Chapter 25




THE NEW BOAT

Herbert worked steadily every forenoon on his farm. Cameron then proposed that they should take the forenoon for their studies and walk out or exercise in some other way in the afternoon.

One afternoon Cameron said: "Let us take a walk to Prospect Pond; I think I should enjoy a little rowing."

"I will accompany you with pleasure, Mr. Cameron," said Herbert, "but don't ask me to go out in the boat with you."

"Why not? Are you afraid I will upset you?"

"No," answered Herbert; "I have confidence in your skill. Besides, I can swim."

"What is your objection, then?" "If the boat belonged to anyone but
James Leech I would not mind."

"Why should you mind that?"

"I met him last evening and he told me not to get into his boat again. He said he was perfectly willing you should use it, but he didn't choose to have me."

"It appears that I am a greater favorite with James Leech than you are," said Cameron, smiling.

"He looks down upon me as a poor boy."

"Well, I suppose James is entitled to his prejudice; but if you can't use the boat, I won't."

"Don't let that interfere with your pleasure, Mr. Cameron," said
Herbert, eagerly. "I don't trouble myself in the least about the way
James treats me."

"Let us go down to the pond, at any rate. We can sit down on the bank, if nothing better." "All right."

An easy walk brought them to the edge of the pond. Herbert naturally looked for James Leech's boat. He thought something was the matter with his eyes, for where there should be but one boat there were now two.

"Why, there's another boat!" he exclaimed.

"Is there?" asked Cameron, indifferently.

"Yes, don't you see it?"

"Well, it does look like a boat, I admit. I should say it was nicer than the other."

"I should say it was. Isn't she a regular beauty?" exclaimed Herbert, enthusiastically. "I wonder whose it is? James wouldn't want two."

There was a smile on Cameron's face that attracted Herbert's attention.

"Is it yours?" he asked.

"No; I know who owns it, though."

"It isn't the landlord, is it?"

"No."

"Then I can't imagine whose it is," said Herbert.

"Can't you?"

"No," said Herbert. "Will you tell me?"

"It is yours!"

"Mine!" exclaimed our hero, in the utmost surprise,

"Yes; I intended at first not to give it to you till I went away; but I may as well give it now, on one condition—that you let me use it whenever I please."

"How kind you are!" said Herbert, gratefully. "I never received such a splendid present in my life. I have done nothing to deserve it,"

"Let me be the judge of that. Now, with your consent, we will try her."

With the utmost alacrity Herbert followed Cameron aboard the new craft, and took the oars. Smoothly and easily the boat glided off on the surface of the pond.

"I like it much better than James'," said Herbert.

"It's a better model. His is rather clumsy. Besides, this is new and he must have had his for some time."

"He has had it three years."

"It needs painting."

"Even if it were painted it wouldn't come up to this."

"I agree with you," said Cameron. "I am afraid James will be stirred with envy when he sees your boat."

"I am afraid so, too. He won't believe it is mine."

"It may be your duty, out of a delicate regard to his feelings, to give it up, or exchange," suggested Cameron.

"That's a little further than I carry my delicate regard to his feelings," responded Herbert.

After half an hour's rowing, Cameron said, suddenly: "I must go back to the hotel. I came near forgetting an important letter, which must be sent off by this afternoon's mail."

Herbert was a little disappointed, still he said, cheerfully: "All right, Mr. Cameron."

"Don't you cease your rowing," said the collegian.

"I thought you might not like to walk back alone."

"I don't mind that. I shall hurry back, and should be poor company. We will meet to-morrow morning."

Cameron set out on his return home. He had gone less than quarter of a mile when he met James Leech.

"Good afternoon, Mr. Cameron," said James, who was always polite to the rich manufacturer's son.

"Good afternoon, James."

"Won't you go out in my boat, Mr. Cameron?"

"Thank you, I have just returned from the pond. I am obliged to go back to the hotel to write a letter."

"I should have been glad of your company."

"You won't be alone," said Cameron, mischievously. "I left Herbert
Carter at the pond."

"Was he out in the boat?" asked James, hastily.

"Yes."

Without a word James walked abruptly away. He was very angry with
Herbert, who, he naturally concluded, was out in his boat.

"He's the most impudent and cheeky boy I ever met!" he said to himself. "Last evening, I positively forbade his getting into my boat and he don't take the slightest notice of it. He needn't think he can take such liberties."

Cameron smiled, as he read James' feelings in his face.

Just before reaching the pond there was rising ground, from which James could take a general survey of the lake. Herbert was cruising about and had not yet seen James.

"He don't think I'm so near," thought James. "He thinks I won't know anything about his impudence. I'll soon make him draw in his horns."

In his excitement, James did not notice the boat particularly. If he had he would have seen that it was not his boat. But, so far as he knew, there was no other boat on the pond. Indeed, there was no boy whose father could afford to buy him one, and James had come to think himself sole proprietor of the pond, as well as of the only craft that plied on its surface.

"I wonder," he thought, "whether I couldn't have Herbert fined for taking my property without leave, especially after I have expressly forbidden him to do it. I must ask my father this evening. It would bring down his pride a little to be taken before a justice."

Herbert had got tired of cruising, and made a vigorous stroke, as if to cross the pond. James put up his hand to his mouth and shouted at the top of his voice: "Come right back, Herbert Carter!"



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