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Stem to Stern
or building the boat
CHAPTER I.LILY BRISTOL AND HER TORMENTOR.
CHAPTER II.THE SON OF TOIL FIGHTS HIS OWN BATTLE.
CHAPTER III.THE FINAL MANDATE OF MAJOR BILLCORD.
CHAPTER IV.THE ABSENCE OF THE TRUANT DRAGON.
CHAPTER V.THE "GOLDWING" AT SANDY POINT.
CHAPTER VI.A CALL FOR ALL HANDS AT BEECH HILL.
CHAPTER VII.AN EXPEDITION BY MOONLIGHT.
CHAPTER VIII.A CHANGE OF LOCATION.
CHAPTER IX.THE JANITOR OF THE BOAT-HOUSE.
CHAPTER X.A LECTURE ON SHIP-BUILDING.
CHAPTER XI.ROUGH WATER ON LAKE CHAMPLAIN.
CHAPTER XII.A SAILBOAT IN THE TROUGH OF THE SEA.
CHAPTER XIII.THE DISASTER TO THE SILVER MOON.
CHAPTER XIV.THE WORK OF AN INCOMPETENT SKIPPER.
CHAPTER XV."ROLL ON, SILVER MOON."
CHAPTER XVI.DORY DORNWOOD GIVES A LESSON IN BOAT-SAILING.
CHAPTER XVII.THE MISSION OF THE SIX RUFFIANS.
CHAPTER XVIII.THE RESULT OF AN UNEQUAL CONFLICT.
CHAPTER XIX.A DEADLOCK AT THE HEAD OF THE BAY.
CHAPTER XX.THE REBELLIOUS SKIPPER OF THE SLOOP.
CHAPTER XXI.AN OUTRAGE IN THE STANDING-ROOM OF THE SLOOP.
CHAPTER XXII.AN INVITATION TO SANDY POINT.
CHAPTER XXIII.THE PROCEEDINGS AT SANDY POINT.
CHAPTER XXIV.THE STUDENTS DECIDE "WHAT'S IN A NAME."
CHAPTER XXV.BUILDING THE BOAT.
CHAPTER XXVI.THAT CUNNING TOM TOPOVER.
CHAPTER XXVII.THE BRILLIANT STRATEGY OF THE BRUISER.
CHAPTER XXVIII.A HARD BATTLE AT SANDY POINT.
CHAPTER XXIX.THE ENGINEER OF THE UNDINE.
CHAPTER XXX.LAUNCHING THE BOAT.
"Walk Billcord rushed out from the bushes."
"Stem to Stern" is the fourth volume of the "Boat-Builder Series." Most of the characters connected with the Beech Hill Industrial School continue to take part in the action of the story. Like its predecessors, a considerable portion of the work is devoted to business and mechanical information. The writer finds it quite impracticable to give as minute directions for the building of a boat as a few of his young readers may desire, for the entire volume would hardly afford sufficient space for all the details of planning and constructing a yacht. But he has endeavored to impart some information in a general way in regard to shipbuilding, and has indicated in what manner the ambitious young boat-builder may obtain the amplest instruction in this difficult art. It is necessary to assure his young friends that, with all the book-knowledge it is possible to obtain on the subject, it will require a great deal of skill and not a little scientific and technical learning to enable him to construct anything more elaborate than an ordinary flatboat. Nothing but assiduous practice can procure the skill, and nothing but hard study the geometrical and technical details of the art.
As in the preceding volumes of the series, "Stem to Stern" is largely a story of adventure on Lake Champlain and its shores. A new character is introduced as the leading spirit of the story, whose struggles with the difficulties in his life-path can hardly fail to interest the young reader. Though he is peaceful and submissive under ordinary circumstances, with none of the swellish importance of many boys of his years, he is not a milk-and-water youth, and has pluck and strength enough to "stand up" for those whom misfortune has placed under his protection.
Although the two remaining volumes of the series are especially devoted to rigging and sailing a boat, the present and the preceding books incidentally treat of these subjects. While so many young men on the sea, lakes and rivers seem to inherit or early acquire a taste for boats and boating, it is important that they should understand the theory of managing a sailing craft, though nothing but intelligent practice can make a competent "skipper." With such knowledge and skill, boat-sailing is a safe, as well as a healthy and improving sport.
As in former volumes, the writer has endeavored to interest his young readers in mechanical operations and pursuits; and he hopes the series will contribute its mite in influencing boys to respect manual labor and to adopt it as a pastime or the business of life.
Dorchester, Mass., August 17, 1885.
"I don't want anybody to row for me, Mr. Walker; I came out to take a little exercise, and I can do it best when I am all alone," said Miss Lily Bristol to a young gentleman of about eighteen who stood on the sandy beach.
"But it will be a good deal more sociable to have company," replied Walk Billcord with a smile and a smirk.
Lily Bristol had the reputation of being a very pretty girl, and fame had not exaggerated her beauty. She was very plainly dressed, but she was as neat as though she had just come out of the bureau-drawer. She was seated in a rude flatboat, with a pair of oars in her hands, which she seemed to know how to use.
The boat was only a rod or two from the end of Sandy Point, at the southern side of the entrance to a bay with the same name. It was in the spring of the year, and the water in Lake Champlain was at its highest.
Hardly more than a rod from the point where the rippling waves sported with the bright sand was a small and lightly-built cottage. It contained two rooms on the lower floor, with two small attic chambers over them. The structure rested on posts set in the sand, and looked as light and airy as a bird-cage.
This cottage was the home of Peter Bristol, or, rather, of his wife and two children; for the father of the family had been away for two years, seeking to better his impaired fortunes. Peter had always been a poor man, and was always likely to be. He had been a sort of Jack-at-all-trades, not particularly good at any. He had been a fireman on a railroad, a farm-hand, a general jobber; he had tried his hand at almost everything without much success.
Major Billcord owned all the land near Sandy Point. Some years before, he had taken it into his head that the high ground in the rear of Sandy Bay would be an excellent site for a hotel. Some of his friends did not agree with him, and assured him that a hotel could not live in this location.
But the major was an obstinate man, and had his own way. He erected a structure of fifty rooms, with the intention of adding a hundred more after the first season. But for half a dozen reasons the hotel was a dreary failure. It never contained more than half a score of guests at any one time.
Included in this small number was Colonel Buckmill, who was then looking for a suitable site for an academy. The owner of the estate would not admit that the hotel was a failure, but he hinted that the building might be obtained for the school. It exactly suited Colonel Buckmill, and a bargain was soon made for a lease of it. In this manner the Sunnyside Hotel became the Chesterfield Collegiate Institute in the autumn of the same year.
Of course, one of the attractions of the Sunnyside was to be boating on the lake, and Major Billcord provided two sailboats and some rowboats; and Peter Bristol, who Was a good boatman, was engaged to take care of the boats, and act as skipper when required. The poor man, taking his cue from his employer, believed he had fallen upon a bonanza. His fortune was made, and the rest of his days would be spent at Sandy Point.
His wife had over three hundred dollars in her own right in a savings bank, which she was willing to put into a house, and the cottage on the point was built. The family moved into it, and were delighted with the situation, though it was a rather dismal place in the winter. Peter was to have half the money derived from letting the boats; but he soon found that he had nothing to do. The few guests did not care to row or sail.
The boatman had no rent to pay, for the major had given him permission to put his house on the point without charge; but he found it was very hard work to get enough for his family to eat. Lily obtained work in Westport, and Paul attended to the boats while his father worked at haying, and they got through the season. But the dream of fortune had collapsed.
Peter Bristol was discouraged, and went to New York to find work. He obtained no situation, and shipped for the West Indies. A letter from him informed his family that he was at work on a plantation, and he hoped to do well after a while. Since that, nothing had been heard from him in two years.
Paul obtained a little work at the institute, and Lily kept her place in Westport; so that the family had worried along until the daughter lost her situation for the want of sufficient work at the store in which she was employed. Then it was difficult even to obtain enough to eat. Paul did his best, and allowed himself to be bullied and kicked by the gentlemanly students of the institute, while he could make an occasional quarter.
Major Billcord lived in Westport, and his son had lately become a pupil in the institute. He was older than most of the students, and was a wild young fellow. In the early spring he had seen Lily Bristol. He agreed with others who had seen her that she was a remarkably pretty girl, and he had made frequent visits to Sandy Point.
"I prefer to be in the boat alone," Lily replied to the young gentleman's remark that it would be more sociable to have company.
"But I want to see you, Lily, and have a talk with you," persisted Walker Billcord.
"I will see you at the cottage if you desire," answered Lily.
"But I wish to see you alone."
"You cannot see me alone, sir," replied the pretty maiden with a great deal of spirit.
"What's the reason I can't? I shall not hurt you. I think I know how to behave like a gentleman."
"Perhaps you do," added Lily rather doubtfully, for Walk Billcord's reputation was none of the best.
"If you will come to the shore, I will row you all about the bay," Walk insisted. "I will make it as pleasant for you as possible."
"No, I thank you," replied the damsel decidedly.
"What's the matter with you? I hope you don't think I mean to do you any harm."
"I am not afraid of you, but I choose to be alone in the boat."
With this she pulled away from the shore, though he continued to call out to her as long as she was within hearing. She did not like the young man at all, but rather despised than feared him. He had often thrown himself in her way, and exerted himself to please her. She was civil to him, and that was all.
Lily remained in the boat, pulling about the little bay for over an hour. Walk had stood upon the beach for at least half an hour, waiting for her return to the shore. Then he had retired, and the fair maiden supposed he had gone back to the institute. When she had taken all the air and exercise she thought she needed, she rowed back to the shore. Just as she had driven the bow of the flatboat as far as she could on the sand, Walk Billcord rushed out from the bushes, where he had concealed himself, and prevented her from getting out of the boat.
She had put the oars under the thwarts, and arranged everything inside of the boat, which had delayed her a few moments. But as soon as she saw her tormentor running to the waterside, she attempted to leap out of the boat.
"No, you don't, my pretty maiden!" exclaimed Walk, as he seized her by the shoulders, and crowded her back to her seat in the stern.
Under the impetus of the force applied to her by the young man, Lily dropped into the seat, and was obliged to grasp the gunwale of the boat to avoid being thrown into the water. The fair face of the young lady was flushed with anger, as well it might have been, for she had not suspected that her tormentor would resort to violence.
She was not inclined to submit quietly to the will of Walk, for she immediately drew out one of the oars from under the thwarts, and poised it in the air, as though she intended to defeat the intentions of the reckless young gentleman even by meeting force with force.
Walk Billcord stood for a moment holding on at the prow of the boat, as though he was undecided as to his next step. Doubtless he felt that he had already passed the bounds of propriety, and appeared to be considering whether it was prudent to proceed any further. A glance at the glowing and indignant face of Lily increased his interest in the adventure, and he was not willing to leave her in the moment of her heightened beauty.
Lily was the daughter of a poor dependent of his father: at least, he so regarded her, and thought he had some right to subject her to his own whim. He wanted to row her about the bay, and talk with her; and this was the extent of his present wishes. It was only a "bit of a lark," a harmless pleasantry, on his part, as he afterward explained it, and he had not the slightest intention of injuring her.
The fair maiden did not regard herself as a proper subject for the young gentleman's pleasantry, and she was prepared to bring down the blade of the oar upon his head if the occasion should require. In the attitude of defence she waited for his next demonstration. The upraised oar rather tempted Walk to proceed, and he pushed the bow of the boat from the sand, springing into the foresheets as he did so.
As this was not a direct assault upon her, Lily did not bring down the oar upon his head, as she would under greater provocation, but she dropped it into the water at the stern of the boat. The water was shoal; and, setting the blade upon the sand at the bottom, she dexterously whirled the craft about, bringing the stern within a few feet of the dry sands on the shore.
Mr. Walk Billcord did not object to this movement, as it was necessary to head the boat away from the shore; but he deemed it prudent to secure the other oar before his fair companion could do so. He stooped down and got hold of the blade end of it. It required a little tact to remove it from its position under the thwarts; and, while he was engaged in doing it, Lily gave the oar another push, forcing the boat close up to the shore.
Without waiting for her tormentor to get the second oar over the forward thwart, she leaped lightly upon the dry sand, effecting her landing without wetting the soles of her shoes. She still held the oar in her hand, and stood on the shore, waiting for the next move of her unwelcome companion.
She was too proud to run away from such a contemptible being as she considered Mr. Walk Billcord. She looked as though she felt abundantly able to defend herself from any attack on the part of the unmanly persecutor. She evidently believed that he had no serious intention to harm her, but was simply making her the sport of his whim.
The moment she leaped ashore, Walk realized that she had got the better of him. Whatever he intended, he did not like to be outdone by a feeble girl. It was not pleasant for him, even in fun, to be outwitted by a weak maiden. He felt that he had not been smart, and he was annoyed at the situation. His vanity demanded that he should do something to get "even" with his intended victim.
The confident look and attitude of Lily on the shore disconcerted him, and invited further action on his part. He had not yet obtained possession of the oar, for it had to be shoved back before it could be passed over the forward thwart. But he had no present need of the implement, and he abandoned it to survey the position of Lily. He interpreted her looks and attitude as a defiance.
The boat, detached from the sand, was floating away from the shore. With a long leap he planted his feet on the land, and the effect of his movement was to drive the boat farther from the beach. A gentle breeze from the westward was driving it farther away, and Lily saw that it would soon be out of her reach.
She rushed to the water's edge, and, reaching out as far as she could, she succeeded in placing the end of the blade on the prow. She began to draw the truant craft toward the shore, when Walk put himself at her side. He took the oar from her hand, and pulled the craft up till its bottom grated on the sand.
Lily took a stick, and tried to get hold of the painter. As soon as she had it in her hand, Walk took it from her. He not only took the rope, but the hand which held it. He grasped her wrist with one hand, while he tried to drag the boat ashore with the other. He soon found that he had his hands full, both literally and figuratively.
Lily attempted to shake him off; but Walk tightened his hold upon her wrist, though he had to drop the painter of the boat, which, having no hold upon the land, began to float off into the open lake. The fair maiden turned and twisted in her efforts to escape, but the young ruffian held on like a vise.
In a moment or two she was exhausted with the violence of her exertions, and by this time she was thoroughly frightened. Very likely Walk had no worse intentions than at first, and was simply engaged in the business of getting "even" with the weak maiden who had outwitted him.
"What do you mean, you wretch? Let go of me!" gasped Lily, her chest heaving with terror and emotion.
"Don't make a fuss, my pretty one; I will not harm you," replied Walk.
"Let go of me, Mr. Billcord! I thought you claimed to be a gentleman! Let go, or I will scream," panted Lily.
"I only want to take a little row with you, and I shall, you may depend upon that," added Walk, picking up the oar which had fallen on the beach. "Don't make a fuss, and I won't hurt you."
But Lily again renewed the struggle with all her might. Just at that moment, Paul Bristol and his mother came out of the cottage. The boy was a stout youth of fifteen, and, the moment he saw what was going on, he broke into a run.
Paul Bristol seemed to have made only a couple of bounds before he had covered the distance between the cottage and the shore. He saw his sister struggling to release herself from the grasp of Walk Billcord. All the indignation Nature had portioned out to him was roused, and he did not stop to ask any questions. He did not even utter a word of warning or reproach.
His two fists were clinched in hard knots before he reached the scene of the encounter, and, without waiting to consider the situation, he planted a blow with his right fist between the two eyes of his sister's persecutor, and then did the same with the left. The effect was instant and decisive. Walk went over backwards upon the sand, and his hold upon the fair maiden was released.
By this time Mrs. Bristol had come to the spot, and, putting her arm around her panting, trembling daughter, she led her to the cottage without taking note of the result of the battle, though she could not help seeing that the tormentor had been vanquished in the first onslaught.
Walk Billcord was utterly astonished as well as effectually upset. Paul Bristol had always been meek and subservient in his dealings with the students, and no one could have suspected that there was anything like a claw in his hard paws. If Mr. Walker was astonished the first moment after his unexpected fall, he was indignant and boiling over with wrath the second.
Though it was probable that both of the young gentleman's eyes had been put into mourning for the coming week, he was not otherwise damaged, and he leaped to his feet as soon as he could realize what had happened. He saw that he had been struck down by one whom he had always regarded as a son of toil,—a sort of cur about the premises of the institute. His blood boiled, and, without a word of any kind, he proceeded to "pitch into" his late assailant with all the physical vigor he could bring to bear upon him.
Paul warded off the wild blows aimed at him, and soon planted one of his own on the end of the young gentleman's nose, which caused the blood to flow in a stream from that organ. But Walk did not mind this little incident, though Paul was rather startled to see what he had done. The latter was inclined to deal as gently as he could with his gentlemanly opponent; but he found it necessary to defend himself from the impetuous charges of Walk. In doing so he delivered a hard hit, which carried his foe to the ground again.
The young gentleman was not yet satisfied, though he realized that he was not a match for his toil-hardened opponent. He sprang to his feet once more, out of breath, but unwilling to yield a hair to such an assailant. Grasping the stick Lily had used to haul in the boat, he again rushed upon Paul, and aimed a blow at his head; but Paul retreated a few steps, and picked up the oar which had dropped on the beach.
Paul Bristol was entirely cool, now that his sister was no longer in peril, and he began to realize that a quarrel with the son of the proprietor of the domain was a very serious matter. With the oar he warded off the blows of his insane adversary, and this was all he wished to do. He could easily have "laid him out" again, but the fear of consequences kept him within bounds.
Walk exhausted himself to no purpose. He could not hit his opponent, and his strength and his wind were soon used up. He drew back a little, and fixed a savage gaze upon his stalwart enemy. He panted like a wild beast at bay, and his blood boiled all the more because he could accomplish nothing.
"I'll settle you yet, Paul Bristol!" exclaimed Walk as he stepped down to the edge of the water and began to wash the blood from his face.
"I'm settled now," replied Paul calmly. "I have had enough of it, and I should like to stop where we are."
"You won't stop where we are, not till I have beaten you to a jelly. I shall break every bone in your dirty carcass before I get through with you," gasped Walk, struggling for an even supply of breath.
"When I say I have got enough of it, that ought to end the affair," added Paul with a cheerful smile on his face.
"I don't care what you say; you haven't got enough. You have given me two sore eyes and a bloody nose, and you haven't got anything to balance it," growled Walk. "I mean to break your head, and then I will call it square."
"But I don't want my head broken, if it is all the same to you," replied Paul, leaning on the oar. "My head is of some use to me, and it would not be pleasant to have it broken."
"You began it, and you shall have enough of it before we are done," added Walk, beginning to breathe a little more freely.
"I began it?" queried Paul with the same cheerful smile. "I don't think so, and I should like to argue the question with you."
"Didn't you hit me first, you nunkhead?" demanded Walk.
"Didn't you lay hold of my sister first, and frighten her half out of her wits?"
"I didn't hurt her, and I was only fooling with her."
"Fooling with her! That's just what I was doing with you. I was only fooling with you, Mr. Walker."
"I don't like that sort of fooling, you speckled cur!"
"My sister didn't like your sort of fooling any better than you like mine. But, if you want to stop fooling, now is a good time to begin."
"I will stop when I get even with you, and not before," snapped Walk. "You struck the first blow, and I mean to strike the last."
By this time the young gentleman had fairly recovered his wind, but nothing like coolness had come over his temper. Dropping the stick, he rushed upon Paul again with his naked fists. He was savage, and the boatman's son soon found that he could not passively defend himself, and the result was that Walk soon went under again.
This disaster made him madder than ever, and when he rose from the beach he seized the stick again, which Paul met with the oar. Paul liked this way of carrying on the combat better than the other, for he could defend himself without inflicting any injury on his furious opponent.
While Walk was thus wearing himself out, a gentleman with a riding-whip in his hand came out of the path through the woods. As soon as he discovered what was going on upon the beach, he quickened his pace, and reached the scene of the conflict at a sharp run. It was Major Billcord, the father of Paul's wrathy opponent.
"What does all this mean?" demanded the major when he had come within speaking distance of the combatants. "How dare you strike my son with that oar?"
"I haven't struck him once with it," replied Paul, aghast at the presence of the mighty proprietor of the domain. "I am only defending myself, sir."
"You have no business to defend yourself against my son, you dirty puppy. How dare you lift a weapon against him?" stormed Major Billcord; and to him there was only one side to the controversy, whatever it was.
Walk had dropped his stick as soon as he heard the voice of his father, and Paul had done the same with the oar. The latter felt that he had got into a very bad scrape. The major was a magnate of the first order, and he was supreme on his own domain. His mother was a tenant at will at the cottage. All the money she had inherited from her father's estate, and all she had in the world, was invested in that cottage. The mighty major could turn them out of house and home at a moment's notice, as they paid no rent.
"What does all this mean, my son? I am sorry to see you fighting with such a cur as that," said Major Billcord when the battle was suspended for the moment.
"It means that he struck me first, and I intend to get even with him if I fight till Lake Champlain dries up," blustered Walk, as he clinched his fists again; and doubtless he had a clear idea of his father's views on the subject of pugilism.
"He struck first! You did quite right, my son. Never take a blow from any one," added the major.
"But he insulted my sister, sir! He had seized hold of her, and held her when I hit him, sir," pleaded Paul with proper deference; and he felt that he had a good defence.
"A fight begins with the first blow, and we needn't ask what happened before it was struck. You admit that you struck the first blow, Bristol?" continued Major Billcord, sitting in judgment on the case.
"I did strike the first blow, sir; and a fellow that wouldn't hit hard when his sister was insulted, and held as a prisoner, don't amount to much," Paul replied rather warmly.
"You struck the first blow; and that's all I want to hear about it," added the major sharply. "My son has done quite right to resent a blow with another blow; and if he is not satisfied with the punishment he has given you, you vagabond, I will stand by and see fair play till he is satisfied."
Mr. Walker did not quite approve the ground taken by his father, and wanted him to do something more than stand by and see fair play. But the major had spoken, and the son realized that he had nothing to do but to take the broad hint the patriarch had given him. Clinching his fists again, he rushed upon Paul for the third time. Paul was indignant at the decision of the magnate, and felt as though he had been commanded by the great man to permit his son to insult his sister.
Walk rushed upon him, but Paul's back was up for the first time since he had relieved his sister from the grasp of her assailant. His paws were not velvet: they were all fangs. At the first onslaught of Walk, that young gentleman went over on his back with the blood gushing from his nostrils. Twice more he renewed the attack, with about the same result.
Mr. Walker was so full of wrath that he could no longer control himself, and he laid hold of the stick again. Paul picked up the oar once more. The son of toil knocked the stick out of the hands of his opponent, and it flew into the lake. Walk could not find another, and Paul dropped the oar. It was naked fists again, with the same effect as before.
By this time Major Billcord was as full of wrath as his son, and without regard to fair play, of which he stood as champion, he rushed to the assistance of his defeated son. Paul picked up the oar and retreated before the two.
"Stop a moment, if you please, Major Billcord," shouted Paul. "I don't want to hit you sir, and I won't if I can help it."
"But I am going to flog you within an inch of your life!" yelled the major.
Paul had gone as far as he could without retreating into the cottage, and he was unwilling to carry the battle into the presence of his mother and sister. He halted; the major wrenched the oar from his grasp. He struck the son of toil with it. Paul's blood was up; he gave the magnate a blow between the eyes, under which he went down. Walk "pitched in" again, and was planted by the side of his father.
Major Billcord was a short, puffy man, inclined to corpulency. The blow of the son of toil, and his fall upon the sand, proved to be enough for him. He was all foam and fury in consequence of his signal defeat. Possibly he had thought that a poor dependent upon his bounty would not dare to strike him; and, in truth, Paul felt that it was something like treading upon the Bible.
He had attempted to take the stalwart youth by the collar, and had struck him with his riding-whip in a tender place. The pain was nothing, but the indignity was great; and Paul's impulse had led him farther than he would have gone if he had considered what he was doing.
The major and his son picked themselves up, and for a moment they gazed with something like wonder upon the victor in the unequal contest. But all three of them had been beside themselves for the moment. Paul realized what he had done; and so did his mother and sister, for they came out of the cottage while father and son were getting up from the ground.
"Woman, do you see what your son has done?" demanded Major Billcord, who was the first to break the impressive silence.
"I am very sorry, sir," pleaded the poor woman, stepping between Paul and his victims, in order to prevent him from doing them any further mischief if he should be disposed to renew the combat.
"Sorry for it!" exclaimed the magnate, as if simple regret could atone for a blow given by a plebeian to a patrician. "Is this the way you bring up your son?"
"I am very sorry, Major Billcord, but he has been greatly provoked. By your leave, sir, it was Mr. Walker that began it."
"It is false, marm! Your brute of a son struck the first blow; he has confessed it to me," puffed the magnate.
"But Mr. Walker had first insulted my daughter; he had seized hold of her, and was trying to force her into the boat when Paul interfered," Mrs. Bristol explained with as much meekness as the subject would permit.
"Nonsense, woman! Seized hold of your daughter! Don't talk such stuff to me. Walker did not mean to do her any harm," added Major Billcord with the utmost contempt.
"I only asked her to let me row her about the bay in the boat," the young gentleman explained.
"It was impertinent in her to refuse when my son honored her with his notice," continued the major.
"I thought she had a right to choose her own company," said Mrs. Bristol with proper humility.
"I have allowed you to live on my land for two years without a penny of rent, woman; and this is the return I get for it," replied the great man, in whose heart the poor woman's ingratitude was beginning to make havoc.
"You have been very kind to us, Major Billcord, and we are very grateful for all you have done for us. I am so sorry that this sad thing has happened!" pleaded Mrs. Bristol.
"And still you try to fasten the blame on my son," retorted the proprietor of Sandy Point and its surroundings.
"I am very sorry he meddled with Lily; if he hadn't done it, there would have been no trouble, for Paul has always treated Mr. Walker with respect."
"At it again!" exclaimed the major. "You will insist that my son was to blame, simply because he was polite enough to invite your daughter to take a row with him in the boat."
"She was not willing to go; and I didn't know that she was obliged to go out on the lake with him. She declined his invitation, and Mr. Walker tried to force her into the boat."
"It was not civil in her to decline the invitation, and I don't wonder that Walker was a little vexed at her refusal. She is a pert minx, marm, and has not been well brought up, or she would have known better than to decline," added the magnate, bestowing a look of severity upon the fair maiden.
Mrs. Bristol and Paul saw that it was useless to attempt to reason with such a man, and they were silent. The major took out his handkerchief, and wiped the perspiration from his face. Then he felt of his nose and the region about his two eyes, between which the son of toil had planted his hard fist. Doubtless there was a soreness in those parts, and perhaps the visual organs of the father would be clothed in sable wreaths by the next day.
"That boy must be punished, severely punished, for what he has done," the major resumed. "He has had the audacity to strike me in the face,—me, the benefactor of the whole family!"
"Didn't you catch me by the throat, and hit me with your riding-whip, sir?" asked Paul calmly and meekly.
"What if I did! Do you mean to put yourself on a level with me, you young reprobate?" demanded the magnate, his wrath beginning to boil again. "Woman, I say that boy must be severely punished for this," he continued, turning to Mrs. Bristol again. "He must be whipped till he can't stand up!"
"Who will whip him, sir?" asked the poor woman innocently.
"I will do it, if you don't, marm," replied the major savagely.
"I could not whip him, sir; he is a great deal stronger than I am; and, if he is whipped at all, you must do it, sir;" but Mrs. Bristol seemed to think there was something a little satirical in what she said.
"Then I will do it!" said the magnate, raising his riding-whip.
"Perhaps he will not allow you to whip him, sir," suggested Mrs. Bristol; and even her anger appeared to be approaching the boiling-point.
"The boy deserves to be severely punished. If he submits to the whipping which Walker and I will give him, we may be willing to let the matter drop where it is."
"You had better arrange it with Paul, sir. I should as soon think of whipping Colonel Buckmill as my son," replied the poor woman with a decided touch of satire in her tones and manner.
"If the young villain submits, very well."
"If you should begin to punish him, I have no doubt he will speak or act for himself," she added.
"Bristol, you hear what has been said. Will you submit to the punishment you deserve?" demanded the major severely, turning to the culprit.
"No, sir, I will not."
"Do you hear him, marm?"
"I do, sir; and he answers just as I supposed he would."
"Then you uphold him in his treacherous treatment of my son? Then you countenance him in biting the hand that feeds him?"
Mrs. Bristol made no reply, for she did not wish to irritate the powerful man unnecessarily. She looked at her son, and she was proud of him.