Push an oily under my head, and then go for'ard and see if you can find a fish-box. Take a look that the wheel's fast." It seemed to Duncan that the last chance was gone. There was just one inexperienced amateur to change the sails and steer a seventy-ton ketch across the North Sea into Yarmouth Roads.
He had been clinging to a fish-box for five and twenty minutes in the icy-cold water; but whether his craziness came of physical exhaustion or the shock of losing boat, son, and grandchild all in a few minutes, no one could tell. He never set foot on board a boat again, but sank straight into pauperism and dotage.
The men were away when we got there, so I sat down and made a sketch of the camp and our boys showed the photograph of the Shingwauk Home to the women, and told them all about it. By this time the men had returned, a fish-box was brought for the "Big black-coat" to sit on, and a tub turned up for me, and then the pow-wow began.
At Tallac the hotel has a large place devoted to this process, which is practically as follows: Each boatman has a fish-box, numbered to correspond with his boat. These are kept in the water during the season, and if the catch of his "fare" for one day is not sufficient for a shipment it is placed in the box.
Instead of slicing off a lamp of wood, however, the hatchet struck a hard knot, glanced off, and came down on his father's open palm, into which it cut deeply. "Oh! father," exclaimed the poor boy, dropping the axe and standing as if petrified with horror as the blood spouted from the gaping wound, flowed over the fish-box, and bespattered the deck. He could say no more.
Old Molly, of whom I have often before spoken to you, who lived here in the days of the prosperity and grandeur of 'Hampton, still clings to the relics of her old master's former magnificence and with a pride worthy of old Caleb of Ravenswood showed me through the dismantled decaying rooms and over the remains of the dairy, displaying a capacious fish-box or well, where, in the good old days, the master's supply was kept in fresh salt water till required for table.
It was a mercy to get them away from all those staring eyes; they swallowed the steaming contents of the glass that was given them in the cabin without a word, though it burned their throats. They did not dare to sit down; they were too wet. After a while the captain came down and asked where they came from, and where they were going in that "old fish-box."
He said nothing, however, of his despair to the indomitable man upon the table, and went forward in search of a fish-box. He split up the sides into rough splints and came aft with them. "Thank 'ee, lad," said Weeks. "Just cut my boot away, and fix it up best you can." The tossing of the smack made the operation difficult and long. Weeks, however, never uttered a groan.
Its insolent stodginess has only a surface resemblance to a fluid; yet it is a comfort on snowy mornings, and our wanderers took to it kindly. Lewis had laid himself out to be merry, and several grinning faces peered from the bunks with kindly welcome as he took his seat on a rickety fish-box. The skipper asked, "Shall the steward fetch your bread in here, sir? You can't manage ours." "All right.
The skipper was seated on a pile of boxes; he flung his left hand with a careless swing, on the fish-box on which Billy was about to cut the piece of wood, and pointed to the trunk which needed repair. Billy raised the axe and brought it down with the precision and vigour peculiar to him.