“Back to the old home,” murmured Chub, as he leaned over the railing
of the upper deck and let his gaze travel over the scene before him.
Beside the landing at the right was the boat-house; to the left, the
little stretch of white beach; before him, the winding path leading
upward through a thick grove of rustling trees. Afar up on the hill,
the tower of School Hall showed above the tree-tops. Roy, on the float,
took a final hitch in the bow line, straightened himself, and looked

“Things haven’t changed much, have they?” he asked.

“Can’t expect them to, in less than a year,” answered Chub.

“There’s Hammond over there,” muttered Roy, shading his eyes and
looking across the glittering river.

“Well, that’s just where we left it,” laughed Chub. “And Harry’s Island
is in the same place, too, strange as it may seem. And the river still
flows to the south, and–”

“Oh, yes,” said Roy. “But I don’t think much of the welcome they’ve
provided, do you?”

“I do not,” answered Chub, with emphasis. “I expected at least a brass
band and a collation.”

“Bother the brass band,” said Dick, appearing from the engine-room
wiping his oil-stained hands on a piece of waste. “But a collation has
a cheerful sound.”

“I thought surely that Harry would be here,” said Roy, with a trace of
disappointment. “I wonder if she’s back.” He looked up the path.

“Maybe she didn’t get that letter,” suggested Dick. “If she didn’t she
wouldn’t know when to look for us. And here we have invited ourselves
to luncheon!”

“Let me see,” inquired Chub, “we posted that letter at the hotel,
didn’t we?”

“Of course,” answered Dick. “Roy wrote it that afternoon; don’t you

“I remember his writing it,” said Chub, “but I never saw it afterward.
Did you mail it at the office, Roy?”

“Yes–er–I guess so. I put it in my pocket when we went to dinner.”

“Ten to one, you didn’t mail it!” exclaimed Dick.

“Suppose you look in your pocket,” Chub suggested. Roy walked into the
forward cabin with a frown on his face. Chub and Dick grinned across at
each other. In a moment Roy returned with the letter in his hand and
looking very sheepish.

“It was in the pocket of my blue serge,” he announced. The others
looked disgusted.

“You’re a nice one!” exclaimed Chub. “Here we are with nothing on board
for luncheon and no one to invite us to the Cottage.”

“I’m awfully sorry,” muttered Roy. “I don’t know how I came to forget

“Well, there’s bacon and potatoes, isn’t there?” he added with an
attempt at cheerfulness.

“Bacon and potatoes!” growled Chub. “I’m sick of bacon and potatoes!”

“And I’m sick of cooking ’em!” added Dick. “I thought we were going to
get a good luncheon at the Cottage.”

“Well, why not go up and call on the Doctor and Mrs. Emery?” asked
Chub. “They’ll be certain to ask us to lunch.”

“It looks too cheeky,” said Roy.

“Think of your minding that!” murmured Chub. Then, “I know!” he
exclaimed. “We’ll blow the whistle and maybe some one will come!”

“Good idea!” Dick cried. He darted into the wheel-house and in a moment
the whistle was screeching loudly. “That ought to fetch some one,” said

_Toot-toot-! Toot-toot-toot!_ said the whistle. Dick kept up the racket
for a full minute, and then they awaited results. Several more minutes

“What time is it?” asked Dick. Chub looked at his watch.

“Almost a quarter past one,” he replied. “And they have luncheon at

Dick groaned.

“Listen!” exclaimed Roy. From up the hill came a faint shrill cry.

“It’s Harry!” Chub exclaimed. He scrambled down to the landing just as
a white-clad figure came into sight up the path.

“Ship ahoy!” she called, gleefully, using her hands as a megaphone, and
there was an answering shout of joy in chorus from the boat. The next
moment they were all shaking hands on the landing, laughing and talking
together in a babel of sound.

“I thought you weren’t coming!” cried Harry. “You promised to write and
you never did it!”

Harriet Emery, or Harry, as she preferred to be called, was the
daughter of Doctor Emery, the Principal of Ferry Hill School. She
was sixteen years of age, or would be very shortly, and a charming
girl. She had pronouncedly red hair of a very pretty shade, a pair of
sparkling blue eyes, a somewhat pert, little, uptilted nose, and a
complexion which, in spite of the coat of tan which was beginning to
overspread it was very attractive.

“Well, you certainly have grown!” exclaimed Chub, backing off that he
might get the full effect of the graceful figure in its white dress.
“Skirts down and hair up,” he added with a shake of his head. “Harry,
you must come to Class Day next year. Will you?”

“Do you really think I’ve grown?” she asked, eagerly.

“Grown!” echoed Roy. “You look a whole foot taller!”

“That’s because she wears her hair that way,” said Dick.

“Dick Somes, it is not!” Harry turned upon him indignantly.

“Dick Somes, you ought to be ashamed of yourself!” mimicked Chub.
“Don’t you mind him, Harry. He never did have any manners in spite
of my careful training. We were beginning to think you weren’t here,

“I didn’t know when you were coming, silly! Why didn’t you write? I’ve
been awfully anxious.”

“Write? Oh, but we _did_ write,” said Chub. “Didn’t you get Roy’s

“Of course I didn’t,” replied Harry, suspiciously, glancing around her
at the preternaturally sober countenances. “I don’t believe you wrote.”

[Illustration: The next moment they were all shaking hands]

“How passing strange!” murmured Chub. “Roy, hand the lady her letter.
She appears to doubt my word.”

Roy laughed, and fished the missive from his pocket.

“You didn’t send it!” Harry exclaimed. Chub shook his head.

“No, we feared it might alarm you. We thought it better to bring it
along with us. You will see that we agreed to be here the twenty-first.
It is now the twenty-first. And here we are, right on time. Punctuality
is one of our principal virtues. Tell her some of the others, Dick.”

“The fact is,” owned Roy, “that I forgot to mail it, Harry. I’m awfully
sorry, really.”

“Well, it doesn’t matter now that you’re here, does it?” asked Harry,
beamingly. “And doesn’t the _Jolly Roger_ look beautiful?”

“She is no longer the _Jolly Roger_,” corrected Chub. “We have changed
the name to _Slow Poke_. After you’ve been on her awhile you’ll know
why. But she does pretty well. I take very good care of her. Of course,
if I had a capable, intelligent crew, I might do much better, but–”

“Chub, you’re just as silly as ever!” said Harry, severely. “I should
think that going to college would make you more sensible.”

“It will take more than a year to affect him that way,” said Dick.

“Oh, I’m so glad to see you all!” exclaimed Harry, beaming from one to
another of the trio. “But we must hurry back because luncheon is on the
table and I told mama I’d bring you right up.”

The boys gazed at each other and smiled covertly. Chub shook his head

“It’s very nice of you, Miss Emery, and we appreciate your
thoughtfulness, but the fact is that Dick had just announced dinner
when you appeared. So I think we had better decline your invitation.”

“Now that’s perfectly horrid!” cried Harry in disappointment. “_Please_
come, Chub!”

Chub hesitated, frowning tensely. Dick and Roy grinned. At length–

“Very well, if you put it that way,” acceded Chub. “I never could
refuse a lady. We will go, even against our inclinations. Dick, clear
the viands from the board.”

Dick and Roy burst into laughter, while Harry looked perplexedly from
them to Chub’s grave countenance.

“There aren’t any viands,” blurted Dick. “We haven’t anything but bacon
and potatoes.”

“Oh!” said Harry. “Chub Eaton, you’re a dreadful fibber! It would just
serve you right if I–if I recalled my invitation.”

“Jehoshaphat!” shrieked Chub, leaping up the path. “I won’t give you
a chance! I’ll tell your mother you’ll be right up.” They heard him
scrambling up through the grove ahead of them. But when they reached
the gate in the hedge which divided the school grounds from the woods
Chub was awaiting them. “We will all go in together,” he announced with
dignity. “It will look much better.”

So they went across to the doctor’s residence, mounted the steps, and
found themselves in the little parlor shaking hands with Doctor and
Mrs. Emery and the latter’s sister, who was to remain at the Cottage
during the absence of Harry and her father.

Chub and Roy and Dick had been quite intimate with the doctor and
his wife during their school years, and the latter were unmistakably
glad to see them again. Luncheon was ready and they all trooped into
the dining-room. Of course, there was much to tell and the doctor
asked a good many questions of Chub and Roy regarding their college
experience. Afterward the conversation worked around to the cruise,
and Chub recounted their adventures up to date, winning more than one
hearty laugh from his audience. Mrs. Emery wanted them to bring their
luggage ashore and occupy beds in one of the dormitories during their
stay at Ferry Hill, but they declined the invitation, electing to stand
by their ship. It was agreed that the _Slow Poke_ was to remain at
Ferry Hill two days. Then the Doctor and Harry were to go aboard, and
the cruise was to continue up the river. There was only one dissenting
voice, and that was Dick’s.

“Seems to me,” he said, “we ought to turn around and go down stream a
while. The _Slow Poke’s_ been tussling with the current ever since we
started. We ought to give her a rest and let her float with the tide
for a while.”

“Oh, shucks,” Chub objected, “put some more oil on the engine, Dickums.
What’s the good of going over the same ground–I mean the same
water–twice? Let’s discover new worlds.”

So the majority had its way, as it usually does, and the _Slow Poke_
was slated for a fortnight’s trip up the river and back again.

After dinner every one went down to the landing and inspected the
house-boat, Roy murmuring excuses for the untidiness of the rooms. Mrs.
Emery, however, declared that everything looked very neat, and that she
rather wished she were going, too. Whereupon Chub gallantly offered to
sleep on deck.

“What a dear little room!” Harry exclaimed when her room on the boat
was shown her. “It’s perfectly lovely!” Her father’s room adjoined it
and he, too, was delighted. The three boys “bunked” together in the
rear room.

Roy hurried in to summon Dick to his duties as engineer, as the ladies
wanted to go for a sail. The _Slow Poke_ meandered up the river for a
couple of miles and the guests sat on the upper deck and said all sorts
of nice things about her and her crew. Harry was allowed to take the
wheel for a while, under Chub’s tutelage, and was highly pleased.

The boys remained at the school two days, during which time they
went to all their old haunts, played a good deal of tennis, and had a
thoroughly enjoyable time of it. They spent an afternoon on Harry’s
Island, which lay in the river just above the school, and talked over
the fun they had had the summer before while camping out there. The
island had been a birthday present to Harry from her father, and she
was very proud of it.

“When I get through college,” she declared, “I’m going to build a house
here and live in it all my days. Won’t that be jolly?”

“Pshaw,” said Dick, “you’ll get married and maybe live a thousand miles
from here.”

“I shan’t,” answered Harry, seriously. “I’ve decided not to be married,
ever. I told Aunt Harriet so the other day and she said I was very

They visited Harry’s menagerie in the barn and renewed acquaintances
with Methuselah, the parrot, several Angora cats and kittens,
squirrels, guinea-pigs, rabbits, white mice and pigeons. [Snip, Harry’s
fox-terrier had long since welcomed them.] Methuselah looked not a whit
different from what he did when they had last seen him, and, although
it is doubtful if he remembered even Dick, he acted quite cordially
and nipped Roy’s finger in quite an intimate manner.

“Do you think,” asked Harry, anxiously, “that Snip would be in the way
on the boat?”

“Of course not,” answered Chub. “We’re going to take him along,
aren’t we, Snip?” And Snip wagged his stump of a tail in enthusiastic

They were to leave in the morning, and Harry spent most of that
afternoon in the kitchen making pies and doughnuts, Mrs. Emery
assisting. Chub, being missed from the tennis court, was discovered
sitting on the kitchen doorsteps sampling the baking.

“How many has he had, Mrs. Emery?” Roy demanded.

“Only one or two, haven’t I, Mrs. Emery?” cried Chub.

“Well, not very many,” responded that lady smilingly.

“Chub Eaton, you’ve had four to my certain knowledge!” exclaimed Harry,
who, with a blue-checked apron tied under her chin and very flushed
cheeks, was superintending the frying of a new batch of doughnuts.

“Then you’ve had quite enough,” said Roy firmly. “And it’s back to
tennis court for you, Chub.”

However, they postponed the carrying out of the verdict long enough to
do some sampling themselves. “They’re perfect,” was Dick’s verdict,
“but I miss the almond flavor, Harry.” Whereupon Harry grew very much
redder and it was discovered that her mother had never learned of her
experiment in adding almond extract to the doughnut recipe the summer
before. So Chub told about it and Harry declared that he was too mean
for words and shouldn’t have another bite of anything.

The next morning after breakfast the luggage was taken aboard, the
doctor’s being largely composed of books and papers, and at ten o’clock
all hands were at the landing, Snip being so excited that he was
obliged to bark every instant. Doctor Emery pretended that the voyage
was to last for months at least and was very solicitous as to the
state of the larder. Mrs. Emery, her sister, and John, the gardener
and general factotum, were on hand to witness the departure and to
wave good-by as the _Slow Poke_ nosed her way free of the landing and
started off on the second stage of her voyage.

“Good-by, mama!” called Harry from the upper deck, waving a wisp of a
handkerchief frantically.

“Good-by!” called Mrs. Emery. “Don’t fall overboard!”

“I won’t,” promised Harry, earnestly.

And then caps and handkerchiefs waved busily until the _Slow Poke_
passed around the end of Harry’s Island and the landing disappeared
from view.

“And now,” cried Harry, ecstatically, “we’re really at sea!”