AN INVITATION TO MISS EMERY

Two days later three boys were seated about an up-stairs room in a
house in West 57th Street, New York City. The room was large and square
and tastefully furnished, but you would have guessed at once that it
was a boy’s room; and the guess would have been correct. Roy Porter
was the host, and his guests were Mr. Thomas H. Eaton, otherwise known
as Chub, and Mr. Richard Somes, better known as Dick. Dick, as we have
learned through his letter, has just graduated from Ferry Hill School,
and for the present is staying with his father at a New York hotel.
While Roy lives in New York, and Chub hails from Pittsburg, Dick claims
the distinction of living nowhere in particular. If you ask him he
will tell you that he lives “out West.” As a matter of fact, however,
he is a nomad. Born in Ohio, he has successively resided in Nebraska,
Montana, Colorado, Nevada, London, and one or two other places. His
father is a mining man whose business of buying, selling, and operating
mines takes him to many places. Dick’s mother has been dead for three
years.

Dick himself is big, blond, and seventeen. He isn’t exactly handsome,
judged by accepted standards of masculine beauty, but he has nice gray
eyes, a smile that wins you at once, and a pleasant voice. Somehow,
in spite of the fact that nature has endowed him with a miscellaneous
lot of features he is rather attractive; as Chub has once remarked:
“He’s just about as homely as a mud fence, only somehow you forget all
about it.” It is the crowning sorrow of Dick’s young life that, owing
to his nomadic existence, his schooling has been somewhat neglected,
with the result that he is a year behind his two friends and that when
he reaches college in the fall–if he’s lucky enough to get in–he
will be only a freshman, while Roy and Chub are dignified and superior
sophomores. Chub, however, tries to console him by telling him not to
worry, that like as not he won’t pass the exams!

Chub is staying with Roy, as his guest, and Dick has taken dinner with
them this evening. And now, having left Mr. Porter to his paper in the
library and Mrs. Porter to her book, they have scurried up to Roy’s
room for a good long talk; for there is much to be said. At the present
moment Roy, sprawled on his bed, is doing the talking.

“It was Chub’s scheme in the first place, Dick. He thought of it two
months ago when we were down by the river one day. There’s an old
boat-house on a raft down there, and Chub said it reminded him of the
_Jolly Roger_. I said I didn’t see the resemblance, and he said all you
had to do was to turn it around and it would be just like the _Jolly
Roger_.”

“Turn it around?” asked Dick, mystified.

“Sure,” said Chub. “Turn a boat-house around and you have a house-boat.
See?”

“College hasn’t taught you much sense, Chub, has it?” laughed Dick.
“Then what, Roy?”

“Oh, then Chub got to talking about what fun Mr. Cole must have in his
house-boat and how he’d like to go knocking around in one. And then we
remembered that Mr. Cole had told us last summer that the _Jolly Roger_
was for sale. Of course, we knew we couldn’t buy it, but we thought
maybe he’d be willing to rent it for the summer. And, finally a week or
so ago, we wrote him–”

“_We?_” queried Chub.

“Well, then, _you_ wrote him, Chubbie my boy; but I supplied the stamp.
And yesterday–no, the day before yesterday–we got his note; and
to-morrow we’re all going to call at his studio and find out how much
he wants for it for the summer.”

“Bully!” cried Dick enthusiastically. “And where are we going in it?”

“I thought it would be fun to go down Long Island Sound, but Chub wants
to go up the river.”

“Up the Hudson? That would be great! We could go away up to–to
Buffalo–”

“Yes, we’d get there about November,” laughed Chub. “The _Jolly Roger_
goes about as fast as–as a mule walks!”

“Bet you Dick really thinks Buffalo is on the Hudson,” said Roy.

“Isn’t it?” asked Dick in surprise. “I did think it was; honest. Where
is it, then?”

“It–it’s on–you tell him, Roy.”

“It’s on a lake.”

“It’s on Niagara Falls,” added Chub knowingly. “Bounded on the north
by Canada, on the east by the St. Lawrence River, on the south by the
United States of America and on the west by–by water. Its principal
exports are buffaloes and–and–”

“Oh, dry up!” said Roy. “Anyhow, we could go up as far as Troy–”

“And get our laundry done,” suggested Chub.

“And we could stop for a while at Ferry Hill and see the school and the
Doctor and Mrs. Em and Harry–”

“What I want to know–” began Dick.

“And we could stay at Fox Island a day or two. It would be like old
times.”

“You mean Harry’s Island,” corrected Dick. “What I want to know,
though, is whether we can take Harry along.”

“Chub thinks we can,” answered Roy; “but I don’t see how we could
manage it.”

“Easy enough,” said Chub. “There’s three rooms we can use for sleeping.
Harry and her mother, or whoever came along with her, could have the
big room up front or the little room at the rear, the one Mr. Cole used
as a studio.”

“It’s only as big as a piece of cheese,” said Dick.

“Well, they’d only want to sleep in it. They could have that, and the
rest of us could have the bedroom and living-room. We’d need some
cot-beds–there’s a bully bed in the bedroom now, you know–and some
sheets and blankets and things. Pshaw, we could fix it up easy!”

“Well, she’s crazy to go,” said Dick; “and she made me promise to ask
you chaps.”

“When does she go away to her aunt’s?” asked Roy.

“The day after to-morrow; and she’s going to stay two weeks. That is,
if she can come with us. If not she’ll stay three, I believe. Did you
write to her, Roy?”

“Not yet,” Roy answered. “I thought we’d get together and talk it over.
If you fellows think we can arrange it I’d be mighty glad to have her.
She’s a whole lot of fun, Harry is.”

“Then let’s take her along,” said Dick eagerly.

“Sure,” said Chub. “Let’s write to her now. Where’s your paper and
things, Roy?”

They all had a hand in the composition of that letter, and when
finished and signed it ran as follows;

_Miss Harriet Emery_,
Ferry Hill School,
Ferry Hill, N. Y.

MY DEAR MISS EMERY: You are cordially invited to join us in
a cruise up the Hudson River in the good ship _Jolly Roger_,
which will call for you at Ferry Hill in about three weeks, the
exact date to be decided on later. Please bring your doughnut
recipe, and any one else you want to. Come prepared for a good
time. All principal foreign ports will be visited, including
Troy, Athens, Cairo, and Schenectady. The catering will be
in the hands of that world-renowned chef, Mr. Dickums Somes,
formerly of Camp Torohadik, Harry’s Island. Kindly reply as
soon as possible to address above. Trusting that you will
consent to grace the house-boat with your charming presence, we
subscribe ourselves your devoted servants,

CHUB, Master,
ROY, A. B.,
DICK, Steward.

“What’s A.B. mean?” asked Roy, suspiciously.

“It means Able Seaman,” replied Chub. “I put it that way because it’s
probably the only chance you’ll ever have of getting your A.B.”

[Illustration: Writing the invitation to Harry]

“You don’t suppose, do you,” asked Dick anxiously, “that she’ll take
that literally: about bringing any one else she wants to? She might
think we meant her to bring a crowd, a bunch of girls from that school
of hers.”

“Maybe we’d better change that a little,” agreed Roy.

“Well, we’ll say ‘Bring your doughnut recipe and any other one person
you want to.’ How’s that?”

“All right; although, of course, a doughnut recipe isn’t a person.”

“Oh, that’s just a joke,” laughed Chub.

“Hadn’t you better label it?” asked Dick innocently. “How is she going
to know it’s a joke?”

“She has more discernment than some others I wot of,” replied Chub
loftily.

“Well, if she wots that that’s a joke,” muttered Dick, “she’s certainly
a pretty good wotter.”

“Who’s got a stamp?” asked Chub as he finished scrawling the address
on the envelop. “Thanks. What a very nasty tasting one! I wonder why
the government doesn’t flavor its stamps better. It might turn them
out in different flavors, you know; peppermint, vanilla, wintergreen,
chocolate–”

“Almond,” suggested Roy.

“And then when you went to the post-office you could say: ‘I’d like ten
twos, please; peppermint, if you have it.’”

“You’re an awful idiot,” laughed Dick. “Give me the letter and I’ll
post it on the way to the hotel. Now, let’s talk about what we’ll have
to buy. Let’s figure up and see what it’ll cost us.”

“Go ahead,” said Chub readily. “I’ve got a pencil.”

“First of all, then, we’ll need a lot of provisions.”

“Unless we can persuade Chub to stay behind,” suggested Roy.

“Who thought of this scheme?” asked Chub indignantly. “I guess if any
one stays behind it won’t be Chub. And likewise and moreover if Chub
doesn’t have enough to eat he will mutiny.”

“Then you’ll have to put yourself in irons,” said Dick, “if you’re in
command.”

“I never thought of that!” Chub bit the end of the pencil and
frowned. “Maybe I’d rather be the crew than the captain. If you’re
captain you can’t mutiny, and I’ve always wanted to mutiny. Say,
wouldn’t it be great if we could be pirates? We could put up that
skull-and-cross-bones flag and board one of the Day Line steamboats.
Think of the sport we could have! We’d swipe all the grub on board of
her and make the officers walk the plank! Then–then we’d scuttle her!”

“How do you scuttle a boat?” asked Dick curiously.

Chub for a moment was at a loss, and glanced doubtfully at Roy. But
finding no assistance there he plunged bravely.

“Well, you first get a scuttle, just an ordinary scuttle, you know; and
I think you have to have a coal-shovel, too, but I’m not quite certain
about that. Armed with the scuttle you descend to the–the cellar of
the ship–”

“You bore holes in it,” said Roy contemptuously. “Thunder! I’m not
going to ship under a captain who doesn’t know the rudiments of
navigation.”

“I’m not talking navigation,” said Chub with dignity. “I’m talking
piracy. Piracy is a much more advanced study. Anybody can navigate,
but good pirates are few and far between, these days.”

“Oh, come on and talk sense,” begged Dick. “How much will it cost us
for grub?”

“Well, let me see,” responded Chub, turning to his paper. “I suppose
about two cases of eggs–But, look here, we haven’t decided how long
we’re going to cruise.”

“A month,” said Roy.

“Two months,” said Dick. “Anyway, we can’t buy enough eggs at the start
to last us all the time. Eggs should be fresh.”

“We’ll get eggs and vegetables as we go along,” said Roy. “What we have
to have to start with are staples.”

“Mighty hard eating,” murmured Chub. “Why not use plain nails?”

This was treated by the others with contemptuous silence.

“We’ll need flour, coffee, tea, salt, rice, cheese–”

“Pepper,” interpolated Dick.

“Baking-powder, sugar, flavoring extracts–”

“Mustard,” proposed Chub, “for mustard plasters, you know.”

“And lots of things like that,” ended Roy triumphantly.

“What we need is a grocery,” sighed Chub. “Aren’t we going to have any
meat at all? I have a very delicate stomach, fellows, and the doctor
insists on meat three times a day. Personally, I don’t care for it
much; I’m a vegetarian by conviction and early training; but one can’t
go against the doctor’s orders, you know. Now, for breakfast a small
rasher of bacon–”

“What’s a rasher?” Roy demanded.

“For luncheon a–er–two or three simple little chops, and for dinner
a small roast of beef or lamb or a friendly steak. Those, with a few
vegetables and an occasional egg, suffice my simple needs. I might
mention, however, that a suggestion of sweet, such as a plum-pudding,
a mince-pie or a dab of ice-cream, has always seemed to me a proper
topping off to a meal, if I may use the expression.”

“You may use any expression you like,” answered Roy cruelly, “but if
you think we’re going to have roasts you’ve got another guess coming to
you. Why, that kitchen–”

“Galley,” corrected Chub helpfully.

–“is too small for anything bigger than a French chop!”

“When Chub gets awfully hungry,” observed Dick, “we might tie up to the
shore and cook him something over the fire; have a barbecue, you know.”

“Cook a whole ox for him,” laughed Roy. “I guess that’s the only way
Chub will ever get enough to eat.”

“You quit bothering about me,” said Chub scornfully, “and study
seamanship. Remember you’re to be an able seaman and if you don’t
come up to the standard for able seaman I’ll do things to you with a
belaying-pin.”

“Isn’t he the cruel-hearted captain?” asked Dick. “I don’t believe I
want to ship with him, Roy.”

“Oh, you’ll be all right. Chub won’t dare to touch you for fear he
won’t get his dinner.”

“There you go again!” Chub groaned. “You fellows simply talk a subject
to death. Your conversation lacks–lacks variety, diversity. If you are
quite through vilifying me–”

“Doesn’t he use lovely language?” murmured Roy in an aside to Dick.

“We will now proceed with our estimate,” concluded Chub. “As I was
saying, eggs–”

“I tell you what we might use,” interrupted Dick. “Have you ever seen
any of this powdered egg?”

“Is this a joke?” asked Chub darkly.

“No, really! You buy it in cans. It’s eggs, just the yolks, you know,
with all the moisture taken out of them. It’s a yellow powder. And when
you want an omelet you just mix some milk with it and stir it up and
there you are!”

But Chub was suspicious.

“And how do you make a fried egg out of it?” he asked.

“You can’t, of course, because the whites aren’t there; but–”

“Then we want none of it! An egg that you can’t fry isn’t a respectable
egg. If I can’t have real eggs I’ll starve like a gentleman.”

“Well, let’s leave the eggs out of it for the present,” suggested Roy.
“Let’s figure on the other things.”

“Let’s not,” said Dick, rising. “I’m going home. We’ve got lots of time
to figure. Besides, the best way to do is to buy the things and let
the groceryman do the figuring. We’ve got to have them, no matter what
they cost. What time are we going around to see the Floating Artist?”

“Right after breakfast,” answered Chub. “You come up at about ten
o’clock–”

“What’s the matter with you fellows coming to the hotel and having
breakfast with me?” asked Dick.

“All right, then, luncheon. I’ll be around at ten in the morning. See
if you can at least get him up by that time, Roy.”

“With a glance of scathing contempt,” murmured Chub, “our hero turned
upon his heel and strode rapidly away into the fast-gathering darkness.”

But where he really strode was down the stairs, with one arm over
Dick’s shoulder, while Roy brought up the rear and gently prodded them
with the toe of his shoe.

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