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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 536 pages of information about Pathfinder; or, the inland sea.

“Thank God! then, there can be no French.  Are there many savages, hereaway, on the land?”

“The Indians are to be found in all directions; though they are nowhere very numerous.  By accident, we might find a party at any point on the shore; or we might pass months there without seeing one.”

“We must take our chance, then, as to the blackguards; but, to be frank with you, Master Western, if this little unpleasant matter about the French had not come to pass, what would you now do with the cutter?”

“I am a much younger sailor than yourself, Master Cap,” said Jasper modestly, “and am hardly fitted to advise you.”

“Ay, ay, we all know that.  In a common case, perhaps not.  But this is an uncommon case, and a circumstance; and on this bit of fresh water it has what may be called its peculiarities; and so, everything considered, you may be fitted to advise even your own father.  At all events, you can speak, and I can judge of your opinions, agreeably to my own experience.”

“I think, sir, before two hours are over, the cutter will have to anchor.”

“Anchor! —­ not out here in the lake?”

“No, sir; but in yonder, near the land.”

“You do not mean to say, Master Eau-douce, you would anchor on a lee shore in a gale of wind?”

“If I would save my vessel, that is exactly what I would do, Master Cap.”

“Whe-e-e-w! —­ this is fresh water, with a vengeance!  Hark’e, young man, I’ve been a seafaring animal, boy and man, forty-one years, and I never yet heard of such a thing.  I’d throw my ground-tackle overboard before I would be guilty of so lubberly an act!”

“That is what we do on this lake,” modestly replied Jasper, “when we are hard pressed.  I daresay we might do better, had we been better taught.”

“That you might, indeed!  No; no man induces me to commit such a sin against my own bringing up.  I should never dare show my face inside of Sandy Hook again, had I committed so know-nothing an exploit.  Why, Pathfinder, here, has more seamanship in him than that comes to.  You can go below again, Master Eau-douce.”

Jasper quietly bowed and withdrew; still, as he passed down the ladder, the spectators observed that he cast a lingering anxious look at the horizon to windward and the land to leeward, and then disappeared with concern strongly expressed in every lineament of his face.

CHAPTER XVII.

His still refuted quirks he still repeats;
New-raised objections with new quibbles meets,
Till sinking in the quicksand he defends,
He dies disputing, and the contest ends. 
COWPER.

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