"I can do that," replied Lawry confidently.
Ethan approved the method, and promised to ascertain what weight each of the casks would sustain in the water, when he had obtained their dimensions. The ferry-boat reached the other side of the lake, and the young men went to see Mr. Nelson, the owner of the casks. He did not wish to use the hogsheads till October, and was willing they should be employed for the purpose indicated, if Lawry would give him security for their safe return.
"Mr. Sherwood will do that for you, Lawry," said Ethan.
"That's a good name," added the oil speculator. "If he will guarantee the safe return of the casks, that is all I ask. I wonder if Mr. Sherwood don't want some shares in the Meteor Oil Company."
"I don't know; I'll ask him," replied Ethan.
"If you will, I won't charge you anything for the use of the casks," added Mr. Nelson.
Mr. Sherwood was consulted in the evening. He was very willing to furnish the required security for the use of the oil-casks, but he did not seem to have the same confidence in the "Meteor" which Mr. Nelson exhibited, though he promised to consider the matter.
It required three days to complete the preparations for raising the Woodville. All the ropes and rigging in the neighborhood, including many hay-ropes and clothes-lines, had been collected; the oil-casks had been conveyed over the lake in the ferry-boat, and secured within a "boom" composed of four long timbers, lashed together at the ends, forming a square, which was moored close to the Goblins; and a raft had been built, upon which the operations were to be conducted.
Mr. Sherwood had offered to furnish as many men as could be employed to assist in the work; but the young engineers had so arranged their plans that no help was needed. At sunrise in the morning the boys ran down to the Goblins in the ferry-boat, which was necessary for the transportation of sundry heavy articles. The raft was already there, moored in the proper place for commencing the labors of the day. The engineers were deeply interested in the operations before them, for there was a difficult problem to be solved, which required all their skill and ingenuity; and Lawry felt that his future prosperity and happiness depended upon the success of the undertaking.
Their plans and their machinery were yet to be tried, and there was a degree of excitement attending the execution of the project which was as agreeable as it was stimulating to their enthusiastic natures. People had laughed at the idea of two boys raising a steamer burdened with heavy machinery, and both of them felt that their reputations were at stake.
"Now, Lawry, we shall soon find out what we can do," said Ethan, as they made fast the ferry-boat to the raft.
"I know what we can do," replied the young pilot confidently. "If the casks will float her, she shall come to the top of the water before to-morrow night. Now, Ethan, the first thing is to get a rope under her."
"That's easy enough."
"It's all easy enough, if you only believe in yourself."
A rope of six fathoms in length was selected from the mass of rigging on the raft, and a stone just heavy enough to sink the line attached to the middle of it. Lawry took it in the wherry, sculled to the stern of the sunken steamer, and dropped it into the water. He then carried one end to Ethan, on the raft, while he returned with the other in his boat, which he moored to the opposite side of the Woodville. The middle of the rope was kept on the bottom of the lake by the stone, while the two ends were carried forward by the boys until the bight was drawn under the keel of the steamer, as far as her position on the rocks would permit it to go. Lawry's end was made fast around the smokestack, and Ethan's to the raft.
One of the hogsheads was next floated out of the boom enclosure, and hauled upon the raft, Lawry adjusted the hogshead slings to the cask. In the middle of the raft an aperture had been left, large enough for a hogshead to pass through, over which a small derrick had been built. A stone post, about the length of the casks, and just heavy enough to sink one of them, had been brought down on the bateau. This "sinker," as the young engineers called it, had been weighed, and it exactly conformed to the requirement of Ethan's figures; it was just sufficient to overcome the flotage power of the cask.
"Now, keep cool, Ethan, and we shall find out whether your figures are correct, or not," said Lawry.
"Figures won't lie," replied Ethan; "I know they are correct, and that hogshead will go to the bottom as quick as though it were made of lead."
"We shall soon see," added Lawry, as he placed a couple of skids across the "well." "Now we must place the sinker on those skids."
By the aid of the derrick, which was provided with a rude windlass, constructed by Ethan, the stone post was hoisted up, and then dropped down on the skids. The sinker had been rigged with slings, and the hogshead was attached to it by a contrivance of Lawry, upon which the success of the operation wholly depended, and which it will be very difficult to describe with words. The sinker would carry the cask to the bottom of the lake, where its buoyancy was to assist in bringing the steamer to the surface of the water; but it was necessary, after the cask had been sunk and fastened to the hull, to detach it from the sinker; and this had been a problem of no little difficulty to Lawry, who managed the nautical part of the enterprise.
Fastened to the slings on the sinker was a rope ten fathoms in length. A loop was formed in this line, close to the sinker, and the bight passed through the slings on the hogshead. The loop was then laid over the two ropes, one of which was fast to the sinker, and the other was the unattached end of the line, and "toggled" on with a marline-spike. If the young reader does not quite understand the process, let him take a string, with one end fastened to a flatiron; double it, and pass the loop—which sailors call a bight— upward between the thumb and forefinger; bring the loop down to meet the two parts of the string on the palm of the hand; then take the two lines into the loop, and put a pencil under the two parts drawn through the loop. The flatiron will correspond to the stone sinker, and the thumb to the slings on the hogshead. Lift up the flatiron, so that the weight will bear on the thumb; then pull out the pencil, and the iron will drop.
The marlinespike was thoroughly greased, and a small line attached to the head of it, so that it could be easily drawn out of the loop, when the cask had been secured to the hull of the steamer.
"There, we are all right now," said Lawry, after he had tried the marlinespike several times to satisfy himself that it could be easily drawn from its place. "Now we will make fast the rope which runs under the keel to the hogshead."
"Here it is," added Ethan.
"We want to have the cask under the guard of the steamer when we get it down."
"That will be easy enough."
"Perhaps it will; but I'm afraid the rope will bind on the keel."
"If it does, we must take the raft round to the other side of the Woodville, and pass it round the windlass; we can haul it up in that way."
"That will take too much time. I think you and I both will be strong enough to haul the cask into place."
"Now, give us a turn at the windlass, Ethan," said Lawry, when he was ready.
"Aye, aye," replied Ethan, as he turned the crank, and raised the sinker and the cask, so that the skids which supported them could be removed.
"Lower away!" added Lawry, highly excited; and the sinker began to descend into the water, carrying with it the hogshead. "That works first-rate. Now hold on till I get hold of the other end of the guide-rope."
Lawry jumped into the wherry, and sculled round to the other side of the sunken steamer, where he detached the end of the line passing under the keel from the smoke-stack, where it had been secured. He hauled on the rope till he got it clear of the stone with which it had been sunk.
"Lower away!" shouted Lawry.
"Lower, it is," answered Ethan.
"Slowly," added the pilot, as he hauled in the rope.
"It is going to the right place. I can see it in the water."
"Hold on!" cried Lawry; and the wherry was so unsteady beneath him that it was with great difficulty he "kept what he had got" on the rope.
In order to overcome this disadvantage he passed the rope around the smokestack.
"I have it now!" shouted he. "This gives me a splendid purchase;" and he hauled in the rope, bringing the hogshead chock up to the hull of the sunken craft.
"We are growing wiser every moment," laughed Ethan.
"So we are. Lower away, slowly. That's it," said Lawry. "Lower away."
"The sinker is on the bottom," replied Ethan.
"All right; can you see the hogshead?"
"Yes; you have hauled it completely under the guard. The water is as clear as crystal," answered Ethan.
"Hold on a moment till I make fast this line!"
Thus far the experiment had been entirely successful, and Lawry's bosom bounded with emotion. The plan for raising the Woodville was his own, though he had been greatly assisted by Ethan, who had designed and constructed the derrick and windlass, thus diminishing the labor of the enterprise. The young pilot felt like a conqueror when he had placed the first cask in position.
Sculling the wherry back to the raft, he pulled the string attached to the toggle, and drew it out of the noose.
"Hoist away," said he.
"Hoist, it is," replied Ethan, as he took hold with him.
"All right!" shouted the young nautical engineer. "I feel like giving three cheers," he added.
"So do I; and we'll do it, when we get the sinker on the raft."
The stone post came up "in good order and condition," and the skids were placed under it, to keep it in position for the sinking of the second hogshead. The three cheers were given with a will, and they came from the hearts of the boys. They had labored patiently for three days in gathering the material and constructing the machinery for the raising of the steamer, and their first success was a real joy.
"Breakfast-time," said Lawry, as the horn sounded from the ferry-house.
"I don't want any breakfast," answered Ethan. "I don't feel as though we could spare the time for eating."
"Haste and waste," added Lawry, laughing. "We have got a great deal of hard work to do, and we must keep our strength. For my part, I'm hungry."
"I'm not; and I'm so interested in this job that I don't like to leave. We ought to have brought our breakfast down with us."
"I don't think we shall make anything by driving the work too hard. We must keep cool, and do it well. Besides, I'm liable to be called off a dozen times a day."
"To take people over the ferry."
"Oh, bother!" exclaimed Ethan impatiently. "Have we got to leave the work to paddle everybody that comes along over the lake?"
"We have," said Lawry. "I must look out for the family now."
There was a good wind, and the boys returned to the ferry-house in the bateau. Before they had finished their breakfast, the ferry-horn sounded, and Lawry was obliged to take a team over to Pointville before the work could be resumed. Ethan was rather impatient under this delay; but he was too kind-hearted to make any unpleasant remark which would remind his friend of his father's crime.
BEN WILFORD'S PLAN
While Lawry was ferrying the team over the lake, Ethan occupied himself in making a long-handled boat-hook, which might be useful in the operation of raising the steamer. While he was thus engaged, a young man, about eighteen years of age, coarsely dressed, and with a very red face, came down the road and stopped at the place where he was at work.
"What you making?" asked the young man.
"A boat-hook," replied Ethan.
"Do you belong here?" continued the stranger nodding his head toward the ferry-house.
"No; I'm only helping Lawry Wilford for a few days."
"The old man's got into hot water, they say."
"Well, he was always preaching to me about doing the right thing; and now he's fallen off the horse-block himself," added the young man, with a slight chuckle.
"It's bad for Mr. Wilford and his family."
"That's so. Where's Lawry now?"
"He has gone over with the ferry-boat."
"I reckon Lawry has to run the machine now."
"He has to run the ferry-boat."
"Well, he knows how. Lawry's smart—he is. I suppose you don't know me."
"I do not."
"I'm Lawry's brother; and that makes it that Lawry is my brother."
"Then you are Benjamin Wilford?"
"That's my name; but Ben Wilford sounds a good deal more natural to me. I heard the old man had got into trouble, and I came up to see about it, though I'm out of a job just now, and couldn't do anything better. I hear that Lawry owns a steamboat, and I didn't know but he'd want some help. Where is she?"
"She's on the bottom, out there by the Goblins," answered Ethan, pointing to the raft. "We are at work raising her."
"Can you get her up, do you think?"
"Yes; I have no doubt we shall have her at the top of the water by to-morrow night."
"I've come just in time, then," added the young man. "I think I know something about a steamboat."
Ethan did not like the looks of Lawry's brother. His bloated face was against him, and the young engineer, without knowing anything more about him than his swaggering manner and red face revealed, wished he had stayed away a few days longer.
"I'll go in and see the old woman, and get some breakfast; then I'll go up with you and see what you are doing," said Ben Wilford.
"We are going up as soon as Lawry comes back," answered Ethan, pointing to the ferry-boat.
The dissolute young man, who had just been discharged from his situation as a deck-hand on one of the steamers, for intemperance and neglect of duty, sauntered into the house; and the fresh breeze soon brought the impatient Lawry to the shore.
"Lawry, we have got some help," said Ethan.
"Your brother has just come."
"Ben?" asked the young lad, a troubled expression gathering on his face.
"Yes; he has gone into the house to get his breakfast."
"I'll go in and see him," added Lawry, who did not seem to be at all pleased with the news of his brother's arrival.
It is a sad thing for a brother to behave so badly that he cannot be welcome at his own home.
Mrs. Wilford shook hands with Benjamin as he entered. She was glad to see him, and her mother's heart went out toward him; but she was filled with doubts and fears. The young man only laughed while his mother wept at the story of the father's crime. He sat down to his breakfast, and declared that he had come home to take care of the family.
"I hope you are able to take care of yourself, Benjamin," replied his mother, as she glanced at his bloated face.
"I always did that, mother. The old man and I couldn't agree very well, but I reckon you and I can get along together. Lawry, how are you?" continued the returned wanderer, as his brother entered the room.
"Very well; how are you, Ben?" answered Lawry, as he shook hands with his brother.
"First-rate. How about the steamboat, Lawry?"
"She's all right; or, she will be, when we get her up."
"Do you think you can raise her?"
"I know we can."
"Well, I heard all about her up in the village, and I have come home to help you. I know all about steamboats, you know."
"What did you leave your place for?"
"The captain and I couldn't agree. I'm going to run an opposition line."
"I am; bet your life I am."
"Where will you get your boats?"
"Don't want but one; and they say your boat is the finest little craft that ever floated on the lake."
"She is, without a doubt."
"Well, we can take some money out of the captain's pocket, at any rate. We'll make a fortune out of your boat, Lawry, if we get her up."
"I shall get her up by tomorrow night."
"I'll help you, Lawry."
"We don't need any help at present. I must go now, for Ethan is waiting for me."
"Ethan French; he is the engineer of the steamer," answered the young pilot, moving toward the door.
"Hold on a minute, Lawry, and I'll be ready to go with you. I can show you how to do the business."
"I know now."
"You're smart, Lawry; but you're not so old as I am."
"I'm old enough to do this job."
"You haven't seen so much of steamboats as I have."
"Now, Benjamin, you mustn't interfere with Lawry's work," interposed Mrs. Wilford. "He knows what he is about."
"I'm not going to interfere with him; I'm only going to help him."
"If you really want to help me, I'll tell you what you can do," said Lawry.
"You can run the ferry."
"Run the ferry!" exclaimed Ben. "Why, I know more about steamboats than you and your engineer put together. Do you suppose I'm going to run a ferry-boat when there's a job of this sort on hand?"
"You can help more in this way than in any other," persisted Lawry.
"Run a ferry-boat!" sneered Ben; "that isn't my style."
"We don't need any help on the steamer."
"Yes, you do. At any rate, I'll go down and see what you are about."
"What's that rock for?" he demanded, pointing to the sinker which lay on the skids.
"To sink the casks with," replied Ethan; and he explained the process by which the hogsheads were attached to the hull of the Woodville.
"Well, Lawry, if you had been studying seven years to get up the stupidest thing that could be thought of, you could not have got up a more ridiculous idea than this," said Ben, laughing contemptuously.
"How would you raise her?" asked Lawry quietly.
"Well, I wouldn't do it in this way, I can tell you. If you want me to take this job in hand for you, I'll do it. You might as well try to raise the Goblins as the steamer in this way."
"It is very easy to condemn the method," added Ethan indignantly; "but it isn't so easy to find a better one."
"You say you don't want any help from me," said Ben.
"If you can tell me any better way, I should like to hear it," replied Lawry.
"If you want me to raise your steamer, say the word."
"Let me know how you intend to do it, first," persisted Lawry. "It's easier to talk than it is to do."
"You're smart, Lawry; but you can't raise that steamer with those casks in seven years."
"I'll have her on the top of the water by to-morrow night," said the young pilot.
"No, you won't."
"You see! But we must go to work, Ethan."
"That's just my idea," said the engineer.
"Then you don't want me to do the job?" added Ben.
"No, I think not," replied Lawry, rather coldly.
"I think my way is the best."
"Perhaps it is; but I don't know what your way is."
"I'll tell you, Lawry, for I don't like to have you waste your time and strength doing nothing; besides, we want the steamer as soon as we can get her, or the season will be over."
"What do you mean by we, Ben?" asked Lawry quietly.
"Why, you and me, of course. I know something about steamers, and perhaps I should be willing to go captain of your boat, if you ever get her into working order."
"Perhaps you would," answered Lawry.
"Of course you mean to use the boat for the benefit of the family, now the old man is jugged and can't do anything more for them."
"To be sure I do."
"I'm willing to do my part. You can be the pilot, and the other fellow can be the engineer."
"And we can both of us have the privilege of obeying your orders," laughed Lawry.
"Well, I shouldn't be likely to interfere with you; your place would be in the wheel-house."
"And yours in the cabin, Captain Wilford. I can't stop to talk about this now. There comes Ethan with the cask."
"You might as well stop this foolish work first as last," sneered the would-be captain of the Woodville. "I was going to tell you how to raise her."
"Go on; we'll hear you, and work at the same time," said Ethan.
"I should get two of those canal-boats, having about eight feet depth of hold," continued Ben.
"Where would you get them?" demanded Lawry.
"Get them? Hire them, of course. You can get plenty of them at Port Henry."
"Have you any money in your pocket?"
"They wouldn't cost more than a hundred dollars."
"I haven't got even fifty dollars," said Lawry.
"They would trust you on the security of your steamer."
"I don't want to be trusted for any such purpose. What would you do with your canal-boats when you had got them?" asked Lawry.
"I would moor one on each side of the steamer, put a couple of timbers across them, pass a chain under the bow and stern of the sunken hull, and make fast to the timbers. Then I would let the water into the canal-boats, and sink them down to the rails. When I got them down as deep as I could, I would tighten the chains, till they bore taut on the timbers. Do you understand it, Lawry?"
"Certainly; I know all about the plan," replied the young pilot, with a smile.
"I don't believe you do," said Ben incredulously. "What would you do next?"
"Pump the water out of the two canal-boats, which would take about two days' time."
"You could rig extra pumps."
"Three of us, with three pumps, couldn't pump them out in two days."
"Well, the job is done when you have pumped them out."
"When you get the water out of the boats, you will have raised the steamer but three or four feet at most."
"Six feet, at least, for the canal-boats will come up where they were before."
"No; they won't; the weight of the steamer will press them down two or three feet."
An excited discussion followed upon this question; but Lawry and Ethan carried their point. It was plain that the buoyant powers of the two boats, as the water was pumped but of them, would raise the steamer three or four feet, leaving her suspended half-way between the surface and the bottom of the lake. Lawry wanted the aspirant for the captaincy of the Woodville to tell him what he would do next, for she could not be repaired while she was under water; but Ben was "nonplussed" and unable to answer.
"I can finish that job for you," said Lawry.
"She could be moored on the ways, and then hauled up."
"Perhaps she might, but I should rather put her on the ways from the top of the water. When I got her three feet from the bottom, I should move her toward the shore till she grounded."
"What then?" asked Ben.
"I should sink the canal-boats again, pump them out once more, and thus raise her three feet more; but it would take about three days every time we lifted her three feet. Ben, I think we could get her to the top of the water in about a fortnight by your plan. By mine, I shall have her up by to-morrow night."
"I'll bet you won't; or in a month, either. You know too much, Lawry," said Ben.
"I don't bet; but you shall see her at the ferry-landing by seven to-morrow evening if you are there."
The older brother, finding himself only a cipher on the raft, had consented to run the ferry in the afternoon, when the horn sounded; and the pilot and engineer were thus enabled to continue their labor without interruption.
HARD AT WORK
When Lawry and Ethan returned to the Goblins in the afternoon, they were delighted to find that the casks, all of which had been placed under the guards abaft the wheel, had actually produced an effect upon the steamer. The smokestack stood up more perpendicularly, indicating that the stern had been lifted from the bottom. Ethan was sure that the casks would bring the Woodville to the surface; but a very serious difficulty now presented itself.
About two-thirds of the length of the steamer's keel rested on a flat rock, whose surface was inclined downward toward the body of the lake, leaving the third next to the stern unsupported, under which the ropes had been easily drawn to retain the casks in their places. Of course it was impossible to draw any lines under the forward part of the keel, which rested on the flat rock, and it was necessary to devise some means for securing the casks to this portion of the hull.
"I have it," said Lawry.
"What is it?"
"We must sink more casks under the stern."
"But that will bring one end up, and leave the other on the rock."
"That isn't what I mean. If we put, say, two more hogsheads under the stern, they will raise it so we can get the ropes under the forward part of the hull."
"I understand; you are right, Lawry," replied Ethan.
When they returned to the ferry-house, they found Mr. Sherwood and the ladies there, who had come down to ascertain what progress had been made in the work. Ben Wilford had freely expressed his opinion that the enterprise would end in failure.
"Those boys know too much; that's all the trouble," said Ben.
"I was in hopes they would succeed in their undertaking," added Mr. Sherwood.
"So was I, sir; but there's no chance of their doing anything. I know something about steamboats, for I've been at work on them for three years."
"And you are quite sure they will fail?" asked Mr. Sherwood.
"Just as sure as I am of anything in this world. I told them what the trouble would be; but they know so much they won't hear me. I told them how it ought to be done."
"Here they come; they can speak for themselves," said Mr. Sherwood. "How do you get along, Lawry?"
"Indeed! Your brother thinks you are going to make a failure of the job."
"Perhaps we are, sir; but we don't believe it yet—do we, Ethan?"
"Lawry, wouldn't you be willing to sell out your interest in the Woodville at a small figure?" laughed Mr. Sherwood.
"Your brother, who seems to be a person of some experience in such matters, thinks you will not be able to raise the steamer. If that is likely to be the case, I don't want you to waste your time and strength for nothing. I should be glad to employ some men to raise the Woodville for you."
"Thank you, sir. You are very kind," replied Lawry.
"If you like, we will ride down to Port Henry to-night, and employ a man to do the job."
"I think we shall succeed, sir."
"What's the use of talking, Lawry?" interposed Ben. "You'll not get her up in seven years."
"Don't you think you had better give it up, Lawry?" asked Mr. Sherwood.
"Not yet, sir."
"What do you think, Lawry? Hadn't you better let me employ a man to do the work?"
"Ethan and I can do it very well, sir."
"Perhaps you can; but we wish to have the steamer in working order as soon as possible, and we may hasten the joy by employing men of experience to do it."
"Haste and waste," said Lawry, laughing. "Mr. Sherwood, I am satisfied we can raise the Woodville. We don't want any help. If we don't get her up by to-morrow night, I will let some one else take hold; but it will cost a heap of money."
"It shall not cost you anything, Lawry. I haven't half paid the debt of gratitude I owe you."
"Oh, never mind that, sir! I only want one more day."
"You are very confident, my boy, and I hope you will succeed," added Mr. Sherwood, as he turned to depart.
"Take him up, Lawry," said Ben. "Let him raise her. He will do it at his own expense, and perhaps he will give me the job."
"You are a fool, Lawry!" exclaimed Ben.
"Perhaps I am. Time will tell."
"He offered to pay for raising her, and you wouldn't let him do it!"
"He has made me a present of the steamer as she lies; and I don't ask anything more of him."
"Take all you can get, Lawry. That's the only way to get along in this world."
Ethan slept with his fellow workman at the cottage that night, and at daylight in the morning they were on their way to the Goblins. At breakfast-time two casks had been sunk under the bow of the steamer, for they had become so familiar with the work that it was carried on with greater rapidity than at the first.
At breakfast they were laughed at again by Ben Wilford; but they chose to keep still, made no replies, and gave no information in regard to the progress of the work. At the earnest request of Lawry, seconded by Mrs. Wilford, Ben consented to run the ferry that day, and the young engineers took their dinners with them when they went down to the Goblins. They were full of hope, and confidently expected to return to the landing at night with the Woodville.
At eleven o'clock four more hogsheads had been placed under the guards. The steamer swayed a little in the water; the stern had risen about two feet; and it was evident that she was on the point of floating. The boys were intensely excited at the bright prospect before them.
"Lawry, the work is nearly done," said Ethan.
"That's so; I think a couple of those barrels will finish it," answered the young pilot. "I see two anchors at her bow."
"Yes, there are two anchors and about forty fathoms of small chain- cable on board of her."
"I see them; and I think we had better fish them up."
"That's a good idea."
With the long boat-hook which Ethan had made, the cables were hauled up and coiled away on the raft, which had been placed over the bow of the sunken vessel. When the chains, which were bent onto the anchors, were hauled taut, the sinker rope, still in the block, and wound on the windlass of the derrick, was made fast to one of them, and the anchor drawn up. The operation was then repeated on the other anchor.
"Hurrah! hurrah!" shouted Lawry, as they began to turn the windlass. "She's coming up."
"Hurrah!" repeated Ethan, and the faces of both boys glowed with excited joy, as the sunken vessel followed the anchor up to the surface of the water.
It was necessary to move the raft, and the anchor was hauled out over the top of the bulwarks. The Woodville rose till her plank-sheer was even with the surface of the water. The boys shouted for joy; they were almost beside themselves with the excitement of that happy moment. They had conquered; success had crowned their labors.
"The job is done!" cried Lawry.
"That's so! Where is your brother now?" exclaimed Ethan.
"We have got her up sooner than I expected. I move you we have our dinner now."
"I don't feel much like dinner."
"What is to be done next?"
"We must get her up a little farther out of the water. We can easily get some more casks under her now; but let us have some dinner first."
They sat down on a timber on the raft, and ate the dinner they had brought with them. They could not keep their eyes off the steamer during the meal, and they continued to discuss the means of completing the work they had begun.
After dinner the labor was renewed with redoubled energy. Four more casks were attached to the bow, and four removed from the stern; the effect of which was to lift the bow out of the water, while the deck at the after part was again submerged. This was Lawry's plan for ascertaining the extent of the injury which the hull had received. It now appeared that, when the Woodville struck the Goblins, she had slid upon a flat rock, while a sharp projection from the reef had stove a hole, not quite three feet in diameter, just above her keel.
"Now we must stop this hole," said Lawry; "and we may as well do it here as anywhere."
"That's just my idea," responded Ethan. "There's a painted floor-cloth in the kitchen, which will just cover it. I will get it."
"Have you any small nails on board?"
"Plenty of them."
The kitchen and the engineer's storeroom were now out of water, so that Ethan had no difficulty in procuring the articles needed in stopping up the hole. A couple of slats were placed over the aperture to prevent the floor-cloth from being forced in by the pressure of the water. Both of the boys then went to work nailing on the carpet, which was new and very heavy. The nails were put very close together, and most of them being carpet-tacks, with broad heads, they pressed the oilcloth closely down to the wood-work. It was not expected entirely to exclude the water; but the leakage could be easily controlled by the pumps.
Several of the casks were now removed from the bow to the stern, until the hull sat even on the water. All the heavy articles on deck, including the contents of the "chain-box," were transferred to the raft, and the laborers were ready to commence the long and trying operation of pumping her out. It was now six o'clock, and it was plain that this job could not be finished that night. The wind was beginning to freshen, and there were indications of bad Weather. Lawry had at first intended to move the Woodville up to the ferry-landing as soon as she floated; but Ethan, for certain reasons, which were satisfactory to his fellow laborer, wished to pump her out where she was; and it was found to be a very difficult thing to tow her up to the ferry in her water-logged condition.
It was not safe to leave her, with the prospect of a heavy blow, so near the Goblins, and they carried out the anchors in the wherry, and with the assistance of the capstan on the forward deck heaved her out into a secure position. The Woodville was safe for the night, and the supper-horn was sounding at the ferry-house. Nearly exhausted by their severe exertions, the boys returned to the cottage.
"I'm so glad that you have done it!" exclaimed Mrs. Wilford, when they went in to supper.
She had been a deeply interested observer of the operations of the young engineers, and her heart had bounded with emotions of joy, in unison with theirs, when she saw the steamer rise to the surface of the lake.
"I knew we should do it, mother," replied Lawry. "Where is Ben?"
"I don't know where he is. He went away just after dinner, and I haven't seen him since," added the mother.
"But I saw the ferry-boat go over in the middle of the afternoon."
"I know you did."
"But who went over with her?"
"I did," answered Mrs. Wilford quietly.
"Yes, Lawry; there was no one else to go, unless I called you, and I couldn't bear to take you away from your work. I've been over in the ferry times enough to know how to manage the boat."
"Ben said he would take care of the ferry."
"He doesn't always do as he promises," said Mrs. Wilford sadly.
Lawry thought it was very kind of his mother to run the ferry-boat, rather than disturb him at his work; but he did not like to have her do such labor. When he went out after supper, he found the wind was still quite fresh, and he was afraid that some accident might happen to the steamer in the night. If the casks got loose, she would sink again. While he and Ethan were talking about it, Ben Wilford returned home; and it was evident from his looks and actions that he had been drinking too much.
ME. SHERWOOD AND PARTY
"Well, Lawry, I don't see the steamer at the ferry-landing," said Ben Wilford. "You know, you promised to have her up here to-night; but I knew you wouldn't."
"We thought we wouldn't bring her up to-night," replied Lawry coldly.
"I knew you wouldn't, my boy. You didn't keep your promise."
"And you didn't keep yours."
"I didn't make any. If I'd promised to fetch that steamer up, she'd been here."
"You promised to run the ferry, and you left it."
"No, I didn't, Lawry. Don't you talk so to me. You know too much," added Ben angrily. "You never will raise that steamer in two thousand years."
"There she is," replied Lawry quietly, as he pointed in the direction of the Goblins.
Ben looked at her; he did not seem to be pleased to find her on the top of the water. His oft-repeated prophesy had been a failure, and Lawry was full as smart as people said he was.
"Humph!" said he. "She isn't much of a steamboat if those barrels brought her up."
"There she is; and I have done all I promised to do."
"What are you going to do next, Lawry?"
"I'm going to pump her out next."
"You'd better do it pretty quick, or she'll go to the bottom again," added Ben, as he walked into the house.
"There comes Mr. Sherwood, with the ladies," said Lawry, as he glanced up the road.
"I congratulate you, boys," said Mr. Sherwood, as he grasped Lawry's hand. "We gave three cheers for you on the hill, when we saw that you had raised the Woodville."
"Thank you, sir. We worked pretty hard, but we were successful."
"You have done bravely," said Mrs. Sherwood. "We thought, from what your brother said last night, that you would fail."
"Ethan and I didn't think so."
"I suppose you wouldn't sell very cheap to-night, Lawry," added Mr. Sherwood.
"No, sir; the Woodville is a gift, and I should not be willing to sell her at any price."
"Well, Lawry, I am as glad as you are at your success. Do you want any help yet?"
"No, sir; we are just going on board of her to stay overnight, for we are afraid the heavy wind will do mischief."
"I wouldn't do that. You must rest to-night."
"I'm afraid something will happen if we don't look out for her."
"Are you going to pump her out to-night?"
"We may begin pretty early in the morning," said Lawry, with a smile.
"Haste and waste, my boy. If you stay on board of her to-night, and get sick, you will not make anything by your labor."
"If the wind goes down, we shall sleep ashore as usual. I don't think it blows quite so hard as it did."
"I don't," added Ethan.
"Boys, you mustn't overdo this thing," added Mr. Sherwood seriously.
His wife whispered to him just then.
"Yes, Bertha," he continued. "I'll tell you what I'm going to do, Lawry. I have four men at work for me. I can spare them one day, and they shall pump out the Woodville for you."
"You needn't object," interposed Mrs. Sherwood.
"Indeed you must not, Lawry," added Miss Fanny. "I am afraid you will both be sick if you work so hard."
"We can easily pump her out ourselves," said Ethan.
"You needn't say a word, Ethan," added Fanny Jane.
"I suppose we shall have to submit," replied Lawry, laughing. "We can't oppose the ladies."
"Just as you say, Lawry," said Ethan.
"You shall have the men to-morrow, boys. Now you must go to bed, and not think of the steamer till morning," continued Mr. Sherwood.
As the wind seemed to be subsiding, the boys went into the house; and though it was not quite dark, they "turned in," tired enough to sleep without rocking. Ben was at his supper, in no pleasant frame of mind. He was dissatisfied with himself, and with his brother, who had succeeded in his undertaking contrary to his prophecy. He was envious and jealous of Lawry. Now that his father was away, he thought he ought to be the chief person about the house, being the oldest boy.
"I'm not going to stay at home, and be a nobody," said he angrily.
"We don't wish you to be a nobody," replied his mother.
"Yes, you do; Lawry is everybody, and I'm nobody."
"You've been drinking, Benjamin."
"What if I have! I'm not going to stay here, and play second fiddle to a little boy."
"What are you talking about, Benjamin? Lawry has not interfered with you. He will treat you kindly and respectfully, as he treats everybody."
"He don't mind any more what I say than he does the grunting of the pigs."
"What do you want him to do?"
"I want him to pay some attention to what I say," snarled Ben. "I suppose he thinks that steamboat belongs to him."
"Certainly he does," replied Mrs. Wilford.
"Don't you? Whom does it belong to, then?"
"I'm not a fool, mother; I know a thing or two as well as some others. Lawry is not of age."
"Neither are you."
"I know that, but I'm older than he is."
"You are old enough to behave better."
"How do you expect me to be anybody here, when I have to knock under to my younger brother? I say the steamer don't belong to Lawry any more than she does to me. I have just as much right in her as he has."
"What do you mean by talking so, Benjamin? You know that Mr. Sherwood gave the steamer to Lawry, and the bill of sale is in Lawry's name."
"I don't care for that! she's just as much mine as she is his, and he'll find that out when she gets to running. Lawry's a minor, and can't hold any property; you know that just as well as I do."
"What if he is? I think he will be permitted to hold the steamboat, and run her."
"I don't think so. I was talking with Taylor, who holds the mortgage on this place, and he don't think so," added Ben, in a tone of triumph.
"What did he say?"
"Well, he means to attach the steamboat on the note he holds against father."
"He will not do that!" replied Mrs. Wilford.
"He says so, anyhow."
"He will foreclose the mortgage on the place if he wants to get his money."
"The place will not sell for enough to pay his note, and he knows it. No matter about him—the steamboat belongs to father, just as much as the ferry-boat does; and I think I ought to have something to say about her."
"If you want to do anything for the family, why can't you run the ferry-boat, Benjamin?"
"And let Lawry run the steamboat? Not if I know myself!" replied Ben, with savage emphasis. "He may run the ferry-boat, and I'll run the steamer."
"That would be neither fair nor right. The steamer belongs to Lawry, and I will never consent that he shall be turned out of her."
"I don't want to turn him out of her. I'll take charge of her, and he may go pilot; that's all he's good for."
"You mean that you'll be captain?"
"That's what I mean."
"I don't think Lawry will want any one to be captain over him.
"If I don't run that steamer, nobody shall!" said Ben angrily, as he rose and left the house.
"Good evening, Mrs. Wilford," said Mr. Sherwood. "Has Lawry gone to bed?"
"Yes, an hour ago."
"Is he asleep?"
"I suppose he is."
"All right, then."
"What in the world are you going to do with such a crowd of men, Mr. Sherwood?"
"I'm going to help the boys finish their job. Ethan told me they had stopped the leak, and it only remained to pump out the steamer. I am going to do this job; and I have men enough to finish it in a couple of hours."
"I should think you had," added Mrs. Wilford.
"I have gathered together all the men I could find. Don't say a word to the boys, if you please. I intend to surprise them. They will find the steamer free of water in the morning."
"You are very kind, Mr. Sherwood, to take so much trouble."
"The boys have worked so well that they deserve encouragement. May I take the ferry-boat to convey my men up to the steamer?"
Mr. Sherwood encouraged the men to work well by the promise of extra pay; and the laborers seemed to regard the occasion as a grand frolic. They exerted themselves to the utmost, and the buckets flew along the lines, while the pumps rolled out the water in a continuous flow. As the steamer, relieved of the weight that pressed her down, rose on the surface of the lake, it was only necessary to lift the water from below and pour it upon the deck, from which it would run off itself.
The job did not last long before such a strong force; and in two hours the work of the bailers was done. Ethan had fully described the method by which the hole in the hull of the Woodville had been stopped; but Mr. Sherwood had some doubts in regard to the strength of the material, and he went below to examine the place. Lawry and his fellow laborer had had no opportunity to test the strength and fitness of the work they had done, while the boat was full of water.
On examination, Mr. Sherwood found several small jets of water streaming through the seams between the planks, outside of the canvas carpet, which he stopped with packing from the engineer's storeroom. The braces which the boys had put over the hole kept the oilcloth in position, and when the packing had been driven into the open seams with a chisel and mallet, hardly any water came in around the aperture. The boys were warmly commended by their partial friend for the skill they had displayed in stopping the leak; and some of the men, who were familiar with vessels, that the steamer would not leak ten strokes an hour.
It was therefore safe to leave her; and Mr. Sherwood was satisfied that the boys would not find the water up to the bottom of the cabin floor in the morning. He carefully examined every part of the steamer to assure himself that everything was right before he left her. The pumps were tried again, just before they embarked for home, but they yielded only a few strokes of water.
The party returned to the landing, and Mr. Sherwood cautioned the men not to make any noise as they passed the cottage, fearful that the boys might be awakened and the delightful surprise in store for them spoiled. But Lawry and Ethan, worn out by the fatigue and excitement of the day, slept like logs, and the discharge of a battery of artillery under their chamber window would hardly have aroused them from their slumbers. The men went to their several homes, and all was quiet at the ferry.
FROM DESPONDENCY TO REJOICING
Ben Wilford made his way to the deck of the steamer, and in the darkness stumbled against the cables, with which the boat was anchored. He was bent on mischief, and he unstoppered the cables, permitting them to run out and sink to the bottom of the lake. The wind was blowing, still pretty fresh, from the west, and the steamer, now loosened from her moorings, began to drift toward the middle of the lake.
"They'll find I'm not a nobody," whined he. "She'll go down in the deep water this time."
The drunken villain then stumbled about the deck till he found the lines which kept the hogsheads in place under the guards. Groaning, crying, and swearing, he untied and threw the ropes overboard. Some of the casks, relieved of the pressure on them by the removal of the water from the interior of the hull, came out from their places and floated off. Ben rolled into the wherry again, and with the boat-hook hauled the others out. Satisfied that he had done his work, and that the Woodville would soon go down in the middle of the lake, he pulled as rapidly as his intoxicated condition would permit toward the ferry-landing.
"They'll find I'm not a nobody," he repeated, as he rowed to the shore. "They can't raise her now; and they'll never see her again."
Intoxicated as he was, he had not lost his sense of caution. He knew that he had done a mean and wicked action, which it might be necessary for him to conceal. As he approached the landing, he wiped his eyes, and choked down the emotions that agitated him. He tried to make no noise, but his movements were very uncertain; he tumbled over the thwarts, and rattled the oars, so that, if those in the cottage had not slept like rocks, they must have heard him. He reeled up to the house, took off his shoes, and crept upstairs to his room. He made noise enough to wake his mother; but Lawry and Ethan were not disturbed.
The wretch had accomplished his work. He was satisfied, as he laid his boozy head upon the pillow, that the Woodville was even then at the bottom of the lake, with a hundred feet of water rolling over her. It was two o'clock in the morning; but the vile tipple he had drank, and the deed he had done, so excited him that he could not sleep. He tossed on his bed till the day dawned, and the blessed light streamed in at the window of the attic.
"Four o'clock!" shouted Lawry, as the timepiece in the kitchen struck the hour. "All hands ahoy, Ethan!"
His enthusiastic fellow laborer needed no second call, and leaped out of bed. Ben was still awake, and the lapse of the hours had in some measure sobered him.
"It's a fine day, Ethan," said Lawry.
"Glad of that. How long do you suppose it will take to pump her out?"
"All day, I think; but we are to have four men to help us. I was considering that matter when I went to sleep last night," replied Lawry. "I was thinking whether we could not rig a barrel under the derrick so as to get along a little faster than the pumps will do it.
"Perhaps we can; we will see."
"Where is your steamer?" asked Ben, rising in bed.
"We anchored her near the Goblins," replied Lawry.
"She isn't there now," added Ben.
"How do you know?" demanded the pilot.
"I've been sick, and couldn't sleep; so I got up and went outdoors. She isn't where you left her, and I couldn't see anything of her anywhere."
"Couldn't see her!" exclaimed Ethan.
"I knew very well she wouldn't stay on top of the water. Casks wouldn't keep her up," said Ben maliciously.
Lawry rushed out of the room to the other end of the house, the attic window of which commanded a full view of the lake. As his brother had declared, the Woodville was not at her anchorage where they had left her; neither was she to be seen, whichever way he looked.
"She is gone!" cried he, returning to his chamber.
"Of course she is gone," added Ben.
"I don't understand it."
"She has gone to the bottom, of course, where I told you she would go. You were a fool to leave her out there in the deep water. She has gone down where you will never see her again."
"It was impossible for her to sink with all those casks under her guards," said Ethan.
"I guess you will find she has sunk. I told you she would. If you had only minded what I told you, she would have been all right, Lawry."
Both of the boys seemed to be paralyzed at the discovery, and made no reply to Ben. They could not realize that all the hard labor they had performed was lost. It was hard and cruel, and each reproached himself because they had not passed the night on board of the steamer, as they had purposed to do.
"Well, it's no use to stand here like logs," said Lawry, "If she has sunk, we will find out where she is."
"I reckon you'll never see her again, Lawry. Those old casks leaked, I suppose, and when they were full of water the steamer went down again; or else they broke loose from her when the wind blew so hard."
"It didn't blow much when we went to bed. What time did you come home, Ben?"
"I don't know what time it was," he answered evasively.
"Come, Ethan, let's go and find out what the matter is," continued Lawry, as he led the way downstairs.
Mrs. Wilford was not up, but she was awake, and was anticipating with great satisfaction the pleasure of the surprise which awaited the boys, when they discovered that the steamer had been freed from water. They left the house, and went down to the ferry. The Woodville certainly was not where they had left her; not even the top of her smokestack could be seen peering above the water to inform them that she still existed.
"Well, Lawry, we may as well go out to the place where we left her. If she has sunk, we may be able to see her," said Ethan.
They got into the boat; but one of the oars was gone. Ben had lost it overboard when he landed, and it had floated off. There was another pair in the woodshed of the house, and Lawry went up for them. As he entered the shed, he met his mother, who had just risen, and gone out for wood to kindle the fire. The poor boy looked so sad and disconsolate that his long face attracted her attention.
"What's the matter, Lawry?" she asked.
"The steamer has sunk again," replied the son.
"Sunk again!" exclaimed his mother.
"She is not to be seen, and Ben says she has gone down."
"Ben says so?"
"Yes; he told us of it before we came down. We are going to look for her now," answered Lawry.
What Lawry had said excited the suspicion of his mother, as she thought of the malicious words of her older son on the preceding evening. She was excited and indignant; she feared he had executed the wicked purpose which she was confident he had cherished. She went into the house, and upstairs to the room where Ben still lay in bed.
"Benjamin, what have you done?" demanded she.
"I haven't done anything. I'm a nobody here!" replied the inebriated young man, with surly emphasis.
"What did you mean last night when you said that you should run that steamer, or nobody should?" asked Mrs. Wilford.
"I meant just what I said. You and Lawry both said I shouldn't run her—and she has gone to the bottom again; she'll stay there this time."
"Oh, Benjamin!" said his mother, bursting into tears. "How could you be so wicked?"
"Did you think I'd stay round here, and be a nobody?" growled the wretched young man.
"Did you sink that steamer?"
"What if I did?"
"You needn't cry about it. Next time, you'd better not try to make a nobody out of me."
"Don't you think I've had trouble enough, without trying to make more for me?" sobbed the distressed mother.
"If you had told Lawry to give me the charge of the steamer, he would have done it," whined Ben.
"I shouldn't tell him any such thing!" replied Mrs. Wilford indignantly. "A pretty captain of a steamboat you would make! You are so tipsy now you can't hold your head up!"
"I'm as sober as you are."
Mrs. Wilford knew that it was useless to talk to a person in his condition, and she left him to sleep off the effect of his cups if he could, after the evil deed he had done. Full of sympathy for Lawry, under his great affliction, she left the house, and hastened down to the landing, to learn, if possible, the condition of the Woodville. Lawry and Ethan were in the wherry, returning to the shore, when she reached the landing.
"Hurrah! hurrah!" shouted both of the boys, in unison, as Mrs. Wilford came in sight.
"What now?" asked the anxious mother.
"She's safe, mother! She has not sunk," replied Lawry.
"Where is she? I don't see her anywhere," added Mrs. Wilford, scanning the lake in every direction.
"Over on the other side," replied Lawry.
"What's the reason she didn't sink?" continued his mother.
"The casks kept her up, of course. We want something for breakfast and for dinner, mother, for she is so far off we can't come home till we have pumped her out, and I won't leave her again till I am sure she's all right."
"What shall I do about the ferry, mother?" asked Lawry. "Will Ben run the boat to-day?"
"Don't trouble yourself about the ferry, Lawry. If Benjamin won't take care of it, I will."
"I don't want you to do it, mother."
"I think your brother will run the boat; at any rate, you needn't give it a thought."
Mrs. Wilford was quite as happy as the boys to find that the steamer was not at the bottom of the lake again; and she returned to the cottage with a light heart, when she had seen the wherry leave the shore.
From the deepest depths of despondency, if not despair, the young engineers had been raised to the highest pinnacle of hope and joy when the Woodville was discovered on the other side of the lake. She had drifted in behind a point of land, and could not be seen from the ferry. They had gone out to the place where she had been anchored, near the Goblins; and while they were gazing down into the deep water in search of her, Ethan happened to raise his eyes and saw her on the other side of the lake. What a thrill went through his heart as he recognized her! And what a thrill he communicated to Lawry when he pointed her out to him!
"Why, the casks are all gone!" exclaimed Ethan.
"All gone!" replied Lawry.
"She must be aground," added Ethan; "but she sets out of water a great deal farther than when we left her."
"We shall soon find out what the matter is," continued Lawry. "She is safe, and on the top of the water; that's enough for me at the present time."
"What does this mean?" he exclaimed.
"I don't know. The water couldn't have run out of her without some help," replied Ethan.
"I don't understand it," added Lawry. "The casks are all gone, and the steamer has been pumped out. Somebody must have done this work."
"That's true," said Ethan. "Somebody has certainly been here."
"There's no doubt of that; but I can't see, for the life of me, what they wanted to set her adrift for."
"Nor I; they were good friends to pump her out for us, whoever they were. In my opinion, Mr. Sherwood knows something about this job."
"But slipping the cables looks just as though they intended to have her smashed up on the shore," added Lawry. "The anchors are not here, and, of course, they are on the bottom of the lake. I don't see through this business."
"Nor I, either; but one thing we can see through; the steamer is safe, with the water all pumped out of her. We may as well go to work, and get her over to the ferry."
This was good counsel, and without losing any more time in attempts to fathom what was dark and strange, they commenced the labors of the day.
GETTING UP STEAM
A survey of the position of the Woodville showed that she was slightly aground at the stern; but Ethan was confident that a few turns of the wheels would bring her off. The boys then tried the pumps; but after less than a hundred strokes they refused to yield any more water. They then carefully examined every part of the interior below the decks.
"She's all right," said Lawry. "What shall we do now?"
"Get up steam," replied Ethan. "I have a couple of hours' work to do on the engine; but we will start the furnaces at once."
"Can't I make the fire?" asked Lawry.
"Yes, if you know how."
"You can show me. I don't know much about steam-boilers and engines."
"We will get our dry wood out of the wherry, and I will help you start the fire. While I am at work on the engine, you will have to overhaul your steering-gear, and see that it is all right. The chains and pulleys will need to be oiled."
Lawry got into the wherry, and threw the dry wood on deck. Ethan had not expected to kindle the fires till night, when he hoped the water would be below the furnaces. It was a grateful surprise to be able at once to go to work on the engine. He was enthusiastic in his fondness for machinery, and that of the Woodville was his particular pet.
After he had tried the valves on the boiler, and assured himself that it contained the proper supply of water, the fires were started in the furnaces. There was plenty of wood and coal on board, though the former was so wet that it would not burn without some assistance, which was furnished by the dry fuel brought off in the wherry. In a little while the furnaces were roaring with the blaze from the wood, and the coal was shoveled in. Ethan, having dried a quantity of the wet packing, commenced rubbing down and oiling the machinery. He was in his element now, and never was a young man in a higher state of keen enjoyment.
While he was thus engaged, Lawry overhauled the steering apparatus, rubbed down the wheel, oiled the pulleys, and satisfied himself that everything was in working order. The situation and the work were in the highest degree exhilarating. It was not labor to clean and adjust the gear; it was a pleasure such as he had never realized from the most exciting sports. He could hardly repress the rapture he felt when he saw the black smoke from the pine wood pouring out of the smokestack.
"This is my steamer," said he to himself. "I am the owner of her."
The thought made him laugh with joy. He stood up at the wheel, and though he could not turn it, because the rudder was fast in the sand, he knew exactly how he should feel when he stood in this position with the Woodville gliding swiftly over the bright waters of the lake.
The steering-gear was in perfect order, so far as he could judge without using it, and Ethan was still busy at the engine. Lawry could not deny himself the pleasure of a survey of the steamer, for the purpose of admiring her comforts and conveniences. He walked up and down the main-deck, entered the saloon and the cabin, visited the forehold, and opened the doors of the various apartments forward of the paddle-boxes. It is true, everything was in a state of "confusion worse confounded." Carpets were soaked with water, curtains were drabbled and stained, sofas and chairs upset in the cabin and saloon; while in the kitchen and storerooms, shelves and lockers had been emptied, and their contents strewed in wild disorder about the apartments.
But Lawry knew how order could be brought out of chaos, and the derangement of furniture and utensils did not disturb him. It would be a delightful occupation to restore harmony to these shelves and lockers, to bring order and neatness out of the confusion which reigned in every part of the steamer. When he had completed his survey, he went to the engine-room, and offered his services to Ethan for duty in his department. As the engineer had nothing for him to do, he returned to the kitchen, and busied himself in putting things to rights there, foreseeing that this apartment would soon be needed. He made a fire in the galley, in order to dry the room more speedily, and then occupied his time in picking up the tins and the kettles, and putting them in their places.
While he was examining the lockers and shelves, he found part of a leg of bacon, and some potatoes, which had been left from the stores used by the crew on the passage from New York up to the lake. There were coffee and tea in the canisters, sugar in the buckets, butter and salt in the boxes; though all these articles had been more or less soaked in the water, depending upon the tightness of the vessels that held them. There was a good fire in the stove, and a bright thought entered Lawry's excited brain; he and his companion would breakfast on fried ham and potatoes, flanked with hot coffee!
Lawry was a cook of no mean accomplishments, and he immediately went to work in carrying out his brilliant idea. Somehow, it is a singular fact that boys have a special delight in "getting up something to eat" in the woods, on the water, and generally in all out-of-the-way places. A dinner at Parker's or Delmonico's is not to be compared with baked potatoes and roasted ears of corn in the woods, or with fried fish and potatoes in a boat or on an island. The young pilot was no exception to the common rule, and in a state of rapture known only to the amateur cook of tender years, he put on the teakettle, pared and sliced the potatoes, and put a quantity of the brown mud from the canister into the coffeepot.
Things were hissing and sizzling on the stove in the most satisfactory manner, and Lawry presided over the frying-pan with a grace and dignity which would have been edifying in a professional cook. While the ham was cooking, he wiped the dishes with a cloth he had dried at the fire, and set the table on the broad bench at the end of the kitchen. The meat and the potatoes were "done to a turn," but the coffee had a suspicious look, owing to the absence of the fish-skin, or other ingredient, for settling it. The contents of the basket brought from home were tastily disposed in dishes on the table, and breakfast was ready. We will venture to say that, in spite of the disadvantages under which this meal was prepared, many steamboat men have sat down to a less satisfactory banquet.
Lawry, chuckling with delight at what he had done, rang the hand-bell he found in the kitchen, at the door. If Ethan had smelled the savory viands in the course of preparation for him, he had made no sign; but he was probably too busy to heed anything but the darling engine he was so affectionately caressing with handfuls of packing and spurts of oil.
"What's that bell for, Lawry?" shouted he.
"Breakfast's ready," replied Lawry.
"I wouldn't stop to eat now—would you?"
"Things will be cold if you don't."
"Cold?" laughed Ethan.
"Yes—cold. What's the use of having a kitchen if you don't use it?"
"You're a good one!" shouted Ethan. "Why didn't you tell me what you were about?"
"I didn't want to spoil your appetite."
"You are a first-rate fellow, Lawry. Your breakfast looks tip-top, and I shall do full justice to it; but I must go and look at the boiler and the fires before I eat."
They sat down to breakfast when Ethan had returned and washed the smut from his face and hands. Lawry poured out the coffee, and helped his companion to ham and potatoes. The engineer ate with good relish.
"Your ham and potatoes are first-rate, Lawry; but I've seen better coffee than this," said he.
"I had nothing to settle it, and there is no milk on board."
"We had some fish-skin, and there is plenty of condensed milk on board," replied Ethan.
The coffee was subjected to a new process, and the condensed milk prepared for use. By the time the substantials of the feast had been discussed, some pretty good coffee was ready for them. The boys ate their breakfast with a zest they had never known before.
"Ethan!" exclaimed Lawry.
"Hold me down!" shouted the proprietor of the Woodville.
"What's the matter?"
"Hold me down! I shall go up if you don't. I can't hold in any longer. I'm so tickled, I feel as though I should fly away."
"Don't do it," laughed Ethan. "But I must go and look after the engine, or we may both go up, in a way that won't suit us;" and Ethan hurried down into the fire-room.
After taking a turn up and down the deck, Lawry curbed down his superfluous enthusiasm, and returned to the kitchen, where he extinguished the fire in the galley, and put away the dishes and kettles which had been used in getting breakfast. By this time Ethan had finished his work on the engine, and the steam gage indicated a sufficient pressure to work the machinery.
"All ready, Lawry!" shouted he.
"Is everything all right?"
"Yes, as good as new. Now, if you will go into the wheel-house, we will see what she will do."
"Hurrah!" shouted Lawry.
He pulled the bell for starting her, and with a thrill of delight he heard the wheels splashing in the water; and the great splurges began to roll up on the shore.
"Does she move?" asked Ethan, through the speaking-tube which communicated with the engine-room.
"No, she sticks fast," replied Lawry. "Give her a little more of it."
The wheels of the steamer turned rapidly for a moment, and the Woodville slid off the ground into deep water.
"Hurrah!" shouted Lawry, as he rang the bell to stop her. "She's all right now," he added, through the tube.
"Go ahead, then," replied the engineer.
"As soon as I make fast the wherry astern."
Before he went to the wheel-house he sounded the pumps again, and visited the forehold to examine the oilcloth over the aperture in the bow. There was but little water in the well, and the canvas carpet was faithful to its duty. There was nothing to fear, though Lawry couldn't help fearing.
"Are you all ready, Ethan?" called the pilot through the tube.
"All ready; but don't you think we had better hoist the flags, and go over in good style?" responded the engineer.
The small American flag and the union jack, which had been taken from the poles the night before, and deposited in the locker of the wherry, were displayed, and Lawry returned to his post.
The pilot rang his bell to start, and the wheels turned slowly as Ethan opened the valve. The Woodville moved off from the shore, and Lawry's heart bounded as though it had been part of the engine. He grasped the spokes, and heaved the wheel over; the beautiful craft obeyed her helm.
"Hurrah! hurrah! hurrah!" shouted Lawry, at the mouth of the speaking-tube.
"Hurrah! hurrah! hurrah!" echoed back from the engine-room.
Lawry stood at the wheel, looking through the open window in front of him. It was his hour of triumph. As he gazed at the shore, he saw the ferry-boat start out from the landing. There was no vehicle in her, and as the steamer approached nearer to her, he saw that Mr. Sherwood and the ladies were on board of her. They were coming out to welcome and congratulate Ethan and himself upon the triumphant success of the enterprise. Mrs. Wilford was with them, and Ben held the steering oar.
Lawry informed his friend, through the tube, of the approach of the party. The ladies in the ferry-boat were waving their handkerchiefs, and Mr. Sherwood was swinging his hat.
"Whistle, Lawry!" shouted the engineer, as the pilot informed him what was taking place.
"Hurrah!" shouted the pilot, as he pulled the string.
As the Woodville came up to the bateau, Lawry rang to stop, and, swinging his hat out the window, gave three cheers all alone, while the ladies waved their handkerchiefs in reply.
The bateau ran up to the steamer, and Ben made her fast at the forward gangway. Mr. Sherwood still cheered, and the ladies continued to wave their handkerchiefs.
"Won't you come on board?" said Lawry to the party.
"I shall, for one," replied Mr. Sherwood.
"I'm afraid of her," added Miss Fanny.
"There is nothing to fear, ladies. She is safe, and we are running her very slowly," continued the young pilot.
"Lawry knows where the rocks are," said Mrs. Wilford, "and I'll warrant you there is no danger."
With some misgivings, the ladies, who had suffered by the catastrophe when the Woodville was wrecked, permitted themselves to be handed to the deck of the steamer.
"I congratulate you on your success, Lawry," said Mr. Sherwood, as he stepped on board after the ladies. "You have worked bravely, and succeeded nobly;" and he grasped the hand of the pilot.
"Thank you, sir. I knew I could raise her, if I had fair play. I don't know but you are sick of your bargain, sir, in giving her to me."
"By no means, Captain Lawry," replied the rich man, laughing. "If the ladies succeed in overcoming their terror of steamboats, I suppose I can charter the boat for our party when we wish to use her."
"She's at your service always, sir," replied Lawry.
"Oh, I shall take her on the same terms that others do. When I use her, I shall pay you."
"That wouldn't be fair, sir. I couldn't take any money from you for the use of her," added Lawry, blushing.
"We will not talk about that now. When she is in condition for use, we will consider these questions. How did you find her this morning?" asked Mr. Sherwood, with a mischievous twinkle in his eye.
"We found the water all pumped out of her; and we didn't know what to make of it," answered Lawry.
All the visitors burst out laughing, and heartily enjoyed the astonishment and confusion of the young pilot.
"I don't understand it," exclaimed Lawry.
"The fairies, knowing what a good boy you are, Lawry, must have pumped her out for you," said Miss Fanny.
"Perhaps they did."
Mr. Sherwood then explained what he had done the preceding night, and the reason why he had done it. Ben Wilford, after fastening the ferry-boat at the stern of the steamer, had come on deck, and listened to the explanation. He saw in what manner his malice had been defeated, and he looked very much dissatisfied with himself and everybody on board.
"You were very kind, Mr. Sherwood, to take so much trouble upon yourself," said Lawry.
"It was no trouble at all; it was a great pleasure to me. But I don't understand how the steamer happened to be on the other side of the lake."
"I supposed the persons who bailed her out set her adrift. The casks were all knocked out from under the guards, and they are scattered all along the shore."
"Before my men left her last night, I went all over the boat to satisfy myself that everything was right. I examined the cables very carefully, and I am sure they were well stoppered at twelve o'clock, when we went on shore."
"I fastened the cable myself, and I don't think she could have broken loose herself."
Ben Wilford listened in sullen silence to this conversation, and his mother could hardly keep from crying as she thought of the guilt of her oldest son. She was not willing to tell Lawry what his brother had done, fearful that his indignation would produce a quarrel where brotherly love should prevail. She believed that Ben had attempted, while under the influence of liquor, to sink the Woodville, and that he would not do such a thing in his sober senses.
Neither Lawry nor Mr. Sherwood could explain in what manner the steamer had broken from her moorings and the oil-casks been removed from their fastenings; so they were obliged to drop the matter, congratulating themselves upon the present safety of the boat.
"We will go ashore with you, Captain Lawry, when you are ready," said Mr. Sherwood, after the question had been disposed of in this unsatisfactory manner.
"Captain Lawry!" sneered Ben.
"Certainly; he is the captain of the steamer—isn't he?" laughed Mr. Sherwood.
"It sounds big for a boy," growled Ben.
"He will make a good captain."
Ben turned and walked away, disgusted with the idea.
"I'm ready, sir," said Lawry.
"Where are you bound next, Captain Lawry?" asked Mr. Sherwood.
"I'm going to fish up the anchors we lost, and then to pick up the oil-casks," replied Lawry.
"Where do you intend to keep your steamer?"
"I hadn't thought of that, sir."
"You will need a wharf."
"We need one; but I think we shall have to get along without one."
"Where would be a good place to have one?"
"The deepest water is just below the ferry-landing. We could get depth enough for this boat by running a pier out about forty feet. Ethan and I can build some kind of a wharf, when we have time."
Mr. Sherwood said no more about the matter, and Ben landed the visitors in the ferry-boat. The Woodville then ran down to the Goblins, and towed the raft out to the spot where the anchors lay. A boat grapnel was dragged over the spot, the cables hooked, and the anchors hauled up with the derrick on the raft, from which they were transferred to the steamer.
Having obtained these necessary appendages of the steamer, they returned to the landing for the ferry-boat, in which they intended to load the oil-casks, and convey them to Pointville. Ben was at the landing when she arrived, and without any invitation, stepped on board the ferry-boat, and thence to the steamer.
"Don't you want some help, Lawry?" asked Ben.
"Yes; we should be glad of all the help we can get," replied Lawry pleasantly.
"Well, I'll help you."
"We have a good deal of hard work to do to-day," added the pilot. "I would like to get the boat on the ways at Port Henry to-night."
"That can be done easy enough."
Ben Wilford seemed now to have adopted a conciliatory policy, but it was evidently done for a purpose. When the Woodville reached the Goblins, he worked with good will in loading the ferry-boat, which was towed over to Pointville, and her cargo discharged. The casks, which had drifted over to the eastern shore of the lake, were then picked up, and landed at the same place. The man who had carted them down to the shore was engaged to convey them back to the barn of the oil speculator. It was noon by the time this work was all accomplished; and the Woodville again crossed the lake, and came to anchor in the deep water above the ferry-landing, as close to the shore as it was prudent for her to lie. Ethan banked his fires, and the boys went on shore to dinner, one at a time; for after the experience of the preceding night they would not leave the steamer alone for a single moment.
After dinner, Mr. Sherwood, who appeared to be as much interested in the little steamer as though she had not changed her ownership, came on board again, accompanied by the ladies. It had before been decided that the carpets should be taken up, the muslin curtains removed, and such portions of the furniture and utensils as had been injured by the water should be conveyed on shore to be cleaned, and put in proper order for use. In this labor Mr. Sherwood's party and Mrs. Wilford assisted, and by the middle of the afternoon everything had been removed. Ben Wilford aided very zealously, and his mother hopefully concluded that he was sorry for what he intended to do, and wished to remove any suspicion of evil intentions on his part.
The Woodville was now going down to Port Henry, where the repairs on her hull were to be made, and the pilot and engineer were to remain on board. Ben promised faithfully to run the ferry during Lawry's absence; and, cheered by the party on the shore, the Woodville departed for her destination. She ran at half speed, but reached the port before sunset. The next morning she went on the ways, and her repairs commenced. During that time Ethan was constantly employed on the engine, and when the steamer was restored to her native element there was not a suspicion of rust on the machinery.
Lawry was also as busy as a bee all the time, scrubbing the floors, cleaning the paint, and polishing the brass-work. When the boat was ready to return to Port Rock, she was in condition to receive her furniture. She was launched early in the morning, and Ethan proceeded at once to get up steam. Both of the boys were in the highest state of expectancy and delight; and when Lawry struck the bell to start her, he was hardly less excited than when he had done so for the first time after the water had been pumped out of her. All the bunting was displayed at the bow and stern, and the Woodville now plowed the lake at full speed. Her happy owner realized that she was good for ten miles an hour, which, for so diminutive a craft, was more than he had a right to expect.
"Hello!" shouted Lawry to himself, as the steamer approached the ferry-landing; "what's that?"
In the deep water which the young pilot had indicated as the best place for a wharf, a pier was in process of erection. A score of bridge-builders were sawing, hammering, and chopping, and Mr. Sherwood stood in their midst, watching their operations. The structure was not complete, but the mooring posts were set up, so that the Woodville could be made fast to them. Mr. Sherwood and the workmen gave three cheers as the steamer approached.
"Run her up here, Lawry!" shouted his wealthy friend. "Aye, aye, sir."
"You have taken this job out of my hands, sir," said Lawry, as he glanced at the wharf.
"Yes; I thought I could do it better than you could, as your time will be fully occupied."
"I think I should have found time enough to do what I intended; but of course I couldn't have built any such wharf as this."
"It is none too good."
"But I ought to pay for it out of the money I may earn with the boat."
"Never mind that, Lawry," added Mr. Sherwood.
The young captain explained what had been done during his absence, and informed his interested friend that the steamer was in condition to receive her furniture.
"Shall you have her ready for a trip by to-morrow?" asked Mr. Sherwood.
"Because I have taken the liberty to engage her, in your name, for several parties."
"You are very kind, sir," replied Lawry.
"Have you fixed upon any price for her?"
"Ethan and I were talking over the matter. We shall need some help on board, and that will cost money. Coal is pretty high up here on the lake."
"Well, how much did you intend to charge for her by the day, or the hour?"
"We thought about three dollars an hour," replied Lawry, with much diffidence.
"Three dollars an hour! You are too modest by half," laughed Mr. Sherwood. "Make it five, at least. I told the parties I engaged for you that the price would not be less than fifty dollars a day."
"I'm afraid I shall make money too fast at that rate," added Lawry.
"No, you won't. It will cost a great deal of money to run the boat. What do you pay your engineer?"
"I don't know, sir; we have made no bargain yet."
"If Ethan does a man's work, you must pay him a man's wages. I suppose he wants to make his fortune."
"What do you think he ought to have?" asked Lawry.
"Three dollars a day," replied Mr. Sherwood promptly. "I dare say Ethan would not charge you half so much; but that is about the wages of a man for running an engine in these times."
"I am satisfied, if that is fair wages; though it is a great deal more than I ever made."
"Engineers get high wages. Then you want a fireman."
"I can get a boy, who will answer very well for a fireman."
"I think not, Lawry. You need a man of experience and judgment. He can save his wages for you in coal. The man whom I employed as a fireman is just the person, and he is at the village now."
"What must I pay him, sir?"
"Two dollars a day. Then your parties will want some dinner on board, and you will need a cook, and two stewards. A woman to do the cooking, and two girls to tend the table, will answer your purpose. You can obtain the three for about seven dollars a week; but your passengers must pay extra for their meals, and you need not charge the expenses of the steward's department to the boat."
"If you expect to succeed, Lawry, you must do your work well. Your boat must be safe and comfortable, and your dinners nice and well served. You will want two deck-hands. Your expenses, including coal, oil for machinery, and hands, will be about twenty dollars a day. If you add repairs, of which steamboats are continually in need, you will run it up to twenty-five dollars a day."
"That will leave me a profit of twenty-five dollars a day," added Lawry, delighted at the thought.
"If you are employed every day, it will; but you cannot expect to do anything with parties for more than two months in the year."
"I can get some towing to do; and I may make something with passengers."
"Parties will pay best in July and August, and perhaps part of September; but you must be wide-awake."
"I intend to be."
"I advise you to get up a handbill of your steamer, announcing that she is to be let to parties by the day, at all the large ports on the lake. There are plenty of wealthy people, spending the summer in this vicinity, who would be glad to engage her, even for a week at once."
"Will you write me a handbill, Mr. Sherwood?"
"Yes, and get it printed."
"Thank you, sir."
"The Woodville is engaged to me for to-morrow," added Mr. Sherwood.
THE NEW CAPTAIN
Lawry was bewildered by the magnificence of the arrangements suggested by Mr. Sherwood; but if the Woodville was to be employed in taking out parties of genteel people, nothing less magnificent would answer the purpose. His influential friend, it appeared, had already exerted himself to procure employment of this kind for the steamer, and the proprietor of the beautiful craft was not only willing to conform to his ideas, but was grateful for the kindly interest he manifested in the prosperity of the enterprise.
Mrs. Wilford had engaged a cook, and two girls for the steward's department; the fireman was sent for; and two boys were employed as deck-hands.
Now, Lawry thought it was quite necessary that his crew should be trained a little before any passengers were received on board, and after Mr. Sherwood and his party had gone home, the fires were revived, and a short trip down the lake determined upon. As soon as there was steam enough for the purpose, the pilot, now the captain, rang his bell to back her, and the deck-hands were instructed in getting the fasts on board. Ben Wilford, who was standing on the wharf, cast off the hawsers, and then jumped aboard, himself. The bells jingled for a few moments, and then the Woodville went off on her course.
"This is all very fine," said Ben.
"First-rate," laughed Lawry.
"What am I to do?" demanded Ben, rather gruffly.
"You?" said the pilot.
"Everybody seems to have something to do with her except me."
"What do you want to do?"
"I suppose you think I'm not fit for anything."
"I had an idea that you would stay at home, and run the ferry-boat."
"Did you?" sneered Ben.
"Some one must do that; and of course I can't now."
"Hang the ferry-boat!"
"It must be run, or we shall forfeit the privilege."
"I shall not run it, whatever happens."
"I don't see how I can."
"Lawry, I don't think you are using me right," added Ben sourly.
"Why, what have I done?"
"You've got this boat, and though you know I'm a steamboat man, you don't say a word to me about taking any position on board of her."
"I don't know what position there is on board for you, unless you take a deck-hand's place."
"That is what you have always been."
"Do you think I'm going to be bossed by you?"
"Ben, if you will tell me just what you want, I shall understand you better," said Lawry, rather impatiently.
"You know what I want. There is only one place in the boat I would be willing to take."
"You mean captain."
"Of course I do."
"I intended to be captain myself."
"I thought you were going to be pilot of her."
"So I am; and captain, too."
"Then you mean to leave me out entirely."
"Ben, I don't want to have any row; and I won't quarrel with my brother; but I don't think it is quite fair for you to ask so much of me."
"Don't I know all about a steamboat?"
"Can you pilot one up and down the lake?"
"Well, no; I never did that kind of work."
"Can you run an engine?"
"No; and you can't, either. The captain doesn't have to be a pilot, nor an engineer."
"What must he do, then?"
"He must look out for everything, make the landing, and see that the people on board are comfortable."
"I intend to do all that."
"How can you do it, and stay in the wheel-house?"
"I shall not stay there all the time. The deck-hands know how to steer. I want to do what's fair and right, Ben. The steamer was given to me; and I don't exactly like to have any one to boss me on board."
"The captain don't have much to do with the pilot, and I sha'n't boss you."
"Suppose the question should come up, whether or not the boat should take a certain job; who would decide the question—you or I?"
"I'm the oldest, and I think I ought to have the biggest voice in the matter."
"But the boat is mine," added Lawry, with emphasis.
"As to that, she is just as much mine as she is yours."
"I'm willing to do what's fair and right; but I shall not have any captain over me in this boat," replied Lawry.
"Lawry, you are my brother," said Ben angrily; "but I don't care for that. You set yourself up above me; you make me a nobody. I won't stand it!"
"I don't set myself up above you, Ben."
"Yes, you do. You offered me the place of deck-hand!"
"I didn't ask you to take any place. I'll tell you what I will do, Ben. I'll talk with mother and Mr. Sherwood about the matter, and if they think you ought to be captain of the Woodville, you shall be."
"Mr. Sherwood don't know everything."
"I think he would know what is right in a case like this."
"He thinks you are a little god, and I know what he would say."
"I will do as mother says, then."
"What do women know about these things?"
"I don't think Mr. Sherwood or mother would like it if I should give up the command of this boat to any one."
"Let them lump it, then," replied Ben, as he rushed out of the wheel-house, incensed beyond measure at Lawry's opposition to his unreasonable proposal.
Captain Lawry was sorely disturbed by the conduct of his brother. He could not enjoy his pleasant position at the wheel, and he put the steamer about, heading her toward Port Rock.
"Lawry," said Ben, returning to the wheel-house, "I want you to tell me what you are going to do. I'm older than you, and I have seen more steamboating than you have. I think it's my right to be captain of this boat."
"I don't think so."
"I don't want to jaw any more about it."
"I'm sure I don't."
"All I've got to say is, that if I don't run this boat no one will."
"What do you mean by that, Ben?" demanded Lawry.
"No matter what I mean. I'm going to have what belongs to me. Once for all, am I to be captain, or not?"
"No," replied Lawry firmly.
Ben went out of the wheel-house, and the pilot did not see him again till after the Woodville reached her wharf. Lawry was sadly grieved at the attitude of his brother; and if Ben had been a reliable person, fit for the position he aspired to obtain, he would have yielded the point. But the would-be captain was an intemperate and dissolute fellow, as unsuitable for the command as he would have been for the presidency of a bank.
Early on the following morning the supplies for the Woodville were taken on board, and at eight o'clock everything was in readiness for the reception of Mr. Sherwood's party. The steam was merrily hissing from the escape-pipe; Ethan was busy, as he always was, in rubbing down the polished parts of the engine, and Lawry was walking up and down the forward deck. Quite a collection of people had assembled on the unfinished wharf and the shore to witness the departure of the steamer. As Captain Lawry paced the deck, there was a slight commotion in the crowd, and three persons passed through, making their way to the deck. One of them was the sheriff who had arrested the ferryman a few days before. He was followed by Mr. Taylor, his father's creditor, and Ben Wilford.
"I'm sorry to trouble you, Lawry," said the official; "but I suppose I must do my duty."
"What's the matter, sir?" asked Lawry. "What have I done?"
"Nothing, my boy. I think this is rather mean business; but I can't help it," replied the sheriff, as he produced certain documents. "Your father owes Mr. Taylor a note of nine hundred and fifty dollars, on which the interest has not been paid for two years, making the debt ten hundred and sixty-four dollars."
"But the place is mortgaged for that," replied Lawry.
"I have just foreclosed the mortgage; and now I must attach this steamboat."
"Attach it!" groaned Lawry.
"Such are my orders; your father's place would hardly sell for enough to pay the debt."
"But this boat is mine," pleaded Lawry.
"You are a minor, Lawry; and your father is entitled by law to all your earnings, as you have a claim on him for your support. I can't stop to explain this matter. The steamer is in my possession now, subject to the decree of the court. I shall appoint a person to take charge of her and run her for the benefit of the parties in interest."
"That's too bad!" exclaimed Lawry.
"I know it is; but I can't help it," replied the sheriff. "I shall appoint your brother, and from this time he has full control of her."
It was evident even to Lawry, who had not been informed of his brother's worst intentions, that Ben was at the bottom of this conspiracy. Such was indeed the truth. Mr. Taylor was a young man who had recently inherited a large fortune, which, it was plain, would soon be squandered, for he was both intemperate and reckless. Ben had helped him home one night after a drunken carousal, which had been the beginning of an intimacy between them, for the younger tippler was not one to neglect an opportunity to secure a wealthy friend.
They had talked together about the Woodville on several occasions, and Ben had suggested in what manner he might obtain the debt due him. On the night before the visit of the sheriff to the steamer, the malignant and jealous brother had repeated to his dissipated patron the story of his grievances—that he was a "nobody" at home, and that Lawry wanted to make a deck-hand of him. Though not a badly disposed man in the main, Taylor listened with interest and sympathy to the exaggerated and distorted narrative, and the plan by which Ben was to be put in possession of the steamer was matured.
The creditor went to a lawyer, one of his boon companions, who was quite willing to make business for himself; and he had looked up the law and arranged the facts, by which he expected to hold the steamer. Doubtless it was a very ingenious scheme, and perhaps it is unfortunate that the case never came to trial, for it involved some interesting legal points. Thus far the design had been carried out, and Ben was in command of the steamer, as an employee of the sheriff.