“I won’t let you drown, Beth.”
He spoke with more assurance than he really felt, but his manner comforted her. He also proved that he was a born sailor. First, he skilfully steered the boat with the remaining oar. Next, he picked up from under one of the seats an old umbrella which chanced to be in the boat, and used it for a sail. Thus they were quickly carried back to shore not far from the scene of the fire.
Harvey once more helped Beth out, and made the boat fast. His plans were already made.
“Beth, wait here for me. I’m going to hire one of the men to take us back.”
Beth had time, while he was gone, to consider all that had happened. More than ever, she felt that it had been very wrong for her to come without permission.
Harvey presently returned with a man who carried a pair of oars.
“He’s going to row us across, Beth.”
“Is it safe?”
The man smiled. “You needn’t fear. I’m strong, and the squall has about blown over.”
He helped the children in, and jumped into the boat himself as he pushed it from shore.
“How are you ever going to get back yourself?” asked Beth, as the man took his place at the oars. She was fearful that Harvey would have to row him back. Otherwise, his return trip appeared to her as intricate as some of the puzzles she had heard about crossing streams.
“I’m going to walk into town from your place. I have some errands there, and will take the ferry back.”
Beth quieted down and watched the man. His rowing aroused her admiration. She wished that some time she could prove as great an expert as he, and resolved to do her very best to imitate him. She noted especially, the long swinging strokes that he took. Crossing the river was little work for him, and the other side was reached in safety. They drew up alongside the Davenport wharf.
Harvey offered to go up to the house with Beth, and take the blame upon himself, but she thought that her mother would rather hear of the adventure from her. So the three occupants of the boat parted company.
Mrs. Davenport had not yet returned when Beth reached the house, but came soon afterwards. Beth immediately confessed to her every incident of the day.
“This has taught you a lesson, Beth, without mamma’s saying anything,” Mrs. Davenport said, when the little penitent had finished. “You know yourself it was very wrong to go without permission, and I do not think you will ever do such a thing again, will you?”
“Never,” answered Beth so earnestly that Mrs. Davenport had full faith in her promise.
Beth’s New Playfellow
Beth could not find Fritz high or low and she was worried about him.
She ran out to the barn to ask January if he had seen anything of her pet. She found the former inside the barn leaning up against a partition wall with his eyes shut and his mouth wide open. He was fast asleep and looked very droll.