LETTERS AND PLANS

That 4 to 3 victory took place on a Thursday, in the third week of June.

Some two hours later the hero of the conflict lay stretched at full
length on a window-seat in the front room of a house within sound of
the college bell. His hands were under his head, one foot nestled
inelegantly amidst the cushions at the far end of the seat and the
other was sprawled upon the floor. The window beside him was wide open
and through it came the soft, warm air, redolent of things growing,
of moist pavements, of freshly-sprinkled lawns. The sounds of passing
footsteps and voices entered, too; and from across the shaded street
came the tinkle of a banjo. The voices were joyous and care-free.
To-morrow was Class-Day; the year’s work was over; books had been
tossed aside, and already the exodus from college had begun. The
twilight deepened and the long June day came unwillingly to its end.
The shadows darkened under the elms and here and there a light glared
out from an open window. But in the room the twilight held undisputed
sway, hiding the half-packed trunks and the untidy disorder of the
study.

Chub lay on the window-seat and a few feet away, where he could look
through the wide open casement, Roy Porter was stretched out in a
morris chair. We have already caught a brief glimpse of Roy in the
cheering section during the game, but in the excitement we did not, I
fancy, observe him very closely. He is a good-looking, even handsome,
boy, with light, curly hair and very blue eyes. He is tall and well
developed, with broad shoulders and wide hips. Roy and Chub have been
firm friends for three years: for two years at Ferry Hill School and
for one at college. In age there is but a month or two of difference
between them. Both are freshmen, having come up together from Ferry
Hill last September, since which time they have led a very interesting
and, withal, happy existence in the quarters, in which we now find
them. And they have each had their successes. Chub has made the
captaincy of the freshman Nine, they have both played on the freshman
foot-ball team, and each has been recently taken into one of the
societies. In studies Roy has accomplished rather more than his friend,
having finished the year well up in his class. But Chub has kept his
end up and has passed the finals, if not in triumph, at least without
disgrace.

“Another big day for you, Chub,” said Roy. Chub stretched himself
luxuriously and yawned.

“Yes. There have been quite a few ‘big days,’ Roy, since we met at
school, haven’t there? There was the day when you lammed out that home
run and won us the game from Hammond, two years ago. That was one of
your ‘big days,’ old chap, but it was mine, too. Then, last year, when
we won on the track. That was Dick’s ‘big day,’ but we all shared in
it, especially since it brought that check from Kearney and brought
the affairs of the Ferry Hill School Improvement Society to a glorious
close. And then there was the baseball game last year–”

“That was your day, Chub, and none other’s.”

“Well, if I recollect rightly, there was a little old two-bagger by
one Roy Porter which had something to do with the result,” returned
Chub, dryly.

“Oh, we’d have won without that. Say, do you remember Harry after the
game?”

“Do I! Shall I ever forget her? She was just about half crazy, wasn’t
she? And wouldn’t she have loved to have been here to-day?”

They both chuckled at the idea.

“By the way,” said Chub presently, “did we get any mail this evening?”

“I don’t think so,” said Roy; “but I didn’t look. Expecting a check?”

“Go to thunder! We ought to hear from Dick to-day or to-morrow. And Mr.
Cole, too, about the boat.”

“That’s so. Maybe we’ll hear in the morning.”

“Light the gas and have a look around,” begged Chub. “Sometimes Mrs.
Moore picks the letters up and puts them on the table, and we don’t
find them for weeks and weeks.”

“If you’d keep the table picked up,” said Roy, severely, as he arose
with a grunt and fumbled for matches, “such things wouldn’t occur.”

“Listen to him!” murmured Chub, apparently addressing the ceiling. “I’d
like to know which of us is the neat little housekeeper! I’d like to
know–”

The study was suddenly illuminated with a ghastly glow as Roy applied
the match to the drop-light. Chub groaned and turned his face away.

“I give you notice, Roy, that next year we’re going to have a different
shade on that thing. Green may be all very nice for the optic nerves,
but it’s extremely offensive to my–my sensibilities. Besides, it
doesn’t suit my complexion. I’ve mentioned that before. Now a red
shade–”

“Here’s a whole bunch of mail,” exclaimed Roy, mildly indignant. “I
wish she’d let it alone. Here’s two for you and one for me. This looks
like–yes, it’s from Dick. And I guess this one–” he studied it under
the light–“I guess this is from the artist man. Anyway, the postmark’s
New York, and–”

“Well, hand ’em over, you idiot,” said Chub.

“Come and get them. You can’t see to read over there,” replied
Roy tranquilly. Chub hesitated, groaned, and finally followed the
suggestion.

“Yes, this is from Dickums,” he muttered as he tore off the end of the
envelop. “I hope he can come. Who’s yours from?”

“Dad,” answered Roy, settling into his chair and beginning to read. But
he wasn’t destined to finish his letter just then, for in a moment Chub
had rudely disturbed him.

“It’s all right!” he cried. “Listen, Roy; let me read this to you.”

“He’s coming?” asked Roy eagerly, abandoning his own letter.

“Yes. Listen.” Chub pulled up a chair, sat down, and began to read:
“‘Dear Chub: Yours of no date–’”

“Stung!” murmured Roy. Chub grinned and went on.

–“‘received the day before yesterday. I’d have answered before, but
things have been pretty busy here. If we can get the house-boat,
I’ll go along in a minute. It will be a fine lark. I’m leaving here
to-morrow for New York. My dad’s there now, and we’re going to stay
somewhere around there for the summer, he says. You let me know just
as soon as you can. Send your letter to the Waldorf. I can start any
time. I haven’t written to Dad about it, but I know he will let me go.
I hope we can get the boat. I told Harry about it yesterday, and read
your letter to her, and she’s wild to go along. Says we might wait
until she gets back from her Aunt Harriet’s. I told her there wouldn’t
be room but she says she’d sleep up on top! So I had to tell her I’d
see what you fellows thought about it. Maybe we might have her along
for a little while. What do you think? I suppose her father or mother
could come, too, as–’”

“Chaperon,” said Roy. “Harry’s getting ‘growed up,’ you know.”

“Well, we’ll see. Here, where’s that other letter? Let’s find out what
Mr. Cole says.” He opened the second epistle and glanced through it
quickly, his face lighting as he read. “It’s all right!” he cried. “We
can have her! Only–” he looked through the brief note again–“only he
doesn’t say anything about the price. ‘When you get here we’ll talk
over the matter of terms.’ That doesn’t sound encouraging, does it?”
Chub looked across at Roy dubiously, and Roy shook his head.

“Not very,” he answered; “but you can’t tell. I guess he will let us
down easy. He’s a good sort, is the Floating Artist.”

“Well–” Chub tossed the note aside and went back to Dick Somes’s
letter. “‘I suppose her father or mother or some one would have to go
along, but that needn’t make much difference. She’s wild to know, so
you’d better drop her a line pretty soon and tell her what you think
about it. If you don’t she’s likely to explode!’”

“And that’s so, too, I guess!” chuckled Roy. “Say, it would be awfully
jolly if we four could get together again this summer, wouldn’t it?”

“Dandy!” answered Chub. “And we’ll do it, too,” he added stoutly.

“I don’t believe so. Something will happen at the last moment,” said
Roy dejectedly. “You’ll see.”

“My gentle croaker, let me finish this…. ‘I got through exams O. K.
and got my diploma to-day. So I’ll see you fellows in the fall if we
don’t make it before. That is, if I can pass at college. I wish you’d
speak a good word for me to the president. I suppose you know we won
the boat-race by almost three lengths. That makes up for losing the
ball-game. We missed you on the team this year. They’ve elected Sid
Welch captain for next year. Sid’s so pleased he can’t see straight.
To-day was Class-Day and we had a fine time. You ought to have heard
me orate. How’s old Roy? He owes me a letter, the scoundrel. Write as
soon as you can to the Waldorf. I’ll be there to-morrow evening. Tell
Roy to come and see me as soon as he gets home. You, too, if you stop
over there. I’ve got lots of news for you that I can tell better than
I can write. Hope you fellows win your game to-morrow. They’d ought to
have taken you on, Chub. But next year, when I get there, I’ll fix that
for you. So long. Don’t forget to let me know whether we can have the
house-boat. Yours, Dick.’”

“Good old Dickums,” murmured Chub as he folded the letter. “Well, it’s
all settled,” he went on animatedly. “We’ll take the midnight train
to-morrow, Roy; see Mr. Cole; look up Dick, and get ready for the
cruise! Won’t we have fun, though?”

“Did Mr. Cole say whether he’d let the boat to us furnished?”

“Yes.” Chub referred to the note. “‘The _Jolly Roger_ is quite at your
disposal as soon as you want her. I’m going abroad in August, and won’t
want her at all this summer. She needs paint, but you’ll have to attend
to that if you’re fussy. You’ll find her all ready for you. I won’t say
anything about the engine, for you know that engine yourself. Treat it
kindly and perhaps it will stand by you. When you get here we’ll talk
over the matter of terms. Regards to your friend and to you. Very truly
yours, Forbes Cole.’ That’s all he says. I don’t believe he will want
us to pay him much if he’s going abroad and can’t use the boat himself
anyway, do you?”

“I hope not,” answered Roy, “for it’s going to be rather an expensive
trip, Chub.”

“Nonsense! We can run her on ten dollars a week, I’ll bet.”

“You forget that we have to eat. You forget your appetite, Chub.”

“Well, if we have Harry along she can make doughnuts for us!”

“Well, if she does,” laughed Roy, “I’ll see that there’s no almond
flavoring aboard. Do you remember last summer when she put almond into
the doughnuts and–”

“Do I remember! I thought I’d never get that taste out of my mouth!”
Chub grinned reminiscently. Roy arose determinedly and threw back the
lid of his steamer trunk.

“What are you going to do?” asked Chub.

“Finish my packing. There won’t be any time to-morrow, and–”

But alas for good resolutions! There was a charge of feet outside
on the brick walk, a hammering at the door, and a covey of happy,
irresponsible freshmen burst into the room. There was no packing that
night. But what did it matter? There was to-morrow and many, many
other to-morrows stretching away in a seemingly limitless vista of
happy holidays, and the fact that when the visitors finally took their
departure the few things that the roommates had already packed had been
seized upon by rude hands and strewn about the study worried no one.
Nothing matters when “finals” are over and summer beckons.

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