YOU scull or you row a dory,--that is, if you can. We could n't but we pretended to ourselves and to others that we were, doing very well, and it was only practice that we needed.

It was trying to us that whenever we directed our steps toward the wharf on Salt Pond, where our bark was moored, all the men who had been squatting near the breakwater should gradually move in our direction, and watch us as we started upon our recreations. We called it recreation, but I think we never suffered more, or so much, at hard labor as we did in the few weeks that followed our purchase of a dory. But, having bought a dory, it seemed necessary that we should use it, even though we died in the act. I am glad to be able to say that, before we left the shore, we had begun to enjoy being on the pond, and ceased to bear so serious a grudge against Mr. Tolman, who sold us the boat at a great profit to himself pecuniarily, but at a serious loss to his morals.

Before we reached happiness, however, we endured our purgatory, one phase of which was bearing the scrutiny and receiving the advice of the fishermen, who always seemed to be at leisure when we thought we would try a row. They used to stand around in all the attitudes which laziness could suggest, while we unfastened the rope. We always put on an air of entire unconsciousness of their presence, though we felt their eyes burning into us, and were longing to utter the very wickedest oaths there are made for such occasions. I am convinced that we should have committed less sin if we had spoken these oaths rather than have had them boiling and seething so long within us. If we could have been alone, we should have learned our lesson far sooner than we did.

It was two weeks before I could believe that the dory would not tip over when we stepped into it from the wharf. If you know anything about a flat-bottomed boat, you know the feeling of insecurity it gives one the instant foot is put within it. That we did not fall out of it, or tip it over when we entered it, speaks well for our skill. That fact alone, as my friend said, revealed that we had nautical blood in our veins.

"Boats ain't no kind of work for women," said one of the men among our spectators, one morning. "They can't tie a knot in a rope; or if they can tie one, they can't ontie it, which is jes' as bad."

"Jes' so," said another, moving forward a little, so that he might have a better view of our struggles with the knot in the rope, which was more than usually trying.

A very solemn-faced man, who, we learned later, came from the Glades, leaned with both hands on a post, and announced oracularly that "women's brains was different from men's. Women could do some things, but some things they could n't; and it was no manner of use for 'em to try, for they wasted their own time, and, what was wuss, they wasted their husbands's time."

We saw some one nudge the speaker, and we heard the loud whisper:--

"They ain't got no husbands. Their time's their own."

But the man from the Glades was not to be turned from his track.

"It don't make no difference,"--he said, "the principle is the same: women's brains is different."

There was a low murmur of approbation, and the speaker grunted with pleasure that he should be understood by his hearers. By this time the intricacies of the rope had been overcome. With bold fronts, but much inward trepidation, Carlos and I now stepped into the dory. As I pushed away by pressing an oar against the wharf, some one who had not yet spoken remarked that it was a "sinful riskin' of human life for two women to be allowed to go off in this way." A less pessimistic person said cheerfully that he guessed it would be all right, for the pond was gin'rally so smooth that any fool would be safe on it.

Do we not deserve great credit in that we persevered in the face of all this?

Privately, on several moonlight nights, we had Maria Jane Yates give us lessons, and these lessons were so clear and forcible that we profited greatly by them.

It was while we were yet painfully uncertain in our dealings with our dory that one morning we discovered that we were out of butter. This discovery means more in such a place as this than it does where you can run out to the grocer's at a moment's warning and buy. The grocery-man came round among the fishermen once a week for orders, and we were among the fishermen. Fried pork largely takes the place of butter here, but we have not yet learned to be happy with that substitute.

By going across the pond to "the road," and then walking a quarter of a mile, we should arrive at a grocery store. This seemed to be precisely the time when we could make the dory not only agreeable but useful. We would row across, carrying a tin pail, and return with butter; and perhaps we might meet a butcher, and have the luxury of a beef-steak.

It was amid such spectators and such remarks as I have just described that we started forth on our errand. We were watched half - way over by the group of men; then the company slowly dispersed. As no one could ever tell exactly when we should return, our arrival was generally less embarrassing than our departure.

The dory was in a remarkably good mood this morning, and obeyed cheerfully every request of ours. We decided that we should soon be able to manage a boat as well as any one. This was in going over. On the road our good luck continued. We procured two pounds of butter that really was not very strong; we saw the butcher's cart, and bought steak that did not look so very tough.

We were warm when we reached the shore of the pond, on our return. We sat down in the dory, and let tile hot southwest wind blow upon our red faces. The sun glistened so upon the water that we thought with longing of our tent, and we started as soon as possible. And now it was that the boat began to "act up," as we used to say when we were children. It could not have been more rebellious and disagreeable if it had been endowed with life, and with a brain to know just what was most annoying to us. Do not tell me that this effect was produced by the fact that we were tired and could not row as well as when we first embarked, because you will never convince me that the dory did not take a malicious delight in the events which followed.

I believe I have not mentioned that we had named the craft "Marthy Lizabuth." We did not name her until we had discovered how contumacious she could be, and how much devilry she had in her; then we immediately christened her after a little girl who was our schoolmate, I dare not tell how many years ago, and who had a temper that made her unreliable in the extreme. When she was at her sweetest, we did not know how near she might be to her bitterest. She was often falling into what were known throughout the school as "mad-fits," when, for a number of days, she would not speak save to a certain few, who always ranged themselves under her banner, and who occupied themselves at noons and recesses by taunting and provoking every child who was not "on Marthy Lizabuth's side."

From these mad-fits the girl would emerge with the same suddenness with which she entered them. We of the other side would arrive some morning at the schoolhouse, and be greeted with wreathed smiles by Marthy Lizabuth. Then we knew that the war, for the time being, was over. In view of these facts, Carlos and I felt that our dory was well named.

We had not gone half a dozen rods on our way from the road before we were keenly aware that Marthy Lizabuth was in a mad-fit. She slewed round, she backed, she sidled, she refused to do anything we asked of her. Every stroke we made with an oar seemed to be but another exasperation. In ten minutes we were palpitating with heat and covered with perspiration. The wind from the land was like wind from an oven. The pond was bright with that brilliance that puts out one's eyes; the sun was merciless.

We rested from our futile labors for a moment.

"What is a little butter compared with our sufferings?" Carlos wearily inquired.

"And what is a little meat?" I responded. "Better be Grahamites all our lives than suffer like this."

Only those who have been out in a boat before they become skillful with oars can appreciate what this dreadful half hour was to us. Such people will know also how, in the twinkling of an eye, a novice will mysteriously lose all the skill he has acquired. What appears to be a good, straightforward stroke will send the craft off at a tangent, and inspire fearful thoughts in the mind.

We could be no judges of time during the infliction that had come upon us; we could only know that it seemed hours during which we were trying to reach the wharf we had left under the eyes of masculine wisdom.

We were thankful that no one was visible there now. We had once gained the centre of the pond, but in some circuitous, unaccountable manner we had gone back again toward the shore near the road.

We had both supposed that Carlos had acquired some skill in sculling. She stood up to make an attempt by that means of propelling. We did not know then, and, in recalling the incident, I can give no explanation of how it happened, but the fact remains that, when my friend stood up, Marthy Lizabuth turned directly over, emptied us out, and then bobbed serenely near, bottom side up.

It was low tide. At low tide Salt Pond is, save in the middle, not much more than an overflowed marsh. We were not very near the middle, and we stood in water to our waists. It was not a dangerous situation at all, and it was not an agreeable one.

"We must wade back to the road shore," said I, after some spluttering of salt water from mouth and nose.

"Yes; but we shall be in a pretty condition to get to the tent from there. We cannot blame any barge-driver for not taking us in."

"There is the livery stable," I suggested.

"We must walk a mile to get to the stable."

"Of course we can't turn the dory up again?" I feebly said; to which my friend averred that she believed Marthy Lizabuth capable of drowning us, if we meddled with her any more that day.

At this moment, with all the timeliness of the arrival of the hero in a novel, a voice hailed us from the wharf across the pond. It was Maria Jane's voice, and we saw her tall figure standing there.

"You jest stay where ye be!" she shouted. "I 'll come and git ye."

She jumped into a boat, and rowed rapidly toward us. She picked us up; she fastened Marthy Lizabuth to the stern, and towed her in. She landed us safely.

When we stepped, all dripping, on the wharf,--how we thanked Heaven that there were no men there!--she made one remark which we heard in meek silence. She said:--

"I don't see how in thunder you done it; but sence you did, I'm plaguey glad I was on hand."

We said we would thank her when we had on dry clothes, and we hurried away to the tent.

"The butter is at the bottom of Salt Pond," said Carlos.

"So is the meat," said I.

When we were again clothed, we exchanged vows that we would yet get the better of Marthy Lizabuth.


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