Nan Sherwood at Pine Camp: or, the Old Lumberman’s Secret

Author: Annie Roe Carr

Chapter XIX Old Toby Vanderwiller

Nan was sure her Cousin Rafe would be drowned, as well as his foreman. She covered her eyes for a moment, and could not look.

Then a great cheer arose from the men in the boat and those still remaining on the bank of the river. Her uncle, beside her, muttered:

"Plucky boy! Plucky boy!"

Her eyes flew open and she looked again. In the midst of the scattering foam she saw a small log over which her cousin had flung his left arm; his other arm was around the foreman, and Rafe was bearing his head above water. Turner had been struck and rendered senseless by the blow.

The small log slipped through a race between two shallows, ahead of the greater timber. The latter indeed grounded for a moment and that gave the victim of the accident and his rescuer a chance for life.

They shot ahead with the log to which Rafe clung. The men in the boat shouted encouragement, and rowed harder. In a minute the boat came alongside the log and two of the rivermen grabbed the boy and the unconscious foreman. They had them safely in the boat, and the boat was at the shore again in three minutes.

By that time the big boss himself, Mr. Blackton, was tearing out over the logs from the other shore, axe in hand, to cut the key log of the jam, the formation of which Turner had tried to prevent. A hundred logs had piled up against the stoppage by this time and there promised to be a bad time at the bend if every one did not work quickly.

Before Nan and her uncle could reach the foot of the bluff, Turner had regained consciousness and was sitting on a stranded log, holding his head. Rafe, just as he had come out of the river, was out on the logs again lending a hand at the work so necessary to the success of the drive.

"Oh, dear me!" cried Nan, referring to her cousin, "he ought to go home and change his clothes. He’ll get his death of cold."

"He’ll work hard enough for the next hour to overcome the shock of the cold water. It’s lucky if he isn’t in again before they get that trouble over," responded Uncle Henry. Then he added, proudly: "That’s the kind of boys we raise in the Big Woods, Nannie. Maybe they are rough-spoken and aren’t really parlorbroke, but you can depend on ’em to do something when there’s anything to do!"

"Oh, Uncle!" cried the girl. "I think Rafe is just the bravest boy I ever saw. But I should think Aunt Kate would be scared every hour he is away from home, he is so reckless."

She was very proud herself of Rafe and wrote Bess a lot about him. Slow Tom did not figure much in Nan Sherwood’s letters, or in her thoughts, about this time. Thoughts and letters were filled with handsome Rafe.

It was while the Blackton drive was near Pine Camp that Nan became personally acquainted with old Toby Vanderwiller. It was after dinner that day that she met Margaret and Bob Llewellen and the three went down to the river bank, below the bridge, to watch the last of the Blackton drive.

The chuck-boat had pushed off into the rough current and was bobbing about in the wake of the logs; but all the men had not departed.

"That’s old Toby," said Bob, a black-haired boy, full of mischief. "He don’t see us. Le’s creep up and scare him."

"No," said Nan, decidedly; "don’t you dare!"

"Aw, shucks! Girls ain’t no fun," the boy growled. "Mag’s bad enough, but you air wuss’n she, Nan Sherwood. What’s old Toby to you? He’s allus as cross as two sticks, anyway."

"We won’t make him any crosser," said Nan, laughing. "What’s the good?"

Nan saw that the old man had his coat off, and had slipped down the right sleeve of his woolen shirt to bare his shoulder and upper right arm. He was clumsily trying to bandage the arm.

"He’s got hurt," Nan cried to Margaret. "I wonder how?"

"Dunno," returned the smaller girl, carelessly. Although she was not mischievous like her brother, Margaret seldom showed traits of tenderness or affection. Nan was in some doubt as to whether the strange girl liked her. Margaret often patted Nan’s cheeks and admired her smooth skin; but she never expressed any real affection. She was positively the oddest little piece of humanity Nan had ever met.

Once Nan asked her if she had a doll. "Doll?" snarled Margaret with surprising energy. "A’nt Matildy give me one once’t an’ I throwed it as far as I could inter the river, so I did! Nasty thing! Its face was all painted and rough."

Nan could only gasp. Drown a doll-baby! Big girl as she considered herself, she had a very tender spot in her heart for doll-babies.

Margaret Llewellen only liked people with fair faces and smooth complexions; she could not possibly be interested in old Toby Vanderwiller, who seemed always to need a shave, and whose face, like that of Margaret’s grandfather, was "wizzled."

Nan ran down to him and asked: "Can’t I help you, Mr. Vanderwiller? Did you get badly hurt?"

"Hullo!" grunted Toby. "Ain’t you Hen Sherwood’s gal?"

"I’m his niece," she told him. "Can I help?"

"Well, I dunno. "I got a wallop from one o’ them logs when we was breakin’ that jam, and it’s scraped the skin off me arm----"

"Let me see," cried Nan, earnestly. "Oh! Mr. Vanderwiller! That must be painful. Haven’t you anything to put on it?"

"Nothin’ but this rag," grunted Toby, drily. "An’ ye needn’t call me ’Mister,’ Sissy. I ain’t useter bein’ addressed that way."

Nan laughed; but she quickly washed the scraped patch on the old man’s arm with clean water and then bound her own handkerchief over the abrasion under the rather doubtful rag that Toby himself supplied.

"You’re sure handy, Sissy," he said, rising and allowing her to help him into the shirt again and on with his coat. "Now I’ll hafter toddle along or Tim will give me a call-down. Much obleeged. If ye get inter the tam’rack swamp, come dry-foot weather, stop and see me an’ my old woman."

"Oh! I’d love to, Mr. Vanderwiller," Nan cried. "The swamp must be full of just lovely flowers now."

The old man’s face wrinkled into a smile, the first she had seen upon it. Really! He was not a bad looking man, after all.

"You fond of posies, sissy?" he asked.

"Indeed I am!" she cried.

"There’s a-plenty in the swamp," he told her. "And no end of ferns and sich. You come see us and my old woman’ll show ye. She’s a master hand at huntin’ up all kind o’ weeds I tell her."

"I’ll surely come, when the weather gets warmer," Nan called after Toby as the old man dogtrotted down the bank of the river. But he did not answer and was quickly out of sight.


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Chicago: Annie Roe Carr, "Chapter XIX Old Toby Vanderwiller," Nan Sherwood at Pine Camp: or, the Old Lumberman’s Secret in Nan Sherwood at Pine Camp: or, the Old Lumberman’s Secret (New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1903), Original Sources, accessed March 20, 2023,

MLA: Carr, Annie Roe. "Chapter XIX Old Toby Vanderwiller." Nan Sherwood at Pine Camp: or, the Old Lumberman’s Secret, in Nan Sherwood at Pine Camp: or, the Old Lumberman’s Secret, New York, Grosset & Dunlap, 1903, Original Sources. 20 Mar. 2023.

Harvard: Carr, AR, 'Chapter XIX Old Toby Vanderwiller' in Nan Sherwood at Pine Camp: or, the Old Lumberman’s Secret. cited in 1903, Nan Sherwood at Pine Camp: or, the Old Lumberman’s Secret, Grosset & Dunlap, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 20 March 2023, from