Harper's Young People, July 13, 1880 An Illustrated Weekly

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Excerpt There were George and Bert, Sarah and the baby. "And you and I have pretty good appetites, Bert," George would say, whenever the Fieldens' finances were discussed, which, since the father's death, had been pretty often. "If we could only have staid on in the house in Fayetville! The garden was getting along so nicely, and now to think all the fruit and vegetables will be picked and sold or eaten by somebody else!" and Sarah sighed, as she thought of the spring budding and blossoming in which she had taken such an interest. "But why can't we live off the river in place of the garden?" asked George. "The boys down at the dock say they can make lots of money selling soft crabs. They get from sixty to seventy-five cents a dozen, and, oh, mother, if Bert and me could only have a net and a boat and a crab car, and roll up our pants like Nat Springer, we'd just bring you so much money that you needn't hardly sew at all!" and in his enthusiasm George's eyes sparkled, and he ruthlessly trampled upon every rule of grammar he had ever learned. At first Mrs. Fielden was inclined to discourage the young would-be fishermen, she having a perfect terror of their both being swallowed up by the river, as if it were some beast of prey. But she was finally prevailed upon to give her consent. A second-hand boat was purchased at a trifling price from Captain Sam, an old sailor, who had taken a great fancy to the boys, and he gave them a net, which he showed them how to use. Thus fitted out, the boys would anchor near the shore a short distance below the village, roll up their trousers above their knees, and then stepping overboard, each take hold of an end of the net, and, keeping quiet as mice, wait until a crab came sailing up or down with the tide, when they would scoop him up, and shout "Hurrah!" if it proved to be a soft shell, and "Oh, pshaw!" if it was hard. However, in the latter case, it was not thrown away, but shaken off into the boat's locker, to be transferred to the car and left to "shed." They did not at once make their fortune, for although they might have good "catches," that did not always insure a ready market; but as the warmer weather came on, and the village began to fill up with people from the city, the boys procured two or three regular customers, who did not grudge the fair prices paid for the "little-boy lobsters," as Bert called them. Captain Sam stood firm friend and adviser to them from the first, and when some of the other crabbers were inclined to find fault with what they termed the injury done their business, he did his best to make peace, saying the river was big enough for all. But one very hot afternoon, George and Bert came down to the shore looking rather blue, for the day previous some of the other village boys had repaired in a body to where the two were anchored, and made such a splashing about as to frighten all the crabs away. "I think it's an awful shame," muttered George, as he pushed off. "This is a free country, and I don't see why we haven't as good a right to make money out of the river as Teddy Lee or Nat Springer....
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