“Although we are not chasing a deer, we are after that which may be as hard to catch. I can tell you no more than I have said already; for it is our duty to be close-mouthed, whether anything depends on it or not. I am afraid, however, I shall not keep you long enough in the Scud to show you what she can do at need.”
“I think a woman unwise who ever marries a sailor,” said Mabel abruptly, and almost involuntarily.
“This is a strange opinion; why do you hold it?”
“Because a sailor’s wife is certain to have a rival in his vessel. My uncle Cap, too, says that a sailor should never marry.”
“He means salt-water sailors,” returned Jasper, laughing. “If he thinks wives not good enough for those who sail on the ocean, he will fancy them just suited to those who sail on the lakes. I hope, Mabel, you do not take your opinions of us fresh-water mariners from all that Master Cap says.”
“Sail, ho!” exclaimed the very individual of whom they were conversing; “or boat, ho! would be nearer the truth.”
Jasper ran forward; and, sure enough, a small object was discernible about a hundred yards ahead of the cutter, and nearly on her lee bow. At the first glance, he saw it was a bark canoe; for, though the darkness prevented hues from being distinguished, the eye that had become accustomed to the night might discern forms at some little distance; and the eye which, like Jasper’s, had long been familiar with things aquatic, could not be at a loss in discovering the outlines necessary to come to the conclusion he did.
“This may be an enemy,” the young man remarked; “and it may be well to overhaul him.”
“He is paddling with all his might, lad,” observed the Pathfinder, “and means to cross your bows and get to windward, when you might as well chase a full-grown buck on snow-shoes!”
“Let her luff,” cried Jasper to the man at the helm. “Luff up, till she shakes. There, steady, and hold all that.”
The helmsman complied; and, as the Scud was now dashing the water aside merrily, a minute or two put the canoe so far to leeward as to render escape impracticable. Jasper now sprang to the helm himself and, by judicious and careful handling, he got so near his chase that it was secured by a boat-hook. On receiving an order, the two persons who were in the canoe left it, and no sooner had they reached the deck of the cutter than they were found to be Arrowhead and his wife.
What pearl is it that rich men cannot buy,
That learning is too proud to gather up;
But which the poor and the despised of all
Seek and obtain, and often find unsought?
Tell me — and I will tell thee what is truth.