Instead of stepping safely and easily into the hold, they would invariably step upon the rounded deck, when away would shoot the slippery craft, and the unsuccessful boarder would fall into two feet of water, to the great amusement of his comrades. When once inside of the sneak-box, it becomes the stiffest and steadiest of crafts.
Altogether, we was in that condition where the doctor might have held out some hopes. And, in spite of the cold, we was noticing how Phil was sailing that three-cornered sneak-box noticing and criticising; at least, I was, and Cap'n Jonadab, being, as I've said, the best skipper of small craft from Provincetown to Cohasset Narrows, must have had some ideas on the subject.
Securely shut in my strong box, with a hatchet and a Colt's revolver by my side, and a double-barrelled gun, carefully charged, snugly stowed under the deck, the intruder would have been in danger, and not the occupant of the sneak-box.
Mr. Charles Hallock, in his paper the "Forest and Stream," of April 23, 1874, gave drawings and a description of the sneak-box, and fairly presented its claims to public favor.
At the summer watering-places in Barnegat Bay it used to be a great source of amusement to the boatmen to tie a sneak-box to a landing, and wait quietly near by to see the city boys attempt to get into her.
The sneak-box is not a monopoly of any particular builder, but it requires peculiar talent to build one, the kind of talent which enables one man to cut out a perfect axe-handle, while the master- carpenter finds it difficult to accomplish the same thing.
The canal was not to be thought of as it would have been a troublesome matter, without special passes from some official, to have obtained the privilege of passing through with so small a boat. The crowd cheerfully lifted the sneak-box into an express-wagon, and fifteen minutes after reaching Louisville I was en route for Portland, mailing letters as I passed through the city.
When about half-way from its end, I turned off to the right, and followed a wooded lane to the house of an honest surf-man, Captain George Bogart, who had recently left his old home on the beach, beside the restless waves of the Atlantic, and had resumed his avocation as a sneak-box builder.
As I rowed down the stream, the peculiar appearance of the Barnegat sneak-box attracted the attention of the men on board the coal-barges, shanty-boats, &c., and they invariably crowded to the side I passed, besieging me with questions of every description, such as, "Say, stranger, where did you steal that pumpkin-seed looking boat from?" "How much did she cost, any way?"
When night came on, and no friendly creek offered me shelter, I pushed the boat into a soft, muddy flat of willows, which fringed a portion of the Kentucky shore, where there was just enough water to float the sneak-box. The passing steamers during the night sent swashy waves into my lair, which kept me in constant fear of a ducking, and gave me anything but a peaceful night.