Rollo’s Travels, by Jacob Abbott (Philadelphia: Hogan & Thompson; Boston: Gould, Kendall & Lincoln, 1841 )
BY JACOB ABBOTT.
1. Rollo learning to talk.
2. Rollo learning to read.
3. Rollo at Work.
4. Rollo at Play.
5. Rollo at School.
6. Rollo’s Vacation.
7. Rollo’s Travels.
8. Rollo’s Experiments.
9. Rollo’s Museum.
10. Rollo’s Correspondence.
The publishers request the attention of the friends of the young to this popular series of books, which have been pronounced, by the competent and judicious persons, the best works for children published, not even excepting the best English writers. Mr. Abbott’s style is peculiarly interesting to children, being natural and simple, and portraying the trials and temptations of childhood, just as they occur in every-day life, and giving them clear and distinct ideas of the right and wrong in their actions.
Mr. Abbott possesses, in a very high degree, the faculty of awakening the interest of children. His writings have that absolute requisite for securing permanent popularity—truth to nature. His boys and girls talk and act like boys and girls, not like miniature men and women.
There are a thousand minute touches in his descriptions, which are evidently drawn from the life, and which betoken a habit of close and accurate observation of the ways and manners of children. In reading his books, you hardly believe that it is not your own little Charles or Henry, whose doings and sayings he is reporting. It is this truth and freshness in minute touches that constitutes picturesqueness in writing; a quality which renders Miss Edgeworth and Mr. Abbott attractive not only to little readers, but to some older persons that we know. We have spoken of these books as interesting; we can also recommend them as adapted to be exceedingly awful—and for the very same reason. Instead of general exhortations to certain things, and dehortations from others, children here find vivid pictures of the very faults they are to strive against, and are shown how to strive—of the good habits they are to acquire, and how they may be acquired. Parents will find them a valuable aid in the instruction and amendment of their children.
[frontispiece: a boy sails a toy ship in a shallow brook]
AUTHOR OF ROLLO LEARNING TO TALK, TO
READ, AT WORK, AT PLAY, AT SCHOOL,
AT VACATION, &c.
PUBLISHED BY HOGAN & THOMPSON.
BY GOULD, KENDALL & LINCOLN.
By T. H. Carter,
In the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of Massachusetts
STEREOTYPED AT THE
BOSTON TYPE AND STEREOTYPE FOUNDRY.
The parent, who may in a leisure moment take up this volume, will find, that in this, as in its predecessors, there are many pages in which there is no direct effort made to convey moral instruction. It does not follow from this, however, that the perusal of the pages may not exert a considerable influence, of a salutary character, upon the mind of the child. A boy is injured by bad company, and benefitted by good, even though the associate may not attempt to teach directly what is right or wrong; and Rollo is presented to his youthful friends as a companion, rather than a teacher. They are to be benefitted, not so much by listening to instructions, as by catching the spirit of docility and gentleness which exhibits itself in his conduct and character.
General Orders … 7
The Rain … 22
The Evening Ride … 29
Jonas’s Compass… 42
Getting Adrift … 57
The Engine … 70
A Night at Sea … 87
Fog … 98
An Expedition … 123
The Morning Song … 137
Testimony … 148
The Wagon Ride … 164
The Travellers Benighted … 174
The End of the Journey … 183
Rollo’s father was going to take a journey, and he was considering whether it would not be a good plan to take Rollo with him.
“You will find such a boy a great deal of trouble,” said his mother.
“True,” replied his father; “I expect that.”
“And the expense will be considerable,” she added.
“Yes,” said Mr. Holiday, “there will be some additional expense. They generally charge half price for a boy.”
“But I should like very much to have him go,” said Mrs. Holiday, “if you think it is best.”
Mr. Holiday said nothing more for some
minutes. He was taking some clothes out of his drawers and putting them upon a table. His large black travelling trunk was by the side of the table, and Rollo’s mother was putting the things carefully into it.
After a few minutes more, Mr. Holiday said,
“I believe I will take him. He will bring some additional care upon me; but then he is generally considerate and obedient, and I don’t think he will make me any unnecessary trouble. Then he will be company for me, and perhaps, sometimes, may be even of a little service.”
“Yes,” said his mother, “I think he will.”
“Now, if he was a disobedient and troublesome boy,” said Mr. Holiday, “or if I thought he would be ill-humored or fretful when things to wrong, I should not think of taking him.”
“I think myself he will be good-humored and docile,” said Mrs. Holiday.
“And then, the journey will be of some advantage to him,” said his father. “He will see a great many new things; and, what is better still, he will be placed in some new
situations; and so he may learn lessons of wise conduct and presence of mind, and circumspection. I think, on the whole, I will take him.”
“Well,” said Rollo’s mother, “I will get his clothes, and put them up in his little black trunk.”
They said nothing to Rollo himself, about this plan, until the evening. His mother went on, however, with her preparations, and got his trunk all packed and ready. But Rollo himself heard nothing about the plan until they sat down to tea.
“What time to-morrow are you going, father?” said Rollo, as he was pouring out some milk from a pitcher, into his little mug.
“About four o’clock,” said his father.
“If it does not rain,” said Rollo.
“Whether it rains or not,” said his father. “I have nothing to do with the rain. And I have concluded to take company with me.”
“Who?” said Rollo.
“You,” replied his father.
“Me!” said Rollo, putting down his mug, and looking at his father with astonishment and pleasure.
“Yes, you. Should you like to go?”
“Certainly,” said Rollo. “I never was in a steamboat in my life.”
“Nor in a great hotel.”
“No, sir,” said Rollo.
“I think that you will make, on the whole, a pretty good traveller, and I think you may be of some service to me, besides keeping me company.”
Rollo’s father had another reason for taking Rollo, more important than either of these; and that was to gratify his little son with the pleasures of the journey, and to afford him opportunities of improvement. But he did not say much about this, nor about the additional expense, because he did not wish Rollo to feel that he was a burden to him. Rollo was very much pleased with the plan, and determined to be as useful and as good company, as he could be, all the way.
“I’ll go and pack my trunk immediately after supper,” said Rollo.
“It is packed already,” replied his mother.
“Who packed it?”
“I,” added his mother. “That is, I have put in all the clothes you will want. If you have any things that you want to take your-
self, for any of your own purposes, you can get them ready this evening, and I will put them up in the morning.”
After tea, Rollo’s father took his seat by the window, and called Rollo to him, to give him, as he said, his general orders.
“The first rule I wish to give you, for your conduct on your travels, Rollo,” said his father, “is, always keep a quiet mind.”
“Yes, sir,” said Rollo.
“Travellers break this rule by fretting and worrying themselves. There are three things, in respect to which travellers make themselves restless and uneasy—time, danger, and hardships.”
“What is worrying against time?” asked Rollo.
“It is an uneasy, restless eagerness to get along faster than we are going,” replied his father. “A traveller in this state of mind is all the time watching the mile-stones, or asking how far he has come, and wishing to go faster. When he has decided upon making a journey, he is in a hurry to have the time come for him to set off; and, in every stage of his journey, he is always looking forward, and eagerly wishing to be farther along.
Now, you must try to keep a quiet mind about time and distance. Do not look forward much. Give yourself up to the pleasures of the present hour, and let the horses go on in their own way.”
“Yes, sir,” said Rollo, “I will.”
“Then travellers worry themselves about danger,” continued his father. “You must avoid that. Do not let your imagination run upon dangers and disasters. Boys are not so much exposed to this as older persons. Some whom I have known are always apprehending some accident or trouble; picturing to themselves, as they ride along, upsettings in coaches, or explosions in steamboats, or running off the track in the cars. They are always looking out at the window in search of hills or steep banks, or listening to the clanking of the engine, to hear if something is not going wrong. Now, you must banish all these things from your mind as completely as possible. At all events, never talk about them. You cannot at first control your imagination entirely; but if you steadily exert yourself to keep your mind on other objects, you will soon learn to do so.”
“I can’t help thinking of those things
sometimes,” said Rollo’s mother, who was listening to the conversation, while she was putting up the cups and saucers at the table.
“Perhaps not,” said his father; “such thoughts are partly voluntary and partly involuntary. It is only so far as they are voluntary, that is, so far as we willingly allow our minds to dwell upon these dangers, that we are in fault. And if we put a stop to all this voluntary uneasiness and dread, the rest will soon cease of itself, and we shall travel with a quiet mind. It is a great deal better to occupy our thoughts with other things, and leave the horses to the driver, the boiler to the engineers and firemen, and the winds and waves to God.”
“I think that is the best way,” said Rollo.
“Then there is the worrying of ourselves against inconveniences and hardships. That you will be tempted to do. There is no avoiding inconveniences and hardships in travelling, and the best way is to bear them good-naturedly and patiently. Never complain unless you expect to do some good by complaining. So you understand now what I mean by keeping a quiet mind.”
“Yes, father,” said Rollo; “and now for the next rule.”
But Rollo’s father, instead of giving him another rule, took out his watch, and said that he could not talk any more with him then, for he had some letters to write. So he said that he would give him the rest of his instructions some time on the way.
When his father had gone, Rollo asked his mother what she would recommend to him to take in addition to his clothes.
“Let me think,” said she;—“a pencil; you will want a pencil, perhaps. You may see something that you will want to draw.”
“Yes, mother, I will take my pencil.”
“And your little pocket inkstand, and a steel pen; and I think it would be well to have a little book to write a journal in, and one or two sheets of paper folded up in the form of a letter, to carry in your pocket; so as to be convenient when you want to write a letter in some situation where you cannot get access to your trunk.”
“And some wafers in a little box,” said Rollo.
“Yes,” replied his mother;—“you can
go and get those ready, and then, perhaps, you will think of some other things.”
Rollo accordingly went out to collect his writing and drawing materials: when they were ready, he took his knife, and finding that it was dull, he went out to get Jonas to sharpen it for him. Jonas was very much pleased to hear of Rollo’s intended journey, and he said that he would put his knife in first rate order for him. He also took him he would lend him his little pocket compass, so that he could always tell which way was north, in all his travels.
This pocket compass of Jonas’s was originally a part of a watch-key. Somebody gave it to Jonas after the tube had got worn out, so that it was spoiled for a watch-key. Jonas had contrived to grind off the tube, and also the little ring upon the opposite side, which was made to fasten the key to the chain, and so it was smooth and round like a little pocket compass. It had lost its resemblance to a watch-key altogether.
Rollo was very glad to have this compass. Jonas ground the knife while Rollo was busy in the house looking up his other things. When the knife was ready, Jonas went in
pursuit of Rollo to give it to him. He found him in the back chamber seated on the floor, with a small kite by his side, and coils of kite tail all around him. He was trying to untangle the tail, as he called it.
“O! I would not work upon my kite now,” said Jonas, “if I were you. I would be getting ready.”
“I am getting ready,” said Rollo, “I am going to carry my kite.”
“O, no,” said Jonas, “you can’t carry your kite.”
“Yes I can,” said Rollo; “It is very light.”
“Yes, and it’s very bulky.”
“Bulky?” said Rollo.
“Yes,” said Jonas; “that is, it takes up a great deal of room.”
“O, no,” said Rollo; “it is very flat and thin.”
“Besides, it is too long to go into the trunk,” persisted Jonas.
“It is too long for my trunk,” said Rollo, “but then it will go into father’s.”
“I don’t believe it will,” said Jonas.
“I mean to go and measure,” said Rollo.
So he left his kite upon the floor, after
taking the length of it, with a twine, and went and measured the length of his father’s trunk. It was a small kite, and he found to his great joy that it would go in.
His mother asked him what he was doing; and so he told her of his plan of carrying his kite. She told him that he could not do that.
“Why not?” said Rollo.
“O, because,” replied his mother, “you will not have any good time to raise it while you are gone; and it is not worth while.”
“O yes, mother,” said Rollo; “I can raise it with Horatio.”
Horatio was a boy whom he expected to visit in the course of his journey.
“But then it will be very likely to get broken or lost. I would not take it, if I were you.”
Rollo’s mother made a mistake. She was assigning false reasons. The real reason why Rollo ought not to take his kite was, that it would be an inconvenient and troublesome thing to carry; but instead of assigning this reason, or, what would have been better still, giving no reason at all, but simply telling him that he could not be allowed to
carry it, she attempted to persuade him to give it up, by urging arguments which were really not of much weight; and so Rollo was not satisfied with them, but was only the more eager to have the kite go.
“Well,” said his mother at length, “go and ask your father.”
So Rollo went down stairs into the back parlor, and found his father writing there, at a table. He went and stood up by the side of the table, waiting for an opportunity to speak to him.
When his father had finished the sentence that he was writing, he looked up and said,
“I wanted to ask you, sir, if I might take my kite with me.”
His father hesitated.
“It will just go into your trunk; I have measured it.”
His father reflected a moment, and then shaking his head, slowly said,
“No, Rollo, I think it will not be best.”
“Why not, father? It is very light; and then it is so thin that it will not take up much room.”
“I cannot tell you the reason now,” said
his father. “I will explain it all to you in the steamboat.”
He looked pleasantly and smiled, while he said this, but Rollo looked very thoughtful and sad.
“I wish I might take it,” said he, at the same time beginning slowly to draw back.
“It is not best,” said his father. “I think I can convince you that it is not, when we get on board the boat, though I do not suppose I could do it now.”
“Why not now, as well as then?” asked Rollo.
“Because now your mind is under a bias. You are very desirous to taking the kite, and so you are not in a proper state of mind to give the arguments a fair consideration; so that, if I was at leisure, I should not think that it would do any good to tell you the reasons now.”
Rollo slowly moved towards the door, but he looked very disconsolate and sad.
“Rollo,” said his father, as Rollo was opening the door.
“What, sir?” said Rollo.
“Is this a great disappointment to you?”
“Yes, sir,” said Rollo, “pretty great.”
“And it is going to make you a little ill-humored and sullen, I suppose.”
Rollo held down his head, but did not answer.
“I wish you to go up stairs,” continued his father, “and put your kite away, and then stay in your room out of sight, until you are perfectly good-humored and pleasant again. And if you think you shall not be so for some time, you may go to bed. I think you will get over it before morning.”
So Rollo shut the door, and walked slowly away. He, however, began soon to reflect how foolish and how ungrateful he was, when his father had made arrangements for taking him on a long and pleasant journey, to make himself miserable, and give his father and mother trouble because it was not convenient to carry his kite.
Accordingly his countenance brightened up, and he went back to his father’s room. He opened the door a little, and peeped in with a smiling face, and waited for his father to look up from his writing. As soon as his father raised his eyes, he said,
“Father, on the whole, I don’t care much about my kite.”
“Very well,” said his father, “I am glad to hear it; and I am very glad you came back to tell me.”
His father considered his coming back, in that way, with a smiling face, as a tacit confession that he had done wrong, and a promise to do so no more.
The sun rose pleasantly the next morning, but it became cloudy before noon. Rollo watched the clouds with great eagerness. Although his father had said that the weather would make no difference in respect to their going, yet Rollo had known so many short rides and expeditions to be broken up by the weather, that he had a vague idea that the rain would keep them at home. After dinner he asked his father to come to the door, and see if he thought it was going to rain. His father accordingly went.
They stood upon the platform, and looked all around.
“I think it will rain,” said he. “The wind is east, and clouds are gathering all over the sky.”
“And shall you certainly go if it rains?”
“Yes,” said his father, “I presume we shall.”
“If it rains very fast indeed?” asked Rollo.
“Unless it rains so fast as to prevent the stage going. We shall go if the stage does.”
Rollo was glad to hear this; but yet he wished himself safely in the coach. His uneasiness increased, when, about half an hour afterwards, it actually began to rain. The wind shifted a little to the southward, and large patches of dark, watery clouds began to scud over the sky towards the north-west. Now and then bright openings appeared between these patches, and Rollo was very sure that it was going to clear off. But in a few minutes more, another vast mass of dense cloud would advance majestically from the southward, and pour down torrents of rain.
Four o’clock came, but the stage did not appear. The trunks were all packed, and Rollo’s father sat quietly in his arm-chair, reading a newspaper. Rollo, however, was uneasy and restless. He went and looked at the clock, and then he went and looked at the clouds.
“Mother,” said he, “why does not the stage come?”
“Why, it is not quite time yet,” said she, “is it?”
“Yes, mother; it is past four o’clock.”
“Is it?” said she, “I did not suppose it was so late.” So she looked up at the clock and smiled.
“Why, it is only about a minute past four,” said she. “It seems to me you are a little impatient, Rollo. You are forgetting your father’s instruction about being impatient and restless.”
“Why, mother,” said Rollo, “we have not begun our journey yet. If we were only fairly in the stage, I should be quiet and contented; but I am afraid that the stage will not come.”
“Why shouldn’t it come?” said she.
“Perhaps something has happened to it,” said Rollo.
“I think it probable that the rain has made the roads muddy; and that may delay it a little.”
“How much do you think it will delay it?” said Rollo.
“Perhaps half an hour. But you had better not stand here watching and waiting for it. Go and find Nathan and play horses with him; or amuse yourself in any way, and forget all about your journey. Then the coach will come before you think of it.”
Rollo concluded to take his mother’s advice, and he went off in pursuit of Nathan. He wandered through one or two rooms; and at length he found his sister Mary seated at her little writing-desk in a back parlor, finishing a letter. Her sealing-wax, and little glass seals in a box, and a taper, with its bronze stand, were upon the table, by her side.
“Sister,” said Rollo, “may I look at your seals?”
“Yes,” said Mary.
Mary knew, from Rollo’s general habits and character, that he would be careful to put them back properly in their places, in the box.
Rollo began to examine the seals, and amused himself for a few minutes looking at the devices, and endeavoring to read the reversed letters. While he stood there, he heard a noise in the entry; and presently Nathan came in riding the yardstick for a horse. He had a whip, with a long lash, to whip his horse with. Rollo was too busy to take much notice of him; but he drove up to Mary, who had just finished her letter, and, putting out his hand as if to shake hands with her, he said,
“How do you, sir? How do you do, sir? Are you pretty well, sir?”
Mary had just finished her letter; and she looked up to Nathan, smiling, and said,
“Pretty well, I thank you, sir; where are you travelling, sir?”
Nathan answered her, and then stood quietly by to see Mary fold and address her letter. Then Mary put his yardstick away in the corner, and took him up in her lap, and began to talk with him.
“Where have you been playing, Nathan?” said she.
“I have been in the kitchen, with Dorothy.”
“What have you been doing there?”
“Playing,” said Nathan.
“And have you been a good boy?”
“Why,—yes,—” said Nathan, hesitating; “I have been a pretty good boy; but I haven’t been a very good boy.”
“Have you been doing anything wrong?” asked Mary, seriously.
“Why,—yes,” said Nathan, whipping his own knees gently with his whip; “a little wrong,—only a little wrong.”
“What—what was it that you did?”
“Why—eh,—why—eh,” said Nathan, “Dorothy says she is going to tell my mother.”
“Is she?” said Mary; “but I think you had better tell yourself. When people do wrong, if they are sorry for it, they are willing to confess it.”
“Well, I am sorry,” said Nathan.
“Then tell me what it was that you did that was wrong.”
“Why—eh,—why—eh,” said Nathan, looking around,—“well, if you will tell me what is on that little seal.”
“No,” said Mary, “I can’t tell you anything about the little seal until you have confessed to me what you have done that is wrong.”
“Well,” said Nathan, “eh—e—h, let me think.”
“No,” said Mary, “you know now very well; it is not necessary for you to think. You can tell me now, if you wish to tell me. You would tell me if you were sorry.”
“I am sorry,” said Nathan; “I am, truly.”
“I guess not,” said Mary.
“I am,” said Nathan.
“If you were sorry, you would be willing to confess what you had done.”
“Well, I am trying to think,” said Nathan.
Then, after a moment’s pause, he looked up into Mary’s face, and said, gently and timidly,
“I rather think you had better go and ask Dorothy.”
Mary could hardly help smiling to observe how difficult Nathan found it to confess his faults; and yet it gave her a decided feeling of pain to observe his evident want of proper penitence for having done what his conscience told him was wrong. She gently put Nathan down, and let him go away. He felt guilty, and accordingly walked slowly out of the room,—his little hands, with the whip in them, being clasped behind him, and the lash trailing along upon the floor.
Just at this moment, Rollo heard the sound of wheels; and at the same moment a voice called out to him that the stage had come.
THE EVENING RIDE.
The stage driver strapped the trunks upon the rack, behind the stage, upon several others which had been placed there before, and covered the whole with a large, painted canvass, to keep off the rain. Rollo stood at the door while this operation was going forward, and he saw, through the window in the side of the stage, several persons who occasionally looked out to see what new passengers were coming. When the trunks were ready, Rollo and his father shook hands with all the members of the family, whom they were leaving, and bade them good by. The driver opened the coach door, and they got in. Rollo’s father took his place upon the back seat, where there was just room for him, and Rollo himself sat upon the middle seat, between two men, with his back towards his father. He wanted to sit by the window, but this was the only place that was left. He was, however, glad to be fair-
ly in the stage; and when the driver took his seat upon the box, and started the horses along, he felt perfectly satisfied.
His satisfaction, however, did not continue very long. On account of the rain, it was necessary to keep all the curtains down, and the glasses up, so that the stage was very close and rather dark. Rollo could not see out at all. Then, besides, his seat was not very comfortable. There was a great strap, which passed behind his seat, for persons to lean upon. It was just high enough to come opposite to the shoulders of a man, and of course was too high for a boy. It came opposite to Rollo’s head, and if he leaned his head at all upon it, it made his neck ache. He wished very much that he had a seat in the corner by the side of his father; but both corners were occupied.
He got along, however, pretty well for the first hour. The second hour it was harder, and the third, he became very much fatigued, and was very uncomfortable. He thought that, after all, there was not much pleasure in travelling. His father and the other persons in the stage talked together, but Rollo did not understand much that they
said, and he did not feel much interest in what he did understand. He almost began to wish himself at home again, playing horses with Nathan.
But he did not complain. He remembered his father’s instructions, and bore the fatigue and hardship as patiently as he could; still his countenance exhibited a certain appearance of distress, and then there was something in his movements which rendered it evident to any one who might observe him, that he was not very comfortable. His father, however, did not observe it, for he was directly behind him; and so he went on without any relief.
At length the afternoon passed away, and, about half past six o’clock, his father leaned a little forward, and told him that they had only about a mile farther to go before they would reach the town where they were to take supper. Rollo was rejoiced to hear this intelligence, and in a few minutes afterwards he began to observe houses on each side of the way, dimly seen through the windows of the coach, as they passed rapidly along. This made Rollo think that they were coming into a village; and in fact, after
a few minutes more, the coach wheeled around through a wide street, and drew up in front of what seemed to Rollo to be a large hotel.
There was a piazza in front of the hotel, with a bench under it, near the side of the house. The rain was dripping down from the roof of the piazza upon the steps before it. A dog stood at the top of the steps, looking out towards the stage, to see what passengers had come. An old man was sitting upon the bench, leaning forward upon a staff. The driver took off the trunks from the rack behind the stage, and put them under the piazza. Rollo ran up the steps of the piazza, and began to pat the dog’s head.
The dog growled at him, and snapped a little, as if he was going to bite. Rollo then left him, and went and sat down upon the bench, not far from the old man, and watched the operations.
The driver took off all the trunks, and then mounted the box, and drove away. Rollo knew that he had gone to change the horses. A few minutes after he had gone Rollo heard a bell ringing in the house.
The sound seemed to come nearer and nearer, and at last a man appeared at the door with a great bell in his hand, which he was ringing violently. Rollo wondered what it was for.
His father immediately afterwards appeared at the door, saying,
“Where?” said Rollo. At the same time he arose and began to walk along after his father.
“To supper,” replied his father.
“And are you going to leave our trunks out here upon the piazza?”
“Yes,” said his father, “they will take care of them.”
They walked along through the entry, together with several other persons who came from the different rooms. They at last entered a large apartment, where there was a long table set, and a great many people were taking their seats at it. The whole scene was very new and very interesting to Rollo. There was a waiter, and tea-pots, and coffee-pots, at a side-table, and upon the principal table there were plates of beefsteak,
and warm rolls, and toast, and cake, and many other things.
“O, what a great supper-table!” said Rollo to himself, as he came in.
But he had not much time to examine the scene, for his father walked immediately around to the farther side of the table, and took his seat, and placed Rollo by the side of him. A moment after he was seated, a small waiter was suddenly pushed in between him and his father, by somebody behind. Rollo looked around, wondering what that meant.
“Tea, or coffee?” said the man with the waiter.
“Coffee,” said Mr. Holiday; and at the same time he took up the cup and saucer which was by the side of his plate, and put it upon the waiter.
Rollo, not being much acquainted with the customs of the public houses, had thought that the best way for him to do would be to observe his father, and follow his example. So he took up his cup, and put it upon the waiter, and said, at the same time,
“Milk and water for me.”
The waiter was just big enough to hold two cups, and the man went away with it. In a short time he returned, and brought a cup of milk and water for Rollo, and another of coffee for his father. Rollo took his cup carefully, and during the rest of the time that he sat at the table, he was quiet and still. When he had any thing to say to his father, he would speak in a low tone of voice, so as not to disturb the others; and when he observed that any person wanted the milk or the sugar he would pass them. Although the people around him were strangers, whom he had never seen before, and whom he thought it probable that he should never see again, yet he observed that his father treated them all in a polite and gentlemanly manner, and he knew that it was proper that he should do so too.
Now it happened that a man sat opposite to him, at the table, who had been opposite to him in the coach. While Rollo had been sitting upon the middle of the middle seat, this man sat upon the end of the front seat, in the corner of the coach. He observed that Rollo was an unobtrusive and gentle
boy, and just before the supper was ended, he accosted Rollo thus:
“Well, my boy, how do you get along? Can you stand it three hours longer?”
“Have we got to ride three hours longer?” said Rollo, in a desponding tone.
“Yes,” said his father, “about three hours, before we stop for the night.”
Rollo’s neck ached, and his limbs were stiff, and he almost wished himself at home. The rain was driving against the windows too, and it was growing dark; and he did not understand how the driver could find his way so as to avoid the stones and ditches. He was afraid the stage would get upset; and on the whole he began to conclude that travelling was much more pleasant in anticipation than in reality. He wished himself at home.
Just then the door opened, and a man with a whip in his hand appeared, saying,
“Stage is ready, gentlemen.”
The passengers immediately arose and walked out to the stage. They got in, one after another, and when at length it became Rollo’s turn, the man who had spoken to Rollo at the table said to him,
“Take the seat in the corner, my boy, that will be easier for you. I’ll sit on the middle seat myself.”
Rollo accordingly took the seat, and found it very comfortable indeed. He could lean back into the corner which was formed by the back of the coach and the side. It was a beautiful seat. The man seemed pleased to see Rollo so well established, and Rollo thanked him for his kindness. The horses set off, and the stage rumbled along the road, through the mud and rain.
Rollo was very much pleased with his new seat. He leaned back into the corner, and found a very comfortable position, where he could rest himself very well. He began to think about home and Thanny, and to wonder what sort of a place they should come to at the end of their route for the night. It began to grow dark, and the wind and rain continued to drive against the front and side of the coach, close to Rollo’s ear. The passengers were silent, and Rollo soon became lost in thought. In a few minutes, at least in what appeared to be a few minutes to Rollo, he suddenly found that there was a movement in the stage, as if something
extraordinary was going on. Rollo aroused himself and sat up. He found that it was quite dark. The stage, too, seemed to be standing still. He wondered how it came to be still. He did not notice when it stopped. One of the men was getting out. A strong light, as from a lantern, was shining in at the coach door.
The light glanced upon his father’s face, and Rollo saw that his father was rising from his seat.
“What is the matter, father?” said Rollo.
“Nothing; only that we have got to the end of our journey.”
“The end of our journey!” said Rollo with astonishment. “You said we had got to ride three hours.”
“We have been riding about three hours,” said his father, “since supper.”
“Why, father!” said Rollo.
“You have been asleep,” said his father.
“No, sir, I have not,” said Rollo.
Rollo had no time to say anything more, for his father just then got out of the stage, and Rollo followed. It was wrong for him to contradict his father so directly, even if he had been sure that he was right and his
father mistaken. He did feel sure; but boys very often feel sure that they are right, when in fact they are wrong,—and there is perhaps nothing that they are more likely to be mistaken about, than in thinking that they have not been asleep, when they have been.
Rollo recollected that he felt a little sleepy when he first found that they were getting out of the stage; but he was sure that he had not been really asleep, and he wondered what his father could mean by saying that he had travelled three hours. He, however, stepped down out of the stage.
When down, he observed that he was before a large hotel, in a great town. There was a piazza before the door, somewhat similar to the one where they had stopped to supper. Rollo walked slowly up the steps of the piazza. There were persons walking to and fro, and lights in the house; and the passengers who had got out of the stage were talking about their baggage.
“Out of the way, boy,” said a rough voice behind Rollo. Rollo hastily moved away, looking around at the same time. A man in a green apron was coming up the steps,
loaded with carpet bags, cloaks, and other baggage. Rollo followed him with his eyes. The man carried the baggage in, and piled it up upon a heap of trunks which was lying in the entry. Rollo looked for his, and he saw the end of it, in the middle of the heap. It was covered up with the other trunks and baggage, and Rollo was quite concerned lest it should get lost, or carried away with the others.
While Rollo was looking at the trunks, his father came up to them. The man in the green apron was with him.
“That is one,” said Rollo’s father, pointing, with the end of his umbrella, to his own trunk, which was at the bottom of the heap.
The man in the green apron pulled it out.
“And there was another small one,” he continued.
“Here it is,” said Rollo, pointing to his own trunk.
The man took up the large trunk, and hove it upon his shoulder; and then, with the little one in his other hand, he began to go up stairs. Rollo’s father followed with a lamp, saying,
Rollo went up after his father. They came to a large chamber, with two beds in it, and some other furniture. The man put the trunks down, and went down stairs. Rollo’s father put his umbrella and cloak near the trunks.
“Is this where we are going to sleep?” said Rollo.
“Yes,” said his father. “What do you think of it?”
“I like it pretty well,” said Rollo; and he began to look around the room, and to examine the pictures which hung over the mantelpiece.
While his father was unlocking his trunk, Rollo looked out at the window. It was dark, but he could see lights here and there at the windows of the houses opposite. The stage-coach had been driven away from the door, and the street was still, excepting that now and then footsteps were heard upon the paved side-walk, or a carriage rumbled slowly by.
The next morning Rollo was awakened by a very loud ringing in the entries of the hotel. The sound came nearer and nearer, as the bell-ringer advanced up the stairs and along the passage ways. Rollo started up. It was bright daylight. The sun was shining in upon the floor, and one of the first objects which caught Rollo’s eye, was his father sitting at a table near the window, writing.
“Why, father!” said Rollo, “are you up?”
“Yes,” replied his father, “I have been up this hour.”
“What is that bell for?” asked Rollo.
“It is for people to get up.”
“Then I suppose I had better get up.”
“Yes, if you want some breakfast.”
Rollo arose, and began to dress himself.
“Father,” said he, “I wish you had waked me up when you got up.”
“I thought you would prefer sleeping. You were pretty tired last night.”
“But, father,” said Rollo, in a complaining tone, “I wanted to write in my journal.”
His father did not make any reply to this, but went on with his writing. Rollo thought it would have been such a fine thing if he had got up and written in his journal, at the hotel, before breakfast, that he could not conceal his disappointment and chagrin. He looked ill-humored and sullen, and at length said again,
“Father, did you not know that I wanted to write in my journal?”
“Rollo,” said his father, “you are doing very wrong.”
“Why, sir,” said Rollo. He was sitting upon the floor, and beginning slowly to put on one of his stockings.
“In the first place, you are doing wrong by interrupting me in my writing. In the next place, you are doing wrong by showing a discontented, dissatisfied mind, at something which is past, and cannot be helped. That is being a bad traveller.”
Rollo had nothing to say in reply to this reproof.
“Besides,” added his father, “the arrangement which you are dissatisfied with, is one that I made for no other reason than because I supposed it would be the most agreeable to you; and this is an aggravation of the fault.”
Rollo saw that his ill-humor was entirely unreasonable, but he did not on that account cease to feel ill-humored. To see that we feel wrong, and to begin to feel right, are two very different things, as Rollo, like all other children, had occasion frequently to experience.
Rollo sat upon the floor, drawing on his stockings, with no very pleasant air. His father resumed his writing, but his mind had been diverted from his subject, so that he could not now go on advantageously with his work; and besides, he felt unhappy that his son had so soon forgotten his instructions.
He accordingly began to put up his pen and paper, and returned them to his trunk. He went to the window, and observed how bright and pleasant the morning was, and was sad to think how much the prospect of
enjoyment for the day was marred by Rollo’s unhappy state of mind. He went to Rollo, and began to help him in his dressing. Rollo’s good humor gradually returned. He did not say in words that he was sorry for his misconduct, but his father observed, from his looks and the tone of his voice, that he was making an exertion to be contented and submissive again.
“Father,” said he, at length, “you did not give me all the instructions you were going to give me. Couldn’t you tell me something more now?”
“Yes,” said his father. “I believe I gave you some rules in respect to your inward spirit of mind. Now, I will tell you about your conduct towards those around you in travelling. It is a good rule, in travelling, to be polite to all strangers, but familiar with none. I mean by that, that you must treat every body with frankness, good-humor, and civility, and in all public places, however rough and coarse other people may be, you must always be polite and gentlemanly in your deportment. But then you must be careful not to form sudden intimacies with strangers, nor trust much to their
professions, nor admit them to your confidence, or familiarity.”
While Rollo’s father was saying this, he took out his watch, and told Rollo that he should have to finish his explanation some other time, for it was now time to go down stairs, for it was nearly the hour for breakfast. Rollo was ready, and so they went down.
They came into a large parlor, where several ladies and gentlemen were assembled. Some were seated upon a sofa, some were standing by the windows, and others were walking to and fro. Rollo’s father walked to a window, and took a seat, Rollo himself standing by his side.
“Father, where is the breakfast?” whispered Rollo.
“It is in another room. It is not quite ready yet.”
“And who are all these people?” said Rollo.
“They are travellers,” replied his father, “waiting for their breakfast.”
Rollo looked around the room, to observe the travellers. They all looked just like people at home. A few were talking in
groups, two or three together, but others sat by themselves, with a thoughtful expression of countenance. There was one boy in the room, who appeared to be about as old as Thanny. He was a plump, ruddy-cheeked, little fellow, with curls of hair hanging all over his face. A portly-looking lady, dressed in silks and laces, who seemed to be his mother, was leading him about. The boy had a picture-book in his hand.
Rollo was just beginning to ask his father to let him go and speak to that boy, when a pair of folding doors, at the end of the room, which Rollo had not before particularly observed, suddenly opened, and displayed a large apartment beyond, in which a long breakfast table was set, covered with cups and saucers, plates, smoking coffee urns, plates of beef-steak and of hot rolls. At the same instant a man entered through the folding doors, and said, bowing to the company,
“Ladies and gentlemen, breakfast is ready.”
The company drew off into the breakfast room, and took their seats at the table. Rollo sat by the side of his father. The child, whom he had noticed in the parlor, was
seated directly opposite to him, and he was continually begging his mother to give him cake, and sugar, and preserves. Rollo observed him, and was careful not to follow his example. He asked for nothing, but took whatever his father offered him.
When the company went out of the breakfast room, after the breakfast was ended, as Rollo was going up the stairs, following his father, he heard the voice of the child behind him. He looked round, and held out his hand to him.
“Run along, Archie,” said the boy’s mother, “and walk with that beautiful little boy.”
Rollo felt a little pleased at being called a beautiful little boy, and he thought that the lady must be a very kind and excellent lady. He took hold of the child’s hand, and said, as they went up stairs together,
“Is your name Archie?”
“Yes, said Archie. “What is your name?”
“My name is Rollo.”
“I came in the steamboat,” said Archie.
“Did you?” said Rollo. “I came in the stage.”
When they reached the head of the stairs, Archie’s mother went towards the door of her room, holding her hand out to Archie to follow.
“Come, Archie,” said she.
“No, mother, I shan’t come,” said Archie. “I am going to stay and play with this boy.”
“Well,” said Archie’s mother, with a smile, “you may stay. That is a good little boy, I know, and you may stay here upon the stairs, and play with him, a little while, if you wish it.”
So Rollo, instead of following his father into his room, remained at the head of the stairs, talking with Archie. Rollo took out his things from his pocket, and showed them to him, and Archie was so good-natured and pleasant, that Rollo began to think that he was a very good boy. He forgot that even bad boys are good-natured and pleasant, when they have what pleases them; and that, on the other hand, no boy can be good, who disobeys his mother.
At last, however, Rollo thought that he ought to go into his father’s room, and so he began to put his things back into his pocket.
When he had got them pretty nearly all in, he began to look around, and say,
“And now where’s my compass?”
It was the little compass which Jonas had given him, which he had taken out to show to Archie, and now it was gone.
“Haven’t you got it, Archie?” said he.
“No,” said Archie.
Rollo saw that Archie’s hand was shut up, and looking at it attentively, he could see the edge of the compass between his fingers.
He seized hold of his hand, saying, “You have got it; and you must give it to me.”
Archie began to scream. He pulled and tried to get away. His mother came running to the door, to see what was the matter.
“Archie!” said she, “Archie, my dear. What is the matter?”
“I will have it,” said Archie.
“He has got my compass,” said Rollo.
“Why, Archie! give him his compass,” said the lady.
“I won’t,” said Archie. “ ’Tisn’t his compass.”
“Yes it is,” said Rollo; “or rather it’s
Jonas’s, which is the same thing; for he lent it to me.”
Rollo continued to hold Archie’s hand, and Archie tried to pull it away.
“Give it to him this instant,” said Archie’s mother, sternly.
“I won’t,” said Archie, and he began to scream again.
“O dear, what shall I do?” said Archie’s mother. “Rollo, my dear, let him have it, that’s a good boy. Jonas won’t care.”
At this instant Archie succeeded in getting his hand free; he scrambled up, and away he ran to his mother’s room. She followed him hastily, and shut the door. Rollo looked after them a moment, with an expression of amazement in his countenance, and then the tears began to come fast into his eyes.
He sat a few minutes, not knowing what to do. At length he arose, brushed away his tears, and went, with a slow and melancholy step, into his father’s room. The door had not been shut, and his father had heard all that had passed.
“Father,” said Rollo, “I’ve lost Jonas’s compass. What shall I do? That old, ugly Archie has carried it away.”
“You are out of humor, Rollo.”
“Well, father, he has stolen my compass.”
“I can’t talk with you now about it, for you are vexed and angry; so that you hardly know what you are saying. Go and sit by the window, and see what is passing by, until you get quiet in mind, and then I will talk with you about it.”
Rollo’s father then went on with his work of arranging his articles in his trunk.
In about ten minutes, Rollo came to his father, and said,
“Father, can’t I help you pack your trunk?”
“Why, I don’t know. I am afraid you cannot pack the things tight enough.”
“Why must trunks be packed so very tight?” said Rollo.
“To prevent the things shaking about. If they shake about, the hard and heavy things will spoil the others.”
“How?” said Rollo.
“By rubbing against them, and wearing holes in them. Once I heard of a man who put a little bag of dollars into his trunk, without securing it properly; he travelled a hundred miles with it, over a rough road;
and, at the end of his journey, he found that the dollars had worn their way out of the bag, and cut his clothes, in that corner of the trunk, almost to pieces.”
Rollo was silent a few minutes, thinking of the dollars; and at length his father said,
“Have you got over your vexation about the loss of the compass, Rollo?”
“Yes, sir, the vexation, but I am very sorry.”
“I am not,” said his father.
“Not sorry!” said Rollo, with surprise.
“Why not, sir?” said Rollo.
“Because the lesson you learned by it is worth more than the compass.”
“I don’t know what you mean, father.”
“Why, I cautioned you against familiarity with strangers; and now you see the necessity of being on your guard.”
“But, father, I didn’t know that Archie was such a bad boy.”
“No, I know you didn’t. But you knew he was a stranger. What I warned you against was sudden familiarity with strangers, not with bad boys.”
Rollo did not answer.
“But you must not think I blame you, Rollo, for what you did. Perhaps you were a little in fault, for not coming in with me, or at least not asking my leave to stay and play with Archie. Still, that was a very slight error; and, in showing him your play-things, I have no doubt you were actuated by feelings of kindness and good-will. So that I don’t consider that you were to blame, and have been justly punished, but only that you have learned something by painful experience, which you could not thoroughly learn in any other way; and I am glad it is well over—just as I was glad when you had fairly got through having the whooping cough.”
“I wish I could have learned it,” said Rollo, “without losing my compass.”
“Everybody has to lose something, by the selfishness and injustice of others, and you will do very well if you escape with losing only such a compass. I have known young men to lose large sums of money, by trusting to strangers, or by sudden familiarity with them. I hope you will be on your guard now, and so avoid more serious losses.”
Rollo was sitting upon a carpet bag, during this conversation; and now, while his father was strapping up his trunk, after having said these words, he remained a few moments apparently lost in thought. At length he said again,
“But, father, there is one trouble; the compass was Jonas’s, and so the loss comes upon him; and it ought to come upon me.”
“I was thinking of that, myself,” said his father; “and I can remedy that difficulty, by going with you, and buying him another.”
“And then that will bring the loss upon you.”
“O, I don’t care anything about that,” replied his father; “for, in fact, I should like to buy Jonas another compass,—a better one than the one you have lost. So you see we need not be troubled about the affair at all. You were not to blame. It was only your childish inexperience; and you have learned something about a kind of smooth-faced selfishness and injustice, which is very common in the world, that you could not have learned in any other way. So I am rather glad of the whole affair.”
Rollo’s father then took his watch out of his pocket, and said that it was time to go out and do some of his business.
“What business?” said Rollo.
“O, I have got a great many little purchases to make,” replied his father, “and among the rest, Jonas’s new compass.”
Rollo went with his father, and they spent nearly all the morning in the shops; but, after all, they had to put off buying the compass until after dinner.
Rollo and his father were going away in the steamboat, that afternoon. The steamboat was to start at five o’clock; and about three, Rollo’s father said that it was time to go and get their trunks ready.
They were both in a jeweller’s shop when he said this. They had been buying Jonas’s new compass. The compass had been selected and paid for, and the man who kept the shop had wrapped it up neatly in a brown paper, and given it to Rollo, to put into his pocket. So that their business at the shop was done, only Rollo was looking about to see the curious things which were in the glass cases, and upon the shelves.
He would have liked to have staid a little longer; but he followed his father very cheerfully, when he was told that it was time to go. When he got out into the street, however, he asked his father what o’clock it was.
“About three,” replied his father.
“And what time does the boat go?”
“Then it is two hours before we must be at the boat,” said Rollo; “and why need we leave the shop so soon?”
“I ordered the carriage to come at four,” said his father; “and it will take us nearly an hour to get to the hotel, settle the bill, and pack, lock, and strap our trunks, and get all ready.”
“I should not think it would take a whole hour,” said Rollo.
“No, it need not take a whole hour; but I wanted to make ample allowance, so that we can take it leisurely, and preserve a quiet mind. A great deal of the comfort of travelling consists in keeping always a quiet mind, so as never to be hurried and worried.”
“Yes, sir,” said Rollo.
“And then I don’t think it will take us an hour to get to the boat from the hotel. It is not more than half a mile. But then the coachman may not be exactly punctual, and it will take him some time to strap on the trunks; and we may be delayed by some
unforseen occurrence. Besides, I like to get to the boat half an hour before the time for starting, and then I can get my baggage all safely arranged, before the confusion.”
“The confusion?” said Rollo.
“Yes,” said his father; “the last fifteen minutes before the boat sails, is a time of confusion, as you will see. Wise travellers, now, take pains to avoid all scenes of hurry and confusion, as much as possible, so as to keep their minds calm and quiet. To secure this, there are two things necessary.”
“What two things?” said Rollo.
“Plenty of time, and plenty of money.”
“Travellers can always take plenty of time,” said Rollo, “I suppose; but perhaps they can’t always get plenty of money.”
“Then let them take a shorter journey.”
“But perhaps their business requires that they should take a long journey,” said Rollo.
“O, business!” said his father. “I am speaking rather of journeys for pleasure. At any rate they can generally make a sufficient allowance for time. We can, certainly, this afternoon.”
By this time they arrived at the hotel. Rollo’s father went to the bar and paid his
bill, and then they both prepared their trunks to go on board the boat. The coachman came about five minutes after the time appointed; and then it took about five minutes more to get the trunks fastened upon the rack behind the coach, so that it was about half past four when they reached the steamboat wharf.
“Why, father!” said Rollo, “how narrow the sea is!”
“The sea?” repeated his father; “this is not the sea.”
“What is it, then?” said Rollo.
“A river,” replied his father.
“I thought we were going to sail upon the sea,” replied Rollo.
“So we are, by and by. We shall sail down the river, to its mouth, and then come out to the sea.”
“We are going down that way, then,” said Rollo, pointing along towards the town they came from.
“No,” replied his father; “down is that way.” And he pointed in the opposite direction.
“Then the water is all running up,” said Rollo.
“What makes you think so?” said his father.
“O, I can see the bubbles and sticks sailing along.”
While they were talking in this way, the men who belonged on board the boat were taking off their trunks, and carrying them on board. Rollo and his father followed, walking over upon a broad plank. There were several people coming and going. A great fire was burning under the boiler, and men were putting in more wood. The steam was hissing out of the waste steam-pipe. There was another plank, which led tot he boat, near the bows, and they were rolling a great many heavy boxes and barrels in, over it. Rollo followed his father around, until he was confused and lost among the multiplicity of doors, and staircases, and passages, and heaps of baggage. In one place, he found a monstrous great boat, hanging from iron chains, by the side of the ladies’ cabin.
At length, after Rollo’s father had attended to the baggage, he took Rollo up a narrow staircase, which led to a high place, which Rollo called the roof, but which his father said was the promenade deck. It was
flat and smooth like a floor, and it had a long seat, with railing, extending all around it. There were stools and settees upon it, and our two travellers took two of the stools, and drew them up to one end of the boat, and seated themselves there. Rollo observed a stout pole standing upright by the side of him. He looked up to see what was at the top of it. He saw a large flag floating in the wind, with stars and stripes upon it.
Rollo sat here with his father, for several minutes, examining all the surrounding objects with great interest and attention. It was a pretty broad river, with sloops and boats passing up and down upon the water. The steamboat wharf was about half a mile below the town, and at a little distance below it, there was a pleasant, sandy beach, with a small boat lying upon it. There were several children in the boat, but it would not sail, for about half of it rested upon the sand.
Rollo sat watching the children in the boat. While he was observing them, a plain-looking woman, with two children, came up upon the promenade deck. The woman led the two children to a seat, and then she went
back again to look after her baggage. One of them was a girl, and the other a boy. The girl was the older, and the boy was about as big as Rollo. When their mother left them, she told them not to go away from that seat until she came again.
They sat there a minute or two, and then Rollo asked his father if he might go and see them. His father said, yes.
“But remember the rule,” said his father, in a low tone. “Be civil to all strangers, but familiar with none.”
“Yes, sir,” said Rollo, “I will.”
So he ran along, and began to talk with the boy. He found that his name was Thomas; and that he and his sister and mother were going in the steamboat, with Rollo.
They looked over the railing at the boys in the boat, and saw them trying to push it off. The boys untied a rope, by which the boat was fastened to a stake, upon the shore, and then with a long pole which they had, they could push the stern one way and another, through the water. The bows all the time stuck fast in the sand.
At length the boys spied Rollo and
Thomas looking at them; and they called out to them to come and sail too.
“No,” said Thomas; “you will get adrift pretty soon, and then away you’ll go.”
“No,” replied one of the boys, “we can’t get adrift, for the bows are aground.”
“And, besides,” said another boy, “if we do, we can push in ashore again, with our long pole.”
“I mean to go and sail,” said Thomas.
“No,” replied his sister; “mother said we must not go away from here.”
“But I will go and ask her,” said Thomas.
“You can’t find her,” rejoined the girl.
“O, yes,” said he, “I can; she is down below.”
“But she said you must not go away from here.”
“I don’t care,” said Thomas; “I mean to go and ask her.”
Rollo was at first inclined to go and ask his father to let him go too; but he immediately reflected that to go down with all those boys, to paddle about in the boat, would be quite too much of the nature of a sudden in[t]imacy with strangers to make it
at all probable that his father would approve of it. He therefore sat still upon the seat, resting his arm over the railing; and looking down towards the boat, he awaited the result.
“Father,” said he presently, “what is it that makes the water run up the river?”
“Because,” replied his father, “the tide is rising. The tide rises in the sea, and that makes the water flow back in all the rivers which empty into the sea, to some distance from their mouths. That is the case here, now. The tide is rising in the sea, and so the water flows back, and is running up the river.”
“I don’t see how it can run up,” said Rollo.
“It is not running up, strictly speaking. It is really running down; that is, it is descending, all the time, though it flows in the direction which we ordinarily call up the river. But there is, after all, no running up, for the tide rises at sea, so as to make the water there higher than it is in the river, and so it flows down into the river; and that makes the river, near the mouth, higher
than it is farther back, and then the water flows down into that part of the channel which is farther back.”
“O, there goes Thomas,” said Rollo, “I didn’t think his mother would have let him go.”
The truth was, his mother had not given him leave to go. He was not able to find her. She had gone into the ladies’ cabin; and so, when he descended from the promenade deck, although he found a great many people coming and going, his mother was nowhere to be seen. He waited here a few moments, looking about for her, and then he concluded to go without leave. He satisfied himself partly by thinking that he would come back in a minute, and that his mother would not see him, and partly by the idea that she could not possibly have any objection.
Thomas accordingly stepped cautiously over the broad plank, then made his way between the boxes and barrels which were upon the wharf, and thence descended to the shore; and the boys making room for him, he stepped over into the boat. The boat
was a little unsteady, as a considerable portion of it was afloat; he staggered along, however, to a seat and sat down.
Rollo could not help wishing that he was there too, though he had too much good sense to ask his father. The boy with the long pole stood at the stern of the boat, which was out upon the water, and pushed it first away over to one side, and then back to the other, thus giving the boys each time what they called a little sail. They were all little boys, or they would have known better than this, for the rising of the tide, and the heaving of the stern, in this manner, to and fro, were gradually working the boat off from the beach; and at length it cleared itself just as the boy was giving a vigorous push with his pole, and it accordingly glided off slowly into the current.
“O dear me!” cried out Thomas, “we are going off! we’re going off! O dear me!”
He ran at the same instant towards the bow of the boat, which was towards the shore; and the other little boys crowded there too.
“Push her back, Joe,” called out another boy, addressing the one who had the pole;
“why don’t you push her back?—You fool!”
The truth was, Joe was trying to push her back, but when he pushed on one side the boat only turned to the other, moving out more and more into the current. The other boy went angrily to him, to take the pole away, and at the same moment, Thomas, who was really frightened, and saw that they were only going farther and farther from the shore, jumped off as far as he could towards the sand. He saw, before he leaped, that the distance was too great for him to leap over entirely, but the crisis was urgent, and justified, he thought, a desperate measure. He came down into the water where it was about up to his knees. The water dashed up into his face and half blinded him. He, however, had sufficient possession of his faculties to stagger on towards the shore, which he reached by a few steps, drenched with the water, terrified, and overwhelmed with self-reproach and guilty fears.
In the meantime the boat drifted on, borne by the tide, and the boys sat upon the thwarts crying, or stood looking at the
shore in silent despair. The men and boys upon the wharf, and on the decks of the steamboat, looked upon them as they went. Some pitied them; but others mocked and derided them. At length, however, somebody had compassion upon them so far as to go off in another boat, and to bring them all back safe to the shore.
Rollo saw no more of Thomas, and in fact he thought very little more about him at that time, for the crowd and movement in and about the boat had now greatly increased, and he was very much interested in watching what was going on. Carriages and carts were pouring in upon the wharf in a continued stream, bringing passengers and baggage; apple and orange women were moving to and fro, offering fruit to all purchasers; and boys, with newspapers, a penny apiece, damp from the press, walked about trying to sell them, or stood near the plank to intercept the new comers. Rollo was very glad that he and his father had arrived in such good season.
Just then a bell rang violently. Rollo’s father told him that it was the first bell. In ten minutes more there was another, which made a tolling sound. “All ashore!” shouted out a man below. Then there was a
great bustle upon the plank, made by the fruit women and boys, and all other persons who were not to go in the boat, hurrying across the plank to the wharf. The cables which confined the steamboat to the great posts upon the corner of the wharf were then cast off, and the ends fell into the water, and were drawn in by the hands on board the beat, and neatly coiled. The great paddle wheels began to revolve; the loud and almost deafening hissing of the steam suddenly ceased; and the boat swept majestically around out into the river. “We are going off,” said Rollo, “we are going off,” clapping his hands with delight.
It is remarkable that he used the same words that Thomas had used, just before, when the boat was adrift; though he spoke them with a feeling of the greatest interest and pleasure, while in Thomas’s case, they were expressions of the utmost anxiety and terror. So much does our happiness or our misery depend upon our being in the way of duty.
For, in fact, Thomas was in no more danger in drifting away in the boat, than Rollo was now in the steamboat. The water
was smooth, and the tide was setting in, so that they could not drift out to sea. Then there were plenty of people all around, who, though they might tease and deride them at first, would certainly go and get them before long. So that Thomas’s fear and anxiety were owing to his sense of guilt, and not to any real danger.
Rollo was much pleased to see the trees and banks moving, or rather apparently moving, as the boat glided by. There was one great oak, which stood upon a headland or promontory, where the boat passed very near the shore. Rollo could hardly convince himself that this oak was not actually moving, though he knew very well that a tree could not move, when it was planted in the solid ground.
After sailing on in this way a few minutes, Rollo exclaimed,
“O, father, here comes a vessel; how fast it sails! and it is sailing stern foremost.”
The vessel which Rollo pointed to swept swiftly along the side of the steamboat, and disappeared behind the wheel-house, for, at this time, Rollo and his father were sitting upon the trunks, by the side of the ladies’
cabin, upon the main deck. Rollo wanted to know what made the vessel go so fast, without any sails. His father did not answer him. He seemed to be looking at something upon the shore beyond, or else lost in thought.
“Father,” said Rollo, again, laying his hand upon his father’s knee, “what made that vessel go so fast without any sails?”
“She was not going,” replied his father.
“O, father!” said Rollo.
“She appeared to you to be in motion; but the motion is really in the steamboat. The vessel was at rest.”
“But how do you know, father? The steamboat might be moving, and the vessel too.”
“Yes; but I noticed certain almost infallible indications that the vessel was at rest. You judged from appearances, and so did I; though the appearance which I observed were more safe grounds for judgment than yours.”
“What were the appearances which you judged from, father?” said Rollo.
“In the first place,” his father replied, “the fact that there were no sails spread
proved that she was still; for without sails she could not move, unless she was drifting with the tide; and if she had got adrift, in any way, the en on board would not have been so quiet and easy, but would have been at work to secure her, to prevent her going ashore. Did not you see the captain standing there very contented and easy, with his foot upon a barrel, and his chin upon his hand?”
“Was that the captain?” said Rollo.
“Yes, I suppose so; or the mate. But there was another appearance, more conclusive still, indicating that the vessel was at rest.”
“What was it?” said Rollo.
“It was a dark line issuing from the bows and running down into the water. You, perhaps, did not notice it; but my eye caught it at once, as that is the place where the cable is to be seen, when a vessel is at anchor. I observed that the cable was straight and tense, as if the vessel was pulling upon it pretty hard. So I saw at once that she was confined securely, and still,—just as you would see that a horse was not travelling, if you got only a single glimpse of the halter by which he was tied to the post.”
Just at this moment Rollo’s attention was aroused by hearing a sudden burst of sound down by the side of the steamboat; and volumes of white steam began to pour up from the water. Rollo started up; he thought the boiler had burst. He looked at his father, wondering why he did not run. But his father was sitting still and quiet as ever, and so Rollo felt a little relieved, and instead of running away he contented himself with asking,
“What is that?”
“Only letting off a little steam.”
“O,” said Rollo.
He took his seat, but in a moment he said again,
“O, father, let us go and see the engine.”
“Well,” replied his father, “I will go and show you the engine, if you wish to see it.”
Rollo accordingly took his father’s hand, and they walked along towards the middle of the steamboat. They passed by a place where there was a sort of window open, and a great crowd of men before it.
“What are those men doing?” said Rollo.
“They are paying their fare,” said his father.
“How much must you pay for me?” said Rollo.
“About half price, I suppose,” replied his father.
“I should think you ought to pay more than half price for me,” said Rollo; “I am pretty heavy.”
His father made no reply to this, but moved on slowly, leading Rollo by the hand, between the crowd and a great pile of boxes.
“What is in all these boxes?” asked Rollo.
“I don’t know,” said his father. “Some sort of merchandise, I suppose.”
“O, father,” exclaimed Rollo, “what is that?”
He spoke in a tone of great surprise, and pointed directly before him. It was a large, round beam of iron, which extended across the passage where they were walking, about as high as Rollo’s shoulders; and it was slowly revolving, round and round. Rollo could only see the middle of it, for the two ends passed into the two opposite partitions,
p. 77 blank
[illustration of a man and a boy examining machinery]
and of course were concealed from view. Rollo stopped, and looked a little afraid of this ponderous piece of machinery.
“What is it, father?” said he.
“That is the main shaft,” answered his father; and he walked up and put his hand upon it. The heavy axle kept turning on steadily under his hand, just as before.
“What is it for?” said Rollo.
“Why, this end,” replied Rollo’s father, pointing to the end which extended out towards the side of the boat,—“this end is fastened to the middle of the great paddle-wheel at the side of the steamboat, and it carries the wheel round in the water, and the paddles strike the water, and that makes the boat go along.”
Rollo looked upon the revolving axle a moment in silence, and with an expression of wonder upon his countenance. At length he said,
“And where does the other end go?”
“It goes into the engine room,” replied his father, “and is connected with the machinery.”
“I wish I could see,” said Rollo.
“Come,” replied his father, “we will go
and look into the engine room.” And he and Rollo walked along.
They came to a door, which was open, and Rollo looked in. He saw a great deal of complicated machinery. He could not understand it at all.
“What makes the great shaft go round?” asked Rollo.
“The crank,” replied his father.
“What is the crank?”
Then his father pointed him to the place where the end of the main shaft came through the wall into the engine room, and he saw that there was a crank, somewhat like the crank of a grindstone, which went round and round, carrying the main shaft with it. There was a great, heavy iron beam which descended from above, and the lower end was fastened to the crank, and went up and over, and then down and back, as the crank went round.
“And what makes the crank go round?” asked Rollo.
“The pitman,” replied his father.
“What is the pitman?”
“It is that great beam which comes down from above, and carries the crank.”
Rollo looked at the heavy pitman, which rose and descended, and swept round majestically, carrying the crank with prodigious power.
“And what makes the pitman go?” said Rollo.
“The beam,” said his father.
“What is the beam?” said Rollo.
“You see it there,” said his father, pointing up. It was a large iron frame coming almost to a point at each end, and poised in the centre upon a pivot, upon which it moved up and down, like a see-saw, one end up and the other down. The pitman was attached to one end: and so when that end of the beam rose, the pitman was drawn up, and it drew up the crank with it, and when it went down, it carried the crank down over the other side, and so made it constantly revolve.
“Yes,” said Rollo, “but now what makes the beam go?”
“The piston rod,” replied his father.
“What is the piston rod?”
“It is that long, bright, oily-looking iron rod, which is fastened to the other end of the beam.”
Rollo looked at the piston rod. It was about as large around as a man’s arm at the shoulder. It hung down from the beam, at the end opposite to the one where the pitman was fastened. When the piston rod went up, it pushed up that end of the beam, and when it came down, it pulled it down, and so kept the beam in motion. Rollo observed that when it descended, it went into a small hole, just big enough to admit it, in the top of a great round thing, shaped somewhat like a hogshead, only it was taller, and the sides were straight. The piston rod went down, the whole length, into this hole, and then came up again looking bright and oily.
“And what makes the piston rod move up and down?” said Rollo.
“The piston,” said his father.
“What is the piston?” said Rollo.
“It is out of sight, in that great, round thing which is called the cylinder. It is fastened to the end of the piston rod, and is round and flat, and just broad enough to fill the whole breadth of the cylinder, inside. When this piston goes up, it makes the piston rod, which is fastened to the upper
side of it, go up, and when it comes down, it draws the piston rod down.”
“And what makes the piston move up and down?” said Rollo.
“The steam in the cylinder. The hot steam is forced in with prodigious power, first under the piston, and that drives the piston up, and then it is let out below, and more steam is forced in above the piston, and that drives it down; and so the steam, bring first driven in above and then below, makes the piston rise and fall.”
“And what makes the steam go into the cylinder first above the piston, and then below,” said Rollo.
“The valve apparatus,” said his father.
“What is the valve apparatus?” said Rollo.
Then his father pointed to some complicated apparatus which stood pretty near the cylinder. The parts of it kept moving up and down; first one part, then the other. Rollo looked at it a moment with a perplexed expression of countenance. He despaired of understanding such hopeless intricacy. His father told him that that valve apparatus was to let the steam in right, into the cylin-
der, first under the piston to drive it up, and then above the piston to drive it down.
“And where does the steam come from?” said Rollo, at length, after a long pause.
“It comes from the great steam pipe which conducts it from the boiler.”
“Where is the steam pipe?” asked Rollo.
His father pointed to a large pipe or trunk, which came up from below, and branched off into the valve apparatus, to supply it with steam.
“Now,” said he, “we will go and see the fire room.”
“The fire room?” said Rollo.
“Yes,” replied his father, “where they make the fire under the boiler.”
They accordingly walked along the passage-way a few steps, and came to another door, which opened into the fire room. Two men were there, shovelling coal in the mouths of a great, burning, fiery furnace. Above the furnace was the end of the boiler, made of iron, and riveted with monstrous, round-headed rivets. There were stop-cocks and pipes here and there in the boiler, and the steam hissed from all the points.
“So now, Rollo,” said his father, “you understand something about the steam engine.”
“Yes, sir,” said Rollo.
“You see,” continued his father, “that the firemen make great fires under the boiler. This boils the water very fast. The steam expands and presses with prodigious force, but the boiler is made tight and strong all around, and it cannot get away.”
“Except through the steam pipe,” said Rollo.
“Yes,” said his father, “except through the steam pipe. It crowds through this pipe, and the valve apparatus admits it into the cylinder below the piston; so it crowds the piston up with great force. Then the valve apparatus changes, and lets the steam in above the piston, and so it crowds it down. The piston rod works the beam, and the beam works the pitman, and the pitman turns the crank, and the crank carries round the main shaft, and the main shaft makes the paddle wheels revolve, and they make the boat go. And thus it is that the host steam, expanding and pressing with great force against the piston, in the cylinder, first
above and then below, crowds it up and down, and drives the boat through the water.”
Rollo gazed at the firemen. They looked pale and smutty, and the fire glared upon their countenances. In a few minutes his father said he must go and settle his fare.
A NIGHT AT SEA.
About an hour or two after the boat left the wharf, Rollo and his father went down into the cabin. The cabin was a very long room, with curtains on each side.
“How do you like it, Rollo?” said Mr. Holiday.
“Pretty well, sir,” said Rollo; “only it is rather dark.”
“They cannot have many windows in a sea-boat,” said his father.
“Why not?” asked Rollo.
“Because, perhaps, the sea would dash in.”
Behind the curtains, at the sides of the cabin, were places to sleep in. Rollo’s father called them berths. They were like boxes, made in the wall, one over the other, with a bed in each one. Rollo’s father looked along, examining the fronts of several of them.
“What are you looking for?” said Rollo.
“To find my berth; it is No. 39.”
Rollo helped his father find No. 39. The numbers were printed in small gilded letters under each berth. No. 39 was one of the lower berths, pretty well aft. Rollo’s father said he chose it there, because it would be more away from the noise of the engine. After they had found No. 39, Rollo wanted to know where his berth was.
“You haven’t got any separate berth,” said his father; “and I am going to let you sleep in mine.”
“But why don’t I have a berth, too?” asked Rollo. “Don’t they ever give them to any boys?”
“Yes; boys have berths in this steamboat,” replied his father, “unless there are men enough to occupy them all; and as men pay full price, and boys only half price, it is right that men should have the berths.”
“Should I have a berth, then,” asked Rollo, “if you paid full price for me?”
“Yes,” replied his father; “but the fare is five dollars; and half of it is how much?”
“Two dollars and a half,” answered Rollo.
“Yes. So if I paid full fare for the sake of getting you a berth, I should pay two dollars and a half for a place to sleep in for one night; which is a great deal more than it would be wise to give; for, after all, the berths are hard and uncomfortable, and it is about as easy to sleep upon this seat.”
He pointed, as he said this, to a narrow seat, handsomely painted, which passed along the side of the cabin, just before the berths, and about level with the lower tier. Rollo thought it looked like rather a hard place to sleep upon.
“I can spread down my cloak,” said his father, “and then put my carpet bag at the head for a pillow; and I dare say I shall get along very well.”
“But, father,” said Rollo, “I ought to sleep upon the seat.”
“Why, no,” replied his father; “as you are not accustomed to sleeping on board a steamboat, and I am, I thought I would let you have the berth.”
“No, father,” said Rollo, “I had rather
take the seat; boys can sleep easier than men, you know.”
His father acquiesced in this arrangement, and just as they had done talking about it, two colored men came in at the forward end of the gentlemen’s cabin, and began to pull out some tables. The tables were what they call extension tables. They looked, when Rollo and his father came into the cabin, like square tables, standing in a row, at equal distances up and down the cabin. The men took hold of opposite ends of one of the tables, and pulled it open; for it was made so that the frame would draw out a long distance. They then covered over the frame with mahogany boards, which were all ready, so as to make quite a long table of what was before a small, square one. In the same manner they pulled out all the other tables, and joining the ends together, they made a very long table indeed, extending all up and down the cabin.
“What is all that for?” asked Rollo.
“That is the table for supper,” replied his father.
Rollo sat and watched them while they set
the supper-table. His father, in the meantime, took a newspaper out of his pocket, and went towards the stern windows for light, and began to read.
Rollo was much interested in the process of setting the table. It took a great while. When it was all ready, there suddenly appeared a large number of ladies, coming down a flight of stairs, near where his father was sitting. The stairs led from the ladies’ cabin. They were coming down to supper.
After the ladies were seated, Rollo heard a bell ringing upon deck, and immediately afterwards crowds of men came down the main stairway, and seated themselves also at the table. Rollo and his father joined them, and had a good supper.
They rambled about the boat an hour or two after supper. At length Rollo began to stagger a little, when walking; and once he almost tumbled over against some trunks. His father told him that it was the motion of the boat, caused by the swell of the sea, which made him stagger.
“Are we out at sea, now?” said Rollo.
“Yes,” said his father, “we are just going out, I suppose.”
“Let us go and see,” said Rollo.
So Rollo and his father went up on the promenade deck again, and Rollo looked around. It was now evening, but the stars were bright in the sky, and he could see pretty well. The boat was in a large bay, standing out to sea. Rocky shores were dimly visible at a distance, and there was an island, with a long, sandy beach upon the right hand. The surface of the water was gently roughened by the evening breeze, and a large brig was slowly coming on, to meet the steamboat, as Rollo thought, in order to pass between them and the island.
“There’s a ship, coming,” said Rollo.
“No,” said his father, “it is a brig, going.”
“Going?” said Rollo. “No, father, it is coming this way.”
“It appears to be coming this way, but that is because we are going so much faster than she is. You may know that she is going the same way that we are, by the direction of the bows, which point the same way with ours; and then the sails, too, are filled from this side, and that must blow her along the way we are going.”
“But, father,” said Rollo, “the wind is blowing this way”; and he waved his hand back towards the stern of the steamboat, to indicate that the wind was blowing against them.
“It seems to be,” replied his father; “but really the wind is blowing the other way, only we go so much faster than this little evening breeze, that we make a wind, as they say, against us.”
By this time the steamboat had come up nearly abreast of the brig, and Rollo perceived quite a ripple of water under the brig’s bows, which proved, beyond doubt, that the brig was going in the same direction; in fact, though the appearance that the motion was the other way, was so strong, that Rollo thought his reason contradicted his eyes, and he hardly knew which to believe.
Rollo had to take hold of a round, slender post, to keep himself steady, when the boat rose and fell over the great swells of the sea; and as the motion was increasing, his father thought that they had better both go to bed.
They accordingly went from the promenade deck down to the main deck, and thence along the passage-ways to the stair-
case, which led below to the gentlemen’s cabin. Rollo’s father pulled his carpet bag out from among the baggage, and when they had got down to their berth, he pulled out his wrapper, and arranged the rest of the things in the carpet bag, in such a way as to make as soft a pillow of it as possible. Rollo insisted upon sleeping on the seat himself, and letting his father have the berth. His father made the seat as comfortable as possible, by spreading down his surtout, doubled once or twice, for a bed, and his carpet bag for a pillow, and he took one of the blankets from the berth, to cover him up with.
After they were both fairly fixed in their quarters for the night, Mr. Holiday asked Rollo how he liked his place.
“Pretty well, sir;—I like it very well, only the carpet bag feels rather prickly.”
“So it is,” said his father, putting his hand out to feel of the carpet bag. “It is rather rough for your cheek to lie upon. However, I will remedy that difficulty.”
He accordingly reached out to his dressing-box, which he had put upon a little shelf at the lower end of his berth, before he went to bed, and took out of it a large silk hand-
kerchief neatly folded. Rollo lifted up his head, and his father spread the handkerchief over the carpet bag, and then Rollo laid his head down again.
“There,” said he, with a tone of satisfaction, “that will do finely. It feels very soft and smooth.”
“Now, father,” he continued, “if you would just be so good as to tell me a story, just while I am going to sleep.”
“Can’t you go to sleep without a story?” said his father.
“No, sir, because there is such a loud noise.”
“What noise do you mean?” replied his father.
The reason why Rollo’s father did not know what noise he meant, was because there were a great many men all about the cabin, some talking and laughing, some reading and writing at tables, and some getting into the berths, which ranged up and down the sides of the cabin. Besides this, the engine made a noise, and the whole boat trembled from the rapid strokes of the paddles upon the water as the wheels revolved.
“That thumping and rumbling noise,” said Rollo.
“That is the engine,” replied his father, “and the concussion of the paddles upon the water.”
“It goes a great deal louder than it did before we went to bed,” said Rollo. “I suppose we are going very fast now.”
“No, it is not really any louder,” replied his father, “only it seems louder to you, because your head is upon the pillow, and that conducts the sound to your ear.”
“Upon the carpet bag, you mean,” said Rollo.
“Yes,” replied his father, “that is your pillow just now.”
“Well, father,” said Rollo, “couldn’t you tell me a little story?”
“Not very well, just now, for I want to go to sleep; but I can give you a little advice.”
“Well, sir,” said Rollo, “advice will do.”
His father then began to give Rollo some good advice, and he talked with him for some time. Their heads were very near together, Rollo’s on the carpet bag, and his
father’s in the berth. So they talked in a low tone of voice, and nobody else could hear. Rollo himself found it very difficult to get asleep, he was so much disturbed by the many voices in the cabin, and by the noise of the engine, which seemed to him to grow louder and louder. At length, however, he fell asleep.
A good many hours passed away, during which Rollo was entirely unconscious of every thing which took place around him. At last, however, he was awakened by some strange sensation. He lifted his head up from the carpet bag, and looked around. The cabin was nearly empty. Clothes were lying about upon the seats, and near the curtains of the berths. There were one or two tables, which had solitary lamps burning upon them, and at one, a man was seated, leaning his forehead upon his arms, which were folded upon the table.
Rollo looked around and listened. He observed that the heavy thumping and rumbling of the engine had ceased, and the steamboat seemed to be gliding smoothly through the water. He could, in fact, hear the washing of the water against the sides of the boat, where his father’s berth came.
Rollo could not think what could be the
matter. Just at that moment, his father pushed away the little white curtain of his berth, and looked out upon Rollo.
“Rollo,” said he, “are you awake?”
“Yes, sir,” said Rollo; “what is the matter?”
“The engine has stopped.”
“What for?” asked Rollo.
“I don’t know; there is some difficulty, probably. Perhaps something is out of order.”
“Well, father, hadn’t we better go and see what is the matter?”
“No,” replied his father; “I think not. We cannot do any good, and our wisest course is to lie quiet, and try to go to sleep again.”
“But, father, perhaps the boiler has burst,” said Rollo.
“No,” replied his father, “for then we should have heard the report.”
“Perhaps the vessel has sprung a leak,” added Rollo.
“They would come and tell us, if any thing had taken place, which it is important for us to know.”
While Rollo and his father had been talk-
ing thus, there had been a movement in several of the berths, and one or two men had got up and gone upon deck. Just as Rollo’s father had answered Rollo’s last suggestion, a man came down the stairway, only partly dressed, but with his cloak over his shoulders, and slippers upon his feet. As he came down, a head and a pair of shoulders appeared between the curtains of a berth, near the bottom of the stairs.
“What is the matter, sir?” said the man in the berth.
“Fog,” replied the other. “We have stopped to sound.”
Rollo did not understand what was meant by stopping to sound. He had heard of bells being rung, as a signal to vessels in fogs, and he thought it probable that the steamboat had stopped to ring a bell, to warn other vessels which might be in the way, that the steamboat was coming. He accordingly listened, expecting every moment to hear the bell ring.
He peeped between his father’s curtains, but he thought he seemed to be asleep and he would not disturb him. So he lay still, listening and waiting for the bell, but it did
not ring, and he gradually fell asleep again himself.
He had, however, scarcely commenced his dreams, before he was suddenly awakened again. He started up. The thump and rumble of the ponderous engine had commenced, and it was that that awaked him.
“Ah, we are going again,” said Rollo to himself.
At the same moment he saw his father looking out again, between the curtains.
“Rollo,” said he.
“What, father,” replied Rollo.
“We are going again.”
“Yes, sir,” said Rollo; “I had just got asleep, and the engine has waked me up.”
“So had I,” replied his father; “but, now we are going again, we will go to sleep, and try to sleep till morning.”
“Yes, sir,” replied Rollo, “we will.”
So Rollo and his father went to sleep again.
It was not long, however, before Rollo was again disturbed. He looked around again, and listened, and he observed that the engine had stopped once more; and that the
sudden cessation of the noise had awakened him.
“This is very strange,” thought he. “The engine wakes me when it stops, and it wakes me when it sets agoing. I wonder why I don’t sleep sounder when it gets still.”
Pretty soon the engine was started again, and then Rollo once more went to sleep. This time he slept two hours, for during all this time the engine kept steadily agoing. At length, however, it suddenly ceased; and the boat glided smoothly through the water. Rollo aroused himself again, and looked towards the staircase. The lamps burned dimly, and a faint, gray light was shining down the stairway. Rollo thought it was beginning to be morning.
He lay still, however, being unwilling to disturb his father; but it was not long before his father awoke, and then Rollo wanted to get up. His father gave him permission, and he dressed himself and went up upon deck. He was careful not to go to any places where he did not see that people were accustomed to go. There were some other parts of the deck which he wanted to
walk upon, where it seemed to him perfectly safe; but he did not see other persons there, and so he did not know but that there might be some hidden danger.
He found that there was a very thick fog. He could see the water a little way around the vessel, and that was all. The air was still, and the water, at least the little of it that he could see, was smooth, and the steamboat was moving on through it much more slowly than it had done the night before.
There were several men standing or walking about the decks. Some looked pale, and some looked sleepy. As Rollo stood trying to look over the water, he heard one of them say to another,
“There, they are getting ready to sound; let us go and see.”
Just then he heard a little bell. Immediately the engine stopped. The steamboat glided more and more slowly through the water, and in a few minutes it almost ceased to move.
Rollo looked around in the direction where the men went, and he saw two or three men standing near the bows of the boat. One of
them had a heavy piece of lead in his hand. There was a long line fastened to it. This line passed along over the wheel- house, and a man near the stern of the vessel had hold of it there. Only he did not have hold of the end of the line, as Rollo saw that there was a great deal of loose line lying upon the deck.
“All clear, there?” called out the man with the lead, in a loud voice.
“All clear,” answered the man at the line.
The man who had the lead then hove it out as far as he could, into the water. It fell in with a heavy plash, and as the steamboat was still moving slowly along, it soon brought the place where the lead went into the water, opposite the man who held the line.
As the lead sank down into the water, it drew the line out through the man’s hands, gradually taking up the slack of the line which was lying upon the deck. At length the lead reached the bottom. The man perceived it at once, by its ceasing to draw the line through his hand. He then pulled up the line again, and observed how many di-
visions of it had taken to reach the bottom. He found that the water was ten fathoms deep.
“Ten,” he said in a loud voice, calling to the captain.
“Very well,” said the captain, turning to the pilot; “then we can stand on for half an hour longer.”
The pilot, hearing this, went into a little round room, near the bows of the vessel, which had large glass windows all around the front side, where he was accustomed to stand when he was steering. There was a curious-looking wheel in it, with handles all around the circumference, and there was a rope passing two or three times round the axle of the wheel. The ends of this rope passed along the sides of the vessel to the stern, and were there fastened to the rudder, so that, by turning the wheel one way or another, the rudder could be managed, and the boat steered. This little house, or room, was made to shut up close, so as to defend the pilot from the cold and bleak winds, and the rain; and it was placed in an elevated situation, and had a front of glass, in order
that the pilot might see all that was before him.
When the pilot got into this place, he pulled a little handle, and Rollo then heard the sound of a little bell again. Immediately the engine gave out a heavy groan, and struggled on. Rollo thought it did not like to go to work again very well.
Out on the end of the bowsprit Rollo observed a man, half sitting, half lying, and holding on by the ropes.
“He’ll fall,” said Rollo, speaking to himself, as he stood near the pilot’s house.
“No, he will not fall,” answered a voice near him.
Rollo looked around, and saw his father standing by his side.
“Why, father,” said he, “have you got up?”
“Yes,” replied his father. “How do we get along?”
“O, pretty well,” said Rollo; “we have been sounding, and the water is ten fathoms deep; and we are going to stand on for half an hour. How much is a fathom, father?”
“Six. Ten times six is sixty. Then it is sixty feet deep. And what did the captain mean by standing on?”
“Why, going along, on our way, towards the shore.”
“Well, father,” continued Rollo, “what is that man out on the bowsprit for? He has been there a great while.”
“He is the lookout, I suppose,” said his father. “He is watching ahead, to get the first glimpse of anything which might be approaching in the fog.”
“But, father, they know that they are a good way from the shore, because the water is so deep.”
“Yes, but we might come across a vessel.”
Rollo and his father talked together a little while, and then they went and found a comfortable place among the trunks and carpet bags, upon one side of the ladies’ cabin, and sat down. They wrapped themselves up in a cloak, for the morning was cool.
They had hardly got established, before the man who had held the line when they sounded before, came with it again, and took a position just opposite to them. In a minute
the boat stopped again, and the lead was thrown. Rollo wanted to get up and see, but his father told him that, as they were so comfortably established, they had better keep still, under the cloak.
The man let the line run out, until the lead struck the bottom, and then he drew it up again. He called out, Seven.
“Seven fathoms,” said Rollo. “Now it isn’t so deep; we are getting near the shore.”
“How much longer can you stand in?” said Rollo’s father, addressing the man with the line, who was then coiling it up.
“Not very long;—perhaps half an hour.”
The man went away with his lead and line, and Rollo asked his father how long it would be before breakfast.
His father thought it would be more than an hour.
“Then, father,” said Rollo, “I wish you would tell me a story now: you know you could not tell me one last night.”
“Well,” said his father, “I will. I will tell you the story of Moses and his ship.”
THE STORY OF MOSES AND HIS SHIP.
One day, just before Moses was going to school, he saw a boy, a good deal smaller than he was, coming along the road, with something which looked white in his hand. He stopped at the gate of his father’s house, and saw that it was one of his playmates, named John. He watched him as he walked along, and when he came up, he saw that the white thing he held in his hand was a little vessel. His father had made it for him. It was made of a thin, flat piece of board, and had an upright stick for a mast, and upon the mast was fastened a handsome, paper sail. It was this that looked so white.
When Moses saw this vessel, he wished it was his, and he asked John to give it to him; but John would not. After talking about it a little while, he told John he would give him some powder, if he would give it to him. John had seen gunpowder flash, when
dropped into the fire, and he thought that he should like to have some to play with.
But John did not feel easy. His conscience warned him that it would be wrong to take the gunpowder. He knew that his father would not like to have him play with so dangerous a thing. Conscience warned him not to do it, but he did not regard her. After hesitating a little, he said he would.
Before this, when he was walking along the street, with his little vessel in his hand, he felt happy, because he was doing right. Now he began to feel uneasy and unhappy, because he was going to do wrong.
Moses took the little vessel and went into the house to put it away, and to get his powder. He, too, felt guilty and unhappy, for he had no powder to give to John, and his plan was to get the vessel dishonestly. He carried it into the house and hid it behind a barrel in a back room, feeling guilty and ashamed all the time. There was a feeling in his heart that told him he was going to do something very wrong, and warned him not to do it. But he did not heed the warning.
He went into the parlor, opened his father’s secretary, took down the sand-box, and
poured out some of the black sand into a little paper, and then folded up the paper, put back the box, and shut the secretary again.
All the time that he was doing this he felt guilty and unhappy. Conscience was remonstrating with him. He felt that he was guilty of a great sin, in thus taking what belonged to his father without leave, and also of another, in defrauding his playmate. Still he went on.
He went out to the gate, and found John there; and he gave him the paper of sand. He hoped that John would put it directly into his pocket, and go away, without asking him any questions. But John slowly and carefully opened the paper.
He looked at the black sand a minute, and then he said, “Is that powder?—I did not know it looked like that.” “Yes,” said Moses, faintly.
The reason why John did not know that it was not powder, was partly because he was a little boy, and did not know exactly how powder ought to look, and partly because he felt guilty and uneasy himself; and so, his mind being somewhat disturbed, he could not think so well about the powder.
John then folded up the sand, and put it into his pocket, and both the boys walked along to school. But their peace and happiness were gone. They felt guilty, and anxious, and afraid;—guilty, because they both knew that they had done very wrong; anxious, because they could not drive the thoughts of their guilt from their minds; and afraid, because they thought that something would take place which would expose them.
All that day John found that having the powder, which he had expected would have been a source of great pleasure to him, was, in reality, a source of great uneasiness and pain. His thoughts would keep going all the time towards the pocket where he kept it, and he suffered more than would be paid for by seeing the most splendid fireworks which were ever made.
When he went home that night, he felt worse, rather than better. As he sat down by the fire, in the evening, after tea, with his father and mother, he felt more guilty and more anxious than ever. Conscience reproved him more and more. He was afraid too. He could not help thinking that his
powder might, by some accident, get on fire while it was in his pocket; and he was very sorry indeed that he had ever touched it.
He became so uneasy and unhappy at last, that he determined not to keep his powder any longer. What he ought to have done was to carry it at once to his father, and confess his fault, and ask his father to forgive him: then he would have been happy again.
Instead of this, however, he determined to go and throw the powder away. So he left the room, went out to the back door, took the paper out of his pocket, and threw it away. He listened and heard it fall down in a corner of the yard, among some bushes which were growing there. He came back into the house, relieved a little, and thinking that he had now got rid of his trouble, and that he never would try again to make himself happy by taking what he knew his father did not wish him to have.
But John soon found that he was not much relieved by throwing the powder away. He was unhappy still; and that night when he went to bed, he could not go to sleep. Conscience reproved him more
and more loudly, in the stillness and darkness of the night. He was afraid too. Sometimes he imagined that his powder would take fire there in the yard, and burn the house down. The wall looked light a little over his head, and he thought there must be something on fire in the yard to shine upon it. At last he covered his head up with the bed-clothes, partly to keep himself from seeing the light, and partly because he was afraid of something else, though he did not know what.
At last he got to sleep; but he was, even in his sleep, restless and unhappy. He dreamed that the house was on fire, and that there was gunpowder in it, and that he should be blown up. Then he waked in great distress, and stared about wildly. Doing wrong very often makes children have dreadful dreams. Yes, and men too.
About midnight John waked up again, and when he thought of his sin and all the unhappiness it had caused him, he began to cry, though he did not cry loud. He wished that he had confessed his fault to his father before he came to bed, and he determined to do it the first thing in the morning.
Now, it happened that just at this time John’s father, who slept in the same room, was awake; and, listening a few minutes, he could hear John moving a little in his bed, as if he was awake too. So his father said,
And John said,
His father perceived, when he spoke, that he was weeping. So he kindly asked him what was the matter.
John tried to answer, but he could not speak. He sobbed aloud.
Then John’s father pitied him very much, for he knew that he had done something wrong, and was unhappy on that account. He always treated his little boy kindly, even when he had been guilty of some fault; and now he asked him, in a gentle and soothing tone, to come to his father’s bed-side; and then he put his arm round his neck, as he stood, and kindly asked him what was the matter. So John told him fully all that he had done.
“Well,” said his father, “I am very glad you have told me. You could not have been happy again without it. Perhaps you
thought, at the time you took the powder, that it was not very wrong, for I had not positively forbidden it. But it was very wrong; for although I had not positively forbidden it, you supposed that I should not approve of it; and it is in fact disobedience for children to do anything which they think their parents do not wish them to do. That is what made you unhappy. It was conscience reproving you for doing what you knew was wrong.
“But now, if you are sincerely sorry, I forgive you, and God will forgive you, and you may go back to your bed, and forget it all, and go to sleep. You need not be afraid about the powder. I will take care of it in the morning, and you need not think about it any more.”
So John went back to his bed with a light heart, and lay down again. His father observed that he was still, and a few minutes afterwards, he rose up a little, and looked down to the trundle-bed where John was lying, to see whether he was asleep. The moon shone into the room a little, and he could see that John was lying with his hand under his head upon the pillow, his
cheek resting upon his hand. His eyes were shut, and he breathed regularly. His father saw that he was asleep, and his countenance was quiet and peaceful, showing that he was not disturbed by any more frightful drams.
Now, we must go back to Moses, and see what became of him. When he came home from school that afternoon, he went on fast, to avoid walking home with John. The sight of John made him feel guilty and ashamed. He went home quick too, in order to get his vessel, and carry it down behind his father’s house, to a little brook there, and see it sail. He thought he should have a fine time. Poor boy! How he was deceived! A boy cannot be happy in sailing the handsomest little vessel that ever was made, if his conscience is disturbed, and is reproaching him with his guilt.
When Moses got home, he went and brought out his vessel from its hiding-place, and walked with it, alone, through the garden. But something within him seemed to say, “This is not your vessel. You have no right to do it. You have been dishonest and wicked. Carry it back. Carry it back.”
Still, however, he went on, though the farther he went, the more uneasy and wretched he became; until, at last, he was on the point of giving up the sail, and going back. But just then he saw the smooth water of the brook before him, among the trees, and he thought the little vessel would glide over it so beautifully, that he forced himself on.
He took no pleasure in the sail. He felt guilty when he went down to the brink; he felt guilty when he stooped down and placed the vessel on the water, and he felt guilty when he saw it floating along slowly from the shore. He felt guilty and miserable, and he wished again and again that he had never seen the little vessel. Still he thought that, now it was there, he might as well see it sail; so he took up a long stick and pushed it away.
It gave him so little pleasure that he determined to give it up altogether; but still he would not do what he ought to have done, which was to take the boat, carry it back to John and confess his fraud. He could not bear to do this; and yet he found that keeping the boat himself would give
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[illustration: a boy sails a toy ship in a shallow brook]
only pain, and so he concluded to abandon it,—that is, to leave it to sail off down the stream, and be lost. He stood on the bank watching it as it slowly sailed away; conscience all the time reproving him and saying, “It is wrong for you to let it sail away. It is not your vessel; you have no right to it; and you have no right to let it sail away, and be lost.”
Still he did not heed conscience. He saw John’s vessel sail slowly down until it became entangled among the rushes, far down the stream; and then he turned away and went slowly home.
But though the vessel was out of sight, the thoughts of it he could not get out of his mind. He tried to think of something else, but the recollection of his guilt would force itself upon him. That night, when he went to bed and shut his eyes, it seemed as if he could still see the little vessel lying deserted among the flags and rushes; and little John too, seemed to stand before him, looking just as he did when he took the black sand, and asked him if it was really powder. It was a long time before he could go to sleep; and then he had frightful dreams.
The next day, too, he was ashamed to meet or to see John. Conscience reproached him continually with his fault, and made him miserable. He knew that he ought to go and get the vessel, and bring it back to the rightful owner, and he ought to confess his dishonesty and falsehood; but he would not. He was too proud to do it. So he went on day after day, feeling guilty and miserable.
And now, Rollo, for the moral of the story. Never do what you know is wrong. You will gain no enjoyment by it, which will repay you for the sufferings of self-reproach and the loss of peace of mind. God has given you your conscience, and you ought always to obey its voice; and if you should do wrong, immediately go and confess it, and resolve to do so no more.
Just as Rollo’s father had finished his story, the engine stopped, and immediately afterwards two or three rough-looking men, with tarpaulin hats, came along to the part of the boat where he and Rollo were sitting, and began to do something about the great boat which Rollo had observed, when he first came on board, hanging in chains by the side of the ladies’ cabin. It seemed very large to Rollo, though in fact it was not very large. The chains were suspended from great iron cranes, rough and rusty, and the men contrived to heave round the cranes, and so swing the boat over the side of the steamboat; and then they let it down into the water. One of the men was in the boat when they let it down.
“What are they going to do?” said Rollo.
“I don’t know,” said his father; “we shall see.”
Rollo and his father were pretty near the men and the boat, but the rattling of the ropes in the pulley, and the sound of the voices of the various passengers about the decks, prevented any one from hearing their conversation.
“Couldn’t you ask them?” said Rollo.
“I might, but they are busy, and it disturbs seamen to have the passengers continually asking them questions. We had better observe for ourselves.”
In the mean time a young man, well dressed, and with an intelligent expression of countenance, came along, with a curious looking instrument in his hand. It looked like a round box with a glass top. The men, who had let down the boat, climbed down and got into it. Rollo was afraid that they would fall into the water but they did not.
“Sometimes,” said Rollo’s father, “they let down the boat in order to send a passenger ashore; but that does not seem to be the object now.”
“Why not?” said Rollo.
“Because I don’t see any passenger, or any baggage.”
“Perhaps that man is a passenger, and he
has no baggage except his little box. I wish he would let me see what is in it.”
The young man looked over the side, at the sailors in the boat. They were getting out the oars. One man, upon the deck of the steamboat, was holding the end of a rope, which was fastened to the bows of the boat.
“He does not look like a passenger,” said Rollo’s father, in reply to what Rollo had said; “and, besides, there is no shore in sight where they might land him.”
“Well, father, then what are they going to do?”
“I know, I suppose,” said his father; “but i would rather not tell you; I want to see if you can find out yourself, by observing the movements.”
“What course shall I steer, sir?” said the young man, looking around and upwards. Rollo looked up, and saw the captain standing upon the wheel-house, where he was observing what took place on board the boat.
“About north-north-east,” said the captain. “Pull in, for a quarter of an hour or
so, and then you had better return, unless you hear the breakers.”
“What doe she mean by the breakers?” said Rollo.
“The waves dashing upon the rocks and the shore.”
“Why, father,” said Rollo, “there are not any waves this morning.”
“There is always a swell upon the sea, which makes more or less noise upon the rocks,” replied his father.
“John,” said the young man, addressing one of the sailors on board the boat, “take this compass a moment.”
“Is that a compass?” asked Rollo.
“Yes,” answered his father. “I suppose it is what they call a boat-compass. That is to let him know which way to steer.”
When the sailor had taken the compass, the young man got down into the boat, and took his place near the stern. He adjusted the tiller and took his seat by it.
“Cast off,” said he.
The man who held the rope, which confined the boat to the side of the steamboat, cast it off, and one of the men in the boat took it in.
“Give way,” said the young man at the helm; and the sailors pushed the boat off with their oars, and immediately commenced rowing. The young helmsman held his tiller in one hand, and his compass in the other, and away they went into the fog. The boat soon grew dim, and disappeared, though Rollo could hear the sound of the oars for some time after he ceased to see the boat. At length, however, the sound died away, and the steamboat lay floating quietly upon the water, with no sounds, to break the silence, but the voices and footsteps of the passengers, and a low, hissing noise somewhere about the engine.
“I know what they are going for,” said Rollo.
“What?” asked his father.
“To see if they can find the shore,” replied Rollo.
“Yes,” replied his father, “that is it, I suppose.”
After sitting a few minutes, Rollo and his father rose from their seats, and went away to another part of the vessel. The air felt warmer. It looked lighter overhead. Presently the great bell of the steamboat, which
was hung up over the engine, was rung violently.
“What is that for?” said Rollo.
“I don’t know,” said his father.
They walked on towards the bows of the boat. The firemen and engineers were standing idly about, talking and laughing. Rollo saw a door open into another small room, where there was a fire. He looked in. There was a great cooking range there, and several colored men cooking.
“O, here is the kitchen,” said Rollo; “and they are getting the breakfast.”
They went along a little farther, and came to the bows of the boat. A man, whom Rollo had seen before, keeping a lookout upon the bowsprit, was still there. Other people were standing about, looking off into the fog, and trying to get a glimpse of the land, whenever it lightened up a moment. A few minutes afterwards, the bell rang again a minute or two, and then stopped.
Rollo looked around at the man who was pulling the rope, and said he wished he knew what he was ringing so for. His father told him that he might go and ask him.
So Rollo went up a little ladder, which
led from the forward part of the boat, up to where the man was standing to ring, and said to him,
“Will you please to tell me, sir, what that bell was for?”
“The bell?” said the man who was just coming away. “O, the bell is to call the dolphins to town-meeting.”
The man smiled sarcastically, when he said this. Rollo stared for a moment, with astonishment, but as soon as he had a moment to reflect, he perceived that the man was not in earnest, and he turned away and went back down the ladder. He felt rather mortified, and his father perceived that there was an expression of disappointment in his countenance.
“Well, Rollo,” said his father, “and what did he say?”
“He would not tell me,” said Rollo.
“Wouldn’t he tell you?” asked his father. “Why not?”
“I don’t know, sir. He said it was to call the dolphins to town-meeting, and I know it wasn’t.”
Rollo nodded his head, as if he said this, with a determined air, as if he was very
positive that it could not really be to call dolphins to a town-meeting. His father smiled.
“I suppose they have a great many foolish questions asked them by the passengers,” said he, “and they get tired of answering them. So I will tell you myself.”
“Well, sir, what is it for?”
“It is to guide the boat back to us when she returns. When they send a boat ashore in the fog, they generally ring a bell occasionally, or make some other sound,—perhaps they fire guns,—so that the boatman may hear it when he gets back pretty near, and so find his way to the steamboat again.”
“But, father,” said Rollo, “they can tell by their compass.”
“So they can, very nearly; but sometimes the wind or the current drifts them about so that they cannot come back exactly tot he point they set out from. They can come pretty near to it, and then, if they should not happen to come near enough to see the ship or the steamboat, the bell will guide them.”
“Yes,” said Rollo, “I understand; and I think it is an excellent plan.”
As Rollo said this, he happened to turn round so as to look off upon the water; and he suddenly exclaimed, “O, father! look there!”
His father turned in the direction to which Rollo pointed, and saw that the fog had risen from off the surface of the water, in one place, so as to make a sort of an opening, and they could look through it to a considerable distance. In the middle of the opening there was a vessel, lying motionless upon the glassy surface of the water, with her sails hanging lifeless against the masts. There was a small boat out before the vessel, and some men in it, rowing. Rollo could hear the distant sounds of the oars, but the boat did not appear to be moving forward at all.
“Father,” said Rollo, “they pull hard, but they don’t get along any.”
“They are towing the vessel,” replied his father.
“Towing?” repeated Rollo.
“Yes,” replied his father. “There is a rope leading from the boat to the bows of the vessel, and they are endeavoring to pull the vessel forward; so they advance very slow.”
“But I can’t see any rope,” said Rollo.
“No,” replied his father, “it hangs down in the water.”
“I can hear the oars,” said Rollo.
“Yes,” said his father, “sound comes very far over the water in a still morning.”
By this time the fog, which was slowly moving along, had once more enveloped the vessel and the boat, and hidden them from view. Rollo looked all around the horizon. The fog looked lighter, and the air felt warmer, but there was no decided opening. He saw a large, bright place in the eastern part of the sky. His father told him that it was the sun, and he thought that it would probably clear off soon.
“Father,” said Rollo, “I should think that we might hear the oars of our boat, when it gets back pretty near the ship, before we can see it.”
“Yes,” replied his father, “I think we may.”
“I mean to go over to the other side and listen.”
So Rollo went over to the other side of the steamboat, which was the side that the boat went off from. His father followed
him. They found that a great many people had now got up, and were walking about the deck. Ladies and children, in considerable numbers, sat around the door of the ladies’ cabin. Rollo and his father leaned over the bulwarks, and listened, but they could not hear any sound upon the water like the strokes of oars. Rollo thought it was because there were so many people talking about the decks.
In the mean time the fog continued to rise and break away here and there, until at length the sun suddenly blazed through, and at the same moment the pilot, who was constantly looking all around, got a distinct view of the land, nearly ahead.
“What land is that?” said the captain.
“It looks like the land along to the north’ard of Beacon Head,” said the pilot.
“Yes,” he added in a minute, “there’s Beacon Head just coming into view.”
As he said this he was standing with the captain upon the wheel-house, and so Rollo could hear and see them. So Rollo looked in the direction to which the pilot pointed, and he just got a glimpse of a lighthouse, standing upon a promontory which projected
a little from the shore. The fog, however, slowly floated over it, and concealed it all again, almost immediately, from their view.
“Now,” said the pilot, “if our boat was back, we might run in.”
“Yes,” said the captain; “at any rate, we’ll fire up.”
“Fire up!” said Rollo to his father. “What does that mean?”
“It means, build up the fires under the boilers, so as to have the steam all ready.”
“Well, but, father,” said Rollo, looking a little alarmed, “then the steamboat will go off and leave the little boat behind.”
“No,” said his father.
“Why, yes, father,” said Rollo, “the steam will crowd into the cylinder, first above the piston, and then below, so as to make it move up and down, and that will drive the piston rod, and the piston rod will drive the beam, and the beam the crank, and the crank the paddle-wheels, and the paddle-wheels will carry the boat along through the water. I think they had better not fire up till they are ready to go.”
“No,” replied his father, “they will not let the steam get into the cylinder.”
“How can they help it?” said Rollo.
“There is a stop cock in the great steam pipe which leads from the boiler to the engine, and they can keep this stop cock shut, and then none of the steam can get into the engine until they are ready to have the boat go forward.”
“Then the steam will have to stay in the boiler, and it will keep increasing there till the boiler will burst,” said Rollo.
“No,” replied his father, “because there is a waste steam pipe to let it off by.”
“Is there?” said Rollo.
“Yes,” replied his father.
“That is a good plan,” said Rollo.
“But then,” continued Rollo, after thinking a moment, “why does not the steam leak off through the waste steam pipe all the time?”
“Because,” said his father, “they have a valve, loaded with weights, pressing down upon the opening, so as to keep it in, except when they want to let it off, or when the steam gets to be so hot and powerful that it would endanger the boiler. It then raises the weights itself, and that lifts the valve, and the surplus steam escapes. So if the
boat does not get back before they get the steam up, they will raise this valve, and let the steam off.”
“I am glad of that,” said Rollo.
But the boat did get back before the steam was up; and accordingly Rollo heard, before a long time, a loud, hissing sound bursting from the steam pipe. It made so much noise that they could not talk very well. The fog, however, continued to grow lighter, and to rise here and there from the water. Large openings appeared in different parts of the sky. The sun shone out now and then and the passengers frequently got glimpses of the land through the openings of the fog. Many of them walked about restless and discontented, wondering why the captain did not proceed. They found a great deal of fault with him,—not knowing that the boat was out. The captains of steamboats very often get severely censured by fretful passengers, who know very little about the circumstances of the case to which their censure applied.
THE MORNING SONG.
At length the loud hissing of the steam suddenly stopped, and, at the same moment, Rollo began to hear the strokes of oars across the water in the fog. The sound seemed to come from astern of the steamboat. The boat had not gone in that direction, and Rollo was surprised to hear the sound of oars there.
“Father,” said he, “I hear the oars; but I think it must be some other boat.”
“Why?” said his father.
“Because it is coming up another way.”
“No,” said his father, “it is our boat probably; perhaps she has drifted astern,—or, perhaps the steamboat may have swung round.”
“O, father!” said Rollo, “no; if the whole steamboat had swung round, we should have known it.”
“I don’t think we should have noticed it,
unless we could have seen the land, or some fixed object.”
The idea of the steamboat’s swinging around, without its being noticed by the people actually on board of it, was perfectly inadmissible to Rollo’s mind. While he was pondering upon it, however, the sound of the oars grew more and more distinct as they came nearer, and at length he began to see a dark, shapeless mass in the fog, which, as it approached, gradually assumed the form of the boat, and the oarsmen soon pulled it alongside. The instant that the foremost oarsman sprung out upon the deck of the steamboat, a little bell jingled in the engine room,—the great piston rod slowly hove itself upwards, the paddle-wheels revolved, and the water by the sides of the boat were lashed into foam.
The little boat was dragged through the water, while two men, who remained in it, were hooking two iron hooks into rings in the bottom of the boat. The hooks were fastened to strong ropes which were suspended from the great iron cranes. The men on board then pulled the boat up until it was entirely out of the water, and then,
when it was high enough, they swung it in over the side, and snugly deposited it again in its place by the side of the ladies’ cabin. Rollo then observed that the steamboat was ploughing her way swiftly through the water.
“The steamboat had swung around,” said Rollo’s father.
“How do you know, sir?” said Rollo.
His father pointed forward to the sky, and there, nearly over the bows, Rollo saw the sun, shining indistinctly through the fog.
“When we first saw the sun, it was away here,” said his father, point off to the right, “and the small boat went off to the left. Now, the sun is ahead, which shows that the steamboat swung around towards the right, until she pointed directly towards the sun; of course the small boat, in coming back, would come up astern.”
“Yes, sir,” said Rollo.
“And now,” added his father, “we are swinging back again.”
He pointed at the sun as he said this, and Rollo observed that it appeared to be moving pretty swiftly around, toward the right, into its old place. So Rollo knew that the boat
was coming back into its former course. It was, however, in the meantime, moving swiftly forward, and Rollo was very glad to be again fairly under way.
In a few minutes a boy came along, ringing a bell violently, which Rollo’s father said was for breakfast, and so they both went below.
About the middle of breakfast time, Rollo was saying to his father that he was very glad they had got clear of the fog, when suddenly the engine stopped.
“There!” said Rollo.
“More fog, I suppose,” said his father, smiling.
Rollo listened, and heard voices upon deck.
“Father,” said he, “I think something must be the matter.”
“Well, suppose you go and see.”
So Rollo took up his hat, which he had safely deposited under his seat at the table, and hastily went up the stairs. He found that the air was rather thick again, and he heard loud voices away forward, and apparently upon the promenade deck. He accordingly ran up the promenade deck stairs, and
there he saw, almost exactly before the steamboat, a great, black-looking vessel, drifting down sideways directly upon them. The men in the vessel and those in the steamboat were hallooing to each other, giving directions to avoid a collision.
“Put your helm hard up,” shouted the pilot to the helmsman of the schooner.
“Hard up it is,” cried out the helmsman in reply.
The two ponderous masses, in the meantime, pressed heavily on towards one another,—one gradually going to one side and the other to the other. The little jingling bell was rung, and the engine was started, but the wheels went backwards. This stopped in some measure the steamboat’s way. Still the schooner was gradually approaching. At least, so it seemed to Rollo. But the fact was, the schooner was going forward in the same direction with the steamer, only the steamer was going the fastest, and so slowly coming up with the schooner. As the latter, however, gradually diminished her speed, and as they were both moving with nearly the same velocity at last, and in the same direction, there would have been no great
danger, if they had actually come into contact. But they did not come into contact. They approached very near, and for a minute or two sailed along, side by side, close together. They, however, soon began to recede again, and then the engine was again put in motion in the right direction, and the steamboat began to advance swiftly once more. In a few minutes the schooner was at some distance astern.
Rollo had been somewhat frightened, and he now went down stairs in haste, to tell his father what a narrow escape they had had.
“Well, Rollo,” said his father, as he advanced to his place at the table, “we seem to be going again.”
“Yes, sir,” said Rollo; “but you don’t know what a terrible escape we have had.”
“Ah!” said his father, in a tone of indifference, helping himself at the same time to another piece of toast.
“Yes, sir,” said Rollo, with a face full of terror; “we almost ran against a great schooner.”
“Indeed!” said his father; “well, I am glad it was not the fog. I should be sorry if we had got into the fog again.”
“Come up on deck with me, father, and you can see the schooner now.”
“No,” said his father, very coolly, “I presume there is no danger that we shall run foul of her again, and we had better finish our breakfast.”
Rollo was very much surprised to find his father so unmoved at his story of their danger. He had expected that he would have left the table immediately, and have gone up to see the schooner, by which, as he thought, they came so near being dashed to pieces. But so far from this, his father did not seem to care any thing at all about it.
Rollo sat down to finish his breakfast. His father went on talking with a gentleman who sat next him. It was not long, however, before he heard the little bell again, and immediately the engine stopped.
“There, father,” said Rollo, “we’re going to run against another schooner.”
“I hope not,” said his father, quietly.
“Please sir, to let me go and see.”
“Yes, if you wish,” said his father; “but I rather advise you to sit still where you are.”
Rollo had already taken up his hat, and
risen from his seat. He said that he had rather go, if his father was willing. He accordingly went off in great haste, and ran up the stairs. He found the boat completely surrounded by fog. He went to the upper deck, and walked along forward. Several men were standing there, and among them the pilot and the captain.
“We shall not hear any breakers, now, we are so far inside, I suppose,” said the captain.
“No,” replied the pilot; “but it will lighten up a little presently, and then we can move on slowly. He could see the land soon enough from the bowsprit, if it was not quite so thick.”
Rollo looked out to the end of the bowsprit and saw the lookout still there. On closer inspection, however, he perceived that it was not the man who was there at first. He supposed that the first one had got tired, and that they had accordingly changed him.
In a few minutes the air became somewhat clearer, and the engine began to move again. It went, however, very slowly. They had not advanced more than a quarter of a mile, before the lookout man called out suddenly for them to stop the engine.
The engine was instantly stopped.
The lookout gazed steadily forward into the fog before him.
“Back water,” said he, turning round a moment, and then looking forward, as before.
The little bell jingled, and then the great paddle-wheels began slowly to revolve backwards.
“Do you see the land?” said the pilot.
“No,” said he, “but hark!”
All the people were immediately silent and breathless, and they heard a little bird singing directly ahead. In a moment afterwards, a dark spot began to appear in the fog before them, which grew gradually more and more distinct. Rollo knew it was the land. The boat had now ceased to advance towards it, but as the fog was slowly clearing away, the land soon became distinctly visible.
“If it had not been for that bird’s morning song,” said a passenger, “perhaps we should have run ashore.”
The land appeared to be an island, and the engine was put in motion, and the steamboat steered around it. In the mean time,
larger and brighter openings appeared here and there in the fog. The sun broke forth once or twice in great splendor. The fog gradually rose from the surface of the water, or receded; and it floated in vast, fleecy masses in the air. Large patches of blue sky appeared, and distinct and well-defined shores began to come into view here and there, all around. Rollo soon perceived that they were in a bay, with a multitude of islands all around them; and when he went back again down stairs, the boat was running on merrily over the glassy water.
He found them all getting up from breakfast. Rollo did not care, for he said he did not want any more. His father, however, gave him a little cake, which he carried up upon deck, to eat there.
“Now, said his father, “it is time to look out our baggage.”
“Why?” said Rollo.
“Because,” said his father, “we are going to leave the boat pretty soon.”
“A’nt we going to the end of the voyage with the steamboat?” said Rollo.
“No,” replied his father, “they are going
to leave us at a landing about five miles ahead.”
“Then how shall we get along the rest of the way?’ said Rollo.
“We are going in the stage,” said his father, “I expect.”
As his father said this, he was busy putting his own and Rollo’s baggage together. Presently they went up upon the promenade deck. They saw a small village at some distance before them, upon the shore. As they gradually approached it, they perceived a wharf, and several people standing upon it, and one or two carts and wagons. The steamboat advanced until she was pretty near to the wharf, and then the engine was stopped. One of the sailors threw a rope ashore. A man standing there caught it. By this rope a heavy cable, with a loop in it, was drawn to the wharf, and the loop was passed over a great post. The other end of the cable was then pulled upon hard, by four or five sailors on board, and thus the head of the steamboat was drawn slowly up to the wharf. The plank was then put across, and Rollo and his father, with their baggage, and also several other passengers, passed over it safe to land.
Rollo and his father walked up to a small tavern which stood in a solitary place, not very far from the landing. A man took up their baggage in a wheelbarrow. Here they found that there was no stage going in the direction where they were travelling; but the inn-keeper told them that by going four or five miles they would come to the great stage-road, and that there they might take the next stage when it should come along;—which the man said he believed would be that very day.
“At what time?” asked Rollo’s father.
“About 11 o’clock.”
“Then we shall just have time to get there. Now, how can we get a conveyance?”
The inn-keeper said he had a wagon, but it was gone away. He expected it back every minute, for it had only gone two or three miles away; and as soon as it should return the travellers might have it.
“Is not there some other wagon or chaise in the place?” said Rollo’s father.
“No,” replied the inn-keeper, “excepting Squire Williams’s, and his has gone a journey.”
“How much should you charge for your wagon?” asked Mr. Holiday.
“O, I don’t know,” said the inn-keeper, with a swaggering air, walking about the bar-room. “I sha’n’t charge you any more than is fair. We can settle it when we get there.”
“How far is it?” said Mr. Holiday.
“Well, said Rollo’s father, “I am sorry the wagon isn’t here, for we ought to set out immediately. But come, Rollo, we will go out and see what we can find.
“I may possibly find some mode of conveyance,” he added, addressing the tavern-keeper, “and at any rate, I will keep a look-out, and see your wagon when it comes back.”
As Rollo and his father walked away from the door, Rollo asked where they were going.
“I am going to see if I can’t find another wagon,” replied his father.
“But the man told you,” said Rollo, “that there was not another wagon in the place.”
“But I don’t believe him,” said his father.
“Don’t believe him?” exclaimed Rollo. “Why not, sir?”
“Because I don’t know what his character is, and his appearance is rather against him. So I am going to inquire for myself.”
“But father, I should not think you ought to conclude that the man told a lie, just from his appearance.”
“Did I say I thought he told a lie?” asked his father.
“You said you did not believe him,” replied Rollo.
“Well,” rejoined his father, “that is a different thing.”
“Why, father?” said Rollo.
“At least I meant a different thing. I neither believe nor disbelieve. I have no means of judging, and so I keep my judgment in suspense. He tells me there is no other wagon in the place. Now, men generally tell the truth, unless they have an interest in falsehood; and he has an interest in preventing our finding another wagon, for
he wants us to hire his. Then his appearance is not much in his favor; and so I am in doubt whether I ought to receive his testimony or not.”
“But, father,” rejoined Rollo, not convinced, “I should think that not believing what he says is just the same as believing he told a lie.”
“I suppose it is, with you. When you don’t believe a thing, you positively disbelieve it. You have not learned yet to hold your judgment in suspense, for better evidence. But I have; and I presume you will before you are as old as I am.”
“How do you mean, sir?” said Rollo.
“Why, let me think,” said his father. “Do you believe that mother is in the parlor now?”
“I don’t know any thing about it,” said Rollo, “whether she is or not.”
“Then, of course,” replied his father, “you cannot be said to believe that she is in the parlor.”
“No, sir,” said Rollo.
“And do you believe that she is not in the parlor?”
“No, sir,—I don’t know,” said Rollo, emphatically.
“Well, now,” rejoined his father, “the philosophy of it is just this. You have no evidence at all, in respect to mother’s being in the parlor, or not being in the parlor, just at this time, and so your mind holds itself in suspense. It neither believes nor disbelieves, but waits for evidence. This is a very common condition for the mind to be in. Even the minds of boys hold themselves in suspense, when there is no evidence whatever. But when there is a little evidence, although it may be very unsatisfactory, and even when there is only a little appearance of evidence, they are very apt to jump to a decision, right or wrong, and to believe or disbelieve very confidently;—while sensible men, who have had experience, and profited by it, disregard the insufficient evidence, and still hold their minds in suspense.”
“That is the best way, I think,” said Rollo.
“Now in this case,” continued his father, “although appearances are against the man,
there is no sufficient evidence to justify me in deciding against him, nor is there sufficient to induce me to place confidence in his testimony. So I neither believe nor disbelieve. I am going out to this little store to inquire; and I am really uncertain whether the answer will confirm, or contradict, what the man told me. Now we are coming to the store, and cannot talk any more about it. Will you remember what I have told you?”
“I will try to, sir,” replied Rollo.
“The amount of it is,” added his father, “that children generally hold their judgments in suspense, as long as there is no evidence at all; but as soon as there is any evidence or any appearance of evidence however slight, they at once decide, and half of the time are wrong. But sensible men pause and examine the evidence, and do not allow their minds to decide until it is satisfactory.”
Just at this time they arrived at the door of a small store, upon a corner where two roads met. There were some posts to fasten horses to, and a little porch before the door
for men to stand under in the rain. Rollo and his father went in. There was a man at a desk at one end of the counter, writing in a great book. There were boxes and barrels all about upon the floor, and rows of jugs and pails hanging from nails in the beams over head.
Rollo’s father asked the man if he knew of any body near there, who could probably let him have a horse and wagon to go four or five miles. The man said he had one himself. Mr. Holiday was very glad; and after agreeing about the price, he engaged it, and they all went out together to a little barn, pretty near, to harness the horse.
“I am very glad to get your wagon,” said Mr. Holiday. “I was afraid that I should not get one. I understood from the tavern-keeper that there were none in the village.”
“Yes,” replied the man, smiling sarcastically, “I suppose he wanted you to wait for his.”
“Yes,” said Mr. Holiday, “he said he expected it very soon.”
“Very soon!” rejoined the store-keeper,
in a tone of contempt: “his wagon will not be back till the middle of the afternoon. It has gone off twenty miles.”
Rollo and his father went over to the tavern to get their baggage ready, and left the wagon to be sent after them, with a boy to drive them, and bring the wagon back.
On their way, Rollo said,
“What a man, to tell two such lies!”
“What lies do you mean?” said Rollo’s father.
“Why, the two lies the tavern-keeper told us. He said that there was no other wagon in the place, and that his was coming back very soon, when in fact it is twenty miles off.”
“How do you know it is twenty miles off?” said his father.
“Why, the store-keeper told us so,” said Rollo, looking up eagerly into his father’s face.
“And why do you believe the store-keeper any more than the tavern-keeper?” asked his father.
“Why, because,” said Rollo, hesitating, —“because—I don’t know. The store-keeper told us he had gone off twenty miles.”
“That is true; but we know nothing of his character, and so do not know how much confidence to place in what he says. It is clear that the tavern-keeper told us one falsehood, for we actually see that there is another wagon; but as to the other question, whether his own horse and wagon have gone off twenty miles, or only a short distance, we haven’t any sufficient ground for deciding which of the contradictory assertions to believe. This, you see, is another of those cases in which we ought to keep our judgment in suspense, and wait for further evidence.”
By this time they reached the tavern. A few minutes afterwards, the horse and wagon which they had engaged drove up to the door. They put in their baggage, jumped in themselves, and rode rapidly away; a strange boy, who came with the wagon, sitting upon a small box before them, to drive.
They had proceeded but a short distance before they met a wagon coming towards them.
“There is the tavern-keeper’s wagon, I suppose,” said Rollo, “coming now.”
“Yes,” said the strange boy, “that’s his wagon.”
“So the tavern-keeper—” began Rollo; but he checked himself, and did not finish what he began. He was going to say that the tavern-keeper told one truth, and the store-keeper one falsehood; but he did not know that it would be proper to speak freely on the subject in the presence of the boy.
His father said nothing, for the same reason; but he was confirmed in the suspicions which he had formed, that the two men were rivals and enemies, and both of them unprincipled. He was glad to get away, and have no more to do with them.
“Father,” said Rollo, after they had been riding for some time, “I am afraid the stage will be gone.”
“I think it not improbable that it will be,” replied his father.
“What shall we do if it is?”
“I don’t know,” said his father. “We shall have to consider, then, what to do. Probably we must wait for the next stage.”
“O dear me,” said Rollo, “I shall not want to wait.”
“O, we must not borrow trouble on that account,” replied his father. “We are doing our best to get there in time, and if we do not succeed, we must submit to the consequences patiently. It will all come out right in the end, I have no doubt.”
Rollo, however, could not help wishing that the horse would go faster, though the boy drove him as fast as was prudent and proper. In less than an hour they came to a pleasant village, and the boy drove them up to the door of a snug little tavern by the roadside, with a large elm before it.
“This is the stage-house, sir,” said the boy.
“And the stage does not seem to be here,” replied Rollo’s father. “I suppose it must have gone.”
Rollo helped the boy unload the baggage, while his father went in to inquire. In a few moments he returned, saying that the stage had been gone just about half an hour.
“O, how provoking!” said Rollo.
“It does not provoke me much,” said his father, as he took hold of his trunk to lift it out of the wagon.
“Why, what shall we do?” said Rollo.
“O, there are several things that we can do; and, at any rate, as long as we have such good quarters as these to spend the day in, there is no occasion for being very much provoked.”
The baggage was taken out, and the boy paid and sent back with the wagon. Rollo and his father then went in. A woman showed them into a pleasant little back parlor; there was a bright fire in the fireplace, and a garden behind the house was in view from the windows. It is true, that at this season of the year it was pleasanter sitting by the fire than walking in the garden; and yet the walks and alleys looked so sheltered and alluring,—running among fruit trees, and between rows of currant bushes,—that Rollo wanted very much to go out there. His father gave him leave, and so he put on his cap, and away he went.
It was a very pleasant autumnal morning; and after rambling about in the garden, for some time, Rollo went into a field behind the garden, where he found a great oak tree, the ground under it covered with acorns.
“Ah!” said he, “I’ll carry home a bag
of acorns, and Thanny and I will plant them.”
So he began to pick them up, and put them in his pockets. He filled his pockets full, behind and before, until he looked like a bumble-bee, loaded with big balls of wax upon his thighs.
By the time that he was well loaded, his father came down to the garden fence, and called him. Of course, Rollo immediately left the tree, and went towards the house. When he got into the back parlor, he found a little table set, ready for their dinner. The dinner consisted of tea, and toast, and an apple pie. Rollo was glad to see this, but he came up to his father, and clapping his hands upon his pockets, puffed out with acorns, he said,
“Why, Rollo!” said his father, “what have you got your pockets so stuffed out with?”
“Acorns,” said Rollo. “They are all acorns.”
“What are you going to do with them?” asked his father, half smiling.
“O, I am going to carry them home for
Thanny,—that is to say, for Thanny and me.”
“How are you going to carry them?” said his father.
“O, I am going to put them in a bag,” replied Rollo.
“And where are you going to get your bag?”
“Why—I don’t know,” said Rollo, hesitating, and looking rather embarrassed.
They sat down to dinner; and Rollo presently asked his father if he thought it would not be a good plan for him to carry home the acorns and plant them.
“Why, yes,” said his father, “if you had a bag.”
“I am going to plant two now,” said he; “one for Thanny and one for me.”
“Plant them now?” said his father.
“Yes, father, I am going to plant them now, in my pocket. Jonas told me how.”
“And how is it?” asked his father.
“Why, I am going to wrap them up in a wet rag, and then put a paper around them, and carry them in my pocket, and they will sprout there, my pocket is so warm; and so
they will be all ready to plant in a flower-pot when I get home, and they will grow right up.”
Rollo’s father smiled at Jonas’s idea of turning a boy’s pocket into a nursery for oaks; and he told Rollo that he might, if he pleased, plant two in his pocket, but that he had better throw the others away.
Rollo was unwilling to lose any of his acorns. He thought that he and Nathan would want them all. He tried to think of some way to get a bag. At length, after a few minutes pause, he said,
“Well, father, I had better not throw them away now, for perhaps I can get a bag before we go. The next stage does not come till day after to-morrow.”
“But I have concluded not to wait for the stage. I have engaged a horse and wagon to carry us all the way.”
“Why, father!” said Rollo surprised. “And when are you going?”
“Immediately after dinner,” replied his father.
Rollo did not know whether to be glad or sorry. He liked the idea of a good, long
wagon ride with his father; but then he had been intending to go down after dinner, and get some more acorns. To be sure, he thought it was not probable that he could carry them home; but then he thought that at any rate he should like to get some more.
THE WAGON RIDE.
It was fifty or sixty miles to the place where they were going, and Rollo’s father did not very well like to set out upon so long a journey, in an open wagon. But then he would have had to wait two days for the stage; and he found, too, on making a calculation, that he and Rollo could go cheaper in the wagon than in the stage, if they took into the account the expenses they would incur at the public house while waiting for the stage; and he was going to keep the wagon until his return, so that they could come back in it. Mr. Holiday explained all this to Rollo, while they were eating their dinner.
“And what shall we do if it rains?” said Rollo. “That would stop us.”
“O, we must hoist an umbrella, and travel on.”
The wagon came, however, after dinner, and Rollo and his father got in. Rollo was
much pleased, both with horse and vehicle. He liked the wagon because it was so open, and he could see all that passed around him, as he rode along, much better than in a stage-coach, or even in a chaise. He wondered why everybody did not ride in wagons.
He contrived to save his acorns, too, notwithstanding what his father had said about the difficulty of getting a bag. For while they were getting ready to put their baggage in the wagon, and Rollo was just going to throw his acorns away, he recollected that a stocking would make a very tolerable bag; and so, after asking his father’s leave, he took one of his stockings out of his trunk, put his acorns into it, and tied it up at the top. It made a very good bag, and carried his acorns safely, in the bottom of his father’s carpet bag, all the rest of the journey.
Rollo and his father went on very successfully by their new conveyance. Rollo enjoyed the ride very much, all the afternoon. AT dark, they stopped at a small tavern in a solitary place, by the road-side. There were mountains all about the house, and a large stream, tumbling over rocks,
flowed across the road very near it. Rollo wanted to go out and play by the side of this stream, but his father told him that it was too late and cold, and so they both went in. A servant girl made them a fire, and prepared them some supper; and after that, the two travellers took out their writing apparatus, and wrote letters home all the evening.
The next morning they breakfasted very early, for Rollo’s father said that the days were short, and they must be upon the road betimes.
“How far have we got to go to-day?” asked Rollo.
“About forty miles,” said his father.
“O, well, we shall get there, then, before dark.”
“Yes,” said his father, “if we meet with no accident.”
They travelled on, during that day, without any special adventures, until about the middle of the afternoon, when there appeared a heavy cloud in the west, which threatened rain. It had not been very cold during the day, for the wind had been south, which is a warm quarter. As the
cloud approached, Rollo proposed that they should take out their coats, and get their umbrella ready. Heavy gusts of wind, however, came sighing among the trees, and Rollo’s father looked around the sky with a somewhat anxious expression of countenance. He stopped the wagon, took out the great coats from the carpet bag, and they put them on. Rollo got the umbrella ready, and held it before him, the handle in his lap, and the tip down in the wagon, in front, ready to spread it as soon as it should begin to rain.
It began to sprinkle very soon, and Rollo, as soon as the first drop fell upon his cheek, raised and opened the umbrella. But the wind blew the rain in under it. He tried to hold it down, but he could not succeed in holding it low enough to keep out the rain, without bringing it so low that his father could not see to drive. The rain came faster and faster, and before long, Rollo’s father said he began to think that they should get really wet.
The clouds, however, seemed to be uneven. They came up from the south in large, dark masses, with bright places between. The rain, which was now descend-
ing upon the travellers, came from one mass which formed a dense canopy over their heads; but it was slowly passing over, and the travellers thought that soon the rain would diminish, if it did not entirely cease. They passed a small farm house. Rollo wanted to stop, but his father thought they had better go on.
The rain soon “held up,” as Rollo called it, and Rollo took down his umbrella. He thought it was entirely over; but his father told him that they must expect it to rain, at intervals, all the afternoon. They were about entering upon a wild, unfrequented part of the road, where they would pass very few houses; and Rollo said that if it should rain very fast indeed, he did not know what they should do.
They passed on for several miles more, without much difficulty; but then it began to rain with great power. The water came down in torrents. There was not so much wind as there had been, but the rain dashed through the silk of the umbrella, and covered them with a fine spray; and it fell without any obstacle upon their knees, and dripped down upon their elbows; and it
threatened entirely to overwhelm the baggage.
Rollo’s father drove on rapidly, in hopes to find some place of shelter. For half a mile he watched the turnings and windings of the road, as they came into view before him, in vain.
At length, however, an old, deserted blacksmith’s shop came in sight. By the side of it was a shed, where horses had been accustomed to stand, waiting for their turn to be shod. Mr. Holiday wheeled the horse up swiftly into this shed, and the travellers found themselves very suddenly under effectual protection.
Rollo listened a minute or two to the sound of the rain-drops, pattering upon the roof over his head; and then he followed his father, who had jumped out of the wagon. He looked around in the shed; and then presently he spied an opening through the side of the blacksmith’s shop, where a board had been broken off. He crept in, and began to look around to see what sort of a place it was, and what he could find.
The bellows were gone, and the anvil was gone, though the great block which the
anvil had been placed upon, still remained. Rollo jumped up upon this block, and looked around. In a corner lay several pieces of old iron. He got down, and went to examine them. There were hoops and horse-shoes, and there was one piece of a gun-barrel, round and hollow, which Rollo wished was his. He thought that Jonas could make a little cannon of it; that is, if he could contrive any way to make a hole in the side, for a touchhole.
Rollo knew, however, that he ought not to take the iron; and so he put it down, and went to look out at the window. He found that the rain had nearly ceased, and so he crept back through the breach by which he had entered. He found his father just preparing to set out; but before they fully concluded that it was best to go, the rain came pouring down again, and they found themselves obliged still further to postpone their departure.
Three quarters of an hour passed away before they could leave the shed. Rollo became almost out of patience.
“Father,” said he, “don’t you wish that we had waited and taken the stage?”
“If I should wish so,” answered his father, “it would be wrong.”
“Why wrong?” said Rollo.
“Because,” replied his father, “I considered the case carefully; and, according to the best of my judgment at the time, I concluded that it was wisest to travel in this way. Of course, it was my duty to come in this way.”
“Not certainly, father,” said Rollo; “for perhaps you might be mistaken.”
“It is always our duty,” replied his father, “to do what seems to us, at the time we have to decide, the wisest and best, even if it afterwards proves that we were mistaken. When I decided to take the wagon, it appeared to be the best thing that I could do; of course, it was then my duty to do it, and consequently I cannot be sorry for it now, without being sorry for doing my duty.”
By this time the rain had again so far diminished that they got into the wagon and rode on. It was, however, nearly dark, and they were travelling over a part of the road which was quite sandy, and the heavy showers had washed and “gullied” it, so that it was dangerous to ride very fast. At
length, as they were coming down a hill, one of the front corners of the wagon pitched suddenly forward, and at the same instant a sound as of something breaking was heard, and the shafts fell down upon the ground, and the horse moved forward, leaving the wagon stationary, and almost pulling the reins out of Mr. Holiday’s hands.
“Whoa! whoa!” exclaimed Rollo. “O, father, we’ve broke down! we’ve broke down!”
His father stopped the horse, and then quietly gout out of the wagon.
“What’s the matter?” said Rollo, “what’s broke?”
“The whipple-tree,” said his father, as he took up the two ends of the whipple-tree which were dangling at the horse’s heels.
Rollo looked over the front of the wagon, to see what the whipple-tree was. He had often noticed a bar of wood passing across the wagon, behind the horse, with hooks in the end of it, which the ends of the traces were fastened into, for the horse to draw the wagon by. It was not fixed and stationary, but it turned upon a bolt in the centre; and Rollo had often watched the ends moving to
and fro as the horse trotted along,—wondering why it was made in that way. He found that this whipple-tree was broken in two in the middle, where the bolt went through, so as to let the horse go forward free almost from the wagon.
THE TRAVELLERS BENIGHTED.
“What shall we do now?” said Rollo.
“We are in a predicament, certainly,” said his father, looking thoughtfully at the ends of the whipple-tree.
“Can you mend it, father?” said Rollo, anxiously.
“We are really in trouble,” continued his father, speaking apparently to himself as if he did not hear what Rollo was saying.
“And no house in sight,” he added, looking around him.
Rollo looked too. On each side of the road, as far as they could see, there was nothing to be seen but forests and mountains.
“Can’t you mend it, father,” said Rollo, “so that it will do to go to the next house?”
“No,” said his father, slowly and thoughtfully, as he examined the fragments once more, “I don’t see what I can do.”
“Can’t you tie it?” said Rollo.
“I have not any cord,” replied his father.
“I’ve got a string,” said Rollo, eagerly and joyfully. And as he said it, he drew forth from his pocket a pretty long piece of fine twine, which he had safely deposited there. He was accustomed to carry a piece of twine in his pocket, so as to have it ready when he wanted a string for any purpose. His twine was often very convenient in such exigencies as occurred to him and Nathan in their plays, but it was hardly sufficient for the wants of benighted travellers, broken down upon the road.
“That is not strong enough,” said his father, smiling faintly, “though I am very much obliged to you for it.”
“I think you had better try it,” said Rollo; “perhaps it will hold.”
“No,” replied his father, “it would only be wasting our time.”
As he said this, he put the broken whipple-tree into the wagon, having unhooked it from the traces; and then he passed the ends of the traces over the horse’s back, to keep them from dragging about his heels.
“And now, Rollo, are you man enough to mount guard here, while I go and get some help?”
“Mount guard!” repeated Rollo, not exactly understanding what his father meant.
“Yes,” said his father; “that is, stay here and take care of the wagon and the baggage.”
“Why—father—” said Rollo, hesitating, “why could not I go with you?”
“Why, I can go a great deal faster, if I go alone; and, besides, I don’t quite like to leave the baggage here, without any body to watch it; there are some valuable papers in my trunk.”
Rollo looked around, somewhat afraid. It was pretty dark, already, and would probably become much darker before his father should return. It was a wild and solitary place, and the wind howled mournfully among the forests and mountains. Rollo thought it would be very lonely there, after his father had gone away.
“How long do you think you shall be gone?” said he.
“O, it depends upon how far I have to go, before I find a house,” said his father. “I certainly should not be gone more than half an hour.”
“I should get pretty wet,” said Rollo, in a doubtful tone.
“O, I should leave you the umbrella,” said his father.
While he was thus talking with Rollo, he had been busy all the time taking the harness off the horse, and putting it into the wagon. He then opened a little box under the seat, and took out a blanket; he folded it, and put it across the horse’s back for a saddle; and then he seemed to have completed his preparations, and to be ready to go.
“But then, Rollo,” he said, as he put the short reins over the horse’s head, as if he was going to mount, “I don’t want you to stay, unless you feel perfectly willing. If you have courage and nerve enough, it would probably do you good to stay. It will help make a man of you. But if you are afraid to stay, it would do you a great injury for me to leave you.”
“How?” said Rollo.
“I cannot talk about it now,” replied his father, “for I must go. You may have your choice; go with me, or stay and take care of the wagon. But hold the horse for me a minute; I believe I will move the wagon out of the road a little, and put the baggage under it; that will help keep it dry.”
Rollo took hold of the reins near the
horse’s mouth, with one hand, holding the umbrella with the other, while his father pushed the wagon back upon the grass, in a little vacant space among the bushes, and then put the baggage under it. It did not rain much, however, and he told Rollo that if he concluded to stay, he might sit upon the wagon seat, and hold the umbrella over his head.
“Well, father,” said Rollo, “I believe I will stay.”
“Very well,” said his father. “Then I’ll mount and away, so as to be back as soon as I can.”
He led his horse up by the side of a little bank, for there were of course no stirrups to his blanket-saddle, and he could not mount without having something for a horse-block. While he was doing this, Rollo climbed up into the wagon, and drew the buffalo over his knees; and then he began rocking the wagon to and fro, chirping at the same time, and saying “Get up,” as if he was driving; just as he and Nathan used to do, when they were playing take a ride in the wagon in the yard. His father was glad to see that he had such good courage.
His father, then, bade him good by, and told him that he should bring a lantern back with him; “and so,” said he, “when you see a light on the road before you, you may know that I am coming.” He then turned his horse into the road, and trotted off.
Rollo listened to the sound of the horse’s feet as long as he could hear them, and then, tired of “playing ride” in that lonely place, and without Nathan, he began to sing. He had not quite finished his song, before he heard a noise. He stopped to listen. It sounded like a wagon coming.
“Ah,” said he to himself, “there comes father, I know.”
On listening more attentively, however, he perceived that the wagon was coming the wrong way. He thought it must be some other travellers.
“I’ll call to them, when they come up, and get them to help us.
“No, I will not, either,” continued he, “for perhaps they are robbers; and then they will steal my father’s trunk.”
Rollo was not very wise in this supposition, for the chance that any robbers would be coming along on that road was exceeding-
ly slender. However, as he did not know any better, he did very right in concluding not to speak to them.
In the mean time, the strange wagon came on rapidly. Rollo heard the sound of voices. He thought it was the robbers talking together. They drove up fast, until they came opposite to where his wagon was standing, when he heard one of them say,
“What is that? There is a wagon by the side of the road.” And at the same moment he reined in his horse, and the men stopped. Before they could stop, however, they had got considerably by Rollo, their horse was going so fast; and as it was pretty dark, and the bushes were somewhat in the way, they could not see distinctly.
“It is a wagon, I believe,” repeated one of the men. “Let’s go and see.”
“Yes,” said the other, “somebody has broken down, I suppose; but we may as well go on—there is nothing to be done.”
“I thought I saw somebody in it,” said the first man.
“O, no,” said the other; “drive on.”
But the first man was not convinced. He turned around in his seat, and looked very
intently at Rollo’s wagon. He could just distinguish Rollo’s form, and he thought that he saw him move.
“Who’s there?” said he.
“I,” replied Rollo.
“I? Who’s I?” said the man.
“Rollo,” answered the little guard.
“It is a child,” said the other man in a tone of astonishment. They both immediately jumped out of their own wagon, and came to the one where Rollo was sitting. He had, however, before this lost all his fears, for the men had spoken in so gentle and friendly a tone of voice that he knew they would not do him any harm.
The men came up to the wagon where Rollo was sitting, and asked him how he came to be waiting there. He told them all about the circumstances of the case, and they examined the broken whipple-tree.
“Well, you are a brave little fellow,” said one of the men, and we will give you a lift. We can fasten your wagon behind ours, and take you right along to your father.”
“No, sir, I thank you,” said Rollo; “I think I had better stay here till my father comes back.”
He did not like very well to go away with the men, though he scarcely knew why. They, however, insisted upon taking him along. They told him that perhaps his father would not find any house; and, at any rate, that they should certainly meet him coming back; and so Rollo reluctantly consented.
The men put the baggage into the wagon, drew it out into the road, fastened the shafts to the back of their own wagon, and then drove along. Rollo rode upon the seat where he had been sitting, and took care of the baggage.
THE END OF THE JOURNEY.
As Rollo rode slowly along over the muddy road in the rear wagon, he was at first a little uneasy at the strangeness of his situation; but soon, feeling more at his ease, he said to himself, “This is a queer way of riding. I have often seen horses harnessed one before the other, but I never heard of putting wagons tandem, before.” Presently one of the men said,
“Here comes a light.”
Rollo looked, and saw a light on ahead, glancing along like a Jack o’ Lantern.
“It’s my father, I know,” said Rollo, clapping his hands.
As the light came near, Rollo heard the sound of horse’s feet, and presently Rollo’s father rode up to the wagons. He began to feel somewhat uneasy about Rollo, having left him so long in a place of such utter solitude. He had been obliged to go much farther than he had expected, before he found a
house; and now he was quite relieved, at finding Rollo safe.
“Father,” said Rollo.
“Why, Rollo!” said his father, “are you safe?”
“Yes, sir,” said Rollo. “We were going along to find you.”
The men then explained to Mr. Holiday, that they had found his son waiting patiently for him, and that they had persuaded him to come along with them. The men, also, offered to draw the wagon along, as they had begun, until they should come to the next house.
“Very well,” said Rollo’s father, “I should like that very well, for I was not very successful in getting the means to repair the damage.”
So the men drove on; and after both wagons had passed, Mr. Holiday fell in behind, and followed. He rode pretty near Rollo, and so Rollo turned around and asked him whether he had to go far before he found a house.
“Pretty far,” said his father. “You got tired of waiting, I suppose.”
“No, sir, not very,” said Rollo.
“You had pretty good courage, and you have really been useful to me.”
“Have I?” said Rollo.
“Yes. I don’t know what I should have done without you. I should have been very unwilling to have left my baggage, without some one to take care of it.”
“What did you get to mend the wagon with?” asked Rollo.
“Only a piece of rope,” replied his father. “I meant to have brought a man along with me; but the man who belonged at the house where I stopped had gone away, and all that I could get was a piece of rope.”
While they had been talking thus, the horse had been walking along slowly, because the ground was slightly ascending, and the road was muddy. They now, however, reached the top of the ascent, and the horse then began to trot down a long hill beyond. Of course, Rollo and his father could not talk any more, for it was not safe to ride very near the wheels of the wagon, when it was going very fast. And, besides this, the wheels of both wagons, and the horse’s feet, made a good deal more noise, as they trotted down the hill.
Rollo, therefore, could not talk any more; and so he sat still, watching the glancing of the light from his father’s lantern upon the trees and rocks on each side of the way. At length another light came into view, at some distance before them.
Rollo watched the new light. As nothing else, however, but the light could be seen at that distance, he could not tell whether it was in the road or out of it. He supposed, however, that it must be somebody else coming with a lantern. He could not think who it could be.
It came nearer and nearer as they advanced, and when his curiosity about it was at its height, his father rode up behind, and called out to the men who were driving in the forward wagon,
“Stop, if you please, at this house.”
“O, it is a house, then,” said Rollo to himself. “O, yes, I see now.”
Just then the wagon stopped, turning a little out to one side of the road; and, at the same moment, the angle of the roof of a small house came into view against the sky. It was surrounded by trees. The door opened, and Rollo could see a woman stand-
ing there, holding a light, and shading it with her hand to prevent the wind blowing it out.
It of course did not shine much out of doors, but it cast a strong light upon the woman’s face, and produced a singular effect. A little child came up behind her, and tried to crowd his head in between the woman and the door, so as to see out; but she told him to back, and he immediately disappeared.
In the meantime Rollo’s father unfastened his wagon from that of the other men, and then he paid them something for the trouble they had taken to help him along. The men at first declined receiving any thing, but Mr. Holiday insisted upon it. When this was settled, the men bade him good-by, and rode on.
When they were gone, Rollo’s father went up to the door, and told the woman that they had all that they needed, and that she had better shut the door and go in; and that they would come as soon as they had put up the horse.
“Why, father!” said Rollo, “are we going to stay here all night?”
“Yes,” replied his father. “They invited us to stay very kindly, and so I accepted the
invitation. It is a good many miles to the next tavern.”
“And how do you know where the barn is,” said Rollo, “to put your horse in?”
“O, they told me where,” replied his father. And so saying, he led the horse along to a small building near the house, and Rollo held the lantern at the door, while his father led the horse in, fastened him, and gave him some hay.
They then went into the house. There were two women and one child there. The man who lived there had gone to carry some wheat to market, and would not be back until the next day. This happened rather fortunately for Rollo and his father, for there were but two rooms in the house; and as the man was gone, the women and the child could sleep in one, and Rollo and his father in the other.
The women got the travellers an excellent supper, and then they went to bed. The apartment was not a very elegant one; but the bed was neat and comfortable, and they both slept soundly until the morning.
It cleared up in the night, and the next morning they could go on their way. They
tied up the whipple-tree, so that they could get along three miles to a blacksmith’s shop, where they had it thoroughly mended; and then they went on, without any further adventures, to the end of their journey.