THE CREW ENTERS SOCIETY

“What day of the month is this?” demanded Roy.

“Fourteenth,” hazarded Chub.

“Fifteenth,” answered Dick, doubtfully.

“We need a calendar,” said Roy, looking vaguely about the cabin. “But
whether it’s the fourteenth or fifteenth, fellows, we ought to write to
Harry. She’s going home the twentieth and we promised to be there in
three weeks. That would be the twenty-first.”

“That’s so,” said Chub. “We’ve only got seven more days. You write,
Roy, like a good chap.”

“What shall I say?”

“Just tell her we’ll be along the twenty-first. Of course, we don’t
have to start right off after we get there. I think it would be fun to
stay there a while, don’t you?”

“Yes.” Roy left the window-seat on which he had been stretched and went
over to the table to write. “Let me take your fountain-pen, Dick, will
you? Mine’s dry.”

“You can take it if you can find it,” answered Dick, looking up from
his book. “I haven’t seen it since I loaned it to Chub yesterday.”

“Dickums, I gave it back to you,” responded Chub, gravely. “I remember
the circumstances perfectly; the whole thing comes back to me as though
it were but yesterday.”

“It _was_ but yesterday,” said Dick. “Look in your pocket.”

“Merely as a matter of form,” murmured Chub. “Why, here it is! How
strange! Some one must have put it there. Catch, Roy.”

Roy caught, opened the pen, and then gazed disgustedly from his fingers
to Dick.

“I should think you’d have a decent pen, Dick. This is the limit!”

“Never look a gift pen in the nib,” laughed Chub. “It is a pretty bad
one, though, and that’s a fact. Let’s serve notice on Dick that unless
he buys a good one we won’t borrow it any more.”

It was the second day after Chub’s success with the grasshopper bait,
and the second day of rain. Yesterday, it had merely showered at
intervals, and the three had half a day of good fishing, but since
about dawn it had been pouring torrents and they had been forced to
remain indoors save when, at about eleven, they had gone in bathing.
That had been good fun; there is a certain excitement about bathing in
a heavy downpour of rain that is missing under other conditions. Chub
had pretended to be disgruntled. “What’s the use of bathing,” he had
asked, “when you’re sopping wet before you get into the water?” But he
had enjoyed it as much as any of them.

The _Slow Poke_ stood the deluge well, all things considered. The rain
managed to get under the door of the after cabin until they spread
towels along the sill, and there was a small leak in the bedroom. But
Chub declared that he didn’t mind as long as it wasn’t over the bed.

“I think,” remarked Dick a few minutes later, laying down his book with
a yawn and glancing disapprovingly out of the rain-streaked windows,
“that we’ve had enough of this place. Let’s go on. What do you say,
Roy?”

“Ask the captain,” said Roy, sealing his note to Harry.

“Sounds like mutiny to me,” said Chub.

“For goodness’ sake, Dick, let’s mutiny and stop his talking about it!”

“Yes, why don’t you?” asked Chub, eagerly. “I’ve been looking forward
all along for a mutiny. I wish to put some one in irons and confine him
in the lazaret.”

“Lazaret nothing!” protested Dick. “The lazaret is where they put sick
folks.”

“Dickums,” responded Chub, superiorly, “without wishing to hurt your
feelings I’d like to say that you show a lamentable ignorance regarding
things–er–nautical. Let me prescribe for you a short course of Clark
Russell, W. H. G. Kingston, and Marryat.”

“I’ve read as many of Marryat’s as you have,” replied Dick, in injured
tones. “And I know that a lazaret is a hospital.”

“On some ships maybe, Dickums,” answered Chub, amiably, “but not on the
_Slow Poke_. And speaking of that, fellows, we haven’t changed her name
yet. I thought we were going to get some paint and fix it.”

“Well, you’re captain,” answered Roy.

“If I am not in error,” responded Chub, with dignity, “it is the able
seaman that does the painting, and not the captain.”

“The original question,” said Dick, “was, do we go on or do we stay
here?”

“We go on,” answered Chub. “If it stops raining before five o’clock
we’ll go on to-day. I, too, would visit new scenes. Besides, we must
get somewhere where we can post that note to Harry. Also, I shall buy a
newspaper and find out what the date is. Why, for all we know, to-day
may be yesterday or to-morrow. Think of eating yesterday’s supper
to-day!”

“I don’t want to kick,” said Dick, “but I think it would be jolly nice
to stop somewhere and get a good meal. It’s all right for you fellows,
because you don’t have to cook everything we have, but I’m getting
tired of eating my own cooking.”

Chub bounded out of his chair and pointed dramatically at Dick.
“Mutiny!” he cried. “Mutiny at last! Put him in irons, Roy; put him in
irons! Happy I am that I’ve lived to see this day!”

“Who’ll cook supper?” asked Roy.

“Oh, we’ll let him go before it’s time to cook supper. Get the irons,
Roy.”

“Where are they?”

Chub struck his forehead in despair, and sank back into his seat.
“Lost! lost! all is lost! We forgot to bring any irons!”

“We might keel-haul him or hang him from the yardstick,” suggested Roy,
hopefully.

“You mean yardarm, of course,” said Dick. “But there isn’t any, and I
don’t believe we’ve got a keel that deserves the name. So you’ll have
to think of something else. Meanwhile, I’m going to get this chap out
of trouble.” And he took up his book again.

“If he only showed the least bit of remorse,” sighed Chub, observing
him sadly, “I might be merciful. But this–this shameless effrontery
pains me. I tell you what, Roy, we’ll sentence him to make an omelet
for supper.”

“We haven’t any eggs,” said Dick, without looking up from his book.
Chub cast his eyes to heaven and groaned tragically.

“No eggs! no irons! Ye gods! haven’t we any of the necessities of life
on this ship? What have we got, Dick?”

“Beans, bacon, potatoes, bread, condensed milk, coffee, tea, butter,
canned peas and tomatoes, stewed apricots–”

Chub groaned.

“No more, I beg of you! I’m going to look at the map, fellows, and if
there’s a place we can reach by seven o’clock where we can buy a good
meal, we’ll go there, rain or no rain! What my soul demands is a course
dinner, with clams, soup, fish, roast, game, salad–” The rest was
lost, for he had disappeared up the iron stairway to the wheel-house.
Dick laid down his book again.

“I think I could stand a few of those things myself,” he said wistfully.

“So could I,” said Roy. “You’ve done mighty well, old chap, with what
you’ve had to cook, but there’s nothing like an occasional change. It
would be jolly if we could find a hotel, wouldn’t it? One of those
swell summer resort places where they have ten courses and four kinds
of dessert. What about it, Chub?”

“All aboard for The Overlook,” answered Chub gayly as he came down the
steps. “It’s only seven miles up on the other shore. Shall we start
now?”

“What is it, a hotel?” asked Dick.

“Yes, a big one, too. I’ve heard of it often. It’s where the swells go
in summer.”




“That’s the place for me, then,” replied Roy. “I don’t think it’s
raining as hard as it was. Let’s go out and have a look.”

Not only had the rain somewhat abated, but there were signs of
clearing. Twenty minutes later the _Slow Poke_ was on her way again.

That evening the captain and crew of the _Slow Poke_ “re-entered
society,” as Chub put it. They made a landing before six, finding a
convenient place a few hundred yards from a big hotel which stood on
a bluff almost overhanging the river, and at seven were seated at a
table in the great dining-room, fairly reveling in the feast. They had
dressed in their best clothes, and made a very presentable appearance.

“This,” observed Chub, as he spread a yard-square napkin over his knees
and looked at the menu, “is about what the doctor ordered. Shall we
dally with a little of the caviar, Roy, or descend at once upon the
cherrystone clams. Let us bear in mind that we have all the evening to
do justice to this meal, and not be hasty. The French, Dickums, draw
a fine distinction between a _gourmand_ and a _gourmet_. The former is
merely a glutton, while the latter is a connoisseur, an epicure. For
me, a few of the clams, a little of the consommé–with radishes and
cucumbers, some of the bluefish, a wee portion of the boiled fowl, a
slice of beef, some potatoes, cauliflower, beets, and–yes, macaroni
_au gratin_, a taste of the raspberry sherbet, a bit of the salad–”

“Oh, let up, for goodness’ sake!” begged Roy. “You make me feel as
though I had already had a big dinner. Let’s cut the clams out and get
down to business; I’m hungry. I want soup and lots of it. Pass the
bread, Dick.”

“You talk like a _gourmand_,” said Chub sorrowfully. “I beg of you not
to spoil your appetite with bread. Just cast your eye over the list of
things to come, Roy, and hesitate.”

“Don’t you worry,” answered Roy, his mouth full of bread and butter, “I
won’t let much get by me!”

An hour later, they were sipping their after-dinner coffee and dallying
with cheese and crackers. Then Chub settled a little lower in his chair
with a sigh of blissful satisfaction, and gazed benevolently about him.

[Illustration: They had dressed in their best clothes]

“I feel better,” he murmured, “much better.”

Dick took a long and careful breath.

“I’m not sure,” he said cautiously, “that I feel actually better, but
I’m sure I feel _different_. And I’d rather die of indigestion than
starvation any day!” Roy looked speculatively at the dining-room door.

“If you think we can walk that far,” he suggested, “let’s get out of
here.”

On the broad piazza they ran into a group of college friends of Roy
and Chub’s, and the rest of the evening was hilarious enough. By ten
o’clock, at which time they went back to the _Slow Poke_, they had
enlarged their circle of acquaintances until it included most of the
young folks at the hotel. The next morning they had breakfast aboard,
but didn’t linger long over it, for all sorts of delightful things
had been arranged. In the first place, there was tennis on the smooth
clay courts, Roy and Chub engaging in doubles with a pair of ambitious
friends who rather prided themselves on their prowess with racket and
ball. After four sets, Roy and Chub had induced a certain amount of
modesty in their opponents, having won three out of the four. Dick,
meanwhile, went down in defeat before a curly-haired sub-freshman. They
had luncheon at the hotel and went sailing afterward in some one’s
sloop. (It was at no time apparent whose boat it was, for out of the
sixteen fellows who had crowded aboard, only one hesitated to give
orders, and that one only because he became seasick as soon as the
yacht left her moorings.) There was more tennis after the cruise was
completed, in which Dick found a foe he could triumph over. Then they
went back to the neglected _Slow Poke_ and “brushed up” for dinner.

“This social life is truly exciting,” observed Chub, strolling into the
forward cabin with a whisk broom in his hand. “Has anyone a nice red
tie to lend me?”

No one had, it seemed. Dick ventured the opinion that a red tie was
not a proper adjunct to a dinner costume, and that precipitated a
discussion that lasted until they were ready to climb the hill to the
hotel, Chub asserting that with a blue serge suit nothing was more
chaste and recherché than a nice bright red scarf.

“And, anyway, you wild Westerner,” he shouted from across the passage,
“it’s not for the likes of you to be setting up as an authority on
masculine attire. If you had your way you’d go to dinner in chaps and a
sombrero!” When they had reached the table, Chub glanced over the menu
with a disappointed expression, and shook his head. “That’s the trouble
with these hotels,” he said. “There’s no variety. This bill’s just
about the same as last night’s. The only difference is that they’ve
called the soups by different names and substituted flounder–which
they call sole–for bluefish.”

“The ice-cream’s different,” said Dick cheerfully. But Chub refused to
be placated.

“It has another name,” he said darkly, “but you wait until you try it.
It will taste the same as last night’s!”

But he recovered his equanimity as the meal progressed. He heroically
denied himself a second helping of cream pie, recalling the fact that
there was to be a hop that evening. “It’s hard enough for me to hop
anyway,” he said, “and if I ate any more pie, I wouldn’t be able to
move out of my chair.” But thanks to his self-denial Chub was able to
do his full duty on the ball-room floor, and was ably assisted by Roy.
Dick, however, preferred to sit on the piazza and swap yarns with the
curly-haired sub-freshman, and it was not until he had been forcibly
assisted through a window onto the dancing floor, that he consented to
uphold the honor of the _Slow Poke_, as Chub eloquently put it.

The next day, the second of their stay, they gave a luncheon on board
the house-boat. Dick cooked the viands and they were served under the
awning on the upper deck. The menu was neither varied nor extensive,
but each of the invited guests vowed that they had never tasted
anything better. And, of course, it was lots of fun. Even when Dick
spilled the chops all up and down the steps and had to wipe them off
before he could serve them no one grumbled. In fact you’d have thought
that the party preferred their chops that way! After luncheon the _Slow
Poke_ was persuaded to sidle out into the stream, and for an hour she
waddled up or down the river. Every one of the guests insisted on
signing articles with Captain Chub at once, and it required all of the
latter’s tact and diplomacy to ward them off.

“I wish you fellows could come along,” he said, “but you see how it
is. We’ve got to go on up to Ferry Hill and get Doctor Emery and his
daughter, so there won’t be much room.”

Whereupon one of the more enthusiastic fellows declared that he’d ask
nothing better than to sleep on deck, and the other seven echoed him.
It required a deal of argument to persuade them of the impracticability
of the plan. There was another jolly evening at the big hotel, and then
the three bade good-by to their old friends and new, for the _Slow
Poke_ was to go on her way again in the morning. But when morning came,
they found that they were not to leave unattended, for half a dozen of
the fellows had gathered on the landing to see them off and wish them
good luck.

“See you in September,” they shouted as the _Slow Poke_ ambled away.
“Don’t get arrested for exceeding the speed limit.”

“Stop when you come back, fellows! Don’t forget!”

“I’m going to practise serving, Somes! I’ll beat you this Fall!” (This
from the curly-haired sub-freshman.)

Chub tooted the whistle frenziedly, there was much waving of caps, and
the landing fell away astern.

The _Slow Poke_ made good time that day. They stopped above Poughkeepsie
for dinner and in the afternoon went on up against a stiff tide as far
as Kingston. It was a day of alternate sun and cloud and the scenery on
both sides of the broad stream merited all the attention they gave it.
For the most part, when not busy with navigation, they sat under the
awning and were beautifully lazy. Just before sunset, they tied up to
the bank and prepared supper. Their three days of hotel living had quite
restored their appetite for the plainer fare which Dick provided, and
they went at their meals with keen appreciation. They went early to bed,
for it was the evening of the eighteenth and they were due at Ferry Hill
on the twenty-first, and there remained a full forty miles to be covered.
There was an early start the next morning, and that day and the next the
_Slow Poke_ attended strictly to business, and climbed the river slowly
but surely. The only incident of moment occurred on the twentieth when,
having stopped for dinner at a little village and moored to the side of
a ferry slip, the sign on a neighboring building caught Roy’s eye.

“Paint, Varnish, Wall Paper,” announced the sign. He pointed it out to
the others, and after dinner they delayed the voyage for the better
part of an hour while the name on the bow of the boat was changed
from _Jolly Roger_ to _Slow Poke_. Dick did the new lettering, and if
it wasn’t exactly perfect it, at least, answered its purpose. In the
course of the afternoon they were forced to stop and take on gasolene,
and Dick improved the opportunity to lay in a new store of cylinder
oil. For the rest of that day, whenever he disappeared they had only
to peek in at the door of the engine-room to find him spattering oil
lovingly and enthusiastically over the engine and adjacent territory.

“It isn’t that I mind the expense so much,” muttered Chub, “but I hate
to think what would happen if any one carelessly dropped a match in
this part of the boat. She’s so saturated with that smelly oil that
she’d simply go up in a burst of flame.”

“No engine will run smoothly without plenty of oil,” grumbled Dick.

“I don’t expect it to, Dickums, but there’s such a thing as being
overkind. Some morning you’ll wake up and find that poor engine
floating lifelessly on a sea of cylinder oil. You’re simply drowning
it!”

The morning of the twenty-first found them still some twenty miles
below Ferry Hill and the _Slow Poke_ was put at her best pace in the
hope of reaching her destination by luncheon-time. And she responded
nobly to the demand, nosing her way up to the boat-house landing at
Ferry Hill shortly before one o’clock.

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