About quarter of a mile from the village was a pond of small size, not
over a third of a mile across, but it provided the boys of the village
a great deal of amusement. In the summer it afforded chances for
bathing and boating, in the winter for skating.
Among the boys who had boats on the pond were Dean Dunham and Brandon
Bates, but there was a considerable difference between them. Dean’s was
an old flat-bottomed boat, which he had bought for a dollar from a man
who had used it for half a dozen years, while Brandon’s was spick and
span new, a very handsome craft, and by all odds the finest on the pond.
Brandon was not, however, the best rower, though he considered himself
such. That distinction belonged to Dean, whose arms were strengthened
by labor, and whose constant practice gave him unusual skill.
Directly in the middle of the pond was a small island, not over half an
acre in extent, which naturally enough was often visited by the boys of
On the day of Adin Dunham’s journey to Rockmount, Brandon, having
nothing else to do, for there was a vacation in the village school,
sauntered down to the place where he kept his boat. He had had a small
boat-house constructed, where he kept his boat under cover. It had been
built by Adin Dunham, the village carpenter, and excited the admiration
of the other village boys, who did not aspire to such a luxury.
“Why don’t you get your uncle to build you a boat-house, Dean?” asked
Dean laughed good-naturedly.
“My old boat isn’t likely to be injured by exposure to the weather,” he
“That’s true. How would you like to have a boat like mine?”
“I should be delighted; so if you are thinking of giving me one, I hope
you will go ahead and do it.”
Brandon shrugged his shoulders.
“It is too expensive for a working boy,” he said.
“I know of one working boy who would appreciate it. I suppose _you_
don’t call yourself a working boy.”
“I am a gentleman’s son,” said Brandon, haughtily.
“And gentlemen’s sons don’t work, I presume.”
“They don’t work for a living.”
“There are different ways of working; working with the brains, for
“Of course I do that.”
“And I, too.”
“I don’t approve of a superior education for the lower classes,”
“Whom do you mean by the lower classes?” asked Dean, his face flushing.
“Oh, working boys and working men, and so on.”
“Some of our most successful men used to be working boys.”
“A few,” Brandon admitted reluctantly.
“I mean to become one of those few.”
Brandon laughed sarcastically.
“You’d better be contented with your station in life,” he said.
“Thank you for the advice, but I shan’t follow it.”
“It won’t make much difference, I fancy.”
This conversation took place three months before, soon after Brandon’s
boat-house was completed.
When on this June day Brandon loosened his rope, and prepared for a
row, he was alone. But just as he was pushing off he caught sight of a
small boy, ten years old, the son of a poor Irish widow in the village,
who regarded him and his boat wistfully.
“Give me a ride, Brandon?” he asked.
Ordinarily Brandon would have answered in the negative, and indeed he
was on the point of doing so, when a sudden idea entered his mind.
“Well, jump in, you little brat!” he said.
Tommy Boyle was only too glad to do so, and he did not trouble himself
to resent the rough form of invitation.
“Thank you, Brandon,” he said.
“Look here, youngster, don’t call me Brandon.”
“Why, isn’t that your name?” asked Tommy, in wonder.
“It is not respectful. You must call me Mr. Bates.”
“But Mr. Bates is your father,” objected Tommy.
“That is my name, too. My father is Squire Bates.”
Tommy did not pay much attention to this explanation, for he was
paddling his hands in the water.
“Lemme row,” said Tommy, suddenly.
“Let you row? You can’t row.”
“Yes I can. Dean lets me row.”
“It doesn’t make much difference about his old tub,” said Brandon,
scornfully; “you can’t row in this boat.”
“Why not, Brandon?”
“Didn’t I tell you not to call me Brandon?”
“Mr. Bates, then.”
“Perhaps I’ll let you row when we come back. Did you ever go to the
“Yes, Dean took me there one day.”
“We are going there now.”
“Are we? Cricky, ain’t that fun!”
Brandon smiled unpleasantly, showing his teeth after his father’s
“He’ll be singing a different tune before long,” he said to himself.
“When I’m a big boy I’m going to have a boat, too,” said Tommy.
“Perhaps Dean will sell you his, then,” suggested Brandon, amused.
“He says he’ll give it to me.”
“It’ll be a splendid craft, then. Is he going to do without one?”
“He says he’ll have a boat some time that’ll beat yours, Brandon—I
mean Mr. Bates.”
“Oh, he says that, does he?” asked Brandon, showing his teeth again,
but in a less good-natured manner. “I should like to know where he’s
going to get it from. Do you know how much this boat cost?”
“It cost fifty dollars,” said Brandon, in an important tone.
“Is that a good deal of money?”
“I should say it was. It’ll be years before Dean Dunham sees as much
money as that.”
“Dean is a nice boy!” said Tommy, surmising that his favorite was
spoken of slightingly.
“Oh, he’s well enough in his place, but he’s a poor working boy.”
“My mother says he’s awful good to work,” asserted Tommy.
“Well, that’s what he’s made for. But here we are at the island.
Wouldn’t you like to land, Tommy?”
“Oh, yes—Mr. Bates.”
“All right, then! Jump out.”
Tommy jumped out, and scrambled up the bank. Then he turned round,
expecting Brandon to follow.
But Brandon instead pushed off from shore till his boat rode twenty
feet away. Then he turned a laughing face towards his young passenger.
“Ain’t you comin’ too, Brandon?” asked the little boy, in surprise.
“What did I tell you?”
“No, I’m going back.”
“Wait for me.”
“No, I’m going to leave you here a little while. You’ll have fine
sport,” and Brandon burst into a fit of laughter.
“Oh, take me off!” exclaimed Tommy, in dire alarm. “I don’t want to
“You’ll be like Robinson Crusoe. You’ll have a fine time.”
“I don’t know Crusoe—I want to go home.”
“It’s the best joke I ever heard of,” said Brandon, laughing heartily.
“You will be king of the island, Tommy—King Tommy the First.”
But Tommy did not enjoy the joke. He begged and entreated Brandon to
take him away, but the hard-hearted boy, by way of answer, impelled his
boat vigorously, and poor Tommy, sitting down on the bank, and digging
his fists into his tear-stained eyes, felt that he was without a friend
in the world.
“How the little chap roars!” said Brandon, turning with a smile to
watch the forlorn cast-away.
It did not take him long to reach the boat-house, where he coolly
proceeded to put up his boat. He was just hauling it on shore when
Dean Dunham made his appearance.
“What are you laughing at?” he asked.
Brandon pointed over to the island, where poor Tommy was still mourning
“Look there!” he said.
“Who is that?” asked Dean, quickly.
“It is Tommy Boyle.”
“How did he get there?”
“I carried him in my boat.”
“And left him there?”
“Yes,” answered Brandon, with an amused laugh.
“Didn’t he want to come back?”
“Of course he did. He’s awfully frightened to be left there alone. I
told him he would make a good Robinson Crusoe, but the little beggar
never heard of him.”
“Why did you do such a mean thing, Brandon Bates?” demanded Dean.
“That’s my business, Dean Dunham,” answered Brandon, in an offended
“Then I’ll make it my business,” said Dean, sternly. “Get right into
your boat and go after Tommy.”
“Why, you impudent beggar!” exclaimed Brandon, almost foaming at the
mouth with rage, “how dare you say that to me?”
“There’s no courage needed,” said Dean, dryly. “Are you going to do as
I ask you?”
“No, I’m not,” said Brandon, shortly. “Be off with you, if you know
what’s best for yourself, or I may take it into my head to thrash you.”
“I am ready—any time, except now. I have something else to do.”
Brandon Bates was standing with the boat rope in his hands, preparing
to draw it into the boat-house. He was by no means prepared for what
was coming. Dean with a quick movement snatched the rope from him,
jumped into the boat, seized the oars, and before the owner had
recovered from his astonishment, was two lengths away, rowing in the
direction of the island.
“Come back here, you rascal!” exclaimed Brandon, almost purple with
rage, and stamping in his fury.
“I have no time,” answered Dean, coolly.
“What do you mean by stealing my boat?”
“Your boat is safe, I have only borrowed it.”
“I never saw such impudence! I will have you arrested!”
“Do so if you want to. I am going to rescue the poor little fellow you
have left on the island.”
“Then take your own boat.”
“Tommy went over on your boat, and he’s going back on the same.”
Brandon called out again, but Dean was now too far away to hear him.
The temper of Brandon Bates was not the sweetest, but it is doubtful
whether he had ever been more angry than at the present moment. He felt
that his dignity had been outraged, and himself insulted, and that,
too, by a working boy.
“I’d like to shoot him!” he vociferated, shaking his fist in impotent
rage at the rapidly-receding boat.
Tommy meanwhile had seen what was going on, the distance being
As soon as he saw that his situation was known to Dean, the little
fellow’s excitement and alarm subsided.
“Dean will come for me, and take me home,” he said to himself.
When he saw Dean’s bold seizure of the boat, he clapped his hands in joy.
“Dean’s a good deal better boy than Brandon,” he said. He rose from his
place, and stood watching eagerly for the coming of his deliverer.
“Hallo, Tommy!” called out Dean, when he was within hearing distance.
“Were you very much frightened?”
“Yes; I thought I’d have to stay here all night.”
Swiftly the boat sped through the water till it grazed the pebbly shore.
“Jump in, Tommy!”
Tommy needed no second bidding.
“Oh, Dean, I’m so glad you came for me.”
“And I’m glad I saw you. What made Brandon play such a trick on you?”
“I don’t know. When I begged him to take me back he only laughed.”
“He doesn’t look much like laughing now,” said Dean, smiling, as he
saw Brandon still standing at the boat wharf, shaking his fist angrily.
“I hope he won’t fight you, Dean,” said Tommy, rather troubled.
“He may if he wants to. I think he will get the worst of it.”
Meanwhile Brandon caught sight of the village constable, walking along
the road a few rods from the shore of the pond.
He ran to the road and intercepted him.
“Mr. Pray,” he said.
“I want you to arrest Dean Dunham.”
“What am I to arrest Dean Dunham for?” asked the constable in surprise.
“He took my boat from me by force, like an impudent young loafer as he
is, and is out in the boat rowing.”
“Yes, I see him. Tommy Boyle is with him. How does that happen?”
“He went over to the island and took him off.”
“I don’t understand. How came Tommy on the island?”
“I took him there.”
“You took him there? Did he want to stay?”
“No, I left him there—as a joke.”
“You left the poor little boy there to get off as he could!” said the
“It didn’t do him any harm,” said Brandon, sullenly. “There are no wild
animals there that I ever heard,” he added sarcastically.
“And Dean Dunham took your boat to go after him?”
“Yes, he did. He took it away from me without asking my permission.”
“He did perfectly right. Would you have had him leave poor Tommy there?”
“Why didn’t he take his own boat, then?” said Brandon in a sullen tone.
“Because he didn’t want to leave Tommy there any longer than was
necessary. He has only done what you ought to have done.”
“He had no business to steal my boat. I want him arrested.”
“I am more likely to arrest you for kidnapping the boy.”
“You don’t seem to know who I am, Mr. Pray,” said Brandon angrily.
“Oh yes, I do. You are Brandon Bates, but you are not so important a
person as you suppose.”
“If I am not, my father is, and he’ll have you turned out of your
He expected the constable to show dismay at this threat, but Mr. Pray,
who was very independent, only laughed.
“All right,” he answered. “I am glad you let me know what’s going to
happen. I’ll see what else I can find to do. How soon do you think I
shall lose my place?”
Brandon turned from the constable in disgust. Everybody seemed to be in
a conspiracy to insult him.
Dean was now very near shore, and Brandon’s attention was called
elsewhere. The constable remained, a little curious to witness the
interview between the two boys. Perhaps because he could not find words
to express his feelings, Brandon did not say a word while Dean was
landing his young passenger. As he jumped out himself he held out the
rope to the angry owner.
“I have brought back your boat safe,” he said.
“You’ll pay for this, Dean Dunham,” said Brandon, as he took the rope
with a red face.
“Can I help you put the boat into the boat-house?” asked Dean calmly.
“I want none of your help. Never dare to touch my boat again!”
“Then don’t play any more such dirty tricks on my friend Tommy! Tommy,
I wouldn’t advise you to go out rowing with Brandon again.”
“I won’t,” said Tommy, fervently.
“You won’t get a chance, you dirty little brat!” snarled Brandon.
“Come away, Tommy. When you want a boat ride come to me. I’ll give you
a ride any time.”
“It’s a great privilege riding in your old scow,” sneered Brandon.
“I don’t think much of the boat myself,” said Dean, smiling. “I’ve seen
those I liked better.”
Dean went home, and attended to various chores. About four o’clock that
afternoon Mrs. Dunham began to look for her husband.
“It’s time your Uncle Adin was at home,” she said. “I suppose his
business kept him longer than he expected.”
Just then Mr. Gould entered the yard. He looked excited and anxious.
“Dean,” he said, “something’s happened to your uncle. My horse just ran
into my yard with the empty buggy.”
Dean turned pale.
“What shall we do? he asked.
“Come with me. We’ll go back over the road, and see if we can find him.
Not a word to your aunt! We don’t want to make her anxious.”