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.

Continue Reading

CHUB TRIES A NEW BAIT

I could write in detail of the next three days, but the narrative
would only bore you, for nothing of special interest happened. In
brief, then, they made an early start the morning after the escape
from Mr. Ewing and the arm of the law, and were soon rounding the bend
in the river opposite Peekskill. By one o’clock they were in sight of
West Point and so kept on until they found a mooring at the steamboat
pier. There they ate dinner and afterward spent two hours “doing” the
Military Academy. Dick declared that if they didn’t see another thing,
that alone was worth the whole trip, and the rest agreed with him. At
twilight, they sidled the _Slow Poke_ across to shore almost under
the frowning face of Storm King. There was deep water there, and when
the mooring ropes were made fast they could step from the deck of the
house-boat right onto the bank. The map showed dozens of streams and
several small ponds, and it was decided that they would remain there
for a while and try the fishing. They slept on board that night, but
the next afternoon they rigged the little shelter tent which they had
brought between the trees at a little distance from shore, and made
camp. Dick and Roy fashioned a fireplace of stones and when the weather
was fair the meals were prepared over a wood fire. Chub declared that
he preferred the flavor of wood smoke to kerosine. For two days they
tramped around the neighboring country and fished to their hearts’
content, finding several good trout pools. It was on the second day
that Chub caught his “two-pounder.” To be sure, Dick and Roy declared
that it didn’t weigh over a pound and a quarter, but Chub retorted that
that was only their jealousy and that if there was a scales on board he
would soon prove his estimate correct. But there wasn’t a scales to be
found and so Chub’s claim was never disproved. He held the trout out at
arm’s-length while Roy photographed it, and when the picture developed
the fish looked like a salmon rather than a trout.

“You might as well call it a ten-pounder as a two,” said Dick. “Anyone
would believe you. Why, that fish is half as big as you–in the
picture!”

Chub viewed him sorrowfully and shook his head.

“That,” he replied, “would not be the truth, Dickums. When you know me
better you’ll find that not even a fish can tempt me from the path of
honesty. Perhaps, however, there wouldn’t be any harm in calling it a
three-pounder; what do you think?”

Roy and Dick had good luck, too, although their trout were smaller than
Chub’s “two-pounder,” and during their stay at Camp Storm King, as they
called it, they had all the fresh fish they could eat.

The day after Chub’s famous catch he informed the others that he was
going back to the scene of his victory for another try.

“We’ll all go,” said Roy, pleasantly, with a wink at Dick. “It must be
a dandy place.”

“You’ll do nothing of the sort,” replied Chub, shortly. “That pool is
my discovery.”

“Pshaw,” said Roy, “if I found a good place like that I’d want you to
try it.”

“Me, too,” said Dick. Chub viewed them scornfully.

“Of course you would,” he replied with deep sarcasm.

“Well, I would,” insisted Roy. “I’d be generous. Now–”

“I guess you’re like the Irishman,” said Chub. “His name was Pat.”

“It always is in a story,” murmured Dick.

“One day his friend Mike met him and said: ‘Pat, they tell me you’re
a Socialist.’ ‘I am,’ says Pat. ‘Well, now, tell me, Pat, what is a
Socialist?’ ‘A Socialist,’ says Pat, ‘is a feller that divides his
property equally. ’Tis like this, do you see: if I had two million
dollars I’d give you one million and I’d keep one million myself.’
‘’Tis a grand idea,’ says Mike. ‘And if you had two farms would you
give me one, Pat?’ ‘Sure would I,’ says Pat. ‘’Tis an elegant thing,
this Socialism,’ says Mike. ‘But, tell me, Pat, if you had two pigs
would you give me one?’ ‘Go ’long, now!’ says Pat. ‘You know I’ve _got_
two pigs!’”

“It’s a funny story,” said Roy, mournfully, “but I miss the application,
Chub.”

“You do, eh? Well, it just shows how easy it is to be generous with
something you haven’t got.” Whereupon Chub picked up his rod and
stepped ashore.

“You won’t get a bite!” called Dick.

Haughty silence from Chub as he walked away.

“You won’t bring home a thing!” This shot told.

“If I don’t bring home something as big as I did yesterday,” announced
Chub, grandly “I’ll–I’ll wash up the dishes!”

“That’s a go,” cried Dick. “Bad luck to you!”

They watched him disappear between the trees. Then Roy turned to Dick
with a grin. “Let’s follow him,” he said.

An instant later, carrying their rods, they were on Chub’s trail. They
went quickly and quietly, and soon had their quarry in sight. Chub was
ambling along very leisurely, whistling as he went. Presently they were
out of the woods and on a narrow road that was scarcely more than a
path. It wound along the bottom of the mountain for a half a mile or
so, running very straight and rendering it necessary for the pursuers
to keep in among the trees lest Chub should glance back. But it was
apparent that he had no suspicion. The road ran over or through several
small streams which came gurgling down the hill and at each of them
Roy and Dick expected to see Chub leave the road. But he kept on and
presently Dick gave signs of discouragement.

“Thunder,” he said, “I don’t believe he’s ever going to stop. This
isn’t much fun, Roy. Let’s quit. I’m all scratched up with these
branches.”

“Stop nothing!” answered Roy. “He can’t be going much further. Anyway,
the road curves pretty soon and then we can take it easy.”

Presently the road did curve, Chub was out of sight, and they left the
underbrush with sighs of relief.

“Have you any idea where this pool of his is?” asked Dick.

“Not the slightest. He and I started out together but he left me about
three o’clock and went down toward the river. We were fishing that
stream that comes down near the fork of the roads, you know; where we
were the first day. That’s about half a mile further, but I don’t see
why Chub has to go that far unless he can’t find his old pool any
other way. Here’s the turn. Careful, or he may see us.”

It was an abrupt curve and they went very slowly and softly until they
could see the stretch of road ahead. It was quite deserted!

“Shucks!” said Roy. “He’s got away from us, after all. Come on!”

They broke into a trot and hurried along, looking sharply to left and
to right as they ran. A moment or two later there was a rustling in the
woods near the turn of the road and Chub came cautiously out, a broad
smile on his face. Remaining in concealment, he watched his pursuers
until another turn of the road hid them. Then he cut a branch from a
small tree, sharpened one end of it, slit the other, and stuck it in
the middle of the road. Searching his pockets he, at length, brought
forth a crumpled piece of paper. Smoothing it out, he traced a single
word on it and stuck it in the cleft of the stick. Then, chuckling
aloud, he crossed the road and disappeared into the woods on the lower
side.

Some two hours later Roy and Dick came trudging back. They had five
trout between them, but they were all small ones. They were very
hungry and somewhat tired, and Roy almost walked into the stick in the
road before he saw the piece of paper. When he had read it he laughed
and handed it to Dick.

“‘Stung!’” read Dick. He grinned, crumpled it up, and tossed it aside,
and they went on for a moment without a word. Then,

“You have to get up pretty early to get ahead of Chub,” said Roy,
admiringly.

“Get up early!” quoth Dick. “You have to stay up all night!”

They trudged on home to the camp and dinner.

Meanwhile Chub was having hard luck. Fully a mile away, where a stream
rushed down a hill and paused for a while in a broad black pool lined
with rocks and alders, he had been fishing diligently for over an
hour with no success. He had tried almost every one of his brand-new
assortment of flies, but, to use his own expression, he hadn’t even
got a bid. It was getting along toward dinner-time, as his hunger
emphatically informed him, and he recollected his agreement with
regret. It wasn’t that he so much disliked to wash the dishes for
once–although as a matter of principle he always schemed to avoid
that task–but he hated to have Roy and Dick crow over him. And after
the way in which he had fooled them that morning, he had no doubt but
that they would crow long and loud!

He sat down on a convenient flat-topped stone and spread his fly-book
open beside him. It was a sunny day, but the pool was well shadowed
and perhaps, after all, a real brilliant fly wouldn’t be out of the
way. So he selected a handsome arrangement of vermilion and yellow
and gray–a most gaudy little fly it was–and substituted it for the
more somber one on his line. Then he cast again to the farther side
of the pool. For a while there was no reply to his appeal, and then
the fly disappeared and a moment later a gleaming trout was flapping
about under the bushes. It wasn’t such a bad little trout; Chub guessed
three quarters of a pound as its weight; and more hopefully now, he
flicked the pool here and there. But nothing else happened. At last,
discouraged, he reeled in his line and looked at his watch. The time
was a quarter past twelve. Even if he started back to the boat now,
he would arrive very late for dinner. Besides, he couldn’t face Roy
and Dick with only that insignificant trophy to show. If only he had
brought a luncheon with him! His eyes fell again on the trout and his
face lighted. Dropping his fly-book into his pocket and picking up rod
and fish, he turned his back on the pool and followed the stream as
best he could, winding in and out of the thickets and clambering over
the rocks that strewed the little vale.

Presently he was out of the thicket and before him lay a small clearing
in which waist-high bushes and trailing briars ran riot. The brook
spread itself out into a shallow stream and meandered off toward the
river, its course marked by small willows, alders, and rushes. Chub
found a clear spot in the shade of a viburnum and built a fire of dry
grass and twigs, adding dead branches as the flames grew. Fuel wasn’t
very easy to find, but by prospecting around he eventually had a
good-sized blaze. Then, warm and panting, he sat down out of the range
of the heat and prepared his trout. By the time it was ready the fire
had subsided to a bed of glowing coals. Wrapping the fish in leaves
he laid it on the embers and watched it carefully, turning it over
and over and raking the hot coals about it. After fifteen minutes of
cooking he took it off and laid it on a stone which he had meanwhile
washed in the brook. Then, with a couple of sharpened sticks he scraped
away the ashes and coals, and began his luncheon. Trout without any
other seasoning than wood smoke isn’t awfully appetizing, as Chub
speedily discovered, and he would have given a whole lot for a pinch
or two of salt. But it partly satisfied his hunger, and after he had
taken a drink of cold water from the brook he felt good for another two
or three hours’ fishing. He was determined not to go home until he had
something to show. He stretched himself out in the shade for a while
and rested. Then, picking up his rod once more, he returned to the
stream and sought a likely spot.

His search led him across the clearing and into a dense woods beyond.
Here the stream narrowed again and deepened, and he put another fly
on and tried his luck, wandering along from place to place. Twice,
inquiring fish nibbled at his fly, and once he hooked a small trout
only to lose it from the hook in landing. Then a full hour passed
without any results. It was almost three o’clock. The woods were
very warm and very still, only the ripple and plash of the brook
breaking the mid-afternoon silence. Even the birds were hushed. But
the mosquitoes, at least, were active, and Chub, hot and discouraged,
brushed them away and sighed for a breeze. Finally he sat down on the
ground and for the twentieth time viewed the contents of his fly-book
in perplexity. It seemed as though it contained every sort of fly that
the heart of trout could desire.

“Finicky things,” muttered Chub. “I’d just like to know what they do
want.” He picked out a pretty brown and gray fly tentatively. “That
ought to please any one. Maybe, though, they don’t like the taste of
them. I suppose, when you come to think of it, steel and feathers and
silk thread aren’t very appetizing–except to look at. If I was a trout
I’d much rather have a good worm or a nice, juicy grasshopper.”

He paused and stared thoughtfully at the flies. Then,

“Plagued if I don’t try it!” he murmured.

He got up and retraced his steps to the clearing. Ordinarily it’s the
easiest thing in the world to catch a grasshopper. All you have to do
is to stand still and the silly things will jump onto you; especially
if you happen to have on something white. But to-day Chub found the
grasshopper the most illusive of game, almost as illusive as trout!
With cap in hand, he crouched and jumped and ran and waited, missing
his prey time after time, and getting hotter and hotter and madder
and madder, until the perspiration streamed down his face and he was
mentally calling the grasshoppers all the mean names he could think
of. But perseverance is bound to win in the long run–and Chub had
plenty of long runs! And so, finally, he was trudging back, tired but
triumphant, with two hoppers firmly clasped in his hand. But it seemed
as though he was having more than his share of trouble to-day, for
although he had left rod and fly-book not more than fifty or sixty
yards from the edge of the clearing, he couldn’t find them for a long
while, and when he did he was so tuckered out that he had to lie on his
back for ten minutes before he could command sufficient energy to go on
with his experiment.

[Illustration: But Mister Trout didn’t want to come]

He sacrificed the most bedraggled of his flies, plucking off feathers
and silk, and then placed one of the grasshoppers on the hook. Looking
for a likely spot, he found it a few yards further down the stream
where the uprooted trunk of a big tree lay across the brook and made
a sort of dam. The bushes grew close to the bank and it was necessary
to make a short cast. The first attempt wasn’t a success, and he had
to wade into the pool and disentangle his leader from a stump. Then
he crawled out and tried again, assuring himself that he had already
scared every denizen of the pool into conniption fits and that, of
course, he wouldn’t get a bite. But the grasshopper had no sooner lit
on the surface than there was a sudden flash and the line spun out.

“Huh!” gasped Chub, his thumb on the reel. “That pleased you, didn’t
it? Come on, now.”

But Mister Trout didn’t want to come on. Instead, he had hidden himself
amongst the submerged roots of the trees. Chub wound in a foot or two
of line very gingerly, trying to coax the trout into deep water, and
the ruse succeeded. With a rush the fish darted from concealment and
sped upstream. But Chub brought him up with a turn that made the line
sing. Then he began to reel in. The trout fought valiantly and made a
good deal of trouble considering his size, and there were one or two
anxious moments for Chub. But in the end the victory was his, and back
among the stones lay the speckled beauty. It was a good ten inches long
and Chub beamed with delight. Now he could go home!

When he had secured his prize on a forked branch he released the other
grasshopper from the pocket of his fly-book.

“You’ve had a narrow escape,” he said, as the hopper flounced
bewildered away, “and considering the chase you led me I ought to feed
you to the fishes, too. But I won’t. Go on home, and don’t bat your
silly brains out against the rocks like that.”

At five o’clock Roy and Dick, who were beginning to get anxious about
Chub, beheld that young gentleman approaching camp. He had his rod in
hand, but no fish were in sight.

“Thunder!” said Dick. “I’ll wager he’s mad!”

“Had any dinner?” shouted Roy.

“Sure.”

“Where’d you get it?”

“Caught it and cooked it, of course. Say, he was a dandy! He was as
long–”

“Never mind about that,” laughed Roy. “You wash the dishes just the
same. You were to bring the fish home, you know.”

“Well, but I had to have something to eat, didn’t I?” asked Chub, with
a grin.

“That wasn’t in the bargain,” answered Dick. “You’re dish-washer
to-night.” Chub stepped aboard, reached under his coat, and laid his
trout on the railing.

“Is that so, Dickums?” he asked quickly. The others stared a moment.
Then,

“Great Scott!” murmured Dick.

“You win,” sighed Roy.

Continue Reading

THE TABLES TURNED

“Anybody got anything to suggest?” Chub asked softly.

“If we rushed him all at once, the three of us,” said Dick, “we could
get aboard all right. You know very well he wouldn’t dare shoot at us.”

But Chub shook his head.

“He’s such an old sour-face, he’s likely to do anything. What do you
say, Roy?”

“I’ll risk it if the rest of you will,” he said, angrily. “I’d like to
throw him into the water.”

“A bath wouldn’t do him any harm,” said Chub, “unless he caught cold
from it. But I’ve got a better scheme, I think. We can’t afford to let
the constable find us here. If he does it’ll take a week to convince
him that we aren’t robbers. Now, listen. I’ll go back through the woods
as though I was going to the road. You fellows stay here and if he asks
where I’ve gone tell him I’ve gone to look for the constable. When I
get out of sight I’ll get some of my things off and sneak down to the
river again on the other side of the point. Then I’ll swim back quietly
and get aboard on the other side. He won’t be able to see me and you
fellows mustn’t look at me because he might catch on.”

“But what are you going to do when you get aboard?” asked Roy
dubiously. Chub’s brown eyes twinkled merrily.

“You leave that to me,” he said. “Come to think of it, you fellows had
better go back to the boat in about a couple of minutes and when you
see me coming get him talking; see? Make all the pow-wow you can, so he
won’t hear me. If he should hear me and go around the other side to see
what’s up, you fellows jump on board in a hurry. Got that?”

“Yes,” answered Roy, “but you–you be careful, Chub.”

“It’ll be a long swim, won’t it?” asked Dick, anxiously.

“I won’t have to swim at all,” said Chub. “I’ll just float down with
the current. I’m off.” He got up and started aimlessly into the woods
in the direction of the road. They watched him go. So did the farmer.

“Hey, where’s he going?” he called.

“Says he’s going to look for your friend, the constable,” answered
Dick, carelessly.

“Ain’t no use in you running away,” said Mr. Ewing. “We’ll get ye.”

“Well, you don’t see us running away, do you?” asked Roy, haughtily.
“We haven’t done anything to run away for.”

“Don’t you suppose we might fix those ropes so’s we can let go in a
hurry?” asked Dick, softly.

“We can try it,” responded Roy, with a glance toward the river beyond
the point. “Wait a minute longer. Then we’ll go down there. Maybe we
can loosen the knots a bit.” He looked anxiously at his watch. It
showed the hour to be ten minutes to nine. “I hope that constable
doesn’t take it into his head to appear for a few minutes yet.”

“So do I. Shall we go now?”

“Yes, come along.”

They got up and sauntered back to where the _Slow Poke_ lay, Mr. Ewing
eying them suspiciously. The boat was moored fore and aft to two trees
growing near the bank. When they reached the first one Roy stopped and
started to undo the knot, while Dick kept on.

“Say, there’re chairs up there on the deck,” said Dick, pleasantly.
“Why don’t you get one? You must be tired sitting on that railing.”

“I’m pretty tolerable easy, thanks,” answered the farmer. “Here, you
there! What you doing to that rope?”

“Me?” asked Roy, innocently. “Just fixing it.”

“Well, leave it alone, do you hear?” The old shot-gun was pointed in
Roy’s direction and Roy thought it wise to obey, especially as he had
practically accomplished his purpose. Meanwhile Dick had seized the
occasion to give attention to the second rope, but the farmer spied him
before he could loosen the knot.

“Come away from there or I’ll let ye have this!” he shouted, angrily.
Dick came away and he and Roy sat down on the edge of the bank in the
sun, trying to look perfectly at ease. A swift glance upstream showed
them a dark object in the water floating slowly down with the current.
The object was Chub’s head. They didn’t dare look again until Chub was
almost abreast of the boat. Then,

“That was a pretty easy place to get out of you put us in,” said Roy.
The farmer blinked his eyes and motioned at Dick with his chin.

“You’d been there yet if it hadn’t been for him,” he said. “If I hadn’t
been alone there I guess it wouldn’t have happened.”

“You had Fido,” said Dick.

“He means Carlo,” explained Roy, amiably. “He’s a pretty smart dog,
isn’t he?”

“Guess you thought so,” chuckled the farmer. (Roy and Dick were
straining their ears for evidences of Chub’s arrival at the other side
of the boat.)

“Yes, he’s a nice dog,” said Roy, reflectively. “Of course he isn’t
much to look at, but, then, mongrels never are, I suppose.”

“He ain’t a mongrel,” said the farmer, indignantly. “He’s a pure-blooded
Saint Bernard, he is.” (Still there was no sound!)

“You don’t say?” asked Dick. “Funny how folks will talk to you when
they want to sell a dog, isn’t it? It just seems as though they didn’t
have any moral sense, doesn’t it?” (There was a sound now, just the
faintest sound in the world! Roy and Dick both plunged desperately into
conversation.)

“Dogs are funny things, anyway–” began Dick.

“I used to know a dog that looked just like Carlo,” Roy declared with
enthusiasm. “He was the knowingest thing–”

“Wasn’t he?” asked Dick, loudly and eagerly.

“Why, that dog knew more than any farmer I ever met!” almost shouted
Roy. “Just to show you how knowing he was, Mr. Ewing–!”

Then Roy stopped with a grin on his face and he and Dick looked past
the farmer until that worthy’s curiosity got the better of him and
he turned likewise, turned to look into the twin muzzles of Chub’s
shot-gun, which the owner, damp and cheerful in his scant attire, held
a yard from the farmer’s head.

Mr. Ewing’s jaw dropped comically.

“Wh-wh-what–” he stammered.

“Kindly lean your gun against the railing, Mr. Ewing,” said Chub,
softly. “Thank you. Now get down and jump ashore, please.”

“I–I’ll have you fellers put in prison for this!” growled the farmer.
But he was far more subdued than they’d ever seen him, and he swung his
long legs over the railing and strode to the gangway at the rear. “What
you going to do with my gun?” he demanded.

“Never you mind about your gun,” said Chub. “You git!”

Mr. Ewing “got.”

“Throw off those ropes, fellows,” said Chub, “and bring them aboard.”
He picked up the farmer’s gun, unloaded it, and tossed it onto the
bank. “Nothing but birdshot, after all,” he scoffed as he glanced at
the shells.

Mr. Ewing only grunted as he picked up his gun. Then,

“You’re a pretty cute lot, you are, but you wait until the next time,
by gum!”

“There won’t be any next time, by gum,” laughed Chub.

Dick and Roy, keeping watchful glances on the farmer, brought the ropes
aboard.

“Start her up,” said Chub to Dick. Then he handed his shot-gun to Roy.
“See that he doesn’t try any tricks,” he said. “I’ll go up and take
the wheel. I want to get out of here before the constable comes.”

The farmer stood a little way off observing them sourly. The propeller
began to churn and the _Slow Poke_ waddled off into deep water. Chub
threw the wheel hard over and the boat swung its nose around until it
pointed down-stream. Then he called for full speed and the _Slow Poke_
made off in a hurry.

“My love to Carlo!” cried Chub from the wheel-house.

“Tell him I hope he chokes!” added Roy vindictively.

At that moment a man in a faded blue coat with brass buttons came out
of the woods and hurried toward the farmer. Hasty explanations followed
on the part of the latter.

Chub put his lips to the speaking-tube.

“Got her full speed, Dick?” he called.

“Yes,” was the answer.

“All right. Our friend, the constable, has arrived. Keep her going.”
The _Slow Poke_ was now far out of the cove and making good time down
the river. Roy waved a polite farewell to the two figures on shore; the
whistle croaked, and the next minute the wooded point had shut them
from view. Roy hurried up to Chub.

“What are you going down the river for?” he asked.

“Because they may send out warrants for us,” answered Chub. “I want
them to think we’re going this way. After a while we’ll turn around, go
over toward the other shore and come back. I’ve got to get rid of these
wet clothes.”

When he came back, once more in conventional attire, he headed the boat
across to the opposite shore, turned her and crept upstream again. Roy
brought his field-glasses up and they searched the shore of the cove as
they went by. But there was no one in sight.

“I wonder if he’s had enough?” pondered Roy.

“I’ll bet he hasn’t. I’ll bet if we came back here fifty years from
now we’d find him sitting on the fence outside his gate with that old
popgun in his lap, waiting for us. You don’t know the–the indomitable
will of our dear friend, Job Ewing.”

“Jim,” corrected Roy.

“Pardon me; I meant to say James. No, Jim won’t forget us in a hurry,
and I think it will be wiser to keep on this side of the river for a
while. That’s Westchester County over there and this is Rockland. I
don’t know much about such things, I’m pleased to say, but it seems to
me that if that old farmer gets out a warrant for us we’ll be better
off in some other county.”

“What are you going to do about your coat and things, though?” Roy
asked.

“Get ’em this evening,” answered Chub, “when the shades of night have
fallen over hill and vale. Let’s put in around that point there and
stay until then, shall we? I don’t believe they can see us from the
other shore.”

Dick joined them and they talked it over and finally agreed to Chub’s
plan. The _Slow Poke_ was steered around the point and anchored–since
a shallow beach made it inadvisable to stretch lines ashore–near a
little village. The railroad ran along within a few yards and a tiny
station was in sight. But the point of land cut them off from sight of
Farmer Ewing’s neighborhood and they believed that they could spend the
day there safely. They went ashore and made a few purchases and learned
that the nearest ferry was four miles up the river.

“That would mean a good five miles upstream and four miles back if they
tried to get us that way,” said Chub. “And I don’t believe they’d go to
that trouble. Besides, it’s safe that they think we’re still going down
the river.”

“Just the same,” said Dick, “one of us had better keep a lookout all
the time so that if they did try to get us we could skip out.”

“Right you are, Dickums. Yours is the wisdom of the owl and the cunning
of the serpent.”

They spent a quiet day. They would have liked to go ashore and tramp,
but didn’t dare leave the boat lest the relentless Mr. Ewing should
descend upon it in their absence. So, instead, they read and wrote
letters on the upper deck under the awning, which was stretched for
the first time. To be sure, they had been away from home only two
days, but, as Roy pointed out, more had happened to write about during
those two days than was likely to happen in the next two weeks, and
they might as well make the most of it. The quiet lasted until about
four o’clock when Whiting’s thunder-storm, which had been growling
menacingly for an hour or more, descended upon them in full fury. There
was a busy time getting the awning down again, and then, somewhat
damp, they retreated to the forward cabin and watched the rain lash the
river and listened to the roaring of the storm. It was all over in half
an hour, leaving the air cool and refreshing. They had a good supper
and afterward, at about eight, pulled up anchor and headed the _Slow
Poke_ diagonally down the river until it was opposite the place where
Chub had undressed and left his coat. There Chub jumped into the tender
and rowed ashore. The others watched anxiously while the _Slow Poke_
sauntered along with the current but in five minutes Chub was back
again, his clothes in a bundle in the bottom of the tender.

“Didn’t see a soul,” he answered in response to the questions of the
others. “Start her up, Dick, and we’ll go back.”

It wasn’t so easy to sleep that night, for the trains went rushing by
on an average of every half hour, shrieking and clattering. But they
managed to doze off at intervals until well toward morning when, having
become inured to the racket, they slept soundly until the alarm-clock
in Chub’s bedroom went off.

“I move you,” said Chub at breakfast, “that we get out of this
vicinity as soon as we can. I’ve had enough excitement to last me for a
month. I’m for the silent reaches and the simple life!”

Continue Reading

MR. EWING IS OUTWITTED

“Well, what do you think of that?” gasped Chub.

The boys stared at Mr. Ewing in vexation, and Mr. Ewing regarded the
boys with grim placidity.

“Just as though he hadn’t made trouble enough for us,” muttered Dick.

“Well,” said Roy, starting on determinedly, “I’m not going to put up
with any more of his nonsense.”

“That’s all right,” cautioned Chub, “but remember, chum, that he has a
gun there.”

They walked along the bank until they were opposite the boat. Mr.
Ewing watched them silently, his gaze resting with interest on Dick.
Evidently he couldn’t account for Dick. Chub made the first overtures.

“Salutations,” he called.

“Mornin’,” responded the farmer. A silence followed.

“Want to see us, did you?” asked Chub, cheerfully.

“Ye-es,” drawled the farmer, “I wanted to have a few words with ye.”

“We are deeply honored, sir. Tell the gentleman how deeply honored we
are, Roy.” But Roy only growled. The farmer sniffed.

“What are you going to do?” he asked.

“We’re coming aboard,” replied Chub, making ready to leap the yard of
water that intervened between shore and boat.

“You just stay where you are,” said the farmer, patting his gun stock
significantly.

“But that’s our boat!” cried Roy, wrathfully.

“Maybe, maybe; chances are you stole it, though,” replied Mr. Ewing,
calmly.

“Well, you’re the most suspicious man I ever did see,” declared Chub,
disgustedly. “Suppose we insist on going aboard; what’s going to
happen?”

“I might have to put a load of buckshot in your legs,” answered the
farmer, showing his yellow fangs in a grim smile. “This boat is
confiscated.”

“You don’t say? What for?”

“Pendin’ the arrival of the constable. You can talk to him when he gets
here; I guess he’ll answer all the questions you want to ask him.” The
farmer chuckled. Roy appeared to be in real danger of exploding with
anger.

“Leave this to me,” whispered Chub. Then, “and about how long do you
think we’ll have to wait for the constable?” he inquired of Mr. Ewing.
The farmer cast an eye toward the sun.

“About half an hour, I guess,” he replied. “He promised to be over
about nine.”

“As early as that, eh?” murmured Chub, reflectively. “I hate to put
him to so much trouble. I do hope you and he didn’t lose much time
last night looking for us. We were so sorry we couldn’t stay until you
returned, but we had an engagement we just had to keep.”

“Don’t you bother about me,” growled the farmer. “Think you’re pretty
smart, I guess, don’t ye? Maybe you did fool me last night, but I sort
o’ guess I’ve got ye this time, eh?”

“It does look like it,” admitted Chub, reluctantly. “But then you’re
too smart for us, anyway, I suppose.”

“Huh,” grunted the farmer, suspiciously.

“We might as well sit down and take it easy while we wait,” said Chub
to the others. “Me for a nice spot in the shade.”

He moved down the shore a little way and Roy and Dick followed. When
they sat down under the shade of the trees they were out of hearing of
the farmer.

Continue Reading