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CHAPTER I

"I don't,” answered Harriet. “The letter merely

told us to come to this place at this time." THE WESTERNER

Pelham, inattentive, walked to the other side PELHAM ceased his tramping up and down and of the Roat and looked down into a large cat-boat stood at the edge of the float. “Disgusting!” that was tied there. "Venture- what a name ! said he.

I bet this is the boat that was sent for us.” Rising from the little trunk, Harriet came to “Oh, Pelham,” cried Harriet; “look!" his side. "Oh, but see how beautiful it all is !" Pelham was already looking. Their float, one

"Beautiful ?” sniffed Pelham. “Nothing but of several that were moored side by side along water and flat coasts. Not a hill to look at !" the waterfront of a seaside town, was reached by

"See the yachts !" urged Harriet. "I never saw a gang-plank that led down from a little pier. At so many before. Out there they must be racing." the pier end stood a girl of perhaps fifteen, taller

"But this afternoon our nine is playing a than Harriet and slenderer, very simply dressed. match," snapped Pelham.

She was burdened with two suitcases, along the Harriet began to laugh, a low laugh and en- top of one of which was strapped an umbrella ; joyable, pleasant to hear. “And the boys at and thus encumbered, she stood hesitating before Colton don't play ball at all. Is that the trouble?" the narrow gang-plank along which she would

The lad turned to his sister. “I suppose it is," have to carry her baggage. he said honestly. “The fellows where we 're "Let me help !" and Pelham ran up to the pier. going do nothing but sail."

The girl's dark eyes smiled into his. Releas"They swim,” reminded Harriet.

ing to him the clumsier of the suitcases, she "So do we at home,” retorted the boy. “But thanked him and went down the long swaying I know nothing of sailing, nothing !"

plank with an ease that he tried in vain to imitate. "Time you learned,” replied Harriet. Her ig- “Need my sea-legs already," he grumbled. “She norance was as great as his.

knows the water, all right.– Don't mention it.” "Oh,” he returned, “I hate to make a fool of And bowing, he set the suitcase down by the girl myself among strangers. And suppose I 'm sea- and returned to his sister's side. sick! What would Howard think of me? I may. “She was on our train,” said Harriet, softly. be sick on the trip over; it looks rough out there “I saw her get on at the last junction. You and on the bay. Why don't we start, anyway? Where I took the only carriage at the station, and so she is the boat that was to meet us? Was Ruth or could n't get here till now. She 's a most interHoward coming, do you know?"

esting girl, Pel."

“Good-looking hair,” agreed Pelham, who admired brunettes. “Awfully nice smile."

Harriet continued to study the girl, who was looking with interest down into the cat-boat. “Any girl with a nice sme can fool any boy," she replied with sisterly irony. "She has a very steady eye, Pelham, and a very firm mouth.”

Pelham was not attending. "Oh!” he said.

Harriet knew the expression of dismay. "What have you done now?" · Pelham was fumbling with papers that his hand had encountered in his pocket. “I forgot these entirely,” he mumbled apologetically as he disentangled a letter from among them. “I got this for you at the post-office last night."

“Ruth's letter !" cried Harriet, seizing it. "Oh, Pelham, supposing she told us not to come !"

Guiltily Pelham waited till a bright nod from Harriet reassured him. Then, with a quick look at the other girl upon the float, she said in a low voice, “Come and read over my shoulder.” Standing beside her, he read as she pointed :

I am sorry that Howard and I can't meet you across the bay. But the races have been changed, and we simply must not miss a single one of the series for the Golden Eagle, and we have to take the two boatmen with us. But the chauffeur knows a good deal about boats and a good deal more about engines, and he will be waiting for you at the float in our motor-cat, the Venture.

ham noted how her glance, remaining for the most part on Harriet's face, nevertheless took quick little excursions over her dress, rested briefly on Harriet's hands, and finally darted inquiringly at him. Somehow he felt that she had catalogued the whole of him in less than a second.

"Reserved, by Jove !" he thought. “I know that kind. They 're stiff as pokers.”

But he came forward when Harriet called him, and "did his manners” quite as coolly as Lois did hers.

“And here, I suppose,” said Harriet, "is the missing chauffeur.”

A man, hasty of step and worried of manner, had appeared at the head of the gangway; he wore a chauffeur's flat cap and leather leggings. Seeing them, his face brightened and he hurried to the float. "Miss Dodd? Miss Weatherbee? I am Mr. Winslow's chauffeur, come to meet you. I missed you in the town and wondered where you could be."

As he spoke he thrust back into his breast pocket the stem of a new pipe and smoothed down the sides of his jacket, which bulged as if with other purchases.

“Skating around the truth,” thought Pelham.

He perceived that the man had not said that he had tried to meet them in the town; he remembered that the letter promised that he would meet them at the float; he knew that the time of the train's arrival must have been told him. He noticed that the man's face, aquiline and regular, might have been pleasing but for eyes that wavered in their glance and would not meet his squarely. And Pelham's opinion of the coming fortnight, away from his chums and his hills and his beloved baseball, sank lower. He was always sensitive to the people about him, even the servants, and he classed the tricky chauffeur, of whom he expected to see little, and the cool school-girl, of whom he might see a good deal, in with the sailing, which would bore him, and the seasickness, which would bring him disgrace. He knew that he should n't like his visit.

The chauffeur sprang into the cat-boat and lifted in the suitcases. Pelham helped him to secure Harriet's little square trunk in the middle of the boat. Seeing Lois, after she had stepped into the boat, cast a glance at the outer bay and begin to pin her hat firmer, an example which Harriet at once followed, he dove into the little storehouse of a cabin where the man had put the suitcases. Opening his own, he rummaged for a cap. The smell of the place, tarry and fishy, oppressed him, especially since at the moment the boat chose to roll a little. “Seasick, sure!” he groaned. But crawling out again, with his cap

"That is the boat, then," thought Pelham. He read on:

And you will meet there, too, my schoolmate Lois Weatherbee. I am so glad you are to know her; I had given up hope of it this summer. She is from the West, an orphan, and she has no home. She is at my boarding-school under the wing of old Mrs. Townsend, who is our patroness-in-chief; she meant to have had I.ois with her this summer, but she fell ill. Of course, we girls jumped at the chance of having Lois visit us—but I was too late : in no time Lois was engaged for the whole summer. But the other day she wrote me there was serious illness where she was visiting, her room was needed for the trained nurse, and might she, Lois, come to me for the rest of the month. Of course I telegraphed her to come; you may even meet on the train. She is dark, and wears a blue travelingsuit. At any rate, you will see her at the float.

Lois is about our age, but more mature, more experienced ; she thinks more than I do about people and things. But she 's a dandy girl

Harriet rustled the letter together and sprang up. “Is n't this Lois Weatherbee?" she asked.

The girl by the cat-boat turned. She was selfpossessed, Pelham thought, as she met so quietly his sister's eager approach. But she readily took Harriet's proffered hand, and smiled as she had smiled at him. To Harriet's explanation and introduction she listened without moving, and Pel

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fixed firmly on his head and his sweater at hand, he saw a sight that roused his interest.

The man had removed the cover of a large box that was fixed below the steering-wheel. There was revealed a little marine engine, oily and greasy, and quite as smelly as the cabin which Pelham had just quitted. But he was delighted at the sight. His elder brother's automobile was his latest craze. To understand it he had been studying up about gasolene engines, and here was one! "Oh, great !” he cried, delighted. “So we are n't going to sail. I was afraid we were. Is that the carbureter? Only two cylinders! Do let me start her! Where 's the crank ?"

“There is no crank," said the man, amused. “A self-starter?" inquired Pelham.

"Nor a self-starter either," replied the man. He showed Pelham a pin sunk in the rim of the solid little Ay-wheel. “Pull it out,” he directed, adjusting other parts. “Now swing the wheel to the right,- be ready to let the pir: go; swing further this time and snap her back hard. Good!” And the little engine began its racking labor.

"Cover it !" cried Harriet. “Do shut in that noise !"

"Oh, no!" protested Pelham. "I can stand it,” said Lois, quietly, to Harriet.

"Wait," said the man, and with a screw-driver he removed some boards that had covered other parts of the machine.

When Pelham, crouched beside the little engine and studying its action, at last glanced away from the motor, he found the scene changed. The girls had bound their hats on with veils and wore their sweaters; when he had put on his own, he did not remember. A little spray blew in his face as he looked up; the broad boat rose over a swell, plunged downward, and revealed the whole length of the bay as tossing blue and flecked with whitecaps. The shore ahead was miles away; looking back, the place that they had left seemed equally far. The air was hazy, and big clouds hung low; but the salt in the breeze was very refreshing, and as soon as Pelham satisfied himself that there was none of that sidewise swaying that he disliked so much, he felt at his ease. Looking at the girls, he saw them seated side by side, and Harriet smiling at him.

“Seasick yet?” she asked. "Too busy,” he answered. He saw that Lois was looking intently forward across the tumbling water. “One would think,” he remarked, "that you had been brought up at the shore instead of in the West. How can a ranch girl," he asked, "feel at home on the water?"

She laughed so joyously that he was taken aback. "Oh, dear!" she cried; “call a girl a Westerner, and any Easterner at once concludes that her favorite occupation is scalping Indians."

"Oh, well," grumbled Pelham, nettled. “But if you are n't from a ranch—”

"Why,” cried Lois, “I have sailed for summer after summer in San Francisco Bay." But then to his relief, instead of triumphing over him, she went on: “As for my loving the water, let me ask you a question. You care for mechanics?"

"Engines,” said Pelham; "and mills, and looms, and motors- they ’re fine!”

She looked at him very kindly. "Well,” she went on, "it happens now and then that a girl who loves music and poetry also loves the water."

When her eyes, as if drawn away, fixed themselves on the blue waves, Pelham knew he understood. He answered, "I really see," but she seemed so absorbed that he doubted if she heard him. And so he understood more clearly still.

But as he could not forever watch the waves which so fascinated her, he turned his attention to the boat. "Pretty broad,” he said to the man

"She 's a bay cat-boat,” the chauffeur explained. “I've heard Mr. Winslow tell how they were worked out by the fishermen here as the best all-round model for the bay, where the water is shallow and the storms come quick. We kick up a lively little sea here in almost no time; and these light-draft boats, with their centerboards, are safe and steady, they say.”

Pelham looked at the sail, which, tightly furled upon the long boom that ran above his head and was securely lashed in a crotch, seemed not to have been disturbed for weeks. “You don't use it often?”

"Only when something goes wrong with the engine. The sail ought really to have a sail-case to keep it from getting wet, but Mr. Winslow's rule is to take the case off whenever we leave the harbor, to be ready for emergencies. I think a sail no good at all.”

Pelham thought so too. To him, just then, horses and sails and, in fact, any other motive power than gasolene and steam had no reason for existing. But he saw a little shrug of Lois's shoulders. “You prefer sails?" he asked.

"Sails above everything !” she answered.

They were now drawing near the head of the bay, and the man began to point out landmarks. He saw headlands, bays, and coves which Pelham

found difficulty in distinguishing; but the boy could understand the meaning of a low lighthouse a mile or so ahead, and was pleased to learn that it marked the opening of Colton harbor.

But Lois, for her part, began to display a practical interest in her surroundings. She inquired the depth of water off the nearer point, wished to be shown the buoys to be rounded, the rocks to avoid. Were there shallows, sand-bars, tide-rips? Pelham saw that she was asking questions which the man did not answer easily.

“I suppose yachtsmen are like that," thought Pelham. “They are like the guides that we had in Maine, who would squat by the fire half the night drawing maps on the ground and telling each other how to get from place to place." He was roused by an exclamation from Harriet, who pointed toward the misty western shore.

Out of the haze was emerging a line of boats, small of hull, tall of spar, with full spreads of canvas. All on the same tack, they followed each other in beautiful order. “A race !” he cried.

"No," returned the man, “that 's the Colton fleet returning from the races at Marlow, five miles across the bay. They are headed for home; we ought to pass into the harbor together."

He began to explain which boat was which. Howard Winslow's was leading; his sister Ruth's was third. “Then," asked Harriet, "the girls have their own boats?"

“Just like the young men," replied the chauffeur. "They sail and swim like boys, every one. Brought up on the water, most of them were.

Harriet sat more erect. She loved to sail, she wanted to learn, and her chief fear had been that the girls would not stand a chance among the boys. The news promised her all she wanted.

“How curious !" cried Pelham. “See that long yellow streamer on Ruth Winslow's boat."

"It 's still there, then," said the man. "I was just looking for it. So Colton still holds the Golden Eagle. You see,” he explained, "there is a three-year trophy which Colton and Marlow have been fighting for since 1914. It 's a handsome little eagle, four inches high, to be held by the boat winning the most races in the fifteenfoot class. The eagle stays with each summer's winner through the next year, and there 's a pennant that is passed along to the winner of each race. Fred Barnes won the first year; Howard Winslow has held the eagle this summer, and his sister has won the pennant for the last three races. This race gives her the year's championship-so it 's a tie with her and the two boys. There will have to be a final race to settle it.”

Harriet held her head higher still. If only she could be with Ruth in that final race !

Chapter II

THE SQUALL “FUNNY, how dull the day is getting,” remarked Pelham. He found it difficult to distinguish the boats at scarcely a mile's distance.

"And the wind is falling,” responded the chauffeur. “We'll beat them to the harbor after all.”

Lois was looking keenly about. She glanced toward the horizon, where the haze was steadily growing darker; she looked overhead, where there seemed to be no cloud, but simply a gathering murkiness; she wetted a finger, and held it to the dying wind. Then she nodded her head. “There 's going to be a squall !"

The man laughed a little. "Oh, no," he said easily. “This will amount to nothing."

Pelham agreed with him. He had never seen a storm come out of such a cloud as this. Really, it was no cloud at all.

Lois said nothing more. Her firm little mouth expressed a good deal as she settled herself in her seat (“Obstinate,” thought Pelham), but she made no protest. It was Harriet who spoke next.

"What are the yachts doing ?".

The sail-boats, which had all been bending in the same direction, had suddenly come upright. Their sails were shivering, and the high peaks of some were already falling. As Pelham looked at the nearest its large sail began to flutter down.

Lois, after one look, raised her head triumphantly. "They 're reefing. A squall is coming." She turned to the man. “What is your name?"

"Jones," he answered, a little sulkily.

"Are n't there some oilskins on board ?" she asked.

"In the cabin,” he said, nodding toward it.

She moved across Pelham and laid her hand on the wheel, which the man held. "Fetch them out." she said. "I will steer."

For a moment Pelham thought that the man was going to refuse; then with a grumble, he released the wheel and went to the little cabin. Reluctantly he crawled in. Pelham and Harriet looked at each other; then covertly the boy stole a glance at Lois. She was sitting upright, watching the water; but as she felt the boy's eye on her she said, without changing her position:

"You 'd better throw that spare sail over the trunk, to keep it dry.”

Pelham finished tucking the canvas around the trunk just as Jones came crawling from the cabin, pushing before him a pile of sticky yellow cloth in which Pelham tried in vain to find the semblance of anything useful. He had heard of oilskins, but until the man, standing up, began to twitch the heap into its separate parts he had

never realized what wrinkly and unattractive messes they were. Jones tossed him two of the garments, Harriet another pair, and Lois commanded briefly: “Get into those. We've not got many minutes."

Pelham glanced at the sky. There were clouds at last, thick and black. Passing far overhead, they were just shutting out the westering sun. The water seemed a tossing waste of ink.

The oilskins stuck together, but he pulled them apart, pushed his feet through the overalls, and buttoned their straps across his shoulders. He managed to wriggle himself into the jacket just as Jones, still buttoning his oilskins, took the wheel from Lois. She slipped so quickly into her suit that she was ready as soon as Harriet had managed to adjust her own clumsy skirt and coat.

“There are sou’westers?" Lois asked of Jones. “Good! Take off that pretty hat,” she said to Harriet, "and" — to Pelham— “see if you can't find some black rubber hats there in the cabin.”

With no thought of seasickness now, since he was too excited, Pelham rummaged in the stuffy place till he came across the shiny hats. One by one he threw out four, and then followed them.

There was now no distant shore; it had disappeared. The cloud was deep purple, and against it stood up the masts and sails of the little fleet of boats, grouped motionless together and waiting for the wind to rise. The sails were all reefed, and under them showed the yellow dots of figures in oilskins. There was no distant thunder, no lightning. And the very silence, in which the slap of waves against the Venture's bow seemed strangely loud, impressed the boy deeply. He looked at the black water, and dreaded it. But the motor's steady chugging reassured him.

Then, without warning, there came a break in the engine's regular beat, a stop, a start, a long slow wheeze, dying away. The churning of the propeller ceased.

Jones snatched off the cover of the engine and looked down at it. He turned wrathfully on Lois. “What did you do to it?"

“Nothing,” she answered quietly. .

The man dropped on his knees and began rapidly testing the parts of the little machine. The plugs, the wires, the valves, all were in order. He worked at the carbureter, suddenly stood upright, and fumbled at the tank under the counter. “Gasolene !” he cried, and plunged into the cabin.

In a moment he emerged, with a face as black as the cloud above him, and cast on the water a square can that Aoated high. "Empty!"

Lois turned coldly to the angry man. “We have no gasolene at all? Think!"

“None at all,” he answered.

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