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The Bark Covered House
Chapter 17. How I Got in Trouble Riding in a Canoe


I OFTEN rode in my canoe when I did not go fishing. I took one ride in it that I shall always remember, at least the remembrance of it has forced itself upon my mind a number of times, in the days gone by, and I expect to think of it a few times more. Of course my oldest sister, Rachel, who is now Mrs. Crandell, of Dearborn, became acquainted with the young ladies of the neighborhood. One fine afternoon, in the spring of the year when the water was high, two of her friends came to see her. They were considered very fine young ladies. One was Miss Lucy Lord, the other I will call nameless, but she is an old resident and lives near by. If at any time this should meet her eye she will vouch for the truth of it. They came to spend the afternoon with sister.

Of course (as all young men do, I believe) I felt a little flattered, and thought, no doubt, one object of their visit was to see me. Whether my humble self was once in all their thoughts, when they were making their toilet that day or not, I gave them the credit of it. I thought I had never seen one of them, at least, look any better than she did that afternoon. Her hair was arranged very nicely and she was very graceful. Of course, when my sister told me they wished very much for a boat ride, I could not very well to refuse to go with them. I hoped to let them see with how much skill I could manage my canoe. But alas for my skill! The flat was covered with water from our little ridge to the creek, a distance of twenty rods. It looked like a large river. The canoe was anchored near the ridge; the young ladies got in and we started from the landing. I had to look out for the stumps and hummocks so as not to run against them nor run my boat aground. I had my passengers aboard and I stood in the hind end of the canoe, and with a hand pole I set it along with greater rapidity than it could have been paddled. We glided over the water, on the flat, amid the joyful acclamations and gleeful laughter of my fair companions. One said, "I haven't had a boat ride before in Michigan." Miss Lucy, who sat on the bow end of the boat, waved her handkerchief and said, "Oh, bless me! isn't this pleasant, sailing on the water!" Another said, "How nice we go!" Of course I propelled along with considerable speed. I thought I had one of the nicest, prettiest and most intelligent load of passengers that had ever been in my canoe or on that water, and I would give them a nice ride.

At last we got round as far as the creek. There the water ran more swiftly than it did on the flat. I told the young ladies I thought we had better not try to navigate that, but they all said, "Let us ride up the creek!" I thought I was master of the situation and could manage the canoe. I did not want to tell them that I was afraid, for fear they would say I was faint-hearted. I thought that would be very much against me, and as I had such a brave crew, I made up my mind to go up the strong current. I turned the bow of the boat up against the current, as much as I could with one hold, but could not get it straight against the current. It shot ahead its length or more, then I moved my hand pole to get a new hold. Now we were over the creek and the water being four or five feet deep, it was impossible for me to get my pole down to the bottom again in time to save us. While I was trying to do that, the current being stronger than I supposed, turned the boat sidewise. I saw that we were gone for it. The girls sprang to one side of the boat and down we went, at one plunge, all together into the water. My craft was foundered, filled with water and vent down, (stream at least). Miss Lucy Lord was the heroine of the occasion; luckily, she saved herself by Jumping, though she got very wet. She got on to a little hummock on the bank and was on terra-firma.

As soon as I took in the situation, I exerted myself to save the rest of the crew. The nameless girl's head came in sight about the same time my own did. As soon as she could halloo she said, "Lord have mercy! Lord help!" Miss Lucy held out her hand and said "Come here and Lord vill help you." I helped her and my sister to the bank as quickly as possible. I had to be very lively in securing the white pocket handkerchief that had been our flag while sailing.

After they got fairly out, they started like three deer, as three dears they were, for the house, each one for herself. The way they made three wakes through that water was something new to me. I had never seen the like of that before. Miss Lucy vent ahead full of life. They vent through the water from one to two feet deep all the way to the ridge. There were father, mother and all the rest, to witness their safe arrival on the shore, and join them in their merry, though I think sad laugh. I knew it would all be laid to me. After I watched them to the house and knew they were very jolly, I started for the canoe. It had gone down in the water to a large log that lay across the creek and lodged against it.

I was as wet as I could be, and I jumped in again, drew it from the log and pulled it along full of water, up the creek, until I got where the bank was a little higher. Then I drew the front end up and the water ran over the back end. When it was so that I could tow it, I took it across the flat in front of the house, and left it there in its place. Then 1 went in the house. They had coined a brand new title for me; they called me "Captain." They said I had come near drowning my passengers. Mother said it was not safe for young ladies to ride with me on the water. Father said, he thought I was not much of a sailor, that I did not understand navigation; and I made up my mind that he was correct, that I was not much of a water-man.


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