Robert Coverdale's Struggle - LightNovelOnl.com
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He had long had an ambition to row to Egg Island and had selected this day for the trip. He had not asked Herbert to accompany him, being desirous of saying that he had accomplished the entire trip alone.
Though George had not seemed very friendly, Robert did not for a moment doubt that he would be willing to help him in his strait, and he was almost as delighted to see him as he would have been to see Herbert himself. There would be no need now of the raft, and he gladly suspended work upon it.
Rising to his feet, he called out:
George paused in his rowing and asked--for he had not yet caught sight of Robert:
Then George, turning his glance in the right direction, caught sight of the boy he had tried to snub in the morning.
ROBERT COMPLETES THE RAFT
"What do you want of me?" asked George superciliously.
"Will you come to shore and take me into your boat?" asked Robert eagerly.
"Why should I? You have no claims on me," said George. "Indeed, I don't know you."
"I was at Mr. Irving's this morning, playing croquet with Herbert."
"I am aware of that, but that is no reason why I should take you into my boat. I prefer to be alone."
If Robert had not been in such a strait he would not have pressed the request, but he was not sure when there would be another chance to leave the island, and he persisted.
"You don't understand how I am situated," he said. "I wouldn't ask such a favor if I were not obliged to, but I have no other way of getting back. If you don't take me in, I shall probably be obliged to stay here all night."
"How did you come here?" asked George, his curiosity aroused.
"I came in a boat with my uncle."
"Then you can go back with him."
"He has gone back already. He is offended with me because I won't do something which he has no right to ask, and he has left me here purposely."
"Isn't your uncle a fisherman?"
"I don't care to associate with a fisherman's boy," said George.
Robert had never before met a boy so disagreeable as George, and his face flushed with anger and mortified pride.
"I don't think you are any better than Herbert," he said, "and he is willing to associate with me, though I am a fisherman's boy."
"I don't think much of his taste, and so I told him," said George. "My father is richer than Mr. Irving," he added proudly.
"Do you refuse to take me in your boat then?" asked Robert.
"I certainly do."
"Although I may be compelled to stay here all night?"
"That's nothing to me."
Robert was silent a moment. He didn't like to have any quarrel with Herbert's cousin, but he was a boy of spirit, and he could not let George leave without giving vent to his feeling.
"George Randolph," he broke out, "I don't care whether your father is worth a million; it doesn't make you a gentleman. You are a mean, contemptible fellow!"
"How dare you talk to me in that way, you young fisherman?" gasped George in astonishment and wrath.
"Because I think it will do you good to hear the truth," said Robert hotly. "You are the meanest fellow I ever met, and if I were Herbert Irving I'd pack you back to the city by the first train."
"You impudent rascal!" exclaimed George. "I've a good mind to come on shore and give you a flogging!"
"I wish you'd try it," said Robert significantly. "You might find yourself no match for a fisherman's boy."
"I suppose you'd like to get me on shore so that you might run off with my boat?" sneered George.
"I wouldn't leave you on the island, at any rate, if I did secure the boat," said Robert.
"Well, I won't gratify you," returned George, "I don't care to have my boat soiled by such a passenger."
"You'll get paid for your meanness some time, George Randolph."
"I've taken too much notice of you already, you low fisherman," said George. "I hope you'll have a good time staying here all night."
He began to row away, and as his boat receded Robert saw departing with it the best chance he had yet had of escape from his irksome captivity.
"I didn't suppose any boy could be so contemptibly mean," he reflected as his glance followed the boat, which gradually grew smaller and smaller as it drew near the mainland. "I don't think I'm fond of quarreling, but I wish I could get hold of that boy for five minutes."
Robert's indignation was natural, but it was ineffective. He might breathe out threats, but while he was a prisoner his aristocratic foe was riding quickly over the waves.
"He rows well," thought our hero, willing to do George justice in that respect. "I didn't think a city boy could row so well. I don't believe I could row any better myself, though I've been used to a boat ever since I was six years old."
But it would not do to spend all the afternoon in watching George and his boat or he would lose all chance of getting away himself before nightfall.
With a sigh he resumed work on the raft which he had hoped he could afford to dispense with and finally got it so far completed that he thought he might trust himself on it.
Robert was a little solicitous about the strength of his raft. It must be admitted that, though he had done the best he could, it was rather a rickety concern. If the nails had been all whole and new and he had had a good hammer and strong boards he could easily have made a satisfactory raft.