"I won't be as hard with you, Lawry, as you were with me," said Ben, as he walked up to Lawry in the wheel-house, to which he had retreated to hide his confusion.
"This is your work, Ben," replied the youth bitterly.
"I was bound to have the command of this steamer, and I have got it," added Ben, with malignant triumph.
"I know you have; you put Mr. Taylor up to this, or he never would have done it."
"Don't snarl about it, Lawry; the thing is done, and you can't help yourself. The sheriff has given me the command of the boat."
"And he has attached the place. Mother will be turned out of house and home!" cried Lawry, unable to repress his tears.
"No, she won't; that will be all right."
"Oh, Ben! How could you do it?"
"You drove me to it. It is all your fault, Lawry; so you needn't whine about it. Don't make a fuss; here comes Taylor."
"I don't want to see him," said Lawry, moving toward the door.
"Don't go off; I'm going to take Taylor and his friends up the lake, to give them a sail."
"The boat is engaged to Mr. Sherwood, to-day."
"I can't help it; he will not have her to-day. Come, Lawry, be a man. I won't be as hard with you, I say, as you were with me. I don't ask you to be a deck-hand. You shall be the pilot still."
"No, I won't."
"I will not," said Lawry firmly, as he dried his tears. "The boat is engaged to Mr. Sherwood, and he has invited a party to go with him. They were to start at nine o'clock, and they will be down here soon."
"Can't help it. I promised to take Taylor and his friends out, and they are all here now. There are the stores for his party," replied Ben, as a couple of men brought a large basket on board, from the top of which protruded the necks of a demijohn and several bottles.
"I shall not go with that party," added Lawry.
"But I want a pilot," said Ben.
"What's the trouble, Wilford?" demanded Taylor.
"Let me tell him you will go, Lawry?" whispered Ben. "He may be hard on you if you don't."
"I will not. I must see Mr. Sherwood at once."
"What's the matter?" asked Ethan.
Lawry was explaining what had happened, when Ben came down with Taylor.
"I shall not go in her till I have seen Mr. Sherwood," added Lawry, as he finished his brief statement.
"Then I shall not," said Ethan.
"I can steer her myself," said Ben to Taylor.
"Certainly you can."
"Mr. Sherwood will be down soon, and we must be off before he gets here."
"Go up, and start her then," added Taylor.
Without noticing Lawry and Ethan, Ben rushed up to the wheel-house, and ordered the deck-hands to cast off the fasts, which was done. He knew how to steer a boat, and understood the bells, having had considerable experience on board the large steamers. He rang to back her, supposing Ethan was at his post in the engine-room.
She did not back, and he rang again, but with no better success than before.
"Back her!" shouted he, through the speaking-tube.
There was no answer; and, filled with anger, the new captain rushed down to the engine-room to "blow up" the engineer. He found Ethan on the main-deck.
"What are you doing there?" demanded Ben. "Don't you hear the bells?"
"I heard them," replied Ethan quietly.
"Why don't you start her, then?"
"I've nothing to do with her."
"Don't you run that engine?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean that I will have nothing to do with the engine as things are now."
Ben raved and stormed at Ethan; then he tried to coax him to take his place; but the engineer was as firm as the pilot had been. Taylor offered him ten dollars if he would run the engine that day; but he positively refused. The new captain then went down to the fire-room, where the man in charge of the furnaces was promoted to the position of engineer.
"Now we can go it," said Ben.
"No; don't start her," said the sheriff.
"I am responsible for the safety of this boat, and she shall not go with neither pilot nor engineer."
Taylor and the new captain swore terribly; but the sheriff was immovable.
THE EXCURSION TO WHITEHALL
Lawry was no lawyer, and was therefore unable to form an opinion in regard to the legality of the steps by which the Woodville had been taken from him. It was an accomplished fact, and he was as disconsolate as though he had lost his best friend. He went on shore, and until the peremptory order of the sheriff was given, he expected to see the steamer shoot out from the wharf and disappear beyond the point, in charge of another person than himself.
He had refused to pilot the steamer under the new order of things, not because he wished to be spiteful to his brother, but because he was smarting under a sense of injustice, which unfitted him for the duty. Though he did not comprehend the legal measures which had been taken, he felt that there was something wrong. The Woodville belonged to him, not to his father; and though he was willing to give all his earnings for the support of the family, and even to pay off the mortgage on the place, he felt that it was not right to take the steamer from him.
He stood on the wharf, paralyzed by the calamity which had overtaken him. He wanted to do something, but he did not know what to do. The sheriff, by his caution, had defeated the plans of the new captain, and Lawry was waiting to see what would happen next. He wished to see Mr. Sherwood, and he would have hastened up to his house if he could have endured the thought of losing sight of the steamer even for a moment. Ethan was still on deck, for though he refused to run the engine, he felt it to be his duty to stand by and see that no accident happened, for the steam was up, and the fireman was an unskillful person.
Ben Wilford and Taylor were disappointed and chagrined at their failure to get off. They stormed and swore, till it was apparent that storming and swearing would not start the steamer. The sheriff positively refused to let the boat depart without a competent pilot and engineer.
"What shall we do, Wilford?" said Taylor. "Can't you persuade your brother to take hold again?"
"He's as obstinate as a mule; but I'll try," replied Ben.
"Offer him twenty dollars for his day's work," added Taylor.
"I may be able to compromise with him, if you're willing."
"Anything you please, if you can make him and the other fellow go with us."
"Lawry, Mr. Taylor will give you twenty dollars if you will pilot the steamer to-day," said Ben.
"I wouldn't go for a hundred," replied the young pilot. "I won't go with you at any rate."
"Don't be so obstinate, Lawry."
"I engaged the boat to Mr. Sherwood, and I will not go with anybody else."
"Mr. Sherwood won't care when he finds out that you are not to blame. You can't resist the law, and it isn't your fault."
"Ben, I wouldn't do what you have done for all the steamers on the lake. You have got this man to attach the property, and take the house away from mother, just because you wanted to be captain of this steamer."
"What's the use of talking about that, Lawry?" replied Ben impatiently. "I'm going to be captain of this steamer, anyhow; and the sooner you make up your mind to it, the better it will be for you."
"I can't help myself."
"I know you can't, and for that reason you had better submit with a good grace. If you will take your place in the wheel-house, Mr. Taylor will remove the attachment."
"I will," replied Taylor.
"And put everything where it was before?" asked Lawry.
"Of course I am to be captain, and Mr. Taylor is to have the boat to- day," added Ben.
"Mr. Taylor can't have her to-day," said Lawry firmly. "I engaged her to Mr. Sherwood, and if anybody has her to-day, he must. That's all I want to say about it now."
The young pilot turned on his heel and walked away. His brother and the creditor were conspirators, and he wanted nothing to do with them. He might have been less resolute, if he had not seen Mr. Sherwood's carriage stop at the head of the wharf.
"Are you all ready, Lawry?" asked Mr. Sherwood.
The poor boy could make no reply; he burst into tears, and turned away from his kind friend.
"What's the matter, Lawry?" demanded Mr. Sherwood.
"I suppose he feels bad, sir," interposed the sheriff. "The boat has been attached for his father's debts."
"For his father's debts!" exclaimed the rich gentleman.
The officer gave him a full explanation of the case.
"This will never do," added Mr. Sherwood indignantly. "This boat is Lawry's property in his own right."
"I think not," added Taylor. "Here's my lawyer; he can explain the matter to you."
"No explanation is needed," replied Mr. Sherwood.
"The boy is a minor," said the legal gentleman.
"He may need a guardian, nothing more, to enable him to hold the property."
"Perhaps you are more familiar with the law than I am, Mr. Sherwood," said the legal gentleman pompously. "You gave this boat to the boy."
"While she lay at the bottom of the lake she was worth nothing. She was an abandoned wreck. If you had any property at all in her, it was subject to the salvage. Lawry Wilford raised her. I suppose you are willing to believe that the boy's father is entitled to his earnings?"
"I grant that."
"Well, sir, whatever the boy earned in the way of salvage belongs to his father; and we sue to recover that."
"This is a ridiculous suit!" exclaimed Mr. Sherwood.
"Perhaps it is, sir, but we shall hold the boat, subject to the decision of the court."
Mr. Sherwood was vexed and perplexed; for, whether the claim could be substantiated or not, the Woodville could be held until a decision was reached. Lawry then took him aside, and told him what his brother had done, in order to make himself captain of the steamer.
"Is that it, Lawry? I'm more sorry for your brother's sake than I am for yours. I pity him, because he has been capable of doing so mean a thing. Don't distress yourself, my boy. We will make this all right in the course of ten minutes."
"But they have taken the steamer away from me, and given her up to Ben, who is to take charge of her."
"Never mind, Lawry. They shall give her back to you," replied the rich man, as he walked up to the lawyer. "How much is your claim against Mr. Wilford?"
"One thousand and sixty-four dollars," answered the legal gentleman.
"Will you take my draft or check for the amount?"
"I see you are not disposed to be accommodating."
"We intend to have the first sail in this steamer," sneered Taylor.
"I intend you shall not," said Mr. Sherwood.
Unfortunately he had not money enough with him to discharge the claim against the ferryman, which, as it was a just debt, whatever might be said of the means taken to recover it, he had decided to pay, rather than give bonds for the steamer, and contest the attachment. He had invited several gentlemen to accompany him up the lake in the Woodville, who were now on the wharf, and from them he borrowed enough to make up the sum required. The money was given to Mrs. Wilford, with instructions to go to a certain lawyer and employ him to see that the mortgage on the house and land was properly canceled.
"When we get our money, the attachment on the boat can be dissolved, not before," said the lawyer. "Mr. Sheriff, the debt is not paid yet."
"I will put the money in your hands, if you desire," added Mr. Sherwood to the sheriff.
"I am satisfied. You may go where you please with the boat, and as soon as you please," replied the official.
"She will not go till this claim is settled, Mr. Sheriff," remonstrated the legal gentleman.
"She may go now," responded the officer. "Ben Wilford, your services will not be needed. Now, gentlemen, we will go up to the village and settle the bills."
The lawyer protested that the attachment could not be removed till the debt had been paid, but the sheriff was willing to take the responsibility of releasing the boat.
"All aboard, Lawry!" shouted Mr. Sherwood.
"I didn't expect you to do this, sir," said the young pilot; "but I will pay you every dollar, if the steamer ever earns so much."
"We will talk about that some other time, my boy. We are all ready to be off now."
Lawry, with a light heart, sprang to his place in the wheel-house; Ethan was already at his post in the engine-room, and the ladies and gentlemen of the party hastened on board.
"Put that basket ashore," said Lawry to the deckhands, as he pointed to the "stores" of the party.
The basket was tumbled on the wharf, to the imminent peril of the glassware it contained. Ben Wilford stood on the pier, leaning against one of the posts to which the steamer was fastened. He looked sour and disappointed.
"Cast off the bow-line," said Lawry, when all was ready.
At this moment Ben jumped on board.
"Stop her!" said Mr. Sherwood sharply, as Lawry rang the bell to back her.
"What's the matter, sir?" asked the pilot.
"Young man," said Mr. Sherwood, stepping up to Ben Wilford, "you will oblige me by going on shore."
"What for?" demanded Ben crustily.
"We do not need your company."
"But I want to go."
"I do not wish you to go."
"I think it is rather steep for you to tell me I can't go in my brother's boat."
"Steep as it may seem, you can't go," added Mr. Sherwood firmly.
"Can't I go, Lawry?" continued Ben.
"It is not for him to say. I have engaged this boat for my party to-day, and, beyond his crew, it is not for him to say who shall go."
"I'm going, anyhow," replied Ben stubbornly.
"No, you are not."
"Yes, I am! if you want to fight, I'm all ready."
"Young man, you wanted to be captain of this boat; you have made a mistake."
"No, I haven't. You and Lawry can't make a nobody out of me."
"You will do it yourself."
"Will you go on shore?"
"No, I won't."
The sheriff stood on the wharf with Mrs. Wilford, waiting to see the departure of the Woodville. Ben's mother begged him to come on shore; but he was in that frame of mind which seemed to make opposition a necessity to him. "Do you want any assistance, Mr. Sherwood?" asked the sheriff, as he stepped on deck.
The reckless young man would have been very glad to have Mr. Sherwood put his hand upon him, for it would have afforded him an opportunity to revenge himself for his disappointment. It was another thing to raise his hand against an officer of the law, and he sullenly walked up the gangplank when that formidable individual intimated his readiness to relieve the boat of her unwelcome passenger.
"Haul in the plank, and cast off the bow-line," said Lawry.
He rang the bell to back her, and when her bow pointed out from the shore, the stern-line was cast off, and she moved slowly away from the wharf.
"I'm sorry your brother behaves so badly, Lawry," said Mr. Sherwood, after the steamer started.
"It makes me sick to think of it, sir," replied the pilot. "I'm really afraid of him, for I don't know what he will do next."
"Do your duty, faithfully; that is all you need do."
"I feel almost sorry I didn't let him be captain, when I think the matter over."
"He is not fit to be captain; and you did quite right in not consenting to it. I'm sorry for you, Lawry, and sorry for your mother, for he must be a sore trial to both of you."
"If he wasn't my brother I wouldn't care," added Lawry, restraining the tears.
"Never mind it, my boy; we won't say anything more about it. Let us hope your brother will grow better."
"I hope he will, sir."
The Woodville was now going at full speed up the lake. The party on board consisted of twenty-four ladies and gentlemen, most of whom were summer visitors at Port Rock. They were delighted with the beautiful little craft, and glad to know that she could be obtained for pleasure-parties during the summer. They wandered about the deck, saloon, and cabin till they had examined every part of her, and then they gave themselves up to the enjoyment of the sail, and of the magnificent scenery on the borders of the lake. They seated themselves on the forward deck, and Lawry pointed out the objects of interest as the steamer proceeded; and in this occupation he forgot the conduct of Ben, and was as happy as the happiest of the party before him. The ladies and gentlemen sang songs and psalm tunes, in which the sweet voice of Fanny Jane Grant was so prominent that Ethan was once enticed from the fascinating engine which occupied all his thoughts.
In the meantime, Mrs. Light was busy with the dinner. Captain Lawry was a little uneasy on this subject, for it was out of his line of business. In the middle of the forenoon he gave the wheel to one of the deck-hands, and went down into the kitchen to satisfy himself that this important matter was receiving due attention. The cook was so confident and enthusiastic that he was quite sure she would realize the expectations of the passengers. In the cabin he found the girls busy at the tables. Both of them had seen service in hotels, and there was no danger of a failure in their department. At one o'clock dinner was on the table, and the young captain went down again to assure himself that it was all right.
"Come, Lawry, can't you dine with us?" said Mr. Sherwood, when the bell had been rung.
"I can't leave the wheel, sir."
"But don't you want some dinner?"
"I'll have my dinner when we get to Whitehall. Haste makes waste, you know; and if I should be in a hurry to eat my dinner we might get aground, or be smashed up on the rocks."
"I suppose you are right, Lawry, and I will do the honors of the table for you," laughed Mr. Sherwood.
The dinner was not only satisfactory, but it was warmly praised; and Mrs. Light was made as happy as the captain by the enthusiastic encomiums bestowed upon her taste and skill in the culinary art.
The Woodville reached Whitehall at two o'clock, where the party went on shore to spend an hour. While they were absent Lawry and all hands had their dinner, the cabins and the deck were swept, and everything put in order. Quite a number of people visited the little steamer while she lay at the pier; and a gentleman engaged her to take out a party the next Saturday, with dinner for twenty-four persons. When Mr. Sherwood returned, he had let her for another day.
At three o'clock the Woodville started for Port Rock. The party were still in high spirits, and the singing was resumed when the wheels began to turn. On the way down, she stopped at Ticonderoga, while her appearance so delighted a party of pleasure- seekers that she was engaged for another day, and a dinner for twenty spoken for.
"Lawry, you must have an engagement-book, or you will forget some of your parties," said Mr. Sherwood, who stood by the pilot, in the wheel-house, when the steamer started.
"I have put them all down on a piece of paper, sir. I will get a book when I go to Burlington."
"Which will be to-morrow. I had engaged her for four days when you came up with her from Port Henry; but I'm afraid we shall work you too hard."
"No fear of that, sir. I only hope I shall be able to pay you that money you advanced this morning."
"Don't say a word about that. Let me see: you are engaged in Burlington to-morrow, to me the next day, and in Whitehall on the following day."
"I will get a book and put them down, sir."
"But you must be in Burlington by eight o'clock tomorrow morning."
"We can run up to-night."
"You will get no sleep if you run all night."
"I think we shall want another fireman."
"You will: for in order to keep your engagements you will occasionally have to run nights."
At eight o'clock the Woodville landed her passengers at Port Rock, and as the gentlemen went ashore, they gave three cheers for the little steamer and her little captain.
BURLINGTON TO ISLE LA MOTTE
On his way home, Mr. Sherwood went to the ferry-house and satisfied himself that the mortgage on the place had been canceled. Mrs. Wilford was profuse in the expression of her gratitude to him for his kindness to the family, and hoped that Lawry and his father would be able to pay him back the whole sum.
"Mrs. Wilford, so far as gratitude and obligation are concerned, the balance is still largely against me. Millions of dollars would not pay the debt I owe to your son."
"Oh, Lawry don't think anything of that, sir!"
"But I do. Madam, if your son had been five minutes later than he was when the little steamer went down, Miss Fanny Grant would certainly have been drowned, and my wife would doubtless have shared her fate. And when I think that this exposure of their precious lives was my own fault; that my wife and her sister had nearly perished by my foolish haste and recklessness, I feel like giving every dollar I have in the world to Lawry. You don't understand this matter as I do, Mrs. Wilford."
"I didn't think you were in any great danger."
"Miss Fanny would certainly have been drowned; and I don't think it would have been possible for me to save my wife, for I was nearly exhausted when Lawry came. Now, Mrs. Wilford, do you suppose I shall mind one, two, or ten thousand dollars, where my brave deliverer is concerned? In one word, I will never take a dollar which I have expended for Lawry or the family. Your son is a manly and independent boy, and I don't like to hurt his feelings; so I shall not say anything about this money at present."
"Lawry is a good boy," said Mrs. Wilford proudly.
"He is worth his weight in gold. I am sorry your oldest son is not more like him."
"I don't know what to think of Benjamin."
"Where is he now?"
"I don't know; I haven't seen him since the steamer left, this morning."
"Lawry is a good deal troubled about the ferry-boat."
"He needn't be."
"Can you hire a man to run the boat?"
"Yes; I can get a boy who will do it for half a dollar a day, and be glad of the chance. I will engage one."
"Lawry goes to Burlington to-night to take out a party to-morrow."
"Yes; he must be there by eight in the morning."
Mrs. Wilford thought her son was having a hard time with the steamer; but she knew he would be satisfied as long as he was doing well. Mr. Sherwood, assured that there was nothing at home to detain the young pilot, left the house. Lawry soon after entered; but he had not time to tell his mother the particulars of his first trip on the Woodville. He could remain but a few moments, while the hands were "coaling up," from a cargo of coal deposited on the wharf that day, by the order of Mr. Sherwood.
At nine o'clock everything was ready for the departure. The fireman grumbled at being called upon to work at night; but Lawry promised to get another man to keep watch as soon as he could. It was a long day's work for all hands. When the young captain had gone to the wheel-house to start the boat, Mr. Sherwood rushed down the wharf, and jumped aboard.
"I was afraid I should be too late," said he, as Lawry met him on the main-deck. "I have been all over the village to find you another fireman, and I have succeeded in getting you a first-rate one—an old hand at the business."
"Thank you, sir; you are taking a great deal of trouble for me."
"There's another thing I quite forgot; I didn't pay you for the trip nor the dinners. Here is the money."
"I can't take it, Mr. Sherwood," protested Captain Lawry.
"But you must take it; if you don't I can't engage the boat again."
"Not from you, sir."
"I am more interested than any other person in your success with the steamer, and I insist that you take the money."
"I owe you for this cargo of coal, now."
"That was a present from Miss Fanny Grant."
"She is very generous."
"Generous! If she doesn't do more than that for you, I shall be ashamed of her. By the way, captain, she paid the bill for repairing the steamer at Port Henry."
"Indeed!" exclaimed Lawry, who had intended to discharge this debt with the first money he earned. "She is very kind. I don't deserve so much from her and you."
"More, my boy. We haven't done anything at my house but talk about you for a week. Now, you must be reasonable. We intended to give you a good start. Miss Grant wishes to put an upright pianoforte in the saloon. There is just room for it at the end of the stateroom on the starboard side. When that is put in, we shall let you alone. Now, Lawry, take this money; if you don't, I shall be offended."
"I don't like to do so," pleaded Lawry. "It makes me feel mean."
"It need not; take it, Lawry, for you will want money to provision your boat in the morning."
Captain Lawry took it, though it seemed to burn his fingers.
"Now, my boy, you shall have your own way. I will force nothing more on you, except what I fairly owe you, and you shall make your fortune without any help or hindrance from anybody."
"I owe you now—-"
"Silence, Lawry!" laughed Mr. Sherwood. "There comes your second fireman."
As the man came down the gangplank, he handed Mr. Sherwood a long package, done up in brown paper.
"One thing more, Lawry," said his munificent friend, as he led the way to the engine-room, which was lighted by a lantern. "Will you let me put this sign up over the front windows in the wheel-house?"
"Certainly, sir. What is it?"
"It is the motto of the steamer, and fully explains how I lost the boat," replied Mr. Sherwood, as he unrolled the package.
It was a small sign, about three feet in length, elegantly painted and gilded, on which was the motto:
HASTE AND WASTE.
"While you were at Port Henry, repairing the boat, I went up to Burlington, where I ordered this to be done. It came down to-day, and I want it put up in the wheel-house, where it will be constantly before your eyes, as the best axiom in the world for a steamboat man. It will be the history of the Woodville to you, and I hope you will always act upon it, never running your boat above a safe speed, nor leave your wharf when it is imprudent to do so."
"I shall be very glad to have those words always before me," replied Lawry.
"When you are ready to go, captain, we are," said Mr. Sherwood.
"I'm all ready, sir."
Lawry turned, and to his astonishment saw Mrs. Sherwood and Miss Fanny, who had been looking over his shoulder at the pretty sign.
"We are going with you, Captain Lawry," added Mr. Sherwood; "that is, if you won't charge us anything for our passage."
"I am very happy to have you as passengers," stammered Lawry.
"We are so much in love with your boat, Lawry, that we could not stay away from her," added Mrs. Sherwood.
"And her captain," said Miss Fanny.
Lawry was good for nothing at complimentary speeches, and he went aft to give the girls directions to light up the cabin and the two staterooms for the accommodation of his unexpected passengers.
"Where's Fanny Jane?" asked Ethan, when Mr. Sherwood had gone to the wheel-house to put up the motto.
"She is going to keep house for us while we are gone," replied Miss Fanny mischievously. "You were so unsocial to-day she would not come with us."
"I had to look out for the engine," pleaded Ethan.
"That was not the reason, Ethan," interposed Mrs. Sherwood. "You behaved splendidly."
"If you were twenty, instead of sixteen, Ethan, I should say you were in love with Fanny Jane," laughed Miss Fanny.
"Oh, nonsense!" exclaimed Ethan, blushing beneath his smutty face. "I like her, and after what we went through out West, I don't think it is very strange I should."
"You are right, Ethan. She is a good girl, and I hope you will like her more, rather than less."
"The saloon is ready for you, ladies," said Lawry, interrupting this pleasant conversation—very pleasant to Ethan, for without entering into an analysis of the young engineer's feelings, it is quite certain he thought a great deal of the companion of his wanderings in Minnesota; but fortunately he is not the hero of this book, and this interesting suggestion need not be followed out any further.
The little captain conducted the ladies to the saloon, and then hastened to the wheel-house, where Mr. Sherwood, by the light of a lantern in the hands of one of the boys, had screwed up the sign.
"Haul in the plank!" shouted Lawry, "Cast off the bow-line."
The Woodville backed till she was dear of the wharf, and then went ahead. Lawry knew the lake by night as well as by day, and he was perfectly at home at the wheel, not withstanding the darkness that lay in the steamer's path. One of the deck-hands was a boy of sixteen, who had served in a similar capacity on board the lake steamers, and was a good wheelman, though he knew nothing of the navigation of the lake, and steered only by the directions given him from time to time. Captain Lawry called this hand, and gave him the wheel, with orders to run for a certain headland several miles distant.
The young captain went below with Mr. Sherwood, to make his arrangements for the night. The second fireman had already been installed in the fire-room by Ethan, and the first had gone forward. A portion of the forehold of the steamer had been fitted up for the accommodation of the crew. It contained four berths, and was well ventilated by a skylight in the forecastle. In building the boat, Mr. Sherwood had insisted upon having everything put into her that was to be found in larger craft; and these quarters for the hands were now very convenient, if not indispensable.
Lawry gave one of these berths to the first fireman, and appropriated the other to the use of the second and the two deck- hands. The second boy was gaping fearfully on the forward deck, and was quite delighted when the captain told him he might turn in. On the starboard side of the steamer, forward of the wheels, were two very cunning little staterooms, the corresponding space on the port side being occupied by the kitchen and storerooms. One of these was for the engineer, and the other for the captain. Abaft the wheels, on each side, was a small stateroom, one of which had been designed for the captain. Both of these rooms had been appropriated to the cook and the two waiter girls. Mrs. Light, in the apartment of the commander, was quite delighted with her accommodations; but Mr. Sherwood declared that she deserved a princely couch for the good dinner she had served that day.
The two staterooms to be occupied by the passengers were taken out of the space that would otherwise have been park of the saloon, and were entered by doors on each side of the passageway leading to it. They were beautiful little rooms, though ladies in full crinoline might have been somewhat perplexed at their contracted dimensions. They were elegantly furnished, and Miss Fanny declared that her room made her think of the fairy palaces for little people, of which she had read in her childhood. There were twelve berths in the lower cabin, but these were not needed.
Having disposed of his crew for the night, Lawry returned to the wheel-house, where he was soon joined by his passengers, who spent an hour with him before they retired. At half-past ten they went to their rooms, and Lawry was alone. Not a sound was to be heard except the monotonous clang of the engine, and the lake was as silent in the gloom as though the shadow of death was upon it. There was a solemnity in the scene which impressed the young pilot, even accustomed as he was to the night and the silence. He was worn out by the labors and the excitement of the day, but he could not resist the inspiration which came from the quiet waters and the gloomy shores.
The Woodville sped on her way, and at midnight she was approaching the steamboat wharf at Burlington. Lawry rang to "slow down," and informed Ethan that the boat was close to the wharf. The "fires were drawn," and in a few moments more the steamer was made fast to the wharf. After satisfying himself that everything was secure on board, the exhausted pilot went to his stateroom, and was soon fast asleep. Ethan followed him, after instructing the first fireman to get up steam early in the morning.
Both the pilot and the engineer slept till seven o'clock; but when they came out of their rooms, blaming themselves for sleeping so late, they found the decks washed down, the cabins in order, steam up, and breakfast ready. Those who had "turned in" early had faithfully performed the duties belonging to them, as they had been instructed the evening before. Mrs. Light, who was steward as well as cook, had been to the market, and purchased the supplies for breakfast and dinner. Mr. Sherwood and the ladies had risen early, and taken a walk, which gave them a keen appetite for the excellent breakfast prepared for them. The passengers insisted that Captain Lawry should sit at the head of the table with them, as this was the proper place for the commander of the steamer.
During his walk Mr. Sherwood had purchased three blank books, and a double slate, for which Lawry, agreeably to the arrangement that nothing more should be forced upon him, paid the cash on the spot, to the great amusement of the ladies. The memoranda of each trip, including the time of arrival and departure, and of reaching or passing the principal points on the lake, were to be entered on the slate in the wheel-house, and afterward copied into the largest of the blank books. These were called the log-slate and the log-book. The second was the engagement-book, and the third an account-book, in which the receipts and expenses of the steamer were to be kept.
After breakfast Mr. Sherwood assisted his young friend in opening these books, and explained to him the best method of keeping his accounts. By this time the party for the day's excursion had begun to arrive. The ladies and gentlemen were friends of Mr. Sherwood, and he and his wife and Miss Fanny were to join them. A small band had been provided for the occasion, consisting of six pieces.
Precisely at eight o'clock the Woodville left the wharf, amid the inspiring strains of the "Star-spangled Banner," performed by the band. The scene was in the highest degree exhilarating; and the little captain was the happiest person on board, where all was merriment and rejoicing. The boat was to go down the lake as far as Isle La Motte, where the party would spend a couple of hours on shore, and return by six o'clock in the afternoon. This program was carried out to the letter, without any accident, or any nearer approach to one than a thunder-shower and squall. When the little captain saw the tempest coming down upon him, he put the boat about and run her up into the teeth of the squall. The ladies and gentlemen saw the commotion on the water, and some of them were very much alarmed; but the Woodville, under the good management of Lawry, did not careen a particle, being headed into the wind.
In three minutes it was over, the steamer returned to her former course, and the party wondered that she made no more fuss about it. While the rain continued, the excursionists were compelled to remain in the saloon; but they were full of glee, after their terror had subsided, and the shower was hardly regarded as a detriment to the pleasure of the trip.
At the appointed hour the Woodville was at the wharf in Burlington. Before the party left the boat, they met in the saloon, and passed a vote of thanks to the little captain, in which the dinner, the steamer, and her commander were warmly praised. It was written out, a copy was given to Lawry, and it was to be published in the Burlington papers. While the boat was stopping at the wharf, Mr. Sherwood went up to a printing office, where he had left an order for a job in the morning, and returned bringing with him a few copies of the handbill, which was to announce the Woodville more generally to the public. It was posted in various parts of the steamer, and read aloud with mischievous delight by Miss Fanny. It was printed in colors, ornamented with a cut of a steamer, and read as follows:
MOST DELIGHTFUL EXCURSIONS ON THE LAKE!
THE NEW AND SPLENDID MINIATURE STEAMER
Captain Lawrence Wilford,
With elegant and luxurious accommodations for thirty passengers, is now ready to convey pleasure-parties to any part of the lake.
Breakfasts, dinners, and suppers provided on board; and the tables will be supplied with the best the market affords.
Apply by letter, or otherwise, to
CAPTAIN LAWRENCE WILFORD,
Port Rock, N. Y.
By seven o'clock the Woodville was under way for Port Rock. Lawry gave the helm to one of the deck-hands, and went below to make some entries in his account-book. He had been paid, that day, fifty dollars for the boat, and thirty dollars for dinners. Mrs. Light had expended twenty-six dollars for provisions and groceries, but he still had one hundred and twenty-eight dollars. It was a large sum of money for a boy of fourteen to have, and he counted it with a pride and pleasure which made him forget the fatigue of his severe labors.
At half-past ten the steamer was moored to her wharf at Port Rock. Mr. Sherwood and the ladies bade the little captain good-night, and went home.
TEN THOUSAND IN GOLD
It was fortunate for Lawry that he was able to sleep well in the midst of the excitement in which he lived; otherwise his bodily frame must have yielded to the pressure to which it was subjected. He did not wake till seven the next morning, which invigorated his powers and prepared him for the duties of another day. As soon as he turned out, he went up to see his mother, and gave her a hundred dollars of the money he had earned, reserving the balance for the expenses of the boat.
At nine Mr. Sherwood and his party came on board. It had been his intention to visit Ticonderoga; but business letters which he found waiting his arrival the evening before compelled him to change his destination to Burlington.
Just before the party appeared, Ben Wilford had been seen lounging about the wharf. He had complained bitterly to his mother of the treatment he had received from Lawry, and did not seem to be conscious that he had ever been engaged in a base and mean conspiracy against the peace and happiness of the whole family. Mrs. Wilford had spoken plainly to him, which had only increased his irritation. The little steamer was a sore trial to him, for she was the indication of Lawry's prosperity.
Ben had fully persuaded himself into the belief that he, and not Lawry, ought to be captain of the Woodville. She was a family affair, and he could not regard his brother as the actual owner of her. He had imagination enough to understand and appreciate the pleasure of being in command of such a fine craft. His conspiracy had signally failed; in his own choice phrase, Mr. Sherwood "carried too many guns for him," and it was useless to contend against money.
The envious brother had so far progressed in his views as to believe that a subordinate position in the Woodville was better than no position at all. He had heard of the fine times the parties had on board of her, of the splendid dinners, and the inspiring music; and he was very anxious to have a situation in her. He was afraid of Mr. Sherwood, and dared not again take his place boldly on board. At a favorable moment, when Lawry and the deck-hands were employed on the after part of the deck, he slipped down the plank and into the forecastle, concealing himself in the berth of one of the firemen. This trick might insure him a passage with the excursion-party, if nothing more.
When the ladies and gentlemen had all arrived, the boat left the wharf, and commenced her voyage down the lake. After she had gone a couple of miles Ben Wilford came out of his hiding-place, and proceeded directly to the wheel-house, feeling that he had nothing to fear from his kind-hearted brother, and hoping to conciliate him before Mr. Sherwood discovered that he was on board. He entered the open door of the wheel-house as coolly as though he belonged there.
"Ben!" exclaimed the little captain, when he saw him. "I didn't know you were on board."
"I didn't mean you should till I got ready," replied Ben.
"I don't know as Mr. Sherwood will like it when he sees you," added Lawry.
"If you like it, he will."
"I'm sure I've no objection to your going with me."
"I knew you hadn't."
"But the steamer belongs to Mr. Sherwood to-day."
"Don't you want some help, Lawry? Mother thinks you are working rather too hard."
"I don't think I shall hurt myself," answered Lawry, laughing; and he was really pleased to find Ben in such good humor. "I don't see that you can help me any."
"I can steer."
"So can Rounds," replied Lawry, referring to the deckhand whom he called to the wheel when he left his post.
"Lawry, you are my brother—ain't you?"
"Of course I am."
"And I am your brother—am I not?"
"Without a doubt you are."
"Then there are two good reasons why we should not quarrel."
"I'm very sure I don't wish to quarrel, Ben," added Lawry earnestly.
"And I'm just as sure I don't," continued Ben. "This is a splendid little boat, and we might make a first-rate thing of it. I still think I ought to be captain of her; but I won't quarrel about that now. I'll take any place you have a mind to give me."
This was certainly very kind and condescending on the part of the elder brother, after what had occurred; and Lawry really felt happy in the excellent spirit which Ben appeared to manifest.
"You might give me a chance as mate, if you like," added Ben, as he perceived the smile on his brother's face.
"I will speak to Mr. Sherwood about it."
"What do you want to speak to him for? Don't you own this boat?"
"I do; but he has been very kind to me, and I want to take his advice when I can. I wish you hadn't got into that scrape the other day."
"Why, causing the boat to be attached for father's debts."
"I didn't mean anything by it, Lawry," answered Ben, in apologetic tones. "You must acknowledge that you provoked me to it."
"I can't get it out of my head that I ought to be captain of this boat. I think it would be a good deal better for you, Lawry. Just look at it one minute! You are a pilot, and you have to leave the wheel to see to everything on board. You ought to have nothing to do but to navigate the steamer; while I, as captain, could take the money, see to the dinners, and keep the deck and cabins in good order."
"We get along very well," replied Lawry.
"But it will wear you out in a month. Mother is afraid you will kill yourself, running the boat night and day."
"If you were captain I should have to be in the wheelhouse all the time, just the same."
"Well, I don't insist on it, Lawry," replied Ben, with becoming meekness. "I was only saying what would be best for all concerned."
"I will talk with Mr. Sherwood."
"Whatever you say, he will agree to. Now, give me the wheel, Lawry, and you go and see your passengers."
Ben took hold of the wheel, and the young pilot involuntarily released his grasp on the spokes. The older brother was certainly in a very amiable frame of mind, and it was perfectly proper to encourage him; but there was no more need of a mate than there was of another captain. Rounds, as the older of the two deck-hands, now performed the duties of that office. There was no freight to be received and discharged, which the mate superintends; and there was nothing for him to do but attend to the gangplank and the mooring lines, and see that the decks were washed down when required.
Lawry was not quite willing to leave the wheel in charge of his brother, for he was painfully conscious that he could not always be trusted. Ben was not often in so pliable a frame of mind, and the little captain could not help suspecting that he had some object in view which was not apparent, for he had twice declared, that if he was not captain of the Woodville no one should be. He was not prepared to believe that Ben would run the boat on the rocks, or set her on fire; but he deemed it prudent to keep his eye on him, and on the course of the steamer.
Ben steered very well, and Lawry left the wheel-house. At the door he met Mr. Sherwood, just as that gentleman had discovered who was at the helm.
"How's this, Lawry? Have you got more help?" asked his friend.
"I didn't know Ben was on board till we were two miles from the wharf. I hope you don't object, sir."
"Certainly not, Lawry. If you are satisfied, I have no reason to be otherwise."
"Ben talks very fair this morning; and I'm sure I don't want to quarrel with him."
"Of course not."
"He still thinks he ought to be captain, and that it would be better for me;" and Lawry stated his brother's argument.
"That's all very pretty," replied Mr. Sherwood. "If you wish to give your brother the command of your steamer, it is not for me to interpose any objection."
"But I want to follow your advice."
"I think you had better let things remain as they are, for the present, at least. Do as you think best, Lawry. I don't want to influence you."
This conversation took place near the door of the wheel-house, and, though the parties had not so intended, Ben heard every word of it.
"Do as you think best, Lawry," continued Mr. Sherwood.
"I want to do what you think is best, sir."
"You know my opinion. Your brother's habits—I am sorry to say it— are not good. I should not be willing to trust him. You cannot place much confidence in a young man who is in the habit of getting drunk. I don't want to hurt your feelings, Lawry, but I must be frank with you."
Ben ground his teeth with rage, as he listened to this plain description of himself, and, in accordance with his usual practice in such cases, vowed to be revenged upon the man who had traduced him, which was his interpretation of Mr. Sherwood's candid statement of the truth.
"I think you are right, sir," replied Lawry, realizing that Ben was not fit for the command of the Woodville, even if he was disposed to give it to him.
"Lawry, I have been compelled to change this excursion into a partial business trip. I am going to buy the surplus-gold of a bank in Burlington, and you must leave me there and go on to Port Kent. On your return, you can stop for me," continued Mr. Sherwood. "What is your engagement for to-morrow."
"At Whitehall, sir."
"Capital! You can convey my gold through, so that I can take the morning train at Whitehall for New York."
"If we get back to Port Rock by six, we can reach Whitehall by twelve."
"Well, that is sooner than I wish to arrive," added Mr. Sherwood thoughtfully. "I shall have ten thousand dollars in gold with me, which, at the present rate, is worth about twenty-five thousand dollars in currency. It would be a great temptation to any rogues, who might find out the specie was on board. How would it do to start from Port Rock at midnight?"
"It will do just as well, sir."
"Then I shall reach Whitehall just in time for the train. But, Lawry, I see that you must have another pilot on board."
"I think I can get along, sir."
"You will wear yourself out. You have run a portion of the last two nights, and this arrangement will make the third."
"I can sleep just as well at Port Rock as at Whitehall. To-morrow will be Saturday, and my engagements for Monday and Tuesday are at the upper end of the lake, so that I shall have no more night work at present. I can stand it well enough."
"I'm afraid it will be too much for you; but if you have to engage an extra pilot, you must raise your price to sixty dollars a day."
"I think we shall need another engineer at the same time. Ethan has just as hard a time of it as I do."
"You had better raise your price; people will not object."
"I was thinking, sir, that Ben would make a good pilot. He is a good wheelman, and it wouldn't take him long to learn the courses on the lake."
Mr. Sherwood shook his head.
"Would you be willing to trust him with the boat?—go to sleep yourself, while he is at the helm?" asked he.
"I think I would, after he had learned the navigation."
"He is your brother, Lawry, and I don't like to say anything to wound you; but I feel that your brother is not a reliable person. You must be very prudent. Even a trifling accident, resulting from mismanagement, might ruin your business; for people will not expose their lives needlessly. If Ben will run the ferry the rest of the year, keep sober, and behave well in every respect, you might make a pilot of him, or even captain, another season."
Doubtless this was good advice, and the little captain had so much confidence in his friend and benefactor that he could not help adopting it. Mr. Sherwood went into the cabin again, without any conversation with the subject of his severe but just comments. Lawry was on the point of leaving the hurricane-deck, where he had talked with his adviser, when he noticed that the boat was headed toward the shore, and in a moment more would be aground in the shoal water off Barber's Point. He rushed into the wheel-house, and found that Ben had abandoned the helm. Grasping the wheel, the pilot brought her up to her course, and then turned to his brother.
"What do you mean, Ben, by leaving the wheel?" demanded Lawry, filled with indignation at his brother's treachery.
"Don't talk to me," growled Ben.
"The boat would have been aground in a minute more."
"I wish she was."
"What's the matter, Ben?"
"I thought you were my brother; but you are not."
"I'm sorry to hear you talk so; and I didn't think you would do so mean a thing as to run the boat ashore."
"I'll do anything now. I heard what Sherwood said to you, and what you said to him. I didn't think you would let any man talk about your brother as he did. Do you suppose I would let any man talk like that about my brother? I'll bet I wouldn't! I'd knock him over before the words were out of his mouth."
"Why, what did he say, Ben?"
"What did he say! Didn't you hear what he said? Didn't he tell you I was a drunken fellow, and couldn't be trusted?"
"Well, he certainly did," replied Lawry moodily.
"And you heard him! And you didn't say a word!" said Ben furiously.
"What could I say when Mr. Sherwood spoke only what I know is true?"
"Then you think I'm a drunken fellow, and can't be trusted?" demanded Ben, with an injured look.
"Don't you drink too much sometimes?"
"No, I don't! I drink what I want; but no one ever saw me the worse for liquor. Who says I can't be trusted?"
"When I gave you the wheel, at your own request, you left it, and the boat would have been ashore in another minute. Does that look as though you could be trusted?" added Lawry.
"That was because you wouldn't trust me. I was mad."
"One who would expose the lives of twenty or thirty persons when he got mad ought not to be trusted."
"Lawry, you are no longer my brother. You and your mother, and Sherwood here, have been trying to put me down, and make a nobody of me. You can't do it. I'm your enemy now. You have made me mad, and you must take the consequences. I'll burn or smash this boat the first chance I get! As for Sherwood, I'll teach him to talk about me!"
The angry young man rushed out of the wheel-house. If Mr. Sherwood had heard his insane threats he would probably have insisted that he should be immediately put on shore; but Lawry did not think his brother capable of the madness of malice his speech indicated; he was in a passion, and when he cooled off he would be reasonable again.
Ben sat down on the forecastle where the pilot could see him, and nursed his wrath till the Woodville arrived at Burlington. He was in deep thought all the time, and did not heed the singing or other amusements of the party on board, who were enjoying themselves to the utmost. Apparently with no perception of his own faults and shortcomings, he regarded himself as a deeply injured young man. His mother and his brother had turned against him, and were persecuting him to the best of their ability. He had come on board to gain his purpose by conciliation; he had failed, and, in his own view, there was nothing left for him but revenge.
The boat touched at Burlington, and to the great relief of Lawry, his brother followed Mr. Sherwood on shore. At three o'clock the Woodville returned from Port Kent with the happy excursionists. While the steamer lay at the wharf, waiting for Mr. Sherwood, many persons, moved by curiosity to inspect the beautiful craft, came aboard; and whenever she stopped, she had plenty of visitors of this description. Among them Lawry saw his brother, accompanied by two men, who, from the remarks they made, were evidently familiar with the machinery and appointments of steamers.
Mr. Sherwood presently appeared attended by a bank messenger with the precious coin he had purchased at 2.44, the telegraphic quotation from New York for that day.
"Where shall I put this gold. Captain Lawry?" asked Mr. Sherwood.
"I don't know, sir; I'm really afraid of it," replied the captain nervously. "Can't you carry it in your pockets?"
"It weighs about thirty-seven pounds," laughed Mr. Sherwood. "I will lock it up in my stateroom. I shall sleep on board to-night, and it will be safe enough after we leave the wharf, for no one but you and me knows there is any specie on board."
The man of gold went aft with the coin, which was contained in two bags.
"I suppose I can go home with you—can't I, Lawry?" asked Ben, as the little captain started for the wheel-house.
Lawry could not refuse this request, though his brother was evidently a little excited by the liquor he had drank. He hoped Ben had not heard anything about the treasure on board; for he feared that revenge, if not dishonesty, might prompt him to commit a crime.
The visitors were warned ashore, and the Woodville departed for Port Rock, where she arrived at about six o'clock. The excursion-party went on shore, after the usual compliments to the steamer and her commander.
"Now, Lawry, I must go up to the house for my valise; but I will return in an hour," said Mr. Sherwood, whose carriage was waiting for him at the head of the wharf.
"But the gold, sir?" whispered Lawry anxiously.
"You or Ethan may watch the stateroom till I return, if you please; but there is no danger here. You must turn in at once, Lawry, so as not to lose your sleep."
"I shall be gone four or five days, this time, and I must go home after some clean clothes."
"Very well; I will get Ethan to keep his eye on the stateroom," replied Mr. Sherwood; and Lawry ran up to the cottage.
Ethan, who had ordered the fires to be banked in furnaces, and was letting off the superfluous steam, consented to watch the room containing the gold. Rounds, the deckhand, and the first fireman turned in, that they might be ready for duty at midnight, when the boat would start for Whitehall.
CAPTURED AND RECAPTURED
Unfortunately for Ben Wilford, he had heard Mr. Sherwood inform Lawry of his intentions in regard to the purchase and transportation of the gold. Before the Woodville reached Burlington, the dissolute young man had resolved to obtain the money if possible, prompted partly by revenge, and partly by the desire to possess so large a sum, with which he could revel in luxury in some distant party of the country. It must be confessed that this resolve to commit a crime was not simply an impulse, for the young man who leads a life of indolence and dissipation is never at any great distance from crime. Ben had been schooling himself for years for the very deed he now determined to do.
With more energy and decision, Ben was, in other respects, the counterpart of his father. His moral perceptions were weak, and the dissolute life he led had not contributed to strengthen them. He was the antipode of Lawry, who had been more willing to listen to the teachings of his mother.
Ben had resolved to commit a crime, but he had not the skill or the courage to do it alone. When he went on shore at Burlington, he met two of his former boon companions, with whom he had often tippled, gambled, and caroused. One of them had been a fireman, and the other a deck-hand, on board a steamer with Ben, and he knew them thoroughly. By gradual approaches he sounded them, to ascertain their willingness to join him in the robbery. The gold converted into currency would give them seven or eight thousand dollars apiece, and the temptation was sufficiently strong to remove all prudential obstacles.
While the Woodville was absent on her trip to Port Kent, the details of the robbery had been settled. The confederates sat on the corner of the wharf and arranged their plans, which were mainly suggested by the one who had been a fireman. The scheme was to be executed while the boat lay at Port Rock, and the two men whom Lawry had seen with his brother were his associates in the intended crime. Ben had concealed them in the forehold of the steamer. While the excursion-party were going on shore at the gangway abaft at the wheels, and all hands had gone aft to witness their departure, Ben had called them from their hiding-place, and sent them on the wharf, where he soon joined them. From a point near the head of the pier, where they were not observed, they waited till Mr. Sherwood and Lawry had gone, and all was quiet on board of the steamer.
"Now is our time," said Ben nervously; for he was not familiar enough with crime to be unmoved by the desperate situation in which he had placed himself.
"Is the coast clear?" asked the fireman.
"Yes," replied Ben, whose teeth actually chattered with apprehension.
"Who is there on board now?"
"No one but the engineer and the fireman, except two boys," answered Ben. "They were all going to turn in as soon as they got to the wharf."
"The firemen are both men, but I reckon they won't fight; all the rest are boys."
"One fireman and two boys have turned in by this time," added Ben.
"Then there is no one up but the engineer and one fireman?"
"Where is the gold, Ben?"
"In the starboard saloon stateroom."
"All right; have your pistols ready, but don't use them, for it will be bad for us if we have to kill any one."
The party walked down to the Woodville. All was still on board of her, except the sound of escaping steam. Ethan stood sentry at the door of the stateroom containing the gold, and the man on watch in the fire-room was busy reading a newspaper. It was not sunset yet, but the crew of the Woodville had been worked so hard for three days that those off duty could sleep without an opiate.
"Put on that hatch," said the fireman, who became the leading spirit of the party, as he pointed to the companion-way of the forehold, where the hands slept.
Ben obeyed the order without making any noise, and then the party went aft, where Ethan was keeping guard over the treasure.
"Good evening, Ethan," said Ben, with more suavity than he was in the habit of using.
"Good evening," replied the engineer.
"Haven't turned in yet?" continued Ben.
"Going to start at midnight, I hear."
"Some friends of mine wanted to look over the boat; I suppose I can show them through."
"I don't know; Captain Lawry can tell you," answered Ethan, who did not like Ben, and was not favorably impressed by the appearance of the other men.
Ben walked aft into the saloon, followed by his companions. Ethan was sitting in a chair by the side of the stateroom door. The fireman passed round behind, and suddenly fell upon him, throwing him on the floor and pinioning his arms to his back.
"What are you about?" cried Ethan, struggling to release himself. "Help! help!"
"Stop his mouth!" said Ben fearfully.
Vainly poor Ethan endeavored to shake off his assailants; his arms were tied together behind him, and a handkerchief stuffed into his mouth. In this condition he was lashed to a stanchion, so that he could move neither hand nor foot.
The commotion of this outrage attracted the attention of Mrs. Light and the two waiter-girls, who were employed in the lower cabin. The fireman exhibited a pistol to them, drove them below again, and threatened to shoot them if they made any noise. A similar demonstration quieted the fireman, and compelled him to return to the fire-room.
"The job is done," said Baker, the leader of the enterprise.
"But we haven't got the money," added Flint, the deckhand.
"We don't want that yet. It is safe where it is. Now both of you to your stations," continued Baker; and he went down into the fire-room.
Ben's station was in the wheel-house, Flint's at the fasts, and Baker's at the engine, as it appeared from their subsequent movements; and it was evident, from the operations in progress, that the villains intended to make their escape in the steamer. Baker stopped the hissing steam which was going to waste, and compelled the fireman to renew the fires.
"Be lively!" shouted Ben, from the wheel-house, as he discovered Lawry on the shore, hastening back to the steamer with his bundle of clothes.
"All ready!" replied Baker, finding there was steam enough to start the boat.
Flint had already cast off the fasts, without waiting for orders, and was standing on the forecastle, as impatient to be off as a man can be who is engaged in the commission of a crime.
Ben rang the bell to back her; the wheels turned, but as the stern-line had been cast off, her bow was not carried out from the wharf. By this time Lawry had discovered that the Woodville was in motion. He was astonished and alarmed, though he was far from surmising that his boat had been captured by robbers. Running with all his speed, he reached the head of the wharf just as the boat had backed far enough to permit Ben to see him, and for him to see that Ben was at the wheel. Then he realized that his brother was engaged in another conspiracy.
Notwithstanding his extensive knowledge of "steam-boating" in general, Ben Wilford was a very unskillful pilot. If he had understood the management of a boat half as well as Lawry, the nefarious scheme might have been successful. He saw his brother; he did not wish to have him come on board, for Lawry might be so obstinate as to induce one of his dissolute companions to fire at him. He rang the bell to stop her, and then to go ahead, at the same time putting the helm hard aport.
The Woodville went forward, and as she met the helm her bow came round, and she was headed out into the middle of the lake. As she went ahead, her stern swept in a circle within a few feet of the wharf, just as Lawry, breathless with haste and alarm, reached the end of the pier. The little captain knew nothing of the state of things on board, except that his brother Ben was at the wheel, which, however, was a sufficient explanation to him. The Woodville was going, and he could not let her depart without him. Dropping his bundle, he leaped to the plankshear, grasping the rail with both hands. Jumping over the bulwark, he stood on the guard from which opened the windows of the saloon.
Neither of the three conspirators were in a situation to see this movement on the part of Lawry. Ben was too much occupied in steering— for he was not a little fearful of getting aground in some shoal water between the ferry and the wharf—to notice anything; but as soon as he had obtained his course, he looked for his brother on the pier. He was not there; but Ben did not suspect that he was on board the Woodville. Baker, who knew just enough about an engine to stop and start it, was working the valves with the bar; and he could think of nothing else. Doubtless he was conscious by this time that he had "taken a big job," in assuming the control of the engine.
Lawry was bewildered by the situation. When his feet struck the deck, his first impulse was to rush up to the wheel-house, and confront the difficulty as the case might require. He started to carry out his purpose, when he happened to look through one of the saloon windows, and discovered Ethan, with the handkerchief in his mouth, tied to the stanchion. Deeply as he sympathized with his friend in his unpleasant position, he was still cheered by the sight, for it assured him that the engineer had been faithful to his duties, and was not a party to the conspiracy.
The little captain went round and entered the saloon by the door, without being seen by either of the conspirators. He removed the gag from Ethan's mouth, and proceeded to unfasten the cords with which he was bound.
"What does all this mean, Ethan?" demanded Lawry, in excited tones, and almost crying with vexation.
"Hush! Do they know you are here?" asked the engineer.
"I think not; I don't know."
"Keep still, then. They are after the gold."
"Who are they?"
"Ben and two other fellows. I don't know them."
"We'll stop this thing very quick," said Lawry.
"They are armed with pistols, and threatened to shoot all hands. Be careful, Lawry, or you will get a bullet through your head."
"What shall we do?" demanded the young pilot.
Ethan was an accomplished strategist. He led the way to the lower cabin, where the terrified women had been driven by the ruffians.
"If any of those men ask for me, tell them I got loose, jumped overboard, and swam ashore," said Ethan.
"Law sake!" exclaimed the cook.
"Don't tell them I am here, at any rate."
"I won't. Massy sake! What are we comin' to?"
"Don't be alarmed; we will take care of these villains before we have done with them," added Ethan.
"Hush! There's some one coming," said one of the girls; and the heavy tread of a man was heard on the deck above them.
Ethan and Lawry had only time to crawl into one of the berths, where Mrs. Light covered them with bedclothes, before Flint came down into the cabin.
"See here; we haven't been to supper, and we want some," said the ruffian, as he descended the steps.
"What are you goin' to do with us?" demanded Mrs. Light.
"Don't be scart; we won't hurt you," replied Flint.
"But where you goin'?"
"Up to Whitehall. When we get there, you can go where you please. Now, get us some supper; the best there is on board—beefsteak and coffee."
"Well, I suppose I can get you some supper; but I don't like such carryin's on," replied Mrs. Light.
Flint left the cabin, after he had given his order. On his way forward he looked into the saloon, and discovered that their prisoner was missing. Search was immediately instituted; but Mrs. Light, as instructed by Ethan, declared that he had got loose and swam ashore; she had seen him through the stern-lights. The rascals finally accepted this explanation, after searching on deck for him.
Mrs. Light went to the kitchen to get supper for the rogues, while the girls set the table. The cook presently returned to the cabin, and told Ethan where each of the robbers was stationed; but being unarmed, there seemed to be no way of making an attack upon them where the ruffians could not rally to the support of each other.
"We must settle this business down here, Lawry," said Ethan, when they had come out of their hiding-places.
"They will have to come to supper one at a time," added the little captain.
"Exactly so; and this will be the safest place to do the job. We want a rope," added the engineer, with a businesslike air.
"I'll fetch you a rope," said Mrs. Light.
"Do; bring me the small heave-line, on the guard by the saloon doors."
The cook went on deck, and after a visit to the kitchen, returned to the cabin with the line indicated under her apron. In about half an hour supper was ready for the villains, and one of the girls informed Baker, who was still on duty in the engine-room, that it was waiting for them. The engineer called Flint, and told him, as the boat was out in the middle of the lake, the engine would need nothing done to it, and directed him to stand at the door, so that the fireman below should not attempt to defeat their plans. He then went to the cabin for his supper.
Ethan and Lawry had concealed themselves behind the curtains of a tier of berths, directly in the rear of the chair where Baker was to sit at the table. In his hand Ethan held the heave-line, at one end of which Lawry had made a hangman's noose. Mrs. Light and the girls had been instructed to rattle the chairs, make as much noise as they could, and otherwise engage the attention of the robber, as soon as he sat down to the table.
Baker came down the stairs, and one of the girls began to rattle the chairs, Mrs. Light to move a pile of plates, and the other girl to arrange the dishes on the table. "Will you have some coffee?" demanded Mrs. Light, without giving him time to notice anything in the cabin.
"Of course I will," growled Baker.
"Shall I give you some beefsteak?" asked one of the girls.
"I'll help myself."
"If you want some fried eggs I'll get some for you," added the cook, rattling the dishes again.
Baker was not permitted to say whether he would have any fried eggs or not, for at that moment Ethan crept from his concealment, whatever noise he made being drowned by the clatter of the dishes and the rattling of the chairs. Stealing up behind Baker, who was intent only on beefsteak and coffee, he slipped the hangman's noose over his head, and hauled it tight. The robber attempted to spring to his feet, but Ethan hauled him over backward on the floor. At the same time Lawry threw the end of the line over a deck beam, extended across the skylight, and began to "haul in the slack."
The villain attempted to cry out; but the sound only gurgled in his throat. He grasped the rope with both hands; but the choking already received had taken away his strength, and he was unable to make any successful resistance. While Lawry kept the rope so taut that Baker could not move, Ethan tied his hands behind him, though the man's struggles were fierce, and the engineer was obliged to use a rolling-pin, supplied by Mrs. Light, before the conquest was complete. The ruffian was securely bound and gagged; but the cook and the girls had nearly fainted while the struggle was going on.
Baker, thus gagged and bound, was rolled into one of the lower berths. He had been nearly choked to death by the rope, and several hard knocks he had received on the head had rendered him partially insensible, so that he was not in condition to make any further resistance. Ethan had taken possession of his pistol, and, as a matter of precaution, threatened to blow out his brains if he made any noise.
"Massy sake!" groaned Mrs. Light. "I never did see! You've taken my breath all away!"
"Don't make a noise," said Ethan.
"I couldn't have struck that man as you did," added Lawry.
"If you had been through what I have, out West, it would come easier to you," replied the engineer. "We must go through the whole of it once more."
One of the girls was then sent to call Flint, and directed to assure him that such was the order of Baker, who had gone to the wheel-house for a moment, and would immediately return to the engine-room. The deck-hand was too much in a hurry for his supper to question the order, and went directly to the cabin. The noise made by Mrs. Light and the girls prevented him from hearing the heavy breathings of Baker, and he was an easier victim than his companion in crime had been. He was choked, gagged, bound, and his pistol taken from him. By this time these two ruffians, if they could think at all, could not help believing that the way of the transgressor is hard.
From regard to the feelings of Lawry, Ethan decided that Ben should not be subjected to this harsh treatment. He was still in the wheel-house, not suspecting that his nefarious scheme had been wholly defeated.
The work was accomplished, and the pilot and engineer went on deck. Ethan repaired to his post and stopped the engine. Ben half a dozen times demanded, through the speaking-tube, what the matter was; but receiving no answer, he came down himself to ascertain the cause of the sudden stoppage of the boat.
THE LITTLE CAPTAIN AND HIS MOTTO
As Ben Wilford, fearful that some accident to the machinery would defeat his criminal enterprise, entered the engine-room on one side, Lawry left it at the other. As the little captain went forward, he heard a noise in the forecastle, and saw that the companionway was closed and fastened. Releasing the firemen and deck-hands confined there, he directed them to follow him to the wheel-house, where he explained to them what had happened.
"What are you stopping for?" demanded Ben Wilford, before he discovered that Baker was not present.
"I think it is about time to go back, now," replied Ethan, holding one of the pistols in his hand.
"How came you here, Ethan?" exclaimed Ben, starting back with astonishment when he saw who was in charge of the engine.
"I run this machine, and this is the right place for me," replied Ethan coolly.
"He's safe; if you mean the man you left in charge of the engine."
Ben was bewildered by the present aspect of affairs. It was clear that there had been a miscarriage somewhere; but he was unable to tell how or where the scheme had failed. Before he could decide what step to take next, Captain Lawry rang the bell to go ahead.
"Who rang the bell?" asked Ben.
"Is he on board?"
"He is," replied Ethan, as he started the engine. "Ben Wilford, you have got about to the end of your rope."
"What do you mean?"
"You have done a job which will send you to Sing Sing for the next ten years."
"No, I haven't," said Ben, backing out of the engine-room.
"Stop where you are," interposed Ethan, peremptorily, as he raised his pistol.
"Two can play at that game," added Ben.
"Two can; but two won't. Drop your hands, or I'll fire!"
Ben obeyed; he had felt that the game was up the moment he saw Ethan at his post, and he had not the courage to draw his pistol upon one who had shot two Indians in one day.
"Sit down there," continued Ethan, pointing to the bench in the engine-room, and the culprit took his seat with fear and trembling.
"What shall I do?" groaned the wretched young man, as he thought of the consequence of his crime.
"Jump overboard and drown yourself. That would save your friends a great deal of trouble," replied Ethan. "Give up your pistol!"
Ben gave it up, and began to plead with Ethan to let him escape, declaring that it would kill his mother, and Lawry never would get over it, if he was sent to the penitentiary. Though the engineer dreaded the day when his friend would be compelled to testify in court against his own brother, he would not yield to the culprit's entreaties, and did not intend that he should escape the penalty of his crime.
When the Woodville reached her wharf, having been absent but little more than an hour, Mr. Sherwood and the ladies were on the wharf. While Ethan was working the engine with the bar, Ben slipped out of the room. The engineer saw him, and gave the alarm; but he could not leave his post at that moment. As soon as the boat was moored, search was made; but Ben could not be found. He certainly was not on board.
Mr. Sherwood was astonished when he was told what had occurred. He sent his coachman after the sheriff at once, and directed that the search for Ben Wilford should be renewed. The stateroom was found locked, as he had left it, and the gold undisturbed. Mrs. Light and the girls, the firemen and the deck-hands, had their own stories to tell, to all of which Mr. Sherwood listened very patiently.
"You have done well, Lawry," said he. "You have saved my gold."
"It was Ethan, sir, that did the business. I don't believe I could have done anything alone," replied the little captain.
"Lawry did his share," added Ethan, with due modesty.
"I'm sure they both fit like wildcats in the cabin," said Mrs. Light. "I was e'en a'most scart to death."
When the sheriff came, he took Baker and Flint into custody, and sent the constable who had come with him to find Ben Wilford. The two robbers in the cabin were in bad condition. The choking they had received had been a terrible shock to their nerves, which, with the hard knocks given by Ethan with the cook's rolling-pin, had entirely used them up, and there was neither fight nor bravado in them. Flint said they had been induced to engage in the enterprise by Ben Wilford; that they intended to proceed to the vicinity of Whitehall in the Woodville, where the instigator of the affair had declared his purpose to burn the boat. From this point they were going to the West, disposing of the gold in small sums as they proceeded.
The two robbers were marched off by the sheriff; but nothing was heard of Ben for two hours, when the boy who ran the ferry-boat, returning from Pointville, informed Mrs. Wilford that he had gone over with him. The constable followed, as soon as he heard in what direction the fugitive had gone. He was not taken that night, and the search was renewed the next day, but with no better result. It was afterward ascertained that he had crossed the country to the railroad, and taken a night train. Having worked his way to New York, he shipped in a vessel bound to the East Indies.
It cannot be denied that Lawry and his mother, and even Mr. Sherwood, were glad of his escape, though he was more guilty than the two men who had been captured and were afterward tried and sent to Sing Sing. The little captain and the engineer of the Woodville were warmly congratulated upon the safety of the steamer, when it was known that Ben intended to burn her in revenge for having been made a "nobody"; but Mr. Sherwood declared that, if the boat had been destroyed, he would have built another, and presented her to Lawry and Ethan, for he was too much interested in the steamboat experiment to have it abandoned.
Mrs. Wilford trembled when she learned that the robbers had been armed with pistols. Many laughed as they, listened to the account of the choking operation in the cabin, and everybody was satisfied with the result.
Lawry and Ethan were too much excited to sleep that night, though they turned in at ten o'clock. At midnight the fireman on duty called them, and the steamer soon started for Whitehall with Mr. Sherwood and his gold, where she arrived in season for the morning train. As the party did not start till nine o'clock, the exhausted pilot and engineer obtained a couple of hours' sleep, while the steamer lay at the wharf, which enabled them to get through the day without sinking under its fatigues.
The following day was Sunday; and though Lawry and Ethan went to church in the forenoon, as both of them were in the habit of doing, the day was literally a day of rest to them, and there was a great deal of "tall sleeping" done. On Monday morning, at six o'clock, the boat went to Ticonderoga, arriving in good season to keep her engagement.
Our limits do not permit us to follow Captain Lawry and the beautiful little steamer any farther. The young pilot has redeemed the fairy craft from the bottom of the lake, and overcome all obstacles in his path to prosperity. He was not again disturbed by the envy and jealousy of his brother. He was sad when he thought of his father in prison, and Ben an exile, banished by his misdeeds; but their errors only made him the stronger in the faith he had chosen, that fidelity to principle is the safest and happiest course, under all circumstances.
Lawry had all the business he could do with the Woodville. On the following week, another pilot and another engineer were obtained, and the price raised to sixty dollars a day, in conformity with the suggestion of Mr. Sherwood. This was especially necessary, as, during the bright moonlight evenings, in the latter part of the month, the Woodville was employed every night in taking out parties. The boat lay hardly an hour at a time at the wharf. The money came in so fast that Mrs. Wilford was bewildered at the riches which were flowing in upon them. By the advice of Mr. Sherwood the money was invested in government stocks; but he resolutely refused to accept payment for what he had advanced on the place or for the boat.
Early one evening, after Lawry had landed Mr. Sherwood's party at Port Rock, he started for Burlington, where he had an engagement on the following day. Half a mile above the wharf, he came up with a schooner, which on examination proved to be the Missisque. It was a dead calm, and her new mainsail hung motionless from the gaff. The little captain had not seen her skipper since the day on which the old sail had been blown from the bolt-ropes by the squall; and he ran the Woodville alongside of her, in order "to pass the time of day" with him.
"How are you, Captain John?" shouted the young pilot.
"Why, Lawry! How are you?" replied the skipper of the sloop.
"What are you doing here?" continued Lawry.
"Waitin' for a breeze of wind. I had a good freight promised to me if I got to Burlington by to-morrow morn-in', but I guess I sha'n't quite fetch it."
"Rounds, heave a stern-line to the sloop, and make fast to her," added Lawry to his mate.
"Oh, thank ye, Lawry," replied the grateful skipper.
"You and your wife must take supper with me."
"Well, Lawry, I always knowed you was smart," said Captain John.
"If I didn't get that mainsail down," laughed Lawry.
"Oh, never mind the mainsail, Lawry," added the skipper, blushing. "I was a leetle riled that time, and it wan't your fault."
"I think the green-apple pies made the mischief. Mrs. Light makes very nice ones, and we will have some for supper," continued Lawry, as he conducted his guests to the cabin, where they sat down at the table.
Captain John and his wife were bewildered at the splendors which surrounded them, and at the grandeur of Captain Lawry; but they passed a pleasant evening on board till ten o'clock, when the Woodville cast off her "tow" in Burlington Bay.
The upright piano, the gift of Miss Fanny, had been placed in the saloon, and its sweet strains added to the enjoyment of every party that employed the steamer. Ethan French, now relieved of part of his duties by the employment of a second engineer, was never in better humor than when Fanny Jane, seated at this instrument, sang the songs she had sung to Wahena and himself on the lake island in Minnesota.
In September, the business of the Woodville, as an excursion boat, began to fall off, and by the middle of the month it was at an end. The season had been very profitable, and Lawry's account-book showed that the boat had been employed forty-one days, besides nine evenings, the net profits of which were nearly fifteen hundred dollars, all of which was in the bank, or invested in government securities.
While Captain Lawry was considering the practicability of running the Woodville between certain places on the lake as a passenger-boat, he was startled by receiving a huge government envelope, containing a liberal offer for the use of his steamer as a despatch boat on southern rivers. An army officer, of high rank, who had been a member of one of the excursion parties in August, had been delighted with the performance of the little craft, and had spoken to Captain Lawry on this subject; but the matter had been quite forgotten when the offer came. Mr. Sherwood and Mrs. Wilford were consulted, and an affirmative answer returned. Ethan was delighted at the prospect of going South, for he desired to visit the scene of hostilities, and, if possible, to be employed in active operations.
The Woodville went in October, and returned in April, when the war was finished. Of Captain Lawry's voyage out and back, and his adventures far up in the enemy's country, we have no space to speak; but the steamer and her little commander gave perfect satisfaction.
In June, when the Woodville had been thoroughly repaired and painted, after her hard service at the South, there was a demand for her as an excursion boat; and it continued through the season. With one of Mr. Sherwood's parties, in July, there was an eminent member of the State Government, who was greatly pleased with Lawry's past history, as well as with his agreeable manners, and his close attention to his business. Through this gentleman, an effort, warmly seconded by Mr. Randall, the bank director, was made to obtain the pardon of John Wilford. It was successful, and the ferryman returned to his home a wiser and a better man.
He was astonished at the operations of his son, and surprised at the prosperity which had attended his family during his absence. The cottage had been enlarged, repaired, painted, and partly refurnished. It was a new home to him; and, profiting by the experience of the past, he resumed his labor as a ferryman, striving to be contented with his lot.
Ethan French does not tire of his pet, the engine of the Woodville, though it must be acknowledged that he has a divided heart when Fanny Jane is on board.
Mrs. Wilford, her confidence in her "smart boy" fully justified, and rejoicing in the prosperity which attends him, is still happy and contented in doing a mother's whole duty to her large family of little ones, hoping that all of them will "turn out" as well as her second son.
During the Woodville's second business season, she was employed by a party of wealthy gentlemen, for a week, in going round the lake. She had descended the Richelieu to St. Johns, from which the party ran up to Montreal for a day, returning to the boat in the evening. Though the time for which the boat was engaged was not up till the next evening, some of the gentlemen were very anxious to be in Burlington on the following morning, and insisted that the steamer should immediately proceed up the river on her return. It was a very dark and foggy night, and Lawry declined to start, declaring that he could not run with safety to the boat and passengers.
The party continued to insist upon their point, adding that if he was a competent pilot there could be no difficulty in complying with their wishes. They were gentlemen of wealth and influence, and the little captain did not like to disoblige them. He argued the question with them, and pointed to the motto in the wheel-house. They laughed at him and his motto. There was to be a "trot" between two celebrated horses, at Burlington, and they were too anxious to witness the race to be entirely reasonable.
Captain Lawry was firm, and the gentlemen were angry and indignant. While they were debating the question in excited tones, another steamer left the wharf, bound up the river. Her departure seemed to spoil the young pilot's argument. The party tried to hail the steamer in the fog, wishing Lawry to put them on board of her; but her people did not hear their demand, or would not stop for them, and the party were highly incensed at what they called the obstinacy of Lawry.
"Haste and waste, gentlemen," replied the little captain. "The river is narrow and crooked, and there is great danger of getting aground if I attempt to run in this fog."
"That other steamer has gone, and if she can run, you can, if you know your business," replied one of the gentlemen.
"I'm very sorry; but I don't think we should gain anything by starting now," added Lawry.
Finding it was useless to insist any longer, the party took supper, and turned in, when their anger had partially subsided. The little captain did not retire that night; he "planked the deck," and watched the weather. It was a seven hours' run to Burlington, and the "trot" was to come off at nine o'clock in the forenoon. He still hoped that he should be able to satisfy his unreasonable party.
At midnight the wind chopped round to the westward, and blew the fog over. At one o'clock the Woodville was going up the river at full speed. At three o'clock she came up with the steamer which had started from St. Johns four hours before, hard and fast aground. She hailed the little Woodville, and requested assistance. Lawry took a hawser on board, and gave her a few pulls; but she was too hard on the sand to be started, and he was compelled to abandon her. The commotion caused by these operations awoke some of the gentlemen in the cabin of the Woodville, and they came on deck to learn the occasion of it.