Forester and Marco got their boat’s crew well trained in the course of a week or two, and one pleasant day in September they planned a long expedition in their boat. The boys collected at the house of the owner of the boat, at one o’clock. Two of them carried a large basket which Forester had provided. It was quite heavy, and they did not know what was in it; but they supposed that it was a store of some sort of provisions for a supper, in case they should be gone so long as to need a supper. Forester carried a hatchet also.
At the proper word of command, the boys got into the boat and took their several stations. Marco took his place forward to act as bowman. It is the duty of the bowman to keep a lookout forward, that the boat does not run into any danger; and also, when the boat comes to land, to step out first and hold it by the painter, that is, the rope which is fastened to the bow, while the others get out. Marco had a pole, with an iron spike and also an iron hook in the end of it, which he used to fend off with, as they called it, when the boat was in danger of running against any obstacle. This was called a boat-hook.
“Attention!” said Forester, when the boys were all seated.
Hereupon the boys raised the oars into the air, ready to let them down into the water.
“Let fall!” said Forester. The oars all fell gently and together into their places.
“Give way!” said Forester.
The boat began immediately to glide rapidly over the water, under the impulse which the boys gave it in rowing. “Crew at ease,” said Forester.
So the boys went on rowing, but understood that they had liberty to talk. One of them wished to know where Forester was going with them; but Forester said it was entirely contrary to the discipline aboard a man-of-war for the crew to ask the captain where they were going. “Besides,” said Forester, “though I could easily tell you, I think you will enjoy the expedition more, to know nothing about it beforehand, but to take every thing as it comes.”
Forester steered in such a manner as to put the head of the boat toward a bank at some distance from where they started, on which there was a thick forest of firs and other evergreens, growing near the water. When they got pretty near the land, he gave the order for attention, that they might observe silence in going through whatever manoeuvers were required here. The next order was, Oars. At this the oarsmen stopped rowing, and held their oars horizontally over the water. The boat in the mean time was gliding on toward the shore.