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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Hoosier Schoolboy - Chapter 16. An Exploring Expedition
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The Hoosier Schoolboy - Chapter 16. An Exploring Expedition Post by :geoall28 Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Eggleston Date :May 2012 Read :2584

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The Hoosier Schoolboy - Chapter 16. An Exploring Expedition

CHAPTER XVI. AN EXPLORING EXPEDITION

The next day but one, there came a letter to Mrs. Dudley that increased her perplexity.

"Your Aunt Hannah is sick," she said to Jack, "and I must go to take care of her. I don't know what to do with you."

"I'll go to Port William to school," said Jack. "See if I don't."

"How?" asked his mother. "We don't know a soul on that side of the river. You couldn't make any arrangement."

"Maybe I can," said Jack. "Bob Holliday used to live on the Indiana side, opposite Port William. I mean to talk with him."

Bob was setting onions in one of the onion-patches which abounded about Greenbank, and which were, from March to July, the principal sources of pocket-money to the boys. Jack thought best to wait until the day's work was finished. Then he sat, where Greenbank boys were fond of sitting, on the sloping top-board of a broad fence, and told his friend Bob of his eager desire to go to Port William.

"I'd like to go, too," said Bob. "This is the last year's schooling I'm to have."

"Don't you know any house, or any place, where we could keep 'bach' together?"

"W'y, yes," said Bob; "if you didn't mind rowing across the river every day, I've got a skiff, and there's the old hewed-log house on the Indianny side where we used to live. A body might stay as long as he pleased in that house, I guess. Judge Kane owns it, and he's one of the best-hearted men in the country."

"It's eight miles down there," said Jack.

"Only seven if you go by water," said Bob. "Let's put out to-morry morning early. Let's go in the skiff; we can row and cordelle it up the river again, though it is a job."

Bright and early, the boys started down the river, rowing easily with the strong, steady current of the Ohio, holding their way to Judge Kane's, whose house was over against Port William. This Judge Kane was an intelligent and wealthy farmer, liked by everybody. He was not a lawyer, but had once held the office of "associate judge," and hence the title, which suited his grave demeanor. He looked at the two boys out of his small, gray, kindly eyes, hardly ever speaking a word. He did not immediately answer when they asked permission to occupy the old, unused log-house, but got them to talk about their plans, and watched them closely. Then he took them out to see his bees. He showed them his ingenious hives and a bee-house which he had built to keep out the moths by drawing chalk-lines about it, for over these lines the wingless grub of the moth could not crawl. Then he showed them a glass hive, in which all the processes of the bees' housekeeping could be observed. After that, he took the boys to the old log-house, and pointed out some holes in the roof that would have to be fixed. And even then he did not give them any answer to their request, but told them to stay to dinner and he would see about it, all of which was rather hard on boyish impatience. They had a good dinner of fried chicken and biscuits and honey, served in the neatest manner by the motherly Mrs. Kane. Then the Judge suggested that they ought to see Mr. Niles about taking them into the school. So his skiff was launched, and he rowed with them across the river, which is here about a mile wide, to Port William. Here he introduced them to Mr. Niles, an elderly man, a little bent and a little positive in his tone, as is the habit of teachers, but with true kindness in his manner. The boys had much pleasure at recess time in greeting their old school-mates, Harvey Collins, Henry Weathervane, and, above all, Susan Lanham, whom they called Professor. These three took a sincere interest in the plans of Bob and Jack, and Susan spoke a good word for them to Mr. Niles, who, on his part, offered to give Jack Latin without charging him anything more than the rates for scholars in the English branches. Then they rowed back to Judge Kane's landing, where he told them they could have the house without rent, and that they could get slabs and other waste at his little sawmill to fix up the cracks. Then he made kindly suggestions as to the furniture they should bring--mentioning a lantern, an ax, and various other articles necessary for a camp life. They bade him good-bye at last, and started home, now rowing against the current and now cordelling along the river shore, when they grew tired of rowing. In cordelling, one sits in the skiff and steers, while the other walks on the shore, drawing the boat by a rope over the shoulders. The work of rowing and cordelling was hard, but they carried light and hopeful hearts. Jack was sure now that he should overcome all obstacles and get a good education. As for Bob, he had no hope higher than that of worrying through vulgar fractions before settling down to hard work.

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