As this well-known simile fell upon the ear, there was a general
stir in the group, for Turrible Wiley, when rhetorical, sometimes
grew tearful, and this was a mood not to be encouraged.
"All right, boss," called Ike Billings, winking to the boys;
"we'll be there in a jiffy!" for the luncheon hour had flown, and
the work of the afternoon was waiting for them. "You make a
chalk-mark where you left off, Mr. Wiley, an' we'll hear the rest
to-morrer; only don't you forgit nothin'! Remember't was the
Kennebec you was talkin' about."
"I will, indeed," responded the old man. "As I was sayin' when
interrupted, I may be a stranded log, but I'm proud that the mark
o' the Gard'ner Lumber Comp'ny is on me, so't when I git to my
journey's end they'll know where I belong and send me back to the
Kennebec. Before I'm sawed up I'd like to forgit this triflin'
brook in the sight of a good-sized river, an' rest my eyes on
some full-grown logs,'stead o' these little damn pipestems you
boys are playin' with!"
THE GAME OF JACKSTRAWS
There was a roar of laughter at the old man's boast, but in a
moment all was activity. The men ran hither and thither like
ants, gathering their tools. There were some old-fashioned
pickpoles, straight, heavy levers without any "dog," and there
were modern pickpoles and peaveys, for every river has its
favorite equipment in these things. There was no dynamite in
those days to make the stubborn jams yield, and the dog-warp was
in general use. Horses or oxen, sometimes a line of men, stood
on the river-bank. A long rope was attached by means of a steel
spike to one log after another, and it was dragged from the
tangled mass. Sometimes, after unloading the top logs, those at
the bottom would rise and make the task easier; sometimes the
work would go on for hours with no perceptible progress, and Mr.
Wiley would have opportunity to tell the bystanders of a
"turrible jam" on the Kennebec that had cost the Lumber Company
ten thousand dollars to break.
There would be great arguments on shore, among the villagers as
well as among the experts, as to the particular log which might
be a key to the position. The boss would study the problem from
various standpoints, and the drivers themselves would pass from
heated discussion into long consultations.
"They're paid by the day," Old Kennebec would philosophize to the
doctor; "an' when they're consultin' they don't hev to be
doggin', which is a turrible sight harder work."
Rose had created a small sensation, on one occasion, by pointing
out to the under boss the key-log in a jam. She was past
mistress of the pretty game of jackstraws, much in vogue at that
time. The delicate little lengths of polished wood or bone were
shaken together and emptied on the table. Each jackstraw had one
of its ends fashioned in the shape of some sort of implement,--Download<<BackPagesMainNext>>