Johnson soon found that he was never idle.
He did not care to play at recess.
He stayed in and used his pencil in drawing.
He often spent hours in this way.
Robert soon became fond of going into the machine shops.
He understood machinery very quickly.
The men always gave him a welcome.
He didn't get into mischief.
He often helped the men with his neat drawings.
One day Robert was late in getting to school.
The master asked the reason.
Robert answered that he had been in Mr. Miller's shop pounding out lead for a lead pencil.
Mr. Johnson then encouraged him in doing such useful things.
In a few days, all the pupils in the school had pencils made in that way.
Mr. Johnson urged Robert to give more attention to his studies.
Robert said, "My head is so full of thoughts of my own that I haven't room there for the thoughts from dusty books."
As he was not idle, no doubt this was true.
When Robert was thirteen, the boys in the town had a great disappointment.
It was nearly July.
Of course the boys expected to celebrate the Fourth.
But a notice was put up.
This notice urged the people not to illuminate their homes.
It was very warm weather.
The people then had only candles with which to light their homes.
Candles were very scarce.
But Robert had some.
He took them to a shop and exchanged them for powder.
The owner of the store asked him why he gave up the candles, which were so scarce and dear.
Robert said, "I am a good citizen, and if our officers do not wish us to illuminate the town, I shall respect their wishes."
He found some pieces of paste-board.
He rolled these himself.
In this way he made some rockets.
The store-keeper told him he would find it impossible to do this.
"No, sir," Robert answered, "there is nothing impossible."
His rockets were a success, and the people were astonished.
Robert bought at different times small quantities of quicksilver.
The men in the machine shops were curious to know what he did with it.
But they could not find out.
For this reason they called him "Quicksilver Bob."
Robert was interested in guns.
Sometimes he would tell the workmen how to improve them.
The men liked him so well that they were always willing to try whatever he advised.
Robert was fond of fishing.
One of the workmen often went fishing with his father.
This man sometimes took Robert.
They had only an old flat boat.
The boys had to pole the boat from place to place.
It was hard work.
They were sometimes very tired.
Robert, soon after one fishing excursion, went away to visit an aunt.
He was gone a week.
While away he made a complete model of a little fishing boat.
This boat had paddle wheels.
The model was placed in the garret.
Many years afterward his aunt was proud to have it as an ornament on her parlor table.
Of course the boys arranged a set of paddle wheels for their fishing boat.
After this they enjoyed their fishing much more than before.
Robert Fulton's boyhood was during the Revolutionary War.
He made many queer pictures of the Hessian soldiers.
These Hessians were Germans, who had been hired by the British to help them fight the Americans.
The people who wished our country to belong to England were called Tories.
Those who wished America to be free were called Whigs.
The Whig boys often fought the Tory boys on the soldiers' camp ground.
The soldiers grew tired of this.
They stretched a rope to keep the boys out.
Robert drew a picture in which the Whigs crossed the rope and whipped the Tories.
The boys all thought it a good picture.
So they tried to make it real.
They became so troublesome that the town officers had to interfere.
But Robert was all this time fast growing up.
He had to choose some way of taking care of himself.
He was more fond of his pencil and brush than of anything else.
Near his home, had lived a celebrated painter.
His name was Benjamin West.
Benjamin West's father and Robert's father had been great friends.
Mr. West had become famous.
He now lived in England.
Robert thought he would like to be an artist, too.
So he left his home and went to the city of Philadelphia.
He knew that it meant hard work.
He was industrious and pains-taking.
He had many friends.
Benjamin Franklin was one of his friends.
Soon he did very nice work.
In the four years after he was seventeen, he not only took care of himself, but sent money to his mother and sisters.
He spent his twenty-first birthday at home.
He had then earned enough money to buy a small farm for his mother.
For this farm he paid four hundred dollars.
He helped his family to get nicely settled in their new home.
Then he went back to Philadelphia.
At this time Mr. Fulton, as we must now call him, was not well.
Partly for this reason he decided to take a voyage to Europe.
He carried letters from many well-known Americans.
He found friends in Europe.
Benjamin West was kind to him there.
A CANAL SCENE.
He soon had plenty of work to do.
One of his friends was an English gentleman, who was called the Earl of Stanhope.
The Earl was much interested in canals.
Canals, you probably know, are artificial rivers.
Boats are drawn on them by horses, which walk along a path on the shore.
The path is called the tow-path.
Railways were almost unknown then.
So canals were very useful in carrying goods across the country.
They had been in use in Europe and Asia for hundreds of years.
Mr. Fulton invented a double inclined-plane.
This could be used in raising and lowering canal boats without disturbing their cargoes.
The British government gave Mr. Fulton a patent upon it.
Mr. Fulton wrote a book about canals and the ways in which they help a country.
He sent copies of this book to the President of the United States, and other men in high offices.
He thought canals would help America.
But it was ten years before he could get people to think much about it.
Then Mr. Fulton helped in planning the Erie Canal.
This was very successful.
You can see this canal now.
It is in the State of New York and is still used.
Mr. Fulton planned a cast-iron aqueduct which was built in Scotland.
An aqueduct is often made to carry water to cities.
He invented a mill for sawing marble, a machine for spinning flax, another for scooping out earth, called a dredging machine, and several kinds of canal boats.
You will wonder before reaching the end of this story how one man could do so many things.
But you must remember that he was never lazy as a boy, and so learned to