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HOME > Children's Novel > The Curlytops in the Woods > CHAPTER XX THE CROW’S NEST
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 The Curlytops were frightened at first when they found that they were adrift in the old boat with neither oars1 nor poles with which to guide themselves back to shore. But after the first fright Ted3 laughed and said:  
“We’ll go on a voyage; we have something to eat.”
“How far’ll we go?” asked Janet, still a bit alarmed.
“Oh, across to the other shore,” and Ted pointed4 to the other side of the lake. It was about half a mile away, though once on that shore the children might not have been able to find a path back. For the shore of the lake went winding5 in and out like the edges of a blot6 of ink when you splatter a drop on a sheet of paper.
[235]“I wish we could get the poles,” murmured Janet. “Then we could push ourselves back.”
“I’ll try again,” offered Teddy, and he began paddling hard with his hands over the side of the boat, endeavoring to send the craft back to where the two poles could be seen floating.
But as Teddy paddled with his hands only on one side of the boat, it was just the same as if he had rowed with one oar2. The scow began to go around in a circle.
“It’s like a merry-go-round!” chuckled7 Ted.
“But you mustn’t do it!” complained Janet. “It makes me dizzy to go around like that!”
“Well, you paddle on your side then,” suggested Ted. “That’s what we have to do—paddle on both sides.”
This was true; just as when you want a boat to go straight you must row with two oars, one on each side, and you must pull evenly on each oar.
Putting her shoes and stockings with Ted’s, up in the bow of the boat, Janet began paddling with her hands on one side,[236] while her brother paddled on the other side. In this way they managed to send the boat back a little way, even though the wind was blowing in the opposite direction.
“We’re getting nearer to the poles,” cried Teddy. “I think I can reach one now. Stop paddling, Janet!”
She stopped and Teddy leaned over the side of the boat. He stretched his hands out as far as he could reach, but as soon as the paddling stopped the boat began to drift back again, blown by the wind. Wider and wider became the space between Ted’s outstretched hands and the floating poles.
“Look out!” cried Janet. “You’ll fall over!”
And Ted came very nearly doing this. Just in time he leaned back and sat down in the bottom of the boat.
“You can’t get those poles!” sighed Janet.
“Yes, I can!” declared Teddy. He was not a boy to give up easily. He started paddling with his hands again, as did Janet. Once more they were almost within reach of the poles, but the wind blew them back.
“I—I guess I can’t do it,” Teddy had to admit, rather out of breath.
“Let’s drift over to the other shore, and[237] then we can get out of the boat and walk home,” suggested Janet.
This seemed the best plan to follow. So the Curlytops sat in the boat and tried to pretend that they were enjoying the voyage and having a good time. But, to tell you the truth, they were rather worried and frightened.
The wind was now blowing stronger, but the children saw that this would, all the more quickly, send them to the opposite shore.
“Let’s eat!” suggested Ted, after a bit. “We’ll make believe we’re shipwrecked sailors and we’ll eat.”
“But don’t eat the cheese,” objected Janet. “We might find Jim the crow on the other shore, and we could catch him with some cheese.”
“All right,” agreed Teddy. He was not very fond of cheese anyhow, and he was willing that Jim should have it—if they could find Jim.
They were more than half way across the little bay, or arm of the lake, and they could see that the other shore was a sandy one on which to land when, from the woods they had left, came a shout.
[238]“Where you children going with that boat?” hailed a man.
Looking back Janet and Ted saw a stranger standing8 on the shore near the place where they had dragged out the craft which had been hidden under the bushes. The man had a pair of oars in his hand, and it was evident that he had come to use his boat. He had probably taken the oars back home with him, knowing that the boat could not be taken far without them.
“Where you going with my boat?” he asked, rather angrily.
“We didn’t mean to take it away,” Ted called back. The talk could plainly be heard, as voices carry well over water, you know.
“Well, what did you take it away for?” asked the man, who was a stranger to the Curlytops. “That’s my boat. I want to go fishing in it and now you have it.”
“We’d bring it back if we could,” Teddy called back. “We’re sorry. We only went out a little way but we lost our poles and we can’t get back.”
The man stood there and seemed to be thinking for a moment. Then he laughed and said:
“Well, sit quiet and don’t fall out. You’ll[239] be at the other shore soon. Land there and make the boat fast. I’ll walk around and row you back. Don’t be afraid.”
The Curlytops felt better after this. They watched the man turn back with his oars over his shoulder. He was soon lost to sight in the bushes. Then Ted and Janet looked toward the other shore which was coming nearer and nearer. Of course they were really coming nearer to the shore, for the land did not move. But in the boat it looked as though it did.
The wind blew in puffs9, and when one stronger than those before it struck the boat it blew it well up on the sandy beach. Ted jumped out and pulled the boat farther up on shore, while Janet remained in it.
“Now you can get out,” Ted told her. “We’ll stay here until the man walks around and rows us back.”
“He was a good man, wasn’t he?” asked Janet, as she handed Ted his shoes and stockings.
“Yes,” he agreed. “He wasn’t very cross ’cause we took his boat. I didn’t know it was anybody’s—hid like that in the bushes.”
“I didn’t, either,” agreed Janet, as she and her brother put on their shoes.
[240]There was nothing to do until the man came, for the Curlytops were on a strange shore and did not want to wander away and get lost. So they sat down on stones, near where Ted had tied the boat to keep it from drifting away, and they ate what little lunch remained.
“What’ll I do with this cheese?” asked Ted. “I don’t s’pose we’re going to find any crows.”
“No,” admitted Janet slowly. “But maybe——”
Then she stopped suddenly, for in the air overhead sounded a loud:
“Caw! Caw! Caw!”
“Oh, look!” whispered Janet.
Fluttering down from the sky was a big, black bird. It flew to a low stump10 of a tree, not far from where the children sat, and there the crow perched, still cawing.
In wonder and hope the children watched the crow. The bird turned its head from side to side, and seemed to be looking about for any danger. He appeared to see the Curlytops, but did not mind them.
Then the crow began moving about on the edge of the stump, stirring up something down in the hollow of it.
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