Harper's Young People, February 24, 1880 An Illustrated Weekly

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Excerpt "Félix Delaroche, President." Such was the announcement which, posted in the quaint three-cornered market-place of the old French town of Longchamp, attracted a good many readers, and among the rest two lads in sailor costume, one of whom remarked to the other: "What a holiday we'd have if we could earn it! eh, Pierre, my boy?" "I should think so! But nobody will earn that reward very soon. Don't you remember how, a year ago, they widened the cleft into which the stream falls, and let down a man with a lantern, and how, before he'd gone thirty feet, he got bumped against a rock, and broke his lantern, and hurt himself so badly that he had to be hauled up again?" "True; it's not a very likely job. Well, come along, and let's get the boat out." Pierre Lebon, the younger of the two, was a lithe, olive-cheeked, merry little fellow, whose slim figure and jaunty black curls contrasted markedly with the burly frame and thick sandy hair of his chum, Jacques Vaudry. The latter ought rightly to have been called Jack Fordrey, for he was an English boy, born in Guernsey; but having been adopted by a Breton fisherman after his father's death, both he and his name had got considerably "Frenchified." The two boys had to manage by themselves the boat of which they were joint owners, for old Simon Lebon, Pierre's real and Jack's adopted father, was now too aged and rheumatic to help them in their work, except by advising them when to start and where to go. But his advice was always good, for in his time he had been one of the best fishermen on the coast, and the lads were usually very successful. On this particular day, however, their good luck seemed to have forsaken them, for, try as they might, they could catch nothing worth mentioning. Possibly they were thinking too little of their work, and too much of the reward offered by the Scientific Association; for three thousand francs would have been quite a fortune to them both. Moreover, the idea of tracking an under-ground river had a spice of romance and adventure about it which was the very thing to tempt them. The little stream of the Larve had long been the acknowledged puzzle of the whole neighborhood. After skirting the town for some distance, it vanished into the earth through a narrow cleft, and was seen no more. Where it went to after that, no one could tell; and, as we have seen, the first attempt to find out had succeeded so badly that nobody felt much inclined for a second. Tired out at length, the unsuccessful fishers went home, inwardly resolving to try whether they might not have better fortune by night than by day. Pierre, indeed, when the night came, began to have some doubts about the wisdom of the idea, having heard his father say once and again that it was a very dangerous thing to attempt at that season. But the hardest thing in the world for a boy to do is to draw back from anything simply because it is dangerous. Rather than let Jack think him afraid, Pierre would have gone to sea on a hen-coop; so they stole out of the cottage as noiselessly as possible, and away they went over the dim gray waste of sea, half lighted by the rising moon....
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