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The Adventure Club Afloat By Ralph Henry Barbour Characters: 12946

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04

There had been talk of going through the Cape Cod Canal and so obviating the outside journey, but most of the voyagers thought that would be too tame and unexciting. Besides, a barge had managed to sink herself across the channel near the Buzzard's Bay end a week or so before and no one seemed to know for certain whether she had yet pulled herself out and gone on about her business, and, as Steve pointed out, they'd feel a bit foolish if they got to the canal entrance and had to turn back again. They had fair weather and light breezes all the way to New Harbour and from there, the next day, around the tip of the Cape to Provincetown. They dropped anchor off the yacht club landing at Provincetown at four o'clock Friday afternoon and went ashore as soon as the boats were berthed and sought the post-office. Provincetown had been selected as the first certain port of call and most of the thirteen boys found mail awaiting them. Only Neil, however, received tidings of importance, and his letter from his parents brought an exclamation of dismay to his lips.

"Anything wrong?" asked Ossie, sitting beside him on the rail of the hotel porch.

"Rotten," replied Neil disgustedly. "I've got to go home!"

"Go home!" echoed the other. "What for?"

"Dad's got to go to England on some silly business or other," explained Neil gloomily, "and he wants me to stay with mother. Of course I ought to. Mother's sort of an invalid and there's no one else. But it's rotten luck." He stowed the letter in his pocket and stared disappointedly at the passing traffic. "I was having a bully time, too," he muttered disconsolately.

"That's a shame," said Ossie sympathetically. "When will you have to go?"

"He wants me to meet him in New York Sunday. He sails early Monday morning. I suppose I'll have to go tomorrow. Guess I'd better get a time table and see how the trains run."

"Gee, I'm sorry," murmured Ossie.

And so, for that matter, was every other member of the Adventurer's company for Neil was well liked. And the Follow He's crew were scarcely less regretful. A study of the railroad schedule showed that the next train for Boston left at five-fifty-five in the morning and that the only other train was at two-forty in the afternoon.

"Five-fifty-five's a perfectly punk time for a train to leave anywhere, even Provincetown," objected Neil. "And the two-forty will get me to Boston too late for anything but a midnight train to New York."

"Bother trains," said Steve. "We'll run you to Boston tomorrow in the boat. We can do it in four hours or so. If the Follow Me crowd want to stay here another day we'll wait for them at Boston, or we'll go on and meet them further up the shore."

"But I don't want to hurry you chaps away from the Cape," expostulated Neil. "You were going to Plymouth, weren't you?"

"Yes, we were, but there's nothing important about that. Hold on, though! I say, look up the Plymouth trains, Neil. There must be more of them from there and we can put you across to Plymouth in a couple of hours."

They found that a train leaving Plymouth at ten would put Neil in Boston shortly after eleven, in plenty of time for the one o'clock express to New York, and so it was decided that the Adventurer was to leave her present port at seven in the morning. The Follow Me was to follow more leisurely and the boats would spend the next night at Plymouth. Neil and Ossie went off to send telegrams and the others roamed around the town until it was time for supper. Afterwards Neil packed his belongings in two pasteboard laundry boxes, having no bag with him, and constantly bewailed his ill-fortune. Later the Follow Me crowd came over and they had quite a jolly evening and Neil cheered up vastly.

The next morning dawned clear and hot and, after an early breakfast, the Adventurer weighed anchor. The Follow Me's whistle signalled good-bye until they were half-way to Long Point and the Adventurer replied. Once around the point the boat headed across the wide bay for the mainland at a good sixteen-mile clip. The voyage was uneventful and Manomet Hill was soon sighted. Then Plymouth Beach stretched before them and presently they were rounding the head and pointing the Adventurer's nose for the town. There was still the better part of an hour left after the anchor was dropped and they all tumbled into the dingey and found a landing and spent the next three-quarters of an hour rambling around the historic town, Ossie and Perry bearing Neil's strange-looking luggage. Neil insisted on viewing Plymouth Rock, declaring that he might never get another opportunity, and after that there was not much time left to them. They installed Neil on the train impressively, stowed his luggage around him and then took up positions outside the window, where, to the mingled curiosity and amusement of other travellers, they conducted farewell exercises. These included an entirely impromptu and unsolicited duet by Perry and Han, a much interrupted speech by Joe, and, finally, as the train moved out of the station, a hearty Dexter cheer with three "Neils!" on the end. In such manner the Adventurer lost her cabin boy and the ranks of the club were depleted by one.

Neil's departure left a hole and as the others returned from the station they spoke of him rather as though he had passed on to a better world, recalling his good points and becoming quite sad in a cheerful way. In view of their bereavement, they decided to have luncheon at a hotel and during that meal recovered their spirits. More sight-seeing followed, but the day was a hot one and by half-past three they had had enough and so returned to the landing and pulled back to the cruiser. Steve, who had supplied himself with yesterday's New York and Boston papers, pre-empted a seat on the bridge deck and stretched himself out on it, his legs crooked over the railing. The others found places in the shade as best they could and talked and watched for the Follow Me and listened to occasional snatches of news from Steve. There was practically no breeze and the afternoon was uncomfortably hot even under the awning. Joe finally solved the difficulty of keeping cool by disappearing below and presently re-emerging in his swimming trunks and dropping overboard. That set the fashion, and they all went in save Steve, who was too absorbed in his papers to know whether he was warm or not. The Follow Me came up the harbour just before five and toote

d a greeting as she swung around to a berth near the Adventurer. The fellows, who were still in bathing attire, swam across to her, and very shortly their ranks were increased by just half a dozen more. The sight of Steve's feet hanging over the canvas was too much for Perry and he yielded to temptation. Swimming up very quietly he deftly pulled off one of Steve's "sneakers" and, in defiance of the owner's protests, they played ball with it until the inevitable happened and it sank out of sight before Wink Wheeler could dive for it. "Brownie" said then that Steve might as well let them have the other one, since one shoe was no use to him, but Steve's reply was not only non-compliant but actually insulting in its terms. He took off the other "sneaker" and laid on it.

That bath left them feeling both refreshed and hungry and Ossie had a hard time finding enough for them to eat. Perry described the astonishment of some Plymouth fisherman when he opened a codfish some fine day and discovered a rubber-soled shoe inside. "You'll read all about it in the paper, Steve, and won't you laugh!" he added.

Steve, who had been forced to don a pair of leather shoes, didn't seem to anticipate any great amount of amusement, however, and suggested that it would be a gentlemanly act if Perry would hie himself to a store and purchase a pair of number 8 "sneakers," a suggestion which Perry weighed carefully and discarded. "You see," he explained, "it wouldn't be fair to make me spend my hard-earned money for two 'sneakers' when I only lost one. If the store would sell me half a pair, Steve, I'd make good in a minute, but you see my point of view, don't you?"

Steve didn't seem to.

While they were still at table Harry Corwin's voice was heard and Ossie investigated by the simple expedient of climbing on top of the galley locker and thrusting his head through the open hatch. "He wants to know if we'll go to the movies with them," said Ossie, ducking back into sight.

"Surest thing you know," agreed Perry.

"We might as well, eh?" asked Joe. "It'll be beastly hot, though."

"I'll go if they've got Charlie Chaplin," said Han. "Ossie, ask him if they have, please."

"He says he doesn't know," responded Ossie after an exchange of remarks. "I told them we'd go, though," he added, dropping to the floor. "They're going to wait for us on the landing in half an hour."

"Half an hour!" grumbled Perry. "You told them that so I couldn't get enough to eat, you stingy beggar! Got anything more out there?"

"Great Jumping Jehosaphat!" ejaculated Ossie wildly. "I've cooked two messes of potatoes and toasted a hundred slices of bread-"

"Oh, all right. Bring on the dessert, then."

"The dessert's on now," answered Ossie shortly. "Cookies and jelly. That's all you get, Piggie."

"Won't we have to buy some more grub pretty soon?" asked Steve.

Ossie nodded and glanced darkly at Perry. "If he stays around we will," he answered. "We've got enough for three or four days yet, though. Better have some canned stuff, I guess. And some flour and sugar."

"How's the treasury, Phil?" inquired Han.

"Still holding out. Where's the next stop, Steve?"

"We said Portsmouth, but Harry wants to put in at Salem. I don't suppose it matters much."

"Then we cut out Boston altogether?"

"Why, yes, it's out of the way a bit. Besides, we didn't start out on this cruise to visit cities."

"We started out to look for adventures," said Perry sadly, "but I don't see many of them coming our way."

"What do you call adventures?" asked Han. "Didn't you have a fine time being lost in the fog the other day?"

"Huh!" replied Perry, scraping the last of the jelly from the glass. "Being lost in the fog isn't an adventure. It's just plain punk. What I mean is-is pirates and-and desert islands and-and that sort of thing."

"You were born a hundred years or so too late," said Joe, shaking his head. "Toss me a cookie, Han. Thanks. If you saw a pirate, Perry, you'd-um-you'd drop dead."

"If I saw a pirate," replied Perry indignantly, "I'd-um-live as long as you would! Besides, I've got a perfect right to drop dead if I want to."

"Go ahead," said Joe lightly. "Any time you like, old chap."

"The reason I spoke of Boston," reverted Phil, "was that I thought it might be a good place to buy our supplies. There's no use paying any more for them than we have to and going broke before the cruise is half over."

"Yes, but don't forget that gasoline's pretty expensive stuff these days, Phil," said Steve. "I guess we'd burn up enough gas getting to Boston to make up for any saving on supplies, eh? I suppose there are stores in Salem."

"Thought it burned up awhile ago," said Han.

"Part of it did, but I don't suppose it stayed burned up, you idiot. What time is it? We'd better beat it for shore."

"Right-o," agreed Han. "I hope they have Charlie Chaplin, though."

By some strange inadvertency, however, Mr. Chaplin's eccentric person was missing from the screen. In spite of that, though, Han managed to enjoy the evening. Afterwards Perry suggested light refreshments and they set out in search of a lunch counter. But anyone who knows Plymouth will realise the hopelessness of their search. After roaming around the quiet and deserted streets and at last being assured by a policeman that their quest was worse than idle they went back to the tenders. "I suppose," said Perry disgustedly, "they close all the stores early so they can go to the movies. I wish now we'd had some soda at that drug store where the man had insomnia."

"We've got food on board," said Ossie. "I'll fix up some sandwiches. I wish you'd get enough to eat for once, though," he added as he took his place in the dingey. "Don't they ever feed you at home, Perry?"

"Huh, I'll bet you're as hungry as I am! What are they yelping about over there?"

The other tender had left the landing a moment before the Adventurer's boat and now its occupants were heard shouting confusedly across the moonlit water.

"Can you make out what they're saying?" asked Steve of the rest.

"Just nonsense, I guess," answered Phil, tugging at his oar.

"Stop rowing a minute and listen," Steve directed. "Now then!"

"Something about the boat," murmured Han. "I can't make it out, though."

"By Jove, I can!" exclaimed Steve. "The Follow Me's gone! She must have slipped her anchor or dragged or something. Row hard, fellows!"

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