Marco fully expected that Forester would ask him at supper time whether he had been a-fishing or not; but he said nothing about it. Forester told his father and mother about their plan for a boat, and gave them a full account of their visit to the mill. His mother seemed quite interested in the account, and told Marco, that, after he got his crew well trained, she should hope that he would invite her on an excursion in the boat.
“Yes,” said Marco, “we will. We must have a seat, cousin Forester, for passengers and visitors, in the stern sheets.”
“The stern sheets?” said Forester, “what do you mean by the stern sheets?”
“Why, it is aft,” said Marco, “between the coxswain’s place and the stroke-oarsman.”
“You’ll have to show us,” said his aunt, “when we come to see the boat.”
This kind of conversation somewhat relieved Marco’s mind,—but still he was ill at ease, and he determined to tell Forester the whole story at bedtime, if he could only summon up courage to begin.
In the room where Marco slept, there was a large, stuffed arm-chair, which was commonly called the easy chair; it was one that was seldom used by the family, except in sickness. It stood in a corner of the room not far from the head of Marco’s bed. Forester used to sit in this chair while he remained conversing with Marco, when he came up to take his light.
When Forester had taken his seat in the great chair this evening, according to his usual custom, he began his conversation by saying.
“Well, Marco, have you been helping James in the garden this afternoon?”
“Why, no,” said Marco, “I did not help him much,—I don’t like James very well.”
“Why not?” asked Forester.
“Why, I don’t think he is very accommodating,” replied Marco.
“What has he done to-day, which is unaccommodating?” asked Forester.
“He would not lend me his knife. I wanted to borrow his knife to cut me a cane from some apple-tree trimmings, and he would not let me have it.”
“Haven’t you got a knife of your own?” asked Forester.
“Yes,” said Marco, “but mine won’t open.”
“Won’t open?” repeated Forester. “What’s the cause of that?”
“Why, I suppose because the joint is rusty,” replied Marco.
“How came it rusty?” asked Forester.
“Why, you see I laid it down one day on a stone, where I was at work with it, and left it there, and there happened to come a rain in the night and rusted it. I did not know where it was, and so I didn’t find it for a good many days.”
“Then, I presume,” said Forester, “that James supposed that you would leave his knife out in the same way and spoil it.”
“No,” replied Marco, “that was not the reason.”
“You are sure that you asked him for it distinctly, and he refused?”