HOW MANDY WENT ROWING WITH THE “CAP’N.”
By Mary Hallock Foote.
It was the month of May—the season of fresh shad and apple-blossoms on the Hudson River. “Bub” and “Mandy” Lewis knew more about the shad than they did about the apple-blossoms, for their father was a fisherman, and they lived in a little house built on a steep bank between the road above and the river below. Sometimes, on cool, damp spring evenings, the scent of the orchards came down to them from the hills above, but the smell of shad was much stronger and nearer.
Just in front of the house was an old wharf, where fishing-boats were moored, and nets spread for drying or mending. One morning, Bub and Mandy were sitting on the log which guards the edge of the wharf, watching their father and brother Jeff getting ready to spread the nets for next night’s “haul.” Jeff was busy with the buoy lines and sinkers, while the father bailed out the boat with an old tin pan. The children were rather subdued—Bub wondering how long it would be before he could “handle a boat” like Jeff and go out with his father? Mandy was expecting every moment to hear her mother’s voice calling from the house. It was Monday morning, and Mandy knew her mother would soon be starting for the Hillard’s, where she “helped” on Mondays and Saturdays.
These were the longest days of the week to Mandy, for then she had baby to tend all by herself and he was “such a bother!”
Yes, there it was: “Mandy!—Mandy!—Mandy Lewis! don’t you hear?” Mandy kept her eyes gloomily fixed on the curve of her father’s back, as it bent and rose in the boat below, in time with the scra-a-a-pe, swish, of the bailer.
“What’s the use makin’ b’l’eve you don’t hear?” said Bub. “You know you’ve got to go!”
“I just wish mother’d make you tend baby once, and see how you’d like it!”—and Mandy rose with an impatient jerk of her bonnet-strings and slowly climbed the steep path to the house. Her mother, standing in the door-way with baby on one arm, shaded her eyes from the sun as she watched the cloudy face under the pink bonnet. It was always cloudy on Mondays and Saturdays.
“Seems as if you didn’t love your little brother, Mandy—such work as you make of tendin’ him! Just look how glad he is to see you,” as baby leaned forward and began pulling at the pink bonnet. “He’s just had his bread and milk, and if you set right there in the door, where he can watch the chickens, I shouldn’t wonder if he’d be real good for ever so long. Father and Jeff wont be home to dinner, but there’s plenty of bread and butter and cold beans in the closet for you and Bub. You can set the beans in the oven to warm, if you like—only be sure you put ’em on an old plate; and you can divide what’s left of the ginger-bread between you.”
“Oh, mother! can’t we eat it now?” said Bub, who had watched his father and Jeff off in the boat, and, now returning to the house, didn’t quite know what to do next.