Part 1 out of 4
Produced by Juliet Sutherland, Asad Razzaki and PG Distributed
FRANK AND ARCHIE SERIES
* * * * *
THE YOUNG NATURALIST
AUTHOR OF "THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN SERIES,"
"THE GO-AHEAD SERIES," ETC.
THE GUN-BOAT SERIES.
FRANK, THE YOUNG NATURALIST,
FRANK ON A GUN-BOAT,
FRANK IN THE WOODS,
FRANK ON THE PRAIRIE,
FRANK BEFORE VICKSBURG,
FRANK ON THE LOWER MISSISSIPPI.
THE HOME OF THE YOUNG NATURALIST
AN UGLY CUSTOMER
A RACE ON THE WATER
A FISHING EXCURSION
HOW TO SPEND THE "FOURTH"
THE COAST-GUARDS OUTWITTED
A QUEER COURSE
A DUCK-HUNT ON THE WATER
BILL LAWSON'S REVENGE
A CHAPTER OF INCIDENTS
THE GRAYHOUND OUTGENERALED
FRANK, THE YOUNG NATURALIST.
* * * * *
THE HOME OF THE YOUNG NATURALIST.
About one hundred miles north of Augusta, the Capital of Maine, the
little village of Lawrence is situated. A range of high hills skirts
its western side, and stretches away to the north as far as the eye
can reach; while before the village, toward the east, flows the
Near the base of the hills a beautiful stream, known as Glen's Creek,
has its source; and, after winding through the adjacent meadows, and
reaching almost around the village, finally empties into the Kennebec.
Its waters are deep and clear, and flow over a rough, gravelly bed,
and under high banks, and through many a little nook where the perch
and sunfish love to hide. This creek, about half a mile from its
mouth, branches off, forming two streams, the smaller of which flows
south, parallel with the river for a short distance, and finally
empties into it. This stream is known as Ducks' Creek, and it is very
appropriately named; for, although it is but a short distance from the
village, every autumn, and until late in the spring, its waters are
fairly alive with wild ducks, which find secure retreats among the
high bushes and reeds which line its banks. The island formed by these
two creeks is called Reynard's Island, from the fact that for several
years a sly old fox had held possession of it in spite of the efforts
of the village boys to capture him. The island contains, perhaps,
twenty-five acres, and is thickly covered with hickory-trees; and
there is an annual strife between the village boys and the squirrels,
to see which can gather the greater quantity of nuts.
Directly opposite the village, near the middle of the river, is
another island, called Strawberry Island, from the great quantity of
that fruit which it produces.
The fishing-grounds about the village are excellent. The river affords
great numbers of perch, black bass, pike, and muscalonge; and the
numberless little streams that intersect the country fairly swarm with
trout, and the woods abound in game. This attracts sportsmen from
other places; and the _Julia Burton_, the little steamer that plies up
and down the river, frequently brings large parties of amateur
hunters and fishermen, who sometimes spend months enjoying the rare
It was on the banks of Glen's Creek, about half a mile from the
village, in a neat little cottage that stood back from the road, and
which was almost concealed by the thick shrubbery and trees that
surrounded it, that FRANK NELSON, the young naturalist, lived. His
father had been a wealthy merchant in the city of Boston; and, after
his death, Mrs. Nelson had removed into the country with her children,
and bought the place of which we are speaking. Frank was a handsome,
high-spirited boy, about sixteen years of age. He was kind,
open-hearted, and generous; and no one in the village had more friends
than he. But his most prominent characteristic was perseverance. He
was a slow thinker, and some, perhaps, at first sight, would have
pronounced him "dull;" but the unyielding application with which he
devoted himself to his studies, or to any thing else he undertook,
overcame all obstacles; and he was further advanced, and his knowledge
was more thorough than that of any other boy of the same age in the
village. He never gave up any thing he undertook because he found it
more difficult than he had expected, or hurried over it in a
"slipshod" manner, for his motto was, "Whatever is worth doing at all,
is worth doing well."
At the time of which we write Frank was just entering upon what he
called a "long vacation." He had attended the high-school of which the
village boasted for nearly eight years, with no intermission but the
vacations, and during this time he had devoted himself with untiring
energy to his studies. He loved his books, and they were his constant
companions. By intense application he succeeded in working his way
into the highest class in school, which was composed of young men much
older than himself, and who looked upon him, not as a fellow-student,
but as a rival, and used every exertion to prevent him from keeping
pace with them. But Frank held his own in spite of their efforts, and
not unfrequently paid them back in their own coin by committing his
lessons more thoroughly than they.
Things went on so for a considerable time. Frank, whose highest
ambition was to be called the best scholar in his class, kept steadily
gaining ground, and one by one the rival students were overtaken and
distanced. But Frank had some smart scholars matched against him, and
he knew that the desired reputation was not to be obtained without a
fierce struggle; and every moment, both in and out of school, was
devoted to study.
He had formerly been passionately fond of rural sports, hunting and
fishing, but now his fine double-barrel gun, which he had always taken
especial care to keep in the best possible "shooting order," hung in
its accustomed place, all covered with dust. His fishing-rod and
basket were in the same condition; and Bravo, his fine hunting-dog,
which was very much averse to a life of inactivity, made use of his
most eloquent whines in vain.
At last Frank's health began to fail rapidly. His mother was the first
to notice it, and at the suggestion of her brother, who lived in
Portland, she decided to take Frank out of school for at least one
year, and allow him but two hours each day for study. Perhaps some of
our young readers would have been very much pleased at the thought of
so long a respite from the tiresome duties of school; but it was a
severe blow to Frank. A few more months, he was confident, would have
carried him ahead of all competitors. But he always submitted to his
mother's requirements, no matter how much at variance with his own
wishes, without murmuring; and when the spring term was ended he took
his books under his arm, and bade a sorrowful farewell to his
It is June, and as Frank has been out of school almost two months,
things begin to wear their old, accustomed look again. The young
naturalist's home, as his schoolmates were accustomed to say, is a
"regular curiosity shop." Perhaps, reader, if we take a stroll about
the premises, we can find something to interest us.
Frank's room, which he called his "study," is in the south wing of the
cottage. It has two windows, one looking out toward the road, and the
other covered with a thick blind of climbing roses, which almost shut
out the light. A bookcase stands beside one of the windows, and if you
were to judge from the books it contained, you would pronounce Frank
quite a literary character. The two upper shelves are occupied by
miscellaneous books, such as Cooper's novels, Shakspeare's works, and
the like. On the next two shelves stand Frank's choicest
books--natural histories; there are sixteen large volumes, and he
knows them almost by heart. The drawers in the lower part of the case
are filled on one side with writing materials, and on the other with
old compositions, essays, and orations, some of which exhibit a power
of imagination and a knowledge of language hardly to be expected in a
boy of Frank's age. On the top of the case, at either end, stand the
busts of Clay and Webster, and between them are two relics of
Revolutionary times, a sword and musket crossed, with the words
"Bunker Hill" printed on a slip of paper fastened to them. On the
opposite side of the room stands a bureau, the drawers of which are
filled with clothing, and on the top are placed two beautiful
specimens of Frank's handiwork. One is a model of a "fore-and-aft"
schooner, with whose rigging or hull the most particular tar could not
find fault. The other represents a "scene at sea." It is inclosed in a
box about two feet long and a foot and a half in hight. One side of
the box is glass, and through it can be seen two miniature vessels.
The craft in the foreground would be known among sailors as a "Jack."
She is neither a brig nor a bark, but rather a combination of both.
She is armed, and the cannon can be seen protruding from her
port-holes. Every sail is set, and she seems to be making great
exertion to escape from the other vessel, which is following close in
her wake. The flag which floats at her peak, bearing the sign of the
"skull and cross-bones," explains it all: the "Jack" is a pirate; and
you could easily tell by the long, low, black hull, and tall, raking
masts that her pursuer is a revenue cutter. The bottom of the box, to
which the little vessels are fastened in such a manner that they
appear to "heel" under the pressure of their canvas, is cut out in
little hollows, and painted blue, with white caps, to resemble the
waves of the ocean; while a thick, black thunder-cloud, which is
painted on the sides of the box, and appears to be rising rapidly,
with the lightning playing around its ragged edges, adds greatly to
the effect of the scene.
At the north end of the room stands a case similar to the one in which
Frank keeps his books, only it is nearly twice as large. It is filled
with stuffed "specimens"--birds, nearly two hundred in number. There
are bald eagles, owls, sparrows, hawks, cranes, crows, a number of
different species of ducks, and other water-fowl; in short, almost
every variety of the feathered creation that inhabited the woods
around Lawrence is here represented.
At the other end of the room stands a bed concealed by curtains.
Before it is a finely carved wash-stand, on which are a pitcher and
bowl, and a towel nicely folded lies beside them. In the corner, at
the foot of the bed, is what Frank called his "sporting cabinet." A
frame has been erected by placing two posts against the wall, about
four feet apart; and three braces, pieces of board about six inches
wide, and long enough to reach from one post to the other, are
fastened securely to them. On the upper brace a fine jointed
fish-pole, such as is used in "heavy" fishing, protected by a neat,
strong bag of drilling, rests on hooks which have been driven securely
into the frame; and from another hook close by hangs a large
fish-basket which Frank, who is a capital fisherman, has often brought
in filled with the captured denizens of the river or some favorite
trout-stream. On the next lower brace hang a powder-flask and
shot-pouch and a double-barrel shot-gun, the latter protected from the
damp and dust by a thick, strong covering. On the lower brace hang the
clothes the young naturalist always wears when he goes hunting or
fishing--a pair of sheep's-gray pantaloons, which will resist water
and dirt to the last extremity, a pair of long boots, a blue
flannel-shirt, such as is generally worn by the sailors, and an
India-rubber coat and cap for rainy weather. A shelf has been fastened
over the frame, and on this stands a tin box, which Frank calls his
"fishing-box." It is divided into apartments, which are filled with
fish-hooks, sinkers, bobbers, artificial flies, spoon-hooks, reels,
and other tackle, all kept in the nicest order.
Frank had one sister, but no brothers. Her name was Julia. She was ten
years of age; and no boy ever had a lovelier sister. Like her brother,
she was unyielding in perseverance, but kind and trusting in
disposition, willing to be told her faults that she might correct
them. Mrs. Nelson was a woman of good, sound sense; always required
implicit obedience of her children; never flattered them, nor allowed
others to do so if she could prevent it. The only other inmate of the
house was Aunt Hannah, as the children called her. She had formerly
been a slave in Virginia, and, after years of toil, had succeeded in
laying by sufficient money to purchase her freedom. We have already
spoken of Frank's dog; but were we to allow the matter to drop here it
would be a mortal offense in the eyes of the young naturalist, for
Bravo held a very prominent position in his affections. He was a
pure-blooded Newfoundland, black as jet, very active and courageous,
and there was nothing in the hunting line that he did not understand;
and it was a well-established saying among the young Nimrods of the
village, that Frank, with Bravo's assistance, could kill more
squirrels in any given time than any three boys in Lawrence.
An Ugly Customer.
Directly behind the cottage stands a long, low, neatly constructed
building, which is divided by partitions into three rooms, of which
one is used as a wood-shed, another for a carpenter's shop, and the
third is what Frank calls his "museum." It contains stuffed birds and
animals, souvenirs of many a well-contested fight. Let us go and
examine them. About the middle of the building is the door which leads
into the museum, and, as you enter, the first object that catches your
eye is a large wild-cat, crouched on a stand which is elevated about
four feet above the floor, his back arched, every hair in his body
sticking toward his head, his mouth open, displaying a frightful array
of teeth, his ears laid back close to his head, and his sharp claws
spread out, presenting altogether a savage appearance; and you are
glad that you see him dead and stuffed, and not alive and running at
liberty in the forest in the full possession of strength. But the
young naturalist once stood face to face with this ugly customer under
very different circumstances.
About forty miles north of Lawrence lives an old man named Joseph
Lewis. He owns about five hundred acres of land, and in summer he
"farms it" very industriously; but as soon as the trapping season
approaches he leaves his property to the care of his hired men, and
spends most of the time in the woods. About two-thirds of his farm is
still in its primeval state, and bears, wild-cats, and panthers abound
in great numbers. The village boys are never more delighted than when
the winter vacation comes, and they can gain the permission of their
parents to spend a fortnight with "Uncle Joe," as they call him.
The old man is always glad to see them, and enlivens the long winter
evenings with many a thrilling story of his early life. During the
winter that had just passed, Frank, in company with his cousin Archie
Winters, of whom more hereafter, paid a visit to Uncle Joe. One cold,
stormy morning, as they sat before a blazing fire, cracking
hickory-nuts, the farmer burst suddenly into the house, which was
built of logs, and contained but one room, and commenced taking down
"What's the matter, Uncle Joe?" inquired Archie.
"Matter!" repeated the farmer; "why, some carnal varmint got into my
sheep-pen last night, and walked off with some of my mutton. Come," he
continued, as he slung on his bullet-pouch, "let's go and shoot him."
Frank and Archie were ready in a few minutes; and, after dropping a
couple of buck-shot into each barrel of their guns, followed the
farmer out to the sheep-pen. It was storming violently, and it was
with great difficulty that they could find the "varmint's" track.
After half an hour's search, however, with the assistance of the
farmer's dogs, they discovered it, and began to follow it up, the dogs
leading the way. But the snow had fallen so deep that it almost
covered the scent, and they frequently found themselves at fault.
After following the track for two hours, the dogs suddenly stopped at
a pile of hemlock-boughs, and began to whine and scratch as if they
had discovered something.
"Wal," said Uncle Joe, dropping his rifle into the hollow of his arm,
"the hounds have found some of the mutton, but the varmint has took
himself safe off."
The boys quickly threw aside the boughs, and in a few moments the
mangled remains of one of the sheep were brought to light. The thief
had probably had more than enough for one meal, and had hidden the
surplus carefully away, intending, no doubt, to return and make a
meal of it when food was not quite so plenty.
"Wal, boys," said the farmer, "no use to try to foller the varmint any
further. Put the sheep back where you found it, and this afternoon you
can take one of your traps and set it so that you can ketch him when
he comes back for what he has left." So saying, he shouldered his
rifle and walked off, followed by his hounds.
In a few moments the boys had placed every thing as they had found it
as nearly as possible, and hurried on after the farmer.
That afternoon, after disposing of an excellent dinner, Frank and
Archie started into the woods to set a trap for the thief. They took
with them a large wolf-trap, weighing about thirty pounds. It was a
"savage thing," as Uncle Joe said, with a powerful spring on each
side, which severely taxed their united strength in setting it; and
its thick, stout jaws, which came together with a noise like the
report of a gun, were armed with long, sharp teeth; and if a wolf or
panther once got his foot between them, he might as well give up
without a struggle. Instead of their guns, each shouldered an ax.
Frank took possession of the trap, and Archie carried a piece of heavy
chain with which to fasten the "clog" to the trap. Half an hour's walk
brought them to the place where the wild-cat had buried his plunder.
After considerable exertion they succeeded in setting the trap, and
placed it in such a manner that it would be impossible for any animal
to get at the sheep without being caught. The chain was them fastened
to the trap, and to this was attached the clog, which was a long,
heavy limb. Trappers, when they wish to take such powerful animals as
the bear or panther, always make use of the clog. They never fasten
the trap to a stationary object. When the animal finds that he is
caught, his first impulse is to run. The clog is not heavy enough to
hold him still, but as he drags it through the woods, it is
continually catching on bushes and frees, and retarding his progress.
But if the animal should find himself unable to move at all, his long,
sharp teeth would be put to immediate use, and he would hobble off on
three feet, leaving the other in the trap.
After adjusting the clog to their satisfaction, they threw a few
handfuls of snow over the trap and chain, and, after bestowing a few
finishing touches, they shouldered their axes and started toward the
house. The next morning, at the first peep of day, Frank and Archie
started for the woods, with their dogs close at their heels. As they
approached the spot where the trap had been placed they held their
guns in readiness, expecting to find the wild-cat secure. But they
were disappointed; every thing was just as they had left it, and
there were no signs of the wild-cat having been about during the
night. Every night and morning for a week they were regular in their
visits to the trap, but not even a twig had been moved. Two weeks more
passed, and during this time they visited the trap but once. At length
the time allotted for their stay at Uncle Joe's expired. On the
evening previous to the day set for their departure, as they sat
before the huge, old-fashioned fireplace, telling stories and eating
nuts. Uncle Joe suddenly inquired, "Boys, did you bring in your trap
that you set for that wild-cat?"
They had not thought of it; they had been hunting nearly every day,
enjoying rare sport, and they had entirely forgotten that they had a
trap to look after.
"We shall be obliged to let it go until to-morrow," said Frank.
And the next morning, as soon as it was light, he was up and dressed,
and shouldering an ax, set out with Brave as a companion, leaving
Archie in a sound sleep. It was very careless in him not to take his
gun--a "regular boy's trick," as Uncle Joe afterward remarked; but it
did not then occur to him that he was acting foolishly; and he trudged
off, whistling merrily. A few moments' rapid walking brought him to
the place where the trap had been set. How he started! There lay the
remains of the sheep all exposed. The snow near it was saturated with
blood, and the trap, clog, and all were gone. What was he to do? He
was armed with an ax, and he knew that with it he could make but a
poor show of resistance against an enraged wild animal; and he knew,
too, that one that could walk off with fifty pounds fast to his leg
would be an ugly customer to handle. He had left Brave some distance
back, digging at a hole in a stump where a mink had taken refuge, and
he had not yet come up. If the Newfoundlander had been by his side he
would have felt comparatively safe. Frank stood for some minutes
undecided how to act. Should he go back to the house and get
assistance? Even if he had concluded to do so he would not have
considered himself a coward; for, attacking a wounded wild-cat in the
woods, with nothing but an ax to depend on, was an undertaking that
would have made a larger and stronger person than Frank hesitate.
Their astonishing activity and strength, and wonderful tenacity of
life, render them antagonists not to be despised. Besides, Frank was
but a boy, and although strong and active for his age, and possessing
a good share of determined courage that sometimes amounted almost to
rashness, it must be confessed that his feelings were not of the most
enviable nature. He had not yet discovered the animal, but he knew
that he could not be a great distance off, for the weight of the trap
and clog would retard him exceedingly; and he judged, from the
appearance of things, that he had not been long in the trap; perhaps,
at that very moment, his glaring eyes were fastened upon him from some
But the young naturalist was not one to hesitate long because there
was difficulty or danger before him. He had made up his mind from the
first to capture that wild-cat if possible, and now the opportunity
was fairly before him. His hand was none of the steadiest as he drew
off his glove and placed his fingers to his lips; and the whistle that
followed was low and tremulous, very much unlike the loud, clear call
with which he was accustomed to let Brave know that he was wanted and
he hardly expected that the dog would hear it. A faint, distant bark,
however, announced that the call had been heard, and in a few moments
Frank heard Brave's long-measured bounds as he dashed through the
bushes; and when the faithful animal came in sight, he felt that he
had a friend that would stand by him to the last extremity. At this
juncture Frank was startled by a loud rattling in the bushes, and the
next moment the wild-cat sprang upon a fallen log, not half a dozen
rods from the place where he was standing, and, growling fiercely,
crouched and lashed his sides with his tail as if about to spring
toward him. The trap hung from one of his hind-legs, but by some means
he had relieved himself of the clog and chain, and he moved as if the
weight of the trap were no inconvenience whatever. The young
naturalist was frightened indeed, but bravely stood his ground, and
clutched his ax desperately. What would he not have given to have had
his trusty double-barrel in his hands! But he was not allowed much
time for reflection. Brave instantly discovered the wild-cat, and
sprang toward him, uttering an angry growl. Frank raised his ax and
rushed forward to his assistance, and cheered on the dog with a voice
which, to save his life, he could not raise above a whisper. The
wild-cat crouched lower along the log, and his actions seemed to
indicate that he intended to show fight. Brave's long, eager bounds
brought him nearer and nearer to his enemy. A moment more and he could
have seized him; but the wild-cat suddenly turned and sprang lightly
into the air, and, catching his claws into a tree that stood full
twenty feet distant, ascended it like a streak of light; and, after
settling himself between two large limbs, glared down upon his foes as
if he were already ashamed of having made a retreat, and had half a
mind to return and give them battle. Brave reached the log just a
moment too late, and finding his enemy fairly out of his reach, he
quietly seated himself at the foot of the tree and waited for Frank to
"Good gracious!" exclaimed the young naturalist, wiping his forehead
with his coat-sleeve, (for the exciting scene through which he had
just passed had brought the cold sweat from every pore in his body);
"it is a lucky circumstance for you and me, Brave, that the varmint
did not stand and show fight."
Then ordering the dog to "sit down and watch him," the young
naturalist threw down his ax, and started toward the house for his
gun. He was still very much excited, fearful that the wild-cat might
take it into his head to come down and give the dog battle, in which
case he would be certain to escape; for, although Brave was a very
powerful and courageous dog, he could make but a poor show against the
sharp teeth and claws of the wild-cat. The more Frank thought of it,
the more excited he became, and the faster he ran. In a very few
moments he reached the house, and burst into the room where Uncle Joe
and Archie and two or three hired men sat at breakfast. Frank seemed
not to notice them, but made straight across the room toward the place
where his shot-gun hung against the wall, upsetting chairs in his
progress, and creating a great confusion.
"What in tarnation is the matter?" exclaimed the farmer, rising to his
"I've found the wild-cat," answered Frank, in a scarcely audible
"What's that?" shouted Archie, springing to his feet, and upsetting
his chair and coffee-cup.
But Frank could not wait to answer. One bound carried him across the
floor and out of the door, and he started across the field at the top
of his speed, dropping a handful of buck-shot into each barrel of his
gun as he went. It was not until Frank had left the house that Archie,
so to speak, came to himself. He had been so astonished at his
cousin's actions and the announcement that he had "found the
wild-cat," that he seemed to be deprived of action. But Frank had not
made a dozen steps from the house before Archie made a dash for his
gun, and occasioned a greater uproar than Frank had done; and, not
stopping to hear the farmer's injunction to "be careful," he darted
out the door, which Frank in his hurry had left open, and started
toward the woods at a rate of speed that would have done credit to a
larger boy than himself. But Frank gained rapidly on him; and when he
reached the tree where the wild-cat had taken refuge, Archie was full
twenty rods behind. He found that the animals had not changed their
positions. The wild-cat was glaring fiercely down upon the dog as if
endeavoring to look him out of countenance; and Brave, seated on his
haunches, with his head turned on one side, and his tongue hanging out
of the side of his mouth, was steadily returning the gaze. Frank took
a favorable position at a little distance from the foot of the tree,
and cocking both barrels, so as to be ready for any emergency, in case
the first should not prove fatal, raised his gun to his shoulder, and
glancing along the clean, brown tube, covered one of the wild-cat's
eyes with the fatal sight, and pressed the trigger. There was a sharp
report, and the animal fell from his perch stone-dead. At this moment
Archie came up. After examining their prize to their satisfaction, the
boys commenced looking around through the bushes to find the clog
which had been detached from the trap. After some moments' search they
discovered it; and Archie unfastened the chain, and shouldering the ax
and guns, he started toward the house. Frank followed after, with the
wild-cat on his shoulder, the trap still hanging to his leg. The skin
was carefully taken off; and when Archie and Frank got home, they
stuffed it, and placed it as we now see it.
Let us now proceed to examine the other objects in the museum. A wide
shelf, elevated about four feet above the floor, extends entirely
around the room, and on this the specimens are mounted. On one side of
the door stands a tall, majestic elk, with his head thrown forward,
and his wide-spreading antlers lowered, as if he meant to dispute our
entrance. On the opposite side is a large black fox, which stands with
one foot raised and his ears thrown forward, as if listening to some
strange sound. This is the same fox which so long held possession of
Reynard's Island; and the young naturalist and his cousin were the
ones who succeeded in capturing him. The next two scenes are what
Frank calls his "masterpieces." The first is a large buck, running for
dear life, closely followed by a pack of gaunt, hungry wolves, five in
number, with their sharp-pointed ears laid back close to their heads,
their tongues hanging out of their mouths, and their lips spotted with
foam The flanks of the buck are dripping with blood from wounds made
by their long teeth. In the next scene the buck is at bay. Almost
tired out, or, perhaps, too closely pressed by his pursuers, he has at
length turned furiously upon them, to sell his life as dearly as
possible. Two of the wolves are lying a little distance off, where
they have been tossed by the powerful buck, one dead, the other
disabled; and the buck's sharp antlers are buried deep in the side of
another, which had attempted to seize him.
Well may Frank be proud of these specimens, for they are admirably
executed. The animals are neatly stuffed, and look so lifelike and the
positions are so natural, that you could almost fancy that you hear
the noise of the scuffle. The next scene represents an owl, which,
while engaged in one of his nocturnal plundering expeditions, has been
overtaken by daylight, and not being able to reach his usual
hiding-place, he has taken refuge in a clump of bushes, where he has
been discovered by a flock of his inveterate enemies, the crows. The
owl sits upon his perch, glaring around with his great eyes, while his
tormentors surround him on all sides, their mouths wide open, as if
reviling their enemy with all their might. The next scene represents a
flock of ducks sporting in the water, and a sly old fox, concealed
behind the trunk of a tree close by, is watching their motions,
evidently with the intention of "bagging" one of them for his supper.
In the next scene he is running off, at full speed, with one of the
ducks thrown over his shoulder; and the others, with their mouths open
as if quacking loudly, are just rising from the water. In the next
scene is a large black wolf, which has just killed a lamb, and
crouches over it with open mouth, as if growling fiercely at something
which is about to interrupt his feast. The next scene represents a
fish-hawk, which has just risen from the lake, with a large trout
struggling in his talons; and just above him is a bald-eagle, with his
wings drawn close to his body, in the act of swooping down upon the
fish-hawk, to rob him of his hard-earned booty. In the next scene a
raccoon is attempting to seize a robin, which he has frightened off
her nest. The thief had crawled out on the limb on which the nest was
placed, intending, no doubt, to make a meal of the bird; but mother
Robin, ever on the watch, had discovered her enemy, and flown off just
in time to escape. The next scene is a large "dead-fall" trap, nicely
set, with the bait placed temptingly within; and before it crouches a
sleek marten, peeping into it as if undecided whether to enter or
All these specimens have been cured and stuffed by Frank and Archie;
and, with the exception of the deer and wolves, they had killed them
all. The latter had been furnished by Archie's father. The boys had
never killed a deer, and he had promised to take them, during the
coming winter with him up into the northern part of the state, where
they would have an opportunity of trying their skill on the noble
But the museum is not the only thing that has given Frank the name of
the "young naturalist." He is passionately fond of pets, and he has a
pole shanty behind the museum, which he keeps well stocked with
animals and birds. In one cage he has a young hawk, which he has just
captured; in another, a couple of squirrels, which have become so tame
that he can allow them to run about the shanty without the least fear
of their attempting to escape. Then he has two raccoons, several
pigeons, kingbirds, quails, two young eagles, and a fox, all
undergoing a thorough system of training. But his favorite pets are a
pair of kingbirds and a crow, which are allowed to run at large all
the time. They do not live on very good terms with each other. In
their wild state they are enemies, and each seems to think the other
has no business about the cottage; and Frank has been the unwilling
witness to many a desperate fight between them, in which the poor
crow always comes off second best. Then, to console himself, he will
fly upon Frank's shoulder, cawing with all his might, as if scolding
him for not lending some assistance. To make amends for his defeat,
Frank gives him a few kernels of corn, and then shows him a hawk
sailing through the air; and Sam, as he calls the crow, is off in an
instant, and, after tormenting the hawk until he reaches the woods, he
will always return.
Not a strange bird is allowed to come about the cottage. The
kingbirds, which have a nest in a tree close by the house, keep a
sharp look-out; and hawks, eagles, crows, and even those of their own
species, all suffer alike. But now and then a spry little wren pays a
visit to the orchard, and then there is sport indeed. The wren is a
great fighting character, continually getting into broils with the
other birds, and he has no notion of being driven off; and, although
the kingbirds, with Sam's assistance, generally succeed in expelling
the intruder, it is only after a hard fight.
Directly opposite the door that opens into the museum is another
entrance, which leads into a room which Frank calls his shop. A
work-bench has been neatly fitted up in one corner, at the end of
which stands a large chest filled with carpenter's tools. On the bench
are several half-finished specimens of Frank's skill--a jointed
fish-pole, two or three finely-shaped hulls, and a miniature frigate,
which he is making for one of his friends. The shop and tools are kept
in the nicest order, and Frank spends every rainy day at his bench.
The young naturalist is also a good sailor, and has the reputation of
understanding the management of a sail-boat as well as any other boy
in the village. He has two boats, which are in the creek, tied to the
wharf in front of the house. One of them is a light skiff, which he
frequently uses in going to and from the village and on his fishing
excursions, and the other is a scow, about twenty feet long and six
feet wide, which he built himself. He calls her the Speedwell. He has
no sail-boat, but he has passed hour after hour trying to conjure up
some plan by which he might be enabled to possess himself of one. Such
a one as he wants, and as most of the village have, would cost fifty
dollars. Already he has laid by half that amount; but how is he to get
the rest? He has begun to grow impatient. The yachting season has just
opened; every day the river is dotted with white sails; trials of
speed between the swiftest sailers come off almost every hour, and he
is obliged to stand and look on, or content himself with rowing around
in his skiff. It is true he has many friends who are always willing to
allow him a seat in their boats, but that does not satisfy him. He has
determined to have a yacht of his own, if there is any honest way for
him to get it. For almost a year he has carefully laid aside every
penny, and but half the necessary sum has been saved. How to get the
remainder is the difficulty. He never asks his mother for money; he is
too independent for that; besides, he has always been taught to rely
on his own resources, and he has made up his mind that, if he can not
_earn_ his boat, he will go without it.
Three or four days after the commencement of our story, Frank might
have been seen, about five o'clock one pleasant morning, seated on the
wharf in front of the house, with Brave at his side. The question how
he should get his boat had been weighing heavily upon his mind, and he
had come to the conclusion that something must be done, and that
"Well," he soliloquized, "my chance of getting a sail-boat this season
is rather slim, I'm afraid. But I've made up my mind to have one, and
I won't give it up now. Let me see! I wonder how the Sunbeam [meaning
his skiff] would sail? I mean to try her. No," he added, on second
thought, "she couldn't carry canvas enough to sail with one of the
village yachts. I have it!" he exclaimed at length, springing to his
feet. "The Speedwell! I wonder if I couldn't make a sloop of her. At
any rate, I will get her up into my shop and try it."
Frank, while he was paying a visit to his cousin in Portland, had
witnessed a regatta, in which the Peerless, a large, schooner-rigged
scow, had beaten the swiftest yachts of which the city boasted; and he
saw no reason why his scow could not do the same. The idea was no
sooner conceived than he proceeded to put it into execution. He sprang
up the bank, with Brave close at his heels, and in a few moments
disappeared in the wood-shed. A large wheelbarrow stood in one corner
of the shed, and this Frank pulled from its place, and, after taking
off the sides, wheeled it down to the creek, and placed it on the
beach, a little distance below the wharf. He then untied the
painter--a long rope by which the scow was fastened to the wharf--and
drew the scow down to the place where he had left the wheelbarrow. He
stood for some moments holding the end of the painter in his hand, and
thinking how he should go to work to get the scow, which was very
heavy and unwieldy, upon the wheelbarrow. But Frank was a true Yankee,
and fruitful in expedients, and he soon hit upon a plan, which he was
about putting into execution, when a strong, cheery voice called out:
"Arrah, me boy! What'll yer be after doing with the boat?"
Frank looked up and saw Uncle Mike, as the boys called him--a
good-natured Irishman, who lived in a small rustic cottage not far
from Mrs. Nelson's--coming down the bank.
"Good morning, Uncle Mike," said Frank, politely accepting the
Irishman's proffered hand and shaking it cordially. "I want to get
this scow up to my shop; but I'm afraid it is a little too heavy for
me to manage."
"So it is, intirely," said Mike, as he divested himself of his coat,
and commenced rolling up his shirt-sleeves. "Allow me to lend yer a
helpin' hand." And, taking the painter from Frank's hand, he drew the
scow out of the water, high upon the bank. He then placed his strong
arms under one side of the boat, and Frank took hold of the other,
and, lifting together, they raised it from the ground, and placed it
upon the wheelbarrow. "Now, Master Frank," said Mike, "if you will
take hold and steady her, I'll wheel her up to the shop for you."
Frank accordingly placed his hands upon the boat in such a manner that
he could keep her steady and assist Mike at the same time; and the
latter, taking hold of the "handles," as he termed them, commenced
wheeling her up the bank. The load was heavy, but Mike was a sturdy
fellow, and the scow was soon at the door of the shop. Frank then
placed several sticks of round wood, which he had brought out of the
wood-shed, upon the ground, about three feet apart, to serve as
rollers, and, by their united efforts, the Speedwell was placed upon
her side on these rollers, and in a few moments was left bottom upward
on the floor of the shop.
A Race on the Water.
A week passed, and the Speedwell again rode proudly at her moorings,
in front of the cottage; but her appearance was greatly changed. A
"center-board" and several handy lockers had been neatly fitted up in
her, and her long, low hull painted black on the outside and white on
the inside; and her tall, raking mast and faultless rigging gave her
quite a ship-like appearance.
Frank had just been putting on a few finishing touches, and now stood
on the wharf admiring her. It was almost night, and consequently he
could not try her sailing qualities that day; and he was so impatient
to discover whether or not he had made a failure, that it seemed
impossible for him to wait.
While he was thus engaged, he heard the splashing of oars, and,
looking up, discovered two boys rowing toward him in a light skiff As
they approached, he recognized George and Harry Butler, two of his
most intimate acquaintances. They were brothers, and lived about a
quarter of a mile from Mrs. Nelson's, but they and Frank were together
almost all the time. Harry, who was about a year older than Frank, was
a very impulsive fellow, and in a moment of excitement often said and
did things for which he felt sorry when he had time to think the
matter over; but he was generous and good-hearted, and if he found
that he had wronged any one, he never failed to make ample reparation.
George, who was just Frank's age, was a jolly, good-natured boy, and
would suffer almost any indignity rather than retaliate.
"Well, Frank," said Harry, as soon as they came within speaking
distance, "George and I wanted a little exercise, so we thought we
would row up and see what had become of you. Why don't you come down
and see a fellow? Hallo!" he exclaimed, on noticing the change in the
Speedwell's appearance, "what have you been trying to do with your old
"Why, don't you see?" said Frank. "I've been trying to make a yacht
out of her."
"How does she sail?" inquired George.
"I don't know. I have just finished her, and have not had time to try
her sailing qualities yet."
"I don't believe she will sail worth a row of pins," said Harry,
confidently, as he drew the skiff alongside the Speedwell, and climbed
over into her. "But I'll tell you what it is," he continued, peeping
into the lockers and examining the rigging, "you must have had plenty
of hard work to do in fixing her over. You have really made a nice
boat out of her."
"Yes, I call it a first-rate job," said George. "Did you make the
sails yourself, Frank?"
"Yes," answered Frank. "I did all the work on her. She ought to be a
good sailer, after all the trouble I've had. How would you like to
spend an hour with me on the river to-morrow? You will then have an
opportunity to judge for yourself."
The boys readily agreed to this proposal, and, after a few moments'
more conversation, they got into their skiff and pulled down the
creek. The next morning, about four o'clock, Frank awoke, and he had
hardly opened his eyes before he was out on the floor and dressing. He
always rose at this hour, both summer and winter; and he had been so
long in the habit of it, that it had become a kind of second nature
with him. Going to the window, he drew aside the curtain and looked
out. The Speedwell rode safely at the wharf, gallantly mounting the
swells which were raised by quite a stiff breeze that was blowing
directly down the creek. He amused himself for about two hours in his
shop; and after he had eaten his breakfast, he began to get ready to
start on the proposed excursion. A large basket, filled with
refreshments, was carefully stowed away in one of the lockers of the
Speedwell, the sails were hoisted, the painter was cast off, and Frank
took his seat at the helm, and the boat moved from the shore "like a
thing of life." The creek was too narrow to allow of much maneuvering,
and Frank was obliged to forbear judging of her sailing qualities
until he should reach the river. But, to his delight, he soon
discovered one thing, and that was, that before the wind the Speedwell
was no mean sailer. A few moments' run brought him to Mr. Butler's
wharf, where he found George and Harry waiting for him. Frank brought
the Speedwell around close to the place where they were standing in
splendid style, and the boys could not refrain from expressing their
admiration at the handsome manner in which she obeyed her helm. They
clambered down into the boat, and seated themselves on the middle
thwarts, where they could assist Frank in managing the sails, and in a
few moments they reached the river.
"There comes Bill Johnson!" exclaimed George, suddenly, "just behind
the Long Dock."
The boys looked in the direction indicated, and saw the top of the
masts and sails of a boat which was moving slowly along on the other
side of the dock.
"Now, Frank," said Harry, "turn out toward the middle of the river,
and get as far ahead of him as you can, and see if we can't reach the
island [meaning Strawberry Island] before he does."
Frank accordingly turned the Speedwell's head toward the island, and
just at that moment the sail-boat came in sight. The Champion--for
that was her name--was classed among the swiftest sailers about
Lawrence; in fact, there was no sloop that could beat her. She was a
clinker-built boat, about seventeen feet long, and her breadth of
beam--that is, the distance across her from one side to the other--was
great compared with her length. She was rigged like Frank's boat,
having one mast and carrying a mainsail and jib; but as her sails were
considerably larger than those of the Speedwell, and as she was a much
lighter boat, the boys all expected that she would reach the island,
which the young skippers always regarded as "home" in their races,
long before the Speedwell. The Champion was sailed by two boys.
William Johnson, her owner, sat in the stern steering, and Ben. Lake,
a quiet, odd sort of a boy, sat on one of the middle thwarts managing
the sails. As soon as she rounded the lock, Harry Butler sprang to his
feet, and, seizing a small coil of rope that lay in the boat, called
"Bill! if you will catch this line, we'll tow you."
"No, I thank you," answered William. "I think we can get along very
well without any of your help."
"Yes," chimed in Ben. Lake, "and we'll catch you before you are
half-way to the island."
"We'll see about that!" shouted George, in reply.
By this time the Speedwell was fairly before the wind, the sails were
hauled taut, the boys seated themselves on the windward gunwale, and
the race began in earnest. But they soon found that it would be much
longer than they had imagined. Instead of the slow, straining motion
which they had expected, the Speedwell flew through the water like a
duck, mounting every little swell in fine style, and rolling the foam
back from her bow in great masses. She was, beyond a doubt, a fast
George and Harry shouted and hurrahed until they were hoarse, and
Frank was so overjoyed that he could scarcely speak.
"How she sails!" exclaimed Harry. "If the Champion beats this, she
will have to go faster than she does now."
Their pursuers were evidently much surprised at this sudden exhibition
of the Speedwell's "sailing qualities;" and William hauled more to the
wind and "crowded" his boat until she stood almost on her side, and
the waves frequently washed into her.
"They will overtake us," said Frank, at length; "but I guess we can
keep ahead of them until we cross the river."
And so it proved. The Champion began to gain--it was very slowly, but
still she did gain--and when the Speedwell had accomplished half the
distance across the river, their pursuers were not more than three or
four rods behind.
At length they reached the island, and, as they rounded the point,
they came to a spot where the wind was broken by the trees. The
Speedwell gradually slackened her headway, and the Champion, which
could sail much faster than she before a light breeze, gained rapidly,
and soon came alongside.
"There is only one fault with your boat, Frank," said William; "her
sails are too small. She can carry twice as much canvas as you have
got on her now."
"Yes," answered Frank, "I find that I have made a mistake; but the
fact is, I did not know how she would behave, and was afraid she would
capsize. My first hard work shall be to make some new sails."
"You showed us a clean pair of heels, any way," said Ben. Lake,
clambering over into the Speedwell. "Why, how nice and handy every
thing is! Every rope is just where you can lay your hand on it."
"Let's go ashore and see how we are off for a crop of strawberries,"
William had pulled down his sails when he came alongside, and while
the conversation was going on the Speedwell had been towing the
Champion toward the island, and, just as Harry spoke, their bows ran
high upon the sand. The boys sprang out, and spent two hours in
roaming over the island in search of strawberries; but it was a little
too early in the season for them, and, although there were "oceans" of
green ones, they gathered hardly a pint of ripe ones.
After they had eaten the refreshments which Frank had brought with
him, they started for home. As the wind blew from the main shore, they
were obliged to "tack," and the Speedwell again showed some fine
sailing, and when the Champion entered the creek, she was not a
stone's throw behind.
Frank reached home that night a good deal elated at his success. After
tying the Speedwell to the wharf, he pulled down the sails and carried
them into his shop. He had promised, before leaving George and Harry,
to meet them at five o'clock the next morning to start on a fishing
excursion, and, consequently, could do nothing toward the new sails
for his boat for two days.
A Fishing Excursion.
Precisely at the time agreed upon, Frank might have been seen sitting
on the wharf in front of Mr. Butler's house. In his hand he carried a
stout, jointed fish-pole, neatly stowed away in a strong bag of
drilling, and under his left arm hung his fish-basket, suspended by a
broad belt, which crossed his breast. In this he carried his hooks,
reels, trolling-lines, dinner, and other things necessary for the
trip. Brave stood quietly by his side, patiently waiting for the word
to start. They were not obliged to wait long, for hasty steps sounded
on the gravel walk that led up to the house, the gate swung open, and
George and Harry appeared, their arms filled with their
"You're on time, I see," said Harry, as he climbed down into a large
skiff that was tied to the wharf, "Give us your fish-pole."
Frank accordingly handed his pole and basket down to Harry, who stowed
them away in the boat. He and George then went into the boat-house,
and one brought out a pair of oars and a sail, which they intended to
use if the wind should be fair, and the other carried two pails of
minnows, which had been caught the night before, to serve as bait.
They then got into the boat, and Frank took one oar and Harry the
other, and Brave stationed himself at his usual place in the bow.
George took the helm, and they began to move swiftly down the creek
toward the river. About a quarter of a mile below the mouth of the
creek was a place, covering half an acre, where the water was about
four feet deep, and the bottom was covered with smooth, flat stones.
This was known as the "black-bass ground," and large numbers of these
fish were caught there every season. George turned the boat's head
toward this place, and, thrusting his hand into his pocket, drew out a
"trolling-line," and, dropping the hook into the water behind the
boat, began to unwind the line. The trolling-hook (such as is
generally used in fishing for black-bass) can be used only in a strong
current, or when the boat is in rapid motion through the water. The
hook is concealed by feathers or a strip of red flannel, and a piece
of shining metal in the shape of a spoon-bowl is fastened to it in
such a manner as to revolve around it when the hook is drawn rapidly
through the water. This is fastened to the end of a long, stout line,
and trailed over the stern of the boat, whose motion keeps it near the
surface. It can be seen for a great distance in the water, and the
fish, mistaking it for their prey, dart forward and seize it.
A few moments' pulling brought them to the bass ground, and George,
holding the stick on which the line had been wound in his hand, waited
impatiently for a "bite." They had hardly entered the ground when
several heavy pulls at the line announced that the bait had been
taken. George jerked in return, and, springing to his feet, commenced
hauling in the line hand over hand, while whatever was at the other
end jerked and pulled in a way that showed that he was unwilling to
approach the surface. The boys ceased rowing, and Frank exclaimed,
"You've got a big one there, George. Don't give him any slack, or
you'll lose him."
"Haul in lively," chimed in Harry. "There he breaches!" he continued,
as the fish--a fine bass, weighing, as near as they could guess, six
pounds--leaped entirely out of the water in his mad efforts to escape.
"I tell you he's a beauty."
Frank took up the "dip-net," which the boys had used in catching the
minnows, and, standing by George's side, waited for him to bring the
fish within reach, so that he might assist in "landing" him. The
struggle was exciting, but short. The bass was very soon exhausted,
and George drew him alongside the boat, in which he was soon safely
deposited under one of the seats.
They rowed around the ground for half an hour, each taking his turn at
the line, and during that time they captured a dozen fish. The bass
then began to stop biting; and Frank, who was at the helm, turned the
boat toward the "perch-bed," which was some distance further down the
river. It was situated at the outer edge of a bank of weeds, which
lined the river on both sides. The weeds sprouted from the bottom in
the spring, and by fall they reached the hight of four or five feet
above the surface of the water. They were then literally swarming with
wild ducks; but at the time of which we write, as it was only the
latter part of June, they had not yet appeared above the water. The
perch-bed was soon reached, and Harry, who was pulling the bow-oar,
rose to his feet, and, raising the anchor, which was a large stone
fastened to the boat by a long, stout rope, lifted it over the side,
and let it down carefully into the water. The boat swung around until
her bow pointed up stream, and the boys found themselves in the right
spot to enjoy a good day's sport.
Frank, who was always foremost in such matters, had his pole rigged
in a trice, and, baiting his hook with one of the minnows, dropped it
into the water just outside of the weeds. Half a dozen hungry perch
instantly rose to the surface, and one of them, weighing nearly a
pound, seized the bait and darted off with it, and the next moment was
dangling through the air toward the boat.
"That's a good-sized fish," said Harry, as he fastened his reel on his
"Yes," answered Frank, taking his prize off the hook and throwing it
into the boat; "and we shall have fine sport for a little while."
"But they will stop biting when the sun gets a little warmer; so we
had better make the most of our time," observed George.
By this time the other boys had rigged their poles, and soon two more
large perch lay floundering in the boat. For almost two hours they
enjoyed fine sport, as Frank had said they would, and they were too
much engaged to think of being hungry. But soon the fish began to stop
biting, and Harry, who had waited impatiently for almost five minutes
for a "nibble," drew up his line and opened a locker in the stern of
the boat, and, taking out a basket containing their dinner, was about
to make an inroad on its contents, when he discovered a boat, rowed by
a boy about his own age, shoot rapidly around a point that extended
for a considerable distance out into the river, and turn toward the
spot where they were anchored.
"Boys," he exclaimed, "here comes Charley Morgan!"
"Charley Morgan," repeated Frank. "Who is he?"
"Why, he is the new-comer," answered George. "He lives in the large
brick house on the hill."
Charley Morgan had formerly lived in New York. His father was a
speculator, and was looked upon by some as a wealthy man; but it was
hinted by those who knew him best that if his debts were all paid he
would have but little ready money left. Be that as it may, Mr. Morgan
and his family, at any rate, lived in style, and seemed desirous of
outshining all their neighbors and acquaintances. Becoming weary of
city life, they had decided to move into the country, and, purchasing
a fine village lot in Lawrence, commenced building a house upon it.
Although the village could boast of many fine dwellings, the one on
Tower Hill, owned by Mr. Morgan, surpassed them all, and, as is always
the case in such places, every one was eager to discover who was to
occupy the elegant mansion. When the house was completed, Mr. Morgan
returned to New York to bring on his family, leaving three or four
"servants," as he called them, to look after his affairs; and the
Julia Burton landed at the wharf, one pleasant morning, a splendid
open carriage, drawn by a span of jet-black horses. The carriage
contained Mr. Morgan and his family, consisting of his wife and one
son--the latter about seventeen years old. At the time of his
introduction to the reader they had been in the village about a week.
Charles, by his haughty, overbearing manner, had already driven away
from him the most sensible of the village boys who had become
acquainted with him; but there are those every-where who seem, by some
strange fatality, to choose the most unworthy of their acquaintances
for their associates; and there were several boys in Lawrence who
looked upon Charles as a first-rate fellow and a very desirable
George and Harry, although they had frequently seen the "new-comer,"
had not had an opportunity to get acquainted with him; and Frank who,
as we have said, lived in the outskirts of the village, and who had
been very busy at work for the last week on his boat, had not seen him
"What sort of a boy is he?" inquired the latter, continuing the
conversation which we have so unceremoniously broken off.
"I don't know," replied Harry. "Some of the boys like him, but Ben.
Lake says he's the biggest rascal in the village. He's got two or
three guns, half a dozen fish-poles, and, by what I hear the boys
say, he must be a capital sportsman. But he tells the most ridiculous
stories about what he has done."
By this time Charles had almost reached them, and, when he came
alongside, he rested on his oars and called out,
"Well, boys, how many fish have you caught?"
"So many," answered George, holding up the string, which contained
over a hundred perch and black-bass. "Have you caught any thing?"
"Not much to brag of," answered Charles; "I hooked up a few little
perch just behind the point. But that is a tip-top string of yours."
"Yes, pretty fair," answered Harry. "You see we know where to go."
"That does make some difference," said Charles. "But as soon as I know
the good places, I'll show you how to catch fish."
"We will show you the good fishing-grounds any time," said George.
"Oh, I don't want any of your help. I can tell by the looks of a place
whether there are any fish to be caught or not. But you ought to see
the fishing-grounds we have in New York," he continued. "Why, many a
time I've caught three hundred in less than half an hour, and some of
them would weigh ten pounds."
"Did you catch them with a hook and line?" inquired George.
"Of course I did! What else should I catch them with? I should like to
see one of you trying to handle a ten or fifteen-pound fish with
nothing but a trout-pole."
"Could you do it?" inquired Harry, struggling hard to suppress a
"Do it? I _have_ done it many a time. But is there any hunting around
"Plenty of it."
"Well," continued Charles, "I walked all over the woods this morning,
and couldn't find any thing."
"It is not the season for hunting now," said George; "but in the fall
there are lots of ducks, pigeons, squirrels, and turkeys, and in the
winter the woods are full of minks, and now and then a bear or deer;
and the swamps are just the places to kill muskrats."
"I'd just like to go hunting with some of you. I'll bet I can kill
more game in a day than any one in the village."
The boys made no reply to this confident assertion, for the fact was
that they were too full of laughter to trust themselves to speak.
"I'll bet you haven't got any thing in the village that can come up to
this," continued Charles; and as he spoke he raised a light,
beautifully-finished rifle from the bottom of the boat, and held it up
to the admiring gaze of the boys.
"That is a beauty," said Harry, who wished to continue the
conversation as long as possible, in order to hear some more of
Charles's "large stories." "How far will it shoot?"
"It cost me a hundred dollars," answered Charles, "and I've killed
bears and deer with it, many a time, as far as across this river
Charles did not hesitate to say this, for he was talking only to
"simple-minded country boys," as he called them, and he supposed he
could say what he pleased and they would believe it. His auditors, who
before had been hardly able to contain themselves, were now almost
bursting with laughter. Frank and George, however, managed to draw on
a sober face, while Harry turned away his head and stuffed his
handkerchief into his mouth.
"I tell you," continued Charles, not noticing the condition his
hearers were in, "I've seen some pretty tough times in my life. Once,
when I was hunting in the Adirondack Mountains, in the northern part
of Michigan, I was attacked by Indians, and came very near being
captured, and the way I fought was a caution to white folks. This
little rifle came handy then, I tell you. But I must hurry along now;
I promised to go riding with the old man this afternoon."
And he dipped the oars into the water, and the little boat shot
rapidly up the river. It was well that he took his departure just as
he did, for our three boys could not possibly have contained
themselves a moment longer. They could not wait for him to get out of
sight, but, lying back in the boat, they laughed until the tears
rolled down their cheeks.
"Well, Frank, what do you think of him?" inquired Harry, as soon as he
"I think the less we have to do with him the better," answered Frank.
"I did think," said Harry, stopping now and then to indulge in a
hearty fit of laughter, "that there might be some good things about
him; but a boy that can tell such whopping big lies as he told must be
very small potatoes. Only think of catching three hundred fish in less
than half an hour, and with only one hook and line! Why, that would be
ten every minute, and that is as many as two men could manage. And
then for him to talk about that pop-gun of his shooting as far as
across this river!--why, it's a mile and a half--and I know it
wouldn't shoot forty rods, and kill. But the best of all was his
hunting among the Adirondack Mountains, in Michigan, and having to
defend himself against the Indians; that's a good joke."
And Harry laid back in the boat again, and laughed and shouted until
his sides ached.
"He must be a very ungrateful fellow," said Frank, at length. "Didn't
you notice how disrespectfully he spoke of his father? He called him
his 'old man.' If I had a father, I'd never speak so lightly of him."
"Yes, I noticed that," said George. "But," he continued, reaching for
the basket which Harry, after helping himself most bountifully, had
placed on the middle seat, "I'm hungry as blazes, and think I can do
justice to the good things mother has put up for us."
After eating their dinner they got out their fishing-tackle again; but
the perch had stopped biting, and, after waiting patiently for half an
hour without feeling a nibble, they unjointed their poles, drew up the
anchor, and Frank seated himself at the helm, while George and Harry
took the oars and pulled toward home.
One of the range of hills which extended around the western side of
the village was occupied by several families, known as the "Hillers."
They were ignorant, degraded people, living in miserable hovels, and
obtaining a precarious subsistence by hunting, fishing, and stealing.
With them the villagers rarely, if ever, had intercourse, and
respectable persons seldom crossed their thresholds. The principal man
among the Hillers was known as Bill Powell. He was a giant in strength
and stature, and used to boast that he could visit "any hen-roost in
the village every night in the week, and carry off a dozen chickens
each time, without being nabbed." He was very fond of liquor, too
indolent to work, and spent most of his time, when out of jail, on the
river, fishing, or roaming through the woods with his gun. He had one
son, whose name was Lee, and a smarter boy it was hard to find. He
possessed many good traits of character, but, as they had never been
developed, it was difficult to discover them. He had always lived in
the midst of evil influences, led by the example of a drunken, brutal
father, and surrounded by wicked companions, and it is no wonder that
his youthful aspirations were in the wrong direction.
Lee and his associates, as they were not obliged so attend school, and
were under no parental control, always amused themselves as they saw
it. Most of their time was spent on the river or in the woods, and,
when weary of this sport, the orchards and melon-patches around the
village, although closely guarded, were sure to suffer at their hands;
and they planned and executed their plundering expeditions with so
much skill and cunning, that they were rarely detected.
A day or two after the events related in the preceding chapter
transpired, Charles Morgan, in company with two or three of his chosen
companions, was enjoying a sail on the river. During their
conversation, one of the boys chanced to say something about the
Hillers, and Charles inquired who they were. His companions gave him
the desired information, and ended by denouncing them in the strongest
Charles, after hearing them through, exclaimed, "I'd just like to
catch one of those boys robbing our orchard or hen-roost. One or the
of us would get a pummeling, sure as shooting."
"Yes," said one of the boys, "but, you see, they do not go alone. If
they did, it would be an easy matter to catch them. But they all go
together, and half of them keep watch, and the rest bag the plunder;
and they move around so still that even the dogs don't hear them."
"I should think you fellows here in the village would take the matter
into your own hands," said Charles.
"What do you mean?" inquired his companions.
"Why don't you club together, and every time you see one of the
Hillers, go to work and thrash him like blazes? I guess, after you had
half-killed two or three of them, they would learn to let things
"I guess they would, too," said one of the boys.
"Suppose we get up a company of fifteen or twenty fellows," resumed
Charles, "and see how it works. I'll bet my eyes that, after we've
whipped half a dozen of them, they won't dare to show their faces in
the village again."
"That's the way to do it," said one of the boys. "I'll join the
company, for one."
The others readily fell in with Charles's proposal, and they spent
some time talking it over and telling what they intended to do when
they could catch the Hillers, when one of the boys suddenly exclaimed,
"I think, after all, that we shall have some trouble in carrying out
our plans. Although there are plenty of fellows in the village who
would be glad to join the company, there are some who must not know
any thing about it, or the fat will all be in the fire."
"Who are they?" demanded Charles.
"Why, there are Frank Nelson, and George and Harry Butler, and Bill
Johnson, and a dozen others, who could knock the whole thing into a
cocked hat, in less than no time."
"Could they? I'd just like to see them try it on," said Charles, with
a confident air. "They would have a nice time of it. How would they go
"I am afraid that, if they saw us going to whip the Hillers, they
"They would, eh? I'd like to see them undertake to hinder us. Can't
twenty fellows whip a dozen?"
"I don't know. Every one calls Frank Nelson and his set the best boys
in the village. They never fight if they can help it; but they are
plaguy smart fellows, I tell you; and, if we once get them aroused, we
shall have a warm time of it, I remember a little circumstance that
happened last winter. We had a fort in the field behind the
school-house, and one night we were out there, snowballing, and I saw
Frank Nelson handle two of the largest boys in his class. There were
about a dozen boys in the fort--and they were the ones that always go
with Frank--and all the rest of the school were against them. The fort
stood on a little hill, and we were almost half an hour capturing it,
and we wouldn't ever have taken it if the wall hadn't been broken
down. We would get almost up to the fort, and they would rush out and
drive us down again. At last we succeeded in getting to the top of the
hill, and our boys began to tumble over the walls, and I hope I may be
shot if they didn't throw us out as fast as we could get in, and--"
"Oh, I don't care any thing about that," interrupted Charles, who
could not bear to hear any one but himself praised. "If I had been
there, I would have run up and thrown _them_ out."
"And you could have done it easy enough," said one of the boys, who
had for some time remained silent.
"Frank Nelson and his set are not such great fellows, after all."
"Of course they ain't," said the other. "They feel big enough; but I
guess, if we get this company we have spoken of started, and they
undertake to interfere with us, we will take them down a peg or two."
"That's the talk!" said Charles. "I never let any one stop me when I
have once made up my mind to do a thing. I would as soon knock Frank
Nelson down as any body else."
By this time the boat, which had been headed toward the shore, entered
the creek, and Charles drew up to the wharf, and, after setting his
companions ashore, and directing them to speak to every one whom they
thought would be willing to join the company, and to no one else, he
drew down the sails, and pulled up the creek toward the place where he
kept his boat.
A week passed, and things went on swimmingly. Thirty boys had enrolled
themselves as members of the Regulators, as the company was called,
and Charles, who had been chosen captain, had carried out his plans so
quietly, that he was confident that no one outside of the company knew
of its existence. Their arrangements had all been completed, and the
Regulators waited only for a favorable opportunity to carry their
plans into execution.
Frank, during this time, had remained at home, working in his garden
or shop, and knew nothing of what was going on.
One afternoon he wrote a letter to his cousin Archie, and, after
supper, set out, with Brave at his heels, to carry it to the
post-office. He stopped on the way for George and Harry Butler, who
were always ready to accompany him. On the steps of the post-office
they met three or four of their companions, and, after a few moments'
conversation, William Johnson suddenly inquired,
"Have you joined the new society, Frank?"
"Why, the Regulators."
"I don't know what you mean," said Frank.
"Yes, I guess they have managed to keep it pretty quiet," said
William. "They don't want any outsiders to know any thing about it.
They asked me to join in with them, but I told them that they ought to
know better than to propose such a thing to me. Then they tried to
make me promise that I wouldn't say any thing about it, but I would
make no such promise, for--"
"Why, Bill, what are you talking about?" inquired Harry. "You rattle
it off as if we knew all about it."
"Haven't you heard any thing about it, either?" inquired William, in
surprise. "I was certain that they would ask you to join. Well, the
amount of it is that Charley Morgan and a lot of his particular
friends have been organizing a company for the purpose of thrashing
the Hillers, and making them stop robbing hen-roosts and orchards and
cutting up such shines."
"Yes," chimed in James Porter, "there are about thirty of them, and
they say that they are going to whip the Hillers out of the village."
"Well, that's news to me," said Frank.
"For my part," said Thomas Benton, "I, of course, know that the
Hillers ought to be punished; but I do not think it is the duty of us
boys to take the law into our own hands."
"Nor I," said James Porter.
"Well, _I_ do," said Harry, who, as we have said, was an impetuous,
fiery fellow, "and I believe I will join the Regulators, and help whip
the rascals out of the country. They ought, every one of them, to be
thrashed for stealing and--"
"Now, see here, Harry," interrupted George. "You know very well that
such a plan will never succeed, and it _ought_ not to. You have been
taught that it is wrong to take things that do not belong to you, but
with the Hillers the case is different; their parents teach them to
steal, and they are obliged to do it."
"Besides," said Frank, "this summary method of correcting them will
not break up their bad habits; kindness will accomplish much more than
"Kindness!" repeated Harry, sneeringly; "as if kindness could have any
effect on a Hiller!"
"They can tell when they are kindly treated as well as any one else,"
"And another thing," said Ben. Lake; "these Regulators must be a
foolish set of fellows to suppose that the Hillers are going to stand
still and be whipped. I say, as an old sea-captain once said, when it
was proposed to take a man-o'-war with a whale-boat, 'I guess it will
be a puttering job.'"
"Well," said James, "I shall do all I can to prevent a fight."
"So will I," said Frank.
"_I_ won't," said Harry, who, with his arms buried almost to the
elbows in his pockets, was striding backward and forward across the
steps. "I say the Hillers ought to be thrashed."
"I'm afraid," said William, without noticing what Harry had remarked,
"that our interference will be the surest way to bring on a fight;
because, after I refused to join the company, they told me that if any
of us attempted to defend the Hillers, or break up the company, they
would thrash us, too."
"We don't want to break up their company," said Frank, with a laugh.
"We must have a talk with them, and try to show them how unreasonable
"Here they come, now," said George, pointing up the road.
The boys looked in the direction indicated, and saw the Regulators
just turning the corner of the street that led to Mr. Morgan's house.
They came around in fine order, marching four abreast, and turned up
the street that led to the post-office. They had evidently been well
drilled, for they kept step admirably.
"They look nice, don't they?" said Ben.
"Yes," answered George; "and if they were enlisted in a good cause, I
would off with my hat and give them three cheers."
The Regulators had almost reached the post-office, when they suddenly
set up a loud shout, and, breaking ranks, started on a full run down
the street. The boys saw the reason for this, when they discovered Lee
Powell coming up the road that led from the river, with a large string
of fish in his hand. He always had good luck, but he seemed to have
been more fortunate than usual, for his load was about as heavy as he
could conveniently carry. He walked rapidly along, evidently very much
occupied with his own thoughts, when, suddenly, two or three stones
came skipping over the ground, and aroused him from his reverie. He
looked up in surprise, and discovered that his enemies were so close
to him that flight was useless.
The Regulators drew nearer and nearer, and the stones fell thick about
the object of their wrath, until, finally, one struck him on the
shoulder, and another knocked his cap from his head.
"I can't stand that," said Frank; and, springing from the steps, he
started to the rescue, followed by all of his companions, (except
Harry, who still paced the steps), and they succeeded in throwing
themselves between Lee and his assailants.
Several of the Regulators faltered on seeing Lee thus defended; but
Charles, followed by half a dozen of his "right-hand men," advanced,
and attempted to force his way between Frank and his companions.
"Hold on, here!" said Frank, as he gently, but firmly, resisted
Charles's attempts to push him aside. "What are you trying to do?"
"What business is that of yours?" answered Charles, roughly, as he
continued his efforts to reach Lee. "You question me as if you were my
master. Stand aside, if you don't want to get yourself in trouble."
"You don't intend to hurt Lee, do you?"
"Yes, I do. But it's none of your business, any way. Get out of the
"Has he ever done you any harm?"
"It's none of your business, I say!" shouted Charles, now almost
beside himself with rage.
"And I want you to keep your hands off me!" he continued, as Frank
seized his arm, which he had raised to strike Lee, who stood close
behind his protector.
Frank released his hold, and Charles sprang forward again, and,
dodging Frank's grasp, slipped under his arm, and attempted to seize
the Hiller. But Frank was as quick as a cat in his motions; and,
before Charles had time to strike a blow, he seized him with a grip
that brought from him a cry of pain, and seated him, unceremoniously,
on the ground.
As soon as Charles could regain his feet, he called out,
"Here it is, boys--just as I expected! Never mind the Hiller, but
let's go to work and give the other fellows a thrashing that they
won't get over in a month."
And he sprang toward Frank, against whom he seemed to cherish an
especial grudge, followed by a dozen Regulators, who brandished their
fists as if they intended to annihilate Lee's gallant defenders. But,
just as Charles was about to attack Frank, a new actor appeared. Harry
Butler, who had greatly changed his mind in regard to "thrashing the
Hillers," seeing that the attack was about to be renewed, sprang down
the steps, and caught Charles in his arms, and threw him to the
ground, like a log.
The others had been no less successful in repulsing their assailants;
and, when Charles rose to his feet, he saw three or four of the
Regulators, who had followed him to the attack, sprawling on the
ground, and the rest retreating precipitately.
"Now," said Harry, "let's stop this. We've had enough of it."
But Charles, and several more of the Regulators, seemed to be of a
different opinion, and were about to recommence their hostile
demonstrations, when Harry continued,
"We've only been playing with you so far Charley; so you had better
not try to come any more of your Regulator tricks on us. We don't want
to fight, but we shall defend ourselves."
"If you had attended to your own affairs, you would not have been
obliged to defend yourselves," said Charles, sullenly.
"What sort of fellows do you suppose we are?" said Harry. "If you
expected us to stand still and see thirty fellows pitch on one, you
are very much mistaken."
"Come, Lee," said Frank, taking the former by the arm, "I guess we can
go now. We'll see you out of harm's way."
The crest-fallen Regulators divided right and left, and allowed Frank
and his companions to depart, unmolested. They accompanied Lee almost
to the miserable hovel he called "home," and, when about to bid him
good-night, he said, with some feeling,
"I'll remember you, boys; and, if it ever comes handy, you will find
that Lee Powell has got feelings, as well as any one else."
And he sprang over a fence, and disappeared.
While Frank and his companions were accompanying Lee toward home, some
of the Regulators were indulging in feelings of the deepest malice;
and there were about a dozen of them--Frank's old enemies--who
determined that he should not go unpunished. But there were others who
began to see how cowardly they had acted in attacking a defenseless
boy, for the only reason that he was a bad boy, and to fear that they
had lost the good-will of Frank and his associates. The village boys,
with a few exceptions, were accustomed to look up to Frank as a sort
of leader; not that he aspired to the position, but his generosity,
and the easy way he had of settling the disputes that sometimes arose
among the boys, had won for him many a fast friend. We have seen,
however, that he was not beloved by all; every good boy has his
enemies, and Frank, of course, had his share of them. They were boys
who were jealous of him, and hated him because he held a position in
the estimation of the village people to which they could not attain.
But this class was very small, comprising, as we have said, about a
dozen of the Regulators; and, while they were enraged at their defeat,
and studying plans for revenge, the others were repenting of their
folly, and trying to think of some way by which they might regain
their lost reputation.
Charles's overbearing and haughty manner was so different from Frank's
kind, obliging ways, that they had already grown tired of his company,
and began to think seriously of having nothing more to do with him;
and the things that had just transpired served to convince them that
the sooner they left him the better.
As soon as Lee and his gallant defenders had disappeared, one of the
"Well, boys, I don't call this a paying business, trying to thrash a
boy who has done us no harm."
"That's my opinion," said another.
"And I, for one, wish I had kept out of this scrape," said a third.
"So do I," said the one who had first spoken.
"Oh, you begin to back down, do you, you cowards?" exclaimed Charles,
who was taken completely by surprise by this sudden change of
affairs. "_I_ never give up till I am whipped. If it hadn't been for
my lame hand, I would have knocked some of those fellows into cocked
hats. I'll fix that Frank Nelson, the next time I catch him."
"Why didn't you do it to-night?" inquired one of the boys, sneeringly.
"I've got a lame hand, I tell you," roared the bully; "and I don't
want you to speak to me in that way again; if you do, you and I will
have a meeting."
"That would be an unpleasant job for you, to say the least," said one
of the boys; "the most of us are heartily sick of your company, and we
have been talking, for two or three days, of sending in our
resignations. Now, boys," he continued, "this is as good an
opportunity as we shall have; so those that won't have any thing more
to do with Regulating, say 'I!'"
"I! I!" burst from a score of throats.
"Now," he resumed, turning to Charles, "good-by; and, if you ever wish
to recruit another company, you need not call on any of us."
So saying, he walked off, followed by nearly all the Regulators; those
who remained were Frank's enemies and rivals.
"Well, boys," said Charles, as soon as the others had gone, "there are
a few of us left, and we can annoy the fellows who think they are too
good to associate with us in the worst way. Let us adjourn to our
barn, where we can talk the matter over."
A few moments' walk brought them to Mr. Morgan's house, and, when they
entered the long carriage-way that led up to the barn, Charles said,
"Now, boys, you stay here, and I'll go in and get a light."
He ran into the house, and soon reappeared with a lantern in each
hand, and led the way toward the barn. He unlocked the door, and he
and his companions entered; and, after allowing them time to examine,
to their satisfaction, the splendid equipage that had attracted so
much attention the morning they arrived at the village, Charles
proceeded to call the meeting to order.
"Now, boys," said he, "we don't intend to disband, do we?"
"No," answered several.
"Then, the first thing for us to do is to change our name, for we
don't want to let those cowardly sneaks that deserted us to-night know
any thing about us. What shall we be called?"
Several names were proposed, but they did not suit Charles. At length,
one of the boys inquired,
"What name would you like?"
"I think that 'Midnight Rangers' would be a good name for us,"
"That's a splendid name!"
"Now," continued Charles, "we must change our plan of operations a
little. We must give up the idea of thrashing the Hillers for awhile,
because there are not enough of us; but I should like it, if we could
go to work and whip every one of those fellows that stuck up for Lee
Powell to-night, especially Frank Nelson."
"So would I," answered William Gage, whom Charles looked upon as his
'right-hand man;' "but it wouldn't do to attempt it, for he has got
too many friends. We must shoot his dog, or steal his boat, or do
something of that kind. It would plague him more than a dozen
"That's so!" exclaimed another of the Rangers. "If we could only go up
there, some dark night, and steal his scow, and run her out into the
river, and burn her, wouldn't he be mad?"
"Yes," chimed in another, "but it wouldn't pay even to attempt that.
He always keeps his boats chained up, and the noise we would make in
getting them loose would be sure to start that dog of his, and then we
should have a dusty time, I reckon."
"I guess so, too," said William Gage. "Whatever we do, we must be
careful not to start that dog, for he would go through fire and water
to catch us; and, if he ever got hold of one of us--"
And William shrugged his shoulders, significantly.
"Hasn't he got an orchard or melon-patch that we could visit?"
"No," answered one of the Rangers; "but he's got as nice a
strawberry-patch as ever laid out-doors. But it's a little too early
"Who cares for that?" said Charles. "We don't go to get the fruit; we
only want to pay him for defending the Hiller--meddling with other
people's business. It's too late to do any thing to-night," he added,
glancing at his watch, "but let us go there to-morrow night, and pull
up every strawberry-plant we can lay our hands on. You know, we can do
as much mischief of that kind as we please, and it will all be laid to
"Where shall we meet?" inquired one of the Rangers.
"Come here at precisely seven o'clock; and, remember, don't lisp a
single word to any one about it, for, if you do, we shall be found
The Rangers were about to disperse, when one of them suddenly
"Will not folks mistrust that something is in the wind, if they see us
all starting up the road at that time of night?"
"That's a fact," said William Gage. "Wouldn't it be a better plan for
us to meet in the woods, at the back of Mrs. Nelson's lot? Let us all
be there at eight o'clock; and, if no two of us go in company, no one
will be the wiser for it."
"That is the best plan," said Charles. "Now, remember, don't say any
thing about it."
"All right!" was the answer; and, in a few moments more, the Rangers
were on their way home.
The next evening, at seven o'clock, Charles left his home, and,
avoiding the principal streets as much as possible, started toward the
place of rendezvous, where he arrived at almost precisely the time
agreed upon. He found the Rangers all waiting for him; and, as it was
already dark, it was decided to commence operations immediately.
"We want a guide," said Charles, who, of course, was captain of the
Rangers. "Who knows exactly where that strawberry-bed lies? for, if we
have to fumble about much, we shall start that dog, and then, it
strikes me, from what I have seen and heard of him, we shall be in a
"You may safely bet on that," said one of the boys; "he's a savage
"And a first-rate watch-dog, too," observed another.
"Well," said Charles, "all we have to do is to move so still that you
can't hear a leaf rustle; but, if we do rouse the dog, let each one
grab a stone and let him have it."
"That would only make a bad matter worse," said one.
"I am afraid we shall have more than we bargained for, if we undertake
that," remarked another.
"Let the cowards go home, and the rest come with me," said Charles,
impatiently. "Bill," he continued, turning to his right-hand man, "can
you act as guide?"
"Then, lead on."
William led the way out of the woods, across a narrow meadow, where
they came to the fence that inclosed Mrs. Nelson's garden.
"Now, boys," he whispered, "keep still as mice; but, if we do start
the dog, don't stop to fight him, but run like white-heads."
The Rangers climbed over the fence, and followed their guide, who
threaded his way through the trees and bushes with a skill worthy of a
better cause, and a few moments sufficed to bring them to the
"Be careful, boys," said Charles, in a low whisper. "Don't leave a
single plant in the ground."
The young scapegraces worked with a will, and, in a few moments, the
strawberry-bed--which was Frank's pride, next to his museum, and on
which he had expended a great amount of labor--was almost ruined; and
so quietly did they proceed in their work of wanton destruction, that
Brave, although a very vigilant dog, was not aroused, and the
marauders retraced their steps, and reached the woods in safety.
"There," said Charles, at length, "that's what I call doing it up
brown. It almost pays off my debts. I don't think they will receive
much benefit from those strawberries this year."
"They have got some nice pears," said one of the Rangers, "and when
they get ripe, we must plan another expedition."
"That's so," answered Charles. "But we must not forget that we have
others to settle with; and we must meet, some time next week, and
determine who shall be visited next."
On the following morning, Frank arose, as usual, at four o'clock, and,
shouldering his fish-pole, started off through the woods to catch a
mess of trout, intending to be back by breakfast-time. But, as the
morning was cloudy, the trout bit voraciously, and in the excitement
of catching them, he forgot that he was hungry, and it was almost noon
before he reached home.
As soon as he entered the house, Aunt Hannah exclaimed,
"Master Frank, you were altogether too good to Lee Powell, the other
"What makes you think so?" he inquired.
At this moment Julia, hearing his voice, burst in from the
"Frank, the Hillers have robbed your strawberry-patch!"
"Not robbed it, exactly," said his mother, who had followed close
after Julia, "but they have completely ruined it. There are not a
dozen plants left in the ground."
Frank was so surprised that he could scarcely utter a word; and,
hardly waiting to hear what his mother said, he hurried from the house
toward the strawberry-patch. It did, indeed, present a strange and
desolate appearance. The bed had covered nearly half an acre; and, so
well had the Rangers performed their work, that but few plants were
left standing. The sight was enough to upset even Frank's
well-established patience, and he exclaimed,
"If I had the rascals that did this mischief, I could pay them for it,
without troubling my conscience much."
"You must tell Lee Powell, the next time you see him," said Julia, who
had followed him, "that he ought not to--"
"Lee didn't do it," said Frank.
"What makes you think so?"
"See here," said Frank, bending over a footprint in the soft earth;
"the Hillers all go bare-foot, and these fellows wore boots. I know
who did it, as well as if I had seen them. It was the work of Charles
Morgan and a few of his particular friends. They must have been very
still about it, for Brave didn't hear them."
"I don't see what object they had in doing it," said Julia.
"I know what they did it for," said Frank; "and if I ever catch--But,"
he added, checking himself, "there's no use in grumbling about it; no
amount of fretting will repair the damage."
So saying, he led the way toward the house.
It did not take him long to don his working-suit, and, shouldering his
hoe, he returned to the strawberry-bed, and, in less than an hour, the
plants were all in the ground again.
How to Spend the "Fourth."
That evening, after supper, Frank retired to his room, and, settling
himself in his comfortable armchair, was soon deeply interested in one
of Bayard Taylor's works. While thus engaged, a light step was heard
in the hall, and, afterward, a gentle rap at his door, and Julia came
into the room.
"Now, Frank," she began, "I don't want you to read to-night."
"Why not?" he inquired.
"Why, you know that day after to-morrow is the Fourth of July, and--"
"And you haven't got your fire-works yet?" interrupted Frank.
"That's it, exactly."
"Well," said her brother, rising to put away his book, "then, I
suppose, I shall have to go down to the village and get you some. What
do you want?"
"I want all the things that are written down on this paper."
Frank took the paper and read, "Three packs of fire-crackers, four
boxes of torpedoes, three Roman candles, half a dozen pin-wheels, and
a dozen sky-rockets."
"Whew!" said Frank, as he folded up the paper and put it into his
pocket, "that's what I should call going it strong! Well, I'll tell
Mr. Sheldon [the store-keeper] to send up all the fire-works he has
Julia burst into a loud laugh, and, the next moment, Frank and Brave
were out of the gate, on their way to the village.
In the mean time several of Frank's acquaintances had been amusing
themselves on the village common with a game of ball. At length it
grew too dark for their sport to continue, and one of the boys
proposed that they should decide upon some pleasant way of spending
In spite of the humiliating defeat which Charles Morgan and his
companions had sustained, they were present; and the former, who had
been making every exertion to regain the good-will of the village
"Let's go hunting."
"No, no," shouted several.
"The game in the woods isn't good for any thing this time of year,
Charley," said James Porter, who, although he cordially disliked
Charles, always tried to treat him kindly.
"Who cares for that?" exclaimed Charles, who, having always been
accustomed to lead and govern his city associates, could not endure
the steadfastness with which these "rude country boys," as he called
them, held to their own opinions. Although, during the whole
afternoon, he had been endeavoring to work himself into their favor,
he was angry, in an instant, at the manner in which they opposed his
proposition. He had been considerably abashed at his recent defeat,
and he knew that it had humbled him in the estimation of the Rangers,
who, although they still "held true" to him, had changed their minds
in regard to the prowess of their leader, and began to regard him, as
one of them remarked, as a "mere bag of wind."
Charles was not long in discovering this, and he determined to seize
the first opportunity that was offered to retrieve his reputation.