Oliver Optic.

All aboard : or, Life on the lake ; a sequel to The boat club online

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existence of the plot to the shopkeepers ; and he
was very glad when this part of the business was

Then a new difficulty presented itself. Suppose
the Zephyrs should visit Centre Island that after-
noon and discover the stores ! They had not thought


of this before, and the risk was too great to be in-
curred. They decided to conceal their stores on the
main shore till night, and then carry them off. A
convenient place was found for this purpose, and the
articles were landed.

They then repaired to the island to mature their

" Now, where shall we pitch the tent ? " asked
Charles, when they landed.

" On the high ground near the beach."

'* We have no poles. Here is the May pole ; that
will do for one."

" We can't pitch the tent, soldier fashion. We
must drive down four forked stakes ; then put poles
on the forks, and cover the whole with cloth."

*' But where are the stakes and the poles ? "

" We can cut them in the woods. We will get
Joe Braman's axe, and do it this forenoon."

" Suppose they should make a raft, and come off
to us ? " suggested Charles.

" We have two fast boats, and can easily keep out
of their wry," replied Tin . " If they want to £ghti

we can beat them off."



Charles did not approve of fighting, and thought
it wouJd be bad policy. Tim was tolerably tractable
now that he was having his own way, and was not
very strenuous in support of his own pugnacious
views. When their plans were fully digested they
left the island to prepare the stakes. Before noon
they separated, and the truant returned home about
the usual time.

That afternoon he joined the Zephyrs in an excur-
sion up the lake, and another lighthouse was erected
in the vicinity of a dangerous reef.

" What shall we do next week ? " asked Charles,
as they were returning home.

"We are going up the river," replied Frank,
" My father has consented to it."

" Has he ? That will be first rate."

44 And so has George Weston."

Charles relapsed into deep thought. He was
thinking how much better he could enjoy himself
with good boys than with such fellows as the Ro-
vers ; for, though he was " master of marine " among
them, he could not help acknowledging to himself
tiiat they were not pleasant companions. They used


profane and vulgar language ; were always disposed
to quarrel. Disputes which were settled peaceably
in the clubs were decided by a fight among the
Rovers ; and the ambitious " master " had many mis-
givings as to his ability to control them. Tim could
manage them very well; for, if one was turbulent,
he struck him and knocked him down ; and Charles
had not the brute courage to do this.

" What are you thinking about, Charley? " asked
Frank, pleasantly.

" Nothing," replied Charles, promptly, as h( tried
to laugh.

" You act rather queerly this afternoon ; juit as
though you had something on your mind."

" O, no ; nothing of the kind."

" I hope you don't regret the expulsion of T m

" Certainly not."

Charles tried to be gay after that ; but he could
not. There was a weight upon his soul which bore
him down, and he felt like a criminal in the presence
of his companions. He was glad when the club
landed, and the members separated — glad to get



away fi om them, for their happy, innocent faces were
a constant reproach to him.

Sunday was a day of rest ; but every moment of
it was burdened with a sin against God and against
himself. Every moment that he delayed to repent
was plunging him deeper and deeper in error and
crime. Strangely enough, the minister preached a
sermon about the Prodigal Son ; and the vivid pic-
ture he drew of the return of the erring wanderer so
deeply affected the youthful delinquent that he fullv
resolved to do his duty, and expose the Rovers'

The money had been spent in part ; but, if they
sent him to jail, it would be better than to continue
in wickedness. Then he thought what Captain Sed-
ley would say to him ; that the club would despise
him ; and that he would not be permitted to join the
sports of the coming week — to say nothing of being
put in prison.

Bat his duty was plain, and he had resolved to do
it. He had decided to suffer the penalty of his trans-
gression,, whatever it might be, and get back again
into the right path as scon as he could.


Happy would it have been for him had he done &o.
On his way home from church he unfortunately met
Tim Bunker, who had evidently placed hinlself in
his way to confirm his fidelity to the Rovers.

Tim saw that he was meditating something dan-
gerous to the success of his scheme. Charlies waa
cold and distant. He appeared to have lost his en-

" If you play us false, it will be all up with you,"
said Tim, in a low, determined tone. " I can prove
that you stole the purse. That's all."

It was enough to overthrow all Charles's good res-
olution. His fickle mind, his shallow principle, gave
way. Stifling his convictions of duty, and silencing
the " still small voice," he went home : and there
was no joy in heaven over the returning prodigal.

" Charles," said his father, sternly, as he entered
the house, " you were not at school yesterday ! "

" I got late, and did not like to go," whined he.

" Where were you ? "

" Down at the village."

" Go to your room, and don't leave it wit bout pel*


Charles obeyed. The consequences of his erroi'
were already beginning to overtake him. His fathei
joined him soon after, and talked to him very se»
verely. He was really alarmed, for Captain Sedley
had given him a hint concerning his son's intimacy
with Tim Bunker.

Charles was not permitted to leave his room that
afternoon, and his supper was sent up to him ; but
his mother brought it, and consoled him in his trou-
bles — promising to prevent his father from punishing
him any more.

"Now, go to bed, Charley; never do so- again,
and it will be all right to-morrow," said the weak
mother, as she took her leave.

But Charles did not go to bed. The family retired
early ; and, taking his great coat on his arm, he stole
noiselessly out of the house. At nine o'clock he was
at the rendezvous of the Rovers.

It was not deemed prudent to put their plans in
execution till a later hour ; and the band dispersed,
with instructions to meet again in an hour at Flat
Rock, where the boats would be in readiness to take
them dff to the island.


Tim and Chanes, with four others, immediately
repaired to the place where Joe Braman's boat,
which had been hired for the enterprise, was con-
cealed. Seating themselves in it, they waited till
the hour had expired, and then, with muffled oars,
pulled up to the Butterfly's house.

The doors which opened out upon the lake were
aot fastened, and an entrance was readily effected.
The boat was loosed, pushed out into the lake with-
out noise, and towed down to the Zephyr's house.
But here the doors were found to be fastened ; and one
of the boys had to enter by a window, and draw the
bolt. The boat was then secured without difficulty.
■ " Now, Charley, you get into the Zephyr with
two fellows, and tow the Sylph off," said Tim, in a

" Shan't I get my crew first ? "

" Just as you like."

Charles and his two companions got into the
Zephyr and worked her down to the rock, where
he received his crew. It was found then that some
of the Rovers had not yet made their appearance, so
that there were only ten boys to each boat.


Although the success of the criminal undertaking
required the utmost caution, Charles found his com-
mand were disposed to be very boisterous, and all
his efforts would hardly keep them quiet. After
some trouble he got away from the shore ; but his
crew, from the want of discipline, were utterly inca-
pable of pulling in concert. They had not taken
three strokes before they were all in confusion — -
tumbling off the thwarts, knocking each other in the
back, and each swearing at and abusing his com-

" Hold your jaw, there ! " called Tim Bunker, in a
low tone, from the Butterfly.

41 Cease rowing ! " said Charles.

But they would not " cease rowing," and the proa-
pect was that a general fight would soon ensue in
spite of all the coxswain's efforts to restore order.
At last Tim came alongside, and rapping two or
three of the turbulent Rovers over the head with a
boathook, he succeeded in quieting them.

After several attempts Charles got them so they
could pull without knocking each other out of the
boat ; but he was heartily disgusted with his crew,


and would glidly have escaped from them, even it
Rippleton Jail had yawned to receive him. Aftei
half a dozen trials he placed the Zephyr alongside
the Sylph, let go her moorings, and took her in tew
The Rovers then pulled for the island ; but the pa&
fage thither was leng and difficult.




As the crew of the Zephyr tugged at their oars,
their imperfect discipline imposing double labor upon
them, Charles had an opportunity to consider his
position. The bright color of romance which his
fancy had given to the enterprise was gone. The
night air was cold and damp, and his companions in
eiTor were repulsive to him. There was no pleasure
in commanding such a motley crew of ill-natured and
quarrelsome bullies, and if it had been possible, he
would have fled from them. Who plunges into vice
may find himself in a snare from which he cannot
escape though he would.

At last they reached the island, and the Sylph was
anchored near the shore. There was a great deal of
hard work to be done ; but each of the Rovers
seemed to expeet the others would do it.


" Now, Charley, every thing is right so far," saiu
Tim Bunker, whose party had just drawn Joe Bra-
man's boat upon the beach.

" Every thing is wrong," Charles wanted to say ;
but Tim was too powerful to be lightly offended.

" I can do nothing with such a crew as that,"
whined he. " They won't mind, and every fellow
wants his own way."

" Hit 'em, if they don't mind," replied Tim.

" I think we had better spend an hour in drilling
them. We can't handle the boat as it is."

" We must get the tents up before we do any
thing else. You go after the stakes and poles and 1
will get the provisions."

Before the crews returned to the boats, Tim made
a little speech to them upon the necessity of order ;
promising, if any boy did not obey, he would thrash
him " within an inch of his life."

" Now tumble into the boats, and, Charley, if any
fsller don't do what you tell him, let me know it,
and I will lick him for you."

" All aboard ! " said Charles.

•'Wheie are we going now 5 " asked on© of his


"No matter; all you have got to do is to obey
orders," replied Charles, sharply.

"Say that again ! " said the fellow, with an oath,
as he doubled up his fist, and menaced the-unfoitunate
coxswain with a thrashing.

" Hallo, Tim ! " shouted Charles, who daied not
venture to carry out the Bunker's summary policy.

" What's the row ? " said Tim, as he hastened to
the spot.

" I can't do any thing with this crew ; here is a
fellow shaking his fist in my face."

"Let him be civil then," added the refractory

" It was you, was it, Barney ? " said Tim, as he
stepped into the. boat.

" I'll bet it was," replied the fellow, standing upon
the defensive.

" Take that, then," continued the " chief," as he
brought his fist down upon the rebel with such force
that he tumbled over the side of the boat into the
Water. " You want to get up a mutiny — don't you ? "

The fellow scrambled ashore, wet through and
shivering with cold.


" You'll catch it for that, Tim Bunker ! " growled

" I'll teach you to mind. Now, Charley, put off,
and don't be so stiff with them yet. They are not
such chicken-hearted pups as the Zephyrs, I can telJ
you ; " and Tim stepped ashore.

•'Take your oars; if you only do as I tell yen,
we shall get along very well," said Charles. "We
can't do any thing unless you mind."

He then showed them how to get their oars out,
and how to start together; but they did not feel
interest enough in the process to pay much attention
to what he said, and several ineffectual attempts were
made before they got a fair start.

" Hallo ! Ain't you goin to take me ? " shouted
Barney, from the shore, as they were leaving.

" Will you obey orders ? "

"Yes ; but I won't be kicked."

" Nobody wants to kick you," replied Charles,
who, deeming that the rebel had made a satisfactory
concession, put back after him.

" This ducking will be the death of me," said
Barney, as he got into the boat.


" A. little hard pulling will warm you, and when
we get back, we shall make a fire on the island,"
answered Charles, in a conciliatory tone, " Now,
ready — pull ! "

The Rovers worked better now, and the Zephyr
moved with tolerable rapidity towards the shore ; but
it was very dark under the shadow of the trees, and
Charles could not readily find the place where the
materials for the tent had been concealed. Each of
the crew thought he knew more about the business
than the coxswain ; and in the scrape the Zephyi
was run aground, heeled over on one side, and filled
half full of water.

It required some time to bail her out ; but it was
accomplished at last, the stakes and poles put on
board, .and they rowed off to the island again*. Tim
had arrived before him, and had landed the stores.

" Where are the matches, Tim ? " asked Charles.

" What are you going to do ? "

" Make a fire."

" What for ? "

" Some of us are wet, and we can't see to put up
the tents without it."


44 But a fire will betray us."

44 What matter ? We are safe from pursuit."

44 Go it, then," replied Tim, as he handed Charles
k bunch of matches.

The fire was kindled, and it cast a cheerful light
over the scene of their operations.

44 Now, Rovers, form a ring round the fire," said
Tim, 44 and we will fix things for the future."

The boys obeyed this order, though Barney, in
consideration of his uncomfortable condition, was
permitted to lie down before the fire and dry his

44 1 am the chief of the band ; I suppose that is
understood," continued Tim.

44 Yes," they all replied.

44 And that Charley Hardy is second in command .
He can handle a boat, and the rest of you can't."

44 1 don't know about that," interposed one of
them. 44 He upset the boat on the beach."

44 That was because the crew did not obey orders,"
replied Charles.

<4 He is second in command," replied Tim. 44 Do
you agree to that ? "

lilFE ON THE LAKE. 201

•' Yes," answered several, who were willing to fol-
ow the lead of the chief.

" Very well ; I shall command one party, and
Charley the other; each in his own boat and on the
island. Now we will divide each party into two
squads, or watches."

" What for ? " asked. Barney.

" To keep watch, and do any duty that may be
wanted of them."

Tim had got this idea of an organization from his
piratical literature. Indeed, the plan of encamping
upon the island was an humble imitation of a party
of buccaneers who had fortified one of the smallest
of the islands in the West Indies. The whole scheme
was one of the natural consequences of reading bad
books, in which the most dissolute, depraved, and
wicked men are made to appear as heroes, whose
lives and characters are worthy of emulation.

Such books fill boys' heads with absurd, not to say

wicked ideas. I have observed their influence in the

course of ten years' experience with i)oys ; and when

I see one who has named his sled " Blackbeard,"

* Black Cruiser," " Red Rover," or any such namesj


I am sure he has been reading about the pirates, and
aas got a tasts for their wild and daring exploits —
tor their deeds of blood and rapine. One of the
truant officers of Boston, whose duty it is to hunt
ap runaway boys, related to me a remarkable instance
of the influence of improper books. A few years
ago, two truant boys were missed by their parents.
They did not return to their homes at night, and it
was discovered that one of them had stolen a large
sum of money from his father. A careful search was
instituted, and the young reprobates were traced to a
town about ten miles from the city, where they were
found encamped in the woods. They had purchased
several pistols with their money, and confessed their
intention of becoming highwaymen ! It was ascer-
tained that they had been reading the adventures of
Dick Turpin, and other noted highwaymen, which
had given them this singular and dangerous taste for
a life in violation of the laws of God and man. My
young readers will see where Tim got his ideas, and
I hope they will shun books which narrate the ex-
ploits of pirates and robbers.
Two officers were chosen in each band to commant/


the squads. Tim was shrewd enough to know that
the more offices he created, the moie friends he would
insure — members who would stand by him in triaJ
and difficulty. In Charles's band, one of these
offices was given to the turbulent Barney ; his fidelity
was thus secured, and past differences reconciled.

" Now, Charley, my crew shall put up one tent,
and yours the other."

" Very well," replied Charles, who derived a cer-
tain feeling of security from the organization which
..had just been completed, and he began to feel more
at home.

The stakes were driven down, and the poles placed
upon the forks ; but sewing the cloth together for
the covering was found to be so tedious a job that it
was abandoned. The strips were drawn over the
frame of the tent, and fastened by driving pins
through it into the ground. Then it was found that
there was only cloth enough to cover one tent. Tim's
calculations had been defective.

" Here's a pretty fix," said Tim.

" I have it," replied Charles. " Come with me,
Barney, and we will have the best tent of the two."


Charles led the way to the Sylph, and getting on
board of her by the aid of one of the boats, they
proceeded to unbend her sails.

" Bravo ! Charley," said Barney. " That's a good
idea ; but why can't some of us sleep in this bit of
a cuddy house ? "

"So we can. Here is Uncle Ben's boat cloak,
which will make a first-rate bed. Don't say a word
about it, though, and you and I can have it all to

The sails were carried ashore, and were ample
covering for the tent. Dry leaves, which covered the
ground, were then gathered up and put inside for
their bed.

" Now, Tim, they are finished, and for one, I begin
to feel sleepy," said Charles.

" We can't all sleep, you know," added the pru-
dent chief.

"Why not?"

" We must set a watch."

" I am too sleepy to watch," said Charles,
with a long gape. The clock has just struck


" You needn't watch, you are the second in com-

" I see," replied Charles, standing upon his dignity.

" There are four watches, and each must do duty
two hours a night. Who shall keep the first watch ? "

" I will," said Barney.

" Good ! You must keep the fire going, and have
an eye to both sides of the island."

"Ay, ay."

" And you must go down to the boats every time
the clock strikes, to see if they are all right. If
they should get adrift, you know, our game would
be up."

" I'll see to it."

" At three o'clock, you must call the watch that is
to relieve you."

" Who will that be ? "

" I " volunteered the three other officers of the
wat. hes, in concert.

" Ben, you shall relieve him. If any thing hap-
pens, call me."

Tim and his followers then retired to their tent,
knd buried themselves in the leaves. Charles ordered


.hose of liis band who were not on duty to "turn
in ; " saying that he wanted to warm his feet. The
Rovers were so fatigued by their unusual labors that
they soon fell asleep* and Charles then repaired to
the little cabin of the Sylph. Arranging the cloak
for his bed, he wrapped himself up in his great-coat
and lay down.

Fatigued as he was, he could not go to sleep.
The novelty of his situation, and the guilt, now that
the excitement was over, which oppressed his con-
science, banished that rest his exhausted frame re-
quired. He heard the village clock strike two and
three ; and then he rose, unable to endure the
reproaches of his own heart.

"What a fool I am!" he exclaimed to himself ;
and a flood of tears came to his relief. " To desert
my warm bed, my happy home, the friendship of
my club, for such a set of fellows as this ! O, how I
wish I had not come ! "

Leaving the cabin, lie seated himself in the stern
sheets of the boat. The bright stars had disap-
peared, and the sky was veiled in deep black clouds.
The wind blew very fresh from the north-east, ancf


he was certain that a severe storm was approaching.
He wept bitterly when he thought of the gloomy

He had repented his folly, and would have given
the world to get away from the island. Ah, a
lucky thought ! He could escape ! The Rovers
were all asleep ; the fresh breeze would soon drive
the Sylph to the land, and he could return home,
and perhaps not be missed. It was an easy thing ;
and without further reflection, he unfastened the
cable, and dropped it overboard.

The Sylph immediately commenced drifting away
from the island. Taking the helm, he put her before
the wind, and was gratified to observe that she made
very good headway.

The clock struck four, and he heard the footsteps
of the watch upon the shore.

" Boat adrift ! " shouted Ben, who was the officer
of the watch.

The words were repeated several times, and in a
few moments he heard Tim's voice summoning his
trew. Then the Butterfly dashed down upon him,


and his hopes died within him. But he had the
presence of mind to crawl back agdn to the cabin ;
and when Tim came on board, he had the appear-
ance of beingj sonnd asleep, so that the chief did not
inspect his treachery.




'Monday was a cold, dreary, disagreeable day.
The wind continued north-east ; a fine, drizzly rain
was falling, and a thick fog had settled over the lake,
which effectually concealed the camp of the Rovers
from the main shore.

An excursion had been planned for the day by the
two boat clubs ; but the weather was so unpropitious
that it was abandoned. About nine o'clock, how-
ever, the members of the clubs began to assemble at
their halls in search of such recreation as could be
found in doors.

Frank opened the Zephyr's boat house as usual,
and great was his dismay when he discovered that
the boat was not in its berth. Calling Uncle Ben
from the stable, he announced to him the astounding
intelligence that the Zephyr had been stolen !


" What does it mean, Uncle Ben ? " he asked, in
deep anxiety.

" I can't tell you, Frank ; only, as you say, it has
been stolen. It couldn't have broken adrift."

" Of course not ; and one of the windows if

" That accounts for it," replied Uncle Ben, as he
walked down the boat house and looked out upon
the lake. " I will take the Sylph and hunt it up.*'

" Let me go with you, Uncle Ben."

" My eyes ! but the Sylph is gone too ! " ex-
claimed the veteran, as he perceived tin moorings
afloat where she usually lay.

" Strange, isn't it ? "

Uncle Ben scratched his head, and did not know
what to make of it.

'* Here comes Tony, running with all his might,"
continued Frank. " What's the matter, Tony ? "

"Some body has stolen the Butterfly!" gaspe 1
Tony, out of breath."

" And the Zephyr and the Sylph ! "

Several of the members of the club now arrived,
ft.r.d th/ mattei was thoroughly discussed.


" Who do you suppose stole them ? " said Frank.

" Who ? why, Tim Bunker of course," replied

" But he must have had some help."

" Perhaps not ; he has done it to be revenged,
because your father turned him out of the club."

" Very likely."

" May be he'll smash them up," suggested Wil-
liam Bright.

" Have you seen any thing of Charles this morn-
ing ? " asked Mr. Hardy, entering the boat house at
this moment.

" No, sir.'

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Online LibraryOliver OpticAll aboard : or, Life on the lake ; a sequel to The boat club → online text (page 8 of 10)