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Title: The cruise of the Canoe Club
Author: Alden, W. L. (William Livingston)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                   THE CRUISE OF THE CANOE CLUB

                          BY W. L. ALDEN
                             AUTHOR OF


                             NEW YORK

    Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1883, by

                        HARPER & BROTHERS,

    In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

                      _All rights reserved._



  CANOE”                                              _Frontispiece_

  “SHE’S HALF FULL OF WATER”                                      30

  A STAMPEDE IN CAMP                                              38

  NOT SO EASY AS IT LOOKS                                         50

  CANOE STATIONARY”                                               70

  RUNNING THE RAPID                                               78

  GETTING BREAKFAST UNDER DIFFICULTIES                            94

  HUNTING FOR A WILD-CAT IN CHAMBLY CASTLE                       110

  SAILING DOWN THE RICHELIEU RIVER                               116

  BREAKFAST”                                                     138

  AROUND THE CAMP-FIRE                                           146

  “HOW IN THE WORLD DID YOU GET UP THERE?”                       160





It is a very easy thing for four boys to make up their minds to get
four canoes and to go on a canoe cruise, but it is not always so
easy to carry out such a project--as Charley Smith, Tom Schuyler,
Harry Wilson, and Joe Sharpe discovered.

Canoes cost money; and though some canoes cost more than others,
it is impossible to buy a new wooden canoe of an approved model
for less than seventy-five dollars. Four canoes, at seventy-five
dollars each, would cost altogether three hundred dollars. As the
entire amount of pocket-money in the possession of the boys was
only seven dollars and thirteen cents, it was clear that they were
not precisely in a position to buy canoes.

There was Harry’s uncle, who had already furnished his nephew
and his young comrades first with a row-boat, and then with a
sail-boat. Even a benevolent uncle deserves some mercy, and the
boys agreed that it would never do to ask Uncle John to spend three
hundred dollars in canoes for them. “The most we can ask of him,”
said Charley Smith, “is to let us sell the _Ghost_ and use the
money to help pay for canoes.”

Now, the _Ghost_, in which the boys had made a cruise along the
south shore of Long Island, was a very nice sail-boat, but it was
improbable that any one would be found who would be willing to
give more than two hundred dollars for her. There would still be
a hundred dollars wanting, and the prospect of finding that sum
seemed very small.

“If we could only have stayed on that water-logged brig and
brought her into port we should have made lots of money,” said Tom.
“The captain of the schooner that towed us home went back with a
steamer and brought the brig in yesterday. Suppose we go and look
at her once more?”

While cruising in the _Ghost_ the boys had found an abandoned brig,
which they had tried to sail into New York harbor, but they had
been compelled to give up the task, and to hand her over to the
captain of a schooner which towed the partly disabled _Ghost_ into
port. They all thought they would like to see the brig again, so
they went down to Burling Slip, where she was lying, and went on
board her.

The captain of the schooner met the boys on the dock. He was in
excellent spirits, for the brig was loaded with valuable South
American timber, and he was sure of receiving as much as ten
thousand dollars from her owners. He knew very well that, while the
boys had no legal right to any of the money, they had worked hard
in trying to save the brig, and had been the means of putting her
in his way. He happened to be an honest, generous man, and he felt
very rich; so he insisted on making each of the boys a present.

The present was sealed up in an envelope, which he gave to Charley
Smith, telling him not to look at its contents until after
dinner--the boys having mentioned that they were all to take dinner
together at Uncle John’s house. Charley put the envelope rather
carelessly in his pocket; but when it was opened it was found to
contain four new one-hundred-dollar bills.

It need hardly be said that the boys were delighted. They showed
the money to Uncle John, who told them that they had fairly earned
it, and need feel no hesitation about accepting it. They had now
money enough to buy canoes, and to pay the expenses of a canoe
cruise. Mr. Schuyler, Mr. Sharpe, and Charley’s guardian were
consulted, and at Uncle John’s request gave their consent to the
canoeing scheme. The first great difficulty in the way was thus
entirely removed.

“I don’t know much about canoes,” remarked Uncle John, when the
boys asked his advice as to what kind of canoes they should get,
“but I know the commodore of a canoe club. You had better go
and see him, and follow his advice. I’ll give you a letter of
introduction to him.”

No time was lost in finding the commodore, and Charley Smith
explained to him that four young canoeists would like to know what
was the very best kind of canoe for them to get.

The Commodore, who, in spite of his magnificent title, wasn’t in
the least alarming, laughed, and said, “That is a question that
I’ve made up my mind never to try to answer. But I’ll give you the
names of four canoeists, each of whom uses a different variety of
canoe. You go and see them, listen to what they say, believe it
all, and then come back and see me, and we’ll come to a decision.”
He then wrote four notes of introduction, gave them to the boys,
and sent them away.

The first canoeist to whom the boys were referred received them
with great kindness, and told them that it was fortunate they
had come to him. “The canoe that you want,” said he, “is the
‘Rice Lake’ canoe, and if you had gone to somebody else, and
he had persuaded you to buy ‘Rob Roy’ canoes or ‘Shadows,’ you
would have made a great mistake. The ‘Rice Lake’ canoe is nearly
flat-bottomed, and so stiff that there is no danger that you will
capsize her. She paddles easily, and sails faster than any other
canoe. She is roomy, and you can carry about twice as much in her
as you can carry in a ‘Rob Roy.’ She has no keel, so that you can
run rapids easily in her, and she is built in a peculiar way that
makes it impossible for her to leak. Don’t think for a moment of
getting any other canoe, for if you do you will never cease to
regret it.”

He was such a pleasant, frank gentleman, and was so evidently
earnest in what he said, that the boys at once decided to get ‘Rice
Lake’ canoes. They did not think it worth while to make any farther
inquiries; but, as they had three other notes of introduction
with them, Tom Schuyler said that it would hardly do to throw them
away. So they went to see the next canoeist, though without the
least expectation that he would say anything that would alter their

Canoeist No. 2 was as polite and enthusiastic as canoeist No. 1.
“So you boys want to get canoes, do you?” said he. “Well, there
is only one canoe for you to get, and that is the ‘Shadow.’ She
paddles easily, and sails faster than any other canoe. She’s not
a flat-bottomed skiff, like the ‘Rice Laker,’ that will spill you
whenever a squall strikes her, but she has good bearings, and you
can’t capsize her unless you try hard. Then, she is decked all
over, and you can sleep in her at night, and keep dry even in a
thunder-storm; her water-tight compartments have hatches in them,
so that you can stow blankets and things in them that you want to
keep dry; and she has a keel, so that when you run rapids, and
she strikes on a rock, she will strike on her keel instead of her
planks. It isn’t worth while for you to look at any other canoe,
for there is no canoe except the ‘Shadow’ that is worth having.”

“You don’t think much of the ‘Rice Lake’ canoe, then?” asked Harry.

“Why, she isn’t a civilized canoe at all,” replied the canoeist.
“She is nothing but a heavy, wooden copy of the Indian birch. She
hasn’t any deck, she hasn’t any water-tight compartments, and she
hasn’t any keel. Whatever else you do, don’t get a ‘Rice Laker.’”

The boys thanked the advocate of the “Shadow,” and when they
found themselves in the street again they wondered which of the
two canoeists could be right, for each directly contradicted the
other, and each seemed to be perfectly sincere. They reconsidered
their decision to buy “Rice Lake” canoes, and looked forward with
interest to their meeting with canoeist No. 3.

That gentleman was just as pleasant as the other two, but he did
not agree with a single thing that they had said. “There are
several different models of canoes,” he remarked, “but that
is simply because there are ignorant people in the world. Mr.
Macgregor, the father of canoeing, always uses a ‘Rob Roy’ canoe,
and no man who has once been in a good ‘Rob Roy’ will ever get
into any other canoe. The ‘Rob Roy’ paddles like a feather, and
will outsail any other canoe. She weighs twenty pounds less than
those great, lumbering canal-boats, the ‘Shadow’ and the ‘Rice
Laker,’ and it don’t break your back to paddle her or to carry
her round a dam. She is decked over, but her deck isn’t all cut
up with hatches. There’s plenty of room to sleep in her, and her
water-tight compartments are what they pretend to be--not a couple
of leaky boxes stuffed full of blankets.”

“We have been advised,” began Charley, “to get ‘Shadows’ or ‘Rice’--”

“Don’t you do it,” interrupted the canoeist. “It’s lucky for you
that you came to see me. It is a perfect shame for people to try to
induce you to waste your money on worthless canoes. Mind you get
‘Rob Roys,’ and nothing else. Other canoes don’t deserve the name.
They are schooners, or scows, or canal-boats, but the ‘Rob Roy’ is
a genuine canoe.”

“Now for the last canoeist on the list!” exclaimed Harry as the
boys left the office of canoeist No. 3. “I wonder what sort of a
canoe he uses?”

“I’m glad there is only one more of them for us to see,” said Joe.
“The Commodore told us to believe all they said, and I’m trying my
best to do it, but it’s the hardest job I ever tried.”

The fourth canoeist was, on the whole, the most courteous and
amiable of the four. He begged his young friends to pay no
attention to those who recommended wooden canoes, no matter what
model they might be. “Canvas,” said he, “is the only thing that a
canoe should be built of. It is light and strong, and if you knock
a hole in it you can mend it in five minutes. If you want to spend
a great deal of money and own a yacht that is too small to sail in
with comfort and too clumsy to be paddled, buy a wooden canoe;
but if you really want to cruise, you will, of course, get canvas

“We have been advised to get ‘Rice Lakers,’ ‘Shadows,’ and ‘Rob
Roys,’” said Tom, “and we did not know until now that there was
such a thing as a canvas canoe.”

“It is very sad,” replied the canoeist, “that people should take
pleasure in giving such advice. They must know better. However, the
subject is a painful one, and we won’t discuss it. Take my advice,
my dear boys, and get canvas canoes. All the really good canoeists
in the country would say the same thing to you.”

“We must try,” said Joe, as the boys walked back to the Commodore’s
office, “to believe that the ‘Rice Laker,’ the ‘Shadow,’ the ‘Rob
Roy,’ and the canvas canoe is the best one ever built. It seems to
me something like believing that four and one are just the same.
Perhaps you fellows can do it, but I’m not strong enough to believe
as much as that all at one time.”

The Commodore smiled when the boys entered his office for the
second time and said, “Well, of course you’ve found out what is the
best canoe, and know just what you want to buy?”

“We’ve seen four men,” replied Harry, “and each one says that the
canoe that he recommends is the only good one, and that all the
others are good for nothing.”

“I might have sent you to four other men, and they would have told
you of four other canoes, each of which is the best in existence.
But perhaps you have already heard enough to make up your minds.”

“We’re farther from making up our minds than ever,” said Harry. “I
do wish you would tell us what kind of canoe is really the best.”

“The truth is,” said the Commodore, “that there isn’t much to
choose among the different models of canoes, and you’ll find that
every canoeist is honestly certain that he has the best one. Now,
I won’t undertake to select canoes for you, though I will suggest
that a light ‘Rob Roy’ would probably be a good choice for the
smallest of you boys. Why don’t you try all four of the canoes that
have just been recommended to you? Then, if you cruise together,
you can perhaps find out if any one of them is really better than
the others. I will give you the names of three or four builders,
all of whom build good, strong boats.”

This advice pleased the boys, and they resolved to accept it. That
evening they all met at Harry’s home and decided what canoes they
would get. Harry determined to get a “Shadow,” Tom a “Rice Laker,”
Charley a canvas canoe, and Joe a “Rob Roy;” and the next morning
orders for the four canoes were mailed to the builders whom the
Commodore had recommended.


It was some time before the canoes were ready, and in the mean time
the young canoeists met with a new difficulty. The canoe-builders
wrote to them wishing to know how they would have the canoes
rigged. It had never occurred to the boys that there was more than
one rig used on canoes, and of course they did not know how to
answer the builders’ question. So they went to the Commodore and
told him their difficulty.

“I might do,” said he, “just as I did when I told you to go and ask
four different canoeists which is the best canoe; but I won’t put
you to that trouble. I rather like the Lord Ross lateen rig better
than any other, but, as you are going to try different kinds of
canoes, it would be a good idea for you to try different rigs.
For example, have your ‘Rob Roy’ rigged with lateen-sails; rig the
‘Shadow’ with a balance-lug, the ‘Rice Laker’ with a ‘sharpie’
leg-of-mutton, and the canvas canoe with the standing lug. Each one
of these rigs has its advocates, who will prove to you that it is
better than any other, and you can’t do better than try them all.
Only be sure to tell the builders that every canoe must have two
masts, and neither of the two sails must be too big to be safely

“How does it happen that every canoeist is so perfectly certain that
he has the best canoe and the best rig in existence?” asked Tom.

“That is one of the great merits of canoeing,” replied the
Commodore. “It makes every man contented, and develops in him
decision of character. I’ve known a canoeist to have a canoe so
leaky that he spent half his time bailing her out, and rigged
in such a way that she would neither sail nor do anything in a
breeze except capsize; and yet he was never tired of boasting of
the immense superiority of his canoe. There’s a great deal of
suffering in canoeing,” continued the Commodore, musingly, “but its
effects on the moral character are priceless. My dear boys, you
have no idea how happy and contented you will be when you are wet
through, cramped and blistered, and have to go into camp in a heavy
rain, and without any supper except dry crackers.”

While the boys were waiting for their canoes they read all the
books on canoeing that they could find, and searched through a
dozen volumes of the London _Field_, which they found in Uncle
John’s library, for articles and letters on canoeing. They thus
learned a good deal, and when their canoes arrived they were
able to discuss their respective merits with a good degree of

The “Rob Roy” and the “Shadow” were built with white cedar planks
and Spanish cedar decks. They shone with varnish, and their
nickel-plated metal-work was as bright as silver. They were
decidedly the prettiest of the four canoes, and it would have
been very difficult to decide which was the prettier of the two.
The “Rice Laker” was built without timbers or a keel, and was
formed of two thicknesses of planking riveted together, the grain
of the inner planking crossing that of the outer planking at right
angles. She looked strong and serviceable, and before Tom had
been in possession of her half an hour he was insisting that she
was much the handiest canoe of the squadron, simply because she
had no deck. The outside planks were of butternut; but they were
pierced with so many rivets that they did not present so elegant
an appearance as did the planks of the “Shadow” and the “Rob Roy.”
The canvas canoe consisted of a wooden skeleton-frame, covered and
decked with painted canvas. She was very much the same in model as
the “Shadow;” and though she seemed ugly in comparison with her
varnished sisters, Charley claimed that he would get more comfort
out of his canoe than the other boys would out of theirs, for the
reason that scratches that would spoil the beauty of the varnished
wood could not seriously injure the painted canvas. Thus each boy
was quite contented, and asserted that he would not change canoes
with anybody. They were equally well contented with the way in
which their canoes were rigged, and they no longer wondered at the
confident way in which the canoeists to whom the Commodore had
introduced them spoke of the merits of their respective boats.

Of course the subject of names for the canoes had been settled
long before the canoes arrived. Joe had named his “Rob Roy” the
_Dawn_; Harry’s canoe was the _Sunshine_; Tom’s the _Twilight_; and
Charley’s the _Midnight_. The last name did not seem particularly
appropriate to a canoe, but it was in keeping with the other names,
and, as the canoe was painted black, it might have been supposed to
have some reference to her color.

The boys had intended to join the American Canoe Association, but
Uncle John suggested that they would do well to make a cruise,
and to become real canoeists, before asking for admission to the
association. They then decided to form a canoe club of their own,
which they did; and Harry was elected the first Commodore of the
Columbian Canoe Club, the flag of which was a pointed burgee of
blue silk, with a white paddle worked upon it. Each canoe carried
its private signal in addition to the club flag, and bore its name
in gilt letters on a blue ground on each bow.

Where to cruise was a question which was decided and reconsidered
half a dozen times. From the books which they had read the boys
had learned that there is, if anything, more fun in cruising on a
narrow stream than in sailing on broad rivers; that running rapids
is a delightful sport, and that streams should always be descended
instead of ascended in a canoe. They, therefore, wanted to discover
a narrow stream with safe and easy rapids, and also to cruise on
some lake or wide river where they could test the canoes under
sail and under paddle in rough water. They learned more of the
geography of the Eastern States and of Canada, in searching the map
for a good cruising route, than they had ever learned at school;
and they finally selected a route which seemed to combine all
varieties of canoeing.

The cruise was to begin at the southern end of Lake Memphremagog,
in Vermont. On this lake, which is thirty miles long, the young
canoeists expected to spend several days, and to learn to handle
the canoes under sail. From the northern end of the lake, which is
in Canada, they intended to descend its outlet, the Magog River,
which is a narrow stream, emptying into the St. Francis River at
Sherbrooke. From Sherbrooke the St. Francis was to be descended to
the St. Lawrence, down which the canoes were to sail to Quebec.
They wrote to the postmaster at Sherbrooke asking him if the Magog
and the St. Francis were navigable by canoes, and when he replied
that there were only one or two rapids in the Magog, which they
could easily run, they were more than ever satisfied with their

The previous cruises that the boys had made had taught them what
stores and provisions were absolutely necessary and what could be
spared. Each canoe was provided with a water-proof bag to hold a
blanket and dry clothes, and with a pair of small cushions stuffed
with elastic felt, a material lighter than cork, and incapable of
retaining moisture. These cushions were to be used as mattresses at
night, and the rubber blankets were to be placed over the canoes
and used as shelter tents. Although the mattresses would have made
excellent life-preservers, Uncle John presented each canoeist with
a rubber life-belt, which could be buckled around the waist in a
few seconds in case of danger of a capsize. Harry provided his
canoe with a canvas canoe-tent, made from drawings published in the
London _Field_, but the others decided not to go to the expense
of making similar tents until Harry’s should have been thoroughly

When all was ready the blankets and stores were packed in the
_Sunshine_, the cockpit of which was provided with hatches, which
could be locked up, thus making the canoe serve the purpose of
a trunk. The four canoes were then sent by rail to Newport, at
the southern end of Lake Memphremagog, and a week later the boys
followed them, carrying their paddles by hand, for the reason that,
if they had been sent with the canoes and had been lost or stolen,
it would have been impossible to start on the cruise until new
paddles had been procured.

Newport was reached, after an all-night journey, at about two
o’clock in the morning. The canoeists went straight to the
freight-house to inspect the canoes. They were all there, resting
on the heads of a long row of barrels, and were apparently all
right. The varnish of the _Dawn_ and the _Sunshine_ was scratched
in a few places, and the canvas canoe had a very small hole punched
through her deck, as if she had been too intimate with a nail in
the course of her journey. The boys were, however, well satisfied
with the appearance of the boats, and so walked up to the hotel to
get dinner and a supply of sandwiches, bread, and eggs for their

Dinner was all ready, for, under the name of breakfast, it was
waiting for the passengers of the train, which made a stop of half
an hour at Newport. A band was playing on the deck of a steamer
which was just about to start down the lake, and the boys displayed
appetites, as they sat near the open window looking out on the
beautiful landscape, which rather astonished the waiter.

A good, quiet place for launching the canoes was found, which was
both shady and out of sight of the hotel. It was easy enough to
carry the three empty canoes down to the shore; but the _Sunshine_,
with her heavy cargo, proved too great a load, and about half-way
between the freight-house and the shore she had to be laid on the
ground and partly emptied. Here Joe, who tried to carry the spars
and paddles of four canoes on his shoulder, found that there is
nothing more exasperating than a load of sticks of different sizes.
No matter how firmly he tried to hold them together, they would
spread apart at every imaginable angle. Before he had gone three
rods he looked like some new kind of porcupine with gigantic quills
sticking out all over him. Then he began to drop things, and,
stooping to pick them up, managed to trip himself and fall with a
tremendous clatter. He picked himself up and made sixteen journeys
between the spot where he fell and the shore of the lake, carrying
only one spar at a time, and grasping that with both hands. His
companions sat down on the grass and laughed to see the deliberate
way in which he made his successive journeys, but Joe, with a
perfectly serious face, said that he was going to get the better of
those spars, no matter how much trouble it might cost him, and that
he was not going to allow them to get together and play tricks on
him again.

[Illustration: “SHE’S HALF FULL OF WATER.”]

It was tiresome stooping over, packing the canoes, but finally they
were all in order, and the Commodore gave the order to launch them.
The lake was perfectly calm, and the little fleet started under
paddle for a long, sandy point that jutted out into the lake some
three miles from Newport. The _Sunshine_ and the _Dawn_ paddled
side by side, and the two other canoes followed close behind them.

“Boys, isn’t this perfectly elegant?” exclaimed Harry, laying down
his paddle when the fleet was about a mile from the shore and
bathing his hot head with water from the lake. “Did you ever see
anything so lovely as this blue water?”

“Yes,” said Charley; “the water’s all right outside of the canoes,
but I’d rather have a little less inside of mine.”

“What do you mean,” asked Harry. “Is she leaking?”

“She’s half full of water, that’s all,” replied Charley, beginning
to bail vigorously with his hat.

“Halloo!” cried Joe, suddenly. “Here’s the water up to the top of
my cushions.”

“We’d better paddle on and get ashore as soon as possible,” said
Harry. “My boat is leaking a little too.”

Charley bailed steadily for ten minutes, and somewhat reduced
the amount of water in his canoe. The moment he began paddling,
however, the leak increased. He paddled with his utmost strength,
knowing that if he did not soon reach land he would be swamped;
but the water-logged canoe was very heavy, and he could not drive
her rapidly through the water. His companions kept near him, and
advised him to drop his paddle and to bail, but he knew that the
water was coming in faster than he could bail it out, and so he
wasted no time in the effort. It soon became evident that his canoe
would never keep afloat to reach the sand-spit for which he had
been steering, so he turned aside and paddled for a little clump
of rushes, where he knew the water must be shallow. Suddenly he
stopped paddling, and almost at the same moment his canoe sunk
under him, and he sprung up to swim clear of her.


Luckily the water was only four feet deep, as Charley found when he
tried to touch bottom; so he stopped swimming, and, with the water
nearly up to his shoulders, stood still and began to think what to
do next.

The canoes--including the sunken _Midnight_--were a good mile
from the shore, and although the sandy shoal on which Charley was
standing was firm and hard it was of small extent, and the water
all around it was too deep to be waded.

“You’ll have to get into one of our canoes,” said Harry.

“How am I going to do it without capsizing her?” replied Charley.

“I don’t believe it can be done,” said Harry, as he looked first
at the _Sunshine_ and then at the _Twilight_; “but then you’ve got
to do it somehow. You can’t swim a whole mile, can you?”

“Of course I can’t, but then it wouldn’t do me any good to spill
one of you fellows by trying to climb out of the water into a canoe
that’s as full now as she ought to be. Besides, I’m not going to
desert the _Midnight_.”

“I thought the _Midnight_ had deserted you,” said Joe. “If my canoe
should go to the bottom of the lake without giving me any warning,
I shouldn’t think it a bit rude to leave her there.”

“Don’t talk nonsense!” exclaimed Charley; “but come here and help
me get my canoe afloat again. We can do it, I think, if we go to
work the right way.”

Charley found no difficulty in getting hold of the painter of his
canoe with the help of his paddle. Giving the end of the painter to
Joe, he took the _Dawn’s_ painter, and by ducking down under the
water succeeded after two or three attempts in reeving it through
the stern-post of the sunken canoe, and giving one end to Harry
and the other to Tom. Then, taking the bow painter from Joe, he
grasped it firmly with both hands, and at a given signal all the
boys, except Joe, made a desperate effort to bring the wreck to the

They could not do it. They managed to raise her off the bottom, but
Harry and Tom in their canoes could not lift to any advantage, and
so were forced to let her settle down again.

“I’ve got to unload her,” said Charley, gloomily. “I think we can
get her up if there is nothing in her except water. Anyhow we’ve
got to try.”

It was tiresome work to get the water-soaked stores and canned
provisions out of the canoe, and Charley had to duck his head
under the water at least a dozen times before the heaviest part
of the _Midnight’s_ cargo could be brought up and passed into the
other canoes. His comrades wanted to jump overboard and help him,
but he convinced them that they would have great difficulty in
climbing back into their canoes, and that in all probability they
would capsize themselves in so doing. “He’s right!” cried Joe.
“Commodore, please make an order that hereafter only one canoe
shall be wrecked at a time. We must keep some dry stores in the

When the _Midnight_ was partly unloaded a new and successful effort
was made to raise her. As soon as she reached the surface Charley
rolled her over, bottom upward, and in this position the small
amount of air imprisoned under her kept her afloat.

The cause of the leak was quickly discovered. There was a hole
through her canvas bottom nearly an inch in diameter, made by some
blow she had received while on the way to the lake. The wonder
was, not that she sunk when she did, but that she had floated long
enough to be paddled a mile. It is probable that the ballast-bag,
which was close by the hole, had partly stopped the leak at first,
but had afterward been slightly moved, thus permitting the water to
rush freely in.

The surface of painted canvas dries very quickly in the hot sun,
and it was not long before the bottom of the _Midnight_ was dry
enough to be temporarily patched. Harry lighted his spirit-lamp
and melted a little of the lump of rosin and tallow which had been
provided for mending leaks. This was spread over a patch of new
canvas: the patch was then placed over the hole, and more of the
melted rosin and tallow smeared over it. In about fifteen minutes
the patch was dry enough to be serviceable, and Charley righted the
canoe, hailed her out, and by throwing himself across the cockpit,
and then carefully turning himself so as to get his legs into it,
found himself once more afloat and ready to paddle.

The canoe still leaked, but the leak could be kept under without
difficulty by occasional bailing, and in the course of half an hour
the sand-spit for which the fleet had started was reached. It was
part of a large island with steep, rocky shores and a beautiful
little sandy beach. It was just the place for a camp; and though
the boys had expected to camp some miles farther north, the sinking
of Charley’s canoe had so delayed them that it was already nearly
six o’clock, and they therefore decided to paddle no farther that

[Illustration: A STAMPEDE IN CAMP.]

The canoes were hauled out on the beach, and unloaded and shored
up with their rudders, backboards, and a few pieces of drift-wood
so as to stand on an even keel. Then came the work of rigging
shelters over them for the night. Harry’s canoe-tent was supported
by four small upright sticks resting on the deck and fitting
into cross-pieces sewed into the roof of the tent. The sides and
ends buttoned down to the gunwale and deck of the canoe, and
two curtains, one on each side, which could be rolled up like
carriage-curtains in fair weather and buttoned down in rainy
weather, served both as the doors and windows of the tent. The
shelters rigged by the other boys were much less complete. The two
masts of each canoe were stepped, the paddle was lashed between
them, and a rubber blanket was hung over the paddle, with its edges
reaching nearly to the ground. The blankets and the bags which
served as pillows were then arranged, and the canoes were ready for
the night.

It was a warm and clear night, and a breeze which came up from
the south at sunset blew the mosquitoes away. Harry found his
tent, with the curtains rolled up, cool and pleasant; but his
fellow-canoeists found themselves fairly suffocating under their
rubber blankets, and were compelled to throw them aside.

Toward morning, when the day was just beginning to dawn, the
canoeists were suddenly awakened by a rush of many heavy, trampling
feet which shook the ground. It was enough to startle any one,
and the boys sprung up in such a hurry that Harry struck his head
against the roof of his tent, knocked it down, upset the canoe,
and could not at first decide whether he was taking part in a
railway collision or whether an earthquake of the very best quality
had happened. The cause of the disturbance was a herd of horses
trotting down to the water’s edge to drink. There were at least
twenty of them, and had the canoes happened to be in their path
they might have stumbled over them in the faint morning light;
in which case the boys would have had the experience of being
shipwrecked on dry land.

A gentle southerly breeze wrinkled the water while breakfast was
cooking, and the Commodore ordered that the masts and sails should
be got ready for use. It was impossible to make an early start,
for Charley’s blankets had to be dried in the sun, and the hole
in his canoe had to be repaired with a new patch in a thorough
and workmanlike way. It was, therefore, ten o’clock before the
canoes were ready to be launched; and in the mean time the wind
had increased so much that the boys decided to use only their

The moment the sails drew the canoes shot off at a pace which
filled the young canoeists with delight. The canoes were in good
trim for sailing, as they were not overloaded; and while they were
skirting the west shore of the island the water was quite smooth.
Each canoe carried a bag partly filled with sand for ballast, and
every one except Joe had lashed his ballast-bag to the keelson.
This was a precaution which Joe had forgotten to take, and before
long he had good reason to regret his error.

As soon as the northern end of the island was passed the canoes
came to a part of the lake where there was quite a heavy sea. The
_Dawn_ and the _Twilight_ were steered by the paddle, which passed
through a row-lock provided for the purpose; and Joe and Tom found
little difficulty in keeping their canoes directly before the wind.
The two other canoes were steered with rudders, and occasionally,
when their bows dipped, their rudders were thrown nearly out of the
water, in consequence of which they steered wildly. All the canoes
showed a tendency to roll a good deal, and now and then a little
water would wash over the deck. It was fine sport running down the
lake with such a breeze, and the boys enjoyed it immensely.

The wind continued to rise, and the lake became covered with
white-caps. “Commodore,” said Charley Smith, “I don’t mean to show
any disrespect to my commanding officer, but it seems to me this is
getting a little risky.”

“How is it risky?” asked Harry. “You’re a sailor and know twice as
much about boats as I do, if I am Commodore.”

“It’s risky in two or three ways. For instance, if the wind blows
like this much longer a following sea will swamp some one of us.”

“Oh! we’re going fast enough to keep out of the way of the sea,”
cried Joe.

“Just notice how your canoe comes almost to a dead stop every time
she sinks between two seas, and you won’t feel quite so sure that
you’re running faster than the sea is.”

The boys saw that Charley was right. The canoes were so light that
they lost their headway between the seas, and it was evident that
they were in danger of being overtaken by a following sea.

“Tell us two or three more dangers, just to cheer us up, won’t you?”
asked Joe, who was in high spirits with the excitement of the sail.

“There’s the danger of rolling our booms under, and there is a
great deal of danger that Harry’s canoe and mine will broach-to
when our rudders are out of water.”

“What will happen if they do broach-to?”

“They’ll capsize, that’s all,” replied Charley.

“What had we better do?” asked Harry. “There’s no use in capsizing
ourselves in the middle of the lake.”

“My advice is that we haul on the port tack, and run over to the
west shore. The moment we get this wind and sea on the quarter we
shall be all right--though, to be sure, we’ve got more sail up than
we ought to have.”

The canoes were quite near together, with the exception of the
_Twilight_, which was outsailing the others; but even she was still
near enough to be hailed. Harry hailed her, and ordered the fleet
to steer for a cove on the west shore. As soon as the wind was
brought on the port quarter the canoes increased their speed; and
although the _Twilight_ made more leeway than the others, she drew
ahead of them very fast. The wind was now precisely what the canoes
wanted to bring out their sailing qualities. The _Sunshine_ soon
showed that she was the most weatherly, as the _Twilight_ was the
least weatherly, of the fleet. The _Midnight_ kept up very fairly
with the _Sunshine_; and the _Dawn_, with her small lateen-sail,
skimmed over the water so fast that it was evident that if she
could have carried the big balance-lug of the _Sunshine_ she would
easily have beaten her.

The canoes were no longer in danger of being swamped; but the wind
continuing to rise, the boys found that they were carrying more
sail than was safe. They did not want to take in their sails and
paddle, and though all of the sails except the _Dawn’s_ lateen
could be reefed, nobody wanted to be the first to propose to reef;
and Harry, in his excitement, forgot all about reefing. The wind,
which had been blowing very steadily, now began to blow in gusts,
and the boys had to lean far out to windward to keep their canoes
right side up.

“We can’t keep on this way much longer without coming to grief,”
Charley cried at the top of his lungs, so that Harry, who was some
distance to windward, could hear him.

“What do you say?” replied Harry.

“We’ve got too much sail on,” yelled Charley.

“Of course we’ll sail on. This is perfectly gorgeous!” was Harry’s

“He don’t hear,” said Charley. “I say, Joe, you’d better take
in your main-sail, and set the dandy in its place. You’ll spill
yourself presently.”

“The dandy’s stowed down below, where I can’t get at it. I guess I
can hold her up till we get across.”

Tom was by this time far out of hailing distance, and was
apparently getting on very well. Charley did not doubt that he
could manage his own canoe well enough, but he was very uneasy
about Harry and Joe, who did not seem to realize that they were
carrying sail altogether too recklessly. The fleet was nearly two
miles from the shore, and a capsize in the heavy sea that was
running would have been no joke.

Charley turned part way around in his canoe to see if his life-belt
was in handy reach. As he did so he saw that the water a quarter
of a mile to windward was black with a fierce squall that was
approaching. He instantly brought his canoe up to the wind, so that
the squall would strike him on the port bow, and called out to
Harry and Joe to follow his example. Harry did not hear him, and
Joe, instead of promptly following Charley’s advice, stopped to
wonder what he was trying to do. The squall explained the matter
almost immediately. It struck the _Sunshine_ and the _Dawn_, and
instantly capsized them, and then rushed on to overtake Tom, and
to convince him that Lake Memphremagog is not a good place for
inexperienced canoeists who want to carry sail recklessly in
squally weather.


From the books they had read Harry and Joe had learned exactly what
to do in case of capsizing under sail, and had often discussed the
matter. “When I capsize,” Harry would say, “I shall pull the masts
out of her, and she’ll then right of her own accord. Then I shall
unship the rudder, put my hands on the stern-post, and raise myself
up so that I can straddle the deck, and gradually work my way along
until I can get into the cockpit. After that I shall bail her out,
step the masts, and sail on again.” Nothing could be easier than to
describe this plan while sitting in a comfortable room on shore,
but to carry it out in a rough sea was a different affair.

Harry was not at all frightened when he found himself in the water,
and he instantly swum clear of the canoe, to avoid becoming
entangled in her rigging. He then proceeded to unship the masts
and the rudder, and when this was done tried to climb in over the
stern. He found that it was quite impossible. No sooner would he
get astride of the stern than the canoe would roll and throw him
into the water again. After half a dozen attempts he gave it up,
and swimming to the side of the canoe managed to throw himself
across the cockpit. This was the way in which Charley Smith had
climbed into his canoe the day before, and to Harry’s great
surprise--for no such method of climbing into a canoe had been
mentioned in any of the books he had read--it proved successful.

Of course the deck of the canoe was now level with the water, which
washed in and out of her with every sea that struck her. Harry
seized the empty tin can which he used as a bailer, and which
was made fast to one of the timbers of the canoe with a line, to
prevent it from floating away, but he could not make any headway
in bailing her out. The water washed into her just as fast as he
could throw it out again, and he began to think that he should have
to paddle the canoe ashore full of water. This would have been hard
work, for with so much water in her she was tremendously heavy
and unwieldy; but, after getting her head up to the wind with his
paddle, he found that less water washed into her, and after long
and steady work he succeeded in bailing most of it out.

Meanwhile Charley, whose help Harry had declined, because he felt
so sure that he could get out of his difficulty by following the
plan that he had learned from books on canoeing, was trying to help
Joe. At first Joe thought it was a good joke to be capsized. His
Lord Ross lateen-sail, with its boom and yard, had floated clear of
the canoe of its own accord, and, as the only spar left standing
was a mast about two feet high, she ought to have righted. But Joe
had forgotten to lash his sand-bag to the keelson, and the result
was that whenever he touched the canoe she would roll completely
over and come up on the other side. Joe could neither climb in
over the stern nor throw himself across the deck, and every attempt
he made resulted in securing for him a fresh ducking. Charley tried
to help him by holding on to the capsized canoe, but he could not
keep it right side up; and as Joe soon began to show signs of
becoming exhausted Charley was about to insist that he should hang
on to the stern of the _Midnight_, and allow himself to be towed
ashore, when Tom in the _Twilight_ arrived on the scene.

[Illustration: NOT SO EASY AS IT LOOKS.]

Tom had seen the _Dawn_ and the _Sunshine_ capsize, and was far
enough to leeward to have time to take in his sail before the
squall reached him. It therefore did him no harm, and he paddled
up against the wind to help his friends. It took him some time
to reach the _Dawn_, for it blew so hard that when one blade of
the paddle was in the water he could hardly force the other blade
against the wind. Before the cruise was over he learned that by
turning one blade at right angles to the other--for the two blades
of a paddle are joined together by a ferrule in the middle--he
could paddle against a head-wind with much less labor.

The _Twilight_, being an undecked “Rice Lake” canoe, could easily
carry two persons, and, with the help of Charley and Tom, Joe
climbed into her. Charley then picked up the floating sail of
the _Dawn_, made her painter fast to his own stern, and started
under paddle for the shore. It was not a light task to tow the
water-logged canoe, but both the sea and the wind helped him, and
he landed by the time that the other boys had got the camp-fire
started and the coffee nearly ready.

“Well,” said Harry, “I’ve learned how to get into a canoe to-day.
If I’d stuck to the rule and tried to get in over the stern I
should be out in the lake yet.”

“I’m going to write to the London _Field_ and get it to print my
new rule about capsizing,” said Joe.

“What’s that?” asked Charley. “To turn somersaults in the water?
That was what you were doing all the time until Tom came up.”

“That was for exercise, and had nothing to do with my rule, which
is, ‘Always have a fellow in a “Rice Lake” canoe to pick you up.’”

“All your trouble came from forgetting to lash your ballast-bag,”
remarked Harry. “I hope it will teach you a lesson.”

“That’s a proper remark for a Commodore who wants to enforce
discipline,” cried Charley; “but I insist that the trouble came
from carrying too much sail.”

“The sail would have been all right if it hadn’t been for the
wind,” replied Harry.

“And the wind wouldn’t have done us any harm if we hadn’t been on
the lake,” added Joe.

“Boys, attention!” cried Harry. “Captain Charles Smith is hereby
appointed sailing-master of this fleet, and will be obeyed and
respected accordingly, or, at any rate, as much as he can make us
obey and respect him. Anyhow, it will be his duty to tell us how
much sail to carry, and how to manage the canoes under sail.”

“This is the second day of the cruise,” remarked Joe an hour later,
as he crept into his blankets, “and I have been wet but once. There
is something wrong about it, for on our other cruises I was always
wet through once every day. However, I’ll hope for the best.”

In the middle of the night Joe had reason to feel more satisfied.
It began to rain. As his rubber blanket was wet, and in that state
seemed hotter than ever, Joe could not sleep under the shelter of
it, and, as on the previous night, went to sleep with nothing over
him but his woollen blanket. His head was underneath the deck, and
as the rain began to fall very gently, it did not awaken him until
his blanket was thoroughly wet.

He roused himself and sat up. He was startled to see a figure
wrapped in a rubber blanket sitting on his deck. “Who’s there?” he
asked, suddenly. “Sing out, or I’ll shoot!”

“You can’t shoot with a jack-knife or a tin bailer, so I’m not much
afraid of you,” was the reply.

“Oh, it’s you, Tom, is it?” said Joe, much relieved. “What in the
world are you doing there?”

“My canoe’s half full of water, so I came out into the rain to get

“Couldn’t you keep the rain out of the canoe with the rubber

“The canoe is fourteen feet long, and hasn’t any deck, and the
blanket is six feet long. I had the blanket hung over the paddle,
but of course the rain came in at the ends of the canoe.”

“Well, I’m pretty wet, for I didn’t cover my canoe at all. What’ll
we do?”

“Sit here till it lets up, I suppose,” replied Tom. “It must stop
raining some time.”

“I’ve got a better plan than that. Is your rubber blanket dry
inside? Mine isn’t.”

“Yes, it’s dry enough.”

“Let’s put it on the ground to lie on, and use my rubber blanket
for a tent. We can put it over a ridge-pole about two feet from the
ground, and stake the edges down.”

“What will we do for blankets? It’s too cold to sleep without them.”

“We can each borrow one from Harry and Charley. They’ve got two
apiece, and can spare one of them.”

Joe’s plan was evidently the only one to be adopted; and so the
two boys pitched their little rubber tent, borrowed two blankets,
and crept under shelter. They were decidedly wet, but they lay
close together and managed to keep warm. In the morning they woke
up rested and comfortable, to find a bright sun shining and their
clothes dried by the heat of their bodies. Neither had taken the
slightest cold, although they had run what was undoubtedly a
serious risk, in spite of the fact that one does not easily take
cold when camping out.

As they were enjoying their breakfast the canoeists naturally
talked over the events of the previous day and night. Harry had
been kept perfectly dry by his canoe-tent--one side of which he
had left open, so as to have plenty of fresh air; and Charley had
also been well protected from the rain by his rubber blanket, hung
in the usual way over the paddle, although he had been far too warm
to be comfortable.

“I’m tired of suffocating under that rubber blanket of mine, and
I’ve invented a new way of covering the canoe at night, which will
leave me a little air to breathe. I’ll explain it to you when we
camp to-night, Joe.”

“I’m glad to hear it, for I’ve made up my mind that I’d rather
be rained on than take a Turkish bath all night long under that
suffocating blanket.”

“Will your new plan work on my canoe?” asked Tom.

“No; nothing will keep that ‘Rice Lake’ bathtub of yours dry in a
rain, unless you deck her over.”

“That’s what I’m going to do when we get to Magog. I’ll buy some
canvas and deck over the ends of my canoe. Sleeping in her in the
rain as she is now is like sleeping in a cistern with the water
running into it.”

“Now that we’ve had a chance to try our sails, which rig do you
like best, Sailing-master?” asked Harry.

“That lateen-rig that Joe has,” replied Charley. “He can set
his sail and take it in while the rest of us are trying to find
our halyards. Did you see how the whole concern--spars and
sail--floated free of the canoe of their own accord the moment she

“That’s so; but then my big balance-lug holds more wind than Joe’s

“It held too much yesterday. It’s a first-rate rig for racing, but
it isn’t anything like as handy as the lateen for cruising; neither
is my standing-lug. I tried to get it down in a hurry yesterday,
and the halyards jammed, and I couldn’t get it down for two or
three minutes.”

“I can get my leg-of mutton in easy enough,” remarked Tom, “but I
can’t get the mast out of the step unless the water’s perfectly
smooth, and I don’t believe I could then without going ashore.”

“Now, Commodore,” said Charley, “if you’ll give the order to start,
I’ll give the order to carry all sail. The breeze is light and the
water is smooth, and we ought to run down to the end of the lake by

The little fleet made a beautiful appearance as it cruised down
the lake under full sail. The breeze was westerly, which fact
enabled the canoes to carry their after-sails--technically known as
“dandies”--to much advantage. When running directly before the wind
the “dandy” is sometimes a dangerous sail, as it is apt to make the
canoe broach-to; but with a wind from any other direction than dead
aft it is a very useful sail.

The canoes sailed faster than they had sailed the day before,
because there was no rough sea to check their headway. They reached
Magog at noon, went to the hotel for a good dinner, bought some
canvas with which to deck Tom’s canoe, and then looked at the
dam which crosses the Magog River a few rods from the lake, and
wondered how they were ever to get through the rapids below it.

There was a place where the canoes could be lowered one by one over
the breast of the dam and launched in a little eddy immediately
below. The rapids, which extended from below the dam for nearly
a quarter of a mile, were, however, very uninviting to a timid
canoeist. The water did not seem to be more than three or four feet
deep, but it was very swift, and full of rocks. “You boys can’t
never run them rapids in them boats,” said a man who came to look
at the canoes. “You’ll have to get a cart and haul round ’em.”

The boys did not like to be daunted by their first rapid, and,
as there did not seem to be much risk of drowning, they decided
to take the chances of getting the canoes through it safely.
Harry gave the order to lash everything fast in the canoes that
could be washed overboard, and he prepared to lead the way in the

It was magnificent sport shooting down the rapid like an arrow.
The canoes drove through two or three waves which washed the
decks, though the canoe-aprons of the _Dawn_, _Sunshine_, and
_Midnight_ kept the water from getting into the cockpits. Harry’s
and Charley’s canoes each struck once on the same rock while in
the rapid, but in each case only the keel struck the rock, and
the current dragged the canoes safely over it. When the fleet was
reunited in the smooth water below the rapid the boys expressed
their enthusiasm by all talking at once at the top of their lungs.
Every one was delighted with the way his canoe had acted, and with
the skill with which he had avoided this or that rock, or had
discovered the best channel just at the right moment. In their
excitement they let the canoes float gently down the stream, until
they suddenly discovered another rapid at the beginning of a sharp
bend in the river just ahead of them.

It was nothing like as fierce in appearance as the first rapid,
and as Harry led the way the others followed close after him, one
behind the other, fancying that they could run the rapid without
the least trouble. Half-way down Harry’s canoe struck on a rock,
swung broadside to the current, and hung there. Tom was so close
behind him that he could not alter his course, and so ran straight
into the _Sunshine_ with a terrible crash. The _Dawn_ and the
_Twilight_ instantly followed, and as the four canoes thus piled
together keeled over and spilled their occupants into the river, it
began to look as if the rapid had determined to make the irreverent
young canoeists respect it.


When the boys were compelled to jump overboard they could see that
the water was only about two feet deep; but they did not know
whether they could stand up against the fierce current. They found
that they could, although they had to move slowly to avoid being
swept off their feet. Harry’s canoe was easily pushed off the rock
on which it had run, and the moment it was out of the way the other
canoes were free. Each canoeist seized the stern of his own canoe,
and let it drag him down the rest of the rapid, which fortunately
was a short one. While performing this feat the knees of the
canoeists were scraped over the rocks, and they received several
unpleasant bruises; but they thought it was impossible to get into
their canoes in swift water, and so had no choice except to float
down hanging on to the sterns of the canoes.

Reaching the smooth water, they swum and pushed the canoes before
them toward the shore. Here they found a great bank of sawdust that
had floated down the river from the mill at Magog, and it was so
soft and elastic that they determined to sleep on it that night,
instead of sleeping in their canoes, since the sky was perfectly
clear and there was no danger of rain.

The canoes were hauled out on the bank, so that the stores could be
readily taken out of them. The canvas canoe did not seem to be in
the least injured either by the rock on which she had struck or by
the collision with the other canoes. Harry’s canoe had sustained a
little damage where one of the planks had been ground against the
rock on which she had hung so long, but it was not enough to cause
her to leak, and the injuries of the other canoes were confined to
their varnish.

“All the trouble,” remarked Harry, “came from following too close
after one another. To-morrow, if we find any more rapids, we will
keep the canoes far enough apart, so that if one canoe runs aground
the others can turn out for her.”

“We could have got into the canoes easy enough if we had only
thought so,” said Tom. “If I’d stood up on the rock and held
the canoe along-side of it, I could have stepped in without any

“Why didn’t you do it, then?” asked Harry.

“Because I didn’t happen to think of it, and because all the rest
of you had started to float down after your canoes.”

“I noticed one thing about a rapid which if I was Commodore it
would be my duty to impress on your faithful but ignorant minds,”
said Joe. “When you see a big ripple on the water the rock that
makes it isn’t under the ripple, but is about four or five feet
higher up stream.”

“That’s so!” exclaimed Harry. “I ought to have remembered that, for
Macgregor speaks about it in one of his books.”

“Whereabouts did your canoe strike, Commodore?” inquired Charley.

“Oh, about midships.”

“And of course she swung round broadside to the current.”

“Didn’t she, though! If I’d jumped out of her on the side I
intended to when she first struck she would have swung against my
legs; but I remembered that you must always jump out of a canoe in
a rapid on the side above her.”

“What do you mean by the side above her?” asked Tom.

“I mean that you must not jump out below her.”

“That’s as clear as anything could be,” said Joe. “Still, I’d like
to know what you mean by ‘below her.’”

“There’s an upper end and a lower end to every rapid, isn’t there?”


“Well, the side of the canoe toward the upper end of a rapid is
what I call ‘above her.’ If you jump out on that side she can’t
float against your legs and smash them.”

“Now, if you’ve got through with that question,” continued Charley,
“I want to say that if the Commodore had put his stores and his
ballast-bag in the stern of his canoe, so as to make her draw a
good deal more water aft than she did forward, she would have
struck aft of midships, and wouldn’t have swung around.”

“You’re right. That’s just what Macgregor recommends, but I
forgot it. Boys, I hereby order every canoe to be loaded with all
her ballast and cargo in the after compartment before we start

“And I want to remind you fellows of one more thing,” said Charley.
“When the current is sweeping you toward a concave shore--that is,
where the river makes a bend--don’t try to keep your canoe clear of
the shore by hard paddling. Just backwater on the side of the canoe
that is toward the middle of the river.”

“That’s Macgregor again!” cried Harry; “but I’d forgotten it.
To-morrow we’ll run our rapids in real scientific style.”

“Provided there are any more rapids,” suggested Tom.

“What did that Sherbrooke postmaster say about the Magog rapids?”
inquired Joe.

“Said there weren’t any, except one or two which we could easily
run,” replied Harry.

“Then we’ve probably got through with the rapids,” said Charley.
“I’m rather sorry, for it’s good fun running them.”

Supper was now over, and the canoeists, spreading their rubber
blankets on the sawdust, prepared to “turn in.” They were in
a wild and beautiful spot. The great “Rock Forest,” as it is
called, through which the Magog runs, is of vast extent, and is
inhabited by bears and smaller wild animals. The boys from their
camping-ground could see nothing but the river, the dense woods on
either bank, and the bright moonlit sky above them. The rapid was
roaring as if it was angry at having failed to wreck the canoes,
and the only other sound was the crackling of branches in the
forest, and the occasional sighing of the gentle breeze. The boys
were tired, and, lulled by the sound of the rapids, soon dropped

The recent rains had dampened the sawdust to the depth of about two
inches, but below this depth it was dry and inflammable. A small
fire had been made with which to cook supper, and the dampness of
the sawdust had made the boys so confident that the fire would not
spread, that they had not taken the trouble to put it out before
going to sleep.

Now, it happened that the damp sawdust on which the fire had been
kindled gradually became dry, and finally took fire. It burnt very
slowly on the surface, but the dry sawdust immediately below burnt
like tinder. About two hours after Harry had closed his eyes he
was awakened from a dream that he had upset a burning spirit-lamp
over his legs. To his horror he saw that the whole bank of sawdust
was on fire. Smoke was everywhere creeping up through the damp top
layer, and at a little distance from the canoes the smouldering
fire had burst into roaring flames.

Harry instantly called his comrades, and starting up they rushed to
the canoes, threw their blankets and stores into them, and prepared
to launch them. They had not a moment to spare. The flames were
close to them, and were spreading every moment, and as they shoved
the canoes toward the water their feet repeatedly sunk down through
the ashes below the surface, the flames springing up as they
hurriedly drew their feet back. It did not take many minutes to
get the canoes into the water and to embark, but as the canoeists
pushed out into the river the part of the bank where they had been
sleeping burst into flames.

A light breeze had sprung up which was just enough to fan the fire
and to carry it into an immense pile of dry drift-wood that lay on
the shore below the sawdust bank. The boys waited in the quiet
eddy near the bank and watched the progress of the fire. It licked
up the drift-wood in a very few moments, and then, roaring with
exultation over the work it had done, it swept into the forest. In
half an hour’s time a forest fire was burning which threatened to
make a terrible destruction of timber, and the heat had grown so
intense that the canoeists were compelled to drop down the stream
to avoid it.

Canoeing at night is always a ticklish business, but on a swift
river, full of rapids, as is the Magog, it is exceedingly
dangerous. The fire lighted the way for the fleet for a short
distance, but before a landing-place was reached a turn on the
river shut out the light, and at the same time the noise of a rapid
close at hand was heard.


The boys had no desire to entangle themselves in unknown rapids
in the dark, and paddled at once for the shore opposite to that
where the fire was raging. They found when they reached it that it
was a perpendicular bank on which it was impossible to land. They
floated down a short distance, hoping to find a landing spot,
but none could be found. Then they attempted to cross the stream
to the other shore, hoping that the fire would not spread in that
direction. To their dismay they found that they were already almost
within the clutch of the rapid. The current had become strong and
swift, and it was evident before they had got half-way across the
river that nothing but the hardest paddling could keep them from
being drawn into the rapid. It was an occasion when everybody had
to look out for himself and depend on his own paddles for safety.
The young canoeists struck out manfully. Harry was the first to
reach the shore, where he caught hold of the root of a tree and
kept his canoe stationary. Tom followed closely behind him, and
Harry told him to catch hold of the _Sunshine_ until he could make
the _Twilight’s_ painter fast to the root. Joe arrived a little
later, for his canoe had run on a rock, and for a few minutes he
was in great danger of a capsize.

The three canoeists succeeded in tying up to the bank, where they
expected every moment to be joined by Charley. The minutes passed
on, but Charley did not appear. His comrades shouted for him, but
there was no answer. Indeed, the rapid made such a noise, now that
they were close upon it, that they could not have heard Charley’s
voice had he been a few yards from them.

The fear that an accident had happened to Charley made the other
boys very uneasy. Joe cast his canoe loose and paddled out into
the river and nearly across it, looking for some signs of the
_Midnight_ and her owner, but he came back unsuccessful, after
having narrowly escaped being carried down the rapid. There could
no longer be any doubt that the current had swept the _Midnight_
away, and that Charley had been compelled to make the hazardous and
almost hopeless attempt of running the rapid in the dark.

As soon as Joe returned Harry said that he would paddle out into
the middle of the river where Charley was last seen, and would let
his canoe drift down the rapid, but Tom and Joe insisted that he
should do no such thing. Said Joe, “Either Charley is drowned or
he isn’t. If he isn’t drowned he is somewhere at the foot of the
rapid, where we’ll find him as soon as it gets light. If he is
drowned it won’t do him any good for another of us to get drowned.”

“Joe is right,” said Tom. “We must stay here till daylight.”

“And meanwhile Charley may be drowned!” exclaimed Harry.

“I don’t believe he is,” replied Tom. “He’s the best canoeist of
any of us, and he is too good a sailor to get frightened. Then, he
is very cautious, and I’ll bet that the first thing he did when he
found himself in the rapid was to buckle his life-belt round him.”

“If he did that it wouldn’t hurt him if he were capsized.”

“Not if the rapid is like those we’ve run, and the chances are
that it is. I feel sure that Charley has got through it all right,
and without losing his canoe. We’ll find him waiting for us in the

What Tom said seemed so reasonable that Harry gave up his wild
idea of running the rapid, and agreed to wait until daylight. It
was already nearly one o’clock, and at that time of year the day
began to dawn by half-past three. There was no opportunity for the
boys to sleep, but they occasionally nodded as they sat in their
canoes. About two o’clock Harry poked Tom with his paddle, and in
a low voice called his attention to the crackling of the twigs in
the woods a short distance from the bank. Something was evidently
making its way through the forest and coming nearer every minute to
the canoes. The boys grasped their pistols and anxiously waited.
They remembered that there were bears in the woods, and they fully
believed that one was on its way down to the water. “Don’t fire,”
whispered Harry, “till I give the word;” but while he was speaking
a dark form parted the underbrush on the bank above them and came
out into full view.


The early morning visitor was not a bear. He was a very welcome
visitor, for as soon as he made himself visible he was seen to be
the missing canoeist. Charley was very wet and cold, but he was
soon furnished with dry clothes and a blanket, and warmed with a
cup of hot coffee made with the help of Harry’s spirit-lamp; and as
he lay on the bank and waited for daylight he told the story of his
midnight run down the rapid.

When the boys were crossing the river above the rapid Charley’s
canoe was close behind Joe’s. The latter ran on a rock, and in
order to avoid her Charley was compelled to pass below the rock.
In so doing he found himself in great danger of running on another
rock, and in his effort to avoid this he drifted still farther
down the river. Before he was aware of his danger he was caught by
the current at the head of the rapid. He had just time to turn his
canoe so as to head her down stream and to buckle his life-belt
around him. In another second he was rushing down the rapid at a
rate that, in view of the darkness, was really frightful.

It was useless to attempt to guide the canoe. Charley could see
so little in advance of him that he could not choose his channel
nor avoid any rock that might lie in his path. He, therefore, sat
still, trusting that the current would carry him into the deepest
channel and keep him clear of the rocks. The rapid seemed to be a
very long one, but the _Midnight_ ran it without taking in a drop
of water or striking a single rock.

As soon as quiet water was reached Charley paddled to the shore,
intending to make his canoe fast and to sleep quietly in her until
morning. He was in high spirits at having successfully run a rapid
in the dark, and he paddled so carelessly that just as he was
within a yard of the shore the canoe ran upon a sunken log, spilled
her captain into the water, and then floated off in the darkness
and disappeared.

Charley had no difficulty in getting ashore, but he was wet to the
skin, and his dry clothes and all his property, except his paddle,
had gone on a cruise without him. There was nothing for him to do
but to make his way back along the bank to the other boys. This
proved to be a tiresome task. The woods were very thick, and full
of underbrush and fallen trunks. Charley was terribly scratched,
and his clothes badly torn, as he slowly forced his way through the
bushes and among the trees. He was beginning to think that he would
never reach the boys, when he fortunately heard their voices as
they whispered together.

When morning dawned the canoeists, feeling extremely cramped
and stiff, cast their canoes loose, and started down the river,
intending, if possible, to find Charley’s canoe, and then go
ashore for breakfast and a good long sleep. The rapid had been
run so easily by Charley in the night that they rightly imagined
they would find no difficulty in running it by daylight. Tom took
Charley in the _Twilight_, and the fleet, with Harry leading the
way, passed through the rapid without accident. The boys could not
but wonder how Charley had escaped the rocks in the darkness, for
the rapid, which was much the roughest and swiftest they had yet
seen, seemed to be full of rocks.

Not very far below the rapid the missing canoe was discovered
aground in an eddy. She was uninjured; and as there was a sandy
beach and plenty of shade near at hand the boys went ashore, made
their breakfast, and, lying down on their rubber blankets, slept
until the afternoon.

[Illustration: RUNNING THE RAPID.]

It was time for dinner when the tired canoeists awoke, and by the
time they had finished their meal and were once more afloat it
was nearly three o’clock. They ran three more rapids without any
trouble. Their canoes frequently struck on sunken rocks; but as
they were loaded so as to draw more water aft than they did
forward, they usually struck aft of midships, and did not swing
around broadside to the current. When a canoe struck in this way
her captain unjointed his paddle, and, taking a blade in each hand,
generally succeeded in lifting her clear of the rock by pushing
with both blades against the bottom of the river. In the next rapid
Joe’s canoe ran so high on a rock that was in the full force of
the current that he could not get her afloat without getting out
of her. He succeeded in getting into her again, however, without
difficulty, by bringing her along-side of the rock on which he was
standing, although he had to step in very quickly, as the current
swept her away the moment he ceased to hold her.

In running these rapids the canoes were kept at a safe distance
apart, so that when one ran aground the one following her had time
to steer clear of her. At Charley’s suggestion the painter of each
canoe was rove through the stern-post instead of the stem-post. By
keeping the end of the painter in his hand the canoeist whose canoe
ran aground could jump out and feel sure that the canoe could not
run away from him, and that he could not turn her broadside to the
stream by hauling on the painter, as would have been the case had
the painter been rove through the stem-post.

“I want to see that Sherbrooke postmaster!” exclaimed Joe, after
running what was the seventh rapid, counting from the dam at Magog.
“He said there were only one or two little rapids in this river.
Why, there isn’t anything but rapids in it!”

“There’s something else just ahead of us worse than rapids,” said
Charley. “Look at that smoke.”

Just a little distance below the fleet the river was completely
hidden by a dense cloud of smoke that rested on the water and rose
like a heavy fog-bank above the tops of the highest trees. It was
caused by a fire in the woods--probably the very fire which the
boys had started on the previous night. How far down the river the
smoke extended, and whether any one could breathe while in it, were
questions of great importance to the canoeists.

The fleet stopped just before reaching the smoke, and the boys
backed water gently with their paddles while they discussed what
they had better do. It was of no use to go ashore with the hope
of finding how far the smoke extended, for it would have been as
difficult to breathe on shore as on the water.

“There’s one good thing about it,” said Charley: “the smoke blows
right across the river, so the chances are that it does not extend
very far down stream.”

“We can’t hear the noise of any rapid,” said Harry, “and that’s
another good thing. There can’t be a rapid of any consequence
within the next quarter of a mile.”

“Then I’ll tell you what I’ll do, with the Commodore’s permission,”
continued Charley. “There is no use in staying here all day,
for that smoke may last for any length of time. I’ll tie a wet
handkerchief around my mouth and nose, and take the chances of
paddling through the smoke. It isn’t as thick close to the water
as it looks to be, and I haven’t the least doubt that I can run
through it all right.”

“But suppose you get choked with smoke, or get into a dangerous
rapid?” suggested Tom.

“There isn’t any rapid near us, or we would hear it, and I don’t
think the smoke will hurt me while I breathe through a wet
handkerchief. At any rate, I’d rather try it than sit here and wait
for the smoke to disappear.”

It was decided, after farther discussion, that Charley should
attempt to paddle through the smoke, if he really wished to do so;
and that he should blow a whistle if he got through all right,
and thought that the other boys could safely follow his example.
Paddling a little way up stream, so as to have room to get up his
fastest rate of speed before reaching the smoke, Charley started
on his hazardous trip. He disappeared in the smoke with his canoe
rushing along at a tremendous rate, and in a few seconds his
comrades heard him calling to them to come on without fear.

They followed Charley’s example in covering their mouths and noses
with wet handkerchiefs, and in paddling at the top of their speed.
They were agreeably surprised to find that the belt of smoke was
only a few yards wide, and that almost before they had begun to
find any difficulty in breathing they emerged into pure air and

“It was a risky business for you, Charley,” said Harry, “for the
smoke might have covered the river for the next quarter of a mile.”

“But then it didn’t, you see,” replied Charley. “How cheap we
should have felt if we had waited till morning for the smoke to
blow away, and then found that we could have run through it as
easily as we have done!”

“Still, I say it was risky.”

“Well, admitting that it was, what then? We can’t go canoeing
unless we are ready to take risks occasionally. If nobody is ever
to take a risk, there ought not to be any canoes, or ships, or

“That Sherbrooke postmaster isn’t afraid to take risks,” observed
Joe. “If he keeps on telling canoeists that there are no rapids in
this river, some of these days he’ll have an accident with a large
canoeist and a heavy paddle. We’ve run seven rapids already, and
have another one ahead of us. If we ever get to Sherbrooke, I think
it will be our duty to consider whether that postmaster ought to be
allowed to live any longer.”

Just before sunset the fleet reached Magog Lake, a placid sheet of
water about four miles long, with three or four houses scattered
along its eastern shore. At one of these houses eggs, milk, butter,
bread, a chicken, and a raspberry pie were bought, and the boys
went into camp near the lower end of the lake. After a magnificent
supper they went to bed rather proud of their achievements during
the last day and night.

The next day the canoeists started in the cool of the morning, and
as soon as they left the lake found themselves at the head of their
eighth rapid. All that day they paddled down the river, running
rapids every little while, jumping overboard when their canoes
ran aground and refused to float, and occasionally slipping on the
smooth rocky bottom of the stream and sitting down violently in the
water. Once they came to a dam, over which the canoes had to be
lowered, and on the brink of which Joe slipped and slid with awful
swiftness into the pool below, from which he escaped with no other
injury than torn trousers and wet clothes.

“That postmaster said there were no dams in the Magog, didn’t he?”
asked Joe as he prepared to get into his canoe. “Well, I hope he
hasn’t any family.”

“Why, what about his family?” demanded Tom.

“Nothing; only I’m going to try to get him to come down the Magog
in a canoe, so he can see what a nice run it is. I suppose his body
will be found some time, unless the bears get at him.”

“That’s all rubbish, Joe,” said Charley. “We wouldn’t have had half
the fun we’ve had if there hadn’t been any rapids in the river.
We’re none the worse for getting a little wet.”

“We might have had less fun, but then I’d have had more trousers if
it hadn’t been for that dam. I like fun as well as anybody, but I
can’t land at Sherbrooke with these trousers.”

“I see Sherbrooke now!” exclaimed Harry; “so you’d better change
your clothes while you have a chance.”

Sherbrooke was coming rapidly into sight as the fleet paddled down
the stream, and in the course of half an hour the boys landed in
the village, near a dam which converted the swift Magog into a lazy
little pond. While his comrades drew the canoes out of the water
and made them ready to be carted to the St. Francis, Harry went to
engage a cart. He soon returned with a big wagon large enough to
take two canoes at once; and it was not long before the fleet was
resting in the shade on the bank of the St. Francis, and surrounded
by a crowd of inquisitive men, boys, and girls.

It was difficult to convince the men that the canoes had actually
come from Lake Memphremagog by the river, and the boys were made
very proud of their success in running rapids which, the men
declared, could only be run in skiffs during a freshet. Without
an exception all the men agreed that there were rapids in the St.
Francis which were really impassable, and that it would be foolish
for the boys to think of descending that river. After making
careful inquiries, and convincing themselves that the men were in
earnest, the canoeists retired some distance from the crowd and
held a council.

“The question is,” said Harry, “shall we try the St. Francis after
what we have heard? The youngest officer present will give his
opinion first. What do you say, Joe?”

“I think I’ve had rapids and dams enough,” replied Joe; “and I’d
rather try some river where we can sail. I vote against the St.

“What do you say, Tom?”

“I’ll do anything the rest of you like; but I think we’d better
give the St. Francis up.”

“Now, Charley, how do you vote?”

“For going down the St. Francis. I don’t believe these men know
much about the river, or anything about canoes. Let’s stick to our
original plan.”

“There are two votes against the St. Francis, and one for it,” said
Harry. “I don’t want to make a tie, so I’ll vote with the majority.
Boys, we won’t go down the St. Francis, but we’ll go to the hotel,
stay there over Sunday, and decide where we will cruise next.”

“All right,” said Joe, going to his canoe, and taking a paddle
blade in his hand.

“What in the world are you going to take that paddle to the hotel
for?” asked Harry.

“I’m going to see the postmaster who said there were no rapids in
the Magog or the St. Francis; that’s all,” replied Joe. “I’ve a
painful duty to perform, and I’m going to perform it.”


A council was held at the hotel, and a dozen different water-routes
were discussed. As the boys still wanted to carry out their
original design of making a voyage to Quebec, they decided to take
the canoes by rail to Rouse’s Point, and from thence to descend
the Richelieu River to the St. Lawrence. The railway journey would
take nearly a whole day, but they thought it would be a rather
pleasant change from the close confinement of canoeing. For it must
be admitted that, delightful as they had found canoeing to be, the
task of sitting for hours in the cockpit of a canoe with scarcely
a possibility of materially changing one’s position was tiresome,
and the boys, after a night’s sleep at the Sherbrooke hotel, felt
decidedly stiff.

As it would have taken three days to send the canoes to Rouse’s
Point by freight, the canoeists were compelled to take them on
the same train with themselves. They went to the express office
on Monday morning and tried to make a bargain with the express
company. The agent astonished them by the enormous price which he
demanded, and Harry, who acted as spokesman for the expedition,
told him that it was outrageous to ask such a price for carrying
four light canoes.

The man turned to a book in which were contained the express
company’s rates of charges, and showed Harry that there was a fixed
rate for row-boats and shells.

“But,” said Harry, “a canoe is not a row-boat nor a shell. What
justice is there in charging as much for a fourteen-foot canoe as
for a forty-foot shell?”

“Well,” said the agent, “I dunno as it would be fair. But, then,
these canoes of yours are pretty near as big as row-boats.”

“A canoe loaded as ours are don’t weigh over one hundred and ten
pounds. How much does a row-boat weigh?”

“Well, about two or three hundred pounds.”

“Then, is it fair to charge as much for a canoe as for a row-boat,
that weighs three times as much?”

The agent found it difficult to answer this argument, and after
thinking the matter over he agreed to take the canoes at half the
rate ordinarily charged for row-boats. The boys were pleased with
their victory over him, but they still felt that to be compelled to
pay four times as much for the canoes as they paid for their own
railroad-tickets was an imposition.

At ten o’clock the train rolled into the Sherbrooke station. To the
great disappointment of the boys, no express-car was attached to
it, the only place for express packages being a small compartment
twelve feet long at one end of the smoking-car. It was obvious
that canoes fourteen feet long could not go into a space only
twelve feet long, and it seemed as if it would be necessary to wait
twelve hours for the night-train, to which a large express-car was
always attached. But the conductor of the train was a man who could
sympathize with boys, and who had ideas of his own. He uncoupled
the engine, which was immediately in front of the smoking-car, and
then had the canoes taken in through the door of the smoking-car
and placed on the backs of the seats. Very little room was left for
passengers who wanted to smoke; but as there were only four or five
of these they made no complaint. The canoes, with blankets under
them, to protect the backs of the seats, rode safely, and when,
late in the afternoon, Rouse’s Point, was reached, they were taken
out of the car without a scratch.

There was just time enough before sunset to paddle a short distance
below the fort, where a camping-ground was found that would have
been very pleasant had there been fewer mosquitoes. They were the
first Canadian mosquitoes that had made the acquaintance of the
young canoeists, and they seemed to be delighted. They sung and
buzzed in quiet excitement, and fairly drove the boys from their
supper to the shelter of the canoes.

Harry had a long piece of mosquito-netting, which he threw over the
top of his canoe-tent, and which fell over the openings on each
side of the tent, thus protecting the occupant of the canoe from
mosquitoes without depriving him of air. None of the other boys
had taken the trouble to bring mosquito-netting with them, except
Charley, who had a sort of mosquito-netting bag, which he drew over
his head, and which prevented the mosquitoes from getting at his
face and neck.

As for Joe and Tom, the mosquitoes fell upon them with great
enthusiasm, and soon reduced them to a most miserable condition.
Tom was compelled to cover his head with his India-rubber blanket,
and was nearly suffocated. Joe managed to tie a handkerchief over
his face in such a way as to allow himself air enough to breathe,
and at the same time to keep off the mosquitoes. Instead of
covering the rest of his body with his blanket, he deliberately
exposed a bare arm and part of a bare leg, in hopes that he could
thus satisfy the mosquitoes and induce them to be merciful. At
the end of half an hour both Tom and Joe felt that they could
endure the attacks of the insatiable insects no longer. They got
up, and, stirring the embers of the fire, soon started a cheerful
blaze. There were plenty of hemlock-trees close at hand, and the
hemlock-boughs when thrown on the fire gave out a great deal of
smoke. The two unfortunate boys sat in the lee of the fire and
nearly choked themselves with smoke; but they could endure the
smoke better than the mosquitoes, and so they were left alone by
the latter. In the course of the next hour a breeze sprung up,
which blew the mosquitoes away, and the sleepy and nearly stifled
boys were permitted to go to bed and to sleep.


The wind died down before morning, and the mosquitoes returned.
As soon as it was light the canoeists made haste to get breakfast
and to paddle out into the stream. The mosquitoes let them depart
without attempting to follow them; and the boys, anchoring the
canoes by making the ballast-bags fast to the painters, enjoyed an
unmolested bath. As they were careful to anchor where the water was
not quite four feet deep they had no difficulty in climbing into
the canoes after the bath. Joe’s mishap on Lake Memphremagog had
taught them that getting into a canoe in deep water was easier in
theory than in practice.

Later in the morning the usual southerly breeze, which is found
almost every morning on the Richelieu, gave the canoeists the
opportunity of making sail--an opportunity that was all the more
welcome since the cruise down the Magog had been exclusively a
paddling cruise. The breeze was just fresh enough to make it
prudent for the canoes to carry their main-sails only, and to give
the canoeists plenty of employment in watching the gusts that came
through the openings in the woods that lined the western shore.

About twelve miles below Rouse’s Point the fleet reached “Ile aux
Noix,” a beautiful island, in the middle of the stream, with a
somewhat dilapidated fort at its northern end. The boys landed and
examined the fort, and the ruined barracks which stood near it.
The ditch surrounding the fort was half filled with the wooden
palisades which had rotted and fallen into it, and large trees
had sprung up on the grassy slope of the outer wall. The interior
was, however, in good repair, and in one of the granite casemates
lived an Irishman and his wife, who were the entire garrison. In
former years the “Ile aux Noix” fort was one of the most important
defences of the Canadian frontier, and even in its present forlorn
condition it could be defended much longer than could the big
American fort at Rouse’s Point. The boys greatly enjoyed their
visit to the island, and after lunch set sail, determined to make
the most of the fair wind and to reach St. John before night.

The breeze held, and in less than three hours the steeples and
the railway bridge of St. John came in view. The canoeists landed
at the upper end of the town; and Harry and Charley, leaving
the canoes in charge of the other boys, went in search of the
Custom-house officer whose duty it was to inspect all vessels
passing from the United States into Canada by way of the Richelieu
River. Having found the officer, who was a very pleasant man,
and who gave the fleet permission to proceed on its way without
searching the canoes for smuggled goods, Harry and Charley walked
on to examine the rapids, which begin just below the railway
bridge. From St. John to Chambly, a distance of twelve miles,
the river makes a rapid descent, and is entirely unnavigable for
anything except canoes. A canal around the rapids enables canal
boats and small vessels to reach the river at Chambly, where it
again becomes navigable; but the boys did not like the idea of
paddling through the canal, and greatly preferred to run the rapids.

The first rapid was a short but rough one. Still, it was no worse
than the first of the Magog rapids, and Harry and Charley made
up their minds that it could be safely run. The men of whom they
made inquiries as to the rapids farther down said that they were
impassable, and that the canoes had better pass directly into the
canal, without attempting to run even the first rapid. Harry was
inclined to think that this advice was good, but Charley pointed
out that it would be possible to drag the canoes up the bank of the
river and launch them in the canal at any point between St. John
and Chambly, and that it would be time enough to abandon the river
when it should really prove to be impassable.

Returning to the canoes, the Commodore gave the order to prepare to
run the rapids. In a short time the fleet, with the _Sunshine_ in
advance, passed under the bridge; and narrowly escaping shipwreck
on the remains of the wooden piles that once supported a bridge
that had been destroyed by fire, entered the rapid. There was quite
a crowd gathered to watch the canoes as they passed, but those
people who wanted the excitement of seeing the canoes wrecked were
disappointed. Not a drop of water found its way into the cockpit
of a single canoe; and though there was an ugly rock near the end
of the rapid, against which each canoeist fully expected to be
driven as he approached it, the run was made without the slightest

Drifting down with the current a mile or two below the town, the
boys landed and encamped for the night. While waiting at St. John,
Joe and Tom had provided themselves with mosquito-netting, but they
had little use for it, for only a few mosquitoes made the discovery
that four healthy and attractive boys were within reach. The night
was cool and quiet, and the canoeists, tired with their long day’s
work, slept until late in the morning.

Everything was prepared the next day for running the rapids which
the men at St. John had declared to be impassable. The spars and
all the stores were lashed fast; the sand-bags were placed in the
after-compartments; the painters were rove through the stern-posts,
and the life-belts were placed where they could be buckled on at an
instant’s notice. After making all these preparations it was rather
disappointing to find no rapids whatever between St. John and
Chambly, or rather the Chambly railway bridge.

“It just proves what I said yesterday,” remarked Charley, turning
round in his canoe to speak to his comrades, who were a boat’s
length behind him. “People who live on the banks of a river never
know anything about it. Now, I don’t believe there is a rapid in
the whole Richelieu River, except at St. John. Halloo! keep back,

While he was speaking Charley and his canoe disappeared as suddenly
as if the earth, or rather the water, had opened and swallowed
them. The other boys in great alarm backed water, and then paddling
ashore as fast as possible, sprung out of their canoes and ran
along the shore, to discover what had become of Charley. They found
him at the foot of a water-fall of about four feet in height over
which he had been carried. The fall was formed by a long ledge of
rock running completely across the river; and had the boys been
more careful, and had the wind been blowing in any other direction
than directly down the river, they would have heard the sound of
the falling water in time to be warned of the danger into which
Charley had carelessly run.

His canoe had sustained little damage, for it had luckily fallen
where the water was deep enough to keep it from striking the rocky
bottom. Charley had been thrown out as the canoe went over the
fall, but had merely bruised himself a little. He towed his canoe
ashore, and in answer to a mischievous question from Joe admitted
that perhaps the men who had said that the Chambly rapids were
impassable were right.

Below the fall and as far as the eye could reach stretched a fierce
and shallow rapid. The water boiled over and among the rocks with
which it was strewn, and there could not be any doubt that the
rapid was one which could not be successfully run, unless, perhaps,
by some one perfectly familiar with the channel. It was agreed that
the canoes must be carried up to the canal, and after two hours of
hard work the fleet was launched a short distance above one of the
canal locks.

The lock-man did not seem disposed to let the canoes pass through
the lock, but finally accepted fifty cents, and, grumbling to
himself in his Canadian French, proceeded to lock the canoes
through. He paid no attention to the request that he would open the
sluices gradually, but opened them all at once and to their fullest
extent. The result was that the water in the lock fell with great
rapidity; the canoes were swung against one another and against
the side of the lock, and Charley’s canoe, catching against a bolt
in one of the upper gates, was capsized and sunk to the bottom,
leaving her captain clinging to the stern of the _Sunshine_.


There is no place more unfit for a sudden and unexpected bath than
the lock of a canal. The sides and the gates are perpendicular and
smooth, and present nothing to which a person in the water can
cling. Charley had no difficulty in supporting himself by throwing
one arm over the stern of Harry’s canoe, but had he been alone in
the lock he would have been in a very unpleasant position.

As soon as the gates were opened the boys paddled out of the lock,
and went ashore to devise a plan for raising the sunken canoe. Of
course it was necessary that some one should dive and bring up the
painter, so that the canoe could be dragged out of the lock; but,
as canal-boats were constantly passing, it was a full hour before
any attempt at diving could be made. There were half a dozen small
French boys playing near the lock, and Charley, who was by no means
anxious to do any unnecessary diving, hired them to get the canoe
ashore, which they managed to do easily. It was then found that
nearly everything except the spars had floated out of her, and the
rest of the morning was spent in searching for the missing articles
in the muddy bottom of the canal. Most of them were recovered, but
Charley’s spare clothes, which were in an India-rubber bag, could
not be found.

This was the second time that the unfortunate _Midnight_ had
foundered, and Charley was thoroughly convinced of the necessity of
providing some means of keeping her afloat in case of capsizing. It
was impossible for him to put water-tight compartments in her, such
as the _Sunshine_ and the _Dawn_ possessed, but he resolved to buy
a dozen beef-bladders at the next town, and after blowing them up
to pack them in the bow and stern of his canoe. Tom, whose “Rice
Lake” canoe was also without water-tight compartments, agreed
to adopt Charley’s plan, and thus avoid running the risk of an
accident that might result in the loss of the canoe and cargo.

When the fleet finally got under way again there was a nice breeze
from the south, which sent the canoes along at the rate of four
or five miles an hour. Chambly, the northern end of the canal,
was reached before four o’clock, the boys having lunched on
bread-and-water while in the canoes in order not to lose time by
going ashore. They passed safely through the three great locks at
Chambly; and entering the little lake formed by the expansion of
the river, and known as Chambly Basin, they skirted its northern
shore until they reached the ruins of Chambly Castle.

More than one hundred and fifty years ago the Frenchmen built
the great square fort, with round towers at each angle, which is
now called Chambly Castle. At that time the only direct way of
communication between the settlements on the St. Lawrence and
those in the valleys of the Hudson and the Mohawk was up the
Richelieu River, Lake Champlain, and Lake George. It was this route
that Burgoyne followed when he began the campaign that ended so
disastrously for him at Saratoga, and it was at Chambly Castle that
he formally took command of his army. The castle was placed just
at the foot of the rapids, on a broad, level space, where Indians
used to assemble in large numbers to trade with the French. Its
high stone walls, while they could easily have been knocked to
pieces by cannon, were a complete protection against the arrows and
rifles of the savages, and could have withstood a long siege by any
English force not provided with artillery. In the old days when the
castle was garrisoned by gay young French officers, and parties
of beautiful ladies came up from Montreal to attend the officers’
balls, and the gray old walls echoed to music, and brilliant lights
flashed through the windows, the Indians encamped outside the gates
must have thought it the most magnificent and brilliant place in
the whole world. Now there is nothing left of it but the four
walls and the crumbling towers. The iron bolts on which the great
castle gate once swung are still embedded in the stone, but nothing
else remains inside the castle except grassy mounds and the wild
vines that climb wherever they can find an angle or a stone to
cling to.

The canoeists made their camp where the Indians had so often camped
before them, and after supper they rambled through the castle and
climbed to the top of one of the towers. They had never heard of
its existence, and were as surprised as they were delighted to find
so romantic a ruin.

“I haven’t the least doubt that the place is full of ghosts,” said
Charley as the boys were getting into the canoes for the night.

“Do you really believe in ghosts?” asked Tom, in his matter-of-fact

“Why,” replied Charley, “when you think of what must have happened
inside of that old castle and outside of it when the Indians
tortured their prisoners, there can’t help but be ghosts here.”

“I don’t care, provided there are no mosquitoes,” said Joe. “Ghosts
don’t bite, and don’t sing in a fellow’s ears.”

Any one who has camped near a rapid knows how strangely the running
water sounds in the stillness of the night. Joe, who, although
there were no mosquitoes to trouble him, could not fall asleep, was
sure that he heard men’s voices talking in a low tone, and two or
three times raised himself up in his canoe to see if there were any
persons in sight. He became convinced after a while that the sounds
which disturbed him were made by the water, but, nevertheless,
they had made him rather nervous. Though he had professed not to
be afraid of ghosts, he did not like to think about them, but he
could not keep them out of his mind. Once, when he looked out of
his canoe toward the castle, he was startled to find it brilliantly
lighted up. The light was streaming from the casemates, loop-holes,
and windows, and it was some moments before he comprehended that it
was nothing more ghostly than moonlight.

Toward midnight Joe fell asleep, but he slept uneasily. He woke up
suddenly to find a dark object with two fiery eyes seated on the
deck of his canoe and apparently watching him. He sprung up, with
a cry of terror, which awakened his comrades. The strange object
rushed away from the canoe, and, stopping near the gate of the
castle, seemed to be waiting to see what the boys would do.

By this time Joe had recovered his senses, and knew that his
strange visitor was a wild animal. The boys took their pistols.
Tom, who was the best shot, fired at the animal. He did not hit it,
but as Tom advanced slowly toward it the creature went into the

“It’s a wild-cat,” cried Charley. “I saw it as it crossed that
patch of moonlight. Come on, boys, and we’ll have a hunt.”

With their pistols ready for instant service, the canoeists rushed
into the castle. The wild-cat was seated on a pile of stones in
what was once the court-yard, and did not show any signs of fear.
Three or four pistol-shots, however, induced it to spring down
from its perch and run across the court-yard. The boys followed it
eagerly, plunging into a thick growth of tall weeds, and shouting
at the top of their lungs. Suddenly the animal vanished; and though
Tom fancied that he saw it crouching in the shadow of the wall and
fired at it, as he supposed, he soon found that he was firing at a
piece of old stovepipe that had probably been brought to the place
by a picnic party.

Giving up the hunt with reluctance, the canoeists returned to their
canoes; at least, three of them did, but Joe was not with them.
They called to him, but received no answer, and becoming anxious
about him, went back to the castle and shouted his name loudly, but
without success.

“It’s very strange,” exclaimed Charley. “He was close behind me
when we chased the wild-cat into those weeds.”

“Has anybody seen him since?” asked Harry.


Nobody had seen him.

“Then,” said Harry, “the wild-cat has carried him off, or killed

“Nonsense!” exclaimed Charley; “a wild-cat isn’t a tiger, and
couldn’t carry off a small baby. Joe must be trying to play a trick
on us.”

“Let’s go back and pay no attention to him,” suggested Tom. “I
don’t like such tricks.”

“There’s no trick about it,” said Harry. “Joe isn’t that kind of
fellow. Something has happened to him, and we’ve got to look for
him till we find him.”

“Harry’s right,” said Charley. “Go and get the lantern out of my
canoe, won’t you, Tom? I’ve got matches in my pocket.”

When the lantern was lit a careful search was made all over the
court-yard. Harry was greatly frightened, for he was afraid that
Joe might have been accidentally shot while the boys were shooting
at the wild-cat, and he remembered that in his excitement he had
fired his pistol in a very reckless way. It was horrible to think
that he might have shot poor Joe; worse, even, than thinking that
the wild-cat might have seized him.

The court-yard had been thoroughly searched without finding the
least trace of Joe, and the boys were becoming more and more
alarmed, when Charley, whose ears were particularly sharp, cried,
“Hush! I hear something.” They all listened intently, and heard a
voice faintly calling “Help!” They knew at once that it was Joe’s
voice, but they could not imagine where he was. They shouted in
reply to him, and Charley, seizing the lantern, carefully pushed
aside the tall weeds and presently found himself at the mouth of a

“Are you there, Joe?” he cried, lying down on the ground, with his
head over the mouth of the well.

“I believe I am,” replied Joe. “I’m ready to come out, though, if
you fellows will help me.”

The boys gave a great shout of triumph.

“Are you hurt?” asked Charley, eagerly.

“I don’t think I am; but I think somebody will be if I have to stay
here much longer.”

It was evident that Joe was not seriously hurt, although he had
fallen into the well while rushing recklessly after the wild-cat.
Tom and Harry ran to the canoes and returned with all four of the
canoe-painters. Tying one of them to the lantern, Charley lowered
it down, and was able to get a glimpse of Joe. The well was about
twenty feet deep, and perfectly dry, and Joe was standing, with his
hands in his pockets, leaning against the side of the well, and
apparently entirely unhurt, in spite of his fall.


It was an easy matter to help Joe out of the old well. He had
fallen into it while running after the wild-cat, but a heap of
decayed leaves at the bottom broke the fall and saved him from any
serious injury. Nevertheless, he must have been a little stunned at
first, for he made no outcry for some time, and it was his first
call for help that was heard by Charley.

The boys returned to their canoes, and, as it was not yet
midnight, prepared to resume the sleep from which they had been so
unceremoniously awakened. They had little fear that the wild-cat
would pay them another visit, for it had undoubtedly been badly
frightened. Still, it was not pleasant to think that there was a
wild beast within a few rods of them, and the thought kept the
canoeists awake for a long time.

The wild-cat did not pay them a second visit, and when they awoke
the next morning they were half inclined to think that their
night’s adventure had been only a dream. There, however, were the
marks made by its claws on the varnished deck of Joe’s canoe, and
Joe’s clothing was torn and stained by his fall. With the daylight
they became very courageous, and decided that they had never been
in the least afraid of the animal. The so-called wild-cat of
Canada, which is really a lynx, is, however, a fierce and vicious
animal, and is sometimes more than a match for an unarmed man.

There was a strong west wind blowing when the fleet started, and
Chambly Basin was covered with white-caps. As the canoes were
sailing in the trough of the sea they took in considerable water
while skirting the east shore of the Basin, but once in the narrow
river they found the water perfectly smooth. This day the fleet
made better progress than on any previous day. Nothing could be
more delightful than the scenery, and the quaint little French
towns along the river, every one of which was named after some
saint, were very interesting. The boys landed at one of them and
got their dinner at a little tavern where no one spoke English,
and where Charley, who had studied French at Annapolis, won the
admiration of his comrades by the success with which he ordered the


With the exception of the hour spent at dinner, the canoeists
sailed, from six o’clock in the morning until seven at night, at
the rate of nearly six miles an hour. The clocks of Sorel, the town
at the mouth of the Richelieu, were striking six as the canoes
glided into the broad St. Lawrence and steered for a group of
islands distant about a mile from the south shore. It was while
crossing the St. Lawrence that they first made the acquaintance of
screw-steamers, and learned how dangerous they are to the careless
canoeist. A big steamship, on her way to Montreal, came up the
river so noiselessly that the boys did not notice her until
they heard her hoarse whistle warning them to keep out of her way.
A paddle-wheel steamer can be heard while she is a long way off,
but screw-steamers glide along so stealthily that the English
canoeists, who constantly meet them on the Mersey, the Clyde, and
the lower Thames, have nicknamed them “sudden death.”

Cramped and tired were the canoeists when they reached the nearest
island and went ashore to prepare a camp, but they were proud of
having sailed sixty miles in one day. As they sat around the fire
after supper Harry said, “Boys, we’ve had experience enough by this
time to test our different rigs. Let’s talk about them a little.”

“All right,” said Joe. “I want it understood, however, that my
lateen is by all odds the best rig in the fleet.”

“Charley,” remarked Tom, “you said the other day that you liked
Joe’s rig better than any other. Do you think so still?”

“Of course I do,” answered Charley. “Joe’s sails set flatter than
any lug-sail; he can set them and take them in quicker than we can
handle ours, and as they are triangular he has the most of his
canvas at the foot of the sail instead of at the head. But they’re
going to spill him before the cruise is over, or I’m mistaken.”

“In what way?” asked Joe.

“You are going to get yourself into a scrape some day by trying to
take in your sail when you are running before a stiff breeze. If
you try to get the sail down without coming up into the wind it
will get overboard, and either you will lose it or it will capsize
you; you tried it yesterday when a squall came up, and you very
nearly came to grief.”

“But you can say the same about any other rig,” exclaimed Joe.

“Of course you can’t very well get any sail down while the wind is
in it; but Tom can take in his sharpie-sail without much danger
even when he’s running directly before the wind, and Harry and I
can let go our halyards and get our lugs down after a fashion, if
it is necessary. Still, your lateen is the best cruising rig I’ve
ever seen, though for racing Harry’s big, square-headed balance-lug
is better.”

“You may say what you will,” said Tom, “but give me my
sharpie-sails. They set as flat as a board, and I can handle them
easily enough to suit me.”

“The trouble with your rig,” said Charley, “is that you have a mast
nearly fifteen feet high. Now, when Joe takes in his main-sail he
has only two feet of mast left standing.”

“How do you like your own rig?” asked Harry.

“Oh, it is good enough. I’m not sure that it isn’t better than
either yours or Tom’s; but it certainly isn’t as handy as Joe’s

“Now that you’ve settled that I’ve the best rig,” said Joe, “you’d
better admit that I’ve the best canoe, and then turn in for the
night. After the work we’ve done to-day, and the fun we had last
night, I’m sleepy.”

“Do you call sitting still in a canoe hard work?” inquired Tom.

“Is falling down a well your idea of fun?” asked Harry.

“It’s too soon,” said Charley, “to decide who has the best canoe.
We’ll find that out by the time the cruise is over.”

The island where the boys camped during their first night on the
St. Lawrence was situated at the head of Lake St. Peter. This lake
is simply an expansion of the St. Lawrence, and though it is thirty
miles long and about ten miles wide at its widest part, it is so
shallow that steamboats can only pass through it by following an
artificial channel dredged out by the government at a vast expense.
Its shores are lined with a thick growth of reeds, which extend
in many places fully a mile into the lake, and are absolutely
impassable, except where streams flowing into the lake have kept
channels open through the reeds.

On leaving the island in the morning the canoeists paddled down the
lake, for there was not a breath of wind. The sun was intensely
hot, and the heat reflected from the surface of the water and the
varnished decks of the canoes assisted in making the boys feel as
if they were roasting before a fire. Toward noon the heat became
really intolerable, and the Commodore gave the order to paddle over
to the north shore in search of shade.

It was disappointing to find instead of a shady shore an
impenetrable barrier of reeds. After resting a little while in the
canoes, the boys started to skirt the reeds, in hope of finding an
opening; and the sun, apparently taking pity on them, went under a
cloud, so that they paddled a mile or two in comparative comfort.

The friendly cloud was followed before long by a mass of thick
black clouds coming up from the south. Soon the thunder was heard
in the distance, and it dawned upon the tired boys that they were
about to have a thunder-storm, without any opportunity of obtaining

They paddled steadily on, looking in vain for a path through the
reeds, and making up their minds to a good wetting. They found,
however, that the rain did not come alone. With it came a fierce
gust of wind, which quickly raised white-caps on the lake. Instead
of dying out as soon as the rain fell the wind blew harder and
harder, and in the course of half an hour there was a heavy sea

The wind and sea coming from the south, while the canoes were
steering east, placed the boys in a very dangerous position. The
seas struck the canoes on the side and broke over them, and in
spite of the aprons, which to some extent protected the cockpits
of all except the _Twilight_, the water found its way below. It
was soon no longer possible to continue in the trough of the sea,
and the canoes were compelled to turn their bows to the wind and
sea--the boys paddling just sufficiently to keep themselves from
drifting back into the reeds.

The _Sunshine_ and the _Midnight_ behaved admirably, taking very
little water over their decks. The _Twilight_ “slapped” heavily,
and threw showers of spray over herself, while the _Dawn_ showed a
tendency to dive bodily into the seas, and several times the whole
of her forward of the cockpit was under the water.

“What had we better do?” asked Harry, who, although Commodore, had
the good-sense always to consult Charley in matters of seamanship.

“It’s going to blow hard, and we can’t sit here and paddle against
it all day without getting exhausted.”

“But how are we going to help ourselves?” continued Harry.

“Your canoe and mine,” replied Charley, “can live out the gale well
enough under sail. If we set our main-sails close-reefed, and keep
the canoes close to the wind, we shall be all right. It’s the two
other canoes that I’m troubled about.”

“My canoe suits me well enough,” said Joe, “so long as she keeps
on the top of the water, but she seems to have made up her mind to
dive under it.”

“Mine would be all right if I could stop paddling long enough to
bail her out, but I can’t,” remarked Tom. “She’s nearly half full
of water now.”

“We can’t leave the other fellows,” said Harry, “so what’s the use
of our talking about getting sail on our canoes?”

“It’s just possible that Tom’s canoe would live under sail,”
resumed Charley; “but it’s certain that Joe’s won’t. What do you
think about those reeds, Tom--can you get your canoe into them?”

“Of course I can, and that’s what we’d better all do,” exclaimed
Tom. “The reeds will break the force of the seas, and we can stay
among them till the wind goes down.”

“Suppose you try it,” suggested Charley, “and let us see how far
you can get into the reeds? I think they’re going to help us out of
a very bad scrape.”

Tom did not dare to turn his canoe around, so he backed water and
went at the reeds stern-first. They parted readily, and his canoe
penetrated without much difficulty some half-dozen yards into the
reeds where the water was almost quiet. Unfortunately, he shipped
one heavy sea just as he entered the reeds, which filled his canoe
so full that another such sea would certainly have sunk her, had
she not been provided with the bladders bought at Chambly.

Joe followed Tom’s example, but the _Dawn_ perversely stuck in the
reeds just as she was entering them, and sea after sea broke over
her before Joe could drive her far enough into the reeds to be
protected by them.

Joe and Tom were now perfectly safe, though miserably wet; but, as
the rain had ceased, there was nothing to prevent them from getting
dry clothes out of their water-proof bags, and putting them on as
soon as they could bail the water out of their canoes. Harry and
Charley, seeing their comrades in safety, made haste to get up sail
and to stand out into the lake--partly because they did not want to
run the risk of being swamped when entering the reeds, and partly
because they wanted the excitement of sailing in a gale of wind.

When the masts were stepped, the sails hoisted, and the sheets
trimmed, the two canoes, sailing close to the wind, began to creep
away from the reeds. They behaved wonderfully well. The boys had
to watch them closely, and to lean out to windward from time to
time to hold them right side up. The rudders were occasionally
thrown out of the water, but the boys took the precaution to steer
with their paddles. The excitement of sailing was so great, that
Charley and Harry forgot all about the time, and sailed on for
hours. Suddenly they discovered that it was three o’clock, that
they had had no lunch, and that the two canoeists who had sought
refuge in the reeds had absolutely nothing to eat with them. Filled
with pity, they resolved to return to them without a moment’s
delay. It was then that it occurred to them that in order to sail
back they must turn their canoes around, bringing them while so
doing in the trough of the sea. Could they possibly do this without
being swamped? The question was a serious one, for they were fully
four miles from the shore, and the wind and sea were as high as ever.


Charley and Harry took in their sails, keeping the canoes head to
sea with an occasional stroke of the paddle. When all was made
snug, and the moment for turning the canoes had arrived, they
realized that they were about to attempt the most hazardous feat of
the whole cruise.

“Can we do it?” asked Harry, doubtfully.

“We’ve got to do it,” replied Charley.

“Why can’t we unship our rudders and back water till we get to the

“It might be possible, but the chances are that we would be
swamped. The seas would overtake us, and we couldn’t keep out of
the way of them. No, we’ve got to turn around and sail back in the
regular way.”

“You know best, of course,” said Harry; “but what’s the use of
taking in our sails before we turn around? We’ll have trouble in
setting them again with the wind astern.”

“We can turn the canoes quicker without sails than we could
with the sails set, and every second that we can gain is worth
something. Besides, if we are capsized it will be an advantage to
have the sails furled. But we’re wasting time. Let your canoe get
right astern of mine, so that mine will keep a little of the sea
off of you; then watch for two or three big seas and turn your
canoe when they have passed.”

Harry followed his friend’s instructions, and succeeded in turning
his canoe without accident. Then Charley, getting into the lee of
the _Sunshine_, did his best to imitate Harry’s successful feat. He
managed to turn the canoe, but while in the act a heavy sea rolled
into the cockpit and filled the _Midnight_ absolutely full. The
beef-bladders, however, kept the canoe afloat, but she lay like a
log on the water, and every successive wave swept over her.

Charley did not lose his presence of mind. He shouted to Harry to
run up his sail and keep his canoe out of the way of the seas, and
then he busied himself shaking out the reef of his main-sail, so
that he could set the whole sail. The moment the canoe felt the
strain of her canvas she began to rush through the water in spite
of her great weight, and no more seas came aboard her. Steering
with one hand, Charley bailed with his hat with such energy that he
soon freed the canoe of water. Meanwhile he rapidly overtook Harry,
and reached the reeds, while the _Sunshine_ was a quarter of a mile
behind him.

Tom and Joe were found sitting in their canoes and suffering the
pangs of hunger. Charley put on dry clothes, while Harry prepared
a lunch of dried beef and crackers, after which the canoeists
resigned themselves as cheerfully as they could to spending the
rest of the afternoon and the night in the reeds. It was not a
pleasant place, but the wind kept the mosquitoes away, and the boys
managed to fall asleep soon after sunset. The wind died out during
the night, and the boys found, the next morning, that only a few
rods below the place where they had spent the night there was an
open channel by which they could easily have reached the shore.
This was rather aggravating, and it increased the disgust with
which they remembered Lake St. Peter and its reed-lined shores.

The voyage down the St. Lawrence seemed monotonous after the
excitement of running the Magog rapids, and the various adventures
of the sail down the Richelieu. The St. Lawrence has very little
shade along its banks, for, owing to the direction in which it
runs, the sun shines on the water all day long. The weather was
exceedingly hot while the boys were on the river, and on the third
day after leaving Lake St. Peter they suffered so greatly that they
were afraid to stay on the water lest they should be sunstruck.
Going ashore on the low sandy bank, they were unable to find a
single tree or even a hillock large enough to afford any shade.
They thought of drawing the canoes ashore and sitting in the shade
of them, but there was not a breath of air stirring, and the very
ground was so hot that it almost scorched their feet. Half a mile
away on a meadow they saw a tree, but it was far too hot to think
of walking that distance. They decided at last to get into their
canoes and to paddle a few rods farther to a place where a small
stream joined the river, and where they hoped to find the water
somewhat cooler for bathing.

On reaching the mouth of the little stream the bows of the canoes
were run ashore, so that they would not float away, and the boys,
hastily undressing, sprung into the water. They had a delightful
bath, and it was not until they began to feel chilly that they
thought of coming out and dressing. Tom was the first to go
ashore, and as he was wading out of the water he suddenly felt
himself sinking in the sand. Harry and Joe attempted to land a
few yards from the place where Tom was trying to drag his feet
out of the clinging sand, and they too found themselves in the
same difficulty. Harry at once perceived what was the matter,
and, making frantic efforts to get to the shore, cried out to his
comrades that they were caught in a quicksand.

The struggles made by the three boys were all in vain. When they
tried to lift one foot out of the sand the other foot would sink
still deeper. It was impossible for them to throw themselves at
full length on the quicksand, for there were nearly two feet of
water over it, and they were not close enough together to give one
another any assistance. By the time Charley fully understood the
peril they were in, Tom had sunk above his knees in the sand, and
Joe and Harry, finding that they could not extricate themselves,
were waiting, with white faces and trembling lips, for Charley to
come to their help.

Charley knew perfectly well that if he ventured too near the other
boys he would himself be caught in the quicksand, and there would
be no hope that any of them could escape. Keeping his presence of
mind, he swum to the stern of one of the canoes, set it afloat, and
pushed it toward Tom so that the latter could get hold of its bow.
He then brought two other canoes to the help of Joe and Harry, and
when each of the three unfortunate canoeists was thus furnished
with something to cling to he climbed into his own canoe.

“What are we to do now?” asked Harry.

“Just hold on to your canoes till I can tow them out into the
stream. You can’t sink while you hang on to them.”

“Won’t the canoes sink with us?” asked Tom.

“Not a bit of it. You wouldn’t sink yourselves if you could lie
down flat on the quicksand. I was caught in a quicksand once, and
that’s the way I saved myself.”

“I hope it’s all right,” exclaimed Joe; “but it seems to me
that you’ll have to get a derrick to hoist me out. But I’m not
complaining. I can hang on to my canoe all day, only I don’t want
to be drowned and buried both at the same time.”

Charley, meanwhile, was busily making his canoe fast to Tom’s
canoe with his painter. When this was done he paddled away from
the shore with all his might, while Tom tried to lift himself
out of the quicksand by throwing the weight of his body on the
canoe. Slowly Tom and his canoe yielded to the vigorous strokes
of Charley’s paddle and were towed out into deep water. By the
same means Joe and Harry were rescued, and then the entire
fleet--Charley paddling, and the others swimming and pushing their
canoes--floated a short distance down stream, and finally landed
where the sand was firm and hard.

“What should we have done if you’d got into the quicksand, as we
did?” said Harry to Charley, as they were dressing.

“By this time we should all have disappeared,” replied Charley.

“I shall never go ashore again while we’re on this river without
making sure that I’m not walking into a quicksand,” continued
Harry. “It was awful to find myself sinking deeper and deeper, and
to know that I couldn’t help myself.”

“Very likely there isn’t another quicksand the whole length of
the St. Lawrence,” said Charley. “However, it’s well enough to be
careful where we land. I’ve noticed that where a little stream
joins a big one the bottom is likely to be soft; but after all a
regular dangerous quicksand isn’t often met. I never saw but one

“Tell us about it,” suggested Joe.

“No; we’ve talked enough about quicksands, and the subject isn’t a
cheerful one. Do you see that pile of boards? Let’s make a board
shanty, and go to sleep in it after we’ve had some lunch. It will
be too hot to paddle before the end of the afternoon.”

A shanty was easily made by leaning a dozen planks against the
top of the pile of boards, and after a comfortable lunch the boys
took a long nap. When they awoke they were disgusted to find that
their canoes were high and dry two rods from the edge of the water.
They had reached a part of the river where the tide was felt, and
without knowing it they had gone ashore at high tide. They had to
carry the canoes, with all their contents, down to the water, and
as the receding tide had left a muddy and slippery surface to walk
over the task was not a pleasant one. They congratulated themselves
that they had not gone ashore at low tide, in which case the rising
of the water during the night would have carried away the canoes.

Sailing down the river with a gentle breeze, and with the help of
the ebbing tide, the canoeists came to the mouth of a small river
which entered the St. Lawrence from the north. They knew by means
of the map that the small river was the Jacques Cartier. It was a
swift, shallow, and noisy stream, flowing between high, precipitous
banks, and spanned by a lofty and picturesque bridge. Taking in
their sails, the boys entered the Jacques Cartier, picking their
way carefully among the rocks, and making headway very slowly
against the rapid current. They stopped under the bridge, just
above which there was an impassable rapid, and went ashore for lunch.

Near by there was a saw-mill, and from one of the workmen who came
to look at the canoes the boys heard wonderful reports of the
fish to be caught in the stream. It was full of salmon--so the man
said--and about nine miles from its mouth there was a pool where
the trout actually clamored to be caught. The enthusiasm of the
canoeists was kindled; and they resolved to make a camp on the bank
of the stream, and to spend a few days in fishing.

After having thus excited his young hearers the workman cruelly
told them that the right to fish for salmon was owned by a man
living in Montreal, and that any one catching a salmon without
permission would be heavily fined. The trout, however, belonged to
nobody, and the boys, though greatly disappointed about the salmon,
would not give up their plan of trout-fishing. They hired two carts
from a farmer living a short distance from the river, and, placing
their canoes on the carts, walked beside them over a wretchedly
rough road until they reached a place deep in the woods, where a
little stream, icy cold, joined the Jacques Cartier. Just before
entering the latter the little stream formed a quiet pool, in
which the trout could be seen jumping. The point of land between
the trout-stream and the river was covered with a carpet of soft
grass, and on this the canoes were placed and made ready to be
slept in.

The workman at the mouth of the Jacques Cartier had not exaggerated
the number of trout in the pool. It was alive with fish. The boys
were charmed with the beauty of their camping-ground and the luxury
of their table. It was rather tiresome to walk two miles every
day to the nearest farm-house for milk, but with the milk rice
griddle cakes were made, and upon these and fresh-killed trout the
canoeists feasted for three delightful days.


They had one real adventure while on the Jacques Cartier. One day,
when they returned to their camp from an exploration of the upper
part of the trout-stream, they found a bear feasting upon the
remains of their breakfast and their bottle of maple-sirup, which
he had upset and broken. The animal was full-grown, and looked
like a very ugly customer, but no sooner did he see the boys than
he started on a rapid run for the woods. By the time the boys
had found their pistols and were ready to follow him the bear had
disappeared, and though they hunted for him all the rest of the day
they could not find him. Had the bear taken it into his head to
hunt the boys he would probably have been much more successful, for
their pistol-bullets would have had little effect upon him, except
to sharpen his appetite for tender and wholesome boys’-meat.


It sometimes blows very hard on the St. Lawrence. It blew
especially hard the morning the young canoeists returned to the
banks of the great river from their excursion up the Jacques
Cartier. As far as they could see the St. Lawrence was covered with
white-caps. The wind blew directly up the river, and a heavy sea
was breaking on the little island which lay opposite the mouth of
the Jacques Cartier. Paddling against such a wind and sea would
have been nearly impossible, and the boys resolved to wait until
the wind should go down.

The day was a long one, for there was nothing to do but to watch
the men at work in the saw-mill, and to look out on the river to
see if the wind and sea had gone down. It continued to blow hard
all day and all night, and when Harry awoke his comrades at five
o’clock the next morning it was blowing as hard as ever.

Nobody wanted to spend another day at the saw-mill. Although the
wind was blowing up the river the tide was ebbing, and would help
the canoes to make some little progress, in spite of the wind and
sea. So after a hurried breakfast the fleet got under way at six
o’clock and gallantly breasted the waves.

The boys found that paddling against so strong a head-wind was
harder than they had imagined that it could be. It was almost
impossible to force the upper blade of the paddle through the air
when trying to make a stroke, and it was only by turning the two
paddle-blades at right angles to one another, so that the upper
blade would present its edge to the wind, that this could be done.
The seas were so large that the two canoes which were leading would
often be entirely invisible to the other canoes, though they were
but a few yards apart. The _Twilight_, as was her habit when driven
against head-seas, threw spray all over herself, and the _Dawn_
exhibited her old vice of trying to dive through the seas. The
other canoes were dry enough, but they presented more resistance to
the wind, and hence were harder to paddle.

Little was said during the first half-hour, for everybody was
working too hard at the paddle to have any breath to spare for
talking; but finally Harry, who was in the advance with Charley,
slackened his stroke, and, hailing Joe and Tom, asked them how they
were getting along.

“Wet as usual,” replied Joe. “The water is pretty near up to my
waist in the canoe, and two waves out of three wash right over her.
But I don’t care; I’ll paddle as long as anybody else will.”

“My canoe will float, unless the bladders burst,” said Tom, “but
I’ll have to stop and bail out before long, or she’ll be so heavy
that I can’t stir her.”

“Never mind,” cried Joe. “Look at the splendid time we’re making.
We’ve come nearly a quarter of a mile, and that means that we’re
paddling at the rate of half a mile an hour. At this rate we’ll
get somewhere in the course of the summer.”

“There isn’t any use in tiring ourselves out for nothing,”
exclaimed Harry. “Boys! we’ll make that sand-spit right ahead of
us, and wait there till the wind goes down.”

“All right,” said Joe. “Only it’s a pity to go ashore when the tide
is helping us along so beautifully. That is, the Commodore said it
would help us, and of course he is right.”

“No reflections on the Commodore will be allowed,” cried Harry.
“Bail out your canoes, you two fellows, and Charley and I will wait
for you.”

Joe was very anxious to go ashore and rest, for he was nearly tired
out; but he was not willing to let Harry know that he was tired.
The two boys had been disputing while on the Jacques Cartier as
to their respective strength, and Harry had boasted that he could
endure twice as much fatigue as Joe. This was true enough, for
Harry was older and much more muscular, but Joe was determined to
paddle as long as he could swing his arms rather than to admit
that he was the weaker.

The sandy spit where Harry proposed to rest was half a mile farther
on, but before it was reached poor Joe managed to sprain the
muscles of his left wrist. He was compelled to stop paddling except
just hard enough to keep the _Dawn’s_ head to the sea, and to call
out to the Commodore that he must be allowed to go ashore at once.

Now, the north shore of the river, near which the canoes were
paddling, was a rocky precipice, rising perpendicularly directly
from the water, and at least two hundred feet high. To land on such
a shore was, of course, impossible, and the sandy spit toward which
the fleet was paddling was the only possible landing-place within
sight, unless the canoes were to turn round and run back to the
Jacques Cartier.

In this state of things Harry, after consulting with Charley and
Tom, resolved to tow the _Dawn_. Her painter was made fast to the
stern-post of the _Sunshine_, and Harry, bracing his feet and
setting his teeth tight together, began the task of forcing two
heavy canoes through the rough water. He found that he could make
progress slowly, but Joe could not steer the _Dawn_ except by
paddling, and as he was able to do very little of that she kept
yawing about in a most unpleasant way, which greatly added to
Harry’s labor.

Suddenly, Joe had a happy thought: he set his “dandy” and hauled
the sheet taut, so that the boom was parallel with the keel. The
effect of this was that whenever the canoe’s head fell off the sail
filled and brought her up again. Joe was relieved of the task of
steering, and Harry was able to tow the _Dawn_ much more easily
than before.

The other canoeists followed Joe’s example, and, setting their
“dandies,” greatly lessened their labor. The canoes kept their
heads to the wind of their own accord, and everybody wondered why
so obvious a method of fighting a head-wind had not sooner been
thought of.

It was eight o’clock when the sandy spit was reached. The tide had
been ebbing for some hours, and the sand was warm and dry, except
near the edge of the water. The canoes were hauled some distance
over the sand to a spot where there was a clump of bushes, and
where it was reasonable to suppose that they would be perfectly
safe even at high tide. A second breakfast was then cooked and
eaten, after which the boys set out to explore their camping-ground.

It was simply a low sand-bank, about a hundred feet wide at widest
part, and running out two or three hundred feet into the river.
As has been said, the north bank of the river was a perpendicular
precipice, but now that the tide was out there was a path at the
foot of the precipice by means of which any one could walk from the
sand-spit to a ravine a quarter of a mile away, and thus reach the
meadows lying back of the precipice. This path was covered with
water at high tide; but, as it was sure to be passable for three or
four hours, Harry and Tom set out to procure provisions for the day.

[Illustration: AROUND THE CAMP-FIRE.]

The fleet was wind-bound all that day, for neither the wind nor the
sea showed the slightest intention of going down. Harry and Tom
returned after an hour’s absence, with bread, butter, eggs, milk,
and strawberries, and with the cheerful information that, in the
opinion of a gloomy farmer, the wind would continue to blow for at
least two days more.

After resting and sleeping on the soft sand the boys began to find
the time hang heavily on their hands. They overhauled their sails
and rigging, putting them in complete order. Charley mended a pair
of trousers belonging to Joe in a really artistic way; and Joe,
with his left arm in a sling, played “mumble-te-peg” with Harry.
Tom collected fire-wood, and, when he had got together more than
enough to cook two or three meals, occupied himself by trying to
roll a heavy log into a position near the canoes, where it could be
used as a seat or a table.

The sand was strewn with logs, big and little, and Harry proposed
that as many logs as possible should be got together, so that an
enormous camp-fire could be started. It was a happy idea, for it
gave the boys employment for the greater part of the day. It became
a matter of pride with them to bring the biggest and heaviest of
the logs up to the fireplace. Some of them could only be stirred
with levers, and moved with the help of rollers cut from smaller
logs. Whenever a particularly big log was successfully moved the
boys were encouraged to attack a still bigger one. Thus they
finally collected an amount of fire-wood sufficient to make a blaze
bright enough to be seen a dozen miles at night.

When they were tired of rolling logs Tom went fishing, but caught
nothing; while Charley cooked the dinner and watched the rising
tide--half afraid that the water would reach the fire and put it
out before he could get dinner ready. The tide rose so high that it
came within two or three yards of the fire, and almost as near to
the canoes, but it spared the dinner. When the tide was nearly full
only a small part of the sand-spit was out of water, and the path
along the foot of the precipice was completely covered, so that
the waves broke directly against the rocks.

“It’s lucky for us that the tide doesn’t cover the whole of this
place,” remarked Charley as he placed the dinner on a large log
which served as a table, and beat a tattoo on the frying-pan as a
signal to Tom to give up fishing and come to dinner. “I should hate
to have to take to the canoes again in this wind.”

“It’s lucky that the tide will ebb again,” said Harry, “for we’re
cut off from the shore as the tide is now, unless we could climb up
the rocks, and I don’t believe we could.”

“It’s all right,” said Tom, putting his fishing-tackle in his
canoe, “provided the tide doesn’t come up in the night and float
the canoes off.”

“Oh, that can’t happen!” exclaimed Harry. “The tide’s turned
already, and doesn’t reach the canoes.”

“I’m going to sleep on the sand,” remarked Joe. “It’s softer than
the bottom of my canoe, and there isn’t any sign of rain.”

“You don’t catch me sleeping anywhere except in my canoe,” said
Harry. “There isn’t any bed more comfortable than the _Sunshine_.”

“Can you turn over in her at night?” asked Joe.

“Well, yes; that is, if I do it very slow and easy.”

“The bottom-board is a nice soft piece of wood, isn’t it?”
continued Joe.

“It’s pine-wood,” replied Harry, shortly. “Besides, I sleep on

“And you like to lie stretched out perfectly straight, don’t you?”

“I like it well enough--much better than I like to see a young
officer trying to chaff his Commodore,” returned Harry, trying to
look very stern.

“Oh, I’m not trying to chaff anybody!” exclaimed Joe. “I was only
wondering if your canoe was as comfortable as a coffin would be,
and I believe it is--every bit as comfortable.”

When the time came for “turning in” Joe spread his water-proof
blanket on the sand close by the side of his canoe. He had dragged
her several yards away from the rest of the fleet, so as to be able
to make his bed on the highest and driest part of the sand, and to
shelter himself from the wind by lying in the lee of his boat. The
other boys preferred to sleep in their canoes, which were placed
side by side and close together. The blazing logs made the camp
almost as light as if the sun were shining, and the boys lay awake
a long while talking together, and hoping that the wind would die
out before morning.

Joe, whose sprained wrist pained him a little, was the last to fall
asleep. While he had expressed no fears about the tide (for he did
not wish to be thought nervous), he was a little uneasy about it.
He had noticed that when the tide rose during the day it would have
completely covered the sand-spit had it risen only a few inches
higher. Long after his comrades had fallen asleep it occurred to
Joe that it would have been a wise precaution to make the canoes
fast to the bushes, so that they could not be carried away; but
he did not venture to wake the boys merely in order to give them
advice which they probably would not accept. So he kept silent, and
toward ten o’clock fell asleep.

In the course of the night he began to dream. He thought that he
was a member of an expedition trying to reach the North Pole in
canoes, and that he was sleeping on the ice. He felt that his feet
and back were slowly freezing, and that a polar-bear was nudging
him in the ribs occasionally, to see if he was alive and ready to
be eaten. This was such an uncomfortable situation that Joe woke
up, and for a few moments could not understand where he was.

The wind had gone down, the stars had come out, and the tide had
come up. Joe was lying in a shallow pool of water, and his canoe,
which was almost afloat, was gently rubbing against him. He sprung
up and called to his companions. There was no answer. The fire was
out, but by the starlight Joe could see that the whole sand-spit
was covered with water, and that neither the other boys nor their
canoes were in sight. The tide was still rising, and Joe’s canoe
was beginning to float away, when he seized her, threw his blankets
into her, and, stepping aboard, sat down, and was gently floated


Joe was alone on the St. Lawrence in the middle of the night, and
with a sprained wrist, which nearly disabled him so far as paddling
was concerned. Worse than this, his comrades had disappeared,
and there could not be the slightest doubt that their canoes had
floated away with them while they were sound asleep. What chance
had he of finding them? How could he get ashore, with his sprained
wrist; and what probability was there that the three boys thus
carried away in their sleep would escape from their dangerous
situation without any serious accident?

As these questions presented themselves to Joe his first impulse
was to admit that he was completely disheartened and to burst into
tears. He was, however, far too manly to yield to it, and he
immediately began to think what was the best thing that he could do
in the circumstances.

The water was perfectly smooth, so that there was really no danger
that the runaway canoes would capsize, unless their owners should
start up in a fright and not fully understand that their canoes
were no longer on solid land. Neither was there much chance that
they would be run down by steamboats, for the steamboat channel
was near the south shore of the river, a long distance from the
sand-spit. Joe remembered how fast the tide had risen the day
before, and he calculated that the missing canoes must have been
afloat about half an hour before the water reached the place
where he was sleeping. They would naturally drift in the same
direction in which the _Dawn_ was drifting; and all that it would
be necessary for Joe to do in order to overtake them would be to
increase the speed at which his canoe was moving.

There was a scarcely perceptible breeze blowing from the south.
Joe got up his main-mast and set his sail. Light as the breeze
was, the canoe felt it, and began to move through the water. Joe
steered by the stars, and kept the _Dawn_ as nearly as possible on
the course which he supposed the other canoes had taken. He had no
lantern with him, and could see but a little distance ahead in the
dark, but he shouted every few moments, partly in order to attract
the attention of the missing canoeists, and partly in order to warn
any other boat that might be in the neighborhood not to run him

After sailing in this way for at least an hour, and hearing no
sound whatever but his own voice and the creaking of the canoe’s
spars, Joe was startled at perceiving a black object just ahead of
him. He avoided it with a vigorous movement of his paddle, and as
he drifted close to it with the wind shaken out of his sail he saw
to his great delight that it was a canoe.

It was the _Sunshine_, with her canoe-tent rigged over her, and her
commander sound asleep. Taking hold of her gunwale, Joe drew the
two canoes together and put his hand gently on Harry’s forehead.
Harry instantly awoke, and hearing Joe begging him as he valued his
life to lie perfectly still, took the latter’s advice, and asked,
with some alarm, what was the matter. When he learned that he was
adrift on the river he sat up, took down his tent, and getting out
his paddle joined in the search for Tom and Charley.

“They must be close by,” said Harry, “for all three canoes must
have floated away at the same time. Tom and Charley sleep sounder
than I do, and if I didn’t wake up it’s pretty certain that they

Presently Charley’s canoe was overtaken. Charley had been awakened
by the sound of Harry’s paddle and the loud tone in which Harry
and Joe were talking. He was sitting up when the _Dawn_ and the
_Sunshine_ overtook him; and having comprehended the situation in
which he found himself on awaking, he was making ready to paddle

There was now only one canoe missing--the _Twilight_. Harry, Joe,
and Charley took turns in shouting at the top of their lungs for
Tom, but they could obtain no answer except the echo from the
cliffs of the north shore. They paddled up the river until they
were certain that they had gone farther than Tom could possibly
have drifted, and then turned and paddled down stream, shouting at
intervals, and growing more and more alarmed at finding no trace of
the lost canoe.

“She can’t have sunk, that’s one comfort,” exclaimed Harry, “for
the bladders that Tom put in her at Chambly would keep her afloat,
even if he did manage to capsize her in the dark.”

“He took the bladders out yesterday morning and left them on the
sand just in the lee of his canoe,” said Charley. “Don’t you
remember that he sponged her out after we landed, and that he said
that he wouldn’t put his things back into her until we were ready
to start?”

“I remember it now,” replied Harry. “And I remember that I did the
same thing. There’s nothing in my canoe now except my water-proof
bag and my blankets. But they’re not of much consequence compared
with Tom. Boys, do you really think he’s drowned?”

“Of course he isn’t,” cried Joe. “We’ll find him in a few minutes.
He must be somewhere near by, and he’s sleeping so sound that he
don’t hear us. You know how hard it is to wake him up.”

“Tom is a first-rate swimmer, and if he has spilt himself out of
his canoe and she has sunk, he has swum ashore,” said Charley.
“My opinion is that we had better stay just where we are until
daylight, and then look for him along the shore. He’s worth a dozen
drowned fellows, wherever he is.”

Charley’s advice was taken, and the boys waited for daylight
as patiently as they could. Daylight--or rather dawn--came in
the course of an hour, but not a glimpse of the missing canoe
did it afford. The tide had already changed, and the top of the
treacherous sand-spit was once more above water, and not very far
distant from the canoes. As soon as it was certain that nothing
could be seen of Tom on the water his alarmed comrades paddled
toward the north shore, hoping that they might find him, and
possibly his canoe, somewhere at the foot of the rocks.

They were again unsuccessful. While Joe sailed up and down along
the shore, the two other boys paddled close to the rocks, and
searched every foot of space where it would have been possible for
a canoe to land, or a canoeist to keep a footing above the water.
They had searched the shore for a full mile above the sand-spit
and had paddled back nearly half the way, when they were suddenly
hailed, and looking up, saw Tom standing on a ledge of rock ten
feet above the water.

“Are you fellows going to leave me here all day?” demanded Tom. “I
began to think you were all drowned, and that I’d have to starve to
death up here.”


“How in the world did you get up there?” “Where were you when we
came by here half an hour ago?” “Where’s your canoe?” “Are you all
right?” These and a dozen other questions were hurled at Tom by his
excited and overjoyed friends.

“I was asleep until a few minutes ago,” replied Tom. “I got up here
when the tide was high, and I had hard work to do it, too.”

“What’s become of your canoe? Is she lost?” asked Harry.

“She’s somewhere at the bottom of the river. I tried to turn over
in her in the night, thinking she was on the sand-spit, but she
turned over with me, and sunk before I could make out what had

“And then you swum ashore?”

“Yes. I saw the north-star, and knew that if I could swim long
enough I could find the shore. When I struck these rocks I was
disappointed, for I couldn’t find a place where I could land until
I got my hands on this ledge and drew myself up.”

“Unless Tom wants to stay where he is we’d better invent some way
of taking him with us,” remarked Joe.

“He’ll have to get into my canoe,” said Harry.

“How deep is the water where you are?” asked Tom.

“It’s anywhere from six feet to sixty. I can’t touch bottom with
the paddle, so it’s certain to be more than seven feet deep.”

“Then, if you’ll please to give me room, I’ll jump, and somebody
can pick me up.”

Tom jumped into the water, and had little trouble in climbing into
Harry’s canoe--the water being perfectly quiet. The fleet then
paddled back to the sand-spit, where they landed and breakfasted,
while Tom dried his clothes by the fire.

Every member of the expedition except Joe had lost something, and
poor Tom had lost his canoe and everything except the clothes
which he was wearing. As long as the water continued to be smooth
Tom could be carried in either Harry’s or Charley’s canoe, but in
case the wind and sea should rise it would be very difficult, if
not impossible, to keep the canoe right side up with two persons
in her. Quebec was still at least twenty-five miles distant, and
it would take nearly a whole day of very hard work to paddle a
heavy canoe, with two boys in her, only one of whom was furnished
with a paddle, twenty-five miles, even in the most favorable
circumstances. Moreover, Joe’s sprained wrist made it impossible
for him to paddle, and the wind was so light that sailing to Quebec
was out of the question.

It was therefore decided that Harry should take Joe in the
_Sunshine_ back to the Jacques Cartier, and leaving him to walk to
the nearest railway-station, should return to the sand-spit and
join Tom and Charley in paddling down to Quebec, Tom taking Joe’s
canoe. Although the boys had originally intended to end their
cruise at Quebec, they had become so fond of canoeing that they
would gladly have gone on to the Saguenay River and, if possible,
to Lake St. John; but now that Tom was without a canoe no one
thought of prolonging the cruise.

Quebec was reached by the fleet several hours after Joe had
arrived there by the train. He was at the landing-place to meet
his comrades, and had already made a bargain with a canal-boatman
to carry the canoes all the way to New York for five dollars each.
As the _Sunshine_ was fitted with hatches which fastened with a
lock, and as it would be necessary for the Custom-house officer
at Rouse’s Point to search her, Harry wrote to the Custom-house
at that place, giving directions how to open the lock. It was a
padlock without a key, one of the so-called letter-locks which can
be opened by placing the letters in such a position that they spell
some particular word. Harry had provided the canoe with this lock
expressly in order to avoid trouble at Custom-houses, and in this
instance the plan proved completely successful, for the officer at
Rouse’s Point was able to unlock the canoe and to lock it up again
without a key.

The boys spent a night and a day at Quebec, and, after seeing their
canoes safely started, they took the train for New York. As they
talked over their cruise on the way home they agreed that canoeing
was far more delightful than any other way of cruising, and that
they would go on a canoe cruise every summer.

“As soon as I can afford it I shall get a new canoe,” said Tom.

“Will you get a ‘Rice Laker?’” asked Harry.

“Of course I will. My canoe was much the best boat in the fleet,
and I shall get another exactly like her.”

“There’s no doubt that you are a genuine canoeist, Tom,” said
Charley. “You’ve had lots of trouble with your canoe because she
had no deck, and at last she sunk and nearly drowned you, because
she had no water-tight compartments; but for all that you really
think that she was the best canoe ever built. Is everybody else
convinced that his own canoe is the best in the world?”

“I am,” cried Joe.

“And I am,” cried Harry.

“So am I,” added Charley; “and as this proves that we are all
thorough canoeists, we will join the American Canoe Association at
once, and cruise under its flag next summer.”



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