“Careful, Ford,” said Dab. “Remember Dick Lee. The old thing may come to pieces. It wasn’t made yesterday.”
“Look’s as if Christopher Columbus owned it, and forgot just where he left it. We can paddle with pieces of bark, as far out as we need go.”
Now the fun was doubled; and some of the pickerel they pulled in reminded Dabney of small blue-fish, while the bass and perch were every way as respectable as ordinary porgies and black-fish, except for size. He had even to confess that the sea itself contained a great many small fish, and that he had often had much poorer luck in his own beloved bay.
The boat was a great acquisition; but when they were paddling ashore for the fourth time, “to turn her over and let the water out,” Dabney remarked,—
“It’s after dinner-time, boys. Could either of you fellows eat any thing?”
“Eat?” said Frank. “I’d forgotten that. Yes, let’s have lunch. But there’s more cold johnny-cake than any thing else in the basket.”
“There’s plenty of salt and pepper though; and it won’t take any time at all to make a fire, and broil some fish. Didn’t you ever go on a chowder-party, and do your own cooking?”
“No, I never did.”
“Nor I,” said Ford very reluctantly. “Can we do it?”
“Do it? I’ll show you. No kettle. We’ll have to broil. You fellows make a fire, while I clean some of these fish.”
It was every bit as good fun as catching those fish, to cook them there on the shore of that lovely little lake. Dabney did know all about it, as became a “’longshore boy;” and he took a particular pride in showing Ford and Frank how many different ways there were of cooking a fish without an oven or a kettle or a gridiron.
It was another fine point to discover, after they had eaten all they could, including the cold johnny-cake, that they did not seem to have made their strings of fish look perceptibly smaller.
“Tell you what, boys,” said Dabney: “next time we come out we’ll bring a hammer and nails, and some oakum, and I’ll calk up that old punt so she’ll float well enough. Only it won’t do to dance in her.”
“Then,” said Ford, “I move we don’t try her again to-day. If we’ve got to carry all these fish, it’ll be a long pull home. We’re not half sure of catching another ride.”
“We can pole our fish, though, and make it easy carrying.”
“I’ll show you. Cut two poles, hang your strings half way, shoulder the poles, and take turns carrying. One boy getting rested, all the while, and no cords cutting your hands.”
That was as sensible as if his own mother had told him; and it was a good thing he thought of it, for they did not “catch a ride” till they were half way home. All the wagons were coming the other way, of course, on Saturday afternoon; but the one chat then caught up with them had been carrying a new stove home, and was returning empty.