“I want you, James, to follow him, and keep in sight of him until he returns, but if possible don’t let him see you. Say nothing to me about it, but give my son Forester an account of all that you observe.”
James did as he was directed, and when Forester came back he told him the whole story, just before Forester went into the study. So that Forester knew all about it, before Marco saw him. James managed the affair very adroitly, for he kept himself entirely out of sight except in one instance, and that was when the boys fell into the water. He then rushed toward them for fear that they might be drowned, but he stopped on the bank when he saw that there was no danger, and disappeared again before Marco had time to recognize him.
The alterations and improvements, which Forester had ordered in the boat, were completed at the time promised. Marco said that it would require a crew of eight to man the boat properly: six oarsmen, a bowman, and a coxswain. Marco pronounced this word as if it was spelt coxen. This is the proper way to pronounce it. It means the one who sits in the stern, to steer the boat and direct the rowers. In fact, the coxswain is the commander of the boat’s crew.
“I will be bowman,” said Marco, “and you can be coxswain, and then we shall want six boys for oarsmen.”
“You will have to explain to me then what my duties will be,” said Forester, “for I don’t even know what a coxswain is.”
“Why, he’s the commander,” said Marco. “He gives all the orders.”
“Then you must be coxswain at first,” said Forester, “for I don’t know any thing about it. You have got to teach us all. After I have learned to manage a boat with six oars, man-of-war fashion, I should like to be coxswain sometimes very much. And it seems to me,” added Forester, “that you and I had better go down first alone, until you get me taught, and then we can get the boys to come afterward.”
“O no,” said Marco, “you’ll all learn easily enough together. I can tell you all exactly what to do.”
Forester acceded to this proposal, and they made out a list of six boys, and Forester authorized Marco to invite them to come. “Be sure,” said Forester, “to tell their parents that we are going out in a boat, and tell them that I am going too.” Marco did this. The boys all gladly accepted the invitation. They came first to the house, and then proceeded by a path, from the foot of the garden, which led to the mill-pond. It was about half-past one when they reached the boat.
Here there was a great scene of confusion, as the boys all commenced talking and asking questions together. They found the boat in fine order, being perfectly tight and dry, and the new seats being all in their places. The oars, however, were not there. Forester recommended to Marco to send a detachment of his men, to go to the wagon-maker’s shop and get them. So Marco sent off three of the boys, calculating very correctly that they could bring two oars apiece. Before many minutes they returned, each of the boys having two oars, one on each shoulder.