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Chapter 27
The Village by the Sea.—The Village Inn.—A hospitable Landlord.—Making Inquiries.—Astounding Intelligence.—Dismay followed by Despair.—A Search without Result.—A mournful Walk.—A Sail! A Sail!—Boat, Ahoy!—An old Friend!—Great Jubilation.—Conclusion.

IT had been a most eventful day for all the boys, and when they stepped ashore it was nine o’clock in the evening. They looked around with some curiosity, for they saw no signs of houses just here, though the fog had diminished greatly, and it was not so dark but that they could see the outline of the shore.

“Now, boys,” said Bennie, “here you are. You see that island in front,—well, Parrsboro’ is just behind that, and not more’n half a mile off by land. It’s too far to go round it in the boat; so we’ll leave her here, and I’ll show you the way along the shore.”

With these words, Bennie drew up the boat a little distance, and secured it by putting the anchor out upon the beach. After this he started off, and the boys followed. Bennie walked along the beach, occasionally explaining the different objects around, pointing out Blomidon, Partridge Island, and other places, all familiar enough, and needing only to be mentioned to be recognized by the boys.

At length they came in sight of a number of houses on the side of a hill close by a cove. Lights shone in the windows, and everything had a most inviting appearance.

“Here you air, boys,” said Bennie, “an here I’ll leave you, for you can find your way on easy enough. You’ve only got to foller your noses. I’ve got to go back an drop down with the tide so as to git to Cape Split before the wind goes down. An so I’ll bid you good by.”

The boys made no effort to detain him, for they knew well that the return would be tedious, and had no desire to keep him away from his home any longer than they could help. So they all shook hands with him, thanking him earnestly, and promising, in obedience to his reiterated request, to pay him a visit on their return to school. Bennie now left them and returned to his boat, in which he embarked and set sail for Scott’s Bay. The boys went on. The village was reached in a short time, and they walked to the inn.

On entering the parlor of the inn, they were accosted by the landlord, and the following conversation took place.

“Can you give us accommodation for the night?”

“O, yes.”

“And get us some tea as quick as you can, for we’re starving?”

“You can have it in half an hour.”

“That’s right. We’ve just come over from Scott’s Bay, and have had no end of a tug. We want to take the steamer here to St. John.”

“O, ye’ll be wantin to wait for the steamer.”

“Yes; it’s the only thing for us to do; and I’m precious glad we’ve got such good quarters.”

“O, ay. Parrsboro’s a good place to stop at. There be people that stops here weeks an months, an says as how it’s one of the best places goin. I can put yes on the way to the best streams for salmon an trout in the country; an ye can have a nice boat if ye want to go over to Blomidon; it’s a mighty fine place over there, and folks finds cur’ous minerals; an if ye want deep-sea fishin, why, out there a mile or two in the bay ye can get no end of cod.”

“O, for that matter, we haven’t any idea of sporting. We’re in too much of a hurry. Just get us a tea and bed, and I suppose we’ll have time to get breakfast to-morrow?”

The landlord stared.

“Time? Breakfast?”

“Yes; before the steamer comes, you know.”

“Before the steamer comes?” repeated the landlord, dubiously.

“Yes; I suppose she won’t touch here too early but that we’ll have time for breakfast?”

“Breakfast? When? To-morrow?”

“Yes.”

“Why, there’s no steamer comes to-morrow.”

“What!”

At that astonishing intelligence, all the boys started up to their feet from the easy lounging attitudes into which they had flung themselves, and surrounding the landlord, stared at him with speechless amazement.

“What’s that?” cried Bruce, at last; “no steamer to-morrow?”

“No; O, dear, no.”

“Why—why—when does she come here?”

“Why, she was here this morning, and won’t be here again till this day week.”

“This morning?”

“Yes; she was here about ten o’clock.”

“This morning! Ten o’clock!”

“Jest so.”

Once more the boys subsided into silence. All was plain now. Bennie had utterly mistaken the day of the steamer. It was not an unlikely thing for him to do, living as he did in an out-of-the-way place, and having no interest in the steamer’s movements. But the mistake had been made, and there was the stolid fact that no steamer would touch at Parrsboro’ for a whole week to come.

The landlord now went off to prepare their tea, and the boys, left to themselves, discussed the situation in a low, melancholy, and utterly dispirited way. At length tea made its appearance—a bounteous repast. The well-loaded table gave a new turn to their thoughts, and as they sat down with ravenous appetites to partake of the same, they felt that they had something still left to live for.

After tea they resumed the discussion of the situation. It seemed to them now not by any means so forlorn and gloomy as it had done before tea, for then they were weary, worn out, and half starved; but now, thanks to the generous repast, they all felt life, and strength, and hope, and looked out upon life and its vicissitudes with the utmost equanimity. So great is the effect which is produced upon the mind by a good dinner! They now invited the landlord to take a share in their discussion, and in order to enable him to do so to the best advantage, they enlightened him as to the immediate cause of their presence here, informing him about the voyage of the Antelope, her mournful fate, and Bennie Grigg’s kindness in bringing them to Parrs-boro’. Bennie had indeed been very kind, and had put himself to no end of trouble for their sakes, and was even at that time, perhaps, thinking, with a glow of satisfaction, of them, little dreaming how completely, though unintentionally, he had deceived them.

The first thing the landlord advised, after hearing all this, was, that they had better wait till the steamer came. He offered, if they did so, to put them in the way of all the sport that the country could afford,—fishing of all kinds, shooting too, and excursions to places of interest. But the landlord’s offer was not very gratefully received. It was, in fact, rejected at once most peremptorily.

Wait a week! And in Parrsboro’! Impossible! It was not to be thought of for a moment.

What else was there to do?

To this question the landlord showed two answers. One thing to do was to go by land; another thing, to try to find some schooner, and go by water. As to the land route he had much to say. There was a mail stage that ran every week to New Brunswick, but as it went only on steamboat days, and as it would not go for another week, they found no help here. The landlord, however, pointed out to them the fact that they could hire a wagon and travel in that way. He offered to furnish them with a commodious wagon, and a very nice pair of ponies that would take them through to Dorchester, in New Brunswick, where they could catch the steamer for St. John, or go in the mail stage. But, unfortunately, on reckoning up the time and distance, they found that it would take about four days to perform their journey in this way.

The water route still remained. Could they not find a schooner that was about leaving? The landlord rather thought they could. One way would be to wait till some schooner passed by on its way down the bay, and board her. He felt certain that any coaster would land them at St. John. Another way would be to go to Mill Village,—a part of Parrsboro’, which lay about a mile off, behind a hill,—and look up a vessel among the numerous ones which at that time happened to be in port. Both of these suggestions seemed good, and the boys felt sanguine that something might result. They therefore dismissed the idea of going by land, and resolved to wait at least one day, to see whether they might not find some schooner which would take them down the bay.

It was very late when this discussion was finished, and the boys, whom excitement had thus far sufficed to keep awake, now yielded to the combined influence of fatigue and sleepiness, and retired for the night. That night passed in profound slumber, and the dawn of day still found them in deep sleep. It was after ten o’clock before any one of them awoke; and even then, so sleepy were they that they did not feel inclined to get up. But they had work before them, and so they managed to dress themselves and put in an appearance at breakfast, which had been waiting for them for two or three hours.

Then followed a journey to Mill Village. It was a beautiful day; all the fog was gone; there was not a cloud in the sky; the water was rippled by a gentle breeze from the north, and its blue surface seemed more inviting than ever. It seemed to promise them a pleasant return to their home if they would only trust themselves once more to it.

The landlord had a wagon all ready for them, and a short drive brought them to Mill Village. It was rather larger and busier than the little settlement where the inn was, and they noticed with delight three schooners in port. On reaching the place they hurried about, making inquiries. But the result of the inquiries was not very cheering. The first schooner which they visited was about leaving for Windsor, to take in a load of plaster, which would occupy a week, after which she would sail for Boston. Schooner the second would not leave for a fortnight, for she was waiting for a cargo of deals. Schooner the third was even worse. She was not seaworthy, and the skipper was hesitating between repairing her and condemning her. On making inquiries further as to the probability of other vessels being available along the coast, they could learn nothing. And this was the result of their journey, and with this they had to satisfy themselves as best they might. There was nothing now left but to return to the inn.

It was one o’clock when they reached the inn. They were all disheartened, and did not know exactly what to do. Dinner over, they began once more to discuss the situation; and the more they discussed it the more they found it necessary to hire the landlord’s team and set out to make the long, roundabout land journey. But it was now too late to set out on this day, and it would be necessary to wait till the morrow. This, then, was the conclusion to which they came; and having reached it, they began to feel more settled in their minds.

It was about three o’clock when this question was at last settled, and weary with their long discussion, they all went out to stroll about the village and along the beach. The village was not much to speak of. Some half dozen houses, with their attendant barns, comprised it all. The beach, however, was very much indeed. To the right, Partridge Island arose, lofty, rugged, wooded, projecting into the Strait of Minas. Opposite was a long line of precipitous cliff, which terminated in Blomidon. The beach began at Partridge Island, and ran on in a long, curving line for more than two miles, covered with pebbles, and sloping gradually to the water. The view was remarkably beautiful. On the right, the rugged, wooded island; in front, the long line of cliff on the opposite side of the strait; farther in, the sublime form of Blomidon; on the left, the beach, winding far away till it terminated in a promontory, beyond which spread the wide waters of the Basin of Minas, terminated in the dim distance by the far-off line of coast.

And there, as they strolled along the beach, they became aware of an object on that wide sheet of water which filled them all with the most intense interest. A sail!

Yes; there was a sail there, and it was moving towards them—to wards the Strait of Minas. Doubtless it was some vessel on its way down the bay. It was a schooner bound, perhaps, for Boston—or perhaps for St. John. What mattered it? Enough that it was going down the bay.

One wild shout of joy burst forth from all that forlorn party as they recognized the truth. Here came deliverance; here came a way of escape; they were saved. Other times they had known when the sight of an approaching vessel would have been the assurance of escape from something worse than this, of course; but their situation now, though not perilous, was monotonous, and wearisome, and doleful, and altogether miserable; and so they naturally hailed this new appearance with shouts of joy.

But how to get to her was now the question.

How? Easily enough. Had not the landlord already suggested a way? Had he not promised to furnish them with a boat, with which they might board any passing vessel? Boats there were, in plenty, along the shore, and any one of these would suffice for their purpose. There was no time to lose. The schooner was coming quickly on, borne by wind and tide; they must make haste.

And they did make haste.

Hurrying back to the inn, they acquainted the landlord with the new state of affairs. That worthy, though loath to lose his lodgers, was still honest and sympathetic enough to use all energy towards furthering their desires, and proposed at once to take to the boat. As for the boys, they all felt perfectly sure that this schooner would take them; and so they insisted on paying their bills and taking a final leave of the inn.

The boat was launched without any trouble, and soon was passing over the waters, impelled by oars in the hands of Bruce, Arthur, Bart, and Tom. The schooner came on, nearer and nearer, and finally came within hail.

“Schooner, ahoy!”

“Boat, ahoy!”

“Where are you bound?”

“Schooner Dart—St. John.”

“All right. We want to go aboard.”

In a few moments the boat was alongside, and the boys were all aboard. They waved a farewell to the landlord, who dropped astern, and then turned to the skipper to make known their wants.

The first look which they gave to the skipper, who was standing there before them, was enough to fill them with surprise and delight. In that broad, thick-set frame, and that honest, jovial face, they recognized an old friend and a cherished one—one, too, who was associated with the memories of former adventures; in fact, no other than Captain Pratt. At so strange and unexpected a meeting they were all filled with amazement. One cry burst from them all,—

“Captain Pratt!”

The worthy Pratt, on his part, was no less surprised, and, it must be added, no less delighted.

“Why, boys, where in the world have you sprung from? Have you been a cruisin about Minas Basin ever since? It looks like it; but railly now—it can’t be—it can’t railly.”

“Well, not exactly,” said Bart, who then and there began to give a brief outline of the adventures of the “B. O. W. C.” since the time of their visit to Pratt’s Cove, where they had last parted with their worthy friend.

Never was there a pleasanter meeting. It was altogether unexpected, yet not unnatural, for Captain Pratt was a frequent cruiser over these waters, and was now, as he informed them, on his way to St. John with a cargo of deals. The jovial captain made them tell the whole story of all their adventures since they had last parted with him, in the Bay of Fundy, in the country about the Bay de Chaleur, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, at Anticosti, Sable Island, and Mahone Bay, and thus acquainted himself with every particular of the wonderful story which they had to tell. The worthy captain regarded it all as a joke, and at every fresh incident his homeric laughter burst forth in long, irrepressible peals.

But such a story occupied some time in the narration, and before it was ended the schooner was far out of the Strait of Minas, beyond Ile Haute, in the Bay of Fundy. On one side lay the Nova Scotia shore, on the other the coast of New Brunswick. Before them extended the waters of the bay.

Night came, and they all slept. On the following day, in the afternoon, they reached St. John.

Their adventures for a time were over. Bart took all his friends to his own home, where they spent two or three days.

Then they separated, Phil going to Nova Scotia, and Bruce, Arthur, and Tom to Prince Edward Island. Pat remained with Bart for the rest of the holidays.

The End


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