"Down came the storm, and smote amain
The vessel in its strength;
She shuddered and paused, like a frighted steed,
Then leaped her cable's length."— LONGFELLOW.
THE WRECKED STEAMER.
WE had an early breakfast, and the men we had hired all put in an appearance at the hotel while we were eating. We were obliged to go to one place and another to pick up tools which I thought would be needed, and it was eight o'clock before we finally gained the lake road and started on our expedition.
On the way to the South Arm various measures were proposed for raising the boat; but, as no one in the party had seen it since the accident, we finally concluded that it was useless to try and make plans until we knew the steamer's condition.
We beguiled the time during our ride with jokes and stories, at some of which I laughed as heartily as any one of the party, for hope had taken the place of fear in my heart, and I thought there was no use in crying for spilled milk.
The road, owing to the recent storm, and the summer's teaming over it, was not in the best condition, and when a wheel would occasionally drop into a mud slough and spatter some unlucky wight it was a signal for merriment. The unfortunate victim received no sympathy whatever.
Occasionally one of the wheels thumped a stone that might easily have been avoided, throwing ns out of our seats, and, in one case, nearly throwing us off the buckboard, and then we would blackguard the driver, who only laughed.
Our team was ahead, which gave the driver of the buckboard behind us a chance to chaff our driver whenever he felt inclined, and his calls to our whip "to get out of the road," or "to give him half the road," and "to get out of the way, or he'd run over us," were frequent.
Our driver was abundantly able, however, to keep up his end of the conversation, and the verbal sparring between the two Jehus was quite amusing. Once in a while he would start his horses on a trot, always selecting the roughest part of the road, and his rival was not slow to follow.
"I believe they mean to kill us before we get in there," exclaimed Jack, who sat on the seat beside me.
"I guess we can stand it if they can," I replied, "and, besides, it will give us a good appetite for dinner."
We reached the lake at noon, and, after eating our dinner, launched two boats, and headed for the Upper Dam. The drivers wished us good luck as we left the landing, and, bending to our oars, we were soon out of sight of the teams.
The boats were well manned, and by spelling each other frequently at the oars, we made rapid progress. We raced all the way up the lower lake, sometimes one boat leading, and then the other. The crews were very equally matched, and it was impossible for either boat to keep the lead all the time. This kind of rowing was tiresome, however, and when we reached the lower end of the Narrows the racing stopped, and the boats were pulled along near enough together to allow conversing between the crews.
The lake was very low, and some of the rocks near the channel were ont of water. They were well known to Jack and me; for the steamer had been aground on about all of them at different times during the summer, and some of them we had named.
Once or twice we had been out all night, having stuck on a rock on our afternoon trip up, and not getting off till the next day. our boat was the first steamer that had ever run on the lakes, and drew nearly six feet of water, and this rocky place in the Narrows — the "hop-bed" we sometimes called it — had been a nuisance to us.
There was no chart of either of the lakes over which we had run, and the knowledge the guides possessed as to rocks, sand-bars, and shoals was nearly superficial.
It might do for row-boats, but would not answer for a steamboat. At the close of the season Jack or I, who knew where the rocks were by actual experience, was probably a better pilot than the oldest guide who visited the lakes. The rise and fall of water caused by opening and shutting the gates at the middle dam had also troubled us greatly.
It was a splendid day for our work. The water was as smooth as glass, not a breath of wind stirring, and the air was as mild as in summer. How different from the few days we had passed at Parmachenee!
All of the men were disposed to do their best, and about four o'clock we passed Camp Bellevue, and, skirting the shore, soon came in sight of the steamer, which, instead of being sunk out of sight, as I had supposed from the accounts received about the wreck, lay careened on her port side, in about six feet of water. She had been thrown up quite near the shore on the north side of the river.
The situation was so much better than I had expected that I involuntarily cheered, as I beheld the steamer's position.
Rowing up to her, we climbed over her starboard side, which was all out of water, and began a general survey. The standing-room, engine-room, and cabin were partly filled with water, and we soon discovered that there were two holes in her, but neither of them very large.
"This is not so bad as it might be, Captain," said Jack, who was closely inspecting the boat from bow to stern.
"That is a fact. I am glad to find matters no worse."
The lower part of the rudder was unshipped, and had been injured some by pounding against the rocks; but, so far as my observation went, she was not materially damaged, and I felt confident that, if the weather held calm for the next twenty-four hours, I should have her high and dry on land, where she would be safe for the winter, and where by good rights she should have been left in the first place.
The hull of the steamer was very heavily timbered for a boat of her tonnage, and she was planked with southern hard-pine, and thoroughly fastened, and I saw from the way she lay that she could not have been strained much.
Against my better judgment I had been persuaded to leave the boat in the water, the persons who had advised me saying that the steamer would be better off in the water than on shore during the winter, and that the lake never froze where we had anchored the boat. So far as ice was concerned this was all right; but my advisers had not taken into consideration the violent squalls that, rushing down from between the mountains, sweep the lake with terrible force, raising a sea that would be no discredit to a body of salt water. These thoughts passed rapidly through my mind, and I inwardly vowed that this would be the last fall that I would ever leave the steamer in the lake, a prey to the violent winter gales, which are more severe than those of the summer.
Taking Jack with me, I started up the tote road for the Upper Dam Camp, first telling the men to employ themselves to the best advantage they could during our absence.
I found my friend McCard feeling very badly about the accident, and willing to assist me in any way in his power to rescue the steamer from her perilous situation.
He informed me that the gale had been terrible at the Upper Dam, and described the sea as something frightful on the day the steamer went ashore. He said that he had gone down to the lake with some men, but the waves rolled up on the shore so high that they could do nothing. It had been the worst storm around that vicinity that he had experienced for many years.
We spent but a few moments in talking, however, and as soon as the oxen had been yoked to the cart, and blocks, rigging, cant-dogs, axes, pails, and other articles which I thought necessary for the work had been loaded, we started at once for the mouth of the river, where the steamer was lying.
As we bumped along over the road in the ox-cart laid out my plans, and as soon as we had reached the shore was ready to proceed with the work.
A large hawser was passed over the bow of the steamer, and the bight Was worked along under the keel, until both ends of the line were opposite the engine-room, and they were then tied together.
The blocks were now carried to a position opposite the engine-room, and one was fastened to a large pine, while the other was made fast to the hawser on the steamer.
The running end of the rigging was next made fast to the ring on the yoke of the oxen, and at a word from me the teamster spoke encouragingly to his oxen, and, bending their heads for the pull, the faithful animals started. As they walked away the rope ran swiftly through the blocks, growing tighter each moment, and soon there was a perceptible strain on the steamer. The driver "Ha Star-ed!" and "Gee Buck-ed!" to his heart's content, the oxen pulled like elephants, and in a few minutes the steamer was brought to an upright position, with her main deck about a foot above water.
Some shores were now set up under her on the starboard side to prevent her careening in shore, and the running line of the blocks was untied from the ox yoke, and made fast to a tree, to prevent the boat going back to her old position.
"Hurrah for our side!" shouted Jack. "That is the way to do it."
"Yes, sir," added Henry W. "We have her now where she can't go back on us."
"We'll have her high and dry by to-morrow," said George R.
"All hands to the pump," sang out Will B.; "let's get the water out of her."
"I wouldn't begin to pump just yet," remarked Mr. Somes, sarcastically; "I don't think we have crew enough to bail out the lake."
"Who said anything about bailing out the lake?" retorted Will.
"The water will run into her as fast as we can all throw it out, until the leaks are stopped; "and Mr. Somes looked at Will with an exasperating smile.
"I did not think of that," added Will, and a laugh was raised at his expense.
Two of the men now stripped and, going into the hold and cabin of the boat, plugged the holes as well as they could under the circumstances. All hands now began bailing, and in an hour's time had relieved the steamer of water to such an extent that she floated, and we were able to get boards and canvas nailed over the holes so tightly as to nearly stop the leaks in those places.
Then we began bailing again, and kept at it until there were only about ten inches of water in the hold, which did not amount to anything.
"By gracious, Captain! if this isn't a back-breaking job then I don't know anything," remarked Jack, who was bailing alongside of me.
"It is tiresome work, and no mistake," I returned, as I straightened up to rest my back.
"We have had mighty good luck with the work so far; this water is lowering fast."
"Yes, it is. The only thing that troubles me now is the weather. If to-night and to-morrow are still we shall finish this job all right."
"There is enough of the hard-pine planking left at the Arm to fix those holes, Captain, and I think there were boat-nails enough left also."
"I am glad of it. That part of the job will not be very expensive, as it will not take a man a great while to fit those pieces of plank in."
By this time it was so dark that we could not see to work without lanterns, and as the weather yet had a favorable look we stopped our labors for the night, and went up to the camp, and soon, over a good supper, were congratulating each other on the success already attained.
Many were the hopes expressed that evening that the next day would be calm, for if we could have the lake still until noon by that time we hoped to have the boat out of the water. The last thing I did before retiring was to go out and take a look at the sky, and at ten o'clock the indications were for a still morning, if not a pleasant one.
At seven o'clock Friday morning we were at the lake shore, and dividing the men into two crews; the largest one began work on the ways, under the direction of McCard, while the rest of the men and myself went on board of the steamer.
We found she bad only made about four inches of water during the night, which was encouraging, and in a couple of hours' time we had her bailed dry, and then cleaned out some of the ashes and dirt, which had floated through every part of the boat while she lay under water.
"The paint is about spoiled," said Jack, when we had cleaned out the thickest of the dirt. "We can give it a thorough cleaning after we get it out on the ways, and next spring she will need about three coats of paint inside."
"Yes, she'll need thorough painting, and after she is repaired and painted nobody would ever know she was wrecked. She won't show it any when she goes into the water again."
"I wish we had a long chain cable to put around her for the oxen to hitch to. I am afraid our rope will break. There is going to be a fearful strain on it. This boat is awful heavy."
"If it breaks we shall have to mend it and try again."
As the ways on which we were to pull her out were not yet finished, we joined forces with the other crew, and by ten o'clock we had them entirely done.
We had selected the most favorable spot on the shore for the ways, where the land made the most even slope to the water. The ways were built of spruce and fir logs, and were about sixty feet long, extending into the water about eight feet. In construction the logs had been placed about six feet apart; across these ties nearly a foot through were laid, and let into the long logs, or side timbers, to which they were fastened securely with two-inch pins. On top of these ties the bilge timbers were placed. These were the sticks the boat would slide on in coming out of the water, and rest on during the winter, and they had to be hewed very smooth. W e had placed poles across the lower ends of the timbers in the water, and weighted them with stones to make the steamer rise easier on the bilge timbers when she left the water.
A large cable was now passed completely around the steamer, going under the wheel and forward of the rudder at the stern, and the two ends were fastened at the bow.
The boat was towed around to the ways, which extended far enough into the water to give a depth of six feet at the outer end. Two poles had been pinned on the centre of the ways to guide the keel, and these ran parallel with the bilge timbers. If we could have built a cradle it would have been much easier, but as we did not have time for that we did the best we could under the circumstances.
The blocks and rigging were now attached to the hawser around the steamer, and, all things being in readiness, the oxen gave a pull. The boat came out of the water thirty feet at the first trial, and this brought the blocks together.
"By gracious, Tom! — that was a good pull," sang out Will B. as the blocks struck. "It won't take many more like that."
"You're right, it was. I tell you that's a good pair of cattle. But this pull is the easiest. We shall get more dead weight the second pull, and it'll be a miracle if some of the rigging don't break."
"It looks as if the wind was going to blow this afternoon, Captain," remarked George R. to me, and pointing off to the north-west, where the clouds were floating up from behind the mountains.
"Let it blow," I returned. "In an hour it will not trouble us any. This boat will be high and dry in a short time."
"Yes, we'll soon have her out now; we've had mighty good luck over the job, and I'm glad of it."
The oxen were then backed up, and the blocks overhauled for another pull. The second trial was not as successful as the first, for, after the whole weight of the steamer came upon the rigging, the hawser was cut in two by the block hook, and we had to repair damages and try it again.
Before they tried another pull, I climbed on board the steamer and found some old pieces of canvas. These I brought out and wound around the hawser where the hook caught hold of it, so as to prevent it cutting again.
"That is just the thing, Captain," said the teamster; "it will be a great help to the rigging."
Jack had taken the slush-kettle and was putting more grease on the bilge timbers, so the boat would run easier.
"That is what will make her run easy," remarked Henry W.; "put on plenty of it, Jack."
"You come here, and I'll put some on you, and see if it will make you run easy; "and Jack laughed, as he continued with his labor.
"You can't spare any; you'll need it all for the steamer," retorted Henry.
After three more trials the boat had been hauled out far enough to be safe from ice in the winter, and the high water in the spring, and it was just noon, and consequently dinner-time, when we knocked off work and started for the camp, after giving three rousing cheers for the successful accomplishment of our work. As we were turning away, one of the men descried something swimming across the lake.
We all stopped to see what the animal was. It was heading toward the shore about quarter of a mile above us, and was within perhaps three-quarters of a mile from land when Mr. Somes first saw it.
"It's a loon," laughed Ned R.
"So is your granny a loon," returned Jack, scornfully. "It's not a bird, it's an animal; I should think you could see that if you had any eyes."
"It's a deer," said Horace, who, with his hands doubled up, had been looking at the object through them carefully.
"It's a squirrel, I guess," suggested George R. with a wink at me. As the animal, whatever it might be, was rapidly decreasing the distance between us, we should soon be able to tell more about it.
We watched it for a few moments longer, keeping up a running fire of remarks all the time, and then Mr. Somes electrified us all by shouting, "It's a bear it's a bear! — that's what it is, and I say let's go for him, and hurry up, before he gets ashore."
Dinner was no longer an object of interest for us, and all our thoughts centred on the bear. There were no fire-arms among us; but hastily seizing the axes, cant-dogs, and other available weapons, we started for the point where the bear was heading, keeping far enough back in the woods to be out of sight of Bruin, who was making good head-way.
A slight westerly wind had sprung up within the last hour, and this was in our favor, as it blew from the bear toward us, and he would not be so likely to scent us.
It was a go-as-you-please race, and running, jumping, scrambling over large boulders, and forcing our way through a thick growth, we persevered until we were opposite of where the bear was coming out of the water.
We were just in time, and met him at the edge of the woods. It was an old fellow, a he-bear, and one of the largest black bears that I have ever seen. I had only a pick-pole with me, as the other men had taken all the axes and cant-dogs. The bear did not seem to be particularly afraid of the crowd, but stood on all four legs, watching us narrowly.
"Stir him up with your pick-pole," shouted Jack, with a laugh.
Thus advised, I made a jab at his nose, but did not hit him, for the reason that with one blow of his paw he sent my weapon spinning a dozen feet away, and I did not dare to recover it. Then Ned R. made a pass at him with a cant-dog, but Bruin served him exactly as he had me, and knocked it out of his hands. Then he started into the woods.
This was a bad move on Bruin's part, for the crowd was so near him that, as he turned tail to us, the men closed in on him, and gave him some ugly wounds from the rear. With an angry growl he turned and faced us, and, making a sweeping blow with one of his fore-paws, he spoiled Henry W.'s breeches, besides scratching his leg badly. It was funny the way Henry took to the rear; he did not need any help.
"What's your hurry, Henry?" shouted Horace.
"Wait till I tell you," growled Henry.
"Don't you want some pins, Henry?" called Jack, laughing.
"You'll have to go to the tailor's for repairs, Henry," added Ned R.
"I guess I shall need a needle and thread as soon as I get to camp," replied Henry, ruefully, with a glance at his dilapidated pants.
"You had all better let Henry alone," advised Mr. Somes, "and keep a sharp eye on the bear, or some of you may come out of this fight with something worse than a scratched leg."
"I wish I had a rifle," said Jack.
"Go up to the camp, and get Tom's," suggested Horace.
Bruin now stood up on his hind-legs, and showed his teeth in a manner that suggested business, while Ned and I recovered our weapons.
"Try him with the pick-pole again, Captain," suggested Will B.
"Make an attack on him in front, and I will punch him from behind," I answered.
"We will take up his attention," said George It and the crowd shouted and threw sticks and stones at him, while I crept carefully behind him. Once in position, I lowered my pick-pole, and made a lunge at him with all my strength, and drove the pick into him a couple of inches. lie did not like that fun, however, and he turned towards me, breaking the pole in halves, and made a rush for me. I did not wait to cultivate his acquaintance, and left with all the speed I was capable of making.
Lucky for me, especially in this instance, that I was blessed with long legs, and they were of the kind that would not stand quietly still and see my body abused. In my reckless haste, however, I did not notice much where I was going, and I struck a prostrate tree, that made me go over about as quick as ever I did in my life, and when I picked myself up I had a lump on my forehead about the size of a hen's egg.
A shout of laughter arose from the rest of the party, as they noticed my undignified fall, and three or four jokes were hurled at me, that I felt in no humor to answer.
"Confound the bear!" I muttered, feeling of the bunch on my forehead; "I wish he was on the other side of the lake."
As Bruin turned toward me the crowd pressed in on him and attacked him from behind, and this time the fellows disabled him before he could turn back on them. As Bruin fell to the ground Horace succeeded in striking him in the head with an axe, and after that the men soon killed him. Then some of them cut down a young maple, and Jack ran back to the steamer and found some small rope.
When he returned the bear's legs were tied together, and, running the pole between them lengthway of his body, we took turns in carrying him up to camp. As soon as we reached the house we weighed him, and he pulled down three hundred and fifty pounds.
Before Tom announced his weight there had been a good deal of guessing over it, and the cook had proposed that we make a pool, everybody putting in ten cents, and the one who guessed nearest right to take the money.
A few hesitated at this; but the force of example was so strong that all hands finally came in but Tom, who did the weighing, and the contributions amounted to one dollar and fifty cents.
I was quite certain that I should not be the one to take the pool, for I was unaccustomed to guessing at the weight of animals, and in fact my guess was the wildest of any one in the party with but one exception.
Henry W. was the lucky fellow, who guessed three hundred and forty-eight pounds, and took the money.
Then all hands took hold and helped to skin and dress the carcass, and Tom cut him up. We had bear-steaks for dinner, supper, and breakfast, for we did not leave until the next morning.
I had ordered the teams to come in after us the second day, and about eight o'clock we started for the Arm, which we reached at half-past eleven, and at four o'clock were in Andover.
I saw Mr. French that night, and arranged to have him go up that winter and repair the steamer, which he did in a most thorough manner, and the next morning I left for Boston. And thus ended my trip from LAKE TO LAKE.