentious box. But he
replied,--

"A mess! How many crabs can one man eat?"

"I don't know," said Dab. "It depends a good deal on who he is. Then, if
he eats the shells, he can't take in so many."

"Eat de shells? Yah, yah, yah! Dat beats my mudder! She's allers
a-sayin' wot a waste de shells make," laughed Dick. "I jest wish we
might ketch some fish. I dasn't kerry home no crabs."

"It does look as if we'd got as many as we'll know what to do with,"
remarked Dab, as he looked down on the sprawling multitude in the bottom
of the boat. "We'll turn the clams out of the basket, and fill that; but
we mustn't put any crabs in the fish-car. We'll stow 'em all forward."

The basket held more than half a bushel, but there was still a "heap" of
what Ford Foster called "the crusties" to pen up in the bow of the boat.

That duty attended to, the grapnel was pulled up, and Dick was set at
the oars, while Dab selected from Ford's box just the hooks and lines
their owner had made least account of.

"What'll we catch, Dab?"

"'Most anything. Nobody knows till he's done it. Perch, porgies,
cunners, black-fish, weak-fish, maybe a bass or a sheep's-head, but more
cunners than any thing else, unless we strike some flounders at the turn
of the tide."

"That's a big enough assortment to set up a fish-market on."

"If we catch 'em. We've got a good enough day, anyhow, and the tide'll
be about right by the time we get to work."

"Why not try here?"

"'Cause there's no fish to speak of, and because the crabs'll clean your
hook for you as fast as you can put the bait on. We must go out to
deeper water and better bottom. Dick knows just where to go. You might
hang your line out all day and not get a bite, if you didn't strike the
right spot."

Ford made no answer, but looked on very seriously while Dab skilfully
slit up a tough old Dutch clam into bait. It was beginning to dawn upon
him that he could teach the "'long-shore boys," whether black or white,
very little about fishing. He even allowed Dab to pick out a line for
him, and to put on the hook and sinker; and Dick Lee showed him how to
fix his bait, "so de fust cunner dat rubs agin it won't knock it off.
Dem's awful mean fish. Good for nuffin but 'teal bait."

A merry party they were; and the salt water was rapidly drying from the
garments of the colored oars-man, as he pulled strongly and skilfully
out into the bay, and around toward a deep cove at the north of the
inlet mouth.

Then, indeed, for the first time in his life, Ford Foster learned what
it was to catch fish.

Not but what he had spent many an hour, and even day, on and about other
waters, with a rod or a line in his hand; but he had never before had
two such born fishermen at his elbow to take him to the right place
precisely, and at the right time, and then to show him what to do when
he got there.

It was fun enough; for the fish bit remarkably well, and some of those
which came into the boat were of a very encouraging size and weight.

There was one curious thing about those heavier fish.

Ford would have given half the hooks and lines in his box, if he could
have caught from Dick or Dab the mysterious "knack" they seemed to have
of coaxing the biggest of the finny folk to their bait, and then over
the side of the boat.

"There's some kind of favoritism about it," he remarked.

"Never mind, Ford," replied Dab. "Dick and I are better acquainted with
them. They're always a little shy with strangers, at first. They don't
really mean to be impolite."

Favoritism it was, nevertheless; and there was now no danger but what
Dick would be able to appease the mind of his mother without making any
mention of the crabs.

At last, almost suddenly, and as if by common consent, the fish stopped
biting, and the two "'long shore boys" began to put away their lines.

"Going to quit?" asked Ford.

"Time's up, and the tide's turned," replied Dab.

"Not another bite, most likely, till late this evening. We might as well
pull up, and start for home."

"That's a curious kind of a habit for fish to have."

"They've all got it though, 'round this bay."

"Mus' look out for wot's lef' ob de ole scow, on de way home," remarked
Dick a little solemnly. "I's boun' to ketch it for dat good-for-noting
ole board."

"We'll find it, and tow it in," said Dab; "and perhaps we can get it
mended. Anyhow, you can go with us next week. We're going to make a
cruise in Ham Morris's yacht. Will you go?"

"Will I go? Yoop!" almost yelled the excited boy. "Dat's jest de one
t'ing I'd like to jine. Won't we hab fun! She's jest de bes' boat on dis
hull bay. You ain't foolin' me, is yer?"

He was strongly assured that his young white associates were in sober
earnest about both their purpose and their promise; and, after that, he
insisted on rowing all the distance home.

On the way the old punt was taken in tow; but the tide had already swept
it so far inside the mouth of the inlet, that there was less trouble in
pulling it the rest of the way. It was hardly worth the labor, but Dab
knew what a tempest the loss of it might bring around the ears of poor
Dick.

When they reached the landing, and began to over-haul their very
brilliant "catch," Dabney said,--

"Now, Dick, take your string home, leave that basket of crabs at Mr.
Foster's, and then come back with the basket, and carry the rest of 'em
to our house. Ford and I'll see to the rest of the fish."

"I haven't caught half as many as you have, either of you," said Ford,
when he saw with what even-handed justice the fish were divided in three
piles, as they were scooped out of the fish-car.

"What of that?" replied Dab. "We follow fishermen's rules, down this
way. Share and share alike, you know. All the luck is outside the boat,
they say. Once the fish are landed, your luck's as good as mine."

"Do they always follow that rule?"

"The man that broke it wouldn't find company very easily, hereabouts,
next time he wanted to go a-fishing. No, nor for any thing else.
Nobody'd boat with him."

"Well, if it's the regular thing," said Ford hesitatingly. "But I'll
tell who really caught 'em."

"Oh, some of yours are right good ones! Your string'd look big enough,
some days, just as you caught 'em."

"Would it?"

"Yes, it would. Don't you imagine we can pull 'em in every time like we
did this morning,--crabs nor fish."

"No, I s'pose not. Anyhow, I've learned some things."

"I guess likely. We'll go for some more next week. Now for a tug."

"Ain't they heavy, though!"

The boat had already been made fast; and the two boys picked up their
strings of fish, two for each, after Dick Lee had started for home; and
heavy things they were to carry under that hot sun.

"Come and show the whole lot to my mother," said Ford, "before you take
yours into the house. I'd like to have her see them all."

"All right," replied Dab, but he little dreamed what was coming; for,
when he and Ford marched proudly into the sitting-room with their finny
prizes, Dabney found himself face to face with, not good, sweet-voiced
Mrs. Foster, but, as he thought, the most beautiful young lady he had
ever seen.

Ford Foster shouted, "Annie! You here? Well, I never!"

But Dab Kinzer wished all those fish safely back again swimming in the
bay.





CHAPTER IX.

THERE ARE DIFFERENT KINDS OF BOYS.


Ham Morris was a thoughtful and kind-hearted fellow, beyond a doubt; and
he was likely to be a valuable friend for a growing boy like Dab Kinzer.
It is not everybody's brother-in-law who would find time during his
wedding-trip to hunt up even so pretty a New-England village as
Grantley, and inquire into questions of board and lodging and schooling.

That was precisely what Ham did, however; and Miranda went with him of
course.

Mrs. Myers, to the hospitalities of whose cool and roomy-looking house
he had been commended by Mr. Hart, was so "crowded full with summer
boarders," liberally advertised for in the great city, that she had
hardly a corner left in which to stow away Ham and his bride, for even
one night. She was glad enough, however, that she had made the effort,
and found one, after she discovered the nature of the stranger's errand
in Grantley, and that it included "winter board" for a whole boy.

There was a look of undisguised astonishment on the faces of the regular
guests when they gathered for the next meal. It happened to be supper,
but they all looked at the table and then at one another. It was a pity
Ham and Miranda did not understand the meaning of those glances, or else
that they did not make a longer stay with Mrs. Myers. They might have
learned more about her and her boarding-house, if not about the academy.
As it was, they only gathered a very high opinion of her cookery and
hospitality, as well as an increase of respect for the "institution of
learning," and for that excellent gentleman Mr. Hart; with a dim hope
that Dabney Kinzer might be permitted to enjoy the inestimable
advantages offered by Grantley and Mrs. Myers, and the society of Mr.
Hart's two wonderful boys.

Miranda was inclined to stand up for her brother somewhat, but finally
agreed with Ham, that,--

"What Dabney needs is schooling and polish, my dear. It'll be good for
him to board in the same house with two such complete young gentlemen as
the Hart boys."

"Of course, Ham. And then, too, we'll feel sure of his having plenty to
eat. There was almost too much on the table."

"Not if the boarders had all been boys of Dab's age, and with his
appetite. Mrs. Myers is evidently accustomed to provide for them, I
should say."

So she was; and Ham and Miranda left Grantley next morning, after a very
early breakfast; and, when the regular boarders came to theirs, they
might have guessed at once that the "transient guests" had gone. They
even guessed it out loud at dinner and at supper.

Mrs. Myers had given Ham and his bride a world of interesting
information about Grantley, and the things and people in it; but there
was one thing she had forgotten or neglected to mention. She had failed
to tell them that the house she lived in, and the outlying farm
belonging to it, and nearly all the house-hold effects it contained,
were the property of Mr. Joseph Hart, having cost that gentleman very
little more than a sharp lawsuit. Neither did she say a word about how
long a time he had given her to pay him his price for it. All that was
her own private affair, and none of Ham's business, or Miranda's. Still,
it might have had its importance in their minds, if they had been
informed of it.

Perhaps, too, some of their rosy impressions might have been a little
modified if they could have been at the breakfast-table of the Hart
homestead the morning after Annie Foster's sudden departure.

The table, truly, was there, as usual, with the breakfast-things on it,
and there were husband and wife at either end; but the two side seats
were vacant.

"Where are Joe and Foster, Maria?" asked Mr. Hart.

"I'm sure they're up, father. I heard them come down stairs an hour
ago."

"I can't wait for them"--

"You came home late last night, and they haven't seen you since Annie
went away." There had been a suppressed sound of whispers in the entry,
and the door had been held open about half an inch by some hand on the
other side. It is possible, therefore, that Mr. Hart's reply was heard
outside.

"Oh, I see! it's about Annie. Look here, Maria: they may have gone a
little too far, but if Annie can't take a joke"--

"So I tried to say to her," began his wife; but at that instant the
whispers in the entry swelled suddenly to loud voices, and two boys came
noisily in, and filled the side chairs at the table.

"Sit down, my dears," said Mrs. Hart, with an admiring glance from one
to the other. "I have told your father about the sad trick you played
upon your cousin."

"Yes, you young rogues," added Mr. Hart, with affected sternness: "you
have driven her out of the house."

"Joe," said the boy on the left, to his brother across the table, "ain't
you glad she's gone?"

"You bet I am. She's too stiff and steep for me. Spoiled all the fun we
had."

"And so you spoiled her cuffs and collars for her. It was too bad
altogether. I'm afraid there won't be much comfort for anybody in this
house till you two get back to Grantley."

"Fuz," said Joe, "do you hear that? They're going to give us another
term at Grantley."

"I don't care how soon we go, so we haven't got to board at old mother
Myers's."

"I can't say about that," said Mr. Hart. "I half made her a promise"--

"That we'd board there?" exclaimed Fuz rebelliously.

"Now, boys," said their mother, in a gentle voice, that sounded a little
like good Mrs. Foster's; but Joe sustained his brother with,--

"Prison-fare, and not half enough of it. I just won't stand it another
winter!"

"I'm not so sure it will be necessary, after all," said their father,
who seemed to have dismissed Annie's grievance from his mind for the
present. "Your cousin Ford is sure to go; and I'm almost certain of
another boy, besides the missionary's son. If she gets a few others
herself, her house'll be full enough, and you can board somewhere else."

"Hurrah for that!" shouted Fuz. "And, if the new house doesn't feed us
well, we'll tear it down."

"If you don't tear ours down before you go, I'll be satisfied. Maria,
you must write to your sister, and smooth the matter over. Boys will be
boys, and I wouldn't like to have any coolness spring up. Mr. Foster'll
understand it."

That was very nearly all that was said about it, and the two boys
evidently had had no need for any hesitation in coming in to breakfast.

They were not so bad-looking a pair, as boys go; although it may be few
other people would have seen so much to admire in them as their mother
did.

Joe, the elder, was a loud, hoarse-voiced, black-eyed boy, of seventeen
or thereabouts, with a perpetual grin on his face, as if he had
discovered in this world nothing but a long procession of things to be
laughed at. Foster, so named after his lawyer relative, was a year and a
half younger, but nearly as tall as Joe. He was paler, but with hair and
eyes as dark, and he wore a sort of habitual side-look, as if his mind
were all the while inquiring if anybody within sight happened to have
any thing he wanted.

They both bore a strong likeness to their father, only they missed
something bluff and hearty in his accustomed manner; and they each had
also a little suggestion of their mother, that did not, however go so
far as to put anybody in mind of their aunt Foster.

Nobody need have failed to see, at all events, after watching one or two
of their glances at each other, that they were the very boys to play the
meanest kind of practical jokes when they could do it safely. There is
really no accounting for boys; and Joe and Fuz, therefore, might fairly
be set down among the "unaccountables."

There was no sort of wonder that their easy-going mother and their
joke-admiring father should be quite willing to have them spend
three-quarters of the year at boarding-school, and as much as possible
of the remainder somewhere else than "at home."

After Mr. Hart went out to his business that morning, and Mrs. Hart set
herself about her usual duties, Joe and Fuz took with them into the
street the whole Grantley question.

"We'll have to go, Fuz."

"Of course. But we must have more to eat, and more fun, than we had last
time."

"Ford's coming, is he? The little prig! We'll roast him."

"So we will that young missionary."

"Look out about him, Joe, while he's at our house. He's coming right
here, you know."

"Don't you be afraid. His folks are old friends of mother's. We'll let
up on him till we get him safe to Grantley."

"Then we'll fix him."

They had plots and plans enough to talk about; but neither they, nor any
of the boys they named, nor any of the other boys they did not name, had
the least idea of what the future really had in store for them. Dab
Kinzer and Ford Foster, in particular, had no idea that the world
contained such a place as Grantley, or such a landlady as Mrs. Myers.

They had as little suspicion of them as they had had of finding Annie
Foster in the sitting-room that day, when they walked in with their
famous strings of fish.

Ford kissed his sister, but that operation hardly checked him for an
instant in his voluble narrative of the stirring events of his first
morning on the bay. There was really little for anybody else to do but
to listen, and it was worth hearing.

There was no sort of interruption on the part of the audience; but the
moment Ford paused for breath his mother said,--

"Are you sure the black boy was not hurt, Ford?"

"Hurt, mother? Why, he seems to be a kind of black-fish. The rest all
know him, and they went right past my hook to his, all the while."

"Dear me!" exclaimed Mrs. Foster: "I forgot. Annie, this is Ford's
friend Dabney Kinzer, our neighbor."

"Won't you shake hands with me, Mr. Kinzer?" said Annie, with a
malicious twinkle of fun in her merry blue eyes.

Poor Dabney! He had been in quite a "state of mind" for at least three
minutes; but he would hardly have been his own mother's son if he had
let himself be entirely "posed." Up rose his long right arm, with the
heavy string of fish at the end of it; and Annie's fun broke out into a
musical laugh, just as her brother exclaimed,--

"There now, I'd like to see the other boy of your size can do that. Look
here, Dab, where'd you get your training?"

"I mustn't drop the fish, you see," began Dab; but Ford interrupted him
with,--

'No, indeed! You've given me half I've got, as it is. Annie, have you
looked at the crabs? You ought to have seen Dick Lee, with a lot of 'em
gripping in his hair."

"In his hair?"

"When he was down through the bottom of his boat. They'd have eaten him
up if they'd had a chance. You see, he's no shell on him."

"Exactly," said Annie, as Dab lowered his fish. "Well, Dabney, I wish
you would thank your mother for me, for sending my trunk over. Your
sisters too. I've no doubt we shall be very neighborly."

It was wonderfully pleasant to be called by his first name by so very
pretty a young lady, and yet it seemed to bring up something curious
into Dabney Kinzer's throat.

"She considers me a mere boy, and she means I'd better take my fish
right home," was the next thought that came to him; and he was right, to
a fraction. So the great lump in his throat took a very wayward and
boyish form, and came out as a reply, accompanied by a low bow,--

"I will, thank you. Good-afternoon, Mrs. Foster. I'll see you to-night,
Ford, about Monday and the yacht. Good-afternoon, Annie."

And then he marched out with his fish.

"Mother, did you hear him call me 'Annie'?"

"Yes; and I heard you call him 'Dabney.'"

"But he's only a boy "--

"I don't care," exclaimed Ford. "He's an odd fellow, but he's a good
one. Did you see how wonderfully strong he is in his arms? I couldn't
lift these fish at arm's-length, to save my life."

He knew, for he had been trying his best with his own.

It was quite likely that Dab Kinzer's rowing, and all that sort of
thing, had developed in him greater strength of muscle than even he
himself was aware of; but for all that he went home with his very ears
tingling.

"Could she have thought me ill-bred or impertinent?" he muttered to
himself.

Thought? About him?

Poor Dab Kinzer! Annie Foster had so much else to think of just then;
for she was compelled to go over, for Ford's benefit, the whole story of
her tribulations at her uncle's, and the many rudenesses of Joe Hart and
his brother Fuz.

"They ought to be drowned," said Ford indignantly.

"In ink," added Annie. "Just as they drowned my poor cuffs and collars."





CHAPTER X

A CRUISE IN "THE SWALLOW."


"Look at Dabney Kinzer," said Jenny Walters to her mother, in church,
the next morning. "Did you ever see anybody's hair as smooth as that?"

Smooth it was, certainly; and he looked, all over, as if he had given
all the care in the world to his personal appearance. How was Annie
Foster to guess that he had gotten himself up so unusually on her
account? She did not guess it; but when she met him at the church-door,
after service, she was careful to address him as "Mr. Kinzer," and that
made poor Dabney blush to his very eyes.

"There!" he exclaimed: "I know it."

"Know what?" asked Annie.

"Know what you're thinking."

"Do you, indeed?"

"Yes: you think I'm like the crabs."

"What _do_ you mean?"

"You think I was green enough till you spoke to me, and now I'm boiled
red in the face."

Annie could not help laughing,--a little, quiet, Sunday-morning sort of
a laugh; but she was beginning to think her brother's friend was not a
bad specimen of a Long Island "country boy."

She briskly turned away the small remains of that conversation from
crabs and their color; but she told her mother, on their way home, she
was sure Dabney would be a capital associate for Ford.

That young gentleman was tremendously of the same opinion. He had come
home, the previous evening, from a long conference with Dab, brimful of
the proposed yachting cruise; and his father had freely given his
consent, much against the inclinations of Mrs. Foster.

"My dear," said the lawyer, "I feel sure a woman of Mrs. Kinzer's
unusual good sense would not permit her son to go out in that way if she
did not feel safe about him. He has been brought up to it, you know; and
so has the colored boy who is to go with them."

"Yes, mother," argued Ford: "there isn't half the danger there is in
driving around New York in a carriage."

"There might be a storm," she timidly suggested.

"The horses might run away."

"Or you might get upset."

"So might a carriage."

The end of it all was, however, that Ford was to go, and Annie was more
than half sorry she could not go with them. In fact, she said so to
Dabney himself, as soon as her little laugh was ended, that Sunday
morning.

"Some time or other I'd be glad to have you," replied Dab very politely,
"but not this trip."

"Why not?"

"We mean to go right across the bay, and try some fishing."

"Couldn't I fish?"

"Well, no, I don't think you could."

"Why couldn't I?"

"Because,--well, because, most likely, you'd be too sea-sick by the time
we got there."

Just then a low, clear voice, behind Dabney, quietly remarked, "How
smooth his hair is!"

Dab's face turned red again.

Annie Foster had heard it as distinctly as he had; and she walked right
away with her mother, for fear she should laugh again.

"It's my own hair, Jenny Walters," said Dab almost savagely, as he
turned around.

"I should hope it was."

"I should like to know what you go to church for, anyhow."

"To hear people talk about sailing and fishing. How much do you s'pose a
young lady like Miss Foster cares about small boys?"

"Or little girls, either? Not much; but Annie and I mean to have a good
sail before long."

"Annie and I!"

Jenny's pert little nose seemed to turn up more than ever, as she walked
away, for she had not beaten her old playfellow quite as badly as usual.
There were several sharp things on the very tip or her tongue, but she
was too much put out and vexed to try to say them just then.

Dab made the rest of his way home without any further haps or mishaps. A
sail on the bay was nothing so new or wonderful for him to look forward
to, and so that Sunday went by a good deal like all his other Sundays.

As for Ford Foster, on the contrary, his mind was in a stew and turmoil
all day. In fact, just after tea that evening, his father asked him,--

"What book is that you are reading, Ford?"

"Captain Cook's Voyages."

"And the other, in your lap?"

"Robinson Crusoe."

"Well, you might have worse books than they are, that's a fact, even for
Sunday, though you ought to have better; but which of them do you and
Dabney Kinzer mean to imitate to-morrow?"

"Crusoe!" promptly responded Ford.

"I see. And so you've got Dick Lee to go along as your man Friday."

"He's Dab's man, not mine."

"Oh! and you mean to be Crusoe number two? Well, don't get cast away on
any desolate island, that's all."

Ford slipped into the library, and put the books away. It had been
Samantha Kinzer's room, and had plenty of book-shelves, in addition to
the elegant "cases" Mr. Foster had brought from the city with him; for
Samantha was inclined to be of a literary turn of mind. All the cases
and shelves were full too; but not on any one of them was Ford Foster
able to discover a volume he cared to take out with him in place of
"Cook" or "Crusoe."

The next morning, within half an hour after breakfast, every member of
the two families was down at the landing, to see their young sailors
make their start; and they were all compelled to admit that Dab and Dick
seemed to know precisely what they were about.

As for Ford, that young gentleman was wise enough, with all those eyes
watching him, not to try any thing that he was not sure of; though he
carefully explained to Annie, "Dab is captain, you know. I'm under his
orders to-day."

Dick Lee was hardly the wisest fellow in the world, for he added
encouragingly,--

"And you's doin' tip-top, for a green hand, you is."

The wind was blowing right off shore, and did not seem to promise any
thing more than a smart breeze. It was easy enough to handle the little
craft in the inlet; and in a marvellously short time she was dancing out
upon the blue waves of the spreading "bay." It was a good deal more like
a land-locked "sound" than any sort of a bay, with that long, low,
narrow sand-island cutting it off from the ocean.

"I don't wonder Ham Morris called her the 'Swallow,'" said Ford. "How
she skims! Can you get in under the deck, there, forward? That's the
cabin."

"Yes, that's the cabin," replied Dab. "But Ham had the door put in with
a slide, water-tight. It's fitted with rubber. We can put our things in
there, but it's too small for any thing else."

"What's it made so tight for?"

"Oh! Ham says he's made his yacht a life-boat. Those places at the sides
and under the seats are all water-tight. She might capsize, but she'd
never sink. Don't you see?"

"I see. How it blows!"

"It's a little fresh, now we are getting away from under the land. How'd
you like to be wrecked?"

"Good fun," said Ford. "I got wrecked on the cars the first time I came
over here."

"On the cars?"

"Why, yes. I forgot to tell you about that."

Then followed a very vivid and graphic account of the sad fate of the
pig and the locomotive. The wonder was, how Ford should have failed to
give Dab that story before. No such failure would have been possible if
his head and tongue had not been so wonderfully busy about so many other
things, ever since his arrival.

"I'm glad it was I instead of Annie," he said at length.

"Of course. Didn't you tell me she came through all alone?"

"Yes; and she didn't like it much, either. Travelled all night. She ran
away from those cousins of mine. Oh, but won't I pay them off when I get
to Grantley!"

"Where's that? What did they do?"

"The Swallow" was flying along nicely now, with Dab at the tiller, and
Dick Lee tending sail; and Dab could listen with all his ears to Ford's
account of his sister's tribulations, and the merciless "practical
jokes" of the Hart boys.

"Ain't they older and bigger than you?" asked Dabney, as Ford closed his
recital. "What can you do with two of them?"

"They can't box worth a cent, and I can. Anyhow, I mean to teach them
better manners."

"You can box?"

"Had a splendid teacher. Put me up to all sorts of things."

"Will you show me how, when we get back?"

"We can practise all we choose. I've two pair of gloves."

"Hurrah for that! Ease her, Dick. It's blowing pretty fresh. We'll have
a tough time tacking home against such a breeze as this. Maybe it'll
change before night."

"Capt'in Dab," calmly remarked Dick, "we's on'y a mile to run."

"Well, what of it?"

"Is you goin' fo' de inlet?"

"Of course. What else can we do? That's what we started for."

"Looks kind o' dirty, dat's all."

So far as Ford could see, both the sky and the water looked clean
enough; but Dick was entirely right about the weather. In fact, if
Captain Dabney Kinzer had been a more experienced and prudent seaman, he
would have kept "The Swallow" inside the bar that day, at any risk of
Ford Foster's good opinion. As it was, even Dick Lee's keen eyes hardly
comprehended how threatening was the foggy haze that was lying low on
the water, miles and miles away to seaward.

It was magnificently exciting fun, at all events; and "The Swallow"
fully merited all that had been said in her favor. The "mile to run" was
a very short one, and it seemed to Ford Foster that the end of it would
bring them up high and dry on the sandy beach of the island.

The narrow "strait" of the inlet between the bay and the ocean was
hardly visible at any considerable distance. It opened to view, however,
as they drew near; and Dab Kinzer rose higher than ever in his friend's
good opinion, as the swift little vessel he was steering shot unerringly
into the contracted channel.

"Ain't we pretty near where you said we were to try for some fish?" he
asked.

"Just outside there. Get the grapnel ready, Dick. Sharp, now!"

Sharp it was, and Ford himself lent a hand; and, in another moment, the
white sails went down, jib and main; "The Swallow" was drifting along
under bare poles, and Dick Lee and Ford were waiting the captain's
orders to let go the neat little anchor.

"Heave!"

Over went the iron, the hawser followed briskly.

"That'll do, Dick: hold her!"

Dick gave the rope a skilful turn around its "pin," and Dab shouted,--

"Now for some weak-fish! It's about three fathoms, and the tide's near
the turn."

Alas for the uncertainty of human calculations! The grapnel caught on
the bottom, surely and firmly; but, the moment there came any strain on
the seemingly stout hawser that held it, the latter parted like a
thread, and "The Swallow" was all adrift!

"Somebody's done gone cut dat rope!" shouted Dick, as he frantically
pulled in the treacherous bit of hemp.

There was an anxious look on Dab Kinzer's face for a moment. Then he
shouted,--

"Sharp, now, boys, or we'll be rolling in the surf in three minutes!
Haul away, Dick! Haul with him, Ford! Up with her! There, that'll give
us headway."

Ford Foster looked out to seaward, even while he was hauling his best
upon the sail halyards. All along the line of the coast, at distances
varying from a hundred yards or so to nearly a mile, there was an
irregular line of foaming breakers--an awful thing for a boat like "The
Swallow" to run into!

Perhaps; but ten times worse for a larger craft, for the latter would be
shattered on the shoals, where the bit of a yacht would find plenty of
water under her; that is, if she did not, at the same time, find too
much water _over_ her.

"Can't we go back through the inlet in the bar?" asked Ford.

"Not with this wind in our teeth, and it's getting worse every minute.
No more will it do to try to keep inside the surf."

"What can we do, then?"

"Take the smoothest places we can find, and run 'em. The sea isn't very
rough outside. It's our only chance."

Poor Ford Foster's heart sank within him, as he listened, and as he
gazed ahead upon the long white line of foaming surf and tossing
breakers. He saw, however, a look of heroic resolution rising in
"Captain Kinzer's" face, and it gave him courage to turn his eyes again
towards the surf.

"The Swallow" was now once more moving in a way to justify her name;
and, although Ford was no sailor, he could see that her only chance to
penetrate that perilous barrier of broken water was to "take it nose
on," as Dick Lee expressed it.

That was clearly the thing Dab Kinzer intended to do. There were places
of comparative smoothness, here and there, in the tossing and plunging
line; but they were bad enough, at the best, and they would have been a
good deal worse but for that stiff breeze blowing off shore.

"Now for it!" shouted Dab, as "The Swallow" bounded on.

"Dar dey come!" said Dick.

Ford thought of his mother, and sister, and father; but he had not a
word to say, and hardly felt like breathing.

Bows foremost, full sail, rising like a cork on the long, strong
billows, which would have rolled her over and over if she had not been
handled so skilfully as she really was; once or twice pitching
dangerously in short, chopping seas, and shipping water enough to wet
her brave young mariners to the skin, and call for vigorous baling
afterwards,--"The Swallow" battled gallantly with her danger for a few
moments; and then Dab Kinzer swung his hat, and shouted,--

"Hurrah, boys! We're out at sea!"

"Dat's so," said Dick.

"So it is," remarked Ford, a little gloomily; "but how on earth will we
ever get ashore again? We can't go back through that surf."

"Well," replied Dab, "if it doesn't come on to blow too hard, we'll run
right on down the coast. If the wind lulled, or whopped around a little,
we'd find our way in, easy enough, long before night. We might have a
tough time beating home across the bay, even if we were inside the bar,
now. Anyhow, we're safe enough out here."

Ford could hardly feel that very strongly, but he was determined not to
let Dab see it; and he made an effort at the calmness of a Mohawk, as he
said, "How about fishing?"

"Guess we won't bother 'em much, but you might go for a bluefish.
Sometimes they have great luck with them, right along here."





CHAPTER XI.

SPLENDID FISHING, AND A BIG FOG.


There is no telling how many anxious people there may have been in that
region that night, a little after supper; but there was no doubt of the
state of mind in at least three family circles.

Good Mrs. Foster could not endure to stay at home and talk about the
matter; and her husband and Annie were very willing to go over to the
Kinzers' with her, and listen to the encouraging views of Dabney's
stout-hearted and sensible mother.

They were welcomed heartily; and the conversation began, so to speak,
right in the middle.

"Oh, Mrs. Kinzer! do you think they are in any danger?"

"I hope not. I don't see why there need be, unless they try to return
across the bay against this wind."

"But don't you think they'll try? Do you mean they won't be home
to-night?" exclaimed Mr. Foster himself.

"I sincerely hope not," said the widow calmly. "I should hardly feel
like trusting Dabney out in the boat again, if he should do so foolish a
thing."

"But where can he stay?"

"At anchor somewhere, or on the island; almost anywhere but tacking all
night on the bay. He'd be really safer out at sea than trying to get
home."

"Out at sea!"

There was something really dreadful in the very idea of it; and Annie
Foster turned pale enough when she thought of the gay little yacht, and
her brother out on the broad Atlantic in it, with no better crew than
Dab Kinzer and Dick Lee. Samantha and her sisters were hardly as steady
about it as their mother; but they were careful to conceal their
misgivings from their neighbors, which was very kindly indeed in the
circumstances.

There was little use in trying to think or talk of any thing else beside
the boys, however, with the sound of the "high wind" in the trees out by
the roadside; and a very anxious circle was that, up to the late hour at
which the members of it separated for the night.

But there were other troubled hearts in that vicinity. Old Bill Lee
himself had been out fishing all day, with very poor luck; but he forgot
all about that, when he learned, on reaching the shore, that Dick and
his white friends had not returned. He even pulled back to the mouth of
the inlet, to see if the gathering darkness would give him any signs of
his boy. He did not know it; but while he was gone Dick's mother, after
discussing her anxieties with some of her dark-skinned neighbors, half
weepingly unlocked her one "clothes-press," and took out the suit which
had been the pride of her absent son. She had never admired them half so
much before, but they seemed now to need a red necktie to set them off;
and so the gorgeous result of Dick's fishing and trading came out of its
hiding-place, and was arranged on the white coverlet of her own bed,
with the rest of his best garments.

"Jus' de t'ing for a handsome young feller like Dick," she muttered to
herself.

"Wot for'd an ole woman like me want to put on any sech fool finery?
He's de bestest boy in de worl', he is. Dat is, onless dar ain't not'in'
happened to 'im."

Her husband brought her home no news when he came, and Dick's good
qualities were likely to be seen in a strong light for a while longer.

But if the folk on shore were uneasy about "The Swallow" and her crew,
how was it with the latter themselves, as the darkness closed around
them, out there upon the tossing water?

Very cool and self-possessed indeed had been Captain Dab Kinzer; and he
had encouraged the others to go on with their blue-fishing, even when it
was pretty tough work to keep "The Swallow" from "scudding" at once
before the wind. He was anxious, also, not to get too far from shore;
for there was no telling what sort of weather might be coming. It was
curious, moreover, what very remarkable luck they had; or rather, Ford
and Dick, for Dab would not leave the tiller for a moment. Splendid
fellows were those blue-fish, and hard work it was to pull in the
heaviest of them. That was just the sort of weather they bite best in;
but it is not often that such young fishermen venture to take advantage
of it. No, nor the old ones either; for only the stanchest old "salts"
of Montauk or New London would have felt altogether at home in "The
Swallow" that afternoon.

"I guess I wouldn't fish any more," said Dab at last. "You've caught ten
times as many now as we ever thought of catching. Some of them are
whoppers too."

"Biggest fishing ever I did," said Ford, as if that meant a great deal.

"Or mos' anybody else, out dis yer way," added Dick. "I isn't 'shamed to
show dem fish anywhar."

"No more I ain't," said Dab; "but you're getting too tired, and so am I.
We must have a good hearty lunch, and put 'The Swallow' before the wind
for a while. I daren't risk any more of these cross seas. We might get
pitched over any minute. They're rising."

"Dat's so," said Dick. "And I's awful hungry, I is."

"The Swallow" was well enough provisioned for a short cruise, not to
mention the bluefish, and there was water enough on board for several
days if they should happen to need it; but there was little danger of
that, unless the wind should continue to be altogether against them.

It was blowing hard when the boys finished their dinner, but no harder
than it had already blown several times that day; and "The Swallow"
seemed to be putting forth her very best qualities as a "sea-boat."

There was no immediate danger apparently; but there was one "symptom"
which Dab discerned, as he glanced around the horizon, which gave him
more anxiety than either the stiff breeze or the rough sea.

The coming darkness?

No; for stars and lighthouses can be seen at night, and steering by them
is easy enough.

Nights are pretty dark things, sometimes, as most people know; but the
darkest thing to be met with at sea, whether by night or by day, is a
_fog_, and Dabney saw signs of one coming. Rain, too, might come with
it, but that would be of small account.

"Boys," he said, "do you know we're out of sight of land?"

"Oh, no, we're not!" replied Ford confidently. "Look yonder."

"That isn't land, Ford. That's only a fog-bank, and we shall be all in
the dark in ten minutes. The wind is changing, too, and I hardly know
where we are."

"Look at your compass."

"That tells me the wind is changing a little, and it's going down; but I
wouldn't dare to run towards the shore in a fog, and at night."

"Why not?"

"Why? Don't you remember those breakers? Would you like to be blown
through them, and not see where you were going?"

"Well, no," said Ford: "I rather guess I wouldn't."

"Jes' you let Capt'in Kinzer handle dis yer boat," almost crustily
interposed Dick Lee. "He's de on'y feller on board dat un'erstands
nagivation."

"Shouldn't wonder if you're right," said Ford good-humoredly. "At all
events, I sha'n't interfere. But, Dab, what do you mean to do about it?"

"Swing a lantern at the mast-head, and sail right along. You and Dick
get a nap, by and by, if you can. I won't try to sleep till daylight."

"Sleep? Catch me sleeping!"

"You must; and so must Dick, when the time comes. It won't do for us to
all get worn out together. If we did, who'd handle the boat?"

Ford's respect for Dabney Kinzer was growing hourly. Here was this
overgrown gawk of a green country boy, just out of his roundabouts, who
had never spent more than a day at a time in the great city, and never
lived in any kind of a boarding-house; in fact, here was a fellow who
had had no advantages whatever,--coming out as a sort of hero.

Ford looked at him hard, as he stood there with the tiller in his hand,
but he could not quite understand it, Dab was so quiet and
matter-of-course about it all; and, as for that youngster himself, he
had no idea that he was behaving any better than any other boy could,
should, and would have behaved in those very peculiar circumstances.

However that might be, the gay and buoyant little "Swallow," with her
signal lantern swinging at her mast-head, was soon dancing away through
the deepening darkness and the fog; and her steady-nerved young
commander was congratulating himself that there seemed to be a good deal
less of wind and sea, even if there was more of mist.

"I couldn't expect to have every thing to suit me," he said to himself.
"And now I hope we sha'n't run down anybody. Hullo! Isn't that a red
light, through the fog, yonder?"





CHAPTER XII.

HOW THE GAME OF "FOLLOW MY LEADER" CAN BE PLAYED AT SEA.


There was yet another gathering of human beings on the wind-swept
surface of the Atlantic that evening, to whose minds the minutes and
hours were going by with no small burden of anxiety to carry.

Not an anxiety, perhaps, as great as that of the three families over
there on the shore of the bay, or even of the three boys tossing along
through the fog in their bubble of a yacht; but the officers, and not a
few of the passengers and crew, of the great iron-builded ocean-steamer
were any thing but easy about the way their affairs were looking. It
would have been so much more agreeable if they could have looked at them
at all.

Had they no pilot on board?

To be sure they had, for he had come on board in the usual way, as they
drew near their intended port; but they had somehow seemed to bring that
fog along with them, and the captain had a half-defined suspicion that
neither the pilot nor he himself knew exactly where they now were. That
is a bad condition for a great ship to be in at any time, and especially
when it was drawing so near a coast which calls for good seamanship and
skilful pilotage in the best of weather.

The captain would not for any thing have confessed his doubt to the
pilot, nor the pilot his to the captain; and that was where the real
danger lay, after all. If they could only have choked down their pride,
and permitted themselves to talk of their possible peril, it would very
likely have disappeared. That is, they could at least have decided to
stop the vessel till they were rid of their doubt.

The steamer was French, and her captain a French naval officer; and it
is possible he and the pilot did not understand each other any too well.

It was a matter of course that the speed of the ship should be somewhat
lessened, under such circumstances; but it would have been a good deal
wiser not to have gone on at all. Not to speak of the shore they were
nearing, they might be sure they were not the only craft steaming or
sailing over those busy waters; and vessels have sometimes been known to
run against one another in a fog as thick as that. Something could be
done by way of precaution in that direction, and lanterns with bright
colors were freely swung out; but the fog was likely to diminish their
usefulness somewhat. They took away a little of the gloom; but none of
the passengers were in a mood to go to bed, with the end of their voyage
so near, and they all seemed disposed to discuss the fog, if not the
general question of mists and their discomforts. All of them but one,
and he a boy.

A boy of about Dab Kinzer's age, slender and delicate-looking, with
curly light-brown hair, blue eyes, and a complexion which would have
been fair, but for the traces it bore of a hotter climate than that of
either France or America. He seemed to be all alone, and to be feeling
very lonely that night; and he was leaning over the rail, peering out
into the mist, humming to himself a sweet, wild air in a strange but
exceedingly musical tongue.

Very strange. Very musical.

Perhaps no such words had ever before gone out over that part of the
Atlantic; for Frank Harley was a missionary's son, "going home to be
educated;" and the sweet, low-voiced song was a Hindustanee hymn which
his mother had taught him in far-away India.

Suddenly the hymn was cut short by the hoarse voice of the "lookout," as
it announced,--

"A white light, close aboard, on the windward bow."

That was rapidly followed by even hoarser hails, replied to by a voice
which was clear and strong enough, but not hoarse at all. The next
moment something, which was either a white sail or a ghost, came
slipping along through the fog, and then the conversation did not
require to be shouted any longer. Frank could even hear one person say
to another out there in the mist, "Ain't it a big thing, Ford, that you
know French? I mean to study it when we get home."

"It's as easy as eating. Dab, shall I tell 'em we've got some fish?"

"Of course. We'll sell 'em the whole cargo."

"Sell them? Why not make them a present?"

"We may need the money to get home with. They're a splendid lot. Enough
for the whole cabin-full."

"Dat's a fack. Cap'in Dab Kinzer's de sort ob capt'in fo' me, he is!"

"How much, then?"

"Twenty-five dollars for the lot. They're worth it,--specially if we
lose Ham's boat."

Dab's philosophy was a little out of gear; but a perfect rattle of
questions and answers followed in French, and, somewhat to Frank
Harley's astonishment, the bargain was promptly concluded. Fresh fish,
just out of the water, were a particularly pleasant arrival to people
who had been ten days out at sea.

How were they to get them on board? Nothing easier, since the little
"Swallow" could run along so nicely under the stern of the great
steamer, after a line was thrown her; and a large basket was swung out
at the end of a long, slender spar, with a pulley to lower and raise it.

There was fun in the loading of that basket: but even the boys from Long
Island were astonished at the number and size of the fine,
freshly-caught blue-fish, to which they were treating the hungry
passengers of the "Prudhomme;" and the basket had to go and come again
and again.

The steamer's steward, on his part, avowed that he had never before met
so honest a lot of Yankee fishermen. Perhaps not; for high prices and
short weight are apt to go together, where "luxuries" are selling. The
pay itself was handed out in the same basket which went for the fish,
and then "The Swallow" was again cast loose.

The wind was not nearly so high as it had been, and the sea had for some
time been going down.

Twenty minutes later Frank Harley heard,--for he understood French very
well,--

"Hullo, the boat! What are you following us for?"

"Oh! we won't run you down. Don't be alarmed. We've lost our way out
here, and we're going to follow you in. Hope you know where you are."

There was a cackle of surprise and laughter among the steamer's
officers, in which Frank and some of the passengers joined; and the
saucy little "fishing-boat" came steadily on in the wake of her gigantic
tide.

"This is grand for us," remarked Dab Kinzer to Ford, as he kept his eyes
on the after-lantern of the "Prudhomme." "They pay all our pilot-fees."

"But they're going to New York."

"So are we, if to-morrow doesn't come out clear, and with a good wind to
go home by."

"It's better than crossing the Atlantic in the dark, anyhow. But what a
steep price we got for those fish!"

"They're always ready to pay well for such things at the end of a
voyage," said Dab. "I expected, though, they'd try and beat us down a
peg. They generally do. We didn't get much more than the fair market
price, after all, only we got rid of our whole catch at one sale."

That was a good deal better than fishermen are apt to do.

Hour followed hour; and "The Swallow" followed the steamer, and the fog
followed them both so closely, that sometimes even Dick Lee's keen eyes
could with difficulty make out the "Prudhomme's" light. And now Ford
Foster ventured to take a bit of a nap, so sure did he feel that all the
danger was over, and that Captain Kinzer was equal to what Dick Lee
called the "nagivation" of that yacht How long he had slept, he could
not have guessed but he was awakened by a great cry from out the mist
beyond them, and by the loud exclamation of Captain Kinzer, still at the
tiller,--

"I believe she's run ashore!"

It was a loud cry, indeed, and there was good reason for it. Well was it
for all on board the great steamer, that she was running no faster at
the time and that there was no hurricane of a gale to make things worse
for her. Pilot and captain had both together missed their
reckoning,--neither of them could ever afterward tell how,--and there
they were, stuck fast in the sand, with the noise of breakers ahead of
them, and the dense fog all around.

Frank Harley peered anxiously over the rail again but he could not have
complained that he was "wrecked in sight of shore," for the steamer was
any thing but a wreck as yet, and there was no shore in sight.

"It's an hour to sunrise," said Dab to Ford, after the latter had
managed to comprehend the situation. "We may as well run farther in, and
see what we can see."

It must have been aggravating to the people on board the steamer, to see
that little cockle-shell of a yacht dancing safely along over the shoal
on which their "leviathan" had struck, and to hear Ford Foster sing out,
"If we'd known you meant to run in here, we'd have followed some other
pilot."

"They're in no danger at all," said Dab, "If their own boats don't take
'em all ashore, the coast-wreckers will."

"The government life-savers, I s'pose you mean."

"Yes: they're all alongshore, here, everywhere. Hark! there goes the
distress-gun. Bang away! It sounds a good deal more mad than scared."

So it did; and so they were,--captain, pilot, passengers, and all.

"Captain Kinzer" found that he could safely run in for a couple of
hundred yards or so; but there were signs of surf beyond, and he had no
anchor to hold on by. His only course was to tack back and forth as
carefully as possible, and wait for daylight,--as the French sailors
were doing, with what patience they could command.

In less than half an hour, however, a pair of long, graceful,
buoyant-looking life-boats, manned each with an officer and eight
rowers, came shooting through the mist, in response to the repeated
summons of the steamer's cannon.

"It's all right, now," said Dab. "I knew they wouldn't be long in
coming. Let's find out where we are."

That was easy enough. The steamer had gone ashore on a sand-bar, a
quarter of a mile from the beach, and a short distance from Seabright on
the New Jersey coast; and there was no probability of any worse harm
coming to her than the delay in her voyage, and the cost of pulling her
out from the sandy bed into which she had so blindly thrust herself. The
passengers would, most likely, be taken ashore with their baggage, and
sent on to the city overland.

"In fact," said Ford Foster, "a sand-bar isn't as bad for a steamer as a
pig is for a locomotive."

"The train you were wrecked in," said Dab, "was running fast. Perhaps
the pig was. Now, the sandbar was standing still, and the steamer was
going slow. My! What a crash there'd have been if she'd been running ten
or twelve knots an hour, with a heavy sea on!"

By daylight there were plenty of other craft around, including yachts
and sail-boats from Long Branch, and "all along shore;" and the Long
Island boys treated the occupants of these as if they had sent for them,
and were glad to see them.

"Seems to me you're inclined to be a little inquisitive, Dab," said
Ford, as his friend peered sharply into and around one craft after
another; but just then Dabney sang out,--

"Hullo, Jersey, what are you doing with two grapnels? Is that boat of
yours balky?"

"Mind yer eye, youngster. They're both mine, I reckon."

"You might sell me one cheap," continued Dab, "considering how you got
'em. Give you ten cents for the big one."

Ford thought he understood the matter now, and he said nothing; but the
"Jersey wrecker" had "picked up" both of those anchors, one time and
another, and had no sort of objection to "talking trade."

"Ten cents! Let you have it for fifty dollars."

"Is it gold, or only silver gilt?"

"Pure gold, my boy; but, seem' it's you, I'll let you have it for ten
dollars."

"Take your pay in clams?"

"Oh, hush! I hain't no time to gabble. Mebbe I'll git a job here, 'round
this yer wreck. If you reelly want that there grapn'I, wot'll you
gimme?"

"Five dollars, gold, take it or leave it," said Dab, pulling out a coin
from the money he had received for his bluefish.

In three minutes more "The Swallow" was furnished with a much larger and
better anchor than the one she had lost the day before; and Dick Lee
exclaimed, "It jes' takes Cap'n Kinzer!"

For some minutes before this, as the light grew clearer and the fog
lifted a little, Frank Harley had been watching them from the rail of
the "Prudhomme," and wondering if all the fisher-boys in America dressed
as well as these two.

"Hullo, you!" was the greeting which now came to his ears. "Go ashore in
my boat?"

"Not till I've eaten some of your fish for breakfast," said Frank.
"What's your name?"

"Captain Dabney Kinzer, of 'most anywhere on Long Island. What's yours?"

"Frank Harley of Rangoon."

"I declare," almost shouted Ford Foster, "if you're not the chap my
sister Annie told me of! You're going to Albany, to my uncle Joe Hart's,
ain't you?"

"Yes, to Mr. Hart's, and then to Grantley to school."

"That's it. Well, then, you can just come along with us. Get your kit
out of your state-room. We can send over to the city after the rest of
your baggage, after it gets in."

"Along with you! Where?"

"To my father's house, instead of ashore among those hotel people, and
other wreckers. The captain'll tell you it's all right."

Frank had further questions to ask before he was satisfied as to whose
hands he was about to fall into; and the whole arrangement was, no
doubt, a little irregular. So was the present position of the
"Prudhomme" herself, however; and all landing rules were a trifle out of
joint by reason of that circumstance. So the steamer authorities
listened to Frank's request when he made it, and gruffly granted it.

"The Swallow" lay quietly at her new anchor while her passenger to be
was completing his preparations to board her. Part of them consisted of
a hearty breakfast,--fresh bluefish, broiled; and while he was eating it
the crew of the yacht made a deep hole in what remained of their own
supplies. Nobody who had seen them eat would have suspected that their
long night at sea had interfered with their appetites. In fact, each of
them remarked to the others that it had not, so far as he was concerned.

"We'll make a good run," said Dab. "It'll be great!"

"What?" said Ford, in some astonishment; "ain't you going to New York at
all?"

"What for?"

"I thought that was what you meant to do. Shall you sail right straight
home?"

"Why not? If we could do that distance at night, and in a storm, I guess
we can in a day of such splendid weather as this, with the wind just
right too."





CHAPTER XIII

"HOME AGAIN! HERE WE ARE!"


The wind was indeed "just right;" but even Dab forgot, for the moment,
that "The Swallow" would go faster and farther before a gale than she
was likely to with the comparatively mild southerly breeze now blowing.
He was by no means likely to get home by dinner-time. As for danger,
there would be absolutely none, unless the weather should again become
stormy; and there was no probability of any such thing at that season.
And so, after he had eaten his breakfast, and, with a genuine boy's
confidence in boys, Frank Harley came on board "The Swallow" as a
passenger, the anchor was lifted, and the gay little craft spread her
white sails, and slipped lightly away from the neighborhood of the
forlorn-looking, stranded steamer.

"They'll have her out of that in less'n a week," said Ford to Frank. "My
father'll know just what to do about your baggage, and so forth."

There were endless questions to be asked and answered on both sides; but
at last Dab yawned a very sleepy yawn, and said, "Ford, you've had your
nap. Wake up Dick, there, and let him take his turn at the tiller. The
sea's as smooth as a lake, and I believe I'll go to sleep for an hour or
so. You and Frank can keep watch while Dick steers: he's a good
steerer."

Whatever Dab said was "orders" now on board "The Swallow;" and Ford's
only reply was,--

"If you haven't earned a good nap, then nobody has."

Dick, too, responded promptly and cheerfully; and in five minutes more
the patient and skilful young "captain" was sleeping like a top.

"Look at him," said Ford Foster to Frank Harley. "I don't know what he's
made of. He's been at that tiller for twenty-three hours by the watch,
in all sorts of weather, and never budged."

"They don't make that kind of boy in India," replied Frank.

"He's de bes' feller you ebber seen," added Dick Lee. "I's jes' proud ob
him, I is!"

Smoothly and swiftly and safely "The Swallow" was bearing her precious
cargo across the summer sea; but the morning had brought no comfort to
the two homes at the head of the inlet, or the humble cabin in the
village. Old Bill Lee was out in the best boat he could borrow, by early
daylight; and more than one of his sympathizing neighbors followed him a
little later. There was no doubt at all that a thorough search would be
made of the bay and the island, and so Mr. Foster wisely remained at
home to comfort his wife and daughter.

"That sort of boy," mourned Annie, "is always getting into some kind of
mischief."

"Annie!" exclaimed her mother indignantly, "Ford is a good boy, and he
does not run into mischief."

"I didn't mean Ford: I meant that Dabney Kinzer. I wish we'd never seen
him, or his sailboat either."

"Annie," remarked her father a little reprovingly, "if we live by the
water, Ford _will_ go out on it, and he had better do so in good
company. Wait a while."

Annie was silenced, but it was only too clear that she was not entirely
convinced. Her brother's absence and all their anxiety were positively
due to Dab Kinzer, and his wicked, dangerous little yacht; and he must
be to blame somehow.

She could not help "waiting a while," as her father bade her; but her
eyes already told that she had been doing more than wait.

Summer days are long; but some of them are a good deal longer than
others, and that was one of the longest any of those people had ever
known.

For once, even dinner was more than half neglected in the Kinzer family
circle. At the Fosters' it was forgotten almost altogether. Long as the
day was, and so dreary, in spite of all the bright, warm sunshine, there
was no help for it: the hours would not hurry, and the wanderers would
not return. Tea-time came at last; and with it the Fosters all came over
to Mrs. Kinzer's again, to take tea, and tell her of several fishermen
who had returned from the bay without having discovered a sign of "The
Swallow" or its crew.

Stout-hearted Mrs. Kinzer talked bravely and encouragingly,
nevertheless, and did not seem to abate an ounce of her confidence in
her son. It seemed as if, in leaving off his roundabouts, particularly
considering the way in which he had left them off, Dabney must have
suddenly grown a great many "sizes" in his mother's estimation. Perhaps,
too, that was because he had not left them off any too soon.

There they sat around the tea-table, the two mothers and all the rest of
them, looking gloomy enough; while over there in her bit of a brown
house, in the village, sat Mrs. Lee in very much the same frame of mind,
trying to relieve her feelings by smoothing imaginary wrinkles out of
her boy's best clothes, and planning for him any number of bright red
neckties, if he would only come back to wear them.

The neighbors were becoming more than a little interested, and even
excited about the matter; but what was there to be done?

Telegrams had been sent to other points on the coast, and all the
fishermen notified. It was really one of those puzzling cases, where
even the most neighborly can do no better than "wait a while."

Still, there were more than a dozen people, of all sorts, including Bill
Lee, lingering around the "landing" as late as eight o'clock that
evening.

Suddenly one of them exclaimed,--

"There's a light coming in!"

Others followed with,--

"There's a boat under it!"

"Ham's boat carried a light."

"I'll bet it's her!"

"No, it isn't"--

"Hold on and see."

There was not long to "hold on;" for in three minutes more "The Swallow"
swept gracefully in with the tide, and the voice of Dab Kinzer shouted
merrily,--

"Home again! Here we are!"

Such a ringing volley of cheers answered him!

It was heard and understood away there in the parlor of the Morris
house, and brought every soul of that anxious circle right up standing.

"Must be it's Dab!" exclaimed Mrs. Kinzer.

"O mother!" said Annie, "is Ford safe?"

"They wouldn't cheer like that, my dear, if any thing had happened,"
remarked Mr. Foster; but, in spite of his coolness, the city lawyer
forgot to put his hat on, as he dashed out of the front gate and down
the road towards the landing.

Then came one of those times that it takes a whole orchestra and a
gallery of paintings to tell any thing about: for Mrs. Lee as well as
her husband was on the beach; and within a minute after "Captain Kinzer"
and his crew had landed, poor Dick was being hugged and scolded within
an inch of his life, and the two other boys found themselves in the
midst of a perfect tumult of embraces and cheers.

Frank Harley's turn came soon, moreover; for Ford Foster found his
balance, and introduced the "passenger from India" to his father.

"Frank Harley!" exclaimed Mr. Foster. "I've heard of you, certainly; but
how did you--boys, I don't understand"--

"Oh! father, it's all right. We took Frank off the French steamer, after
she ran ashore."

"Ran ashore?"

"Yes. Down the Jersey coast. We got in company with her in the fog,
after the storm. That was yesterday evening."

"Down the Jersey coast? Do you mean you've been out at sea?"

"Yes, father; and I'd go again, with Dab Kinzer for captain. Do you
know, father, he never left the rudder of 'The Swallow' from the moment
we started until seven o'clock this morning."

"You owe him your lives!" almost shouted Mr. Foster; and Ford added
emphatically, "Indeed we do!"

It was Dab's own mother's arms that had been around him from the instant
he had stepped ashore, and Samantha and Keziah and Pamela had had to
content themselves with a kiss or so apiece; but dear, good Mrs. Foster
stopped smoothing Ford's hair and forehead just then, and came and gave
Dab a right motherly hug, as if she could not express her feelings in
any other way.

As for Annie Foster, her face was suspiciously red at the moment; but
she walked right up to Dab after her mother released him, and said,--

"Captain Kinzer, I've been saying dreadful things about you, but I beg
pardon."

"I'll be entirely satisfied, Miss Foster," said Dabney, "if you'll only
ask somebody to get us something to eat."

"Eat!" exclaimed Mrs. Kinzer. "Why, the poor fellows! Of course they're
hungry."

"Cap'n Kinzer allers does know jes' de right t'ing to do," mumbled Dick
in a half-smothered voice; and his mother let go of him, with--

"Law, suz! So dey be!"

Hungry enough they all were, indeed; and the supper-table, moreover, was
the best place in the world for the further particulars of their
wonderful cruise to be told and heard.

Dick Lee was led home in triumph to a capital supper of his own; and as
soon as that was over he was rigged out in his Sunday clothes,--red silk
necktie and all,--and invited to tell the story of his adventures to a
roomful of admiring neighbors. He told it well, modestly ascribing every
thing to Dab Kinzer; but there was no good reason, in any thing he said,
for one of his father's friends to inquire next morning,--

"Bill Lee, does you mean for to say as dem boys run down de French
steamah in dat ar' boat?"

"Not dat. Not zackly."

"'Cause, ef you does, I jes' want to say I's been down a-lookin' at her,
and she ain't even snubbed her bowsprit."





CHAPTER XIV.

A GREAT MANY THINGS GETTING READY TO COME!


The newspapers from the city brought full accounts of the stranding of
the "Prudhomme," and of the safety of her passengers and cargo.

The several editors seemed to differ widely in their opinions relating
to the whole affair; but there must have been some twist in the mind of
the one who excused everybody on the ground that "no pilot, however
skilful, could work his compass correctly in so dense a fog as that."

None of them had any thing whatever to say of the performances of "The
Swallow." The yacht had been every bit as well handled as the great
steamship; but then, she had reached her port in safety, and she was
such a little thing, after all.

Whatever excitement there had been in the village died out as soon as it
was known that the boys were safe; and a good many people began to
wonder why they had been so much upset about it, anyhow.

Mrs. Lee herself, the very next morning, so far recovered her peace of
mind as to "wonder wot Dab Kinzer's goin' to do wid all de money he got
for dem bluefish."

"I isn't goin' to ask him," said Dick. "He's capt'in."

As for Dab himself, he did an immense amount of useful sleeping, that
first night; but when he awoke in the morning he shortly made a
discovery, and the other boys soon made another. Dab's was, that all the
long hours of daylight and darkness, while he held the tiller of "The
Swallow," he had been thinking as well as steering. He had therefore
been growing very fast, and would be sure to show it, sooner or later.

Ford and Frank found that Dab had forgotten nothing he had said about
learning how to box, and how to talk French; but he did not say a word
to them about another important thing. He talked enough, to be sure; but
a great, original idea was beginning to take form in his mind, and he
was not quite ready yet to mention it to any one.

"I guess," he muttered more than once, "I'd better wait till Ham comes
home, and talk to him about it."

As for Frank Harley, Mr. Foster had readily volunteered to visit the
steamship-office in the city, with him, that next day, and see that
every thing necessary was done with reference to the safe delivery of
his baggage. At the same time, of course, Mrs. Foster wrote to her
sister Mrs. Hart, giving a full account of all that had happened, but
saying that she meant to keep Frank as her own guest for a while, if
Mrs. Hart did not seriously object.

That letter made something of a sensation in the Hart family. Neither
Mrs. Hart nor her husband thought of making any objection; for, to tell
the truth, it came to them as a welcome relief.

"It's just the best arrangement that could have been made, Maria, all
around," said he. "Write at once, and tell her she may keep him as long
as she pleases."

That was very well for them, but the boys hardly felt the same way about
it. They had been planning to have "all sorts of fun with that young
missionary," in their own house. He was, as Fuz expressed it, to be "put
through a regular course of sprouts, and take the Hindu all out of him."

"Never mind, though," said Joe, after the letter came, and the decision
of their parents was declared: "we'll serve him out after we get to
Grantley. There won't be anybody to interfere with the fun."

"Well, yes," replied Fuz, "and I'd just as lief not see too much of him
before that. He won't have any special claim on us, neither, if he
doesn't go there from our house."

That was a queer sort of calculation, but it was only a beginning. They
had other talks on the same subject, and the tone of them all had in it
a promise of lively times at Grantley for the friendless young stranger
from India.

Others, however, were thinking of the future, as well as themselves; and
Joe and Fuz furnished the subject for more than one animated discussion
among the boys down there by the Long Island shore. Ford Foster gave his
two friends the full benefit of all he knew concerning his cousins.

"It's a good thing for you," he said to Frank, "that the steamer didn't
go ashore anywhere near their house. They're a pair of born young
wreckers. Just think of the tricks they played on my sister Annie!"

They were all related in Ford's most graphic style, with comments to
suit from his audience. After that conversation, however, it was
remarkable what good attention Dab Kinzer and Frank Harley paid to their
sparring-lessons. It even exceeded the pluck and perseverance with which
Dab worked at his French; and Ford was compelled to admit, to him in
particular, "You ought to have a grown-up teacher,--somebody you won't
kill if you make out to get in a hit on him. You're too long in the
reach for me, and your arms are too hard."

What between the boxing-gloves and the boat, there could be no question
but what Frank Harley had landed at the right place to get strong in.

There was plenty of fishing, bathing, riding, boating, boxing: if they
had worked day and night, they could not have used it all up. Three boys
together can find so much more to do than one can, all alone; and they
made it four as often as they could, for Dick Lee had proved himself the
best kind of company. Frank Harley's East-Indian experience had made him
indifferent to the mere question of color, and Ford Foster was too much
of a "man" to forget that long night of gale and fog and danger on board
"The Swallow."

It was only a day or two after that perilous "cruise," that Dab Kinzer
met his old playmate, Jenny Walters, just in the edge of the village.

"How well you look, Dabney!" remarked the sharp-tongued little lady.
"Drowning must agree with you."

"Yes," said Dab, "I like it."

"Do you know what a fuss they made over you, when you were gone? I
s'pose they'd nothing else to do."

"Jenny," said Dab suddenly, holding out his hand, "you mustn't quarrel
with me any more. Bill Lee told me about your coming down to the
landing. You may say any thing to me you want to."

Jenny colored, and bit her lip; and she would have given her bonnet to
know if Bill Lee had told Dab how very red her eyes were, as she looked
down the inlet for some sign of "The Swallow." Something had to be said,
however; and she said it almost spitefully.

"I don't care, Dabney Kinzer: it did seem dreadful to think of you three
boys being drowned, and you, too, with your new clothes on.
Good-morning, Dab."

"She's a right good-hearted girl, if she'd only show it," muttered Dab,
as Jenny tripped away; "but she isn't a bit like Annie Foster."

His thoughts must have been on something else than his young-lady
acquaintances, nevertheless; for his next words were, "How I do wish Ham
Morris would come home!"

There was time enough for that, and Ham was hardly likely to be in a
hurry. The days were well employed in his absence; and, as they went by,
the Morris homestead went steadily on looking less and less like its old
self, and more and more like a house made for people to live and be
happy in. Mrs. Kinzer and her daughters had now settled down in their
new quarters as completely as if they had never known any others; and it
seemed to Dab, now and then, as if they had taken almost too complete
possession. His mother had her room, of course; and a big one it was.
There could be no objection to that. Then another big one, of the very
best, had to be set apart and fitted up for Ham and Miranda on their
return home; and Dab had taken great delight in doing all in his power
to make that room all it could be made. But then Samantha had insisted
upon having a separate domain, and Keziah and Pamela had imitated their
elder sister to a fraction.

The "guest-chamber" had to be provided as well, or what would become of
the good old Long Island notions of hospitality?

Dab said nothing while the partition was under discussion, nor for a
while afterwards; but one day at dinner, just after the coming of a
letter from Miranda, announcing the speedy arrival of herself and her
husband, he quietly remarked,--

"Now I can't sleep in Ham's room any longer, I suppose I'll have to go
out on the roof. I won't sleep in the garret or in the cellar."

"That will be a good deal as Mrs. Morris says, when she comes," calmly
responded his mother.

"As Miranda says!" said Dab, with a long breath.

"Miranda?" gasped Samantha and her sisters in chorus.

"Yes, my dears, certainly," said their mother. "This is Mrs. Morris's
house,--or her husband's,--not mine. All the arrangements I have made
are only temporary. She and Ham both have ideas and wills of their own.
I've only done the best I could for the time being."

The girls looked at one another in blank amazement, over the idea of
Mrs. Kinzer being any thing less than the mistress of any house she
might happen to be in; but Dabney laid down his knife and fork, with--

"It's all right, then. If Ham and Miranda are to settle it, I think I'll
take the room Sam has now. You needn't take away your books, Sam: I may
want to read some of them, or lend them to Annie. You and Kezi and Mele
had better take that upper room back. The smell of the paint's all gone
now, and there's three kinds of carpet on the floor."

"Dabney!" exclaimed Samantha, reproachfully, and with an appealing look
at her mother, who, however, said nothing on either side, and was a
woman of too much good sense to take any other view of the matter than
that she had announced.

Things were again all running on smoothly and pleasantly, before dinner
was over; but Dab's ideas of how the house should be divided were likely
to result in some changes,--perhaps not precisely the ones he indicated,
but such as would give him something better than a choice between the
garret, the cellar, and the roof. At all events, only three days would
now intervene before the arrival of the two travellers, and any thing in
the way of further discussion of the room question was manifestly out of
order.

Every thing required for the coming reception was pushed forward by Mrs.
Kinzer with all the energy she could bring to bear; and Dab felt called
upon to remark to Pamela,--

"Isn't it wonderful, Mele, how many things she finds to do after every
thing's done?"

The widow had promised her son-in-law that his house should be "ready"
for him, and it was likely to be a good deal more ready than either he
or his wife had expected.





CHAPTER XV.

DABNEY KINZER TO THE RESCUE.


One of the most troublesome of the annoyances which come nowadays to
dwellers in the country, within easy reach of any great city, is the bad
kind of strolling beggar known as "the tramp." He is of all sorts and
sizes; and he goes everywhere, asking for any thing he wants, very much
as if it belonged to him and he had come for his own--so long as he can
do his asking of a woman or a sickly-looking man. There had been very
few of these gentry seen in that vicinity, that summer, for a wonder;
and those who had made their appearance had been reasonably well
behaved. Probably because there had been so many healthy-looking men
around, as a general thing. But it come to pass, on the very day in
which Ham and Miranda were expected to arrive by the last of the evening
trains, just as Dab Kinzer was turning away from the landing, where he
had been for a look at "The Swallow" and to make sure she was all right
for her owner's eyes, that a very disreputable specimen of a worthless
man stopped at Mrs. Kinzer's to beg something to eat, and then sauntered
away down the road. It was a little past the middle of the afternoon;
and even so mean-looking, dirty a tramp as that had a perfect right to
be walking along then and there. The sunshine, and the fresh salt air
from the bay, were as much his as anybody's, and so was the water in the
bay; and no one in all that region of country stood more in need of
plenty of water than he.

The vagabond took his right to the road, as he had taken his other right
to beg his dinner, until, half-way down to the landing, he was met by an
opportunity to do a little more begging.

"Give a poor feller suthin'?" he impudently drawled, as he stared
straight into the sweet fresh face of Annie Foster.

Annie had been out for only a short walk; but she happened to have her
pocket-book with her, and she thoughtlessly drew it out, meaning to give
the scamp a trifle, if only to get rid of him.

"Only a dime, miss?" whined the tramp, as he shut his dirty hand over
Annie's gift. "Come, now, make it a dollar, my beauty. I'll call it all
square for a dollar."

The whine grew louder as he spoke; and the wheedling grin on his
disgusting face changed into an expression so menacing that Annie drew
back with a shudder, and was about returning her little portemonnaie to
her pocket.

"No, you don't, honey!"

The words were uttered in a hoarse and husky voice, and were accompanied
by a sudden grip of poor Annie's arm with one hand, while with the other
he snatched greedily at the morocco case.

Did she scream?

How could she help it? Or what else could she have done, under the
circumstances?

She screamed vigorously, whether she would or no, and at the same moment
dropped her pocket-book in the grass beside the path, so that it
momentarily escaped the vagabond's clutches.

"Shut up, will you!"

Other angry and evil words, accompanied by more than one vicious threat,
followed thick and fast, as Annie struggled to free herself, while her
assailant peered hungrily around after the missing prize.

It is not at all likely he would have attempted any thing so bold as
that, in broad daylight, if he had not been drinking too freely; and the
very evil "spirit" which had prompted him to his rash rascality unfitted
him for its immediate consequences.

These latter, in the shape of Dab Kinzer and the lower joint of a stout
fishing-rod, had been bounding along up the road from the landing, at a
tremendous rate, for nearly half a minute.

A boy of fifteen assailing a full-grown ruffian?

Why not? Age hardly counts in such a matter; and then it is not every
boy of even his growth that could have brought muscles like those of Dab
Kinzer to the swing he gave that four-foot length of seasoned ironwood.

Annie saw him coming; but her assailant did not until it was too late
for him to do any thing but turn, and receive that first hit in front
instead of behind. It would have knocked over almost anybody; and the
tramp measured his length on the ground, while Dabney plied the rod on
him with all the energy he was master of.

"Oh, don't, Dabney, don't!" pleaded Annie: "you'll kill him!"

"I wouldn't want to do that," said Dab, as he suspended his pounding;
but he added, to the tramp,--

"Now you'd better get up and run for it If you're caught around here
again, it'll be the worse for you."

The vagabond staggered to his feet, and he looked savagely enough at
Dab; but the latter looked so very ready to put in another hit with that
terrible cudgel, and the whole situation was so unpleasantly suggestive
of further difficulty, that the youngster's advice was taken without a
word. That is, if a shambling kind of double limp can be described as a
"run for it."

"Here it is: I've found my pocket-book," said Annie, as her enemy made
the best of his way off.

"He did not hurt you?"

"No: he only scared me, except that I suppose my arm will be
black-and-blue where he caught hold of it. Thank you ever so much,
Dabney: you're a brave boy. Why, he's almost twice your size."

"Yes; but the butt of my rod is twice as hard as his head," said Dabney.
"I was almost afraid to strike him with it. I might have broken his
skull."

"You didn't even break your rod."

"No; and now I must run back for the other pieces and the tip. I dropped
them in the road."

"Please, Dabney, see me home first," said Annie. "I know it's foolish,
and there isn't a bit of danger; but I must confess to being a good deal
frightened."

Dab Kinzer was a little the proudest boy on Long Island, as he walked
along at Annie's side, in compliance with her request. He went no
farther than the gate, to be sure, and then he returned for the rest of
his rod: but before he got back with it, Keziah Kinzer hurried home from
a call on Mrs. Foster, bringing a tremendous account of Dab's heroism;
and then his own pride over what he had done was only a mere drop in the
bucket, compared to that of his mother.

"Dabney is growing wonderfully," she remarked to Samantha, "He'll be a
man before any of us know it."

If Dab had been a man, however, or if Ham Morris or Mr. Foster had been
at home, the matter would not have been permitted to drop there. That
tramp ought to have been followed, arrested, and shut up where his
vicious propensities would have been under wholesome restraint for a
while. As it was, after hurrying on for a short distance, and making
sure he was not pursued, he clambered over the fence, and sneaked into
the nearest clump of bushes. From this safe covert he watched Dab
Kinzer's return after the lighter pieces of his rod; and then he even
dared to crouch along the fence, and see which house his young conqueror
went into.

"That's where he lives, is it?" he muttered, with a scowl of the most
ferocious vengeance. "Well, they'll have some fun there before they git
to bed to-night, or I'll know the reason why."

It could not have occurred to such a man that he had been given his
dinner at the door of that very house. What had the collection of his
rights as a "tramp" to do with questions of gratitude and revenge?

The bushes were a good enough hiding-place for the time, and he crawled
back to them with the air and manner of a man whose mind was made up to
something.

Ford and Frank were absent in the city that day with Mr. Foster, who was
kindly attending to some affairs of Frank's; but when the three came
home, and learned what had happened, it was hard to tell which of them
failed most completely in trying to express his boiling indignation.
They were all on the point of running over to the Morris house to thank
Dab, but Mrs. Foster interposed.

"I don't think I would. To-morrow will do as well, and you know they're
expecting Mr. and Mrs. Morris this evening."

It was harder for the boys to give it up than for Mr. Foster, and the
waiting till to-morrow looked a little dreary. They were lingering near
the north fence two hours later, with a faint idea of catching Dab, even
though they knew that the whole Kinzer family were down at the
railway-station, waiting for Ham and Miranda.

There was a good deal of patience to be exercised by them also; for that
railway-train was provokingly behind time, and there was "waiting" to be
done accordingly.

The darkness of a moonless and somewhat cloudy night had settled over
the village and its surrounding farms, long before the belated engine
puffed its way in front of the station-platform.

Just at that moment, back there by the north fence, Ford Foster
exclaimed,--

"What's that smell?"

"It's like burning hay, more than any thing else," replied Frank.

"Where can it come from, I'd like to know? We haven't had a light out at
our barn."

"Light?" exclaimed Frank. "Just look yonder!"

"Why, it's that old barn, 'way beyond the Morris and Kinzer house.
Somebody must have set it on fire. Hullo! I thought I saw a man running.
Come on, Frank!"

There was indeed a man running just then; but they did not see him, for
he was already very nearly across the field, and hidden by the darkness.
He had known how to light a fire that would smoulder long enough for him
to get away.

He was not running as well, nevertheless, as he might have done before
he came under the operation of Dab Kinzer's "lower joint."

Mrs. Kinzer did her best to prevent any thing like a "scene" at the
railway-station when Ham and Miranda came out upon the platform; but
there was an immense amount of "welcome" expressed in words and hugs and
kisses, in the shortest possible space of time. There was no lingering
on the platform, however; for Ham and his wife were as anxious to get at
the "surprise" they were told was waiting for them, as their friends
were to have them come to it.

Before they were half way home, the growing light ahead of them
attracted their attention; and then they began to hear the vigorous
shouts of "Fire!" from the throats of the two boys, re-enforced now by
Mr. Foster himself, and the lawyer's voice was an uncommonly good one.
Dabney was driving the ponies, and they had to go pretty fast for the
rest of that short run.

"Surprise?" exclaimed Ham. "I should say it was! Did you light it before
you started, Dabney?"

"Don't joke, Hamilton," remarked Mrs. Kinzer. "It may be a very serious
affair for all of us. But I can't understand how in all the world that
barn should have caught fire."

"Guess it was set a-going," said Dab.





CHAPTER XVI.

DAB KINZER AND HAM MORRIS TURN INTO A FIRE-DEPARTMENT.


The Morris farm, as has been said, was a pretty large one; and the same
tendency on the part of its owners which led them to put up so extensive
and barn-like a house, had stimulated them from time to time to make the
most liberal provisions for the storage of their crops. Barns were a
family weakness with them, as furniture had been with the Kinzers. The
first barn they had put up, now the oldest and the farthest from the
house, had been a large one. It was now in a somewhat dilapidated
condition, to be sure, and was bowed a little northerly by the weight of
years that rested on it; but it had still some hope of future usefulness
if it had not been for that tramp and his box of matches.

"There isn't a bit of use in trying to save it!" exclaimed Ham, as they
were whirled in through the wide-open gate. "It's gone!"

"But, Ham," said Mrs. Kinzer, "we can save the other barns perhaps. Look
at the cinders falling on the long stable. If we could keep them off
somehow!"

"We can do it, Ham," exclaimed Dab, very earnestly. "Mother, will you
send me out a broom and a rope, while Ham and I set up the ladder?"

"You're the boy for me," said Ham. "I guess I know what you're up to."

The ladder was one the house-painters had been using, and was a pretty
heavy one; but it was quickly set up against the largest and most
valuable of the barns, and the one, too, which was nearest and most
exposed to the burning building and its flying cinders. The rope was on
hand, and the broom, by the time the ladder was in position.

"Ford," said Dab, "you and Frank help the girls bring water, till the
men from the village get here. There's plenty of pails, but every one of
our hands is away.--Now, Ham, I'm ready."

Up they went, and were quickly astride of the ridge of the roof. It
would have been perilous work for any man to have ventured farther
unassisted; but Dab tied one end of the rope firmly around his waist,
Ham tied himself to the other, and then Dab could slip down the steep
roof, in any direction, without danger of slipping off to the ground
below.

But the broom?

It was as useful as a small fire-engine. The flying cinders of burning
hay or wood, as they alighted upon the sun-dried shingles of the roof,
needed to be swept off as fast as they fell, before they had time to
fulfil their errand of mischief. Here and there they had been at work
for some minutes, and the fresh little blazes they had kindled had so
good a start, that the broom alone would have been insufficient; and
there the rapidly-arriving pails of water came into capital play.

Ford Foster had never shone out to so good an advantage in all his life
before, as he did when he took his station on the upper rounds of that
ladder, and risked his neck to hand water-pails to Ham. It was hard
work, all around, but hardest of all for the two "firemen" on the roof.
Now and then the strength and agility of Ham Morris were put to pretty
severe tests, as Dab danced around under the scorching heat, or slipped
flat upon the sloping roof. It was well for Ham that he was a man of
weight and substance.

There were scores and scores of people streaming up from the village
now, arriving in panting squads, every moment; and Mrs. Kinzer had all
she could do to keep them from "rescuing" every atom of her furniture
out of the house, and piling it up in the road.

"Wait, please," she said to them very calmly.

"If Ham and Dab save the long barn, the fire won't spread any farther.
The old barn won't be any loss to speak of, anyhow."

Fiercely as the dry old barn burned, it used itself up all the quicker
on that account; and it was less than thirty minutes from the time Ham
and Dabney got at work before roof and rafters fell in, and the worst of
the danger was over. The men and boys from the village were eager enough
to do any thing that now remained to be done; but a large share of this
was confined to standing around and watching the "bonfire" burn down to
a harmless heap of badly smelling ashes. As soon, however, as they were
no more wanted on the roof, the two "volunteer firemen" came down; and
Ham Morris's first word on reaching the ground was,--

"Dab, my boy, how you've grown!"

Not a tenth of an inch in mere stature, and yet Ham was entirely correct
about it.

He stared at Dabney for a moment; and then he turned, and stared at
every thing else. There was plenty of light just then, moon or no moon;
and Ham's eyes were very busy for a full minute. He noted rapidly the
improvements in the fences, sheds, barns, the blinds on the house, the
paint, a host of small things that had changed for the better; and then
he simply said, "Come on, Dab," and led the way into the house. Her
mother and sisters had already given Miranda a hurried look at what they
had done, but Ham was not the man to do any thing in haste. Deliberately
and silently he walked from room to room, and from cellar to garret,
hardly seeming to hear the frequent comments of his enthusiastic young
wife. That he did hear all that had been said around him as he went,
however, was at last made manifest, for he said,--

"Dab, I've seen all the other rooms. Where's yours?"

"I'm going to let you and Miranda have my room," said Dab. "I don't
think I shall board here long."

"I don't think you will either," said Ham emphatically. "You're going
away to boarding-school. Miranda, is there any reason why Dab can't have
the south-west room, up stairs, with the bay-window?"

That room had been Samantha's choice, and she looked at Dab
reproachfully; but Miranda replied,--

"No, indeed. Not if you wish him to have it."

"Now, Ham," said Dabney, "I'm not big enough to fit that room. Give me
one nearer my size. That's a little loose for even Sam, and she can't
take any tucks in it."

Samantha's look changed to one of gratitude, and she did not notice the
detested nickname.

"Well, then," said Ham, "we'll see about it. You can sleep in the spare
chamber to-night.--Mother Kinzer, I couldn't say enough about this house
business if I talked all night. It must have cost you a deal of money. I
couldn't have dared to ask it. I guess you must kiss me again."

A curious thing it was that came next,--one that nobody could have
reckoned on. Mrs. Kinzer--good soul--had set her heart on having Ham and
Miranda's house "ready for them" on their return; and now Ham seemed to
be so pleased about it, she actually began to cry. She said, too,--

"I'm so sorry about the barn!"

Ham only laughed, in his quiet way, as he kissed his portly
mother-in-law, and said,--

"Come, come, mother Kinzer, you didn't set it afire. Can't Miranda and I
have some supper? Dab must be hungry, too, after all that
roof-sweeping."

There had been a sharp strain on the nerves of all of them that day and
evening; and they were glad enough to gather around the tea-table, while
all that was now left of the old barn smouldered peaceably away with
half the boys in the village on guard.

Once or twice Ham or Dab went out to see that all was dying out rightly;
but it was plain that all the danger was over, unless a high wind should
come to scatter the cinders.

By this time the whole village had heard of Dab's adventure with the
tramp, and had at once connected the latter with the fire. There were
those, indeed, who expressed a savage wish to connect him with it
bodily; and it was well for him that he had done his running away
promptly, and had hidden himself with care, for men were out after him
in all directions, on foot and on horseback. Who would have dreamed of
so dirty a vagabond "taking to the water"?

"He's a splendid fellow, anyway!"

Odd, was it not? but Annie Foster and Jenny Walters were half a mile
apart when they both said that very thing, just before the clock in the
village church hammered out the news that it was ten, and bedtime. They
were not either of them speaking of the tramp.

It was long after that, however, before the lights were out in all the
rooms of the Morris mansion.





CHAPTER XVII.

DAB HAS A WAKING DREAM, AND HAM GETS A SNIFF OF SEA-AIR.


Sleep? One of the most excellent things in all the world, and very few
people get too much of it nowadays.

As for Dabney Kinzer, he had done his sleeping as regularly and
faithfully as even his eating, up to the very night after Ham Morris
came home to find the old barn afire. There had been a few, a very few,
exceptions. There were the nights when he was expecting to go
duck-shooting before daylight, and waked up at midnight with a strong
conviction that he was late about starting. There were, perhaps, a dozen
of "eeling" expeditions, that had kept him out late enough for a full
basket and a proper scolding. There, too, was the night when he had
stood so steadily by the tiller of "The Swallow," while she danced,
through the dark, across the rough billows of the Atlantic.

But, on the whole, Dab Kinzer had been a good sleeper all his life till
then. Once in bed, and there had been for him an end of all wakefulness.

On that particular night, for the first time, sleep refused to come,
late as was the hour when the family circle broke up.

It could not have been the excitement of Ham and Miranda's return. He
would have gotten over that by this time. No more could it have been the
fire, though the smell of smouldering hay came in pretty strongly at
times through the wide-open windows. If any one patch of that great
roomy bed was better made up for sleeping than the rest of it, Dab would
surely have found the spot; for he tumbled and rolled all over it in his
restlessness. Some fields on a farm will "grow" wheat better than
others, but no part of the bed seemed to grow any sleep. At last Dab got
wearily up, and took a chair by the window.

The night was dark, but the stars were shining; and every now and then
the wind would make a shovel of itself, and toss up the hot ashes the
fire had left, sending a dull red glare around on the house and barns
for a moment, and flooding all the neighborhood with a stronger smell of
burnt hay.

"If you're going to burn hay," soliloquized Dabney, "it won't do to take
a barn for a stove. Not that kind of a barn. But what did Ham Morris
mean by saying that I was to go to boarding-school? That's what I'd like
to know"

The secret was out.

He had kept remarkably still, for him, all the evening, and had not
asked a question; but, if his brains were ever to work over his books as
they had over Ham's remark, his future chances for sound sleep were all
gone. It had come upon him so suddenly, the very thing he thought about
that night in "The Swallow," and wished for and dreamed about during all
those walks and talks and lessons of all sorts with Ford Foster and
Frank Harley, ever since they came in from that memorable cruise.

It was a wonderful idea, and Dab had his doubts as to the way his mother
would take to it when it should be brought seriously before her. Little
he guessed the truth. Ham's remark had gone deep into other ears as well
as Dabney's; and there were reasons, therefore, why good Mrs. Kinzer was
sitting by the window of her own room, at that very moment, as little
inclined to sleep as was the boy she was thinking of. So proud of him
too, she was, and so full of bright, motherly thoughts of the man he
would make, "one of these days, when he gets his growth."

There must have been a good deal of sympathy between Dab and his mother;
for by and by, just as she began to feel drowsy, and muttered, "Well,
well, we'll have a talk about it to-morrow," Dab found himself nodding
against the window-frame, and slowly rose from his chair, remarking,--

"Guess I might as well finish that dream in bed. If I'd tumbled out o'
the window I'd have lit among Miranda's rose-bushes. They've got their
thorns all out at this time o' night."

It was necessary for them both to sleep hard, after that; for more than
half the night was gone, and they were to be up early. So indeed they
were; but what surprised Mrs. Kinzer when she went into the kitchen was
to find Miranda there before her.

"You here, my dear? That's right. I'll take a look at the milk-room.
Where's Ham?"

"Out among the stock. Dab's just gone to him."

Curious things people will do at times. Miranda had put down the
coffee-pot on the range. There was not a single one of the farm "help"
around, male or female; and there stood the blooming young bride, with
her back toward her mother, and staring out through the open door. And
then Mrs. Kinzer slipped forward, and put her arms around her daughter's
neck.

Well, it was very early in the morning for those two women to stand
there and cry; but it seemed to do them good, and Miranda remarked at
last, as she kissed her mother,--

"O mother, it is all so good and beautiful, and I'm so happy!"

And then they both laughed, in a subdued and quiet way; and Miranda
picked up the coffee-pot while Mrs. Kinzer walked away into the
milk-room. Such cream as there seemed to be on all the pans that
morning!

As for Ham Morris, his first visit on leaving the house had been to the
relics of the old barn, as a matter of course.

"Not much of a loss," he said to himself; "but it might have been, but
for Dab. There's the making of a man in him. Wonder if he'd get enough
to eat, if we sent him up yonder? On the whole, I think he would. If he
didn't, I don't believe it would be his fault. He's got to go; and his
mother'll agree to it, I know. Talk about mothers-in-law! If one of
'em's worth as much as she is, I'd like to have a dozen. Don't know
'bout that, though. I'm afraid the rest would have to take back seats as
long as Mrs. Kinzer was in the house."

Very likely Ham was right; but just then he heard the voice of Dab,
behind him,--

"I say, Ham, when you've looked at the other things, I want to show you
'The Swallow.' I haven't hurt her a bit, and her new grapnel's worth
three of the old one."

"All right, Dab. I think I'd like a sniff of the water. Come on. There's
nothing else I know of like that smell of the shore with the tide half
out."

No more there is; and there have been sea-shore men, many of them, who
had wandered away into the interior of the country, hundreds and
hundreds of long miles, and settled there, and even got rich and old
there, and yet who have come all the way back again, just to get another
smell of the salt marshes and the sea-air and the out-going tide.

Ham actually took a little boat, and went on board "The Swallow," when
they reached the landing, and Dab kept close to him.

"She's all right, Ham. But what are you casting loose for?"

"Dab, they won't all be ready for breakfast in two hours. The stock and
things can go: the men'll tend to 'em. Just haul on that sheet a bit.
Now the jib. Look out for the boom. There! The wind's a little ahead,
but it isn't bad. Ah!"

The last word came out in a great sigh of relief, and was followed by a
chuckle which seemed to gurgle all the way up from Ham's boots.

"This is better than railroading," he said to Dabney, as they tacked
into the long stretch where the inlet widened toward the bay. "No
pounding or jarring here. Talk of your fashionable watering-places! Why,
Dab, there ain't any thing else in the world prettier than that reach of
water and the sand-island, with the ocean beyond it. There's some ducks
and some gulls. Why, Dab, do you see that? There's a porpoise, inside
the bar!"

It was as clear as daylight that Ham Morris felt himself "at home"
again, and that his brief experience of the outside world had by no
means lessened his affection for the place he was born in. If the entire
truth could have been known, it would have been found that he felt his
heart warm toward the whole coast and all its inhabitants, including the
clams. And yet it was remarkable how many of the latter were mere empty
shells when Ham finished his breakfast that morning. He preferred them
roasted, and his mother-in-law had not forgotten that trait in his
character.

Once or twice in the course of the sail, Dabney found himself on the
point of saying something about boarding-schools; but each time his
friend broke away to the discussion of other topics, such as blue-fish,
porpoises, crabs, or the sailing qualities of "The Swallow," and Dab
dimly felt that it would be better to wait until another time. So he
waited.

It was a grand good time, however, to be had before breakfast; and as
they again sailed up the inlet, very happy and very hungry, Dab suddenly
exclaimed,--

"Ham, do you see that? How could they have guessed where we'd gone?
There's the whole Kinzer tribe, and the boys are with them, and Annie."

"What boys and Annie?"

"Oh! Ford Foster and Frank Harley. Annie is Ford's sister. They live in
our old house, you know."

"What's become of Jenny?"

"You mean my boat? There she is, hitched a little out, just beyond the
landing."

There was nothing on Dab's face to lead any one to suppose that he
guessed the meaning of the quizzical grin on Ham's.

It is barely possible, however, that there would have been fewer people
at the landing, if Ham and Dab had not been keeping a whole house-full
of hungry mortals, including a bride, waiting breakfast for them.





CHAPTER XVIII.

HOW DAB WORKED OUT ANOTHER OF HIS GREAT PLANS.


There was a sort of council at the breakfast-table of the Foster family
that morning; and Ford and Annie found their side of it "voted down."

That was not at all because they did not debate vigorously, and even
"protest;" but the odds were too much against them.

"Annie, my dear," said Mrs. Foster at last, in a gentle but decided way,
"I'm sure your aunt Maria, if not your uncle, must feel hurt at your
coming away so suddenly. If we invite Joe and Foster to visit us, it
will make it all right."

"Yes," sharply exclaimed Mr. Foster: "we must have them come. They'll
behave themselves here. I'll write to their father: you write to Maria."

"They're her own boys, you know," added Mrs. Foster soothingly.

"Well, mother," said Annie, "if it must be. But I'm sure they'll make us
all very uncomfortable if they come."

"I can stand 'em for a week or so," said Ford, with the air of a man who
can do or bear more than most people. "I'll get Dab Kinzer to help me
entertain them."

"Excellent," said Mr. Foster; "and I hope they will be civil to him."

"To Dabney?" asked Annie.

"Fuz and Joe civil to Dab Kinzer?" exclaimed Ford.

"Certainly: I hope so."

"Father," said Ford, "may I say just what I was thinking?"

"Speak it right out."

"Well, I was thinking what a good time Fuz and Joe would be likely to
have, trying to get ahead of Dab Kinzer."

Annie looked at her brother, and nodded; and there was a bit of a
twinkle in the eyes of the lawyer himself, but he only remarked,--

"Well, you must be neighborly. I don't believe the Hart boys know much
about the seashore."

"Dab and Frank and I will try and educate them."

Annie thought of the ink, and her box of spoiled cuffs and collars,
while her brother was speaking. Could it be that Ford meant a good deal
more than he was saying? At all events, she fully agreed with him on the
Dab Kinzer question.

That was one "council;" and it was one of peace or war, probably a good
deal as the Hart boys themselves might thereafter determine.

At the same hour, however, matters of even greater importance were
coming to a decision around the well-filled breakfast-table in the
Morris mansion. Ham had given a pretty full account of his visit to
Grantley, including his dinner at Mrs. Myers's, and all he had learned
relating to the academy.

"It seems like spending a great deal of money," began Mrs. Kinzer, when
Ham at last paused for breath; but lid caught her up at once, with--

"I know you've been paying out a good deal, mother Kinzer, but Dab must
go, if I pay"--

"You pay, indeed? For my boy? I'd like to see myself! Now I've found out
what he is, I mean he shall have every advantage. If this Grantley's the
right place"--

"Mother," exclaimed Samantha, "it's the very place Mr. Foster is going
to send Ford to, and Frank Harley."

"Exactly," said Ham; "Mr. Hart spoke of a Mr. Foster,--his
brother-in-law,--a lawyer."

"Why," said Keziah, "he's living in our old house now. Ford Foster is
Dab's greatest crony. They're the very people you met at the landing."

"Yes, I've heard all that," said Ham, "but somehow I hadn't put the two
things together. Now, mother Kinzer, do you really mean Dab is to go?"

"Of course I do," said she.

"Well, if that isn't doing it easy! Do you know, it's about the nicest
thing I've heard since I got here?"

"Except the barn," said Dabney, unable to hold in any longer. "Mother,
may I stand on my head a while?"

"You'll need all the head you've got," said Ham. "You won't have much
time to get ready."

"He'll have books enough after he gets there," said Mrs. Kinzer
decidedly. "I'll risk Dabney."

"And they'll make him give up all his slang," added Samantha.

"Yes, Sam; when I come back I'll talk nothing but Greek and Latin. I'm
getting French now from Ford, and Hindu from Frank Harley. Then I know
English, and slang, and Long-Islandish. Think of one man with seven
first-rate languages!"

But Dabney soon found himself unable to sit still, even at the
breakfast-table. Not that he got up hungry, for he had done his duty by
Miranda's cookery; but the house itself, big as it was, seemed too small
to hold him, with all his new prospects swelling within him. Perhaps,
moreover, the rest of the family felt that they would be better able to
discuss the important subject before them, after Dab had taken himself
out into the open air; for none of them tried to stay his going.

"This beats dreaming, all hollow," he said to himself, as he stood, with
his hands in his pockets, half way down to the gate between the two
gardens. "Now I'll see what can be done about that other matter."

Two plans in one head, and so young a head as that?

Yes; and it spoke well for Dab's heart, as well as his brains, that his
plan number two was not a selfish one. The substance of it came out in
the first five minutes of the talk he had, a trifle later, with Ford and
Frank, on the other side of the gate.

"Ford, you know there's twenty dollars left of the money the Frenchman
paid us for the bluefish."

"Well, what of it? Isn't it yours?"

"One share of it's mine. The rest is yours and Dick's."

"He needs it more'n I do."

"Ford, did you know Dick Lee was real bright?"

"'Cute little chap as ever I saw. Why?"

"Well, he ought to go to school."

"Why don't he go?"

"He does, except in summer. He might go to the academy, if they'd take
him, and if he had money enough to go with."

"Academy? What academy?"

"Why, Grantley, of course. I'm going, and so are you and Frank. Why
shouldn't Dick go?"

"You're going? Hurrah for that! Why didn't you say so before?"

"Wasn't sure till this morning. You fellows 'll be a long way ahead of
me, though. But I mean to catch up."

For a few minutes poor Dick was lost sight of in a perfect storm of
talk; but Dab came back to him, with,--

"Dick's folks are dreadful poor, but we might raise it. Twenty dollars
to begin with."

"I've ten dollars saved up, and I know mother'll say 'Pass it right
in,'" exclaimed Ford.

It was hardly likely Mrs. Foster would express her assent in precisely
that way; but Frank Harley promptly added,--

"I think I can promise five."

"I mean to speak to Ham Morris and mother about it," said Dab. "All I
wanted was to fix it about the twenty dollars to start on."

"Frank," shouted Ford, "let's go right in, and see our crowd!"

Ford was evidently getting a little excited; and it was hardly five
minutes later that he wound up his story, in the house, with,--

"Father, may I contribute my ten dollars to the Richard Lee Education
Fund?"

"Of course; but he will need a good deal more money than you boys can
raise."

"Why, father, the advertisement says half a year for a hundred and
fifty. He can board for less than we can. Perhaps Mrs. Myers would let
him work out a part of it."

"I can spare as much as Ford can," here put in Annie.

"Do you leave me out entirely?" said her mother, with a smile that was
even sweeter than usual.

As for sharp-eyed lawyer Foster himself, he had been hemming and
coughing in an odd sort of way for a moment, and he had said, "I
declare," several times; but he now remarked, somewhat more to the
purpose,--

"I don't believe in giving any man a better education than he will ever
know what to do with; but then, this Dick Lee and you boys,--well, see
what you can do; but no one must be allowed to contribute outside of the
Foster and Kinzer families, and Frank. As for the rest, hem!--ah--I
think I'll say that there won't be any difficulty."

"You, father?"

"Why not, Annie? Do you s'pose I'm going to let myself be beaten in such
a matter by a mere country-boy like Dabney Kinzer?"

"Father," said Ford, "if you'd seen how Dick behaved, that night, out
there on the ocean, in 'The Swallow'!"

"Just as well, just as well, my son."

"Hurrah!" shouted Ford. "Then it's all right, and Dick Lee'll have a
fair shake in the world!"

"A what, my son?" exclaimed his mother.

"I didn't mean to talk slang, mother: I only meant--well, you know how
dreadfully black he is; but then, he can steer a boat tiptop, and he's
splendid for crabs and bluefish; and Dab says he's a good scholar too."

"Dab's a very good boy," said Mrs. Foster; "but your friend Dick will
need an outfit, I imagine,--clothing, and almost every thing. I must see
Mrs. Kinzer about it."

Meantime Dick Lee's part in the matter, and that of his family, had been
taken for granted, all around. An hour later, however, Mrs. Kinzer's
first reply to her son, after listening to a calculation of his, which
almost made it seem as if Dick would make money by going to Grantley,
was,--

"What if Mrs. Lee should say she can't spare him?"

Dab's countenance fell. He knew Mrs. Lee, but he had not thought so far
as that.

He said something not very intelligible, but to that effect.

"Well, Dabney, if we can make the other arrangements, I'll see her about
it."

Ham Morris had been exchanging remarkable winks with Miranda and
Samantha, and now gravely suggested,--

"Maybe the academy authorities will refuse to take him."

"Ford says they had a blacker boy than he is, there, last year."

"Now, Dab!" exclaimed Ham.

"Well, I know he's pretty black; but it don't come off."

"Mother," said Samantha, "Mrs. Foster and Annie are coming through the
gate."

Dab waited just long enough after that to learn the news concerning the
"Richard Lee Education Fund" and Mr. Foster's offer, and then he was off
towards the shore.

He knew very well in which direction it was best to go; and, half way to
the landing, he met Dick coming up the road with a basket of eels on his
arm.

"Dick," shouted Dabney, "I'm going away to boarding-school, at an
academy."

"'Cad'my? Whar?"

"Up in New England. They call it Grantley Academy,--where Frank and Ford
are going."

"Dat spiles it all," said Dick ruefully. "Now I's got to fish wid
fellers 'at don't know nuffin."

"No, you won't. You're going with us. It's all fixed,--money and all."

Dick would never have thought, ordinarily, of questioning a statement
made by "Captain Kinzer;" but the rueful expression deepened on his
face, the basket of eels dropped heavily on the grass, the tough black
fingers of his hands twisted nervously together for a moment, and then
he sat mournfully down beside the basket.

"It ain't no use, Dab."

"No use? Why not?"

"I ain't a w'ite boy."

"What of it? Don't you learn well enough, over at the school?"

"More dar like me. Wot'd I do in a place whar all de res' was w'ite?"

"Well as anybody."

"Wot'll my mudder say, w'en she gits de news? You isn't a-jokin', is
you, Dab Kinzer?"

"Joking? I guess not."

"You's lit onto me powerful sudden 'bout dis. Yonder's Ford an' Frank
a-comin'. Don't tell 'em. Not jes' yit."

"They know all about it. They helped raise the money."

"Did dey? I's obleeged to 'em. Well, 'tain't no use. All I's good for is
eels and crabs and clams and sech. Har dey come. Oh, my!"

Ford and Frank brought a fresh gust of enthusiasm with them, and they
had Dick and his eels up from the grass in short order.

"We must see Mrs. Lee right away," said Ford. "It would never do to let
Dick tell her."

"Guess dat's so," said Dick.

Quite an embassy they made, those four boys, with Dab Kinzer for
spokesman, and Dick Lee almost crouching behind them. Mrs. Lee listened
with open mouth while Dab unfolded his plan, but when he had finished
she shut her lips firmly together. They were not very thin, and not at
all used to being shut, and in another instant they opened again.

"Sho! De boy! Is dat you, Dick? Dat's wot comes ob dressin' on 'im up.
How's he goin' to git clo'es? Wot's he got to do wid de 'Cad'my, anyhow?
Wot am I to do, yer all alone, arter he's gone? Who's goin' to run
err'nds an' do de choahs? Wot's de use ob bringin' up a boy an' den hab
him go trapesin' off to de 'Cad'my? Wot good'll it do 'im?"

"I tole yer so, Dab," groaned poor Dick. "It ain't no use. I 'most wish
I was a eel!"

Dabney was on the point of opening a whole broadside of eloquence, when
Ford Foster pinched his arm, and whispered,--

"Your mother's coming, and our Annie's with her."

"Then let's clear out. She's worth a ten-acre lot full of us. Come on,
boys!"

If Mrs. Lee was surprised by their very sudden and somewhat
unceremonious retreat, she need not have been, after she learned the
cause of it. She stood in wholesome awe of Mrs. Kinzer; and a "brush"
with the portly widow, re-enforced by the sweet face of Annie Foster,
was a pretty serious matter.

She did not hesitate about beginning the skirmish, however; for her
tongue was already a bit loosened, and in fine working-order.

"Wot's dis yer, Mrs. Kinzer, 'bout sendin' away my Dick to a furrin
'Cad'my? Isn't he 'most nigh nuff spiled a'ready?"

"Oh! it's all arranged nicely. Miss Foster and I only came over to see
what we could do about getting his clothes ready. He must have things
warm and nice, for the winters are cold up there."

"I hasn't said he might go--Dick, put down dem eels; an' he hasn't said
he'd go--Dick, take off yer hat; an' his father"--

"Now, Glorianna," interrupted Mrs. Kinzer, calling Dick's mother by her
first name, "I've known you these forty years, and do you suppose I'm
going to argue about it? Just tell us what Dick'll need, and don't let's
have any nonsense. The money's all provided. How do you know what'll
become of him? He may be governor yet."

"He mought preach!"

That idea had suddenly dawned upon the perplexed mind of Mrs. Lee, and
Dick's fate was settled. She was prouder than ever of her boy; and,
truth to tell, her opposition was only what Mrs. Kinzer had considered
it, a piece of unaccountable "nonsense," to be brushed away by just such
a hand as the widow's own.





CHAPTER XIX.

A GRAND SAILING-PARTY, AND AN EXPERIMENT BY RICHARD LEE.


That was a great day for the boys; but, before the close of it, Ford
Foster had told his friends the news that Joe Hart and his brother Fuz
had been invited to visit with him.

"Will they come?" asked Dab.

"Certainly. That kind of boy always comes. Nobody wants to keep him from
coming."

"When do you look for them?"

"Right away. Vacation's almost gone, you know."

"Won't they be ashamed to meet your sister?"

"Not a bit. They'll try their tricks, even after they get here."

"All right. We'll help 'em all we know how. But, boys, I'll tell you
what we must try for."

"What's that?"

"One grand good sailing-party in 'The Swallow,' before they get here."

"Hurrah for that! Annie was wishing for one, only yesterday."

"We'll have all of your folks and all of ours. 'The Swallow' is plenty
big enough."

"Mother wouldn't go, and father can't just now. He's trying a case. But
there's Annie and Frank and me"--

"And my mother, and Ham and Miranda, and our girls. Ham'll go, sure.
Then we must take Dick Lee along. It'd make him sick if we didn't."

"Of course. Ain't I glad about him! Could we get ready and go
to-morrow?"

"Guess not so quick as that. We might by the day after, if the weather's
all right."

Exactly. There is always a large-sized "if" to be put in, where any
thing depends on the weather, Mrs. Kinzer took the matter up with
enthusiasm, and so did the girls, Miranda included; and Ford Foster was
quite right about his part of the company.

But the weather!

It looked well enough, to unpractised eyes; but Ham Morris shook his
head, and went to consult his fishermen friends. There was a good deal
of head-shaking done thereupon; for every human barometer among them
advised him to wait a day or so, and hardly any two of them gave him the
same reason for doing it.

Ford Foster was at the house when Ham made his report, and was a little
surprised to see how promptly Dab Kinzer yielded his assent to the
verdict.

"Such warm, nice weather as this is," he remonstrated; "and there isn't
any wind to speak of."

"There's too much of it coming," was Ham's response; and there was no
help for it after that, not even when the mail brought word from "Aunt
Maria" that both of her dear boys would arrive in a day or two.

"Our last chance is gone, Annie," said Ford, when the news came.

"O mother!" she said despondingly, "what shall we do?"

"Have your sail, just the same, and invite your cousins."

"But the Kinzers"--

"Why, Annie! Mrs. Kinzer will not think of neglecting them. She's as
kind as kind can be."

"And we are to pay her with Joe and Fuz," said Ford. "Well, I wish Ham
Morris's storm would come along."

He only had to wait until the next day for it, and he felt quite
contented to be safe on shore while it lasted. There was no call for any
laughter at the prophecies of the fishermen after it began to blow.
Still the blow was not a long one, and Ham Morris remarked,--

"This is only an outside edge of it. It's a good deal worse than this
out at sea. I'm glad we're not out in it."

Ford Foster thought that about the worst of that weather was when the
afternoon train came in, and he had to show a pair of tired, moist, and
altogether unpleasant cousins to the room set apart for them. The clouds
in his mind did not clear away perceptibly even when, just after supper,
a note came in from Mrs. Kinzer, inviting the Hart boys to join the
yachting-party next morning.

"The storm may not be over," growled Ford a little sulkily.

"Oh!" said Annie, "Mrs. Kinzer adds that the weather will surely be fine
after such a blow, and the bay will be quite safe and smooth."

"Does she know the clerk of the weather?" asked Joe Hart.

"Got one of her own," said Ford.

Joe and Ford both found something to laugh at in that, but they said
nothing. They were both feeling a little "strange," as yet, and were
almost inclined to try and behave themselves; the main difficulty in the
way of it being a queer idea they had that their ordinary way of doing
things made up a fair article of "good behavior." Nobody had taken the
pains to bounce them out of the notion.

When the morning really came, sea and earth and sky seemed to be all the
better for the trial they had been through, and the weather was all that
Mrs. Kinzer had prophesied of it. The grass and trees were greener, and
the bay seemed bluer; while the few clouds visible were very white and
clean, as if all the storms had been recently washed out of them.

There was no question now to be raised concerning the yachting-party, or
any part of it. Not a single thing went wrong in Mrs. Kinzer's
management of the "setting out," and that was half the day won to begin
with. Ford had some difficulty in getting Joe and Fuz out of bed so
early as was necessary; but he gave them an intimation which proved
quite sufficient:--

"You'd better hop, boys. Ham Morris wouldn't wait five minutes for the
Queen of England, or even for me."

"Joe," whispered Fuz, a little while after they got on board the yacht,
"are we to be gone a week?"

"Why? What's up?"

"Such piles of provisions as they've stowed away in that kennel!"

The bit of a water-tight cabin under the half-deck, at which Fuz
pointed, was pretty well filled, beyond a doubt; but Mrs. Kinzer knew
what she was about. She had provided luncheon for most of that party
before, and the effect on them of the sea-air was also to be taken into
account.

"Dab," said Ford Foster, "you've forgotten to unhitch the 'Jenny,' Here
she is, towing astern."

"That's all right. We may need her. She's too heavy to be taken on
board."

A careful fellow was Mr. Hamilton Morris, and he well knew the value of
a rowboat to a sea-going picnic-party. As for Joe and Fuz, they were
compelled to overcome a strong inward inclination to cast the boat
loose. Such a good joke it would have been! But Ham Morris was in the
way of it, so long as he stood at the tiller.

"The Swallow" was steady enough to inspire even Annie Foster with a
feeling of confidence; but Ford carefully explained to her the
difference between slipping over the little waves of the landlocked bay,
and plunging into the gigantic billows of the stormy Atlantic.

"I prefer this," said Annie.

"But I wouldn't have missed the other for any thing," replied Ford.
"Would you, Dick?"

Mr. Richard Lee had taken his full share in the work of starting, and
had made himself singularly useful; but, if all the rest had not been so
busy, they would surely have noticed his remarkable silence. Hardly a
word had he uttered that anybody could remember; and, now he was forced
to say something, his mouth opened slowly, as if he had never tried to
speak before, and was not quite sure he knew how.

"No--Mr.--Foster,--I--would--not--have--missed--that--trip--for--a--good
--deal."

Every word came out by itself, "afoot and alone," and as different from
Dick's ordinary speech as a cut stone is from a rough one. Ham Morris
opened his eyes wide, and Ford puckered his lips into the shape of a
still whistle; but Annie caught the meaning of it quicker than they did.

"Dick," she said at once, "are we to fish to-day?"

"May--be,--but--that--depends--on--Mr. Morris."

Every word was slowly and carefully uttered, a good deal in the manner
of a man counting over a lot of money, and looking out sharp for
counterfeits.

"Look here, Dick," suddenly exclaimed Dab Kinzer, "I give it up: you can
do it. But don't you try to keep it up all day. Kill you, sure as any
thing, if you do."

"Did I say 'em all right, Cap'n Dab?" anxiously inquired Dick, with a
happy look on his merry black face.

"Every word," said Dab; "but it's well for you they were all short. Keep
on practising."

"I'll jes' do dat, shuah!"

Practising? Dick?

Yes, that was it; and he joined heartily in the peal of laughter with
which the success of his first attempt at "w'ite folks' English" was
received by that party.

Dab explained, that, as soon as Dick found he was really to go to the
academy, he determined to teach his tongue new habits; and the whole
company heartily approved, even while they joined Dab in advising him
not to attempt too much at a time.

"You might sprain your tongue over a big word," said Ford.

There was an abundance of talk and fun all around, as "The Swallow"
skimmed onward; and the outlines of the long, low sand-island were
rapidly becoming more distinct.

Nearer they drew, and nearer.

"Is that a light-house, away over there?" asked Annie of Dab.

"Yes, that's a light-house; and there's a wrecking-station, close down
by it."

"A wrecking-station?"

"I say," said Ford, "are there men there all the while? Are there many
wrecks on this coast?"

"Ever so many wrecks," said Dab, "and they keep a sharp lookout. There
used to be more before there were so many light-houses. It was a bad
place to go ashore in, too,--almost as bad as Jersey."

"Why?"

"Well, the coast itself is mean enough, for shoals and surf; and then
there were the wreckers."

"Oh! I understand," said Ford. "Not the Government men."

"No, the old sort. It was a bad enough piece of luck to be driven in on
that bar, or another like it; but the wreckers made it as much worse as
they knew how to."

They were all listening now, even his sisters; and Dabney launched out
into a somewhat highly-colored description of the terrors of the
Long-Island "south shore," in old times and new, and of the character
and deeds of the men who were formerly the first to find out if any
thing or anybody had been driven ashore.

"What a prize to them that French steamer would have been!" said Annie;
"the one you and Ford took Frank from."

"No, she wouldn't. Why, she wasn't wrecked at all. She only stuck her
nose in the sand, and lay still till the tugs came and pulled her off.
That isn't a wreck. A wreck is where the ship is knocked to pieces, and
people are drowned, and all that sort of thing. The crew can't help
themselves, after that. Then, you see, the wreckers have a notion that
every thing that comes ashore belongs to them. Why, I've heard some of
our old fishermen--best kind of men too--talk of how Government has
robbed them of their rights."

"By the new system?" said Annie.

"Well, first by having wrecks prevented, and then by having all property
kept for the owners."

"Isn't that strange! Did you say they were good men?"

"Some of 'em. Honest as the day is long about every thing else. But they
weren't all so. There was old Peter, now, and he lives on the island
yet. There's his cabin. You can just see it sticking out of the edge of
that big sand-hill."

"What a queer thing it is!"

"Queer? I guess you'd say so, if you could have a look at the things
he's picked up along shore, and stowed inside of it. There isn't but
just room for him to cook and sleep in."

"Is he a fisherman too?"

"Why, that's his trade. Sometimes the storms drift the sand high all
over that cabin, and old Pete has to dig it out again. He gets snowed
under two or three times every winter."

Annie Foster, and probably some of the others, were getting new ideas
concerning the sea-coast and its inhabitants, every minute; and she felt
a good deal like Dick Lee,--she "wouldn't have missed that trip for any
thing."

They were now coasting along the island, at no great distance; and,
although it was not nearly noon, Dabney heard Joe Hart say to his
brother,--

"Never was so hungry in all my life. Glad they did lay in a good stock
of provisions."

"So am I," returned Fuz; and he added in a whisper,

"Isn't there any way for us to get into that cabin?"

Joe shook his head. There was not the slightest chance for any small
piracy to be worked on that craft, so long as Mrs. Kinzer remained the
"stewardess" of it; and the two hungry boys were compelled to wait her
motions.





CHAPTER XX.

A WRECK AND SOME WRECKERS.


Dismally barren and lonesome was that desolate bar between the bay and
the ocean. Here and there it swelled up into great drifts and mounds of
sand, which were almost large enough to be called hills; but nowhere did
it show a tree, or a bush, or even a patch of grass. Annie Foster found
herself getting melancholy, as she gazed upon it, and thought of how the
winds must sometimes sweep across it, laden with sea-spray and rain and
hail, or with the bitter sleet and blinding snow of winter.

"Dabney," she said, "was the storm very severe here last night and
yesterday?"

"Worse than it was over on our side of the bay, ten times."

"Were there any vessels wrecked?"

"Most likely, but it's too soon to know just where."

At that moment "The Swallow" was running around a sandy point, jutting
out into the bay from the foot of the highest mound on the bar, not half
a mile from the light-house, and only twice as far from the low wooden
roof of the "wrecking-station," where, as Dab had explained to his
guests, the lifeboats and other apparatus of all sorts were kept safely
housed. The piles of drifted sand had for some time prevented the
brightest eyes on board "The Swallow" from seeing any thing to seaward;
but now, as they came around the point and a broad level lay before
them, Ham Morris sprang to his feet in sudden excitement, as he
exclaimed,--

"In the breakers! Why, she must have been a three-master! It's all up
with her now."

"Look along the shore!" shouted Dab. "Some of 'em saved, anyhow. The
coast-men are there, too, life-boats and all."

So they were; and Ham was right about the vessel, though not a mast was
left standing in her now. If there had been, indeed, she might have been
kept off the breakers, as they afterwards learned. She had been
dismasted in the storm, but had not struck until after daylight that
morning, and help had been close at hand and promptly given. There was
no such thing as saving that unfortunate hull. She would beat to pieces
just where she lay, sooner or later, according to the kind of weather
that might take the job in hand, and the size and force of the waves it
should bring with it.

The work done already by the life-boat men had been a good one; and it
had not been very easy, either, for they had brought the crew and
passengers safely through the boiling surf, and landed them all upon the
sandy beach. They had even saved for them some items of baggage. In a
few hours the coast "wrecking-tugs" would be on hand to look out for the
cargo. There was therefore no chance for the 'long-shore men to turn an
honest penny without working hard for it. Work and wages enough there
would be, to be sure, helping to unload, whenever the sea, now so heavy,
should go down a little; but "work" and "wages" were not the precise
things some of them were most hungry for.

Two of them, at all events,--one a tall, grizzled, weather-beaten,
stoop-shouldered old man, in tattered raiment, and the other more
battered still, but with no "look of the sea" about him,--stood on a
sand-drift, gloomily gazing at the group of shipwrecked people on the
shore, and the helpless mass of timber and spars out there among the
beatings of the surf.

"Not more'n three hunder' yards out She'd break up soon, 'f there was no
one to hender. Wot a show we'd hev!"

"I reckon," growled the shorter man. "'S your name Peter?"

"Ay. I belong yer. Allers lived 'bout high-water mark. Whar'd ye come
from?"

The only answer was a sharp and excited exclamation. Neither of them had
been paying any attention to the bay side of the bar; and, while they
were gazing at the wreck, a very pretty little yacht had cast anchor,
close in shore; and then, with the help of a rowboat, quite a party of
ladies and gentlemen--the latter somewhat young-looking for the greater
part--had made their way to the land, and were now hurrying forward.
They did not pay the slightest attention to Peter and his companion, but
in a few minutes more they were trying to talk to those poor people on
the seaward beach. Trying, but not succeeding very well; for the wreck
had been a Bremen bark, with an assorted cargo and some fifty
passengers, all emigrants. German seemed to be their only tongue, and
none of Mrs. Kinzer's pleasure-party spoke German.

"Too bad," Ford Foster was saying about it, when there came a sort of
wail from a group at a little distance, and it seemed to close with,--

"_Pauvre enfant!_"

"French!" exclaimed Ford. "Why, they look as Dutch as any of the rest.
Come on, Annie, let's try and speak to them."

The rest followed, a good deal like a flock of sheep; and it was a sad
enough scene that lay before them. No lives had been lost in the wreck;
but there had been a good deal of suffering among the poor passengers,
cooped up between decks, with the hatches closed, while the storm
lasted. Nobody drowned, indeed; but all had been dreadfully soaked in
the surf in getting ashore, and among the rest had been the fair-haired
child, now lying there on his mother's lap, so pinched and blue, and
seemingly so nearly lifeless.

French, were they?

Yes and no; for the father, a tall, stout young man, who looked like a
farmer, told Ford they were from Alsace, and spoke both languages.

"The child, was it sick?"

Not so much "sick" as dying of starvation and exposure. Oh, such a sad,
pleading look as the poor mother lifted to the moist eyes of Mrs.
Kinzer, when the portly widow pushed forward and bent over the silent
boy! Such a pretty child he must have been, and not over two years old;
but the salt water was in his tangled curls now, and his poor lips were
parted in a weak, sick way, that told of utter exhaustion.

"Can any thing be done, mother?"

"Yes, Dabney, there can. You and Ham and Ford and Frank go to the yacht,
quick as you can, and bring the spirit-heater, lamp and all, and bread
and milk, and every dry napkin and towel you can find. Bring Keziah's
shawl."

Such quick time they made across that sand-bar!

They were none too soon, either; for, as they came running down to their
boat a mean-looking, slouching sort of fellow walked rapidly away from
it.

"He was going to steal it!"

"Can't go for him now, Dab; but you'll have to mount guard here, while
we go back with the things."

There was a good deal of the "guard mounted" look in Dab's face, when
they left him, a few minutes later, standing there by the boat, and he
had one of the oars in his hand. An oar is almost as good a club as the
lower joint of a fishing-rod, and that was exactly the thought in Dab's
mind.

Ham and Frank and Ford hurried back to the other beach, to find that
Mrs. Kinzer had taken complete possession of that baby. Every rag of his
damp things was already stripped off; and now, while Miranda lighted the
"heater," and made some milk hot in a minute, the good lady began to rub
the little sufferer as only an experienced mother knows how.

Then there was a warm wrapping-up in cloths and shawls, and better
success than anybody had dreamed of in making the seemingly half-dead
child eat something.

"That was about all the matter with him," said Mrs. Kinzer. "Now, if we
can get him and his mother over to the house, we can save both of them.
Ford, how long did you say it was since they'd eaten any thing?"

"About three days, they say."

"Mercy on me! And that cabin of ours holds so little! Glad it's full,
anyhow. Let's get every thing out and over here, right away."

"The cabin?"

"No, Hamilton, the provisions."

Not a soul among them all thought of their own lunch, any more than Mrs.
Kinzer herself did; but Joe and Fuz were not among them just then. On
the contrary, they were over there by the shore, where the "Jenny" had
been pulled up, trying to get Dab Kinzer to put them on board "The
Swallow."

"Somebody ought to be on board of her," said Fuz, in as anxious a tone
as he could assume, "with so many strange people around."

"It isn't safe," added Joe.

"Fact," replied Dab; "but then, I kind o' like to feel a little unsafe."

The Hart boys had a feeling, at that moment, that somehow or other Dab
knew why they were so anxious to go on board; and they were right
enough, for he was saying to himself, "They can wait. They do look
hungry, but they'll live through it. There ain't any cuffs or collars in
Ham's locker."

All there was then in the locker was soon out of it, after Mrs. Kinzer
and the rest came, for they brought with them the officers of the
wrecked bark; and neither Joe nor Fuz had an opportunity to so much as
"help distribute" that supply of provisions. Ham went over to see that
the distribution should be properly made; while Mrs. Kinzer saw her
little patient, with his father and mother, safely stowed on board "The
Swallow."

"I'll save that baby, anyhow," she said to Miranda; "and Ford says his
father's a farmer. We can find plenty for 'em to do. They'll never see a
thing of their baggage, and I guess they hadn't a great deal."

She was just the woman to guess correctly about such a matter.

At that moment Dabney was saying to Annie Foster,--

"Whom do you guess I've seen to-day?"

"I can't guess. Who was it?"

"The tramp!"

"The same one?"

"The very same. There he goes, over the sandhill yonder, with old Peter
the wrecker. We've got to hurry home now, but I'm going to set Ham
Morris on his track before we get through."

"You'll never find him again."

"Do you s'pose old Peter'd befriend a man that did what he did? Right on
the shore of the bay? No, indeed! There isn't a fisherman from here to
Montauk, that wouldn't join to hunt him out. He's safe to be found
whenever Ham wants him, if we don't scare him away now."

"Don't scare him, then," almost whispered Annie.

The wind was fair; and the home sail of "The Swallow" was really a swift
and short one, but it did seem dreadfully long to her passengers.

Mrs. Kinzer was anxious to see that poor baby and his mother safely in
bed. Ham wanted to send a whole load of refreshments back to the
shipwrecked people. Dab Kinzer could not keep his thoughts from
following that "tramp." And then, if the truth must come out, every soul
on board the beautiful little yacht was getting more and more painfully
aware with every minute that passed, that they had had a good deal of
sea-air and excitement, and a splendid sail across the bay, but no
dinner,--not so much as a red herring and a cracker.





CHAPTER XXI.

DAB AND HIS FRIENDS TURN THEMSELVES INTO COOKS AND WAITERS.


As for the Kinzers, that was by no means their first experience in such
matters; but none of their friends had ever before been so near an
out-and-out shipwreck.

It is quite possible, moreover, that they had never before been so
nearly starved as they were that day. At least, something to that effect
was remarked by Joe Hart and Fuz, more than a dozen times apiece, while
"The Swallow" was threading the crooked inlet, and making her way to the
landing.

"Ham," said Dab, "are you going right back again?"

"Course I am,--soon as I can get a load of eatables together, from the
house and the village. You'll have to stay here."

"Why can't I go with you?"

"Plenty for you to do at the house and around while I'm gone. No, you
can't go."

Dab seemed to have expected as much; for he turned to Ford with,--

"Then, Ford, I'll tell you what we must do."

"What's that?"

"We must see about the famine. Can you cook?"

"No."

"I can, then. Ham'll have one half of our house at work getting his
cargo ready, and that baby'll fill up the other half."

"Mother won't be expecting us so soon, and our cook's gone out for the
day. Annie knows something."

"She can help me, then. Those Hart boys'll die if they're not fed pretty
soon. Look at Fuz. Why, he can't keep his mouth shut."

Joe and his brother seemed to know as if by instinct that the dinner
question was under discussion, and they were soon taking at least their
share of the talk. Oh, how they did wish it had been a share of
something to eat, instead!

"The Swallow" was carefully moored, after discharging her passengers;
but Dab did not start for the house with his mother and the rest. He
even managed to detain some of the empty lunch-baskets, large ones too.

"Come on, Mr. Kinzer," shouted Joe Hart. "Let's put for the village.
We'll starve here."

"A fellow that'll starve here, just deserves to, that's all," said
Dabney. "Ford, there's Bill Lee's boat and three others coming in. We're
all right. One of 'em's a dredger."

Ford and Frank could only guess what their friend was up to, but Dab was
not doing any sort of guessing.

"Bill," he shouted, as Dick Lee's father came within hearing,--"Bill!
put a lot of your best panfish in this basket, and then go and fetch us
some lobsters. There's half a dozen in your pot. Did those others have
any luck?"

"More clams'n 'ysters," responded Bill.

"Then we'll take both lots."

The respect of the city boys for the resources of the Long-Island shore
in a time of famine began to rise rapidly a few moments later; for, not
only was one of Dab's baskets promptly laden with "panfish," such as
porgies, blackfish, and perch, but two others received all the clams and
oysters they were at all anxious to carry to the house. At the same time
Bill Lee offered, as an amendment on the lobster question,--

"Yer wrong 'bout de pot, Dab."

"Wrong? Why"--

"Yes, you's wrong. Glorianny's been an' biled ebery one on 'em, an'
dey're all nice an' cold by dis time."

"All right. I never did eat my lobsters raw. Just you go and get them,
Dick. Bring 'em right over to Ford's house."

Bill Lee would have sent his house and all, on a suggestion that the
Kinzers or the Fosters were in need of it; and Dick would have carried
it over for him.

As for "Glorianna," when her son came running in with his errand, she
exclaimed,--

"Dem lobsters? Sho! Dem ain't good nuff. Dey sha'n't have 'em. I'll jes'
send de ole man all roun' de bay to git some good ones. On'y dey isn't
no kine ob lobsters good nuff for some folks, dey isn't."

Dick insisted, however; and by the time he reached the back door of the
old Kinzer homestead with his load, the kitchen beyond that door had
become almost as busy a place as was that of Mrs. Miranda Morris, a few
rods away.

"Ford," suddenly exclaimed Dab, as he finished scaling a large porgy,
"what if mother should make a mistake!"

"Make a mistake! How?"

"Cook that baby. It's awful!"

"Why, its mother's there."

"Yes, but they've put her to bed, and its father too. Hey, here come the
lobsters. Now, Ford"--

The rest of what he had to say was given in a whisper, and was not even
heard by Annie Foster, who was just then looking prettier than ever, as
she busied herself around the kitchen-fire. The bloom that was coming up
into her face was a sight worth seeing. As for the Hart boys, Mrs.
Foster had invited them to come into the parlor and talk with her until
dinner should be ready. She added, with her usual smile, that there were
cooks enough in the kitchen.

Such a frying and broiling!

Before Ham Morris was ready with his cargo for his trip back to the
wreck, and right in the midst of his greatest hurry, word came over from
Mrs. Foster that "the table was waiting for them all."

Even Mrs. Kinzer drew a long breath of relief and satisfaction. There
was nothing more in the wide world that she could do, just then, for
either "that baby" or its unfortunate parents; and she was beginning to
worry about her son-in-law, and how she should manage to get him to eat
something. For Ham Morris had worked himself into a high state of
excitement, in his benevolent haste, and did not seem to know that he
was hungry. Miranda had entirely sympathized with her husband until the
arrival of that message from Mrs. Foster.

"O Hamilton! And good Mrs. Foster must have cooked it all herself!"

"No, Miranda," said Ham thoughtfully. "Our Dabney went home with Ford
and Annie. I can't stay more than a minute, but I think we'd better go
right over. There's a good many things to come yet, from the village."

Go they did; while the charitable neighbors whom Ham had stirred up
concerning the wreck, attended to the completion of the cargo of "The
Swallow." More than that was true; for at least one other good and
kind-hearted boat would be ready to accompany her on her return trip
across the bay, laden with creature comforts of all sorts.

Even old Jock, the village tavern-keeper, not by any means the best man
in the world, had come waddling down to the landing with a demijohn of
old "apple-brandy;" and his gift had been kindly accepted, by the
special advice of the village physician.

"That sort of thing has made plenty of shipwrecks around here," said the
man of medicine; "and the people on the bar have swallowed so much salt
water, the apple-jack can't hurt 'em."

Maybe the doctor was wrong about it; but the demijohn went over to the
wreck in "The Swallow," very much to the gratification of old Jock.

Mrs. Foster's dining-room was not a large one: there were no large rooms
in that house. Nevertheless, the entire party managed to gather around
the table,--all except Dab and Ford.

"Dab is head cook, and I'm head waiter," had been Ford's explanation.
"Frank and the boys are company."

Certainly the cook had no cause to be ashamed of his work. The coffee
was excellent. The fish was done to a turn. The oysters, roasted,
broiled, or stewed, and likewise the clams, were all that could have
been asked of them. Bread there was in abundance; and all things were
going finely, till Mrs. Kinzer asked her son, as his fire-red face
showed itself at the kitchen-door,--

"Dabney, you've not sent in your vegetables. We're waiting for them."

Dab's face grew redder, and he came near dropping a plate he held in his
hand.

"Vegetables? Oh, yes! Well, Ford, we might as well send them in now.
I've got them all ready."

Annie opened her eyes, and looked hard at her brother; for she knew very
well that not so much as a potato had been thought of in their
preparations. Ford himself looked a little queer; but he marched right
out, white apron and all. A minute or so later the two boys came in
again, each bearing aloft a huge platter.

One of these was solemnly deposited at each end of the table.

"Vegetables?"

"Why--they're lobsters!"

"O Ford! how could you?"

The last exclamation came from Annie Foster, as she clapped her hands
over her face. Bright-red were those lobsters, and fine-looking fellows,
every one of them, in spite of Mrs. Lee's poor opinion; but they were a
little too well dressed, even for a dinner-party. Their thick shoulders
were adorned with collars of the daintiest material and finish, while
every ungainly "flipper" wore a "cuff" which had been manufactured for a
different kind of wrist.

There were plenty of cuffs and collars, and queer enough the lobsters
looked in them. All the queerer because every item of lace and linen was
variegated with huge black spots and blotches, as if some one had begun
to wash it in ink.

Joe and Fuz were almost as red as the lobsters; and Mrs. Foster's face
looked as severe as it could, but that is not saying a great deal. The
Kinzer family knew all about those cuffs and collars, and Ham Morris and
the younger ladies were trying hard not to laugh.

"Joe," said Fuz snappishly, "can't you take a joke? Annie's got the
laugh on us this time."

"I?" exclaimed Annie indignantly: "no, indeed! That's some of Ford's
work, and Dabney's.--Mr. Kinzer, I'm ashamed of you."

Poor Dab!

He muttered something about those being all the vegetables he had, and
retreated to the kitchen.

Joe and Fuz, however, were not of the sort that take offence easily; and
they were shortly helping themselves quite liberally to lobster, cuffs
or no cuffs. That was all that was necessary to restore harmony at the
table, but Dab's plan for "punishing the Hart boys" was a complete
failure.

As Ford told him afterwards:

"Feel it? Not they. You might as well try to hurt a clam with a pin."

"And I hurt your sister's feelings instead of theirs," said Dab. "Well,
I'll never try any thing like it again. Anyhow, Joe and Fuz ain't
comfortable they ate too many roasted clams and a good deal too much
lobster."

There was a certain degree of consolation to be had from such a fact as
that.





CHAPTER XXII.

THE REAL MISSION OF THE JUG.


Ham Morris ate well, when he once got at it; but he did not linger long
at the dinner-table, for his heart was in "The Swallow." Dab would have
given more than ever for the privilege of going with him. Not that he
felt so dreadfully charitable, but that he did not care to prolong his
stay at Mrs. Foster's, as "cook" or otherwise. He had not by any means
lost his appetite,--although he seemed disposed to neglect the lobsters;
and when he had taken proper care of it he hurried away "on an errand
for his mother," in the direction of the village. Nearly everybody he
met had some question or other to ask him about the wreck, and it was
not to have been expected that Jenny Walters would let her old
acquaintance pass her without a word or so.

Dab answered as well as he could, considering the disturbed state of his
mind; but he wound up with,--

"Jenny, I wish you'd come over to our house by and by."

"What for?"

"Oh! I've got something to show you--something you never saw before."

"Do you mean your new baby? the one you found on the bar?"

"Yes, but that baby, Jenny!"

"What's wonderful about it?"

"Why, it's only two years old, and it can squall in two languages.
That's a good deal more than you can do."

"They say your friend, Miss. Foster, speaks French," retorted Jenny.
"Was she ever shipwrecked?"

"In French? May be so; but not in German."

"Well, Dabney, I don't propose to squall in any thing. Are your folks
going to burn any more of their barns this year?"

"Not unless Samantha gets married. Jenny, do you know what's the latest
fashion in lobsters?"

"Changeable green, I suppose."

"No: I mean after they're boiled. It's to have 'em come on the table in
cuffs and collars. Lace around their necks, you know."

"And gloves?"

"No, not any gloves. We had lobsters to-day, at Mrs. Foster's, and you
ought to have seen 'em."

"Dabney Kinzer, it's time you went to school again."

"I'm going, in a few days."

"Going? Do you mean you're going away somewhere?"

"Ever so far; and Dick Lee's going with me."

"I heard about him, but I didn't know he meant to take you along. That's
very kind of Dick. I s'pose you won't speak to common people when you
get back."

"Now, Jenny"--

"Good-afternoon, Dabney. Perhaps I'll come over before you go, if it's
only to take a look at that shipwrecked baby."

A good many of Mrs. Kinzer's lady friends, young and old, deemed it
their duty to come and do that very thing within the next few days. Then
the sewing-circle took the matter up, and both the baby and its mother
were provided for as they never had been before. It would have taken
more languages than two, to fairly express the gratitude of the poor
Alsatians. As for the rest of them, out there on the bar, they were
speedily taken off, and carried to "the city," none of them being
seriously the worse for their sufferings, after all. Ham Morris declared
that the family he had brought ashore "came just in time to help him out
with his fall work, and he didn't see any charity in it."

Good for Ham!

It was the right way to feel about it, but Dab Kinzer thought he could
see something in it that looked like "charity" when he met his tired-out
brother-in-law on his late return from that second trip across the bay.

Real charity never cares to make an exhibition of itself.

They were pretty thoroughly worn out, both of them; but they carefully
moored "The Swallow" in her usual berth before they left her.

She had effectually "discharged her cargo," over on the sand-island; but
they Had enough of a load to carry home, in the shape of empty baskets
and things of that sort.

"Is every thing out of the locker, Dab?" inquired Ham.

"All but the jug. I say, did you know it was nearly half full? Would it
do any hurt to leave it here?"

"The jug? No, not if you just pour out the rest of the apple-jack over
the side."

"Make the fish drunk."

"Well, it sha'n't do that for anybody else, if I can help it."

"Well, if it's good for water-soaked people, I guess it can't hurt the
fish."

"Empty it, Dab. Empty it, and come along. The doctor wasn't so far
wrong, and I was glad to have it with me. Seemed to do some of 'em a
power of good. But medicine's medicine, and I only wish some people I
know of would remember it."

"Some of 'em do a good deal of that kind of doctoring."

The condemned liquor was already gurgling from the mouth of the demijohn
into the salt water, and neither fish nor eel came forward to get a
share of it. They were probably all feeling pretty well that night. When
the demijohn was empty and the cork replaced, it was set down again in
the "cabin;" and that was left unlocked, for there was no more danger in
it for anybody. Dab and Ham were altogether too tired to take any pains
there was no call for.

Dab's mind must have been tired, as well as his body; for he decided to
postpone until the morrow the report he had to make about the tramp. He
was strongly of the opinion that the latter had not seen him to
recognize him; and, at all events, the matter could wait.

So it came to pass that all the shore, and the road that led away from
it, and the village the road led into, were deserted and silent, an hour
or so later, when a stoutly-built "cat-boat," with her one sail lowered,
was quietly sculled up the inlet.

There were two men on board, a tall one and a shorter one; and they ran
their boat right alongside "The Swallow," as if that were the precise
thing they had come to do.

"Burgin," remarked the tall man, "wot ef we don't find any thin', arter
all this sailin' and rowin' and scullin'? Most likely he's kerried it to
the house. In course he has."

The keenly watchful eyes of Burgin had noted the arrival of that
apple-jack at the island; and they had closely followed its fortunes,
from first to last. He had more than half tried, indeed, to work himself
in among the crowd, as one of the "sufferers," but with no manner of
success.

The officers of the ship knew every face that had any right to a
spoonful, and Burgin's failed to pass him. He had not failed, however,
to note that his coveted "medicine" was by no means exhausted, and to
see Ham stow the demijohn carefully away, at last, under the half-deck
of "The Swallow." That information had given all the inducement required
to get old Peter and his boat across the bay; and the ancient "wrecker"
was as anxious about the result as the tramp himself could be. It was
hard to say, now, which of them was the first on board "The Swallow."

"It ain't locked!"

"Then the jug ain't thar."

"Wall, it is," exclaimed Burgin triumphantly, as he pulled it out; but
his under jaw dropped a little when he felt "how light it lifted."

"Reckon they helped themselves on thar way hum."

It was a good deal worse than that; and an angry and disappointed pair
were they when the cork and the truth came out.

"Thar's jest a good smell!"

That was old Peter's remark; and it sounded as if words failed him to
add to it, but Burgin's wrath exploded in a torrent of bitter abuse of
the man or men who had emptied that demijohn. He gave old Peter a
capital chance to turn upon him morosely with,--

"Look a-yer, my chap, is this 'ere your boat?"

"No: I didn't say it was, did I?"

"Is that there your jug? I don't know if I keer to sit and hear one of
my neighbors--and he's a good feller too, he is--abused all night, jest
bekase I've been and let an entire stranger make a fool of me."

"Do you mean me?"

"Well, ef I didn't I wouldn't say it. Don't you git mad, now. It won't
pay ye. Jest let's take a turn 'round the village."

"You kin go ef you want ter. I'll wait for ye. 'Pears like I didn't feel
much like doin' any trampin' 'round."

"Stay thar, then. But mind you don't try on any runnin' away with my
boat."

"If I want a boat, old man, there's plenty here that's better worth
stealin' than yourn."

"That's so. I didn't know you'd been makin' any kalkilation on it. I
won't be gone any great while."

He was gone some time, however, whatever may have been his errand. Old
Peter was not the man to be at a loss for one, of some sort, even at
that hour of the night; and his present business, perhaps, did not
particularly require company.

When he returned at last, he found his own boat safe enough, and he
really could not tell if any of the others had walked away; but he
looked around in vain for any signs of his late comrade. Not that he
spent much time or wasted any great pains in searching for him; and he
muttered to himself, as he gave it up,--

"Gone, has he? Well, then, it's a good riddance to bad rubbidge. I ain't
no aingil, but that feller's a long ways wuss'n I am."

Whether or not old Peter was right in his estimate of himself or of
Burgin, in a few moments more he was all alone in his "cat-boat," and
was sculling it rapidly out of the crooked inlet.

His search for Burgin had been a careless one, for he had but glanced
over the gunwale of "The Swallow." A second look might have shown him
the form of the tramp, half covered by a loose flap of the sail, deeply
and heavily sleeping on the bottom of the boat. It was every bit as
comfortable a bed as he had been used to; and there he was still lying,
long after the sun had looked in upon him, the next morning.

Other eyes than the sun's were to look in upon him before he awakened
from that untimely and imprudent nap.

It was not so very early when Ham Morris and Dabney Kinzer were stirring
again; but they had both arisen with a strong desire for a "talk," and
Ham made an opportunity for one by saying,--

"Come on, Dab. Let's go down and have a look at 'The Swallow.'"

Ham had meant to talk about school and kindred matters, but Dab's first
words about the tramp cut off all other subjects.

"You ought to have told me," he said. "I'd have had him tied up in a
minute."

Dab explained as well as he could; but, before he had finished, Ham
suddenly exclaimed,--

"There's Dick Lee, on board 'The Swallow!' What on earth's he there
for?"

"Dick!" shouted Dabney.

"Cap'n Dab, did yo' set this yer boat to trap somebody?"

"No. Why?"

"'Cause you's done gone an' cotched 'im. Jes' you come an' see."

The sound of Dick's voice, so near them, reached the dull ears of the
slumbering tramp; and as Ham and Dabney sprang into a yawl, and pushed
along-side the yacht, his unpleasant face was slowly and sleepily lifted
above the rail.

"It's the very man!" excitedly shouted Dabney.

"The tramp?"

"Yes,--the tramp!"

No one would have suspected Ham Morris of so much agility, although his
broad and well-knit frame promised abundant strength; but he was on
board "The Swallow" like a flash, and Burgin was "pinned" by his iron
grasp before he could so much as guess what was coming.

"Le' go o' me!"

"I've got you!"

It was too late for any such thing as resistance; and the captive
settled at once into a sullen, dogged silence, after the ordinary custom
of his kind when they find themselves cornered. It is a species of dull,
brute instinct, more than cunning, seemingly; but not a word more did
Ham and Dab obtain from their prisoner,--although they said a good many
to him,--until they delivered him over to the safe-keeping of the lawful
authorities at the village. That done, they went home to breakfast,
feeling that they had made a good morning's work of it, but wondering
what would be the end and result of it all.

"Ten years, I guess," said Ham.

"In State prison?"

"Yes. Breaking stone. He'll get his board free, but it'll be total
abstinence for him. I wonder what took him on board 'The Swallow,'"

"I know,--the jug!"

"That's it, sure's you live. I saw him over on the island. I declare! To
think of an empty demijohn having so much good in it!"





CHAPTER XXIII.

ANOTHER GRAND PLAN, AND A VERY GRAND RUNAWAY.


The whole community was stirred up over the news of the capture of the
tramp. It made a first-class excitement for a place of that size; but
none of the inhabitants took a deeper interest in the matter than did
Ford and Frank and the two Hart boys. It was difficult for them to get
their minds quite right about it, especially the first pair, to whom it
was a matter of unasked question just how much help Ham had given Dab in
capturing the marauder. Mr. Foster himself got a little excited about
it, when he came home; but poor Annie was a good deal more troubled than
pleased.

"O mother!" she exclaimed. "Do you suppose I shall have to appear in
court, and give my testimony as a witness?"

"I hope not, my dear. Perhaps your father can manage to prevent it
somehow."

It would not have been an easy thing to do, even for so good a lawyer as
Mr. Foster, if Burgin himself had not saved them all trouble on that
score. Long before the slow processes of country criminal justice could
bring him to actual trial, so many misdeeds were brought home to him,
from here and there, that he gave the matter up, and not only confessed
to the attack on Annie's pocket-book, but to the barn-burning, to which
Dab's cudgelling had provoked him. He made his case so very clear, that
when he finally came before a judge and jury, and pleaded "guilty,"
there was nothing left for them to do but to say just what he was guilty
of, and how long he should "break stone" to pay for it. It was likely to
be a good deal more than "ten years," if he lived out his "time."

All that came to pass some months later, however; and just now the
village had enough to talk about in discussing the peculiar manner of
his capture.

The story of the demijohn leaked out, of course; and, while it did not
rob Dab and Ham of any part of their glory, it was made to do severe
duty in the way of a temperance lecture.

Old Jock, indeed, protested.

"You see, boys," said he, "real good liquor, like that, don't do nobody
no harm. That was the real stuff,--prime old apple-jack 'at I'd had in
my cellar ten year last Christmas; an' it jest toled that feller across
the bay, and captered him, without no manner of diffikilty."

There were some among his auditors who could have testified to a
decidedly different kind of "capture."

One effect of Dab's work on the day of the yachting-trip, including his
special performances as cook, and as milliner to the lobsters, was, that
he felt himself thenceforth bound to be somewhat carefully polite to Joe
and Fuz. The remaining days of their visit would have been altogether
too few for the varied entertainments he laid out for them, in his own
mind, by way of reparation for his unlucky "practical joke." They were
to catch all there was in the bay. They were to ride everywhere. They
were to be shown every thing there was to see.

"They don't deserve it, Dab," said Ford; "but you're a real good fellow.
Mother says so."

"Does she?" said Dab; and he evidently felt a good deal relieved, after
that.

Mr. Richard Lee, when his friends once more found time to think of him,
had almost disappeared from the public eye.

Some three days after "the trip," while all the other boys were out in
the "Jenny," having a good time with their hooks and lines, Dick's
mother made her appearance in Mrs. Kinzer's dining-room, or Miranda's,
with a face that was even darker than usual, with a cloud of motherly
anxiety.

"Miss Kinzer," she said, "has you seen my Dick, dis week?"

"No: he hasn't been here at all. Is there any thing the matter with
him?"

"Dat's de berry question. I jes' doesn't know wot to make ob 'im."

"Why, Glorianna, do you think he's studying too hard?"

"It ain't jes' de books; I isn't so much afeard ob dem: but it's all
'long ob de 'Cad'my. I wish you'd jes' take a good look at 'im, fust
chance ye git."

"Does he look badly?"

"No: 'tain't jes' altogedder his looks. He's de bes' lookin' boy 'long
shoah. But den de way he's a-goin' on to talk. 'Tain't natural. He used
to talk fust-rate."

"Can't he talk now?"

"Yes, Miss Kinzer, he kin talk; but den de way he gits out his words.
Nebber seen sech a t'ing in all my born days. Takes him ebber so long
jes' to say good-mornin'. An' he doesn't say it like he use ter. I wish
you'd jes' take a good look at 'im."

Mrs. Kinzer promised, and she gave her black friend what comfort she
could; but Dick Lee's tongue would never again be the free-and-easy
member of society it had been. Even when at home, and about his
commonest "chores," he was all the while struggling with what he called
his "pronounciation." If he should succeed as well with the rest of his
"schooling," it was safe to say that it would not be thrown away upon
him.

Glorianna went her way that morning; and the next to intrude upon Mrs.
Kinzer's special domain was her son-in-law himself, accompanied by his
blooming bride.

"We've got a plan."

"You? Apian? What about?"

"Dab and his friends."

That was the beginning of a tolerably long consultation, and the results
of it were duly reported to Dabney when he came home with his fish.

"A party?" he exclaimed, when his mother finished her brief but
comprehensive statement: "Ham and Miranda to give a party for us boys?
Well, now, if they're not right down good! But, mother, we'll have to
get it up mighty quick."

"I know it, Dab; but that's easy enough, with all the help we have. I'll
take care of that."

"A party! but, mother, what can we do? There's only a few of 'em know
how to dance. I don't, for one."

"You must talk it over with Ford. Perhaps Annie and Frank can help you."

They were all taken into counsel soon enough; and endless were the plans
and propositions made, till even Mrs. Kinzer found her temper getting a
little fretted and worried over them.

At all events, it was a settled fact that the "party" was to be; and the
invitations went out in due and proper form.

"Miranda," said her mother, on the morning of the important day, "we
must manage to get rid of Dabney and those boys for a few hours."

"Send 'em for some greens to rig the parlor with," suggested Ham. "Let
'em take the ponies."

"Do you think the ponies are safe for them to drive, just now?"

"Oh! Dab can handle 'em. They're a trifle skittish, that's all. They
need a little exercise."

So they did; but it was to be doubted if the best way to secure it for
them was to send them out in a light, two-seated wagon, with a load of
five lively boys.

"Now, don't you let one of the other boys touch the reins," said Mrs.
Kinzer.

Dab's promise to that effect proved a hard one to keep; for Fuz and Joe
almost tried to take the reins away from him, before they had driven two
miles from the house. He was firm, however, and they managed to reach
the strip of woodland, some five miles inland, where they were to gather
their load, without any disaster; but it was evident to Dab, all the
way, that his ponies were in uncommonly "high" condition. He took them
out of the wagon, while the rest began to gather their liberal harvest
of evergreens; and he did not bring them near it again until all was
ready for the start homeward.

"Now, boys," he said, "you get in; Joe and Ford and Fuz on the back
seat, to hold down the greens. Frank, get up there, forward, while I
hitch in the ponies. These fellows are chuck full of mischief."

Very full, certainly; nor did Dab Kinzer know exactly what the matter
was for a minute or so after he seized the reins and sprang up beside
Frank Harley.

Then, indeed, as the ponies kicked and reared and plunged, he thought he
saw something work out from under their collars, and fall to the ground.
An acorn-burr is just the thing to worry a restive horse, if put in such
a place; but Joe and Fuz had hardly expected their "little joke" to be
so very successful as it was.

The ponies were off now!

"Joe," shouted Fuz, "let's jump!"

"Don't let 'em, Ford," exclaimed Dab, giving his whole energies to the
horses. "They'll break their necks if they do. Hold 'em in."

Ford, who was in the middle, promptly seized an arm of each of his
panic-stricken cousins, while Frank clambered over the seat to help him.
They were all down on the bottom now, serving as a, weight to hold the
evergreen branches, as the light wagon bounced and rattled along over
the smooth, level road.

In vain Dab pulled and pulled at the ponies. Run they would, and run
they did; and all he could do was to keep them fairly in the road.

Bracing strongly back, with the reins wound around his tough hands, and
with a look in his face that should have given courage even to the Hart
boys, Dab strained at his task as bravely as when he had stood at the
tiller of "The Swallow" in the storm.

There was no such thing as stopping those ponies.

And now, as they whirled along, even Dabney's face paled a little.

"I must reach the bridge before he does: he's just stupid enough to keep
right on."

It was very "stupid," indeed, for the driver of that one-horse
"truck-wagon" to try and reach the little narrow unrailed bridge first.
It was an old, used-up sort of a bridge, at best.

Dab loosened the reins a little, but could not use his whip.

"Why can't he stop!"

It was a moment of breathless anxiety, but the wagoner kept stolidly on.
There would be barely room to pass him on the road itself; none at all
on the narrow bridge.

The ponies did it.

They seemed to put on an extra touch of speed on their own account, just
then.

There was a rattle, a faint crash; and then, as the wheels of the two
vehicles almost touched each other in passing, Ford shouted,--

"The bridge is down!"

Such a narrow escape!

One of the rotten girders, never half strong enough, had given way under
the sudden shock of the hinder wheels; and that truck-wagon would have
to find its road across the brook as best it could.

There were more wagons to pass, as they plunged forward, and rough
places in the road for Dabney to look out for; but even Joe and Fuz were
now getting confidence in their driver. Before long, too, the ponies
themselves began to feel that they had had enough of it. Then it was
that Dab used his whip again, and the streets of the village were
traversed at a rate to call for the disapprobation of all sober-minded
people.

"Here we are, Ham! Greens and all."

"Did they run far, Dab?" asked Ham quietly.





CHAPTER XXIV.

DABNEY'S GREAT PARTY.


The boys returned a good deal earlier than anybody had expected, but
they made no more trouble. As Ford Foster remarked, "they were all
willing to go slow for a week," after being carried home at such a rate
by Dab's ponies.

There was a great deal to be said, too, about the runaway, and Mrs.
Foster longed to see Dabney, and thank him on Ford's account; but he
himself had no idea that he had done any thing remarkable, and was very
busy decking Miranda's parlors with the evergreens.

A nice appearance they made, too, all those woven branches and clustered
sprays, when they were in place; and Samantha declared for them that,--

"They had kept Dab out of mischief all the afternoon."

At an early hour, after supper, the guests began to arrive; for Mrs.
Kinzer was a woman of too much good sense to have night turned into day
when she could prevent it. As the stream of visitors steadily poured in,
Dab remarked to Jenny Walters,--

"We shall have to enlarge the house, after all."

"If it were only a dress, now!"

"What then?"

"Why, you could just let out the tucks. I've had to do that with mine."

"Jenny, shake hands with me."

"What for, Dabney?"

"I'm so glad to meet somebody else that's outgrowing something."

There was a tinge of color rising in Jenny's face; but, before she could
think of any thing to say, Dab added,--

"There, Jenny: there's Mrs. Foster and Annie. Isn't she sweet?"

"One of the nicest old ladies I ever saw."

"Oh! I didn't mean her mother."

"Never mind. You must introduce me to them."

"So I will. Take my arm."

Jenny Walters had been unusually kindly and gracious in her manner that
evening, and her very voice had less than its accustomed sharpness; but
her natural disposition broke out a little, some minutes later, while
she was talking with Annie Foster. Said she,--

"I've wanted so much to get acquainted with you."

"With me?"

"Yes: I've seen you in church, and I've heard you talked about, and I
wanted to find out for myself."

"Find out what?" asked Annie a little soberly.

"Why, you see, I don't believe it's possible for any girl to be as sweet
as you look. I couldn't, I know. I've been trying these two days, and
I'm nearly worn out."

Annie's eyes opened wide with surprise; and she laughed merrily, as she
answered,--

"What can you mean! I'm glad enough if my face doesn't tell tales of
me."

"But mine does," said Jenny. "And then I'm so sure to tell all the rest
with my tongue. I do wish I knew what were your faults."

"My faults? What for?"

"I don't know. Seems to me, if I could think of your faults instead of
mine, it wouldn't be so hard to look sweet."

Annie could but see that there was more earnestness than fun in the
queer talk of her new acquaintance.

The truth was, that Jenny had been having almost as hard a struggle with
her tongue as Dick Lee with his, though not for the same reason. Before
many minutes she had frankly told Annie all about it, and she could not
have done that if she had not somehow felt that Annie's "sweetness" was
genuine.

The two girls were sure friends after that, much to the surprise of Mr.
Dabney Kinzer. He, indeed, had been too much occupied in caring for all
his guests, to pay especial attention to any one of them.

His mother had looked after him again and again, with eyes brimful of
pride and of commendation of the way in which he was acquitting himself
as "host."

Mrs. Foster herself remarked to her husband, who had now arrived,--

"Do you see that? Who would have expected as much from a raw, green
country boy?"

"But, my dear, don't you see? The secret of it is, that he's not
thinking of himself at all he's only anxious that his friends should
have a good time."

"That's it; but then, that, too, is a very rare thing in a boy of his
age."

"Dabney," exclaimed the lawyer in a louder tone of voice.

"Good-evening, Mr. Foster. I'm glad you've found room. The house isn't
half large enough."

"It'll do. I understand your ponies ran away with you to-day."

"They did come home in a hurry, that's a fact; but nobody was hurt."

"I fear there would have been, but for you. Do you start for Grantley
with the other boys, tomorrow?"

"Of course. Dick Lee and I need some one to take care of us. We never
have travelled so far before."

"On land, you mean. Is Dick here to-night?"

"Came and looked in, sir; but he got scared by the crowd, and went
home."

"Poor fellow! I don't wonder. Well, we will all do what we can for him."

Poor Dick Lee!

And yet, if Mr. Dabney Kinzer had known his whereabouts at that very
moment, he would half have envied him.

Dick's mother was in the kitchen, helping about the "refreshments;" but
she had not left home until she had compelled her son to dress himself
in his best,--white shirt, red necktie, shining shoes, and all; and she
had brought him with her, almost by force.

"You's goodnuff to go to de 'Cad'my and leab yer pore mother, an' I
reckon you's good nuff for de party."

Dick had actually ventured in from the kitchen, through the dining-room,
and as far as the door of the back parlor, where few would look.

How his heart did beat, as he gazed upon the merry gathering, a large
part of whom he had "known all his born days"!

But there was a side-door opening from that dining-room upon the long
piazza which Mrs. Kinzer had added to the old Morris mansion; and Dick's
hand was on the knob of that door, almost before he knew it.

Then he was out on the road to the landing; and in five minutes more he
was vigorously rowing the "Jenny" out through the inlet, towards the
bay.

His heart was not beating unpleasantly any longer; but as he shot out
from the narrow passage through the flags, and saw the little waves
laughing in the cool, dim starlight, he suddenly stopped rowing, leaned
on his oars, gave a great sigh of relief, and exclaimed,--

"Dar, I's safe now. I ain't got to say a word to nobody out yer. Wonder
'f I'll ebber git back from de 'Cad'my, an' ketch fish in dis yer bay.
Sho! Course I will. But goin' 'way's awful!"

Dab Kinzer thought he had never before known Jenny Walters to appear so
well as she looked that evening; and he must have been right, for good
Mrs. Foster said to Annie,--

"What a pleasant, kindly face your new friend has! You must ask her to
come and see us. She seems to be quite a favorite with the Kinzers."

"Have you known Dabney long?" Annie had asked of Jenny a little before
that.

"Ever since I was a little bit of a girl, and a big boy, seven or eight
years old, pushed me into the snow."

"Was it Dabney?"

"No; but Dabney was the boy that pushed him in for doing it, and then
helped me up. Dab rubbed his face with snow for him, till he cried."

"Just like him!" exclaimed Annie with emphasis. "I should think his
friends here will miss him."

"Indeed they will," said Jenny, and then she seemed disposed to be quiet
for a while.

The party could not last forever, pleasant as it was; and by the time
his duties as "host" were all done and over, Dabney was tired enough to
go to bed and sleep soundly. His arms were lame and sore from the strain
the ponies had given them; and that may have been the reason why he
dreamed, half the night, that he was driving runaway teams, and crashing
over rickety old bridges.

There was some reason for that; but why was it that every one of his
dream-wagons, no matter who else was in it, seemed to have Jenny Walters
and Annie Foster smiling at him from the back seat?

He rose later than usual next morning, and the house was all in its
customary order by the time he got down stairs.

Breakfast was ready also; and it was hardly over before Dab's great new
trunk was brought down into the front-door passage by a couple of the
farmhands.

"It's an hour yet to train-time," said Ham Morris; "but we might as well
get ready. We must be on hand in time."

What a long hour that was! And not even a chance given to Dab to run
down to the landing for a good-by look at the "Jenny" and "The Swallow."

His mother and Ham, and Miranda, and the girls, seemed to be all made up
of "good-by" that morning.

"Mother," said Dab.

"What is it, my dear boy?"

"That's it exactly. If you say 'dear boy' again, Ham Morris'll have to
carry me to the cars. I'm all kind o' wilted now."

Then they all laughed, and before they got through laughing they all
cried except Ham.

He put his hands in his pockets, and drew a long whistle.

The ponies were at the door now. The light wagon was a roomy one; but,
when Dab's trunk had been put in, there was barely room left for the
ladies, and Dab and Ham had to walk to the station.

"I'm kind o' glad of it," said Dab.

It was a short walk, and a silent one; but when they came in sight of
the platform, Dab exclaimed,--

"There they are,--all of them!"

"The whole party?"

"Why, the platform's as crowded as our house was last night."

Mrs. Kinzer and her daughters were already the centre of a talkative
crowd of young people; and Ford Foster and Frank Harley, with Joe and
Fuz Hart, were asking what had become of Dab, for the train was in
sight.

A moment later, as the puffing locomotive pulled up in front of the
water-tank, the conductor stepped out on the platform, exclaiming,--

"Look a-here, folks, this ain't right. If there was going to be a picnic
you ought to have sent word, and I'd have tacked on an extra car. You'll
have to pack in now, best you can."

He seemed much relieved when he found how small a part of that crowd
were to be his passengers.

"Dab," said Ford, "this is your send-off, not ours. You'll have to make
a speech."

Dab did want to say something; but he had just kissed his sisters and
his mother, and half a dozen of his school-girl friends had followed the
example of Jenny Walters; and then Mrs. Foster had kissed him, and Ham
Morris had shaken hands with him; and Dab could not have said a word to
have saved his life.

"Speech!" whispered Ford mischievously, as Dab stepped upon the
car-platform; but Dick Lee, who had just escaped from the tremendous hug
his mother had given him, and had got his breath again, came to his
friend's relief in the nick of time. Dick felt, as he afterwards
explained, that he "must shout, or he should go off;" and so, at the top
of his shrill voice he shouted,--

"Hurrah for Cap'n Kinzer! Dar ain't no better feller lef long shoah!"

And then, amid a chorus of cheers and laughter, and a grand waving of
white handkerchiefs, the engine gave a deep, hysterical cough, and
hurried the train away.

Three homesteads by the Long Island shore were lonely enough that
evening, and they were all likely to be lonelier still before they got
fairly accustomed to the continued absence of "those boys."

It was well understood that the Fosters had determined to prolong their
"summer in the country" until the arrival of cold weather, they had
found all things so pleasant; and the Kinzers were well pleased with
that, as Samantha remarked,--

"If it's only to compare letters. I do hope Dabney will write as soon as
he gets there, and tell us all about it."

"He will," said his mother; but Ham's face put on a somewhat doubtful
look.

"I'm not quite sure about Dab," he said slowly. "If things ain't just
right, he's the sort of boy that wouldn't say a word about it. Well, I
must say I liked what I saw of Mrs. Myers's notions about feeding
people."





CHAPTER XXV.

THE BOYS ON THEIR TRAVELS. A GREAT CITY, AND A GREAT DINNER.


The conductor of that train need not have been much alarmed at falling
in with a "picnic" of any moderate size, for he would have had room in
his train to seat a good part of it, at least.

The boys had no difficulty in getting seats "all together." That is,
they found four empty ones, two on each side, right opposite; and when
they had turned over the front seats, there they were. Ford and Frank
were facing Dabney and Dick on the right; and the two Hart boys were
facing each other on the left, each with a whole seat to himself.

Almost the first thing Joe did, after taking possession, was to lean
over, and whisper,--

"Look out, Fuz,--keep your secret."

"Catch me spoiling a good joke."

The other party seemed disposed to keep pretty quiet for a while; the
first break of any consequence, in the silence, coming when Ford Foster
exclaimed,--

"Dab, it was right along here."

"What was?"

"Where the pig had his collision with my train, first time I was over
here."

"Did you hear him squeal?" asked Frank, as he peered through the window.

"The pig? No; but you ought to have heard the engine squeal, when it saw
him coming."

The story had to be all told over again, of course, and did good service
in getting their thoughts in order for the trip before them. Up to the
mention of the pig, it had somehow seemed to Dab as if the
railway-platform at the station, and all the people on it, had kept
company with the train; and Frank Harley found himself calculating the
distance between that car and the "mission" at Rangoon in far-away
India.

As for Ford Foster, he stood in less need of any "pig" than the rest,
from the fact that he had a large-sized idea in his head.

He kept it there, too, until that train pulled up within reaching
distance of one of the Brooklyn ferries. Before them lay the swift tide
of the broad East River; and beyond that, with its borders of crowded
docks and bristling masts, lay the streets and squares, and swarmed the
multitudes, of the great city of New York.

"Ford," said Dabney, "you're captain this time. What are we to do now?"

"Well, if I ain't captain, I guess I'd better do a little steering. We
must give our checks to the expressman, and have our luggage carted over
to the Grand Central Depot."

"Will it be sure to get there in good time?"

"Of course it wouldn't if we were in any hurry; but our train doesn't
leave until three o'clock, and the express won't fail to have it there
before that."

Ford was all alive with the responsibilities of his position, as the
only boy in the party who had been born in the city, and had travelled
all over it, and a little out of it.

"Joe and Fuz," he said, "will want to take the night boat for Albany.
They've more time on their hands than we have. Joe?--Fuz?--why can't you
come along with us after you've checked your trunks? We'll be getting
dinner before long."

The Hart boys promptly assented, after a look at each other, and a sort
of chuckle.

"Might as well keep together," said Joe. "We'd like to take a look at
things."

"Come along. I'll show you."

Frank Harley had seen quite a number of great cities, and he could
hardly help saying something about them while they were going over on
the ferryboat. They were all as far forward as they could get.

"Did you ever see any thing just like this?" asked Dab.

"Well, no, not just like it"--

"In India, or in China, or in London, or in Africa?" said Ford.

"It's a little different from any thing I ever saw."

"Well, isn't it bigger?"

That was a question Frank might have undertaken to answer if there had
been proper time given him; but just then the boat was running into her
"slip," away down town, and Ford exclaimed,--

"Hurrah, boys! Now for Fulton Market and some oysters."

"Oysters?" said Dab.

"Yes, sir! There's more oysters in that old shanty than there are in
your bay."

"I don't know about that," said Dab, staring at the queer, huge, rickety
old mass of unsightly wood and glass that Ford was pointing at, after
they got ashore. "I'm hungry, anyhow."

"Hungry? So am I. But no man ought to say he's been in New York till
he's tried some Fulton-Market oysters."

"Let's take 'em raw," said Fuz. "Then we can go ahead."

Dick Lee had been in the city before, but never in such company, nor in
such very good clothes; and there was an expression on his face a good
deal like awe, when he actually found himself standing at an
"oyster-counter," in line with five well-dressed young white boys.

The man behind the counter served him, too, in regular turn; and Dick
felt it a point of honor to empty the half-shell before him as quickly
as any of the rest. There was no delay about that, anywhere along that
line of boys.

"Dick," said Ford, "where's your lemon? There it is!"

Ford had already explained to the rest that it was "against the
constitution and by-laws of Fulton Market to eat a raw oyster without
the lemon-juice," and Dick would have blushed if he could.

"Dat's so. I forgot um!" and then he added, with great care, "Yes, Mr.
Foster, the lemon improves the oyster."

"I declare!" muttered Ford. "He's keeping it up!"

The oysters were eaten, and then it was "Come on, boys;" and away they
went up Fulton Street to Broadway. They walked two and two, as well as
the streams of people would let them, but the Hart boys kept a little in
the rear.

"What do you think of it, Joe?"

"Think of what?"

"Walking over New York with Dick Lee, just as if he was one of us?"

"Guess nobody'll think we're walking with him. Anybody can tell what we
are, just by looking at us."

"Dick's face shows just what he is too. I don't care for this once, but
it's awful."

If any such thought were troubling Ford Foster, he made no confession of
it, and was even specially careful, now and then, to turn around and
address some remark or other to "the member from Africa," as he called
him.

"Dick," said Dab in an undertone, as they were leaving the market, "you
look out, now: you must have as good a time as any of us, or I won't
feel right about it."

"Jes' you sail right ahead, Cap'n Dab. I's on hand."

Ford was determined to "do the honors," and he led them down Broadway to
the Battery before he started "up town;" and he had something to say
about a great many of the buildings. Dab felt his respect for city boys
increasing rapidly, and Dick remarked,--

"Ef he don't know dis coas' mos' as well as I know de bay!"

It looked like it, and he also seemed to be on terms of easy
acquaintance with some of the human "fish" they fell in with. Not that
he spoke to any of them; but he pointed out the several
kinds,--policemen, firemen, messenger-boys, loafers, brokers,
post-office carriers, a dozen more, with a degree of confidence which
fairly astonished his friends.

"I could learn to tell all of them that wear uniforms, myself," said
Dabney; "but how do you know the others?"

"How do I know 'em? Well, it's just like knowing a miller or a
blacksmith, when you see him. They all have some kind of smut on them
that comes from their trade."

There may have been something in that, or it may be barely possible that
Ford now and then mixed his men a little, and pointed out brokers as
"gamblers," and busy attorneys as probable pickpockets. He may have been
too confident.

On they went, till the brains of all but Ford and Frank were in a sort
of whirl. Even Dab Kinzer was contented to look without talking; and
Dick Lee, although he had not a word to say, found unusual difficulty in
keeping his mouth shut. It positively would come open, every time Ford
pointed out another big building, and told him what it was.

They were not travelling very fast, but they were using a good deal of
time in all that sight-seeing; and walking is hungry business, and a few
raw oysters could not last six hearty boys very long.

"I say, Ford," sung out Joe from the rear, "isn't it getting pretty near
time for us to think of getting something to eat?"

"We're 'most there now. We're going to have our dinner at the
Magnilophant to-day."

"What's that?" said Frank.

"Never heard of it? Oh! You're the member from India. Well, it's the
greatest restaurant in the known world, or in Paris either. Beats any
thing on Long Island. Serve you up any thing there is, and no living man
can tell what he's eating."

Ford was in high spirits, and seemed all one chuckle of self-confidence.
It was indeed a remarkably elegant establishment in its line, into which
he led them a few minutes later.

There certainly was nothing like it on Long Island, whatever might be
true of Paris and other places outside of the "known world."

Dab Kinzer felt like walking very straight as he followed his "leader,"
and Dick Lee had to use all the strength he had to keep himself from
taking his hat right off when he went in.

There was any amount of glitter and shine, in all directions; and Dab
had a confused idea that he had never before believed that the world
contained so many tables. Ford seemed wonderfully at home and at ease;
and Dick found voice enough to say, half aloud,--

"Ain't I glad he's got de rudder, dis time? Cap'n Dab couldn't steer
t'rough dis yer."

The "steering" was well done; and it brought them nearly to the farther
end of the great, splendid room, and seated them at a round table that
seemed as well furnished as even Mrs. Foster's own. They all imitated
Ford in hanging their hats on the appointed pegs before sitting down.

"Now, boys, what shall we have?" he said, as he gazed learnedly up and
down the printed bill of fare. "Speak up, Joe, Fuz, what's your
weakness?"

Every boy of them was willing to let Ford do his best with that part of
the dinner; and he was hard at work deciding what soup and fish he had
better pick out, when the tall waiter who had bustled forward to receive
the coming "order," bent over his shoulder, and pointed to Dick Lee,
inquiring,--

"Beg pardon, sah! Is dis young colored gen'l-man of youah party? It's
'gainst de rules ob de establishment, sah."

Dab Kinzer felt his face flush fiery red; and he was on the point of
saying something, he hardly knew what, when Ford looked calmly up into
the mahogany face of the mulatto waiter, with,--

"You refer to my friend from Africa? We'll talk about that after dinner.
Gumbo soup and Spanish mackerel if you please. Sharp, now!"

"But, sah"--

"Don't be afflicted, my friend. He's as white as anybody, except on
Fridays: this is his black day. Hurry up the soup and fish."

Joe and Fuz were looking as if they were dreadfully ashamed of
something; but poor Dick was sitting up as straight as a ramrod, under
the influence of a glance that he had taken at the face of Dab Kinzer.

"I isn't goin' back on him and Ford," he said to himself. "I'd foller
dem fellers right fru' dis yer eatin'-house."

Frank Harley seemed to be getting some information. In the country he
had lived in nearly all his life, "colored people" were as good as
anybody if they were of the right sort; and a man's skin had little to
do with the degree of respect paid him, although even there it was an
excellent thing to be "white."

As for the mulatto waiter, after a moment more of hesitation, he took
Ford's order, and walked dignifiedly away, muttering,--

"Nebber seen de like afore. Reckon I isn't g'wine to tote soup and fish
for no nigger: I'll see de boss."

That meant an appeal to the lordly and pompous but quite gentlemanly
"head waiter," a man as white as Ford Foster. A word or two to him, a
finger pointed towards the upper end of the hall, and the keen eyes of
the "man in authority" took it all in.

"Six of them,--five white and one black. Well, Gus, do they look as if
they could pay their bill before they go?"

"Yes, sah, dey does. De young gen'lman wid de bill ob fare in his han',
he's got moah cheek, an' moah tongue, an' moah lip, sah"--

"Well then, Gus, you just tramp right along. If he and the rest don't
care, I don't. It'll be time enough for me to make a fool of myself when
somebody offers to pay me for it. Give 'em their dinner! Sharp!"

"It's jes' a mons'ous outrage," growled the offended waiter, as he
stalked away; but he took good care to obey his orders, for he had a
consciousness that the eyes of his "master" were on him. He could hardly
have guessed how completely his errand had been understood by the six
boys, or how closely Ford Foster had "hit it." Said he, in reply to an
angry remark from Dab Kinzer,--

"It's all humbug. They run this concern to make money, and they want
some of ours. Mr. Marigold'll be sent right back with our soup."

He was right; but, before they had eaten their way to the pie and
pudding, Ford was dignifiedly informed,--

"If you please, sah, my name isn't Mr. Marigold, sah, it is Mr.
Bellerington, sah; an' my first name isn't Coffee, sah, it's Augustus."

"You don't say," replied Ford: "well, Augustus, don't forget the little
remark I made about pie and the other things."

It was a capital dinner; and Ford was proud of it, for he had picked out
every item of it, from the soup to the macaroons. Dick Lee had enjoyed
it hugely, after he began to feel that his first social victory had been
fairly won for him. Still, he had doubts in his own mind as to whether
he would ever dare such another undertaking with less than five white
boys along to "see him through."

Joe and Fuz ate well; but their spirits were manifestly low, for they
were painfully conscious of having forever lost the good opinion of that
mulatto waiter.

"But for Dick Lee's being with us," they thought, "he and everybody else
would have known we were gentlemen. We'll never be caught in such a trap
again."

It is a very sad matter, no doubt, to lose the intelligent respect of
such gentlemen as Mr. Augustus Bellerington, but it sometimes has to be
done; that is, unless their good opinion is to be gained by some nice
little stroke of sneaking cowardice.

Joe and Fuz stood it out, indeed, mainly because they were in some way
more afraid of Dab and Ford and Frank than they were of even Augustus.

That, too, was strange; for they were older than either of the others,
and taller than any but Dabney himself.

The dinner was well eaten, and it was well paid for, as Dabney remarked
when he paid his share and half of Dick's; and then they were all in the
street again, marching along, and "sight-seeing," towards the Grand
Central Railroad Depot.





CHAPTER XXVI.

THE FIRST MORNING IN GRANTLEY, AND ANOTHER EXCELLENT JOKE.


Ford Foster was the only one of those six boys who had ever seen the
great railway-building, and he confessed that it looked a little large,
even to him. Frank Harley freely declared that he had seen nothing like
it in India; and Dick Lee's eyes showed all the white they had to show,
before he had seen the whole of it.

Their first errand was to the baggage-room; and they were on their way
when Dab Kinzer thoughtfully remarked,--

"Now, Joe, here we've dragged you and Fuz away up here, miles and miles
out of your way."

"That's so," said Ford, "but they can take a street-car down. They've
got hours of time to spare."

"No hurry," said Joe: "we'll see you off." But Fuz whispered to him,--

"Time's up, Joe. Joke's got to come out now."

It came out at the baggage-room; for there were the trunks of the Hart
boys, and they had to go with the others to the ticket-office for their
tickets, before they could get their checks.

"Do you mean you're to go right on now, with us?" said Ford in some
astonishment. "I thought you were going home first."

"No. We got a letter three days ago, telling us what to do. Our other
things'll be sent on by express."

The "joke" was out, and the two jokers were laughing as though it were a
remarkably good one in their estimation; but Ford nodded his head
approvingly.

"Uncle Joseph is a wise and careful man about his children," he said
slowly. "He didn't mean you should make the trip alone. I'm much obliged
to him for such an expression of his confidence in me."

The laugh somehow died away, as if a sudden fit of sickness had carried
it off, while a broad smile widened on the faces of the other boys,
notably including Dick Lee; but the baggage-checks were to be looked
after, and there were seats in the sleeping-car to be secured. The lost
joke could hide itself easily in all that hurry and excitement.

"The sleeper'll carry us the best part of the way," said Ford, when at
last they took their seats; "but we'll have a doleful little ride on a
small railway, early in the morning."

"But that'll take us right up north to Grantley," added Dab, with a
long-drawn breath of expectation. The remaining hours of that Friday
were largely spent by all six of them in looking out of the windows.
When they were not doing that, it was mostly because Joe or Fuz was
telling some yarn or other about Grantley and its academy.

They agreed perfectly in their somewhat extravagant praise of Mrs. Myers
and her daughter Almira. "She's such a good, kind-hearted, liberal,
motherly woman," said Joe.

"And Almira's a sweet young lady," added Fuz, "only she's a little timid
about boys."

"Needn't be afraid of us, I guess," said Ford Foster, with a benevolent
and protecting expression on his face; while Dab drew a mental picture
of the fair Almira as a sort of up-country copy of Annie Foster. After
the darkness came, and the "sleeper" was turned into a great
travelling-box full of little shaky bedrooms, there was no more talking
to be done, and all the boys were tired enough to go to sleep.

One consequence of their beginning their slumbers so early, however,
was, that they felt bright and fresh when the porter aroused them before
daylight next morning; and they hurriedly dressed themselves for their
ride on what Ford Foster called "the switch."

It was quite a respectable railway, however, and it carried them through
scenery so different from any that Dabney or Dick was accustomed to,
that they lost a good deal of what Joe and Fuz were saying about Dr.
Abiram Brandegee, the learned principal of Grantley Academy. It was of
less importance, perhaps, because they had heard it all before, and had
gathered a curious collection of ideas concerning the man under whose
direction they were to get their new stocks of learning.

"Dab," said Dick, "if it was any fellers but them said it, I'd want to
go home."

"Well, yes," said Dab quietly; "but then, that's just it. You can't
guess when they're telling the truth, and when they ain't."

"Is dar really any fun in lyin', do you s'pose, Dab?"

"Can't say, Dick. Guess there wouldn't be much for you or me."

"Dar's lots ob fun in Ford; an' he tells de truth mos' all de time,
stiddy. So does Frank, jes' a little bit stiddier."

"Ford never lies, Dick."

"No, sir, he don't. But w'en anoder feller's lyin', he kin make believe
he don't know it bes' of any feller I ebber seen."

"Dick," exclaimed Dabney, "what if Dr. Brandegee had heard you say
that!"

"I would tell him I was imitating somebody I had heard," solemnly
responded Dick, with fair correctness.

The ride began in the dark hour that comes before the dawn, and the
train ran fast. The sun was above the horizon, but had not yet peered
over the high hills around Grantley, when the excited schoolboys were
landed at the little station in the outskirts of the village. It was on
a hillside; and they could almost look down upon a large part of the
scene of their "good time coming,"--or their "bad time," a good deal as
they themselves might make it.

Dab and his friends saw that valley and village often enough afterwards;
but never again did it wear to them precisely the same look it put on
that morning, in the growing light of that noble September day. As for
Joe and Fuz, it was all an old story to them; and, what was more, they
had another first-rate joke on hand.

"There's the academy," said Joe: "that big white concern in the middle
of the green, and with so short a steeple."

"Steeple enough," said Ford. "Are the rest churches?"

"Yes; and, if you don't go to church reg'lar, Old By'll be sure to hear
of it."

"Old By" was the irreverent nickname they had selected for Dr. Abiram
Brandegee; and Fuz added,--

"Never mind him, boys. He's a raspy old fellow; but he's such a little,
old, withered wisp of a chap, you'll soon get used to him."

Dab was bewildered enough, just then, to wonder how such a weak-minded,
malicious old dwarf as had been painted to him, could have managed to
get and keep so high a position in so remarkably beautiful a place as
Grantley. He said something about the village being so pretty; but Dick
Lee had been staring eagerly in all directions, and replied with,--

"Jes' one little mite of a patch ob water! Is dar any fish to ketch?"

"Fish? In that pond?" said Fuz. "Why, it's alive with 'em. The people of
Grantley just live on fish."

"Guess I knows 'bout how many dey is now," said Dick soberly; and he was
not far from right, for there were no fish to speak of in that
willow-bordered mill-pond.

"Mrs. Myers will hardly be up so early as this," said Dab. "We can get
our trunks over by and by. Let's have a look at the village. Joe, it's
your turn to steer now. You and Fuz know how the land lies."

They were ready enough to tell all they knew, and a good deal more; but
the listeners they had that morning were not without eyes of their own,
and it was not a very fatiguing task to walk all over the village of
Grantley.

The first house to be studied with special care was the neat white
residence of Dr. Brandegee, with its shady trees and its garden; for Joe
said,--

"That's where you fellows'll have to come right after breakfast, to be
examined. Oh, but won't Old By put you through!"

Dick Lee's mouth came open as he stared at the knob on the doctor's
front door, and Dabney caught himself doubting if he knew the
multiplication-table. Even Ford Foster wondered if there was really any
thing he could teach Dr. Brandegee, and remarked to Frank Harley,--

"I s'pose you're about the only man among us that he can't corner."

"How's that?"

"Why, if he's too hard on you, you can answer him in Hindustanee. He's
never been a heathen in all his life: you'd have him"--

"Shuah!" chuckled Dick.

The "green" was large and well-kept, and looked like the best kind of a
ball-ground; but there was nothing wonderful about the academy building,
except that it evidently had in it room enough for a great many boys.

"You'll see enough of it before you get through," said Fuz. "But
there'll have to be lots of whittling done this fall."

"Whittling? what for?"

"Why, don't you see? They've gone and painted the old thing all over
new. Every boy cut his name somewhere before we left last term. They're
all painted over now: maybe they're puttied up level. They did that once
before, and we had to cut 'em all out again."

"Oh!" said Ford, "I see: you were afraid they'd forget you. I don't
believe they would."

"You haven't pointed out Mrs. Myers's," said Dabney. "It must be pretty
near breakfast-time. Where is it?"

The Hart boys broke out into a joint giggle of enjoyment as Joe
responded,--

"There it is,--right across there, beyond the harness-shop, opposite the
other end of the green. Handy in bad weather."

"It's a pretty decent-looking house too," said Ford. "Come on: let's go
over, and let her know we've arrived in port."

"Well, no," said Joe: "you fellows go over, soon as you please. Fuz and
I won't take our breakfast there this morning."

"Going somewhere else, eh? Well, we'll have an eye to your trunks when
they come."

The giggle grew rapidly into a laugh, as Fuz exclaimed,--

"Trunks! why, our baggage'll go to our boarding-house. We don't put up
with Mother Myers this time: got a new place. Oh, but won't you fellows
just love her and Almira!"

It was all out, that deep secret about their change of boarding-house;
and the Hart boys had something to enjoy this time, for Dab and his
friends looked at each other for a moment in blank amazement.

"All right, boys," shouted Ford, at the end of it: "here's for some
breakfast. Good-morning, Joe. Day-day, Fuz. See you again by and by."

They all followed him, but they could see that there was something more
hidden under the mirth of Joe and Fuz as they walked away; and they were
hardly out of hearing before Dab Kinzer remarked,--

"Look a' here, boys, I move we don't give those two any fun at our
expense."

"How?" asked Ford.

"If there's any thing at Mrs. Myers's that we don't like, we mustn't let
them know it."

"I's keep my mouf shet if I foun' de house was an ole eel-pot," said
Dick emphatically; and Frank and Ford came out even more strongly. They
all seemed to feel as if some kind of a trick had been played upon them,
to begin with.

However, it served to put them on their guard, and prevented any change
of countenance among them when their knock at the front door of that
house was answered, and the freckled face of Mrs. Myers beamed out upon
them from under its thin, smooth, glistening thatch of carroty hair. She
was not a handsome woman, and she had a thin nose, and a narrow mouth,
and very pale blue eyes; but she was all one smile of welcome as she
stood in that doorway.

"Mrs. Myers?" said Ford, with an extraordinary bow. "We arrived on the
morning train. I am Mr. Foster." And then, with a half turn to the
right, he continued, "Mrs. Myers--Mr. Richard Lee, Mr. Dabney Kinzer,
Mr. Francis Harley. Our baggage will come over pretty soon."

"Walk in, young gentlemen, walk in. I'm happy to see you.--Almira? Here
they are: put breakfast on the table right away."

"That isn't a bad beginning," thought Dab. "That sounds a good deal like
what Ham said of her. She knew we must be hungry."

"Walk into the parlor, please. Breakfast'll be ready in one minute. I'll
show you your rooms afterwards."

That, too, was considerate; and, when Almira herself came to the door
between the parlor and the dining-room, she, too, looked as if it were
quite her habit to smile, when she said,--

"Breakfast's ready."

Almira smiled, but she was too much like her mother. There was nothing
at all about her to put Dabney in mind of Annie Foster, or of either of
his own sisters. Samantha, or Keziah, or Pamela could have been "made
over" into two Almiras, in every thing but height; and Dab made up his
mind at once that either of them could beat her at smiling,--not so
much, perhaps, as to mere quantity, but as to quality.

That was a breakfast which would have fully justified Ham Morris's
report, for it was well cooked and plentiful. The "johnnycake," in
particular, was abundant; and all the boys took to it kindly.

"Glad you like it," said Mrs. Myers. "Almira, that's one thing we
mustn't forget. I was always proud of my johnny cake. There's very few
know what to do with their corn-meal, after they've got it."

She did evidently, and the boys all said so except Dick Lee. He could do
full justice to his breakfast, indeed; but he was saying to himself all
the while,--

"I won'er 'f I'll ebber git used to dis yer. It's jes' awful, dis goin'
to de 'cad'my."





CHAPTER XXVII.

A NEW KIND OF EXAMINATION.


Three large trunks and one small one were delivered at Mrs. Myers's
front door before that first breakfast was disposed of; and Miss Almira
remarked of the boys, a few minutes later,--

"How strong they are, especially Mr. Kinzer!"

"Don't make a mistake, Almira," said her mother in an undertone. "I'm
glad the trunks are up stairs, but we mustn't begin by saying 'mister'
to them. I've got all their first names. They mustn't get it into their
heads that they're any thing more'n just so many boys."

She hurried up stairs, however; and it did not take long to make her new
boarders "know their places," so far as their rooms were concerned. That
house was largely made up of its one "wing," on the first floor of which
was the dining-room and sitting-room, all in one. In the second story of
it were two bedrooms, opening into each other. The first and larger one
was assigned to Dab and Ford, and the inner one to Frank.

"Yours is a coop," said Ford to his friend from India; "but ours is big
enough. You can come in here to study, and we'll fix it up prime. The
stove's a queer one. Guess they burn wood up here mostly."

Of course, so long as there was a good "wood-lot" on the outlying farm
that belonged to Mr. Hart's speculation.

The stove was a little box of an affair, with two "griddles" on top, and
was quite capable of warming that floor.

"She's putting Dick away in back somewhere," said Frank. "We must look
and see what she's done for him."

The main building of that house was only big enough for a "hall," a
good-sized parlor opening into it on the right, a bedroom and large
closet back of that, and two rooms overhead; but the kitchen and
milk-room back, which must have been stuck on at a later day, had only
one wide, low garret of a room in the space under the roof. It was
lighted by a dormer window, and it did not contain any stove. The floor
was bare, except in the spot covered by an old rug before the little
narrow bed; but there was a table and a chair, by standing on either of
which Dick would be able to put his hand upon the unceiled rafters and
boards of the roof. On the whole, it was a room well calculated to be as
hot as possible in summer, and as cold as possible in winter, but that
would do very well in spring and autumn. At all events, it was "as good
as he had been used to at home." Mrs. Myers herself said that to Almira;
and the answer was,--

"Guess it is, and better too."

Dick never dreamed of making any criticisms. In fact, his young brains
were in a whirl of excitement, through the dust of which every thing in
and about Grantley took on a wonderfully rosy color.

"Dis room?" he said to his inquiring friends when they looked in on him.
"How does I like dis room? It's de bes' room in de house. I
shall--study--hard--in--this--room."

"Bully for you," said Ford; "but you mustn't forget there's a stove in
our room, when cold weather comes. Got your books out?"

"Here they are. I will pile them upon the table."

"Stick to it, Dick," said Ford. "But it's about time we set out for Dr.
Brandegee's.--Dab, hadn't we better kindle a fire before we go? It makes
me feel chilly to think of it."

"We'll all be warm enough before he gets through with us," said Dab.
"But the sooner we get there, the better. Maybe there are other boys,
and we must go in first."

"Come on, Dick."

Not one of them seemed to be in a hurry, in spite of Dab's prudent
suggestion; and at the bottom of the stairs they were met by Mrs. Myers.

"Going for your examination? That's right. Dinner'll be ready at
half-past twelve. When, school's opened, it will be a few minutes
earlier, so you'll have plenty of time to eat and get back. Dick, as
soon as your examination's over, I want you to come right back here, so
I can finish making my arrangement with you."

"Yes, ma'am. I will return at once."

"You said that tip-top," said Dab, the moment they were on the sidewalk;
"but I can't guess what she means. Ham Morris made all the bargain for
you when he settled for me. S'pose it's all right, though."

"Course it is. I's got to work out half my board a-doin' chores. Jes'
wot I's been used to all my life."

Frank Harley had seen a great many people, considering how young he was;
and he had done less talking than the rest, that morning, and more
"studying" of his landlady and her daughter. The results of it came out
now.

"Tell you what, boys: if I'm not mistaken, Dick Lee'll pay more for his
board than we will for ours."

"I don't care," said Dick bravely. "It's wuff a good deal to feed a boy
like me."

His mother had told him so, many a time; and in that matter "Glorianna"
had not been so far from the truth.

Ham Morris had indeed made a careful and particular bargain for Dick,
and that his duties about the house should not interfere with his
studies. He had done more; for he had insisted on buying Dick's
text-books for him, and had made him promise to write to him about the
way things went at Grantley.

Up the street marched the four new boys, still a little slowly, until
Ford broke out into a sudden word of encouragement,--

"Look here, boys, we're a set of wooden-heads! I'd like to know if we
need be afraid of any thing Joe and Fuz Hart could go through?"

"Well, I guess not," replied Dab. "Let's push ahead."

He found himself leading the procession when it went through Dr.
Brandegee's front gate; and there was a look of admiration on Dick's
face, when he saw how promptly and courageously "Captain Dab Kinzer"
pulled that door-bell.

"This way, please," said the servant who opened the door,--"into the
library. The doctor'll see you in a minute."

"And we'll see him," muttered Ford, as they walked in, and he added in a
whisper to Dick,--

"That's his portrait. There, over the mantel."

"Jes' so," said Dick, coming dangerously near smiling; "an' his name den
was Oliver Cromwell, an' dey dressed him up in sheet iron."

That was the name printed under the engraving; but the smile had barely
time to fade from Dick's face, before a door opened on the opposite side
of the room, and the dreaded Principal of Grantley Academy walked in.

"Good-morning, my young friends. Glad to see you so early."

His hand was out towards Dick Lee, as he spoke; and they all had what
Ford afterwards called "a good square shake of it," by the time they
recovered their tongues, and replied to that genial, hearty, encouraging
welcome.

Dick couldn't have helped it, if he had tried,--and he somehow forgot to
try,--a broad grin of delight spread all over his face, as he looked up
in that of the doctor.

The latter himself was smiling a good deal as if he could not help it,
but he did not know the exact reason why every one of those boys looked
so cheerful just then.

The thought in Ford's mind came within an inch of getting out over his
tongue.

"Dwarf? Why, he's more like a giant. How Joe and Fuz Hart did spin it!"

The great man was certainly a good "six feet two," and all his bodily
proportions were correspondingly ample.

Frank Harley was the last to be shaken hands with, and so had time to
think,--

"Afraid of him? Why, he's too big to be afraid of. We're all right."

That was the whole truth. Dr. Brandegee was too big, in mind as well as
body, for any boy of their size to feel at all uneasy after the first
half-minute of looking in his calm, broad, thoughtful face. Every member
of that quartet began to feel a queer sort of impatience to tell all he
knew about books.

The doctor mentioned the fact that he had that morning received letters
from their parents and friends, announcing their arrival; but the oddity
of it was that he seemed to know, at sight, the right name for each boy,
and the right boy for each name.

"He might have guessed at Dick," thought Ford; "but how did he know me?"

Perhaps a quarter of a century spent in receiving, classifying, and
managing young gentlemen of all sorts had given the man of learning
special faculties for his work.

"I shall have to ask you a few questions, my young friends; but I think
there will be little difficulty in assigning you your places and
studies. Be seated, please."

That library was plainly a place where no time was to be wasted, for in
less than a minute more Ford Foster was suddenly stopped in the middle
of a passage of easy Latin,--

"That will do. Give me a free translation."

Ford did so, glibly enough; but there followed no word of comment,
favorable or otherwise. Similar brief glimpses were taken of three or
four other studies; and then the doctor suddenly remarked to him, in
French,--

"Your father has written me very fully concerning your previous studies.
You are well prepared, but you have plenty of hard work before you."

Ford fairly strained his best French in the reply he made; and the
doctor observed,--

"I see. Constant practice. I wish more parents would be as wise.--Mr.
Harley, I had not been informed that you spoke French. You noticed Mr.
Foster's mistake. Please correct it for him."

Frank blushed to his eyes, but he obeyed; and he hardly knew how it was,
that, before the doctor's rapid questioning was over, his answers had
included the whole range of his schooling and acquirements.

"Isn't dey doin' fine!" was the proud thought in the mind of Dick Lee.
"But jes' wait till he gits hol' ob Cap'n Dab!"

Dick's confidence in his friend was at least ten times greater than
Dabney's in himself. The very air of the room he was in seemed, to the
latter, to grow oppressively heavy with learning, and he dreaded his own
turn more than ever. While he was waiting for it to come, however, some
casual reference to Long Island by the doctor, and a question as to the
precise character of its southern coast, rapidly expanded into a wider
range of geography, upon the heels of which history trod a little
carelessly, and other subjects came tumbling in, until Dabney discovered
that he was computing, at the doctor's request, sundry arithmetical
results, which might with greater propriety have been reserved for his
"examination." That, too, was the way poor Dick Lee came to make so bad
a breakdown. His shining face would have told, even to eyes less
practised than those of Dr. Brandegee, exactly the answer, as to kind
and readiness, which he would have made to every question put to his
white friends. That is, unless he had been directly called upon to
"answer out aloud." There is no telling what he would have done in such
a case as that.

The doctor found out, for he quietly shifted his last question over
Dab's left shoulder, and let it fall upon Dick in such a way as not to
scare him.

"You's got me, dis time! Dat's de berry place whar we stopped at de end
of our school, las' year."

"Then, I think I know about where it's best for you to begin. I'll have
another talk with you about it, Richard. You must come up and see me
again."

It was not a great deal to say; but the way in which he said it plainly
added,--

"I mean to be your friend, my dear boy. I'll do all I can to help you
along."

Dick understood it too, but he was feeling dolefully about his tongue
just then.

"Missed fire de fust time!" he said to himself; but he carefully
replied, aloud,--

"Thank you, sir. Will you tell me when to come?"

"To-night, right away after tea. Now, young gentlemen, I must bid you
good-morning. Bear in mind that the first law of Grantley Academy is
punctuality. I expect you to be in your places promptly at nine o'clock,
Monday morning."

"We will, sir," said Dabney. "But will you please tell us when we are to
be examined?"

"I believe, Mr. Kinzer, I have a fair idea of the use you have made of
your books up to this time. No further examination will be necessary. I
will see you all, with others, after school is opened, next Monday."

They were politely shown out of the library, but they did not clearly
comprehend the matter until they had drawn each a good long breath in
the open air.

"Dab," said Ford, "can't you see it?"

"I'm beginning to. Seems to me we've been through the sharpest
examination I ever heard of. I say, Frank, do you know any thing he
didn't make you tell him?"

"Nothing but Hindustanee and a little Teloogoo. Well, yes, I know a
Karen hymn. He got all the rest, if I'm not mistaken."

There was no doubt at all but what Dr. Brandegee had gained a correct
view of the attainments of his new pupils.





CHAPTER XXVIII.

AN UNUSUAL AMOUNT OF INTRODUCTION.


The front door of Dr. Brandegee's library had hardly closed behind that
earliest flock of his autumn birds, before the door by which he had
entered swung open, and a fine-looking, middle-aged matron stood in it,
remarking,--

"My dear, there are more than a dozen waiting in the parlor. Have you
not spent a great deal of time on those four?"

"They're worth it, Mary. There's enough in every one of them to make a
man of, and they've all started fairly well."

"I fear that is more than you will be able to say of all these others."

"Of course it will. Their fathers and mothers have had a great deal to
do with that."

They were all "examined," however, in due season, some in one way and
some in another; and during all that time Dab Kinzer and his friends
were inwardly wondering, whether they said so or not, precisely what
impression they had made upon the doctor.

It was just as well, every way, that they did not know.

It was a curious fact, that with one accord they accompanied Dick on his
return to their boarding-house; and, while he disappeared through the
door at the end of the hall with Miss Almira, some invisible
leading-string dragged them up stairs. Not that they really had any
studying to do; but it was dinner-time before they had finished turning
over the leaves of their text-books, and estimating the amount of hard
work it would cost to prepare for an "examination" on them.

There was no good reason for complaint of that dinner any more than of
their breakfast; and it wound up with a very excellent Indian-meal
pudding, concerning which Dabney went so far as to say he would like to
send the recipe home to his mother.

"I'm so glad you like it," said Mrs. Myers. "Almira, just remember that.
They can have it as often as they please."

She asked them, too, how they proposed to spend their afternoon, and
smilingly explained, as to Dick Lee, that,--

"Saturday is one of my busy days, and he will have to stay at home and
help. Errands to run, and I want him to learn how. He's a bright, active
little fellow."

That was all "according to contract;" but Dick did not come in for his
dinner until the rest had eaten theirs; and then he barely had time to
say to Dab Kinzer,--

"Did you ebber shell corn?"

"Course I have. Why?"

"'Cause dar's a bigger heap ob corn out in de barn dan you ebber see."

"Bigger'n Ham's?"

"Well, no, not so big as his'n, mebbe; but dar's more ob it. I's got it
to shell."

Dab went off with the other two, vaguely beginning to ask himself if
shelling corn came fairly into the proper meaning of the word "chores."

All that sort of thing was quickly forgotten, however; for there were a
dozen groups of boys scattered here and there over the broad expanse of
the "green," and Ford Foster at once exclaimed,--

"Boys, let's examine that crowd. It'll take all the afternoon to find
what they know."

Getting acquainted is apt to be a slow process in cases of that sort,
unless it is taken hold of with vigor; and Ford was the very fellow to
hurry it up. Before the afternoon was over, every boy on that green knew
who he was, and where he came from; and a good share of them had tried
their hands at "chaffing" him and his friends. Of these latter it may
safely be said that not a single one could afterwards remember that he
had seemed to himself to get the best of it.

"First day" at school is pretty safe to be a peace-day also; and none of
the wordy collisions went too far, although it was plain that the
new-comers had not yet attained any high degree of popularity.

After supper Dick Lee set off for Dr. Brandegee's, and his friends
attended him nearly to the gate.

They would have been glad to have had a report of his visit from him, on
his return; but he had his "chores" to do then, and any amount of
careful instruction concerning them to receive from Mrs. Myers and
Almira.

The other three were more thoroughly tired out than they had at all
expected, and were all quite ready to agree with Frank Harley,--

"We'd better get to bed, boys. I want to see if this is a good house to
sleep in."

"Sleep?" said Ford. "I could go to sleep in an omnibus."

Early to bed meant early to rise, necessarily; and they were all up and
dressed the next morning, when Dick Lee slipped in on them. Before they
had time to ask him a question, he exclaimed,--

"I say, Cap'n Dab, is you goin' to church dis mornin'?"

"Of course. We're all going."

"So I heerd Mrs. Myers tell Miss Almiry. She's goin' to take you along
wid her when she goes."

"Richard," said Ford, "are you going?"

"Habn't heerd a word about dat."

"Don't you go back on your friends, Richard. Be all ready in time,
sure's you live, and go with us, or I'll complain to Dr. Brandegee."

Dick's grin was a wide one; but he responded,--

"I'll be ready. See 'f I ain't."

The voice of Almira, calling his name at the foot of the stairs,
prevented any further conversation just then; and Dick found,
afterwards, that he had undertaken a task of some difficulty. He hardly
knew when or where he squeezed out the time for the proper polishing of
his shoes, or the due arrangement of his magnificent red necktie; but
both feats were accomplished most faithfully.

The subject of church-going came up again, incidentally, at the
breakfast-table; and the remarks of her young boarders met the emphatic
approval of Mrs. Myers and her daughter. Perhaps because neither of them
had been near enough, after Dick dodged out of their room at the end of
his early call, to hear Dabney Kinzer remark,--

"Ford, don't you think we can find our way across the green without any
help from the ladies?"

"I am pondering that matter. What do you say, Frank?"

"We must get out of it if we can politely. I don't just see how we'll do
it."

"Do it? Why, we'll all wait for Dick Lee."

Mrs. Myers took a little too much for granted; and when the hour came
for starting, there came a slight disturbance in the smooth current of
her calculations.

"Mr. Foster," she called out, in her best voice, from half way up the
stairs, "the first bell is ringing. Are you and your friends ready?"

"Ringing?" responded Ford. "So it is! I regret to say we are not yet
ready to go."

At the same moment Dab was whispering,--

"We mustn't start until it's nearly done tolling."

"What's that?" asked Frank.

"Don't you know? It's always so in the country. First they ring the
bell, as it's ringing now. That's to set people a-going. Then they toll
it. You'll hear in a few minutes. That means, the time's up."

Ford Foster's city training had not taught him as much as that, but he
was glad to know it.

Mrs. Myers once more urged upon them the necessity of making haste.

"It won't do to be late," she said. "I never allow myself to be a minute
behind time."

The last clause sounded a very, very little impatient; but Ford once
more politely expressed his sorrow, and abstained from putting on his
coat. At that moment, too, Dick Lee came tiptoeing in from his cheerless
garret, and looking astonishingly spruce. The "shine" on his shoes was a
brilliancy to be remembered; and so was the shine on his face, and the
sunset glow of his necktie.

"Sh! Dick," said Dab. "Hold still a minute. The bell's beginning to
toll."

"I fear Almira and I will be compelled to start," said Mrs. Myers
regretfully. "Perhaps you can overtake us if you hurry."

"Perhaps we could," replied Ford, "but I beg you will not let yourself
be late on our account. We're coming."

He began to put his coat on as she and Almira went through the gate. In
such a village as that, no one was afraid to leave a house alone for an
hour or two. Not only was the door-lock "on the latch" as usual, but
Dick Lee had been vaguely expected to stay at home. There, again, Mrs.
Myers had taken too much for granted; and she had not said a word to him
about it.

Just as she heard the bell give its last few rapid and warning strokes,
and disappeared through the church-door, she might have seen, had she
turned back and looked once more towards her own front gate, four
well-dressed youngsters hurrying from it across the street as if a great
deal depended on their reaching church before service could begin.

"It's very kind of Mrs. Myers to invite us," remarked Ford, "but she
never thought how bashful we'd be about it."

They were quickly within the ample porch of the roomy and not at all
overcrowded edifice, and were greeted by two or three benevolent-looking
elderly gentlemen, with a degree of prompt cordiality which left little
to be asked for.

The deacons were awake to their duty relating to new
scholars,--"students" they called them; and every attention was paid
these four who had begun so well their first Sunday.

So it would be at every church on that green; and it would really be
about the middle of the term before stray "academy boys" would be left
to find their own way to well-whittled benches in the galleries.

One of the best pews in the house, well forward in the middle aisle, and
they had it all to themselves. There was not another pew in church that
morning which seemed to attract so large a share of the attention of the
congregation. Mrs. Myers and Almira were several pews behind, and on the
other side of the house; and there had been no opportunity to capture
her four boarders, or any of them, while they were marching in.

"Almira! If they haven't brought Dick with them."

"Yes, mother; but how very well they look! Mr. Kinzer is really quite
handsome."

That was hardly Dab's opinion of himself, and nobody had ever taken
pains to tell him so; but the four of them, standing up together, and
all singing, made quite a picture. Dick Lee was between Dab Kinzer and
Frank Harley, and seemed to feel in honor bound to sing his best. That
was very well too.

If Glorianna could but have had a look at her boy that morning, there is
no such thing as telling how proud she would have felt about him. It was
too bad she could not have done so, especially as Dick was most loyally
thinking of her, and wishing that she could.

There was no fault to be found by Mrs. Myers, or anybody else, with the
strict decorum of her boarders, and their profound attention to the
service and sermon; but she felt that she had a duty to perform, and she
only waited the proper time for its performance.

The last hymn had been duly sung, and the boys were drifting along with
the tide in the aisle towards the door, when Dabney nudged Ford with his
elbow.

"We're nabbed, Ford."

"No escape this time, that's a fact. Don't let's try. She means it all
for politeness."

They would have been quite willing to have been allowed to get out and
go home unnoticed; but there in the porch awaiting them were Mrs. Myers
and Almira, and there was no possibility of an escape. It would have
been unkind to try in the face of so much smiling. Besides, they did
board with her; and she had her rights of property, one of which was to
show them off, and introduce them. She proceeded to exercise it at once;
and it was to the credit of the three white boys that they came promptly
to her assistance, and added any little matter she might happen to miss
in the hurry of the moment.

"Deacon Short, this is Mr. Dabney Kinzer, of Long Island; this is Mr.
Frank Harley, of Rangoon, son of Rev. Dr. Harley, our well-known
missionary; this is Mr. Ford Foster, son of the eminent New-York
lawyer."

"Delighted"--began the deacon, rapidly grasping and shaking hand after
hand, with a peculiar lift of his elbow, that placed most of what might
be called the "action" at the point of it; but Ford was thinking of the
thing Mrs. Myers had omitted, and he promptly added,--

"Glad to meet you, Deacon Short; and this is my friend Mr. Richard Lee,
of Long Island."

To do the good deacon justice, his grasp of Dick's hand was every bit as
cordial as any other of his grasps; and he beamed on the smiling black
boy in a way that gave him back, after the manner of a reflection, a
great glow of the best and broadest "beaming."

Mrs. Myers did not stop a moment in the repetition of her formula, and
there was sharp work before her; but Dab's tongue was also loose now,
and Elder Potter had hardly time to hear who he was before Deacon Short
had to let go of Dick, and hear Dab say,--

"How d'ye do, Elder Potter? and this is my near neighbor and friend, Mr.
Richard Lee."

"Mrs. Sunderland," began Mrs. Myers, to a lady whose face and dress
declared her a social magnate, "my new boarder, Mr. Frank Harley:" and
the rest of her introduction speech followed; and stately Mrs.
Sunderland had just time to utter a few words of gracious inquiry about
the "precious health" of Frank's father and mother, when he, too, took
up the "omission," and Dick Lee's introduction stepped into the place of
any other answer for a moment.

It was a good thing for Dick, as Mrs. Sunderland was a member of a
society for promoting emigration to Liberia, and was seized at once with
a dim idea that a part of her "mission" was standing before her in very
brilliant shoes and a new red necktie. She did not know how utterly she
and the other good people and those three boys were demolishing a
curious vision of Almira's and her mother's, of some social advantage
they might derive, thenceforward, from having "a colored servant" in
their employ. Dick's own chance was coming right down upon him, a little
before he was quite ready for it; for the minister and his wife came out
a few moments later, and Mrs. Sunderland took upon herself the duty of
presenting Richard Lee to them, very much if as she would have said,--

"My dear Mr. Fallow,--my dear Mrs. Fallow,--see what I've found! Is he
not remarkable?"

The words she really uttered were somewhat more formal; but the good,
quiet-looking little minister and very quiet-looking little wife were
still shaking hands with Dick, that is, with his right hand, when he
turned almost eagerly, and caught hold of Dab Kinzer with his left.

"Yes, sir, an' dis is Cap'n Dab--I mean, this is my friend Mr. Dabney
Kinzer, of Long Island,--de bes'--"

"How do you do, Mr. Kinzer? Glad to make your acquaintance," said Mr.
Fallow; and Dick's success was complete, except that he was saying to
himself,--

"I jes' can't trus' my tongue wid de oder boys. Dey's got to take dar
chances."

"Now, Mr. Kinzer," said Miss Almira, at that moment, "it's time we were
going home."

"Yes, Frank," said her mother patronizingly, "I think we had better be
going."

If such an exercise as "introduction" could earn it, they were both
entitled to good appetites; and, after all, it had been quite a nice
little affair.

Dabney was quite as tall as Miss Almira; but as they walked across the
green, side by side, he could not avoid a side-glance that gave him a
very clear idea of the difference between his present company and Annie
Foster. It was at that very moment that it occurred to Frank that he had
last walked home from church under the protecting wing of the portly and
matronly Mrs. Kinzer; and he could but draw some kind of a comparison
between her and Mrs. Myers.

"They're both widows," he thought; "but there isn't any other
resemblance."

Ford and Dick brought up the rear; and for some reason, or there may
have been more than one, they were both in capital good spirits.

"Tell you wot," exclaimed Dick: "if goin' to de 'cad'my is all like dis
yer--I am very glad indeed that I ever came."

"Oh! you're all right," said Ford; "but there's more good people in this
village than I'd any idea of. I'm glad we came to church."

"Dick," said Mrs. Myers a little sharply, when they reached the gate, "I
want some wood and a pail of water. You'd better hurry up stairs, and
put on your every-day clothes."





CHAPTER XXIX.

LETTERS HOME FROM THE BOYS.--DICK LEE'S FIRST GRIEF.


There was a large number of new scholars assembled in the "great room"
of Grantley Academy on the first Monday morning of that "fall term."
There were also many who had been there before, but the new-comers were
in the majority. There were boys from the village, boys from the
surrounding country, and boys from even farther away than the southern
shore of Long Island; and they were of many kinds and ages. The youngest
may have been "under twelve," and entitled to ride in a street-car at
half-price; and several of the very older ones had already cast their
first vote as grown-up men.

Counting them all, and adding those who were to make their appearance
during the week, they made a little army of nearly two hundred. There
was also a young ladies' department, with about a hundred pupils; and
there was quite as great a variety among them as among their young
gentlemen fellow-students.

The class-rooms assigned to the lady teachers and their several grades
of learners were all on the northern side of the academy building. There
was a large wing there that belonged to them, and they only met the boys
face to face in the "great room" during morning exercises. Even those of
them who lived or boarded in the southern half of the village found
their way across the green, coming and going, under the shade of the
most northerly row of trees.

As to the "great room" itself, there had been much trouble about the
name of it. Dr. Brandegee called it "the lecture-room," and he did a
great deal towards making it so. There were those who tried to say
"chapel" when they spoke of it; but so many others refused to know what
place they were speaking of, that they had to give it up. "Hall" would
not fit, because it was square; and the boys generally rejected the
doctor's name because of unpleasant-ideas connected with the word
"lecture." So it came to be "the great room," and no more; and a great
thing it was for Dick Lee to find himself sitting on one of the front
seats of it, with his friends all in line at his right, waiting their
turn with him to be "classified," and sent about their business.

Dr. Brandegee made wonderfully rapid work of it; and his several
assistants seemed to know exactly what to do.

"The fact is," said Ford, the first chance he had to speak to Dab, "I've
been studying that man. He's taught school before."

"Guess he knows how, too. And I ain't afraid about Dick Lee, now I've
seen the rest. He can go right ahead of some of them."

"They'll bounce him if he does. Tell you what, Dab, if you and I want to
be popular here, we'd better wear our old clothes every day but Sunday."

"And miss about half the questions that come to us. Dick won't be sharp
enough for that."

"He says he's going to write a letter home tonight. Made him turn pale
too."

Those first letters home!

Ford's was a matter of course, and Frank Harley had had some practice
already; but Dab Kinzer had never tried such a thing before, and Dick
Lee would not come to anybody else for instructions. Neither would he
permit anybody, not even "Captain Dab," to see his letter after it was
written.

"I's been mighty partikler 'bout de pronounciation," he said to himself,
"specially in wot I wrote to Mr. Morris, but I'd like to see dem all
read dem letters. Guess dar'll be a high time at our house."

It would be a long while before Frank Harley's epistle would reach the
eyes that were anxiously waiting for it, but there were indeed "high
times" in those three houses on the Long-Island shore.

Old Bill Lee was obliged to trust largely to the greater learning of his
wife, but he chuckled over every word he managed to pick out, as if he
had pulled in a twenty-pound bluefish; and the signature at the bottom
affected him somewhat as if he had captured a small whale.

"Sho! De boy!" said Glorianna. "He's doin' fust-rate. Dar ain't anoder
young gen'lman at dat ar' 'cad'my jes' like him. Onless it's young Mr.
Kinzer. I hasn't a word to say 'gin him or Mr. Foster, or dat ar' young
mish'nayry."

"Glorianna," said Bill doubtfully, "do you s'pose Dick did all dat
writin' his own self?"

"Sho! Course he did! Don't I know his hand-writin'? Ain't he my own
blessed boy? Guess he did, and I's goin' ober to show it to Mrs. Kinzer.
It'll do her good to hear from de 'cad'my."

So it did; for Dick's letter to his mother, like the shorter one he sent
to Ham Morris, was largely made up of complimentary remarks concerning
Dabney Kinzer.

When Glorianna knocked at the kitchen door of the Morris mansion,
however, it was opened by "the help;" and she might have lost her errand
if Mrs. Kinzer had not happened to hear her voice. It is just possible
it was pitched somewhat higher than usual that morning.

"Glorianna? Is that you? Come right in. We've some letters from the
boys. Something in them about Dick that you'll be glad to hear."

"Sho! De boy! Course dey all had to say somet'ing 'bout him! I's jes'
like to know wot 'tis, dough."

In she went, but more than the Kinzer family were gathered in the
sitting-room.

Mrs. Foster and Annie had brought Jenny Walters with them, and Ham was
there, and all the rest; and they all sat still as mice while Glorianna
listened to Dab's account, and Ford's, of the journey to Grantley, and
the arrival, and the examination, and their boarding-house.

There was not a word of complaint anywhere; and it did seem as if Ham
Morris was right when he said,--

"We've hit it this time, Mrs. Foster. I think I ought to write to Mr.
Hart, and thank him for his recommendation."

"Just as you please, Hamilton," said Mrs. Kinzer; "but this is their
very first week, you know."

"Guess dey won't fool Dick much, anyhow," said the radiant Glorianna.
"But wot's dat 'bout de corn-shellin'?"

"That's all right," said Ham. "Shelling corn won't hurt him. Glad
there's plenty of it. Mother Kinzer, you and Miranda must try that
recipe Dab sent for the new pudding."

"New pudding, indeed! Why, she doesn't put in half eggs enough. But I'm
glad she's a good cook. We'll have that pudding for dinner this very
day."

"So will we," said Mrs. Foster.

"Miss Kinzer," said Dick's mother, "jes' won't you show me how to make
dat puddin'? I's like to know jes' wot dey eat at de 'cad'my."

It was a great comfort to know that the boys were so well satisfied; but
there was her usual good sense in Mrs. Kinzer's suggestion about its
being the very first week.

There are never any more such letters as "first letters," nor any other
weeks like the first. The fact that there were so many boys together,
all old acquaintances, shut out any such thing as loneliness, and it was
not time to be homesick. All that week was really spent in "getting
settled," and there did not seem to be more than a day or so of it.
Saturday came around again somewhere in the place commonly taken by
Wednesday, and surprised them all.

They had all been busy enough, but Dick Lee had never in all his life
found so little spare time on his hands.

"It's no use, Cap'n Dab," he remarked on Friday: "we can't eat up all de
corn I've shelled, not if we has johnnycake from now till nex' summer."

Dab was looking a little thoughtful at that moment.

"Ford," he said slowly, "has she missed a day yet?"

"A corn day? No."

"Or a meal?"

"No, I said I'd cut a notch on my slate first time she did, and it's all
smooth yet."

He held it up as he spoke; and Frank remarked,--

"Yes, smooth enough on that side; but you've nicked it all down on the
other, end to end. What's that for?"

"That? Oh! that's quite another thing. I'm keeping tally of Joe and Fuz.
Every time one of 'em asks a question about our boarding-house, or Mrs.
Myers, or Almira, or' little Dr. Brandegee, I nick it down. Got to quit
pretty soon, or buy another slate."

"They've kind o' kept away from us," said Dab. "They're in only one of
my classes, but they're in three of yours."

"Ain't in any ob mine," said Dick; "but Dr. Brandegee says he'll promote
me soon."

Dick's tongue always began to work better, the moment he mentioned the
academy-principal.

"I don't mind their keeping away from us," said Frank.

"Nor I," said Ford.

At that moment they reached their own gate, and Dick darted forward in
response to an imaginary call from Mrs. Myers.

Ford went on,--

"They can keep away all they please, but they won't do it long. They're
bound on mischief of some kind."

"To us?" asked Frank.

"Well, yes; but it'll light on Richard Lee first. He won't say a word to
us about it, but they've bothered him."

"I'll ask him," said Dab, in whose face a flush was rising. "They must
let Dick alone."

"They won't, then. And there's plenty of others just like 'em. They're
getting together in a kind of a flock these last two or three days. Some
of 'em are pretty big ones."

"Boys," exclaimed Frank, "how about our boxing lessons?"

"Guess we haven't forgotten 'em all in one week," said Ford. "I was
thinking about to-morrow."

So were they all; and they held a council-of-war about it, in their own
room, before supper. The result was, that, by a unanimous vote, that
Saturday was to be devoted to the catching of fish, rather than to
playing ball, or any thing else that would bring them into immediate
contact with Joe and Fuz.

They had all brought their fishing-tackle with them, as a matter of
course; plenty of worms for bait were to be dug in the garden; and Dab
Kinzer had learned, by careful inquiry, that both bait and tackle could
be used to good purpose in the waters of "Green Pond," and sundry other
small bits of lakes, miles and miles away among the hills to the north
of Grantley.

"We'll have a grand time," he said, "and it'll do us all good. No crabs,
though. Wonder if those fresh-water fish bite like ours down in the
bay."

"Some do, and some don't," said Ford. "I've caught 'em."

It did not occur to him now, however, that he could probably teach Dab;
and they all obeyed the supper-bell.

There were three kinds of corn-cake on the table, but the boys were
thinking of something more important; and Dab hardly received his first
cup of tea before he remarked,--

"We're all going a-fishing to-morrow, Mrs. Myers; but we may get home in
time for supper. Can you spare Dick?"

"What, on Saturday? The very day I need him most? Three loads of wood'll
be over from the farm to-night."

Dick had been in the kitchen, and had advanced as far as the door while
Dab was speaking.

"Wood?" he muttered to himself. "Guess I know wot dat means. T'ree load
ob wood, an' no fishin'! It's jes' awful!"

"Now, Mrs. Myers," said Ford, "if you knew what a fisherman Dick is! He
might bring you home a load of them."

"I am sorry," said Mrs. Myers, with more of firmness and less of smile
than they had ever seen on her face before. "I have no objection to the
rest of you going. You may do as you please about that, but I must keep
Richard at his work."

"I am particularly well pleased to learn that you have no objection to
our going," remarked Ford, with extreme politeness, and Dabney added,--

"It does me good too. We'll take Dick with us some other time. Mrs.
Myers, if you will have breakfast pretty early I'll be much obliged to
you."

Even Almira had never seen Dabney look quite so tall as he did at that
moment.





CHAPTER XXX.

DABNEY KINZER TRIES FRESH-WATER FISHING FOR THE FIRST TIME.


Conversation did not flourish at the supper-table that Friday evening.
There was a puzzled look on the faces of Mrs. Myers and her daughter,
and their three boarders seemed to be running a kind of race with each
other as to which of them should make out to be the most carefully
polite. As for poor Dick Lee, out there in the kitchen, the nearest he
came to breaking the silence was in a sort of smothered groan, and a
half-uttered determination to "git up good and early, an' dig dem
fellers de bes' worms dey is in de gardin."

There was talk enough in the room up stairs in the course of the
evening; but the door was closed, and there was no chance for any one in
the passage outside, no matter how silently he or she might go by, to
hear a distinct word of it.

"You see, boys," said Ford Foster, at the end of some extended remarks,
"I'm not at all mean or exacting. My father only pays Mrs. Myers three
dollars a week, and all she agreed to give was board. I can't expect her
to be any kind of an aunt, too, and let me go a-fishing. I'll take it
all off her hands, and let myself go."

"It's hard on Dick, though," said Dab, "and she's kind o' got the right
of it."

"I s'pose she has. But if he isn't earning all he gets, I'm mistaken.
Boys, if she puts any more work on him, what'll we do?"

"Eat," said Dab: "that's the only way we can make it up."

"We can't do it, Dab. Not unless the price of corn-meal goes up. Think
of eating another three dollars' worth of hasty-pudding every week!"

Their landlady came out in all her smiles at breakfast, and hoped they
would have good success with their fishing.

"Only," she added, "I'm not very fond of fish, and I never take the
trouble to clean them."

"We will try and catch ours ready cleaned, Mrs. Myers," said Ford. "Now,
boys, if you're ready, I am."

They were ready, bait and all, thanks to Dick; and the breakfast had
been an early one. Dab thanked Mrs. Myers for that, even while he wished
he had Ford Foster's tongue to do it with.

In fact, he had been noticing of late that his ideas came to him a
little slowly. Not but what he had plenty of them, but they seemed
disposed to crowd one another; so that whenever there was any thing to
be said in a hurry, Ford was sure to get ahead of him, and sometimes
even quiet Frank Harley.

"Must be I'm growing, somehow," he said to himself, "or I wouldn't be so
awkward."

The north road from Grantley led through a region that was, as the old
farmers said of it, "a-goin' back," and was less thickly peopled than it
had been two or three generations before. There had once been pretty
well cultivated farms all around some of the little lakes that were now
bordered by stout growths of forest; and the roads among the hills wore
a neglected look, many of them, as if it had ceased to profit anybody to
keep them in order.

There was "coming and going" over them, nevertheless; and the boys
managed to get a "lift" of nearly five miles in a farmer's wagon, so
that they reached the vicinity of Green Pond sooner than they had
expected, and with much less fatigue. The same farmer, in response to
anxious questioning by Dab, informed him,--

"Fish? Wall, ye-es. Nobody don't ketch 'em much nowadays. Time was when
they was pretty much all fished out, but I heerd there was some fellers
turned in a heap of seedlin' fish three or four year ago. Right away
arter that, my boys went over, and put in three days a hand runnin', but
they didn't get nothin' but pumpkin-seeds. Plenty of them yit, I
s'pose."

That was encouraging; but Ford at once remarked,--

"Pumpkin-seeds? A fine-looking fish, are they not? I know them. Somewhat
depressed, and extended laterally?"

"Guesso. You're 'tendin' school at the 'cadummy, ain't ye?"

"Yes, we're there."

"Thought so. Ye-es. We-ell, it's a good thing for the 'cadummy. Hope
you'll ketch some o' them seedlin' fish. Ef ye do, you kin jest stuff
'em with big words, and bake 'em. They do say as how fish is good for
the brains."

"Don't we turn off somewhere along here?" asked Dabney.

"Ye-es. Green Pond's right down there, through the woods. Not more'n a
mile. See't ye don't lose yer way. What bait have ye got?"

"Bait? Angle-worms. Are they the right thing?"

"Worms? Ye-es. They'll do. Somebody told ye, did they? 'Twon't take ye
long to larn how to put 'em on."

There was not a great deal to be made out of that old New-England
farmer; and his good-natured contempt for a lot of ignorant young "city
fellers," in good clothes, did not require any further expression.

They left him with a wide grin on his wrinkled face, and followed his
directions over the nearest fence; but with ideas concerning their
probable string of fish, that were rather "depressed" than "extended."

It was a long mile, but it did not contain any danger of getting lost;
and at the end of it they had quite enough of a surprise to pay them for
their trouble.

"Why, Ford, it's a beauty!"

"Dab, do you s'pose as nice a pond as that hasn't any thing in it but
pumpkin-seeds?"

"No boat that I can see," remarked Frank.

"We'll fish from the shore," said Dab. "There's a log that runs away out
in. Rocks too."

Rocks and trees and natural ruggedness all around, and some ten or a
dozen acres of clear, cold, beautiful water, with little brooks and
springs running into it, and a brook running out on the opposite shore
that would have to grow considerably before it would be fit for
mill-turning.

"Boys," said Dabney, "we've missed it!"

"How's that?" asked Ford.

"Put on the smallest hooks you've got, right away, and try for minnows.
There must be pickerel and bass here."

"Bass? Of course! Didn't he say something about seed-fish? That's what
they put in; and they weren't as big as pins when his boys came for
'em."

"Minnow-poles," as they called them, could be cut from the bushes at the
margin, and little fish could be taken at the same time that they were
trying for large ones. They found too, before long, that sometimes a
very respectable perch or bass would stoop to nibble at one of the
"elegant worms" with which Dick Lee had provided them.

"No turn of the tide to wait for here, Dab," said Ford, "and no crabs to
steal your bait off. Hey! There comes one. Perch! First game for my
hook."

"We'll stay till dark, but we'll get a good string. Frank, your cork's
under."

"Never fished with one before," said Frank. "I'll soon get the hang of
it."

That was a capital school for it, at all events; and they learned that
it might be a good thing for a little lake like that to have a bad
reputation.

"Fished out years ago. I understand now," said Dab.

"Understand what?"

"Why, those fellows in the village that sent me out here were playing a
joke on us,--a good deal like one of Joe and Fuz Hart's."

"Best kind of a joke. But if we tell about it when we get home, the
whole village'll be over here next week."

"Then we won't tell. Hurrah! I'll get him in. Steady, now. If he isn't a
two-pounder! see him run? Boys, this is going to be fun."

They did not neglect their minnow-catching; and before a great while
they were varying their bait, very much to their advantage. How they did
wish for a boat, so they could try the deeper water! They worked their
way along, from point to point, looking for the best spot, if such there
were; and Dabney at last found himself quite a distance ahead of his
companions.

"Boys! Ford! Frank! A boat! Come on!"

Lying behind the trunk of a tree that had fallen into the water,--not
much of a boat, to be sure, and without any oars or even rowlocks; but
when the water was tipped out of it, and it was shoved in again, it
actually floated.

"Careful, Ford," said Dab. "Remember Dick Lee. The old thing may come to
pieces. It wasn't made yesterday."

"Look's as if Christopher Columbus owned it, and forgot just where he
left it. We can paddle with pieces of bark, as far out as we need go."

Now the fun was doubled; and some of the pickerel they pulled in
reminded Dabney of small blue-fish, while the bass and perch were every
way as respectable as ordinary porgies and black-fish, except for size.
He had even to confess that the sea itself contained a great many small
fish, and that he had often had much poorer luck in his own beloved bay.

The boat was a great acquisition; but when they were paddling ashore for
the fourth time, "to turn her over and let the water out," Dabney
remarked,--

"It's after dinner-time, boys. Could either of you fellows eat any
thing?"

"Eat?" said Frank. "I'd forgotten that. Yes, let's have lunch. But
there's more cold johnny-cake than any thing else in the basket."

"There's plenty of salt and pepper though; and it won't take any time at
all to make a fire, and broil some fish. Didn't you ever go on a
chowder-party, and do your own cooking?"

"No, I never did."

"Nor I," said Ford very reluctantly. "Can we do it?"

"Do it? I'll show you. No kettle. We'll have to broil. You fellows make
a fire, while I clean some of these fish."

It was every bit as good fun as catching those fish, to cook them there
on the shore of that lovely little lake. Dabney did know all about it,
as became a "'longshore boy;" and he took a particular pride in showing
Ford and Frank how many different ways there were of cooking a fish
without an oven or a kettle or a gridiron.

It was another fine point to discover, after they had eaten all they
could, including the cold johnny-cake, that they did not seem to have
made their strings of fish look perceptibly smaller.

"Tell you what, boys," said Dabney: "next time we come out we'll bring a
hammer and nails, and some oakum, and I'll calk up that old punt so
she'll float well enough. Only it won't do to dance in her."

"Then," said Ford, "I move we don't try her again to-day. If we've got
to carry all these fish, it'll be a long pull home. We're not half sure
of catching another ride."

"We can pole our fish, though, and make it easy carrying."

"How's that?"

"I'll show you. Cut two poles, hang your strings half way, shoulder the
poles, and take turns carrying. One boy getting rested, all the while,
and no cords cutting your hands."

That was as sensible as if his own mother had told him; and it was a
good thing he thought of it, for they did not "catch a ride" till they
were half way home. All the wagons were coming the other way, of course,
on Saturday afternoon; but the one chat then caught up with them had
been carrying a new stove home, and was returning empty.

"Fine strings of fish," remarked the stove-man as they clambered in.
"Where'd you catch 'em?"

"Over in one of the lakes."

"Did ye though? You don't say! Guess I know the place. You must have had
an all-killin' walk, though. I declare! I'm goin' to try that pond first
day I get away."

"Want some of these?"

"Wouldn't rob ye,--but you've got a-plenty--that pickerel? Thank ye,
now. Oh!--and the bass tew? You're good fellers."

He seemed to be another; and Dab warned him at parting, that, "when he
wanted to get a string of fish, if he'd come to him he'd tell him just
where to go."

"All right. Glad I had the luck to ketch up with ye."

"Dab," said Ford as they reached the outskirts of Grantley, "I know it's
late; but we must walk through the village with these fish, if it's only
to have the whole town ask us where we caught them."

"That's so. I'm rested now too. Let's get right out."

They were nearly at the southerly end of the village, and there was
quite a walk before them.

"Dab," said Frank, "we've more fish than we'll need at our house, if we
have 'em for breakfast and dinner both."

"I've been thinking of that. Let's vote on it now. What do you say? One
string for the minister?"

"Yes," said Ford, "a bass for Mr. Fallow, a small pickerel for Mrs.
Fallow, and a perch or a pumpkin-seed for each of the six little
Fallows."

"All right; and that big pickerel I caught, for Dr. Brandegee, and the
biggest bass in the lot to keep it company. Let's make him up a prime
good mess."

"One that'll stand an examination," said Ford.





CHAPTER XXXI.

FIGHT, AND WHAT CAME OF IT.


Dick Lee was an unwise boy that afternoon.

He knew how to turn his hand to a great many things, thanks to his
home-training; and a woodpile was one of the matters he had learned how
to deal with, but he had not taken hold of that of Mrs. Myers with any
heart for his work.

It was simply impossible for him to imagine that he was pulling in fish,
or having any other kind of fun, while he was sawing wood, or even while
splitting it.

There was, however, something almost vicious in the way he came down
with his axe upon some of the more obstinate pieces.

"He will be a very useful boy," remarked Mrs. Myers, as she watched him
from the window; "but I fear I shall have some difficulty with the
others. They are very much inclined to be uppish."

Dick toiled faithfully; and he felt it as a kind of relief, late in the
day, to be sent to the grocery-store, at the lower end of the village,
with a basket that was to bring home the usual Saturday assortment for
Mrs. Myers.

He did well enough in going; but on his way home, if the truth must be
told, Dick Lee loitered dreadfully. It was so nice a day, and he had
been so long at his woodpile, and he had had so little time to call his
own that week.

Over on the green, the boys of the village were playing a sort of
"match-game" of base-ball, with a picked nine from the academy; and
there seemed no reason why Dick and his basket should not stroll along
inside the barrier-fence of the green, and see them play it.

That was where his unwisdom showed itself; for among the boys who were
not playing were Joe and Fuz Hart and all their "crowd," and this was
the first time they had seen Dick on the green "all alone."

That would have been quite enough of itself, considering how black he
was, and that he was a "new boy" at the academy; but the additional fact
that he had his basket on his arm opened the way to trouble for him all
the sooner.

He was standing still, on the walk near the fence, gazing at the batting
and catching with so deep an interest that his mouth would stay open,
when he suddenly found himself "surrounded."

"Hullo, Dick, what you got in your basket?"

"Groceries! Groceries! Fresh from Afriky."

"Let's see 'em."

"Jes' you keep off, now."

"Give us that basket."

"Don't you tech a thing!"

"What you got, Midnight?"

"None ob youah business. I's 'tendin' to mine. Put dat back, now, will
you?"

Dick had promptly retreated against the fence, in his surprise and
vexation, and was defending himself and his cargo vigorously, but he was
sadly outnumbered.

They were a cowardly lot: for their all but helpless victim had even
received several sharp blows, in return for his grasps and pushes; and
the matter threatened to end unpleasantly for him, when suddenly Joe
Hart felt his feet jerked from under him. Down he went, and over went
Fuz on top of him; and then there were four or five boys all in a heap,
with Dick's basket upset just beyond them, and Dick himself diving
hither and thither after its late contents, and exclaiming,--

"Cap'n Dab's come! I's all right now. Jes' let me pick up some ob dese
t'ings."

There was a resentful ring in the last remark, as if he were thinking of
something like war after the recovery of his groceries; but it was
indeed the voice of Dab Kinzer, shouting full and clear,--

"Pick 'em up, Dick! we're just in time."

A boy somewhat larger than the rest, a good half-head taller than
Dabney, but with a somewhat pasty and unhealthy complexion, had selected
Ford Foster, as the shortest of the new arrivals, and demanded,--

"What are you meddling for?" just as he aimed a clumsy blow at his head.
That blow did not hit Ford; but a shorter young ruffian had also picked
him out, perhaps for the same reason, and the hit he aimed reached its
mark, for Ford had no extra pair of arms behind to box with. Frank
Harley seemed, just then, to be remarkably busy with the heap of boys on
the ground.

"Spat!"--that was the way something sounded; and Dab Kinzer added,--

"Go for that fellow on the grass, Ford: I'll take care of the long one."

"You will,--will you?"

Spat--spat--spat!

"Oh! I see: you don't know how to box; weak in the arms too. Better go
home."

The tall boy was stepping backwards quite rapidly, with one hand on his
nose, and the other swinging wildly in the air above him; and Ford was
keeping the "fellow on the grass" from getting up, when all the noise
around them suddenly ceased.

"Dr. Brandegee!"

"Where? Where?"

"Coming across the green, at the upper end."

"He's coming this way."

Several of the late assailants started on a run at once; but Dab Kinzer
had caught a sharp whisper from Frank Harley, and he shouted,--

"No you won't, Joe Hart! Hold on, Fuz! That other chap must stay too.
Give Dick back his groceries."

"Dey's hooked a pile ob 'em," said Dick, his eyes dancing with triumph.
"Jes' make 'em hand ober."

"Do you mean to say we've been stealing?" fiercely demanded Joe.

"What, me? me, steal?" almost gasped Fuz.

"They wouldn't do such a thing as that," said Ford, not quite
comprehending the situation.

"That's it," said Dab: "let 'em empty their pockets"--

Joe was indignantly turning inside out the side pockets of his neat
"cut-away," and a small, brown-paper-covered parcel dropped upon the
ground.

"Dem's de cloves," shouted Dick, as he darted forward, and picked it up.

The fingers of Fuz almost unconsciously imitated those of his elder
brother, and with a like result.

"Dat's de cinnamon. If de oder feller didn't git de tea an' de
sal'ratus! Whar's de nutmegs?"

These, too, were forthcoming, as well as a paper of "indigo blue" for
the next Monday's washing, and other items which testified strongly as
to "how much at a time" Mrs. Myers was in the habit of buying.

It was all over in less than half a minute, but Dick's assailants looked
very much as if they wanted to sink right down through the grass.

"Go home, Joseph," said Ford; "go home, Foster. I'll write to your
father that you're out of these things at your boarding-house. We _buy_
all our groceries, where we live."

"I never touched a thing," roared Joe. "Somebody put 'em in my pockets."

"Don't say any thing more, Joseph," said Ford calmly. "If you don't get
enough to eat, come over to our house: we won't let you starve. Give you
all the bluing you want too."

They did not seem to need any just then; and there was such a crowd of
boys gathering that they were glad to take Ford's advice, and hurry
away. Even then a good deal more attention might have been paid them,
all around, but for the excitement created in the mind of every boy who
looked at the great strings of fish Dab and his friends had dropped when
they went in to the rescue of Dick Lee.

Questions as to where they were caught, and how, poured upon the young
fishermen so fast that it was not easy to dodge them all at once, or
prevent a general stampede of the academy boys to Green Pond.

"They'd use up the boat in one day, and all the fish in the next," said
Dab to Frank; "but where'd you learn to do what you did for Fuz and
Joe?"

"Sleight-of-hand? Oh! one of father's Hindu converts had been a juggler.
He taught me. They're the best in the world, but father doesn't like me
to do much of it. We can have some fun with it yet, though. It came to
me like a flash when I saw those things on the ground."

"Served 'em right. Spoiling 'em on the ground was next thing to
stealing."

"Come on, boys," said Ford. "It's after five o'clock."

They were all glad to escape from the crowd, especially Dick Lee; and it
was not until they were across the street that the tall form of Dr.
Brandegee came slowly down past the ball-players. He seemed particularly
interested in that game. It was currently reported, indeed, that he had
been a first-class athlete in his younger days, and that he took a quiet
half-hour in the morning with his dumb-bells now, before doing any thing
at all with his Greek and Latin.

The "short-stop" was a well-built, sunburned student of at least twenty;
and the doctor noticed how neatly he had been doing his work.

"Wish I could catch an equation as well as I can a ball," said the young
fellow, coloring a little, perhaps at the memory of something in
mathematics which had "got by him."

"You will, I think. By the way, didn't I see what looked like a
disturbance down here among the boys, just now?"

"Disturbance? Well, yes, I should say there was. Came near interrupting
the game."

"Any thing serious?"

"Well, it might have been. Some of the boys made a set on that little
colored chap. Mean thing to do. I'd ha' stopped it myself; but that
Kinzer boy, and the other two that board with Mrs. Myers, they cleared
it all up in no time."

"No fighting, I hope?"

"Well, no; but I tell you what, doctor, the rest of the boys'll let that
nigger alone. His friends can box."

"Ah, yes! I understand. They stood by him. Wouldn't see him imposed
upon."

"They just wouldn't. They're prime little chaps. The other boys were
bigger'n they are. I'd ha' helped 'em, but they didn't need any help."

"No. Yes,--I see. It won't do to have any fighting, but then! H'm! They
stood right by him! Good-afternoon, Mr. Pulsifer."

"Good-afternoon, Dr. Brandegee. There, if he hasn't made me lose a hit!
I'd ha' fetched it. But I'm glad I had a chance to set him right about
that scrimmage. I thought those three chaps were kind o' stuck up, but
everybody'll know where to place 'em now."

There was nothing like anger, or even disapproval, on Dr. Brandegee's
face when he walked away; but he was muttering,--

"Know how to box, do they? I thought I saw something like it. They're a
fine lot of young fellows. I must keep my eye on them. They'll be MEN
one of these days!"

They were only boys yet, however; and they were hardly arrived in front
of the kitchen-door before they began to make the proposed division of
the fish.

Mrs. Myers came to meet Dick, and receive an account of his errand.

"You've been gone twice as long--I declare, Almira, come here and see
these fish. You have had wonderful luck, I must say. More'n we'll know
what to do with."

"I will attend to the cleaning of them," began Dabney; but Dick
interrupted him with,--

"Guess not, Cap'n Dab. I's cleaned loads ob fish. Won't be no time at
all puttin' t'rough jes' a string or two."

"Dick will clean them," said Mrs. Myers; "but it's too late to cook any
for supper."

She turned away into the house as she spoke, and took Almira with her.

"Now, boys," said Dabney, "we've just time, before supper, to go with
these other strings, and get back."

They would have been late indeed, if they had stopped to talk with every
one who wanted to admire Dab's big pickerel and Ford's remarkable bass;
but a little good management brought them to Dr. Brandegee's in not much
more than five times the number of minutes needed to walk the distance.
The fish were handed to the door-opener with,--

"The compliments of Mr. Harley, Mr. Kinzer, and Mr. Foster," and a great
flourish of a bow from the latter, which could hardly be made to keep
that string company till the doctor should see it.

"Now for the minister's."

The good man himself replied to the ring at his door-bell; but Dabney
was half sorry he had consented to be spokesman this time.

"My young friends?" said Mr. Fallow inquiringly.

"Fish, sir," said Dab. "Some we caught to-day over in Green Pond. We
thought we'd bring you a mess of 'em."

He thought, too, without saying it,--

"Now I've made a mess of it. Why didn't I let Ford do it?"

"Thank you. Thank you, my young friends. Very kind and thoughtful. Won't
you walk in?"

"No, sir, thank you. It's most supper-time. We must hurry back."

"Mary! Come and see these fish. Some very fine ones. Going? Indeed? Saw
you in church last Sunday. Hope I'll see you there again to morrow.
Good-afternoon, my dear young friends."

"Good-afternoon, sir."

They walked away a little rapidly, but with a vivid and decidedly
pleasant impression that they had given the pale-faced, earnest-eyed
minister an extraordinary amount of comfort.

"The fish ain't worth much," said Ford. "It couldn't have been just
them!"

No, indeed, it was not, and they failed to make it out to their
satisfaction; but it might have helped them if they had seen him hand
the fish to "Mary," and say,--

"There, what do you think of that? The very boys I told you of."

"The ones you saw on the green, fighting?"

"Exactly. I must see Dr. Brandegee. They can't be altogether bad."

"Bad? No! There must be something about it. The doctor always knows. He
will be able to explain it, I know."

Great was the confidence of the Grantley people in Dr. Brandegee, as to
any and all things relating to "his boys;" and that of Mrs. Fallow was
none the less when her husband returned from his evening call.

"Defending that colored boy? You don't say. The dear, brave little
fellows! Fighting is dreadful. Did any of them get hurt?"

"Hurt, dear? No; and they gave those young ruffians--H'm! Well--David
had to do a great deal of fighting, Mary, but we must not approve
too."--

"My dear! I say they did right."

And the little woman's tired face flushed into sudden beauty, with her
honest enthusiasm over "those boys."

They had not reached the end of their day's experiences, however, when
they left the minister's gate, or even when they arrived at their own.

At that very moment Mrs. Myers was once more standing in the kitchen
doorway.

"Dick, as soon as you've had your supper, you may take one of those
strings of fish over to Deacon Short's, and another to Mrs.
Sunderland's. You may clean all the rest."

"Yes'm," said Dick vaguely, "but dar's on'y one string."

"Only one? Where are all the rest, I'd like to know?"

Dabney and his friends were around the corner of the house now, and her
last question was plainly directed to them.

"The rest of what, Mrs. Myers'?"

"Why, the fish. What have you done with them?"

"Oh! they're all right, Mrs. Myers," said Ford. "Fish are good for
brains. That's what we've done with 'em."

"Brains? What"--

"Exactly. Next to us three, the men that work their brains the hardest
around here are Mr. Fallow and my friend Dr. Brandegee."

"And you never asked me a word about it!"

"About what?" inquired Dabney. "I must say I don't quite understand. Do
you mean, about what we were to do with our fish?"

"Of course I do. I can't allow"--

She hesitated a moment, as if the next words were slow in coming; and
Dab helped her out with,--

"Can't allow what, Mrs. Myers?" and Ford added,--

"Now, Mrs. Myers, there's nothing healthier than fish. It won't hurt
either of 'em. Is supper ready?"

"I hope it is," said Dab. "I'm getting hungry again."

Mrs. Myers looked at them in amazement; and so did Miss Almira, for, if
one thing was plainer than another, it was that neither of those three
boys understood the nature of her complaint. It did not seem to occur to
them, that she had, or could, or would claim any control over the
results of their day's fun; not even when she said,--

"I intended one string for Deacon Short, and another for Mrs.
Sunderland"--

"Don't work their brains, Mrs. Myers," said Ford. "Don't need any fish.
But then, if we have as good luck next time, we'll bear them in mind.
We've kept enough pan-fish for breakfast, and the big ones'll be just
the thing for dinner."

That had been the plan of Mrs. Myers herself; for she had already said
to Almira,--

"It'll be a real saving, and the corned beef'll be just as good on
Monday."

More talk would hardly improve such a case as that; and it was really
beginning to dawn upon Mrs. Myers, that her three boy boarders had minds
and wills of their own, moreover, that they had not the most distant
idea of failing to exercise them on every proper occasion.





CHAPTER XXXII.

OLD FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS OF HIS COME TO VISIT DABNEY.


"Boys," remarked Dab Kinzer, when they gathered in their own room after
supper, "I can't say we've learned a great deal this first week; but
we've found a tiptop fishing-ground, and we've settled the Hart boys."

"Shouldn't wonder if Mrs. Myers feels a good deal more settled than she
did too," said Ford. "But I'm thinking what Frank Harley's going to do
with his fingers, when we can give him a chance. We've loads of fun
ahead, or I'm mistaken."

"I won't try it on very often," said Frank. "Fun's fun, that's a fact;
but I came here to learn something."

"My dear young friend," said Ford, with a sudden imitation of Mr.
Fallow, "think of how much you've learned in seven days. Dab's beginning
to know so much, he can't talk."

"I'm not just comfortable about Dick," said Dabney.

"Oh! he'll come out all right: the corn's mostly shelled, and the
woodpile can't last forever. He doesn't know how to run a
sewing-machine. She tried making him read aloud to her and Almira, last
night; but Dick thinks she won't ask him to do it again. Don't be
troubled about Richard: his future is safe."

Part of it undoubtedly; and the boys had "settled" more things for
themselves and him than those they mentioned.

They had settled their own position among the boys of the academy and
the village, old and young; for every soul of them had heard about "the
big fight on the green" before he went to bed that night. They had
secured Dick Lee's position for him: not that they had given him a false
one, but that he would be safe to enjoy, almost unmolested, whatever
position his own conduct might earn for him. That was all any boy ought
to have, black or white.

They had done much, as Ford said, to settle their own position at their
boarding-house; but that was nothing of importance compared to the
impression they had made upon the large heart and brain of the stately
academy principal. They had made a firm friend of him, and of others
whose friendship was worth having.

All that was a great deal to have accomplished in one short week, but
there was much more that would require their immediate attention.

Books, fishing, lectures, base-ball, French, pigeon-shooting, elocution,
kites, composition, nutting, and the academy debating society; and the
list of the future demands upon their time grew as they talked, until
Ford exclaimed,--

"Hold on, boys: my brains won't stand any more till after I've eaten a
supply of fish."

They ought all to have been able to think harder, after the next day's
breakfast and dinner; but the "corned beef" came on Monday, and with it,
as usual, came corn in other forms. "The farm" had done well that year,
with that particular crop; but so had all the other farms, east and
west, and Mrs. Myers found her best market for her maize harvest at her
own table. It would take a good while to dispose of what Dick had
already shelled, and all she could do was to be liberal as to quantity.
There was no fault to be found with her on that score, but Dabney did
not ask for any more recipes to send home to his mother.

The second week was much longer than the first. Saturday came around
very nearly in its own turn this time; but it brought with it such a
storm of wind and rain as not only shut Green Pond out of all possible
calculations, but kept the village green as well, clear of all boys.

It was a good time to write letters in, and those written were long
ones; but they did not contain a solitary complaint of any thing the
boys had yet discovered in or about Grantley.

"Hamilton," said Mrs. Kinzer, after pondering a little over her letter
when it came, "Dabney seems to be well satisfied."

"Mrs. Foster says Ford and Frank are."

"But I notice he doesn't say any thing about his appetite. I do hope he
isn't losing it. He seems to be studying hard."

"Dabney? Lose his appetite in less than two weeks? No, mother Kinzer, it
would take him longer than that."

It was just one week later that he showed her a part of a curious
epistle he had himself received from Dab. It had evidently been written
in a moment of what is called "confidence."

"I tell you what, Ham," he wrote, "mother doesn't know what can be done
with corn. Mrs. Myers does. She raised a heap of it, this year; and the
things she turns it into would drive a cook-book crazy. I've been giving
them Latin names; and Frank, he turns them into Hindustanee. It's real
fun sometimes, but I sha'n't be the boy I was. I'm getting corned. My
hair is silkier, and my voice is husky. My ears are growing. I'd like a
few clams and some fish, once in a while, just for a change. A crab
would taste wonderfully good. So would some oysters, and they don't have
any up here. We've had one good day's fishing, since we came; but we had
to go miles and miles after it. Now, don't you tell mother we don't get
enough to eat. There's plenty of it, and you ought to see Mrs. Myers
smile when she passes the johnnycake. We're all trying to learn that
heavenly smile. Ford does it best. I think Dick Lee is getting a little
pale. Perhaps corn doesn't agree with him. He's learning fast, though,
and so am I; but we have to work harder than Ford and Frank. I guess the
Hart boys know more than they did when they got here; and they didn't
learn it all out of their books, either. We keep up our French and our
boxing; but oh, wouldn't I like to go for some blue-fish just now! Has
mother made any mince-pies yet? I've almost forgotten how they taste. I
was going by a house, the other day, and I smelt some ham cooking. I was
real glad I hadn't forgotten. I knew what it was, right away. Don't you
be afraid about my studying; for I'm at it all the while, except when
we're playing ball or eating corn. They say they have sleighing here
earlier than we do, and more of it, and plenty of skating. Well, now,
don't say any thing to mother about the corn; but won't I eat when I get
home! Yours all the while,
                              DABNEY KINZER."

"Why, the poor fellow!" exclaimed Mrs. Kinzer. "It's enough to stop his
growth."

It was not many days after that, before Dabney received a couple of
boxes by express. The "marks" told where they came from; and he and the
other boys carried them right up stairs, in the face of a kind
suggestion from Mrs. Myers that "they might take them right out into the
kitchen, and open them there."

She had almost ceased from putting her wishes in any more dictatorial
form; but she and Almira wondered exceedingly what might be the contents
of those boxes.

Dab was only a minute or so in finding out what was in one of them.

"Boiled ham! A whole one! Out with it, Frank. All that brown
paper,--why, it's a pair of chickens, all ready to roast."

"Something more's down under those slats," said Ford, in a tone of great
excitement.

"Mince-pies! And they're not much mashed, either. It's wonderful how
they did pack them."

"Slats and shingles and paper," said Ford. "What can there be in that
other box?"

"Shall we eat first, or open it?"

"Open it! Open it! Maybe they've sent you some corn."

Opened it was, with a desperate display of energy.

"Ice!" said Frank Harley.

"Sawdust!" shouted Ford.

"Fish!" said Dabney. "Clams, oysters, crabs, lobsters."

Dick Lee had gazed in absolute silence up to that very moment; and all
he could say now was,--

"Ah-h-h! O-h-h-h! Jes' ain't dey fine!"

"Boys," said Dab, with a sort of loving look at the contents of that
box, "do you suppose we can eat those fellows?"

"Eat 'em!" exclaimed Ford. "Why, after they're cooked!"

"Well, I s'pose we can; but I feel more like shaking hands with 'em all
around, just now. They're old friends and neighbors of mine, you know."

"Yes; but I guess we'd better eat them."

"Cap'n Dab," said Dick, "dey jes' knock all de correck pronounciation
out ob me, dey does."

"Ford, Frank, I'll ask Mrs. Myers and Almira up here right away. Those
oysters and clams have got to be eaten this very evening."

They did not need twice asking; and there was a thoughtful expression on
the face of Mrs. Myers when she looked from one box into the other. It
was fairly on her tongue's end to suggest what share of those luxuries
should be taken at once to Deacon Short's or Mrs. Sunderland's; but she
stopped in time, for that thought was followed by another,--

"What could the boys have been writing home about her cooking and her
table?"

There might be something serious in it; for boarders were people who
came and went, boys or no boys, and Dab and his friends were just the
kind of boys to "come and go." At all events, she could not object to
their having such a supply as that sent them; and she took up the
responsibility of all the cookery required, at once.

It was a feast while it lasted, and the effects of it upon the character
of Mrs. Myers's table were permanent.

There was no further danger that Dab's growth would be checked in any
such manner as his mother had feared.

Nor was there any great doubt remaining as to the steadiness of his
growth in other ways, during his school days at Grantley; for he and his
friends were now "settled;" and they had made that most important
success in life,--a Good Beginning.

THE END.





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