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HASTE AND WASTE
THE YOUNG PILOT OF LAKE CHAMPLAIN
A STORY FOR YOUNG PEOPLE
BIOGRAPHY AND BIBLIOGRAPHY
William Taylor Adams, American author, better known and loved by boys and girls through his pseudonym "Oliver Optic," was born July 30, 1822, in the town of Medway, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, about twenty-five miles from Boston. For twenty years he was a teacher in the Public Schools of Boston, where he came in close contact with boy life. These twenty years taught him how to reach the boy's heart and interest as the popularity of his books attest.
His story writing began in 1850 when he was twenty-eight years old and his first book was published in 1853. He also edited "The Oliver Optic Magazine," "The Student and Schoolmate," "Our Little Ones."
Mr. Adams died at the age of seventy-five years, in Boston, March 27, 1897.
He was a prolific writer and his stories are most attractive and unobjectionable. Most of his books were published in series. Probably the most famous of these is "The Boat Club Series" which comprises the following titles:
"The Boat Club," "All Aboard," "Now or Never," "Try Again," "Poor and Proud," "Little by Little." All of these titles will be found in this edition.
Other well-known series are his "Soldier Boy Series," "Sailor Boy Series," "Woodville Stories." The "Woodville Stories" will also be found in this edition.
THE SQUALL ON THE LAKE
"Stand by, Captain John!" shouted Lawry Wilford, a stout boy of fourteen, as he stood at the helm of a sloop, which was going before the wind up Lake Champlain.
"What's the matter, Lawry?" demanded the captain.
"We're going to have a squall," continued the young pilot, as he glanced at the tall peaks of the Adirondacks.
There was a squall in those clouds, in the judgment of Lawry Wilford; but having duly notified the captain of the impending danger to his craft, he did not assume any further responsibility in the management of the sloop. It was very quiet on the lake; the water was smooth, and the tiny waves sparkled in the bright sunshine. There was no roll of distant thunder to admonish the voyagers, and the youth at the helm was so much accustomed to squalls and tempests, which are of frequent occurrence on the lake, that they had no terrors to him. It was dinner-time, and the young pilot, fearful that the unexpected guest might reduce the rations to a low ebb for the second table, was more concerned about this matter than about the squall.
Captain John, as he was familiarly called on board the _Missisque,_ which was the name of the sloop, was not a man to be cheated out of any portion of his dinner by the approach of a squall; and though his jaws may have moved more rapidly after the announcement of the young pilot, he did not neglect even the green-apple pies, the first of the season, prepared with care and skill by Mrs. Captain John, who resided on board, and did "doctor's" duty at the galley. Captain John did not abate a single mouthful of the meal, though he knew how rapidly the mountain showers and squalls travel over the lake. The sloop did not usually make more than four or five miles an hour, being deeply laden with lumber, which was piled up so high on the deck that the mainsail had to be reefed, to make room for it.
The passenger, Mr. Randall, was a director of a country bank, journeying to Shoreham, about twenty miles above the point where he had embarked in the _Missisque_. He had crossed the lake in the ferry, intending to take the steamer at Westport for his destination. Being a man who was always in a hurry, but never in season, he had reached the steamboat landing just in time to see the boat moving off. Procuring a wherry, and a boy to row it, he had boarded the _Missisque_ as she passed up the lake; and, though the sloop was not a passenger-boat, Captain John had consented to land him at Shoreham.
Mr. Randall was a landsman, and had a proper respect for squalls and tempests, even on a fresh-water lake. He heard the announcement of Lawry Wilford with a feeling of dread and apprehension, and straightway began to conjure up visions of a terrible shipwreck, and of sole survivors, clinging with the madness of desperation to broken spars, in the midst of the storm-tossed waters. But Mr. Randall was a director of a country bank, and a certain amount of dignity was expected and required of him. His official position before the people of Vermont demanded that he should not give way to idle fears. If Captain Jones, who was not a bank director, could keep cool, it was Mr. Randall's solemn duty to remain unmoved, or at least to appear to remain so.
The passenger finished the first course of the dinner, which Mrs. Captain John had made a little more elaborate than usual, in honor of the distinguished guest; but he complained of the smallness of his appetite, and it was evident that he did not enjoy the meal after the brief colloquy between the skipper and the pilot. He was nervous; his dignity was a "bore" to him, and was maintained at an immense sacrifice of personal ease; but he persevered until a piece of the dainty green-apple pie was placed before him, when he lacerated the tender feelings of Mrs. Captain John by abruptly leaving the table and rushing on deck.
This hurried movement was hardly to be regarded as a sacrifice of his dignity, for it was made with what even the skipper's lady was compelled to allow was a reasonable excuse.
"Gracious!" exclaimed Mr. Randall, as the tempting piece of green-apple pie, reeking with indigenous juices was placed before him.
At the same moment the bank director further indicated his astonishment and horror by slapping both hands upon his breast in a style worthy of Brutus when Rome was in peril.
"What's the matter, squire?" demanded Captain John, dropping his knife and fork, and suspending the operation of his vigorous jaws till an explanation could be obtained.
"I've left my coat on deck," replied Mr. Randall, rising from his chair.
"It's just as safe there as 'twould be on your back, squire," added the skipper.
"There's six thousand dollars in the pocket of that coat," said the bank director, with a gasp of apprehension. "Where's my coat?" demanded he.
"There it is," replied Lawry Wilford, pointing to the garment under the rail. "We had a flaw of wind just now, and it came pretty near being blowed overboard."
"Gracious!" exclaimed Mr. Randall, as he clutched the coat. "I'm too careless to live! There's six thousand dollars in a pocket of that coat."
"Six thousand dollars!" ejaculated Lawry, whose ideas of such a sum of money were very indefinite. "I should say you ought not to let it lie round loose in this way."
"I'm very careless; but the money is safe," continued the director.
"Stand by, Captain John!" suddenly shouted Lawry, with tremendous energy, as he put the helm down. The squall was coming up the lake in the track of the _Missisque_; a dull, roaring sound was heard astern; and all the mountain peaks had disappeared, closed in by the dense volume of black clouds. The episode of the bank director's coat had distracted the attention of the young pilot for a moment, and he had not observed the rapid swoop of the squall, as it bore down upon the sloop. He leaped over the piles of lumber to the forecastle, and had cast loose the peak-halyard, when Captain John tumbled up the companionway in time to see that he had lingered too long over the green-apple pie, and that one piece would have been better for his vessel, if not for him.
"Let go the throat-halyard!" roared he. "Down with the mainsail! down with the mainsail!"
Lawry did not need any prompting to do his duty; but before he could let go the throat-halyard, the squall was upon the sloop. Mr. Randall had seized hold of the rail, and was crouching beneath the bulwark, expecting to go to the bottom of the lake, for he was too much excited to make a comparison of the specific gravities of pine boards and fresh water, and therefore did not realize that lumber would float, and not sink.
The squall did its work in an instant; and before the bank director had fairly begun to tremble, the rotten mainsail of the _Missisque_ was blown into ribbons, and the "flapping flitters" were streaming in the air. Piece after piece was detached from the bolt-rope, and disappeared in the heavy atmosphere. The sloop, in obedience to her helm, came about, and was now headed down the lake. The rain began to fall in torrents, and Mr. Randall was as uncomfortable as the director of a country bank could be.
"Go below, sir!" shouted Captain John to the unhappy man.
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