In fact, he had been noticing of late that his ideas came to him a little slowly. Not but what he had plenty of them, but they seemed disposed to crowd one another; so that whenever there was any thing to be said in a hurry, Ford was sure to get ahead of him, and sometimes even quiet Frank Harley.
“Must be I’m growing, somehow,” he said to himself, “or I wouldn’t be so awkward.”
The north road from Grantley led through a region that was, as the old farmers said of it, “a-goin’ back,” and was less thickly peopled than it had been two or three generations before. There had once been pretty well cultivated farms all around some of the little lakes that were now bordered by stout growths of forest; and the roads among the hills wore a neglected look, many of them, as if it had ceased to profit anybody to keep them in order.
There was “coming and going” over them, nevertheless; and the boys managed to get a “lift” of nearly five miles in a farmer’s wagon, so that they reached the vicinity of Green Pond sooner than they had expected, and with much less fatigue. The same farmer, in response to anxious questioning by Dab, informed him,—
“Fish? Wall, ye-es. Nobody don’t ketch ’em much nowadays. Time was when they was pretty much all fished out, but I heerd there was some fellers turned in a heap of seedlin’ fish three or four year ago. Right away arter that, my boys went over, and put in three days a hand runnin’, but they didn’t get nothin’ but pumpkin-seeds. Plenty of them yit, I s’pose.”
That was encouraging; but Ford at once remarked,—
“Pumpkin-seeds? A fine-looking fish, are they not? I know them. Somewhat depressed, and extended laterally?”
“Guesso. You’re ‘tendin’ school at the ’cadummy, ain’t ye?”
“Yes, we’re there.”
“Thought so. Ye-es. We-ell, it’s a good thing for the ’cadummy. Hope you’ll ketch some o’ them seedlin’ fish. Ef ye do, you kin jest stuff ’em with big words, and bake ’em. They do say as how fish is good for the brains.”
“Don’t we turn off somewhere along here?” asked Dabney.
“Ye-es. Green Pond’s right down there, through the woods. Not more’n a mile. See’t ye don’t lose yer way. What bait have ye got?”
“Bait? Angle-worms. Are they the right thing?”
“Worms? Ye-es. They’ll do. Somebody told ye, did they? ’Twon’t take ye long to larn how to put ’em on.”
There was not a great deal to be made out of that old New-England farmer; and his good-natured contempt for a lot of ignorant young “city fellers,” in good clothes, did not require any further expression.
They left him with a wide grin on his wrinkled face, and followed his directions over the nearest fence; but with ideas concerning their probable string of fish, that were rather “depressed” than “extended.”
It was a long mile, but it did not contain any danger of getting lost; and at the end of it they had quite enough of a surprise to pay them for their trouble.