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Produced by Annie McGuire

[Illustration: HARPER'S



* * * * *


Tuesday, September 7, 1880. Copyright, 1880, by HARPER & BROTHERS. $1.50
per Year, in Advance.

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His real name is Wallace, but his mates always called him "Wally," and
although he is now a big broad-shouldered young mariner, he is still
pointed out as the "wreck-boy." One summer not long ago Wally sailed
with me for a week out upon the blue waters across the bar after
blue-fish, or among the winding tide-water creeks for sheep's-head, and
it was then, by means of many questions, that I heard the following

Wally's father was a light-house keeper. The great brick tower stood
aloft among the sand-hills, making the little house which nestled at its
base look dwarfish and cramped.

Wally was about twelve years old, and seldom had the good fortune to
find a playmate. Two miles down the beach, at Three Pine Point, stood a
handsome cottage that was occupied by Mr. Burton, a city gentleman and a
great ship-owner, during the summer, and sometimes his daughter Elsie, a
bright-eyed little girl, would come riding along the sands from the
cottage behind a small donkey, and ask Wally to show her his "museum."

It was a matter of great pride with the boy to exhibit the many curious
shells, bits of sea-weed, sharks' teeth, fish bones, and the full-rigged
ships he had whittled out and completed on winter nights, and Elsie was
an earnest listener to all his explanations, showing him in return the
pictures she had made in her sketch-book.

Not far from the light-house stood a life-saving station - a strong
two-story building, shingled upon its sides to make it warmer. Here,
through the winter months, lived a crew of brave fishermen, who were
always ready to launch the life-boat, and go out through the stormy
waters to help shipwrecked sailors.

Wally was a favorite here, and spent much of his time listening to the
tales they told of ocean dangers and escapes; but he liked best of all
to trudge along the sands with the guard on dark nights, lantern in
hand, watching for ships in distress. The captain of the crew, who was
an old seaman, taught him the use of the compass and quadrant, and other
matters of navigation, while the rest showed him how to pull an oar,
steer, and swim, until he could manage a boat as well as any of them.

Just before sunset each day Wally's father climbed the iron steps of the
light tower, and started the lamp, which slowly revolved within the
great crystal lens, flashing out four times each minute its beam of
warning across the stormy waters. Every few hours it was the watcher's
duty to pump oil into a holder above the light, from which it flowed in
a steady stream to the round wicks below. If this was neglected, the
lamp would cease to burn.

Wally, who was an ingenious boy, had placed a small bit of mirror in his
little bedroom in the attic so that as he lay in bed he could see the
reflection of the flash across the waters. One wild October evening he
had watched it until he fell asleep, and in the night was awakened by
the roaring gusts of the gale which swept over the lonely sands, and he
missed the faithful flash upon his mirror. _The light had gone out!_

Many ships out upon the sea were sailing to and fro, and there was no
light to guide them or warn them of dangerous shoals. Nearer and nearer
some of them were drifting to their fate, and still the beacon gave no
warning of danger.

The light-keeper, hours before, had gone out upon the narrow gallery
about the top of the tower to look at the storm, just as a large wild
fowl, bewildered by the glare, had flown with great speed toward it, and
striking the keeper's head, had laid him senseless upon the iron

I have seen fractures in the lenses, or glass reflectors, of
light-houses as large as your two fists, such as it would require a
heavy sledge-hammer to break by human force, caused by the fierce flight
of wild fowl; and a netting of iron wire is usually spread upon three
sides of the lens as a protection to the light. Sometimes a large number
of dead birds will be found at the foot of the light-house in the
morning after a stormy autumn night, when wild-geese are flying

Wally sprang from his bed, full of dread lest his father had fallen to
the ground; for he knew he would never sleep at his post of duty. But
first in his thoughts was the need of starting the lamp again. Calling
to his mother, he sped up the spiral stairway, which never seemed so
long before, and began to pump the oil. Then he lighted the wick from a
small lantern burning in the watch-room, and pumped again until the oil
tank was quite full. His mother in the mean time had found the form of
the keeper, and partially restored him. Wally stepped out upon the
gallery to find his father's hat, and looking seaward, saw something
which for a moment made him sick with terror. In the midst of the
breakers lay a large square-rigged vessel, helplessly pounding to pieces
upon the outer bar. In the intervals of the wind's moaning Wally could
hear the despairing cries of those on board, who seemed to call to him
to save them.

The life-saving station was not yet opened for the season. The captain
and his men lived upon the mainland, across a wide and swift-flowing
channel in the marsh, called the "Thoroughfare." To reach them was of
the most vital importance, for their hands only could drag out and man
the heavy surf-boat, or fire the mortar, and rig the life-car.

All this passed through Wally's mind in a few seconds, and knowing that
his helpless father could do nothing, and that an alarm might make him
worse, he sped silently down the stairway, and setting fire to a "Coston
torch," such as are used by the coast-guard in cases of wreck, he rushed
from the house, swinging the torch, that burned with a bright red flame,
above his head as he ran.

Half a mile across the sands there was a small boat landing, where a
skiff usually lay moored.

Toward this Wally sped with all his strength; but, alas! the waves had
lifted it, the winds had broken it from its moorings, and it was
floating miles away down the "Thoroughfare," and now Wally stood upon
the landing, in the blackness of the night, full of despair. He might
swim, but he had never tried half the width of the channel before. He
looked into the blackness beyond, and hesitated; then at the
light-house, where his mother still sat in the little watch-room
ministering to his injured father; then he thought of the poor men out
in the breakers, whose lives depended upon his reaching the crew.

But a moment longer he stood, and then throwing off his coat, he tied a
sleeve securely about a post so it would be known, in case he should
fail, how he had lost his life. And now he was in the icy waters. The
wind helped him along, but the incoming tide swept him far out of his
course. As he gained the middle of the channel he thought how bitter the
consequences might be to his father if the crew of the ship were lost,
for who would believe the story of the wild fowl's blow? This nerved his
tired arms, but the effort was too much for his strength. He paused, and
threw up his arms. As his form sank beneath the waves, his toes touched
the muddy bottom, and his hand swept among some weeds. One more effort
as he came to the surface, and now he could stand with his mouth out of
water. A moment's rest, and he was tearing aside the dense flags that
bordered the channel.

The captain, a good mile from the Thoroughfare, had left his warm bed to
fasten a loose window-shutter, when he saw a small form tottering toward
him, and Wally fell, weak and voiceless, at his feet. Restoratives were
brought, and the boy told his story.

Ten minutes later half a dozen of the crew were on their way to the
landing, Wally, now fully recovered, foremost among them. He seemed to
possess wonderful strength. They crossed the channel, and dragged out
the great life-boat from its house. It hardly appeared possible to
launch it in such a sea, but each man, in his excitement, had the
strength of two, and without waiting to be bid, Wally leaped into the
stern and grasped the helm.

"Well done, boy!" cried the captain. "I'll take an oar: we need all help

Through the night the faithful crew pulled, bringing load after load of
men, women, and children from the wreck of the _Argonaut_ to the shore,
until all were saved. The little house under the light was well filled,
and the sailors were crowded into the life-saving station.

"Where is my father?" asked Wally; and as a man came forward with his
head bandaged, in reply, the boy sank down, and a blackness came over
his eyes.

When he recovered he was in a beautiful room, into which the sun shone,
lighting up the bright walls, pictures, and carpets. He was on a pretty
bedstead, and a strange lady sat by the window talking to his mother.
He thought it all a dream. The door opened, and Mr. Burton came in,
dressed in a fisherman's suit. How queer he looked in such a garb! and
Wally laughed at the sight, and thought that when he awoke he would tell
his mother about it.

It happened that the ship which had come ashore was one belonging to Mr.
Burton, who was on board, returning from a trip to the Mediterranean. So
he had opened the cottage at Three Pine Point, and as the little house
under the light was full, had insisted upon having Wally, with some
others, brought to his summer home, where he could care for them.

Everybody had learned of the boy's brave swim, all had seen him in the
life-boat, and they were anxious to have him recover soon.

Wally, too, learned that the ship had become helpless long before she
had struck the shore, and that her loss was not caused by his father's

When Wally had recovered, Mr. Burton and some of the other passengers
insisted upon taking him to the city, where they had a full suit of
wrecker's clothes made for him - cork jacket, sou'wester, and all. He was
also presented with a silver watch and a medal for his bravery. When he
was dressed in his new suit, Miss Elsie made a sketch of him, whereupon
Wally blushed more than he had done during all the praises lavished upon

At the close of the next summer Mr. Burton arranged with the
light-keeper to let him send Wally to a city school, and for the next
four years the boy lived away from the little house on the sands, making
only occasional visits to his home.

Then Mr. Burton took him into his office, where he worked faithfully for
two years; but his old life by the sea caused a longing for a sailor's
career, and his employer wisely allowed him to go upon a cruise in one
of his ships. Upon the following voyage he was made a mate, and this
year he is to command a new ship now being built. Captain Wally was
asked the other day to suggest a name for the new craft, and promptly
gave as his choice the _Elsie_.

And Elsie Burton, who is now an artist, has painted two pictures for the
Captain's cabin. One is called "The Loss of the _Argonaut_," and the
other, "Wally, the Wreck-Boy."

[Begun in No. 31 of HARPER'S YOUNG PEOPLE, June 1.]




There was only one fault to be found with Brandt Lake - there was hardly
anything to shoot in its vicinity. Occasionally a deer could be found;
but at the season of the year when the boys were at the lake it was
contrary to law to kill deer. It was known that there were bears in that
part of the country as well as lynxes - or catamounts, as they are
generally called; but they were so scarce that no one thought of hunting
them. Harry did succeed in shooting three pigeons and a quail, and Tom
shot a gray squirrel; but the bears, deer, catamounts, and ducks that
they had expected to shoot did not show themselves.

On the other hand, they had any quantity of fishing. Perch and cat-fish
swarmed all around the island; and large pickerel, some of them weighing
six or eight pounds, could be caught by trolling. Two miles farther
north was another lake that was full of trout, and the boys visited it
several times, and found out how delicious a trout is when it is cooked
within half an hour after it is taken from the water. In fact, they
lived principally upon fish, and became so dainty that they would not
condescend to cook any but the choicest trout and the plumpest cat-fish
and pickerel.

It must be confessed that there was a good deal of monotony in their
daily life. In the morning somebody went for milk, after which breakfast
was cooked and eaten. Then one of the boys would take the gun and tramp
through the woods in the hope of finding something to shoot, while the
others would either go fishing or lie in the shade. Once they devoted a
whole day to sailing entirely around the lake in the boat, and another
day a long rainstorm kept them inside of the tent most of the time. With
these exceptions, one day was remarkably like another; and at the end of
two weeks they began to grow a little tired of camping, and to remember
that there were ways of enjoying themselves at home.

Their final departure from their island camp was caused by an accident.
They had decided to row to the southern end of the lake, and engage a
team to meet them the following week, and to carry them to Glenn's
Falls, where they intended to ship the boat on board a canal-boat bound
for New York, and to return home by rail. To avoid the heat of the sun,
they started down the lake immediately after breakfast, and forgot to
put out the fire before they left the island.

After they had rowed at least a mile, Tom, who sat facing the stern,
noticed a light wreath of smoke rising from the island, and remarked,
"Our fire is burning yet; we ought not to have gone and left it."

Harry looked back, and saw that the cloud of smoke was rapidly

"It's not the fire that's making all that smoke," he exclaimed.

"What is it, then?" asked Tom.

"Perhaps it's water," said Joe. "I always thought that where there was
smoke there must be fire; but Harry says it isn't fire."

"I mean," continued Harry, "that we didn't leave fire enough to make so
much smoke. It must have spread and caught something."

"Caught the tent, most likely," said Tom. "Let's row back right away and
put it out."

"What's the use?" interrupted Jim. "That tent is as dry as tinder, and
will burn up before we can get half way there."

"We must get back as soon as we can," cried Harry. "All our things are
in the tent. Row your best, boys, and we may save them yet."

The boat was quickly turned and headed toward the camp.

"There's one reason why I'm not particularly anxious to help put that
fire out," Joe remarked, as they approached the island, and could see
that a really alarming fire was in progress.

"What's that?" asked Harry.

"As near as I can calculate, there must be about two pounds - "


He was interrupted by a loud report from the island, and a shower of
pebbles, sticks, and small articles - among which a shoe and a tin pail
were recognized - shot into the air.

" - of powder," Joe continued, "in the flask. I thought it would blow up;
and now that it's all gone, I don't mind landing on the island."

"Everything must be ruined," exclaimed Jim.

"Lucky for us that we put on our shoes this morning," Tom remarked, as
he rowed steadily on. "That must have been one of my other pair that
just went up."

When they reached the island they could not at first land, on account of
the heat of the flames; but they could plainly see that the tent and
everything in it had been totally destroyed. After waiting for half an
hour the fire burned itself out, so that they could approach their dock
and land on the smoking ash heap that an hour before had been such a
beautiful shady spot. There was hardly anything left that was of any
use. A tin pan, a fork, and the hatchet were found uninjured; but all
their clothing and other stores were either burned to ashes or so badly
scorched as to be useless. Quite overwhelmed by their disaster, the boys
sat down and looked at one another.

"We've got to go home now, whether we want to or not," Harry said, as he
poked the ashes idly with a stick.

"Well, we meant to go home in a few days anyway," said Tom; "so the fire
hasn't got very much the better of us."

"But I hate to have everything spoiled, and to have to go in this sort
of way. Our tin pans and fishing-tackle aren't worth much, but all our
spare clothes have gone."

"You've got your uncle's gun in the boat, so that's all right,"
suggested Tom, encouragingly. "As long as the gun and the boat are safe,
we needn't mind about a few flannel shirts and things."

"But it's such a pity to be driven away, when we were having such a
lovely time," continued Harry.

"That's rubbish, Harry," said Joe. "We were all beginning to get tired
of camping out. I think it's jolly to have the cruise end this way, with
a lot of fire-works. It's like the transformation scene at the theatre.
Besides, it saves us the trouble of carrying a whole lot of things back
with us."

"The thing to do now," remarked Tom, "is to row right down to the
outlet, and get a team to take us to Glenn's Falls this afternoon. We
can't sleep here, unless we build a hut, and then we wouldn't have a
blanket to cover us. Don't let's waste any more time talking about it."

"That's so. Take your places in the boat, boys, and we'll start for
home." So saying, Harry led the way to the boat, and in a few moments
the _Whitewing_ was homeward bound.

The boys were lucky enough to find a man who engaged to take them to
Glenn's Falls in time to catch the afternoon train for Albany. They
stopped at the Falls only long enough to see the _Whitewing_ safely on
board a canal-boat, and they reached Albany in time to go down the river
on the night boat.

After a supper that filled the colored waiters with astonishment, the
boys selected arm-chairs on the forward deck, and began to talk over the
cruise. They all agreed that they had had a splendid time, in spite of
hard work and frequent wettings.

"We'll go on another cruise next summer, sure," said Harry. "Where shall
we go?"

Tom was the first to reply. Said he, "I've been thinking that we can do
better than we did this time."

"How so?" asked the other boys.

"The _Whitewing_ is an awfully nice boat," Tom continued, "but she is
too small. We ought to have a boat that we can sleep in comfortably, and
without getting wet every night."

"But then," Harry suggested, "you couldn't drag a bigger boat round a

"We can't drag the _Whitewing_ round much of a dam. She's too big to be
handled on land, and too little to be comfortable. Now here's my plan."

"Let's have it," cried the other boys.

"We can hire a cat-boat about twenty feet long, and she'll be big
enough, so that we can rig up a canvas cabin at night. We can anchor
her, and sleep on board her every night. We can carry mattresses, so we
needn't sleep on stones and stumps - "

"And coffee-pots," interrupted Joe.

" - and we can take lots of things, and live comfortably. We can sail
instead of rowing; and though I like to row as well as the next fellow,
we've had a little too much of that. Now we'll get a cat-boat next
summer, and we'll cruise from New York Bay to Montauk Point. We can go
all the way through the bays on the south side, and there are only three
places where we will have to get a team of horses to drag the boat
across a little bit of flat meadow. I know all about it, for I studied
it out on the map one day. What do you say to that for a cruise?"

"I'll go," said Harry.

"And I'll go," said Jim.

"Hurrah for the cat-boat!" said Joe. "We can be twice as moral and
piratical in a sail-boat as we can in a row-boat, even if it is the dear
little _Whitewing_."



In Africa wandered a yak;
A jaguar jumped up on his back.
Said the yak, with a frown,
"Prithee quick get thee down;
You're almost too heavy, alack!"




I once overheard a little bit of talk between two school-girls, one of
whom said, "Well, the Ames family are coming to our house next week, and
for my part I dread it. I don't expect to have a mite of enjoyment while
they are with us. I can not entertain people." I have forgotten her
companion's reply, but I know that the feeling is common among young
people, and when guests arrive they often slip off the responsibility of
making them happy upon papa and mamma. This is hardly fair. The art of
hospitality is really as easily acquired as a knowledge of geography or

In the first place, the young girls in a family when expecting friends
of their own age should see that their rooms are pleasantly arranged,
the beds freshly made, toilet soap provided, and plenty of towels and
water at hand. Not new towels, dear girls; they are hard and slippery,
and nobody likes them. There should be a comb and brush, a button-hook,
pins in plenty, and space in the closet to hang dresses and coats, as
well as an empty drawer in the bureau at the guest's service. By
attending to these little things themselves, girls can take quite a
burden from their busy mothers. Then both boys and girls should have in
mind some sort of plan by which to carry on operations during the days
of their friends' stay. So far as possible it is well to lay aside
unnecessary work for the time. As for the morning and evening duties
which belong to every day's course, attend to them faithfully, but do
not let them drag. Never make apologies if you happen to have some
occupation which you fear may seem very humble in the eyes of your
guest. All home service is honorable.

If you live in the country there will be fishing, nutting, climbing,
riding, driving, and exploring; all of which you can offer to your
friends. Be sure that you have fishing-tackle, poles, and baskets,
harness in order, and, in short, everything in readiness for your
various expeditions. To most out-of-door excursions a nice luncheon is
an agreeable addition, and you need not upset the house nor disturb the
cook in order to arrange this, for sandwiches, gingerbread, cookies,
crackers, and similar simple refreshments, can be obtained in most homes
without much difficulty. Every boy, as well as every girl, should know
how to make a good cup of coffee by a woodland fire.

In town there are museums, picture-galleries, and concerts, as well as
various shows, to delight guests from a distance. In the season you can
take them to the beach or the parks. But whether in town or country, do
not wear your friends out by too much going about, nor ever let them
feel that you are taking trouble for them, nor yet that they are
neglected. Forget your own convenience, but remember their comfort.
Study their tastes and consult their wishes in a quiet way.

[Illustration: A LIVELY TEAM.]



Woodbine Cottage was just a gem of a place. If any of my readers have
ever seen a gem of a place, they will know exactly what that means. For
those who have not been so fortunate, I will say that it was the
prettiest of cottages, with no end of angles and gables, of shady nooks
and sunny corners, and of cunning ins and outs; while to its very roof
the fragrant woodbine climbed and clambered, and the bees buzzed about
the honeyed blossoms as if they were just wild with delight.

That was Woodbine Cottage itself. But I have said nothing about its
surroundings - the neat flower beds, and the prattling brook that ran by
just at the foot of the garden, the green lawn as smooth as a table, and
the great spreading elm-tree in its centre, against which Uncle Ben
Mason was so fond of leaning his chair in the bright summer afternoons,
and where Harry and Willie Mason liked nothing better than to lie at his
feet on the greensward, and coax him to tell them about the wonderful
things he had seen and the marvellous things he had read.

It was only the afternoon succeeding that in which he had told them the
strange story of the honey ants, and they were at him again, anxious to
know something more about ant life.

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Online LibraryVariousHarper's Young People, September 7, 1880 → online text (page 1 of 4)