And, so saying, Dick tumbled over in, with a spatter which made Ford Foster tread on two of three crabs in getting away from it. It was not the first time, by many, that Dick Lee had found himself bathing in that bay without any time given him to undress.
And now it was discovered that the shipwrecked crabber had never for one instant lost his hold of the line, to the other end of which was fastened his precious sheep’s-head.
They made a regular crabbing crew now,—two to pull up, and one to scoop in; and never had the sprawling game been more plentiful on that pasture, or more apparently in a greedy hurry to be captured.
“What on earth shall we do with them all?” asked Ford.
“Soon’s we’ve got enough for a mess for both our folks,” said Dab, “we’ll quit this, and go for some fish. The clams are good bait, and we can try some of your tackle.”
Ford’s face brightened a good deal at that suggestion, for he had more than once cast a crest fallen look at his pretentious box. But he replied,—
“A mess! How many crabs can one man eat?”
“I don’t know,” said Dab. “It depends a good deal on who he is. Then, if he eats the shells, he can’t take in so many.”
“Eat de shells? Yah, yah, yah! Dat beats my mudder! She’s allers a-sayin’ wot a waste de shells make,” laughed Dick. “I jest wish we might ketch some fish. I dasn’t kerry home no crabs.”
“It does look as if we’d got as many as we’ll know what to do with,” remarked Dab, as he looked down on the sprawling multitude in the bottom of the boat. “We’ll turn the clams out of the basket, and fill that; but we mustn’t put any crabs in the fish-car. We’ll stow ’em all forward.”
The basket held more than half a bushel, but there was still a “heap” of what Ford Foster called “the crusties” to pen up in the bow of the boat.
That duty attended to, the grapnel was pulled up, and Dick was set at the oars, while Dab selected from Ford’s box just the hooks and lines their owner had made least account of.
“What’ll we catch, Dab?”
“’Most anything. Nobody knows till he’s done it. Perch, porgies, cunners, black-fish, weak-fish, maybe a bass or a sheep’s-head, but more cunners than any thing else, unless we strike some flounders at the turn of the tide.”
“That’s a big enough assortment to set up a fish-market on.”
“If we catch ’em. We’ve got a good enough day, anyhow, and the tide’ll be about right by the time we get to work.”
“Why not try here?”
“’Cause there’s no fish to speak of, and because the crabs’ll clean your hook for you as fast as you can put the bait on. We must go out to deeper water and better bottom. Dick knows just where to go. You might hang your line out all day and not get a bite, if you didn’t strike the right spot.”