“He’s pulling now, or it’s another one.”
“Let him pull. Lift him easy. Long as he thinks he’s stealing something, he’ll hold on. There he comes,—see him?”
Ford saw the white flesh of the clam coming slowly up through the water, and he held his breath; for just behind and below it was a sprawling shadowy something that was tugging with all its might at that tough shell-fish.
“It’s an awful big one!”
“Shall I scoop him?”
“No, indeed: I want to scoop him myself. I saw how you did it.”
Splash went the net, as the prize came nearer the surface; and Ford began, somewhat excitedly, to shake it all over the bottom of the boat.
“Why, where’s that crab? You don’t mean to say he was quick enough to dodge away?”
“Quick? well, no, that isn’t just the trouble. I forgot to tell you to scoop way under him. You hit him, square, and knocked him ever so far. The water deceives your eyes. Drive the net under him quick, and then lift. I’ve got one—now just you see how I scoop.”
Ford felt dreadfully disappointed over the loss of his first crab, but the rapidity with which he caught the “knack of it” after that was a great credit to him. He did not miss the next one he pulled up.
It was great fun; but it had its slack moments, and in one of these Dab suddenly exclaimed,—
“The young black rascal! If he hasn’t gone and got a sheep’s-head!”
They were both staring at the old punt, where Dick Lee was apparently enjoying the most extraordinary good fortune.
“Yes, that’s it. That’s why he beats us so badly. They’re a sight better’n clams, only you can’t always get one. I wonder where he picked up that one.”
“But how he does pull ’em in!”
“We’re doing well enough,” began Dabney, when suddenly there came a shrill cry of pain from the black boy’s punt.
“He’s barefooted,” shouted Dab, with, it must be confessed, something like a grin; “and one of the little pirates has pinned him with his nippers.”
That was the difficulty exactly, and there need not have been any very serious result of such an expression of a crab’s bad temper. But Dick Lee was more than ordinarily averse to any thing like physical pain, and the crab which now had him by the toe was a very muscular and vicious specimen of his quarrelsome race.
The first consequence of that vigorous nip was a momentary dance up and down in the punt, accompanied by exclamatory howls from Dick, but not by a word of any sort from the crab.
The next consequence was, that the crab let go; but so at the same instant, did the rotten board in the boat-bottom, upon which Dick Lee had so rashly danced.
It let go of the rest of the boat so suddenly that poor Dick had only time for one tremendous yell, as it let him right down through to his armpits.