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- The Voyage of the Hoppergrass - 32/32 -
fall t-t-to take a p-p-post-g-graduate c-course at--"
"That's so. But I wanted to earn a little money too, so I promised Mr. Kidd to come to Big Duck Island and tutor his sons for a month, in Latin and English. And when I saw him yesterday, he told me I must catch the sons. This is the first time I have ever tooted."
Spook fell back on the cabin and kicked.
"And w-we've b-been t-trying to g-give you the s-slip!" he moaned.
It took us nearly all the afternoon to reach Lanesport. When the rain stopped, the wind fell, and we were almost becalmed. We knocked about on the Bay till a little before five o'clock.
Ed and Jimmy told me how they had found the Captain at Big Duck Island, and how he had spent the night with them all on the "White Rabbit." In the morning the whereabouts of the "Hoppergrass" was still a mystery, although the Captain had been told that the Kidds had probably taken her. Everyone was too impatient, however, to stay at Big Duck until noon, so they set out for Lanesport. Of course they did not find me at the Eagle House, so they decided to make for Rogers's Island. They were on their way when they sighted us. It was our action, in altering our course, that made them think there might be something in the theory that the "Hoppergrass" had been stolen by the burglars.
Then I told them about my adventures with the gold makers, and Spook--to the Captain's great delight--related the troubles of the Kidd brothers on board the "Hoppergrass." Toward five o'clock we got a breeze, and half an hour later sailed up the river again, to Lanesport.
"We won't land at Mulliken's Wharf," said Captain Bannister, "I'm kinder superstitious 'bout that."
"Why did you come over here that afternoon?" I asked him.
"To see if I could get some letters to put on the stern of this boat. I'd rigged up a sign on canvas 'fore I left the Harbor, 'but it didn't look quite fust class. I'd no manner of notion but what I'd get back 'fore you boys did from Fishback."
At the wharf next the one where we landed the "May Queen" was lying, still covered with flags and bunting. She was empty, however, except for a man washing down the deck. The band had gone and her glory had departed. There was a boy in a small boat rowing around the steamer, and staring at her. I seemed to remember his round, red face and when he put down an oar, and waved his hand, grinning and showing where his front teeth ought to have been, I recollected him instantly. He was the boy who had driven the horse-car from Squid Cove yesterday afternoon. Now, he let his boat float down alongside the "Hoppergrass."
"Have you heard about the Comp'ny?" said he.
"No,--what about it?"
"Gee! Bust up! Yes,--the excursion went over again this afternoon, on the 'May Queen' here, an'--an' Gran'father went too, an' while Mr. Snider was doin' the 'speriment Orlando Noyes an' two other fellers pried up a place on the wharf with a crow-bar, an' they found the P'fessor down there,--he was up to some monkey business, an' they say the whole thing is a fake! Gee! An' that aint all, neither. They've arrested Mr. Snider an' the P'fessor,--they're the burglars that have been burglin' houses over on Little Duck. One of the fellers with Orlando was a special perlice an' they went through the house an' found a whole lot of spoons an' things that they stole outer Mis' Ellis' house. They say the P'fessor aint a p'fessor at all,--he just got outer State's Prison 'bout a month ago!"
No one on the "Hoppergrass" was as much interested in this as the Captain and I. So while we talked with the boy, Ed Mason and Jimmy Toppan walked up town to get some supplies, while Mr. Daddles--or Billy Hendricks, rather--and the two Kidds went to see Mr. Kidd at his office. We had invited all three of them to come with us and finish the week on the "Hoppergrass." We felt that they belonged on the boat now, and that the voyage was really just beginning.
In an hour they were all back once more. The Kidds had been to their house for some clothes. They were allowed to go with us on condition that we sail over to Big Duck Island as soon as we could, to prove to the others of their family that they were still alive and above water.
"And that'll be all right," said the Captain, "for we were bound for Big Duck in the fust place... Cast off the line, Ed, and Jimmy, I guess you can take her now. It's half-past six and I'm going below, and see if I've forgotten how to cook flap-jacks."
Fifteen minutes later we were out of the river and crossing the Bay once more,--this time toward Big Duck Island. A pleasing smell of flap-jacks began to come up from below.
"There has been more doing in these three days," said Ed Mason, "than usually happens in a month,"
"But the voyage has been tame and uneventful," said Mr. Daddles, "compared with one my uncle made in these very parts, three years ago."
"What happened to him?"
"Why, he was one of the sixty-seven sole survivors of the famous wreck of the 'Hot Cross Bun'."
"Where was she wrecked?" asked Jimmy.
"On Pelican Point."
"How many were drowned?"
"No one was drowned. That was the trouble."
"Yes. They all got to hating each other so, and the food worried 'em so much, that they used to wade out in batches every morning and TRY to drown themselves. It was the food mostly. You see the 'Hot Cross Bun' was an excursion steamer,--like that one we just saw at the wharf. She wasn't on an excursion this time, however,-- she was making a regular trip between one of the islands in this Bay and the mainland. That's the charm of Broad Bay,--there are so many islands and towns that almost anything can happen.
"Well, this steamboat had on board a miscellaneous lot of passengers, including a bird-study club, a fife and drum corps, and two scissors-grinders. It wasn't until the boat was wrecked in a thick fog, and they tried to exist on Pelican Point for four days,--foggy all the time--that they found out what it was going to be like. The Point is cut off from the mainland in bad weather, you know. Well, they examined the food supply of the 'Hot Cross Bun' and they found that it consisted of thirty-seven dozen sticks of pineapple chewing gum, four quarts of peanuts, (these went the very first day), eight pounds of half-petrified Turkish Delight, six boxes of all-day-suckers, and about thirty thousand chocolate mice.
"Now, all these things are very delightful when you're on dry land, and can have them now and then, so to speak. But Pelican Point wasn't dry, and the food got awfully tiresome! Why, my uncle,--he's a bishop, and very regular in his habits--told me he got so that he almost thought he wouldn't mind if he never saw a chocolate mouse again as long as he lived!
"On the third day came the mutiny. The bird-study club had been complaining--"
Mr. Daddles paused.
"Are you waiting for us, Captain?"
"The flap-jacks are ready," said Captain Bannister, from below.
"Why did they mutiny?" asked Spike.
"After supper," said Mr. Daddles, gravely, "I will conclude my account of the wreck of the 'Hot Cross Bun'."
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