Project Gutenberg's The Polly Page Yacht Club, by Izola L. Forrester

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Title: The Polly Page Yacht Club

Author: Izola L. Forrester

Release Date: March 24, 2018 [EBook #56834]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Produced by Roger Frank and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at (This book was
produced from images made available by the HathiTrust
Digital Library.)


She Leaned Forward, Intent on Every Point


Copyright, 1910, by
George W. Jacobs & Company
Published November 1910
All rights reserved
Printed in U. S. A.

I The Launching Party
II Glenwood
III Polly Ships Her Crew
IV Fitting Out
V On Board the “Hippocampus”
VI Three Days at Sea
VII Landing at Lost Island
VIII Dropping Anchor
IX The Captain Calls
X A Home on the Rolling Deep
XI Smugglers’ Isle
XII Girl Overboard
XIII Polly’s “Current Events”
XIV Mr. Smith of Smugglers’ Cove
XV The Pearl Fest
XVI The Captain’s Party
XVII Polly Prepares
XVIII The Regatta
XIX The First Event
XX The Winner of the Junior Cup


She leaned forward, intent on every point

“Girls, I’ve got it!”

A happy, dripping lot

“First batch of marshmallows ready!” called Ruth

Combing their hair and chatting, girl fashion




“She was here just a minute ago. Wait till I find her, girls. We can’t go ahead without Polly.”

Ruth Brooks dropped her bouquet of white roses on the piano stool, and hurried out into the long corridor. It was still crowded with people, although Crullers had played the tenderest, saddest strains of “Träumerei,” and “Blumenlied,” to let them know it was time to go home. Ruth paused on the lower staircase a minute to see if Polly’s brown head showed anywhere below. Between the square reception hall, and the library, stood Miss Calvert, her figure tall and imposing in its black silk gown of state, even among so many. If there was one day in the entire year, when she was radiantly happy, and in her favorite element, it was Commencement day, so her girls said.

After the closing exercises, the members of the H. S. Club had managed to slip away unobserved during the reception. Polly had passed the secret word around that a last meeting would be held in the music room before school closed for vacation time. Yet in spite of this Polly herself, founder of the Hungry Six Club, and its president, and chief cook, was now missing.

Months before, when the fall term opened, the H. S. had been formed as a mutually protective association. Out of thirty-four pupils, twenty-eight at Calvert Hall were out-of-town girls. The other six were day scholars, and all lived at Queen’s Ferry, Virginia. Therefore the six had banded together, and stood by one another faithfully, against the united force of the twenty-eight “regulars.”

“What did Polly tell us to wait up here for?” asked Isabel Lee.

“Vacation,” came Sue’s matter-of-fact tone from the curtained window, where she was watching the long procession of carriages and automobiles in front of Calvert Hall. “Polly has an idea, and she wants us to sew buttons on it.”

“Oh, girls, who’s got the chafing-dish? Did any one remember to get it at all?” Edwina, which the girls cut short to Ted, looked dismayed at the others, and nobody responded. It was a serious moment. If the H. S. Club had possessed a coat-of-arms, there would have been a chafing-dish rampant on a field of fire as part of its symbolism. It had been Polly’s Christmas present to the club. She had smuggled it in, all unknown to Miss Calvert or the other girls, and had beguiled Annie May, the colored cook, to hide it. On special occasions it made its appearance at feasts, wonderful feasts, prepared with the help of Annie May, when the Hungry Six foregathered behind locked doors, with the chafing-dish in the place of honor.

“Open the door, just a little way, girls,” Polly would always say, just at the crucial moment, and the tempting fumes of some chafing-dish decoction would float away down the long dormitory corridor, until the noses of the twenty-eight caught it, and there was an instantaneous bombardment.

“Hold it open till the last minute when you see them coming,” Polly would cry, her brown eyes dancing with fun, as she presided in one of Annie May’s huge aprons, and waved a big spoon. “Just let them get a good whiff of it, so the clans will gather, and then we’ll bar the door.”

And the clans always gathered. First from one room, then another, in the upper dormitories, the “regulars” would troop forth, and cluster around the door where the day pupils ate their luncheon. Polly always held that it was wise to wait until twelve-thirty, as by that time the regulars would have finished eating. Sometimes they would catch murmurs from the corridor.

“Smells like crab meat,” some one would whisper, and from the inner shrine Polly would declaim,

“’Tis crab meat, with green peppers.”

Then a deep groan would rise from the “regulars,” and the Hungry Six would smile at each other, for revenge is sweet. They could not forget the midnight feasts which the “regulars” held while they were away.

Yet, at the very last minute, they had forgotten the chafing-dish. Some of the people were already leaving, and the imposing line of carriages outside the stately old Hall was growing thinner.

“Hadn’t one of us better go downstairs to the kitchen, and find Annie May,” suggested Ted, anxiously. “Polly’s probably talking to somebody, and has forgotten all about us. I saw the Admiral lift up his finger at her, and that signal between them always calls Polly to attention. Wasn’t it dear of him to come and talk to us! What was it he said? Oh, I know. Look, girls, like this.” Ted struck a dignified posture in the center of the floor, her chin set deeply in her lace collar, her brows drawn down in imitation of the Admiral’s own bushy ones.

“Standing with reluctant feet,
Where the brook and river meet,
Maidenhood and—”

“Girls, I’ve got it!”

In the doorway stood Polly, her curly hair, brown and glossy as a ripe chestnut, tied back in a cluster of long curls that reached to her waist, her brown eyes brimming over with mischief, and in her hand, wrapped carefully in a clean pillow case, was something the girls all recognized by its outlines.

“Girls, I’ve Got It!”

“I thought of it the very last minute,” went on Polly, quickly, “Annie May hid it the last time we used it, you know, and I forgot to ask her where she had put it. And she’s down in the back hall, crying over the girls who are leaving, so of course I couldn’t disturb her. So I hunted around the kitchen, in the wash boiler, and up in her room, then I guessed. You know the linen closet in the back hall. It was in there, way down under some gray blankets on the bottom shelf. Wasn’t she the wise old darling to put it under the gray ones, so it wouldn’t show if it should happen to get a spot on them! And then I heard Honoria calling me.”

“Whatever did you do, Polly?” whispered the girls, tensely.

“I slipped the chafing-dish into a pillow case, left it on the hall settee, and went to see what she wanted. And afterwards, Mrs. Yates sent for me to be introduced to her.”

“The Senator’s wife?” asked Isabel, eagerly.

“Yes’m. She used to be one of Miss Calvert’s girls when she was young, and she wanted specially to meet me for the sake of the Admiral. It’s dreadful, all the things I have to go through for the sake of that boy. She even said I looked like him.”

Polly’s low, rippling laugh was smothered by a judicious toss of a sofa pillow from Sue.

“Be quiet, goosie, or you’ll have everybody rushing up here to see what’s the matter. Put the pillow case over the chafing-dish so it won’t be seen, and tell us what happened. Why did you tell us all to come up here?”

Polly seated herself on the arm of the nearest chair, and pushed back her hair from her forehead with a gesture exactly like the Admiral’s.

“Ladies, and sisters, and dear colleagues,” she began, in imitation of Miss Calvert’s Commencement Day rhetoric.

“Don’t speechify, Polly,” ordered Ruth, cheerfully. “Hurry up. It’s getting late.”

But Polly went serenely on her own way, which was characteristic of her.

“We stand at the parting of the ways, don’t we? The last year at dear, precious old Honoria’s is over for Ruth and Kate. No more will we six use the historic chafing-dish, no more battle with the twenty-eight strangers who have lingered within our gates.” She turned her head, and smiled at Ted and Sue. “Am I on the right thread of discourse, sisters? Does it sound like oratory?”

“Oh, bozzer,” said Sue, helplessly. “Play ball, Polly, please, please, play ball.”

“I’ll be good, and stop,” Polly retorted, laughing. “Listen. All the rest of the girls, excepting us, are going away on vacations. Real ones, I mean. And for the next two months, what are we going to do?”

“Nothing but rest,” Sue said, dismally.

“That’s just it. We’ll stay around home the way we always do, have a few picnics, and a few lawn parties, and all that sort of thing. We shan’t have any real vacation, anything that is different from everything else we do the whole year round, shall we?”

Five heads shook in unison.

“But, Polly, it would take so much money,” began Ruth, picking one of her roses abstractedly to pieces.

“If we went any distance at all,” Kate Julian laid down the book she had been looking over while Polly talked. She met Polly’s eager glance, and smiled. Kate was nearly eighteen, but both Ruth and herself were firm, true friends of Polly’s, and the Admiral said he approved because Polly needed ballast now and then to keep her steady on her course.

“Oh, it’s quite a distance,” exclaimed Polly. “It wouldn’t be any fun to go along the shore here.”

“Anybody’d think to hear you, Polly, that you had a whole island to colonize, and an airship to travel in,” Kate teased. “I think you’re just blowing a lovely bubble.”

Even Polly had to laugh, for at Calvert Hall her rainbow bubbles that would float so beautifully for a whole minute, then turn into air, were a steady source of fun among the girls.

“Well, you may laugh, but I have the island even if I haven’t any airship,” she said.

There was the soft rustle of silk outside, and Miss Calvert stood in the doorway. She was not the typical principal of a school for girls, Honoria Calvert. There were too many “laughing wrinkles,” as Polly called them, around her gray eyes; and the corners of her generous mouth, and the way the girls clustered about her, told more plainly than words, how dear she was to them all.

“The Admiral is asking for you, Polly, my dear,” she said. “Won’t the girls excuse you, now?”

“Tell my commanding officer, ‘Aye, aye, sir,’ please, Miss Calvert,” Polly replied, rising at attention.

“Hurry, girls,” cautioned Miss Calvert, with a warning uplift of her finger, as she went back to her guests. Polly hurried.

“Girls,” she whispered, “report for duty Saturday afternoon, at Glenwood, all of you, because if we are going to do this thing, it must be started right away.”

“Oh, Polly,” pleaded Sue, “is it anything where we can have the dear old chafing-dish feasts?”

Polly turned around as she reached the doorway, and swung the pillow-case around her head. Inside it, the chafing dish cover rattled.

“Indeed it is,” she cried. “We’ll need it more than ever. Will you all be sure to come Saturday?”

“Sure,” echoed all of the girls, solemnly. “Polly’s going to hold a launching party all her own.”

Polly laughed, and nodded mysteriously.

“There’ll be something happening besides a big splash if I do,” she said, and hurried out to join the Admiral.



The music-room was on the east side of the hall at its farthest end. As Polly hurried along the hall, she caught sight of a woe-begone figure, and stopped short. The Admiral was waiting for her just beyond the arched entrance to the reception room. From where she stood, she could just see his shoulder, and some iron gray curls which shook a little, so she knew he must be laughing. The Admiral’s curls were always a weathervane of his mood. Polly hesitated, then following her first impulse, she slipped into the library, and put her hand on Crullers’ shoulder. Such an unhappy, moist Crullers, though, very different from the happy-go-lucky, easy-going girl of the past term. She raised a tearful face, and sobbed outright.

“I’m not going back home.”

“You’re not!” Polly checked herself. She was not much given to expostulations. The shortest way around any trouble was straight through the middle, she always held. “Why aren’t you?”

“The children are down with measles, so I’ll have to stay here for weeks, and it spoils my vacation.”

Polly considered. It was not a very joyous outlook. During the long summer vacation, the big gray house was shrouded in darkness, and Miss Calvert usually went to the seashore for a rest.

“Maybe Honoria would take you with her when she goes away,” Polly suggested, but Crullers shook her head dismally.

“No, she won’t. She says she doesn’t want any such responsibility as I would be. I am to be left here with Annie May and Fraulein.”

Polly frowned at such an outlook. Annie May was not so bad. The big-hearted old colored mammy who acted as cook at the Hall was far preferable as a pleasant companion to Fraulein, the teacher of German, with her neuralgia and shaded eyeglasses. Polly had always said that she believed those glasses were the whole reason why Fraulein took such a dismal view of life. Green glasses were enough to turn Harlequin into an undertaker.

“Don’t you mind, Crullers, precious,” she said, patting the round rosy cheek nearest her. “The girls from our own crowd are coming over to Glenwood on Saturday, and you ask Miss Calvert to let you come along with them. I have a plan ahead for the summer, and maybe you could go with us. Who knows? Don’t cry. I never cry except when things are all wrong, and I can’t fix them right. We’ll find a way.”

The Admiral called in the hallway outside,

“Polly! Time’s up.”

“Aye, aye, sir,” answered Polly, promptly, and with a final pat on poor Crullers’ head, she caught up her cloak and the chafing-dish from the hall settee, and joined the Admiral at the door of the reception room.

Miss Calvert was standing beside him, and the tears came in her eyes as she looked at Polly, slender and sweet in her gown of softest white mull.

“I shall miss her this summer more than any of my girls, Admiral,” she said, half sadly. “She has done more this year towards giving the other girls the right point of view—”

“Now, Miss Honoria, I must insist that you stop filling Polly’s head with such ideas,” laughed the Admiral, his eyes twinkling proudly, as he bent over Miss Calvert’s hand with the old-time grace of a gentleman who could call Virginia his home state.

“Don’t you believe him, Miss Calvert,” Polly said severely. “He’s a great deal worse than you are. If it wasn’t for mother’s good, sensible, Massachusetts spirit in me, I’d be so puffed up that I’d blow away with the first strong breeze. But I do like to be praised, indeed, I do. I just love to be loved and appreciated.”

Miss Calvert kissed her, and stood in the doorway, as the two went down the broad steps from the veranda. The Admiral’s carriage was waiting, with old Balaam on the box, smiling till his face looked like a piece of shirred black satin. The Admiral handed Polly into the carriage as if she had been a duchess, and turned to bow once again to Miss Calvert.

“Isn’t she a dear?” said Polly, with a sigh of genuine comfort, as the carriage turned the corner, and the broad riverside road lay before them. “It doesn’t seem as though I had finished my Freshman year at school, grandfather.”

“Finished?” repeated the Admiral. “Why, bless my heart, girlie, you’ve just begun now. Three more years at the Hall, then four years in college, and then after that I rather think you and I will tramp around some rare old corners of this old world that I know of just to freshen up. And when you come back your aunts will make a society bud of you, and I shall lose my little messmate.”

Polly’s eyes were grave in an instant. As she put her head down on the broad shoulder nearest her, and rubbed her cheek on it, very much like a satisfied kitten.

“You’ll never lose me, grandfather. Don’t you know what mother always said? We were worse than twins, the way we always stood by each other, and chummed together. Don’t you remember?”

The Admiral stared at Balaam’s back in front of them. And then he coughed vigorously, and patted the hand on his knee. It was nearly four years since Polly’s mother had passed over the mysterious bourne, from which, we are told, no traveler returns. Polly had been ten then, and four aunts had offered separately to bring her up properly. But the Admiral had stood firmly on his rights, and Polly had remained at home with the Admiral, and her old mammy, Aunty Welcome, to give orders. Welcome had been in the family since Balaam was first made coachman, but no one could even guess her age.

“Doan’t ask me sech foolish questions, chile,” she used to say to Polly. “I dun kept ’count till I was ninety, den I lost track, and I ain’t had no buffday since.”

She stood at the entrance to the drive now, when the carriage turned into the grounds of Glenwood, the Admiral’s spacious home on the river bank. Nearly as tall as the Admiral she was, and spare and strong as some fine old weather-beaten pine. In spite of newer fashions, she wore her bandana folded turbanwise around her head, and beneath it a few gray wisps of hair could be seen. Her under lip protruded greatly, “jes’ on account of making dat chile behave herself,” she used to say. To-day, she was smiling grimly, and her deep-set eyes sparkled like old jet as she looked at the slender figure in white sitting up so sedately beside the Admiral.

“Don’t you know ’nuff to raise dat parasol, and pertect dis chile’s complexion, Admiral?” she demanded, haughtily. “Has I got to watch over her when she’s out of my sight? Ain’t she got a terrible leaning towards freckles anyway? Wouldn’t she look fine under her snow white bridal veil all brown freckles? I declar’ I’m ashamed of you, Admiral, I suttainly am.”

Polly laughed as she stepped from the carriage and, slipping one arm around the old figure, entered the big house. But Welcome scolded firmly all the way upstairs to the large, cool south chamber that had been Polly’s special domain ever since Welcome herself had carried her into it, a wee baby.

It was a delightful room, the dearest in all the world, Polly thought. The south windows overlooked the garden, and below the river gleamed like silver through the thick foliage and clambering vines. Over the old gray stone walls, rambled Virginia creeper, pushing its tendrils even around the window casements, and if one leaned far out, one might pick a cluster of sweet, old-fashioned climbing bride’s roses, from the vine that wound itself around the trellis just beneath Polly’s pet window.

“Aunty, don’t I look ’most grown-up?”

Polly stopped for a moment before the long mirror between the windows, and looked at herself thoughtfully.

“’Deed, you don’t,” Welcome responded, resolutely. “Ain’t nuffin’ but a baby. Getting so self-compinionated, dere won’t be any living with you, chile, not a bit.”

“I want long dresses pretty soon.” Polly put the idea suggestively, her brown eyes full of mischief.

“Long dresses! For mercy sakes. Hyar dat chile talk. Don’t need long dresses any more’n a toad needs a side pocket.”

Polly laughed as she slipped out of her white dress and into a simpler one for home use; then ran downstairs to join her grandfather. On the right hand side of the lower hall was the Admiral’s own private retreat, from which Polly herself was barred admission, save by special permit. When she reached the foot of the stairs, she hesitated, and listened. The hallway divided the house equally, running its full length, with great doorways at either end, opening on broad verandas. Every evening before dinner, Polly and the Admiral walked in the garden, and told each other the happenings of the day. It was an old sweet custom, that dated back to Polly’s toddling days, and they both looked forward to it as the happy climax to each day’s routine.

Polly took a golf cape from the hall rack, and threw it around her shoulders. Although it was the end of June, the evenings were still cool along the river, and Aunty Welcome would scold if she went out into the night unprotected.

Stretched out at full length before the doorway was Tan, the old setter. He lifted his head, bent one friendly ear towards her, and beat his long, silky tail lazily on the floor.

“Tan, you old goose,” said Polly, kneeling beside him, “why don’t you make a fuss over me? Don’t you know this is one of the golden days of life for me? You might at least bark! I suppose you’re waiting till I finish Calvert Hall and college besides. Well, let me tell you, sir, it is something to be through your Freshman year at Calvert Hall. It is hard work, I’d have you know.”

Tan dozed lazily off while she talked to him. She rose with a little sigh, and went softly out into the garden. On the top step she paused, just for a minute, and lifted her face to the evening light. Polly loved that old garden. During babyhood and childhood it had been her wonderland of enchantment, her play country of mystery and make-believe. It was just sunset now, and the mellow light turned the old gray walls of the house into battlements of splendor. The garden stretched primly before her, with its beds of flowers, trimly-cut hedges and last of all, four terraces sloping to the river. An old cypress stood guard at the rustic steps leading down to the boat landing. Polly hurried along the narrow paths until she came to the spot the Admiral loved best. In the old days she had always called it the Wishing Seat, for if one caught the Admiral there at the sunset hour, and wished a really good wish, it was almost always sure to come true. Beneath an apple tree it stood, with banks of lilacs behind it. A rose bush drooped over one corner, a bush of old-fashioned musk roses that Polly’s mother had planted there years ago, palest pink, and so fragrant that even at twilight the humming birds fluttered around them lovingly.

There had been a sun dial near the old Roman seat, but only the pedestal was left, and that was overgrown with morning-glory vines. When Polly’s brown curls had barely reached the top of the dial, she had loved to climb the two steps of the stone pedestal and pick off the little trumpet shaped buds, and “pop” them. Didn’t you ever do it? It’s lots of fun.

The Admiral sat as usual on the old seat, his iron gray hair upcurling from his high forehead, as Polly had told him once, for all the world like a surprised cockatoo. He was resting placidly after the unaccustomed excitement of the Commencement exercises, and Polly looked down at him with a certain secret pride before she made her presence known. He was so altogether right, she had decided long ago, this grandfather Admiral of hers. He had been retired from active service for years, and still she never could understand how the naval forces of the country managed to get along without him. He was seventy now, but as tall and straight-shouldered as a certain naval cadet in the full-length oil painting over the mantel in the library. His cheek was as rosy and clear as Polly’s own, and his eyes like hers were as brown and bright as a robin’s. He wore a moustache and long imperial, both silver white, and there was an air of distinction about him that was totally indescribable. Polly declared that even the cab horses standing around the Capitol grounds bowed their heads when the Admiral passed by. She slipped her hands over his eyes now, before he had discovered her presence.


“Bless me, I couldn’t possibly.”

“Oh, please.” In Polly’s gentlest, most persuasive tone.

“I haven’t the remotest idea who it could be.”

“Then you have to pay a forfeit.” She leaned over and kissed his cheek, then slipped into the seat beside him.

“Admiral grandfather darling, listen to me.” It was Polly’s regular way of opening up a serious discussion. “The girls are coming to-morrow, no, day after to-morrow, Saturday. There are seven of us altogether, Sue Warner, Ruth Brooks, Kate Julian, ‘Ted’ Moore, Isabel Lee, ‘Crullers’ Adams and my own self. Do you think Aunt Milly will mind my bringing so many?”

The Admiral chuckled.

“So many? Seven girls, with Welcome and an old chap like myself to look in on you once in a while to keep you out of hot water,—that’s not many, Polly.”

Polly’s face brightened.

“I’m so glad you think so. I was half afraid we should be too many. And it wouldn’t do to ask one or two or three, and leave out any, because we are all mates. You understand, don’t you, dear?”

The Admiral said he understood perfectly, and Polly paused long enough to hug him, before she asked,

“Have you ever seen the place at all?”

“In a general way, but I don’t remember much about it. It’s a quiet, pretty bay, and there’s a village at one end and a row of summer cottages along the shore. I went up there to attend a regatta one year, the first year Milly joined the yacht club. She did it for the sake of the boys, because they were very enthusiastic over their new boats.”

“But you’ve never been on Lost Island.”


“It’s got such a queer name, hasn’t it? Lost Island. I wonder if it ever did get lost.”

“I believe it did. Seems to me that Milly used to tell how the shore line shifted about with winter storms, but you girls won’t be there in stormy weather. If you catch a few heavy equinoctials along at the end of August, it’s about all you can expect. From what Milly wrote to me, it is altogether sheltered from the open sea, and the very best place you could possibly find for a club for girls. Better figure on a good stock of life preservers.”

“I did put down life preservers, grandfather,” Polly said seriously. “And I showed Aunty the list, and what do you suppose she said? She told me that Annie May’s doughnuts would make the best ones she knew anything about. Isn’t that delicious?”

“Is you out in dat dew and damp, all uncovered, chile?”

Welcome’s resolute tones rang out from the upper window, and Polly obeyed instantly. She might coax and persuade the Admiral, but with Welcome there was no compromise, and Polly knew it.

“I’m coming right in-doors now, Aunty.”

“Well, I should say you was. Dis window sill’s jest a-soppin’ wet now. Admiral, you ain’t got any more common sense about dat chile’s welfare dan if you was a stotin’ bottle.”

The Admiral rose from the stone seat and tried to argue the point, while Polly’s dimples danced mischievously at the quick fire between the two. Dearly did she love a bout between them.

“Aunty Welcome, I really must insist, I really must, on your treating me with a little more respect.” It was comical to listen to the Admiral’s appealing tones. “I cannot stand such talk forever. Even a worm will turn, Welcome, you know, even a worm.”

“Pouf,” came from old Aunty’s indignant lips. “Whoever heard of a worm’s a-doing anything when it did turn? You come along in out of dat night air, sah, or you’ll get de collywobbles you’-sef. Come along, now.”

The window closed emphatically, and Polly meekly slipped her arm around the Admiral’s elbow, and they went up to the house together.



The following day Polly was very busy, mysteriously busy, but not one word did she speak to anyone of the household, regarding her purpose. She pored over books in the library, and wrote items down for future reference. But the Admiral was able to guess her intentions, for every once in a while, she would hail him with various queries.

“Grandfather, dear, what’s a cuddy?”

“Small cabin up for’ad,” responded the Admiral. “Why, matey?”

“Is it anywhere near the lobscouse?” asked Polly anxiously, tapping her under lip with her pencil.

The Admiral laughed till the tears came in his eyes, and he had to blow his nose vigorously.

“I’m sure I don’t see why that’s funny,” protested Polly with dignity. “It says here that they tackled the lobscouse in the cuddy.”

“I haven’t the least doubt of it,” laughed the Admiral heartily, “and not one scrap did they leave to throw to the porpoises, either, did they?”

But Polly refused to be teased, or daunted in her purpose. When the girls arrived on Saturday afternoon, she was prepared to meet them, and very businesslike and imposing the library appeared with the earnest faces gathered around the old flat-topped mahogany table that stood in its center.

“We all came, Polly,” said Sue, fanning her flushed face with a blotter, comfortably. Sue rarely stopped for the fitness of things. If she needed anything at all, she always took the first substitute at hand, rather than go without. “It’s getting pretty warm weather, sister clubbers, know it?”

“Sister clubbers?” repeated Isabel. “Sue, how you do talk.”

“Well, it is hot, all the same, isn’t it, Polly?”

Polly laughed, and stepped to the doorway to receive from Aunty Welcome’s hands a generous tray with ice-cold fruit lemonade in a tall cut glass pitcher, covered with a snowy napkin, and a plate of fresh honey jumbles.

“You be suah and stir dat up well from de bottom, chile,” cautioned Aunty. “Doan’t want all juice when you got orange, an’ banana, an’ strawberries, an’ cherries, an’ mint leaves.”

“Oh, you darling Aunty Welcome,” cried Ted and Sue, and Ruth blew the old mammy a kiss from her finger tips, while Isabel and Kate smiled. They were all favorites with her, and knew mighty well how to value her favor.

Polly set the tray at her end of the long table, and poured out the luscious summer drink while she went on talking.

“There’s one more to come still, girls. I hope you will all agree with me and be nice to her. It’s Crullers.”

“Crullers! Why, she has gone home,” exclaimed Isabel.

“No, she hasn’t,” said Polly, calmly. “Her brothers have the measles, and everybody else’s little brothers and sisters are likely to have it at Sharon Hill, where she lives, so Crullers cannot go home for a vacation. I found her crying when I left you girls last Thursday, and I told her to come to-day. Do you mind?”

“I don’t,” Ruth spoke up cheerfully. “I always liked Crullers, poor little thing.”

“Poor little thing,” Isabel repeated, dubiously. “She’s heavier than I am, and can eat nearly a whole pie at once.”

The other girls broke into a peal of laughter over the protest. Nobody dreamt of taking Isabel or her protests at all seriously. She was always the first to see the windmills waving their terrible arms in the distance, and the first one to plan the attack on them. Crullers was a favorite with all the day scholars at Calvert Hall. Her name was Jane Daphne Adams, but the combination had proven too great a strain on the Hungry Six’s sense of humor, so they had cut it short to Crullers. Four times a month a large box arrived for Jane Daphne, filled with crullers from home, and she never failed to donate them to the chafing dish feasts. Therefore she herself had been named in honor of them.

Before there was time to say any more, there was a step in the hall, and Crullers herself appeared, rather shyly, in the library doorway. She was plump and rosy-cheeked, with deep dimples and big blue eyes that seemed to question everything, and if there was anything at all in the way that Crullers could fall over, she always took a tumble. At school the girls had declared that Crullers would trip over her own shadow any time. She was fifteen, and slow in every way, slow to think, or act, or speak, or learn, and awkward as some overgrown lamb; but behind the awkward shyness there lay a staunch, faithful nature that Polly knew and loved. She had found out long ago that it was far safer to depend on Crullers’ slowness, than on Isabel’s hasty willingness that usually burnt itself out like a pinwheel in two minutes.

“I didn’t know you’d all be here,” said Crullers, hesitating. “Hello, Polly.”

Polly kissed her, and seated her next herself at the table, close to the pitcher of lemonade, for she knew the surest way to Crullers’ heart.

“We expected you,” she said, just as if all of the girls had signified their intention of adopting Crullers into their new circle. “Now I think we may proceed with the business of the afternoon. I want to read a letter to you girls, first. It came from my Aunt Milly last week.” Polly paused, and smiled, as she always did when she mentioned the bevy of aunts who watched over her from a distance. “Aunt Milly is grandfather’s youngest daughter, and she’s a dear. She lives in Boston, or at least just outside, in Newton Centre, and she’s married and has four boys.”

“What are their names?” asked Sue, promptly.

“It doesn’t matter, for they will not be there,” answered Polly, firmly. “Here’s her letter.” And she read it aloud.

My Dear Polly:

“I am writing this hastily, on the eve of our sailing for London town. Your Uncle Thurlow was compelled to go abroad this summer on business, and offered to take the boys also, so we are all going to join him in London. It has occurred to me that if you and father have not already made summer plans, you would enjoy yourselves at Eagle Bay. Lost Island has been the boys’ favorite outing place for years, and I am sure you would like it. It is on the coast of Maine, not far from Bar Harbor, but somewhat out of the summer tourist’s beaten track. If you get tired of roughing it in the boys’ bungalow on the island, you could stop at the hotel on the main shore. But if you care for the open, there is a good camp outfit down there, and some boats, and perhaps you might turn it into something worth while.

“It is not really an island, except when the tide comes in. There is a neck of land that connects it with the main shore at low tide. The boys wish me to add that the Captain will show you about everything, and that he and Tom have the yachts down at their landing. I hope you will go, and spend a happy vacation.

“Lovingly always,
Aunt Milly.”

“Who’s the Captain?” asked Kate.

Polly shook her head, and laid the letter on the table. “I don’t know any more about it than you girls do, but I want to go. Grandfather is willing to act as consort, he says. You know, a consort is the ship that trots along to look after other ships. That means he will stay up at the hotel near the telegraph office, and have regular meals. I know him like a book. But Aunty Welcome will go along as cook, and I suppose we should have a chaperon.”

“Oh, let’s don’t,” implored Sue, pushing back her hair from her forehead, as she always did when she was listening intently. “Ruth is seventeen, and Kate is going on eighteen. Let’s do it all ourselves. It will be ever so much more fun.”

“And it won’t be as if we were wrecked on a desert isle, Polly,” laughed Ruth. “There are sure to be plenty other vacationers around with whom we will get acquainted. I suppose there’s a real house, isn’t there?”

Polly nodded her head.

“I guess so, from the letter. Aunt Milly always lived at the hotel up the beach, and the boys had an old fisherman’s cottage—”

“Do you mean a fisherman’s old cottage?” suggested Isabel.

“Well, anyway, it was a sort of bungalow, where they camped out. Grandfather says he remembers that much. We don’t want to take a lot of things along, girls, just enough to get on with. I can put all I shall need into a couple of suit cases, and that will save bothering over baggage.”

“But, Polly, what shall we do after we get there?” Isabel asked, anxiously. “I’m afraid I don’t quite understand. Are we going to camp out?”

“We’re going to do just what seems best to us after we arrive,” said Polly cheerfully. “The boys had a yacht club, I know, and if they had one we can have one. I want to go ever so much, and I want you girls to go too. If grandfather goes, and Aunty Welcome, nothing can happen to us, don’t you see it can’t? I suggest that we organize, or rather reorganize, right now, and start our first vacation club, and call it, call it—”

“The Squaw Girls of Lost Island,” said Sue solemnly.

“Oh, Sue, don’t make fun of it,” said Kate reproachfully as she leaned forward. “I think it will be splendid, Polly. You can count me in, and I’ll bring my kodak along, too, and perpetuate our memory forevermore.”

“Polly,” asked Ruth, suddenly, her brows meeting in a little frown of perplexity. “May I say something, please?”

“Yes, ma’am,” replied the chairman, promptly, reaching for the lemonade. “Try some of this, though, before you get strenuous.”

“I only want to say that I’m afraid I can’t go, because—” Ruth hesitated.

“Oh, Ruth, you must go,” cried Polly, anxiously. She dreaded long explanations. She knew that Ruth was going to tell right before the girls that it would cost too much, and that she felt it her duty to get ready for her kindergarten training.

Ruth seemed to read her thought as their glance met across the table, and instinctively she shook her head, with its close bands of brown braids, bound around like a laurel crown.

“But we really need you, Ruth,” persisted Polly. “Kate will be the ship’s husband—”

“The what?” laughed Kate. “This is all news to me. Isn’t it just like Polly, girls, to arrange all our destinies, and then placidly break the tidings to us at the last minute.”

“Miss Calvert says I am a born organizer,” Polly declared, decidedly, “and how on earth can one organize if one lets every member have her own way? Ruth, you must go along. As I said before Kate will be the ship’s husband. I notice that no one present has the least idea what that means. I didn’t myself until yesterday. When a ship is in port fitting out for a cruise, the ship’s husband is the person who attends to all repairs, and fits her out for the new voyage. I like it better than steward, don’t you? So I want Kate to manage that part of our club business. Keep an eye on general supplies, and profit and loss, and all that sort of thing. You know what I mean, don’t you, Kate?”

“Aye, aye, sir,” said Kate, saluting with uplifted finger. “Seems to me, though, if I am to be a ship’s husband to a yacht club, I’ll be a Mormon, won’t I?”

As the laughter subsided, Polly went on.

“So if you look after that part of the club, and I take care of the general business, Ruth ought to be in charge of the bureau of knowledge.”

“Polly,” exclaimed Sue. “Do talk so we’ll understand you.”

“I am,” answered Polly, emphatically. “If we go to the seashore, we shall do something besides sail boats, and lie in the sand, shan’t we? We’ll study shells and seaweeds, and swim, and fish, and all that sort of thing. Ruth is the only one among us who has studied up and knows about such things, and she could take charge of all that part of the vacation, show us how to make collections, and preserve them, and so on.” Polly hesitated. Out on the veranda, behind the honeysuckle vines and creepers, dozed the Admiral, with Tan at his feet. Polly wondered whether he had heard the discussion, and if he had, why he didn’t come to the rescue. He always did when there was rough weather or any breakers ahead.

“Would you go, Ruth, if you could?”

Ruth weakened. Polly’s eyes were eloquent, and her tone persuasive.

“I should be very glad to, Polly,” she replied quickly. “It’s splendid of you girls to want me—”

“We couldn’t get along without you, Grandma,” laughed Ted and Sue together. “Will you surely go?”

“Well,” promised Ruth. “I will go if I can, and maybe I won’t be glad to.”

“We need you,” Kate put in, in her steady, serene fashion. “I’ve never been to the shore. It must be glorious. The Potomac is dear to us all, of course, and old Chesapeake seems like an ocean in itself, but I mean right on the banks of the real sea—”

“‘Old ocean’s grey and melancholy waste,’” quoted Polly. “That’s where we’re going, Kitty Katherine.”

“Neither have I,” Isabel put in reflectively. “Of course we’ve been to summer resorts, and stayed at hotels, papa and mamma and the boys and I, but I mean to go to a stretch of shore where you couldn’t find a single peanut shell, or old tin can around. I hope there are great rocks and plenty of shells, Polly.”

“There will be along the Maine coast,” Ruth explained. “When you get south of Cape Cod, you rarely find beautiful shells. I forget the reason myself, but it is something about the tidal currents. Between Cape Cod and Cape May, the shells are more common, and there are not so many washed up along the shore.”

“Didn’t I tell you that Grandma’s knowledge would be valuable,” Polly cried, triumphantly. “Every time we get stranded on any point of information, we can appeal to our Bureau, and find out the facts. Crullers, dear, you take the last jumble. We’ll make you the cook’s assistant, and you shall eat until your eyelashes have to be done up in curl papers, and your finger nails crack.”

Crullers smiled at the prospect, as she adjusted her wide brimmed, dark blue sailor hat, with her class pin fastened to the band in front.

“I am willing to help any way I can, if I may go with you,” she said.

“How much do you figure it will cost each of us, Polly?” asked Kate, practically. “As ship’s husband, I have a right to know.”

“Only what we eat and possibly, repairs on the boats,” answered Polly. “Grandfather says he will take us up to Portland by sea, and we are to be his guests. From there we go by train to Eastport, the nearest village, and then to the island some way. You figure out how much it will cost to feed us all per week for eight weeks, and leave a margin on fish and canned goods. We can catch the fish when we get there, and grandfather says he will ship a box of canned goods up from New York.”

“I think the Admiral is too kind to us,” protested Ruth, but Polly frowned at her.

“Isn’t it my plan?” she asked. “If I am to be commodore of a yacht club, I must look after things, mustn’t I? Talk it over at home, now, and meet here again Tuesday, if you all can. We want to leave within two weeks, and less, if possible.”

“I say the end of next week,” said Kate, judiciously. “It can be done, Polly.”

“And don’t forget to bring along the chafing dish,” added Sue.

Polly walked down with them to the wide entrance gates, where Aunty Welcome waited, with a bouquet of fresh cut roses for each girl.

Up on the veranda the Admiral surveyed the scene with a good deal of satisfaction.

“They make me think of a lot of butterflies, Tan,” he told the old setter. “Or flowers, Tan, that’s the best simile, a garden of girls. It keeps the heart young just to listen to their laughter, old fellow.”

Tan beat his tail on the floor gently to show he had caught the sentiment, and approved, and the Admiral’s face still wore a smile of pleasure when Polly came up and dropped into the chair beside him.

“How’s she bearing on her course, matey?” he asked.

“Handsomely, sir, handsomely,” laughed Polly. “I am sure they’ll all go. I wonder if they can sail boats.”

“Best find out before you start them off for a yacht club,” advised her grandfather. “Don’t ship any crew on false premises. You let them know what is ahead of them before they sign articles, or you’ll have foul weather as sure as you’re afloat.”

“That may be right, grandfather, dearest, when you’re really shipping sailors, but when you’re only taking a lot of land lubbers, you have to explain things to them by degrees, or they’ll run away.”

“And how about yourself?” The Admiral reached down, and pulled at the long, brown curls that were tied loosely at the nape of his shipmate’s neck. “Does the commodore of the yacht club know the difference between a skip jack and a cat boat?”

“Maybe she doesn’t now,” responded the commodore stoutly, “but she will. Just you wait, and see. And anyway,” she added in a softer tone, with one of her quick side glances of coaxing merriment, “if she doesn’t, she’ll have her consort handy, right over on the hotel veranda.”



The following week was filled with what Aunty Welcome called “doings and makings.” Every day found some of the girls at Glenwood, or Polly making diplomatic visits around to the various families, winning over fathers and mothers to the project. And she did not go unprepared, nor unarmed. Not Polly. Whenever Polly took up a new plan in earnest, she went at it thoroughly, and gave it a complete overhauling before she accepted it herself. Mrs. Lee was the hardest of the mothers to win over, perhaps because Isabel herself viewed Lost Island rather doubtfully.

“Do you think it is quite safe, Polly?” asked Mrs. Lee for the twentieth time, as Polly sat beside her on the long, cool veranda at the Lee home. “Isabel cannot swim a stroke, and I am half afraid to trust you girls around the sea. Does the Admiral really approve?”

“Yes, indeed, he does, Mrs. Lee. He says he cannot think of any better way for us girls to spend vacation after the winter at the Hall. It will mean the sea air, and bathing, and plenty of exercise. I think Isabel really needs a change. She took her mathematics quite hard this year.”

Mrs. Lee smiled at the flushed, eager face bending towards her. Twenty years back, when she had been a girl like Polly, she could remember just such an eager, happy face at Glenwood, the Admiral’s only boy, Phil, Polly’s father. Even with four sisters to spoil him, he had remained the same frank, chivalrous character all his life.

“Polly, you’re a splendid pleader,” she said. “I suppose I shall have to let Isabel go. Shall you go by rail or steamer?”

“By steamer, grandfather says. To New York, then to Boston, and then up to Maine. We will have to take it in sections. And Aunty Welcome is going with us, and grandfather too.”

“Are you certain this island is suitable for you to live on? Perhaps there is only a boathouse there.”

“We’ll just have to wait and find out,” said Polly, hopefully.

“Have you figured out the cost at all?”

“Oh, it won’t be much over two dollars a week for each of us, Kate says. Lots of people have house parties, you know, so grandfather says this is to be my yacht club party. As soon as we get there, we will organize properly, and see what the place is like. Isn’t it comical,” went on Polly, with one of her swift characteristic swerves in the conversation, “every one of the girls, Mrs. Lee, has gone at the plan in her own way! Ruth is designing our yachting suits. What do you think they are? Dark blue duck, with middy blouses, and big white collars with blue anchors on the corners; and for best, white duck suits with dark blue collars. We’re going to take two kinds of hats with us: big, rough straw sun hats to wear on the beach, and white duck hats for yachting, with turned down brims. Isn’t that a good idea? Ruth’s aunt is a dressmaker, and offered to do all the cutting and fitting for us, and Kate can run a sewing machine, so there we are. I tell you, this commonwealth plan is a splendid one when it comes to saving money.”

Mrs. Lee joined in her laughter, and asked about how much luggage they were going to carry.

“No trunks at all,” answered Polly. “I think we can manage with suitcases. Two of the Seniors we know at Calvert Hall did Belgium and Holland last year with suitcases. It saves a lot of bother if you have to change cars, or boats, as we will. Ruth says she doesn’t care what she wears. She’s going to have morning classes for the rest of us, on shells, and fishes, and mermaids, and all that sort of thing, and Kate has her kodak, and we’re going to develop our own snapshots.”

“Well, I suppose Isabel will have to go, but I shall add as my contribution to the outfit—life preservers and water wings—just to be sure you will be safe.”

“Water wings,” thought Polly all the way home. “I wonder what those are. I’ll ask Ruth.”

Sue came down to Glenwood that afternoon, and the two sat on the box couch up in Polly’s room, a “Ways and Means Committee of two,” so the Admiral said.

“Do you know, Polly Page,” said Sue, with emphasis, “here we are planning to start a yacht club, and I never was even on a sail boat in all my life. Ted has been, though. She says she knows how to sail a ‘cat,’ because her brother Bob had one at Lake Quinnebaug last year, and she watched him.”

Polly looked at her meditatively.

“What’s a ‘cat’?”

“A boat. Ted says it’s a boat built as near like a box as it can be, and it won’t sink. I guess even if it happened to turn turtle, you could climb up on the outside, and sit there till things cleared up a bit.”

Polly broke into one of her quick peals of merriment.

“We’d stick like postage stamps, wouldn’t we, in a good rolling sea on the outside of a boat like that. I want a thin one, Sue, one that just clips through the water. The trouble is that most girls are as afraid of the water as cats. Yes, they are. Why, even Ted is afraid! She saw her brother sail a boat, but what does she know about it herself. We girls won’t have any boys around to sail our boats for us. We’re going to learn how to manage our own craft, and it will do us good too. I had a letter from Aunt Milly again. She says there are five good sail boats up at Eagle Bay that the boys left in charge of the Captain, and they won’t need much overhauling this year because Uncle Thurlow had them all repainted and caulked last spring.”

“Where do they stick the cork?” asked Sue, interestedly.

“Goose, caulk the seams, I mean, put a kind of wadding or interlining between the seams in the hull. And she says if we should need any more boats, the Captain has several at his landing of the same build, and uncle left word with him to take care of us. I don’t know whether we had better sail in pairs, or each have her own boat.”

“Oh, can’t I sail with you, Polly?”

“You would do better with Kate, and let me have Crullers.”

“She can’t sail one bit.”

“No, but she’d make lovely ballast.”

“Isabel says we must have club colors,” Sue exclaimed, with one of her mental somersaults. “She wants pale pink and green.”

“Too much like shrimp salad,” said Polly gravely. “We want something distinctive, and yet simple, that will stand sea and sunshine. Let’s see, sea and sunshine, blue and gold. A golden sun on a field of blue for a pennant, and for club colors, blue and gold. How would that do?”

“I like that,” assented Sue. “Can I make them up, Polly? Let me take care of the colors. I haven’t anything to do for the club specially as yet. Ted’s making up lists of rare shells and says she’ll bring the marshmallows.”

“Marshmallows?” laughed Polly. “What are they for?”

“To toast over a driftwood fire, nights on the beach. Ted says they’ll come in very handy, when we’re all gathered around telling stories. You take a long stick, put a hatpin through one end, stick a marshmallow on the end of the hatpin, and toast it. It’s just like broiled whipped cream.”

“Oh, I know,” Polly leaned her chin on her palms, and spoke confidentially, “we’re going to have a dandy time, know it, Sue? Ruth has her guitar, you, Ted, and I have mandolins, and we’ll keep up a glee club. The dear old book of class songs went into my suitcase first thing. You just ought to see Aunty Welcome’s outfit. She has a medicine chest that must go even if everything else gets left behind. Arnica, and quinine, and ginger, and bandages. Oh, I don’t know what she isn’t taking along. She says she’s prepared for any emergency except the end of the world, and if that happens, she’ll just fold her hands together, and hope for the best.”

“Maybe it will all come in handy. Have you thought about a swimming suit?”

Polly nodded.

“Gray flannel,” she replied enigmatically. “Four yards double width. Short sleeves, low neck, skirt and waist joined together, and bloomers. All trimmed up cute with wash turkey red braid. I bought a pattern, and Aunty Welcome and I made it our own selves. She says it’s too pretty to get all wet. Ruth made hers too from my pattern. Why don’t you buy the kind of flannel you want, and let her cut it out for you, and we’ll all help.”

“Why not hold a sewing bee, and get everything all done up at once?” Sue’s eyes sparkled at the notion. “I’ll tell the rest, and we’ll all come over to-morrow.”

“Go ahead,” agreed Polly. “I don’t care, so long as we get all through this week. It won’t be any fun finding ourselves in the middle of July, with only a month and a half for vacation.”

So the following day, the entire delegation waited upon its commodore, with raw materials for bathing suits and caps. Polly turned the big upper spare chamber into a sewing-room, and with Kate at the helm, they started out in earnest. Ruth cut and fitted, under Kate’s directions, and Kate ran the sewing machine. At about four o’clock they finished, and on the bed lay the rest of the suits completed.

“That’s what I call getting swift results from good intentions,” said Kate, with a sigh of relief. “Polly, can’t we have some jumbles?”

“Aunty’s fixing something, but I don’t know what it is, and I wouldn’t dare disturb her till it’s all ready,” answered Polly. “Come down into the library, and let’s look at the time-tables again.”

There was no one in sight, as they trooped down the broad staircase, and the library was shady and still. They pored over time-tables of steamers and connecting trains for a while, and, as Polly said, made the trip twenty times before they had started.

“But we really must be serious, and look after all these points,” she added. “We’ve had fun all winter with the Hungry Six. This club has a real reason for its existence, a purpose, and we must make it worth while. It always seems to me as if girls could do so much better if they would hold hands, and work in unison—”

“Co-operate,” suggested Ruth.

“Yes, that’s just the right word,” Polly agreed, earnestly. “Boys always co-operate in their clubs. They seem to have the real feeling of fellowship. You know what I mean, Kate? Where all work together for the honor and glory of the whole, not just for yourself as a member.”

“Fraulein called it the esprit de corps,” said Ruth. “It means the spirit of the body, or brotherliness.”

“Sisterliness, too,” Polly added. “But it means more than that. It stands for trueness to one another, and pride in the honor of the club, don’t you know. You don’t do anything wrong, and you don’t let any other member do anything wrong, if you can keep them out of it, for the honor of the club. Anyway, it’s what we girls want in our club, and plenty of it. Don’t you all think so?”

Six heads nodded emphatically.

“I think we should draw up a set of ironclad rules, and sign them,” said Ted, solemnly. “Polly, I’ll prick my finger if you say so, and sign with real red ink.”

“You’d better not make fun of this, Ted,” protested Sue. “Polly’s commodore, and you’ll find yourself blithely walking the plank, if you aren’t good.”

“Indeed, she won’t,” said Polly. “I know you’ll all stand by me. If you weren’t the truest, dearest lot of girls I ever heard of, I wouldn’t go to Lost Island at all.”

“Here too, Polly,” echoed Kate, with her quick smile.

“Three cheers for Commodore Polly!” Ted stepped up on a chair, and waved a newspaper as the girls rose, and joined her.

Just at this point the heavy portìeres parted, and Welcome’s turbaned head appeared in the doorway.

“For de mercy’s sake, ain’t you ’shamed to make sech a hullabaloo, and de Admiral entertainin’ company.”

“Who is here. Aunty?” asked Polly, cautiously.

“Senator Yates,” said Welcome. “He dun traveled clar down from de Capitol on purpose, and he’s talking business. Doan’t you let me hyar any sech commotion again. Shoutin’ like you all’d found a teehee’s nest. What you s’pose my mammy’d done to me if I’d made a shoutin’ noise like dat when she had company folks ’round? If I hyar any more of it, you can’t have any banana fritters and whipped cream. No, sah, not one. Sound like a pack ob geese and guiney hens, all tied in a bag.”

“Oh, please, Aunty, we’ll be good.”

Seven pairs of young arms clasped themselves around the tall old figure, their owners promising absolute quiet, if only the banana fritters would be forthcoming, and Welcome was holding out with dignity, when all at once the Admiral strolled along the hall from the garden, and with him was Senator Yates.

“My,” whispered Crullers, as she caught sight of them. “I never saw so many titles, Polly, as you have here in Virginia. Seems as if every one of you girls has a major or a senator or a general in the family.”

“So dey have,” said Welcome, proudly. “Virginia’s wah dey makes ’em, chile. I wouldn’t give two cents for a gentlemun who couldn’t wear some kind ob a uniform, ’deed I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t take any stock in his pretensions at all.”

The Senator was taller than the Admiral, and smooth-shaven. He was one of the youngest men in the Senate, and was a power in the Old Dominion. Polly had seen him at Glenwood often, but to the other girls he was a stranger.

“I trust we are not intruding, young ladies,” said the Admiral pleasantly, as they entered the library. “This is a business meeting, isn’t it, Polly? Senator Yates wishes to address the club on a matter of interest to you all.”

The Senator’s eyes twinkled, as Polly sedately performed her duty as hostess, and presented him to the girls in turn.

“I can tell you about it briefly,” he said. “The Admiral understands the details fully, and will explain them to you later. Mrs. Yates and myself are greatly interested in your summer project. We believe in outdoor sports for girls and boys, and we’d like to see our young girls as healthy and rosy as wind and sun and fresh air can make them. It happens that we are immensely fond of yachting ourselves, although ours is only a steam yacht, and we miss half the fun you will have with sailing craft. At all events, this is the reason for my errand to Glenwood to-day. Saturday we sail on a short cruise up to Nova Scotia, and around the coast to the mouth of the St. Lawrence. If you can get ready in time, and would care to be our guests as far as Lost Island, Mrs. Yates and myself would be delighted to have you and the Admiral. It is only a family party, Mrs. Yates, Marbury, and myself. As she told you on Commencement Day, Mrs. Yates was a Calvert Hall girl, not so many years ago but what she is interested in the old school still, and she feels in extending this invitation to you, that it will be a mutual effort at reviving the school spirit. What do you think of the plan, Miss Polly?”

Polly’s dark eyes were a-shine with surprise and quick, radiant happiness. She almost caught her breath at the idea.

“I—I think it’s just splendid, Senator Yates,” she cried. “I don’t know how we girls can ever thank you for your kindness.”

“Shan’t we be too much trouble?” asked Ruth, anxiously.

“Not one bit of trouble,” replied the Senator heartily. “Seven girls in all, did you say, Miss Polly?”

“Yes, sir, seven in all.”

“And do you think you can get ready by Saturday? Only two days more.”

The girls looked at one another, a little perplexed at the brief notice, but Polly waived all doubts aside.

“We will be ready,” she said, positively. “We must.”

“I will send the motor boat up the river after you at seven in the morning,” continued the Senator. “The Hippocampus weighs anchor at eight. You had better make your arrangements to meet here at Glenwood, and go aboard at the Admiral’s landing. It will save time. And I am very, very glad that I am able to take back the news of your acceptance to Mrs. Yates.”

When they were alone once more, Polly sank down in a Morris chair, and smiled blissfully.

“Girls, have you ever seen the Hippocampus?” she asked.

“It’s a steam yacht, isn’t it?” said Sue, while the rest listened eagerly.

“It’s a dream afloat,” said Polly, solemnly. “All shining brass, with a white hull, and silk curtains—silk curtains at the cabin windows, children—and tufted leather walls, and—”

Ted perched herself on the window-seat, and sang softly, with a comical lisp,

“I saw a ship a-sailing, a-sailing on the sea,
And it was filled with pretty things, for Polly and for me.
There were raisins in the cabin, sugar kisses in the hold,
The sails were made of silk, and the masts were made of gold.”

“Goose,” exclaimed Polly, tossing a sofa pillow at the scoffer. “Wait until you see it.”

“There’s one thing certain,” said Ruth, “we shall appreciate our own little flotilla all the more, when we have seen this queen of the seas. I think we should send Mrs. Yates a united vote of thanks.”

“I’ll do it,” Polly declared, reaching for note paper at once. “I’ll do it now.”

Aunty Welcome put her head in at the door.

“Anybody hyar want banana fritters, an’ whipped cream?”

The meeting was broken up instantly, and the girls followed Welcome out to the arbor where the feast was spread. But Polly lingered until she had written the note of thanks to Mrs. Yates, and when it was completed she went to find the Admiral and get his opinion.

“Is that right, grandfather?” she asked, with one arm around his shoulders, as she knelt beside him at his desk.

“Seems to be all shipshape,” answered the Admiral, heartily. He smoothed Polly’s head tenderly. “How is the Naval Board of Special Inquiry?”

“Eating banana fritters, sir,” whispered Polly. “We’re going to sail Saturday morning sure.”



The morning of the sailing came quickly, it seemed to the little band of voyagers. Polly was up, and fully dressed by five, making her final arrangements, and the Admiral was “on lookout,” as he said, with Aunty Welcome’s nephew, Stoney, carrying the luggage down from the house to the boat-landing.

When the girls began to arrive, Polly was busy pinning and hooking Aunty Welcome’s collar and belt at the last minute, and it was a labor of love.

“Don’t squoze me, honey, don’t squoze me a particle,” cautioned Aunty, puffing over the unusual exertion. “’Deed, I feel as if I had de equator twined around me now. Whar’s dat big palm leaf fan? Stonewall! You, Stonewall Jackson U. S. Grant Brown, you bring me dat fan instanter, sah, hyar me?”

Stoney grinned, and slipped off the Admiral’s steamer trunk with the fan. Stoney was proud of his name. Aunty had been strictly neutral during the war, and when Stoney had been born, she had been his sponsor, and had perpetuated her neutrality in his name, with a slight leaning towards the South.

“You had better go ahead with the trunk now, Stoney,” Polly told him. “Here come the girls. You go too, Aunty, and that will give you a chance to rest in the launch a minute.”

“Ain’t you most ready, you’ own self, chile?”

“All ready,” laughed Polly, as she took her long gray cloak over her arm, and her mandolin case. “I want to say good-by to Mandy and the rest.”

So while Stoney and the others trudged ahead down the path that led to the little landing by the riverside, Polly ran to the kitchen, and kissed the black, shiny cheek of old Aunt Mandy, the housekeeper, and shook Uncle Peter’s hand.

“Keep out of deep water, honey lam’ chile,” cautioned Mandy, the tears running down her cheeks fast. “And may de good Lord hol’ you in de holler of his hand safe from de fury of tempest, and leviathan, and—and cramps when you’s in swimmin’.”

“Amen, praise de Lord, oh, mah soul,” added Uncle Peter, fervently, and Polly went out into the garden, with her own lashes wet with tears, for they had been kind to her ever since she could remember toddling to Mandy after raisins and sticks of cinnamon.

As Polly left the kitchen, she saw the other girls coming up the broad walk from the gates, with suitcases, wraps and parasols, for the morning was a still, close one, and the latent heat of the day seemed to lie about the horizon in a golden haze.

The motor launch was waiting for them when they reached the landing. A sailor in white duck, with the name Hippocampus in gold letters on his cap, stood on the little dock, and the Admiral assisted them on board.

“’Deed, Marse Bob,” Aunty Welcome protested, as she hesitated to take the step into the launch. “’Deed, I know I’ll swamp you, I know it. I don’t trust dat lil toy boat no more’n I would a tea tray. Nevah see sech a shiny lil baby boat in mah life. Well, for mercy sakes, if I ain’t in it all safe.”

And she laughed till Polly warned her she would surely burst the equator, as she settled down in the stern of the little launch, and they left the landing for the open river.

The girls said very little. With flushed cheeks, and eager, sparkling eyes they were too much engaged in watching all the new sights that unfolded as the launch sped along. On one side were the hills of Virginia, gray green in the morning light like grass with the dew on it. Dense patches of wild rice glimmered through the morning haze to the left. About a mile down the river lay the Hippocampus, spotless and silent, like a water lily on the river’s surface. None of the girls had ever been on a steam yacht before. They watched this one with eager interest as they drew nearer and nearer to it. Everything on board was quiet. A gaily striped awning was spread up forward. The pennon of the Chesapeake Yacht Club, of which the Senator was a member, fluttered lightly from the mast head, in the gentle breeze. As the launch came alongside, the Senator himself, in white flannels, appeared on deck, and greeted them warmly.

“I thought you always had to climb a ladder of rope, when you went over a ship’s side,” whispered Sue to Polly, as she saw the neat gangway of steps that led easily from the launch to the deck of the yacht. “This is much better, isn’t it?”

“Indeed it is,” smiled back Polly, holding to her cap, as the wind blew freshly up the river from the bay. “Did you notice the figure-head?”

It was turned fairly to them, so they had a good view of the prow with its figure-head, a great golden sea-horse, curving proudly up from the waves.

“But its head looks like a dragon’s instead of a horse’s. I wonder how they travel through the water?” asked Ted.

“Just as easily as a jelly fish,” laughed Polly. “They don’t seem to help themselves at all, just go along with their heads held up high, as if they thought they owned the whole ocean. And they are such tiny things, that it seems comical. Think if a sea horse and a sea cow were to get into a quarrel. A sea cow could eat a peck of sea horses at one gulp, and then ask for some dessert.” And Polly added on the spur of the moment:

“Whenever you see
A Manitee,
A Hippocampus said to me.
Be sure and treat,
Her awful sweet,
Or she’ll gobble you up, from head to feet.”

Polly repeated the lines sedately, but her eyes were brimful of fun, as she stepped from the launch, and followed Ruth up the brass railed gangway. The latter had rubber-padded steps to prevent feet slipping.

It took the united efforts of the Admiral and two sailors to get Aunty Welcome up that narrow flight, but they succeeded. Mrs. Yates was awaiting their coming, forward beneath the awning.

“I am so very, very glad to have you with us,” she said cordially, as she clasped each girl’s hand in hers, and smiled at their happy faces. “Both the Senator and myself feel indebted to you all for consenting to be our guests as far as Maine. This is Aunty Welcome, isn’t it?” She turned to a broad-shouldered lad beside her. “Marbury, won’t you take Aunty into the cabin and introduce her to Dido, so that she will feel at home?”

Marbury obeyed, willingly, for under the united fire of seven pairs of eyes, he began to feel somewhat uneasy. In the door of the forward cabin stood the stewardess, Dido, bowing and smiling broadly, in her snowy dress of white linen, with a white cap on her head, and Aunty Welcome was glad enough to find a kindred spirit.

A cabin boy carried the suitcases and various wraps away and the girls seated themselves in the cosy wicker-chairs under the wide awning, and tried to think it was not all a dream.

All about them lay the beautiful river, broadening out as it approached Chesapeake Bay. To the east the water glittered like quicksilver under the sun’s rays, and gulls darted back and forth with graceful, wide spread wings. Sometimes they rested on the water and rocked lazily to and fro like wild ducks. Standing on one leg on a stretch of marshy land, where the wild rice grew thickly, a sleepy crane watched them weigh anchor. The yacht hardly made any more effort about it than the little motor launch had, and before the girls realized they had started, they heard the signal bells and felt the gentle vibration of the engines.

Ruth touched Polly’s hand lightly with her own, as it lay on the arm of her chair. Her face was turned seaward, and her chin was uplifted, as if she were drinking in the delicious air. There was a faint glow in her cheeks, and a smile on her lips.

Tony, the cabin boy, came back, and deftly spread a square of snowy linen on the green wicker table, then returned, bearing a huge tray laden with iced chocolate, strawberries served on crisp lettuce-leaves like eggs in a nest, buttered waffles, broiled fresh mackerel under a silver cover, and lyonnaise potatoes.

“The Senator and Admiral will take their breakfast below together,” Mrs. Yates said. “I thought perhaps you girls would enjoy it better on deck, as the view down the river is beautiful at this hour of the morning. Polly, you may serve in the Senator’s place, while I pour the chocolate.”

That was a memorable morning for the girls. Polly said in her impulsive way:

“Here we had expected to ‘rough it,’ as the boys say, camp out, and learn how to sail boats, and do our own cooking on a deserted island, and just look at this. I declare it’s enough to spoil us for the island camp. Who would want to bother over sails and rudders, and jibs and booms, and things, when you can manage the whole ship this way, just by touching an electric button.”

“Where’s the button, Polly?” asked Crullers, dreamily. “I didn’t see any button.”

“There are a whole row of them up in the pilot house,” Polly returned. “I saw them as we came past. But still,” with a wave of loyalty towards the unknown island and its yacht club, “I think I would rather have to fight my way against the waves. It must be glorious to feel like that gull over there, as if you had wide spread wings and were flying low before a gale.”

“Just wait till Polly tries it,” laughed Mrs. Yates. “It sounds so much easier than it really is. I remember my first yachting experience when I was your age, Polly. My father bought a winter bungalow on the Carolina coast, not far from Charleston, and it was my first winter in a warm climate. I had three big brothers, and the dearest possession they owned in common was a sailboat that they built themselves. I think they used to call it a knockabout, and the name of it was the Say When.”

“Isn’t that a dear name for a boat?” cried Polly.

“We went out one day in it, and were running along with a beam wind on a smooth sea, when all at once a puff of wind hit us, and before the boys could start the sail, to jam her down, she was over on one side, and we all scrambled up on the planking, to windward, and hung on until the squall was over, when she righted herself, but we bailed out over thirty buckets of salt water.”

“I hope we shan’t have any such accident at Lost Island,” said Polly. “Won’t a yacht sink, Mrs. Yates?”

“I cannot answer that positively, but I hardly think one will. Its canvas and the shape of the hull too, I believe, usually buoy it up; while a heavy boat that carries machinery will sink quickly. By the way, have you thought to bring any buoys or life preservers?”

“We have some water wings and life preservers that Mrs. Lee gave us, so we shan’t sink when we’re learning to swim,” said Sue hopefully.

“And Aunt Milly says there is a life-saving station only a mile and a half up the beach, and they have a coast-guard service that passes within hail of us through the night. I think we’ll be safe.”

Mrs. Yates smiled at Polly’s assured tone.

“I should feel pretty confident myself with such protection close by,” she said. “Still it is just as well for you to take precautions yourself, in case of sudden danger. Go down to the station as soon as you conveniently can, after you are settled, and watch them at their drill.”

“You mean in giving first aid to the injured?” Ruth asked.

“Yes, and in learning how to behave in case of a boat’s capsizing, or if one of you should fall overboard. You want to know how to act to help yourselves. How many in the club can swim?”

Polly glanced around and took stock of her crew.

“Ted and Kate and myself.”

“I’ve only tried swimming in fresh water,” said Ted.

“You will find salt water easier. It is buoyant, and invigorating. But don’t be venturesome or foolhardy in strange waters. Have you any idea of taking up a course of summer study?”

“Oh, yes,” cried Ruth. “Every morning we shall have regular class work, and I am teacher. I brought several books with me, Mrs. Yates, but do you know, they all seem so far advanced for beginners. I mean, they take it for granted that the reader knows all about shell life, and sea flora, and they talk about it all so scientifically, arranging them in groups, and using the Latin names. I wish I could find a book telling the intimate family side of beach life. I’d like to be on real friendly terms with every starfish and crab I meet, not just have a bowing acquaintance, and say, ‘Ah, good morning, Monsieur Crustacean, are you a king crab, or a hermit?’”

Everyone laughed, even Marbury, who had come on deck after breakfasting below with his father and the Admiral. The girls had finished also, and Mrs. Yates suggested that Marbury show them over the yacht.

“Come back to me when you have seen everything you care to,” she told them before they left her, “and I will show you my sea-going library and my collection of ocean treasures. I started them both years ago, when Marbury was a baby, and we took our first ocean voyage. It may help you in forming collections of your own, and in trying to classify them.”

Marbury and Polly led the way over the yacht. It was as large as the revenue cutter they met coming up the bay, and quite as smart in its white and gold hull, and clean-cut smoke-stack and rigging, outlined against the cloudless sky. The forward cabin was the Senator’s special domain. Walls, lockers, and chairs all were covered with buff leather, and it was fitted with a broad center table, and desk, with wall brackets supporting cabinets containing all manner of ocean curios. The dining-room was next to it, although there was a smaller one below used for breakfast by the Senator. The main cabin was a delight to the girls. Ten staterooms opened off it, and they were not like the little, narrow “cubby-holes” generally found on steamers. Daintily furnished little rooms, with lounging chairs and couches of willow, covered with apple green chintz sprayed with pink blossoms. Curtains of the same were looped back from the white berths. Four of these rooms were given up to the girls, and they “paired off” accordingly. Polly and Crullers took one, Sue and Ted another, Isabel and Ruth a third, and Kate was all alone in the fourth, as befitted the chaperon of the party.

“Polly,” asked Mrs. Yates, after dinner that evening, “didn’t I notice a mandolin with your luggage?”

“Yes’m,” answered Polly, who in spite of her “nearly fifteen” years, still clung to the old-fashioned mode of speaking to a person older than herself. “We girls have a glee club of our own. Sue, and Ted, and Ruth, and myself. Ruth plays the guitar, and the rest of us mandolins. I thought it would be fun to take them along and play nights when we felt lonely.”

“I hope you will feel lonely to-morrow night then,” Mrs. Yates replied, smiling. “I won’t ask you to play to-night, for you must be tired, but to-morrow evening we will have a concert. I dearly love the sound of music on the water, and so does the Senator. We have a piano on board, you know, and Marbury has his banjo, although I tell him it always makes me think of the old riddle ‘what makes more noise than a pig going under a gate?’ You know the answer.”

The girls laughed, all except Crullers, who puzzled and pondered over the riddle all the rest of the evening. Crullers always pondered over anything she could not see through. That night, when they had retired to their berths, and only the light from the cabin shone in the stateroom over the doorway, Polly heard a sleepy voice across the room say,

“Polly, I know. Two pigs!”

Polly sat upright in bed, and threw a pillow with telling force at the figure in the other berth, but there was only a stifled giggle in answer, and she cuddled down under the blanket, and fell asleep.



The three days out at sea passed all too quickly. The weather kept clear and cool up the coast, and the nights were perfect. In spite of Crullers’ unwillingness to rise early, the other girls were on deck at sunrise the first morning, and were rewarded by an invitation to the bridge with the Captain and Senator Yates. Polly made friends with the Captain at once.

“His name is Captain Sandy Saunders,” she told the girls. “And he sailed first of all from the Hebrides, he told me, when he was a bit of a laddie.”

As Kate had remarked teasingly, Polly had a terrible weakness towards panhandle names, just the same as Aunty Welcome, and this was really a very interesting Captain.

“He looks quite a good deal like a moon fish,” said Ruth, thoughtfully, the first time she had seen him. “They are found in West Indian waters, girls, and look just like decapitated pirates, round, and pink-faced, with little round mouths and round eyes, and a tuft of fin like hair on top.”

“I don’t think that is one bit complimentary, Ruth,” Polly had declared, indignantly. “My captain doesn’t look like a decapitated pirate.”

And yet the next time she glanced up at the pilot house, and saw the captain standing beside the wheelsman, she had to smile. He wore a blue coat, with brass buttons, tight to his neck, and a high white collar, and white duck trousers, with a stripe up the sides. And his face was round, and smooth shaven, and very sunburned, with round eyes, so blue that they seemed like glass marbles. But before that first day was over, Polly and he were firm friends and shipmates.

The Admiral did not rise until six o’clock. As he had remarked the night before, he had watched the sun rise from nearly every body of salt water on the globe, and now he was convinced that it could get up without his help, and he needed his beauty sleep badly.

To the girls, it was a wonderful sight, that first sunrise. The clouds turned to flakes of radiant gold and rose and violet, shot through and through with silver lights. When the sun rose over the horizon line, every wavelet caught its glory in miniature, and the whole wide sea looked like “gloryland,” as Aunty Welcome said. Isabel leaned over the rail at the stern, looking out at the widening wake of pearly foam, that glittered and sparkled like countless diamonds in the sunshine.

“I wonder whether that isn’t what makes the pink tint inside sea shells,” she said musingly to Kate. “Maybe they caught some of the color and imprisoned it.”

Polly came hurrying along deck, her cheeks aglow, her cap on the back of her head, and hands deep in her reefer pockets, for the early mornings were cool.

“Girls, there’s a school of porpoises moving off shore,” she called, excitedly. “You can see them around the prow plainly.”

They hurried after her, and reached the extreme point of the prow, beyond the neat coils of rope and the capstan.

Polly laughed over the latter.

“I used to call that the captain,” she said. “There was a song grandfather sang to me, something about ‘We’ll heave the capstan round, my boys,’ and I always said, ‘We’ll heave the captain round, my boys.’ I remember he told me such things never happened on well-regulated ships.”

“Well, forevermore, girls,” exclaimed Sue, as she leaned over the prow, until she could have reached down and touched the gilded crest of the Hippocampus itself. “There are a lot down there, and they’re going as fast as we are!”

It was strange to watch them. There seemed to be a dozen or more, about three or four feet long, and as they played and frolicked in the leaping spray from the cutwater, they would roll and toss and turn half over like kittens. Underneath, their bodies were a deep shell-pink, and the rest was brownish-green.

While they were watching them, Marbury came along deck holding something in his hand.

“One of the sailors found it back there on the aft deck while he was swabbing it just now,” he called. “It’s a flying fish.”

The girls examined it with eager interest, pulling out the delicate, bat-like wings that folded close to its sides, just like a junk boat’s sails, as Polly said. Then they had the fun of letting it go over the side of the boat, and it sank out of sight.

“But it’s half dead now,” said Marbury. “There’s not much use in putting it back.”

“Yes, there is,” answered Polly, cheerfully. “It will have the fun of telling all the other fish its wonderful adventure, and will die happy. I can see a ridge of land way off there to the west, can’t you?”

“Barnegat, and the Jersey coast, I think,” Marbury told her. “There’s bully yachting all along there, on account of the inlets. I camped out near Cape May one summer with a crowd of boys from the naval ‘Prep.,’ and we had fine fishing and sailing. The beaches are long and shallow. Up in Maine you’ll find them short with plenty of rocks.”

“Short around where the rocks are, you mean,” said Ruth. “There are long, flat reaches of sand up there, too.”

“Anyway, we like rocks,” put in Polly, comfortably. “I don’t think a long, shallow beach is good for yachting. Where are you at low tide? Up in the sand somewhere. And where are you at high tide? Swamped.”

Marbury laughed at her, heartily. He was a tall, stalwart naval cadet of nineteen, with the Senator’s own merry eyes and quick gift of understanding.

“That makes me think of one of father’s stories,” he said. “Uncle Joe, an old darkey down home, used to say he’d a heap rather be killed on land than on water, ‘’case if dey’s an accident on land, why, dar you is, and if dey’s a blow-up in de middle ob de ocean, whar is you?’”

“I don’t care,” persisted Polly, even while she laughed at the story with the others. “Most people are afraid of rocks when they’re boating, but rocks won’t hurt you if you know how to manage them. I’d rather have rocks along shore with some water around them, deep enough to let a three-foot draft boat slip in, than half a mile of wet sand to climb over after you’ve anchored.”

“You won’t get any three-foot draft on a catboat unless your centerboard’s down,” Ted said. “I know because I’ve heard my brothers tell about theirs. It hasn’t any more keel than a washbowl. I like a ‘cat’ myself, because you jam her down against the wind, and lie back and rest. In a yawl or knockabout, you have to change around, and shift about, and fuss every time you tack. I don’t think that’s any fun.”

Polly’s brown eyes sparkled, and she stuck her hands deep in her reefer pockets, and looked out at the wide ocean as if she wanted to clasp hands with it.

“I do,” she said. “I’d like to have a boat that was nearly all sail, and just me sitting on a plank. I love to feel the wind in my face, and reach out to it. A catboat’s a regular tub.”

“No, it isn’t, Polly, truly,” Ted protested. “There’s a picture in my Tennyson of the passing of Arthur, and the three queens came after him in a catboat. You can tell it is just a catboat by looking at it.”

Everyone laughed, but Ted stood her ground sturdily.

“Not a catboat, goose,” explained Ruth, merrily. “It must have been a ‘shallop flitting, silken sailed, skimming down to Camelot.’”

“There,” cried Sue. “I’ve been wanting a boat all along, that would be different from those the other girls sail, and now I have it. My boat shall be the only unique one in the yacht club. I shall get me a shallop.”

They trooped in to breakfast with rosy cheeks and laughing lips. Mrs. Yates was awaiting them. The Admiral and she were talking over old Virginia days, and the girls were glad to listen to some of those tales of long ago, while they partook of deliciously-fried scallops, crisp bacon on toast triangles, corn fritters, and fried sweet potatoes, served as only the Senator’s plantation cook could serve them.

After breakfast, Ruth said that Kate and she were going into the cabin to study Mrs. Yates’s sea library and collections.

“We’ll all go,” proclaimed Polly at once. “It will never do to let these two know so much more than the rest of us.”

So all the forenoon they pored over the pressed seaweed folios, excepting the hour for morning service, when the Senator called all hands into the cabin and read the dear, familiar words they all loved.

After dinner they went back to the collections and the library, and this time Mrs. Yates herself joined them, and explained many things they did not know about. Besides the seaweed folios, there were glass cases hanging against the walls, containing shells and all manner of sea curiosities. Ruth was in her element. With her eyeglasses clipped firmly in place on her nose, she traced the pedigree of the rarest specimens, and told the other girls all about sea urchins, Japanese trumpet shells, chambered nautili, and jellyfish, that Mrs. Yates called the phosphorescent mushrooms of the sea.

“Just wait till we reach our island,” Ruth told the rest. “Every morning early I shall hunt along the beach and in the enchanted gardens the tide leaves in the rock hollows, and I shall get results.”

“What sort of shells are those, Ruth?” asked Crullers, in her slow sleepy way. “I don’t remember hearing about them.”

“Results, Crullers, results,” repeated Ruth, patiently, but forcibly. “The effects of a cause. The shells and things left by the tide. Then after we have classified, and studied them, we’ll arrange them for preservation. Which tint would the sea weed look best against, Polly? I brought brown cards and gray and green, for mounting.”

“Brown,” Polly told her, “biscuit brown. Don’t you know what beautiful colors the seaweed dries to, purples, and lavenders, and deep maroons, and woodsy browns. Save your green boards for ferns, and shore flowers, and your gray ones for the mosses and lichens.”

“And, by the way, Polly,” added Mrs. Yates, “here is a hint that may prove useful. Don’t use any glue or mucilage to fasten your seaweed or other vegetation to the boards. Marbury has some fine wire brads that answer the purpose admirably. They are sharp and flexible, and nearly invisible after they are fastened to the boards, and your specimens are held securely in place.”

“That’s a splendid idea, Mrs. Yates,” cried Kate and Polly in one breath. “We wondered how we could fasten them.”

“What is the best way to preserve shells, Mrs. Yates?” asked Ruth, eagerly, leaning her chin on her two palms, and bending forward.

“Well, that depends on the size. Your large ones must be packed separately—”

“But we shan’t find very large ones along our coast, shall we?”

“Indeed, you will, especially along the Maine shore. Even the large periwinkles, that are pink and brown mottled, are too large to put in bottles. You will find as I did, that the easiest and simplest way to dispose of shells is to make things out of them during the summer. It passes the time, and is very enjoyable. Have you seen the portìere that hangs between my stateroom and Marbury’s? It is made entirely of shells, strung on silken cords. Marbury collected the shells and I made it one summer when we took a cottage near Greenwich, Conn. There is a dearth of dainty shells along the Long Island Sound shore, but these are very pretty, and are so soft that you can pierce them easily with a needle. I don’t remember their name, but Marbury used to call them in fun, Neptune’s finger-nails.”

The girls wanted to see the portìere at once, and they followed Mrs. Yates along the cabin to her own special quarters, a cool, commodious stateroom that was her very own, as Polly said. Next to it on one side slept Marbury, and on the other was the Senator’s apartment. The portìere of shells was exquisite, the girls agreed. The shells were hardly larger than finger-nails, in fact, and as delicate, and translucent as sea foam. Some were palest pink, and others clear amber, and still others were a faint pearl, or vivid green.

“It makes me think of those funny wind harps that the Chinese use to scare away evil spirits,” said Kate. “Listen how the shells tinkle when the wind sways them to and fro. I’d love to carry one back to Miss Calvert, girls, as our summer gift.”

“We’ll do it,” said Polly at once, “if there are any of these shells at Lost Island. Mrs. Yates, what is this stretched over your walls, please?”

“Just everyday fish net,” answered Mrs. Yates, smiling as Polly and the rest examined the tightly stretched, dark green net that covered the stateroom walls, taut and snug. “It was Marbury’s idea. He told me the boys at the naval academy used it on their walls when they camped out, to hang specimens on, or any odds and ends. I wanted something that would not deface the woodwork, and Marbury put it up for me. It is very handy to slip pictures in, or ornaments of any kind.”

“It would make good window curtains too,” said Kate. “Perhaps we may be able to get some from the fishermen, Polly. It would come in handy somewhere, and if we didn’t do anything else with it we might even use it to catch fish in.”

The next day Marbury showed them his lines and fishing tackle, and gave them general hints on the gentle art of landing cod and mackerel and other fish.

“And what about lobsters?” asked Crullers. “I like lobster all cooked up in cream the way Polly makes it in the chafing dish. How can we catch them?”

“Here you are, Crullers,” called Ruth, from the other end of the cabin. “You sit down here, and read all about it. I have just finished, and I feel as though I could set any lobster pot along the coast, now.”

That evening was the last they were to spend on the yacht. It was Monday night, and the captain promised that if all went well they should waken in harbor the following morning. So after dinner they gathered in the cabin, and Mrs. Yates played for them on the piano, while out in the moonlight the Admiral paced the deck with the Senator, and put his head inside the door every now and then to suggest some favorite.

“Isn’t it queer, Polly?” Isabel said softly, as she watched them, the Senator in his white flannels and Mrs. Yates all in white too, with her soft, fair hair worn in a single coronet braid about her head. “Isn’t it queer that the nicest people are always the simplest in their ways, and the most unaffected. It’s only the others—”

“The nobodies,” assented Polly, quickly, nodding her head. “I know just what you mean. They act as if they had swallowed a pound of starch. Grandfather told me that Mrs. Yates was the only daughter of the old Arnold family, in Washington. He said he remembered walking one day along the street, and meeting three colored nurses in a solemn procession. There was one to carry a parasol over the oldest one, and another to carry the baby’s wraps, and finally the baby herself in the arms of the chief mammy. Just think of it. And that was Mrs. Yates when she was Peggie Arnold.”

“Mrs. Yates,” came the Admiral’s round tones from the doorway, “do you happen to know ‘Billy was a Bo’sun’?”

In answer Mrs. Yates’s fingers ran off a little prelude, and she sang, while all the girls clustered around the piano to listen to the brand new song:

“Oh, Billy was a bo’sun, bold and brave,
William was a gay young sailor,
Sailed upon the south sea wave.
Oh, William was a gay young tar.
His ship was called the “Mary Ann,”
William was a sailor,
And down the African coast she ran,
For gold and i-vor-ee!
For gold and i-vor-ee!
Oh, Billy was a bo’sun, bold and brave,
William was a gay young sailor,
Sailed upon the south sea wave,
William, he was a gay young tar.”

“That’s the one,” applauded the Admiral, gaily. “I sang that chanty before now in a fo’cas’le on a trading ship bound for the Straits, when I wasn’t much older than Polly there.”

“Mother knows all the sailor songs and fisherman croons of the seven seas,” said Marbury, as he leaned towards his mother, turning pages when she needed help. “I’ve kept count to-night, and in the last half hour she has skipped from an Iceland lullaby to a Greek rowing chorus we boys used to sing when we were at shell practice on the bay. Then that rippling one was a gondolier song we heard at Venice, way out on one of the small canals around the islands. And just before this last, Mother, wasn’t that the little lullaby you heard at Iona?”

“This?” Mrs. Yates ran over the simple, soft melody, and Polly caught the words.

“Day has barred her windows close, and gaes wi’ quiet feet,
Night wrapped in a cloak of gray, comes saftly doon the street,
Mither’s heart’s a guiding star, tender, strong, and true,
Lullaby, and lulla-loo-oo—
Sleep, lammie, noo, sleep, lammie, noo.”

“Oh, that’s a darling,” cried Polly. “Please, please, sing some more.”

“We’re going out on deck, now,” said Mrs. Yates, rising, with one arm around Polly. “The moon is rising, and I want to hear the Polly Page Glee Club this last night we will be together.”

“If a mere banjo player may join in too,” suggested Marbury, his eyes twinkling with fun, “we’ll show the sharks and mermaids what real talent can do.”

The girls often looked back on that evening. It seemed almost too happy and perfect to be quite real, Polly said. The night was wonderfully calm and clear, a night when all the stars looked nearer than usual, Sue declared.

Even the Admiral’s rolling basso was frequently heard, and the Senator hummed contentedly, when they happened to strike a special favorite of his. All the old college songs and heart-throb tunes that are handed down over cradles of nations were touched up by the glee club that night, and last of all, Polly’s clear soprano started up the Admiral’s favorite, “Tom Bowling.”

“Just leave that one to the echoes,” he said, as the sweetly-plaintive old melody died away on the still night air. “And now, to your bunks, every girl Jack of you, for you’ll wake up to-morrow with Maine under your noses, and Lost Island to shake hands with before breakfast.”



“Polly! Polly!” came a sleepy, anxious call from Crullers’ berth the next morning, and Polly sat up drowsily. It was still dark in their stateroom, but between the narrow shutters at the window, there stole a gray gleam of dawn. Polly sprang out of bed, and let down the shutter. And she half smiled as she did so, remembering how the first morning Crullers had tried to do so, and had started to cry because she had let the shutter fall down the side of the boat. Everything on the yacht was silent. The engines had stopped. There was no throbbing, no vibration, nothing, except stillness. Even to Polly’s practical mind there came a vague sense of danger, as she looked out of the window. Then she laughed.

Crullers was already out of bed, a blanket wrapped around her, as she dropped on her knees and peered under the berth.

“What are you doing?” asked Polly.

“Looking for the life preservers,” came back Crullers’ half-smothered tones. “Are we wrecked, Polly? Oh, I wish I had stayed at home.”

“Oh, do get up from there, goose,” Polly laughed. “We are on the coast of Maine, that’s all. Hurry up and get dressed. It’s half-past three. Let’s go out on deck and watch the sunrise.”

“Oh, Polly, I’m so sleepy,” pleaded poor Crullers. “If it isn’t a wreck, I’m going back to bed.”

“Indeed, you’re not,” cried Polly, as she brushed out her heavy curls vigorously. “I’ll throw pillows at you if you dare to try it. If I had a clothespin handy, I’d stick it on your nose. Oh, Crullers, that makes me think of something funny. Now listen, for it may wake you up. Stoney was bound he’d sleep mornings, and Aunty Welcome marched upstairs one day and stuck a clothespin on his nose, sure enough. She says it’s the greatest discourager of sleepiness she knows of, and Stoney got up fast enough after that at first call.”

“It’s awfully cold, isn’t it?” shivered Crullers, groping around after her stockings. Polly turned on the electric light overhead.

“Cold? The second of July. Fiddlesticks!” She put her head out of the little, narrow window, trying to discern the shore outline. “I can’t see anything but dark, hilly-looking bumps. We’re in a bay. There’s a big light way off over there, blinking. It’s a lighthouse.”

There came a light tap on the door.

“Who is it?” asked Polly. “We’re up.”

“It’s me,” said Sue, intimately, but without regard for grammar. “I’m so glad you’re awake, Polly. Ted and I got up as soon as we heard them dropping anchor. Oh, it’s glorious. The sunrise is just breaking through the clouds, and the tide’s way out, and we’re in a big bay, Polly, with a lot of little islands scattered around, as if some giant boy had been throwing giant pebbles. We just saw a lot of fishing smacks go by on their way out to the banks.”

Ten minutes later the four stood on deck. Marbury was the only one there to greet them, except Captain Sandy Saunders and one lone sailor. It was quarter of four.

“We got in earlier than grandfather expected,” said Polly after the good-mornings had all been said. “Just look at all those islands. How will we know which is Lost Island among so many?”

“You don’t call every rock with a clump of pines hanging to it, an island, do you?” Marbury asked, teasingly. “I don’t know which one of those is your island, but I think it must be larger than these dots of land. Do you see that inlet in the main shore over east? The mate tells me that the village lies around there, about quarter of a mile up the river. Eastport is the name of it. All along the north shore of the bay are summer cottages, and that big building where you can see lights is the hotel. It stands between two bluffs. That other large building with the two rows of verandas is the Orienta Yacht Club. Father says he knows the commodore of it, Mr. Millard.”

“I don’t see how you found out so much about it, while we have been asleep,” said Polly.

“Don’t you?” Marbury’s eyes were full of mirth, as he turned to her. “I don’t know whether I had better tell you or not, but I will. Our mate’s home is at Eastport, and he told me all about the place.”

“Doesn’t he want to go home for a little visit while you are at anchor?” asked Sue, quickly.

“I don’t know. There will hardly be time, for we’re to sail as soon as we put you ashore and find you are safely located. Perhaps he’ll send a message by you.”

Nobody but Sue thought any more about it, for the Admiral appeared on deck just as the rim of the sun appeared above the horizon.

“Good-morning, everybody,” he called, in his deep, cheery tones. “God bless us all, what a morning this is! Wind’s due south, isn’t it, Cap’n? Bears the fragrance of a thousand shores and sea-girt flowering isles upon it.”

“Grandfather, you’re getting as poetical as Isabel. She has been declaiming, ‘Build thee more stately mansions, oh my soul,’ ever since we first called her, and she isn’t all dressed yet. If you didn’t have me to stand by you for a good shipmate, you’d be the most rollicking old tar that ever trod a deck.”

“I declare, Polly, I’ll appeal to Mrs. Yates the instant she appears,” quoth the Admiral, laughing. “I am dignity itself.”

Polly slipped her arms around his neck, and kissed him, her brown eyes brimful of mischief, and they went over to where Captain Saunders stood.

“It’s four thirty-five now,” he said. “Breakfast for all hands at five are the Senator’s orders, and ashore at six.”

“Are we to go direct to the island?” asked Polly.

“No,” the Admiral spoke up. “I have talked it over with Mrs. Yates, and she agrees with me it would be better for you girls to put up at the hotel first, until you find out how the land lies. I always had my doubts about Robinson Crusoe’s comfort, and I want you to be situated comfortably, before I leave you.”

“I thought you were going to remain up here right along, sir?” said Marbury.

“Not exactly. This yacht club opens for a couple of months, and I cannot put in all that time with the rocking chair fleet over yonder on the veranda of the hotel or boat club, can I? I shall stay around within hail, until they get their bearings, and are fairly on their course, then I am going South until the regatta in August.”

“Who is that man over yonder?” asked Sue suddenly. She had been far up in her favorite seat in the prow, as close to the Hippocampus as she could get, watching the outline of the shore shape itself clearly from the shadows. A dory was just coming in from the channel that led to the open sea, with one man in it, and a lot of lanterns for cargo.

“One of the men from the station,” Captain Saunders explained. “You can see the lighthouse out on the Point yonder, can’t you? Those buildings at its base are where the light-tender lives, and farther along shore you can see the roof of another building, with a tall spar on it. That’s the life-saving station. Every night and morning one of the men goes out to hang the signal lights on the piling that marks the channel to the inlet yonder. It’s a narrow passage, and there’s a bad ledge of rock off to the southeast. That arm of land to the south they call the Sickle.”

He pointed to the stretch of shore that extended from the mainland for several miles, and curved around Eagle Bay like a half moon.

“Why didn’t they call it the Crescent?” asked Isabel, meditatively. “It’s so much more expressive.”

“So is Sickle,” laughed Polly, waving her handkerchief towards the dory. “Maybe this one gathers in the harvest of the sea.”

“Polly, don’t do that,” exclaimed Ruth. “They’ll see you.”

“I hope they do,” responded Polly, delightedly. “I wasn’t waving at the boat, goosie. There,” as one figure in the dory lifted an oar in salute to her, and waved his cap. “I’ve made one friend, anyway, on this foreign coast of Barbaree.”

The breakfast gong struck. It was one other thing in the daily life aboard the Hippocampus that pleased the girls. At each meal the steward would strike a musical Chinese gong with two muffled sticks, and the sweet, vibrating chimes would sound clearly through the cabin.

“When we get settled in our club house,” Polly said, as they started for the dining-room, “we’ll have one of those gongs if I have to make it myself.”

“Polly, do you realize,” said Isabel, regretfully, “that after all this splendor we are going bang on a desert isle?”

“‘Quoth the Raven, Nevermore,’” Polly said in a deep, mournful tone that matched Isabel’s exactly, and made them all laugh.

“Not that I mind it,” added Isabel, hastily. “I expect Polly’ll have us all in sou’westers and oilskins before we get through, patrolling the beach with the life-guard. I wish I could swim. Is it hard learning, Senator Yates?”

“Not very.” The Senator’s face wore a reminiscent smile. “I was about seven when I learned. Tad Newell was my chum those days. He was my cousin, and about twelve years old, and he could swim like a tommycod. So he undertook to teach me. We went down to the old swimming hole on Tad’s place, and I took off my clothes, while Tad tied a rope around my waist. ‘Now, all you need do, Charlie, is to let yourself go,’ he told me, ‘and I’ll hang on to the rope till you learn to swim.’ So I jumped from a rock into the water, and let myself go, but that rope parted. Tad yelled to me to strike out and tread water. I did as I was told, and the first thing I knew I was swimming around the old pond all right. ‘Golly Ann,’ Tad called out, ‘I’ll bet a cookie if that old rope hadn’t given way, you’d have been trailing around here on the end of it for an hour.’”

“We’ll remember that story, and provide good, strong ropes,” Polly said, laughing. “Crullers declares she will put on a life preserver, but I like the water wings the best. I do hope we may be able to see the island to-day, and the bungalow, or club-house, or shack, whichever it is. Ruth brought a flag along to raise as soon as we land, and our own yacht club pennant, golden sun on a sea of blue.”

By six the girls were through their breakfast, and ready to go ashore. Marbury stayed with his mother, but the Senator went with them as far as the hotel landing. Another trip brought their camp kit and suitcases, and finally, about nine, they all stood on the broad veranda of the shore hotel, waving handkerchiefs in farewell to the Yates family, as the Hippocampus left the little bay and steamed out beyond the point of the Sickle, on her way up to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward’s Island.

“But they’re certain to stop and see us on their way back the end of August,” Polly said cheerily. “We’ve had a fine trip, and I think it was mighty lucky we had it at all. So now it’s over, let’s not sit down and weep. Isabel’s wiping her eyes now. Face about the other way and be happy. Where’s grandfather?”

Down at the far end of the veranda he sat in a comfortable armchair, chatting with another elderly gentleman.

“He has joined the rocking-chair fleet so soon,” Kate exclaimed. “And Aunty Welcome’s upstairs telling the chambermaids all about Virginia. Let’s go and find the captain who knows all about the island and the yachts.”

“But we don’t even know his name,” said Isabel.

“We shall, though, soon,” Polly replied. Her eyes were bright with excitement. “I am going to ask everyone I meet, very nicely, if they can direct me to the captain, and you see if we don’t find him.”

Up the boardwalk they started, going towards the village. The hotel was a low, two-storied frame building, with broad verandas around it, and tall, rocky bluffs on either side. Behind it, through a break in the bluffs, could be caught a glimpse of hills, blending one into the other, and rising higher and higher against the skyline, until they seemed to become a part of the clouds themselves.

The crescent-shaped shore was rocky also. Before the hotel was a long stretch of smooth beach, and the island shores looked sandy from a distance, but for the rest, rocks seemed to predominate. Not the smooth, shelving sandstone the girls were used to seeing, but great, rough masses of brownish green, that appeared to have the hardness and weight of iron slag.

“Just look at that group way out yonder in the bay,” Ruth exclaimed. “Aren’t they like a herd of hippopotami under water? I expect to see them rise up, and start away any minute. And, see, girls, every single one of those islands has trees on it. I wonder which is Lost Island?”

“Seems to me,” said Isabel, critically, “that a sandy beach would be much better for our sailing, than those rocks. Suppose we bump into them.”

“Don’t worry, Dame Isabel,” Polly slipped her arm around her, happily. “If we bump into them, we’ll at least have the satisfaction of knowing they didn’t bump into us, won’t we? Here cometh a native of this wild and rocky shore, mates. I think he’s Boy Friday.”

Swinging leisurely along the beach was a tall, long-legged, stoop-shouldered boy of fifteen years or so. He wore overalls, turned up around his bare legs, and a huge straw hat hid his face in shadow. Sue declared that he resembled the crane they had seen away back in the wild rice-fields along the Potomac. But he was a friendly-looking native, at all events, and he carried a pail of freshly-dug clams, and over one shoulder a hoe with a broken handle.

“Don’t scare him, girls,” cautioned Polly; but she had scarcely spoken before the boy waved the hoe at them in a neighborly salute, and sent out a hail.


“Hello!” shouted back Polly and Sue, but the more sedate members of the club waited until he caught up with them before delivering any greeting.

“I saw you come ashore this morning,” he said, smiling at them frankly. “I was out with father taking in the lights, and we saw somebody wave at us from the yacht—”

“I did,” smiled Polly.

“Did you? I waved back. And father said he guessed you must be the folks we was looking for, so I’d better stop over at the hotel this morning on my way back, but I went clamming first. Got some whoppers too, regular quahaugs.”

He held out the pail for their admiration, and the girls duly admired, but it was not with the thought for those particular clams. As Kate said afterwards: “I thought right away that if he could get them, so could we, and what dandy clam frys we’d have in the dear old chafing-dish.”

Polly looked at him steadily for a minute more before she hazarded a guess.

“Is your father the captain?”

The boy nodded, smiling until his mouth looked like the Cheshire cat’s.

“Yes’m. Cap’n Ben Carey, formerly of the schooner Mary, now on duty at the station down yonder on the Point. They call our end of the bay Fair Havens. It’s in the Bible, too.”

“Is it?” Polly and the others were now interested fully. Even Marbury, with all his cadet training back of him, had been somewhat shy with all seven girls around him, plying him with questions, but this boy was not.

“What’s your own name?” asked Sue.

“Tom Carey.”

“Can you sail a yacht all by yourself?”

“I can sail anything,” answered the clam digger, modestly.

“The captain is in charge of Lost Island, isn’t he?” Polly inquired. “I am Polly Page, Mrs. Holmes’s niece.”

Tom nodded, and put out his hand.

“I know. We’ve been looking for you any time. We’ve got five of the Holmes boys’ boats down at our place. Father got a letter from London telling him you was coming, and he gave me the stamp to keep. Going to look at the place this morning?”

“We want to go over as soon as we may,” Polly said. “How far is it?”

Tom pointed to the opposite shore of the bay, about midway between the Point and the hotel.

“It’s right over yonder, where the beach looks flat all to once, then it hunches up into a big knob of land. It isn’t a whole island. There’s a ridge of land joins it on the main shore. It’s a good beach for sail boats. There’s five of them all together, and father’s got a lot more. He rents them for the season to the cottage folks along shore. He owns a sloop, too, and he lets that out to folks who want to sail clear out to the banks and fish. And Nancy has her own boat too.”

“Who is Nancy?” asked Ted.

“My sister,” Tom’s head lifted a trifle higher than ordinary, as he said it. It was easy to see the estimation he had of Nancy. “They’ve got a junior yacht club over at the Orienta, and not one in the lot can sail as well as Nancy. Look over there.”

Around the shore at the inlet came a trim catboat, tacking and beating down across the bay as a puff of wind hit her as easily as a gull swerves from its course.

“That’s Nancy,” Tom said proudly. “She’s been over to the village, most likely, for mother. She don’t like the walk around the shore road. Guess she’s bringing back something from my aunt’s.”

“How old is she?” Isabel’s tone was quite respectful, as she watched the single figure in the boat, just a mere dark speck, half hidden by the sail.

“Thirteen. I’m going on sixteen. We look after things at Fair Havens while father’s on duty down at the Point.”

“Is he a real life-saver?” asked Polly, eagerly.

“Yes,” said Tom, simply, adding, “He’s got some medals. He’s a coast guardsman. Do you want to go over to your place right now? I’m going along home, and it’s only a step from there.”

Polly considered. It was nearly noon, but they all wanted to see Lost Island so very much that she knew they would not mind giving up their luncheon at the hotel for the trip.

“Have you got a boat that will carry us all?” she asked, doubtfully.

“We won’t need a boat. I said they only called it an island, didn’t I? It isn’t a whole one. It’s a sort of knob that sticks up out of the water, with a good bit of beach, and at high tide it’s pretty well surrounded, except for a ridge of hummocks you can walk over. If we follow this shore road, it leads right to our house, and your place, and then straight along and minds its own business till it gets out to the Point.”

“Then we’ll be neighbors, won’t we?” said Ruth. “I guess we’ll be very glad to have good ones within hail before we get through.”

“We’ll all be good neighbors to you,” Tom returned quite seriously. “We’re mighty glad some real folks are going to live near us all summer. It gets lonesome way out there on the bay shore, and the village is two miles away. It’s just exactly one mile from our house to the hotel, then another mile on to Eastport.”

“Do you walk it often?” asked Ted, her hands deep in her sweater pockets. “We’ll have to go over after our mail, and I’m going to be post girl. I love to walk, miles.”

“We don’t walk it much,” returned Tom, stolidly. “You won’t either, after you find you can clip across the bay in a ‘cat’ in quarter the time.”

They had turned about, and were walking slowly back along the boardwalk towards the hotel. The Admiral saw them coming, and came down from the veranda to meet them. Polly managed the introduction in her own way.

“Grandfather, dear, this is Tom Carey, the captain’s son. He knows all about the island, and takes care of the yachts for his father. And may we, please, please, walk right over, and see it all now?”

The Admiral referred the question to his watch. Polly loved that watch. It was really an old friend of the family. It was a thin watch, of old gold, with a dull gold face, and black hands and figures on it, and more than that, it struck the hours, in a queer, high-pitched little ring.

“Eleven thirty-five it is, Polly. Will you be back by one sharp?”

“Yes, sir,” promised Polly, and off they went, Indian file, along the two-plank walk, with the tall, awkward figure in overalls leading.

“Seems to be an able seaman,” commented the Admiral, comfortably to himself, as he went back to his easy chair and the budget of mail that awaited him, and if Tom could only have heard him, he could not have asked for higher praise.

The Admiral’s opinion was verified by the girls before half an hour had passed. In that brief time, Tom had subdued even Polly with the breadth and depth and height of his knowledge of boats and sailor craft. One mile from the hotel they came to the Carey house. There was a good-sized boat dock, with a dozen or more sail boats moored alongside, and several row boats. A large signboard nailed up on crossbeams notified the passing world that it had reached the port of “Fair Havens.” A boardwalk led up from the dock over the beach to the house. It made the girls think of a house built of cards that first time they saw it. Not but what it was solid enough, but it seemed to be in sections, and one part leaned comfortably over for support on all the other adjacent parts. Once upon a time it had been painted red, but wind and storms and the drifting, beating sand had scraped off nearly every vestige of paint, and left the boards smooth and clean as a freshly-scrubbed oak floor. On the south side of the house around the kitchen door was a little garden enclosed by a paling fence, and hollyhocks grew nearly to the eaves, in tall, regular rows like grenadiers. A honeysuckle vine climbed over the side wall, and there was the sweet fragrance of stocks and sweetbrier over all, with sweet peas reaching out loving tendrils through the palings.

“My sister takes care of our garden,” said Tom, proudly. “She can do anything she sets her hand to. Mother says she’s just like Aunt Cynthy over in Eastport. She tried to paint the fence white, but it didn’t last. When winter comes, the sand just beats up here, and eats it off clean. Don’t you want to stop in, and get acquainted?”

Indeed they did want to, Polly replied promptly, so up the plank walk they went to the side door. Tom pointed out the arching framework above it, and its crimson rambler.

“I nailed that portico up there,” he told them. “And Nancy transplanted the rambler.”

“It’s ever so pretty,” the girls said heartily, and Tom picked some of the sweet red roses for each of them. Inside the house some one was singing, but when they tapped on the door it ceased, and Nancy herself came to greet them. She was tall and tanned, this Maine shore girl, and though she was only thirteen, her head topped Kate’s. Her long fair hair was bound around her head in two braids, and her eyes were as frank and as blue as Tom’s; as Polly said afterwards, her fair hair and blue eyes looked out of place in contrast with her tanned arms and face. But they saw at a glance that here was a neighbor worth having, and one to be cultivated. Mrs. Carey welcomed them warmly. She was just Nancy grown plumper and older, and she even wore her hair in the same way, two long braids wound around her head like a wreath. Isabel tried to do hers up that way the very next day, but gave it up.

While they talked of their summer plans, and Polly went down to the landing with Nancy to look over the boats there, the girls watched Mrs. Carey fry fish balls, and it was a ceremony. Not in any ordinary frying pan did she fry them, but in a deep kettle, just as Aunty Welcome fried doughnuts, and when the balls came out they were laid in a draining pan, all cooked to a delicious golden brown, until your mouth watered just to look at them.

“Don’t you girls want to sit right up to the table and have a bite before you take the walk over to the Knob?” asked Mrs. Carey suddenly. “You’ll be famished before you get back to the hotel. Of course you will. Guess I knew all about girls and their appetites before you were born. Nancy, you get some plates, and those fresh-baked biscuits covered over on the bread board there, and I’ll get a bottle of my Chili sauce. I wouldn’t give two cents for fish balls unless I could trim them up with Chili sauce.”

Taste good? The girls hoped all along the road to Lost Island, after it was over, that Mrs. Carey made fish balls often.

“Tom says she can make clam pies, too, girls,” Crullers said, eagerly. Crullers was always radiant when the subject came up of feeding the inner girl. “And clam chowder, and fritters, and Indian puddings.”

“What are Indian puddings?” asked Isabel.

“Hush,” warned Polly. “Don’t ask questions, Isabel. You make Indian puddings out of cornmeal, and cream, and molasses, and spice. Anybody knows that. Whenever I used to feel sad after Aunty Welcome had scolded me, she’d always turn around and coax Mandy to make me an Indian pudding just piled full of raisins. Oh, girls, look! There it is.”

She stopped short, and pointed ahead of them. They had come to a path leading up over the rocks. The high-water mark could be plainly seen, where the tide had left a little fringe of shells, and driftwood, and seaweed. There were pools here and there, too, and these were half full of water. Tom was striding ahead down the rocks to where a narrow neck of land joined Lost Island to the mainland. But the girls paused for a minute on the rocks, and looked down with happy eyes on the future haven of the Polly Page Yacht Club.



“I told you it was just a knob of land sticking out from the shore,” said Tom. “It’s nearly a quarter of a mile long.”

Polly lifted her head, and drew in a deep, long breath of the cool, salty air that blew in from the southeast. She looked down at the “Knob,” as they soon grew accustomed to calling the island. There was a fine incurved beach for bathing, with a great, tumbled mass of rocks at the farther end that rose higher and higher at the end pointing towards the bay. Young willow and scrub pine grew short and thick wherever they could get a footing in the rock crevices, and there was plenty of grass, but it was tall and sharp pointed and tinted queer colors from the tide.

“You can walk away out yonder into the water at low tide,” said Tom. “The beach is a fine one, better than we’ve got at Fair Havens. There ain’t any deep holes at all. That’s a pretty good landing too. It lops over some, but that won’t hurt anything. You’ll get used to it, and it’s easy to moor to.”

The girls scrambled after him down the rocky path, and followed him as he picked his way over the sand bar, stepping from one grass hummock to the next.

“This is high and dry at low tide,” called back Tom. “Guess you’ll have to jump some places now.”

“Some places!” repeated Sue, holding up her clean linen skirt in dismay. “I’m hopping like a frog now, and my shoes are wet. We’ll need a balloon or an air ship when the tide comes in.”

“Here’s the house,” came Tom’s cheery voice, beyond a sand dune, his bare feet having carried him swiftly over the places where the girls had to pick their way. And all at once they saw it, the place they had dreamed of, and talked of, and hoped for, for nearly two weeks. It was gray, and lopsided like the landing place, and as weatherworn as the Carey’s paling fence. Some fisherman had built it years ago, and shielded it from the northwest winds by putting it close against the sand dune; facing south, it looked out over the Sickle. He must have had a variable mind, that first fisherman, for he had started out with two rooms, then added a lean-to, and yet another lean-to, and then had built a third one that leaned fairly over on the original lean-tos. The lean-to portion of the house then leaned all together on the sand dune, but the front part was up on a rock foundation, and there was a fair-sized porch across it that Mrs. Holmes had built, when the boys had taken it for a summer camp.

But in spite of the new supports under the flooring, it had a decided tilt to leeward, from generations of storms that had whacked it, and battered it, and all but demolished it. A tall flag staff still reared itself squarely in front of the steps, and at sight of it Polly ran ahead of the others.

“What is it, Polly?” called Ruth, holding to her hat.

“I know what she’s going to do, I know,” cried Sue. “Salute the colors!”

Polly reached the flag staff, and took the “colors” from her reefer pocket, where they had been safely tucked away, against the time appointed. She had made that flag herself. It had been her special contribution to the general belongings of the club, and as Polly ran it gallantly up to the top of the pole, the girls sent up a good, round cheer, and even Tom threw his cap high in the air.

“’Rah! ’Rah! ’Rah!” he shouted. “She’s a-flying a good one.”

“That’s a blue triangular pennant,” explained Sue. “It’s a golden sun on a field of blue.”

“A golden sun rampant, isn’t it?” Crullers put in.

“No, dear, couchant,” Sue laughed. “Why will you talk about heraldry when you don’t know anything about it. I’ve studied it all up.”

The sand had drifted up around the porch base in regular hillocks, nearly to the railing.

“When we get too tired to use the steps,” Polly said, “we can just step over the railing, and slide down.”

“I can’t find a door,” said Isabel, doubtfully, as she came around the house from a tour of inspection, and Kate began to chant, teasingly,

“Oh, I wish my room had a floor,
I don’t care so much for a window or a door.
But I wish my room had a floor!”

“What’s that funny little cupola up on top?” called out Polly.

“That’s the lookout,” explained Tom. “Lots of houses alongshore have them. It’s so the women folks at home can climb up there in foul weather, and look out towards sea through glasses, to see if the ships are coming home.”

“Oh, I like that,” Polly said. “I’ve got ever so many ships that are coming home some day, and when I get discouraged after this I shall build a lookout in my heart and climb up there with a spy glass and see how the weather is out to sea, and maybe I’ll see a sail.”

“Polly, you sentimental goose,” laughed Kate, slipping one arm around the commodore. “You never see things just as they are.”

“I see them the way they ought to be, and that’s better,” Polly smiled back. “Where’s Tom?”

“Prying off the planks that are nailed over the doors and windows,” Sue called, and presently they all went inside.

There were no plastered walls or ceilings. All the rooms were finished off like the interior of a cabin, with narrow boards nailed close together, and there was a spicy, pungent odor through the house, like spruce woods. One thing the girls hailed with delight. Right up through the center of the house rose a great, old-fashioned round rock chimney. Three fireplaces opened into it, and you could stand in any one of them and look up at the blue sky. Long shelves stretched across the tops of the fireplaces, and there were iron cranes on each side on which to hang pots.

“Where are the grates?” asked Isabel.

“Aren’t any grates,” responded Tom. “You just lug in an armful of driftwood and pile it on those rocks and start her up. We piled rocks around outside for fenders, ’cause father thought maybe the sparks would hit the flooring some day.”

“Won’t we just pile on wood there on chilly nights, girls?” Ruth exclaimed, kneeling down and holding out her hands, as if she could feel the blaze even then.

“And sit around on cushions, and tell stories, and eat toasted marshmallows, and Aunty Welcome’s hermits,” added Ted.

“Oh, poor Aunty,” cried Polly, in sudden dismay. “I never told her where we were going, and she’ll think we’re drowned sure. Let’s hurry, now, and be businesslike. How much furniture is here, Tom?”

“Ain’t any at all,” said Tom, cheerfully. “Just some chairs, and a table, and some beds, and dishes.”

“Well, that’s all we’ll need,” Polly told him. “Did you think we wanted pianos or consoles?”

“Those aren’t furniture,” said Tom. “Those are just fixin’s.”

“Where can we get fresh water?” Kate asked.

“There’s a well at our place. I’ll bring you up some twice a day, and oftener if you need it. You can freshen the salt water for cooking. Mother’ll show you how.”

“I think it’s splendid to have near neighbors like you,” said Polly. “Maybe we’ll be able to do something for you before the summer’s over.”

Tom poked his bare toes into the sand sheepishly.

“Oh, that’s all right. Mother and Nancy are mighty glad you’ve come. It gets pretty lonesome way out here on the Sickle. I don’t mind it so much, because I’m going into the coast service with father as soon as I’m old enough, but Nancy wishes she had some girls to talk to. There’s plenty over in the village, but that’s too far off, and the crowd at the Orienta or the hotel and cottages, we folks don’t see much of. My Aunt Cynthy says she’ll take Nancy any time over in the village and bring her up, but mother says she guesses she’ll hang on to her only girl. Nancy likes you girls, because she says you seem different.”

“How do you mean?”

“Oh, you’re not all starched up the way the others are over at the hotel.” He squinted one eye at the sun. “It’s half-past twelve, and more too.”

Regretfully the girls took leave of their new kingdom, but as they walked back along the bay shore road to the hotel, they turned every now and then, and saw the little blue and gold pennant streaming valiantly in the breeze, and as Polly remarked, it certainly did look home-like.

They did not stop at the Carey cottage going back. It was a good mile around to the hotel, and the Admiral was waiting for them on the veranda.

“Polly, you go up and calm Welcome,” he said, the first thing. “She’s been down to me about sixty-nine times to ask me to send the life-savers after you. You run up before you have your lunch and show her there are no bones broken.”

Polly obeyed gladly enough. The old colored mammy was very dear to her, and her arms had been the only shelter she had known when the Admiral was away from Glenwood ever since her own mother died.

“Deed, chile, if I ain’t powerful glad to see you!” Welcome exclaimed, as soon as she set eyes on her. “Praise de Lord, oh, mah soul! Has you been way off in dat blazin’ sunlight and no parasol? If you ain’t de carelessest chile I ever did see. You’ll get so freckled dere won’t anybody know you under your bridal veil, you mind what I say, now.”

“No, I won’t, Aunty, truly. Listen. It’s just the happiest sort of a place, and I know you’ll love it. There are big fireplaces and a wide porch to sit out on, and you can see way out over the ocean and over the bay too. I don’t see why we can’t go over as soon as we have finished luncheon.”

“How do you intend totin’ me through all dat sand?” asked Aunty with dignity.

“We’re not going to tote you at all. We’re going to roll you,” laughed Polly, as she reached up, and took the wrinkled brown face between her fresh young palms. “Listen, you old dear. Just you go down and have your dinner, and then make out a list of what we need to cook with, and I’ll send Tom over to the village after it this afternoon.”

“Is dere anything to cook in?” asked Aunty, still unmollified.

“One iron kettle, one spider, a baking pan, and two sauce-pans,” enumerated Polly. “And some dishes.”

“Well, it’s a mighty good thing I packed up plenty in de boxes,” said Aunty solemnly, and with deep gratification. “I felt it in mah bones it was a desert isle, and I’ve done kept mah eye on dose boxes ever since we left Ole Point Comfort behind us. I’ve watched ’em, and I’ve sat on ’em, and I just know dey’s safe.”

Polly said nothing, but she thought hard. She had forgotten all about the two big packing-cases that contained their bedding, and general camp outfit. The last she had seen of them, they had been stowed away on the lower deck of the Hippocampus for safekeeping.

“Don’t you fret one bit, dear,” she said at last, “I’ll ask grandfather where they are, and if they’re not here, then they must be there. Stoney told me when I lost my cap overboard, a thing is never lost as long as you know where it is. Just make out that list, Aunty, for us, and we’ll hurry up with luncheon, and coax grandfather to let us go over this afternoon to the club-house for good.”

It didn’t require very much coaxing. Polly herself broached the subject at the table down in the long, shady dining-room, and the Admiral told her she might do as she pleased.

“I’m not going to interfere except when it’s absolutely necessary. I’ll just stop here for a while till you’re on your course, then I’ll go South again until the regatta. You manage your own fleet. I’ll be on that veranda for a week longer, though, and if there’s any mutiny or danger, just send a couple of rockets and I’ll come alongside.”

“Wireless, Admiral Page, wireless,” Kate corrected, in her amusing way. “We’re strictly up-to-date, you know. Polly will have a wireless apparatus over there sure as can be, and you’ll get many a ‘C.Q.D.’”

“Grandfather, dear,” began Polly, suddenly remembering, “where are the two big boxes with all our things in?”

“On the way to the island this minute,” answered the Admiral. “That is once I forestalled you, young lady. But here’s one question I cannot solve, so I shall have to put it before the club. How are we to get Aunty Welcome to the island?”

Polly meditated. So did the rest, but Ruth solved the problem.

“When the wagon comes back from taking the boxes over, send Aunty back in it.”

Polly hugged her joyously.

“Whatever should we do, Grandma,” she cried, “without you to solve things for us. Here I’ve been thinking we’d have to blindfold her the way they do elephants to coax them on board a ship. No, thanks, I don’t care for any shortcake,” this to the pretty waitress, as she was about to place a goodly slice beside her plate. “I must hurry. Crullers, dear, you may have it all.”

“Polly,” whispered Isabel, as they were leaving the long dining-room, “those two girls at that little table, over near the veranda doors, have been looking at us ever since we came in.”

“Maybe they like us,” Polly said, happily. She always took the cheeriest view of everything as a matter of course. As the Admiral and his fleet of clipper builts, as he called them, passed the table Isabel had mentioned, Polly looked at the girls seated there, quite frankly and interestedly. There was no doubt but what they were sisters, and Polly liked them at first sight. The elder was about sixteen, and the younger seemed to be about Polly’s age.

“I wonder who they are,” Isabel said, when they were up in the long, cool, double parlors. “I like them and I wish we could get acquainted with them before we leave. They’re very well dressed, Polly.”

Polly laughed at the serious, earnest tone.

“Isabel always judges people by their raiment,” she declared. “I know if she met John the Baptist in camel’s hair, and Peter Pan in white flannels like the Senator wore, she would drop Peter a gracious courtesy, and not notice anyone else at all.”

“Oh, Polly, I would,” cried Isabel. “I am not as bad as that, but I do believe that clothes show character, just as cleanliness or good manners do. I have seen ever so many persons whose clothes may have cost lots of money, but they looked like patchwork quilts. These girls didn’t. They were dressed with taste, and their dresses were hand embroidered linen too. I do wonder who they are. I like the way they do their hair, braided, then tied up Dutch fashion with two big bows.”

“Do you want yours that way, you blessed old looking-glass?” Polly crossed over to where Isabel sat, and began to arrange her long fair braids in the same fashion. “It’s easy enough. All you do is cross them over, so, and then tie your ribbon on, and let it flutter a little, like a butterfly bow. You need very wide ribbon to make it look right. There, now observe yourself, Lady Vanitas.”

Just then Crullers whispered: “Here they come.”

While Isabel was trying to balance herself on a bamboo tabourette so that she could catch a glimpse of herself in the mirror above the mantel, the other girls entered from the corridor leading to the wide staircase, and hesitated.

“Dorothy,” called a pleasant voice from the hall. The elder girl looked over her shoulder, caught Polly’s glance, and smiled, then they both went on down the hall.

“Ready, mates?” asked the Admiral just then and Polly inquired who the other two girls were.

“Commodore Vaughan’s daughters from the Orienta Club,” answered the old Admiral. “And very mannerly children they are, too. You will meet them later. I was talking to the Commodore just a few minutes ago.”

“Well, I’m glad we shall know them, anyway,” said Polly, as she went up to where Aunty Welcome was waiting for them. “I wonder, girls, whether grown people speak of us as ‘children.’ I feel half-way grown-up now. I don’t think I’m a child.”

“Listen to her,” laughed Ruth. “And she’ll be fifteen next December. Don’t you remember, Kate, in the ‘Mikado,’ where somebody tells the three little maids they are not young ladies, they are only young persons.”

“Has you been a-finding dat teehee’s nest again?” asked Aunty Welcome, severely, as they all trouped into the room the Admiral had reserved for them. “Ain’t you ’shamed to come along a hotel corridor giggling like geese. And you-all from Virginny, too. Ain’t you got any State pride?”

“Oh, we will be good, Aunty,” pleaded Sue and Ted. “Don’t scold us. Just wait till we get out on an entire island all our own.”

“I speck you’ll bring my hairs in sorrow to de grabe before you get done,” Aunty prophesied, but her eyes twinkled, as she looked around her at her charges.

It was past three o’clock before the caravan started. First a wagon was sent around by the shore road, with Aunty Welcome and the luggage.

“That’s a pretty hefty load, son,” the Admiral told the sunburned youngster who had agreed to do the hauling down to the Knob, as all the shore people called Lost Island. He laughed, and slapped the reins on the horses’ backs.

“Guess the colts will get there all right, sir,” he said. “They can both of them swim.”

“We’ll be there right away, Aunty,” Polly called, receiving a reassuring wave from a large, dark green cotton umbrella.

“Now, I begin to feel as though we were getting down to business,” Kate said, decidedly, as she came from the telephone booth in the hotel office. “I’ve arranged for our groceries, and they say they can send a team over about four, because they deliver goods every morning and afternoon to the hotel and cottages, and we might as well receive ours that way, too.”

“Did you order stuffed olives and plenty of chocolate, Kate?” Isabel asked.

“No, ma’am, I did not. We must have solid food, the Admiral says, and no nonsense. Plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit.”

“Well, I like the incidental trimmings myself,” mourned Isabel.

“Ready?” asked Polly, and the caravan moved, Polly and the Admiral bringing up the rear.

Just then the two Vaughan sisters came down the hotel steps dressed in dark blue linen yachting suits, and as they passed, girl fashion, they smiled at the strangers without the formality of an introduction. Polly could not wait for time to ripen the acquaintance, but paused and spoke to them in her impulsive way.

“I only wanted to say,” she began, as the other girls walked on with the Admiral, “that we are from Virginia, from Queen’s Ferry, and we belong to a—a—our yacht club. You can see the flag flying over yonder where the shore curves before you get to the Point. We’re going to live there all summer, and we’d be ever so glad if you would come down and see us.”

“We’d love to,” Dorothy spoke up, warmly. “This is my sister Bess. We’ll try to come over some day next week.”

“If you do, we’ll show you how to sail a yacht,” Polly said encouragingly, but the girls laughed.

“Oh, we go out every day on the bay in our yacht. You can see her from here. We belong to the Junior Sailing Club at the Orienta.” Bess pointed eagerly down to the hotel landing. “She is named the Nixie.”

Polly followed the direction in which she pointed, and saw a slender, close-reefed yacht lying just below the boat landing. It was clean and looked well-dressed, the same as its owners did. From where she stood Polly caught a sparkle of polished brass work around the cockpit.

“We have plenty of boats, but we haven’t learned how to sail them yet,” she said. “As soon as we do, we’ll race you.”

“That’s a challenge, remember, and we take it up,” returned Dorothy, laughing, and Polly hurried ahead to join the others, feeling that she had won two friends who seemed very much worth while keeping.



They reached the island about four-thirty, and the remainder of the day was crowded with things waiting to be done.

“Right now, in the beginning, let’s start with some system,” said Kate. “If we don’t we’ll all be getting in each other’s way. Polly, come in here and stop gazing at the water. Help me plan the house. There are three rooms upstairs, just plain boarded chambers, but they’ll do to sleep in if the nights are not too hot. I ordered a bolt of mosquito netting, and we must start in to-morrow to tack it up. There are five cots upstairs, but only one bed downstairs, in the bedroom off the kitchen. Can you figure out where we are all to rest our weary heads? I give it up.”

Polly considered.

“Let’s give Aunty the full grown bed, because she’s old and will have all the cooking and washing and ironing to do. I guess we’ll have to get two more cots. When grandfather goes back to the hotel, we can ask him to send them up to us.”

“Where will you put them?” asked Kate, quite calmly. “On the porch?”

“No, ma’am. Right in this room. Daytimes we can turn them into divans.”

“Isn’t she a wonderful schemer?” Sue put her head in at the open window and laughed. “Where did you pack the chafing dish?”

“In my little suitcase. Why?”

“Aunty says we may have supper out on the porch and save trouble.”

“Then I’ll fix lobster a la Newburg in a jiffy.” Polly forgot all about beds and such ordinary things, and rose at once, but the majestic form of Welcome appeared in the kitchen doorway and waved a cooking spoon in her direction.

“Deed, an’ you ain’t a-going to eat any sech mess before bedtime,” she said firmly. “Yo’ keep your patience in evidence, chile, and your obstreperousness in subjection, and I’ll have some frizzled eggs ready before you know it, and some toast and marmalade.”

The Admiral had declined staying for tea that first night. He had looked the entire place over, and, as Polly remarked, noticed points they never would have thought of, the drainage, the shingles, and the condition of the cellar. He even went down to the boat landing, and examined its supports and noted the high tide marks along its piling.

“Seas went all the way over there, didn’t they, Tom?” he asked, casually.

“Well, yes, sir,” acknowledged Tom. “They always do slosh over some in heavy weather. Ours do too. When the February gales hit the Sickle, I tell you, we all jam down pretty close to keep from being blown clean off.”

“How about the bay? Do you get many bad puffs out there? It looks fairly well sheltered.”

Tom nodded his head with comradely understanding. As he told his father that night, the Admiral and he were good mates, and understood each other perfectly.

“Oh, it blows up now and then, but if any storms should hit us, don’t you worry. Father and I’ll keep a weather eye on the Knob. You see the beach patrol passes about six hundred yards over to seaward. Sometimes I tramp it with the men from the Station, because I’m going as soon as I’m old enough.”

“You couldn’t do a braver thing, my lad,” responded the Admiral, thoughtfully. “I feel like saluting every time I see one of the boys who wear the fouled anchor on their sleeve. They are a courageous lot.”

While Aunty Welcome was busy preparing supper, the girls went off down the beach, hatless and happy, with sweaters buttoned to their chins, for the evenings were chilly along the shore.

Polly and Sue were ahead, and the rest followed as they pleased. The tide was in full and high, and they laughed and shouted to see the long, foamy swirls of water slip up the beach, up and up, each time a little bit farther, till they all sprang back for fear of wet feet.

“Doesn’t it make you think of all the sea stories you ever read?” cried Polly, her eyes shining, her long curls blown back by the wind. “When I feel the wind like that in my face, I want to be a viking, and stand right up in the prow of a boat, and sail, sail right out into the sunset.”

“You’d look like the Winged Victory,” called Kate. “But I know what you mean. Like this?” She opened her white sweater coat, and held it wide to the wind, like wings. “It makes you feel like a gull.”

“Oh, my feet are wet, girls.” Ted sat down on a rock, and deliberately took off her low tan shoes. “What’s the difference? I’m going barefooted and have some fun.”

Five minutes later Aunty Welcome looked out of the kitchen door and saw a sight that made her fairly gasp. Carrying their shoes and stockings, a line of barefooted girls clambered up the mass of rocks at the Knob.

“Well, for de land’s sakes,” cried Aunty. “Who’d believe dose wasn’t a pack ob gypsies?”

But the girls waved back to her, and she had to laugh over the sight after all.

“Those rocks up there are the highest part of the island,” said Polly. “Let’s go clear up to the top.”

The girls clambered after her, over the slippery rocks, rocks that were gray with barnacles down along their sides. The water had filled up all the little hollows, and Polly bent down over one to examine it.

“Just look, girls,” she said. “These are limpets, the kind that open their shells to the tide, as if they were thirsty. You know them, Ruth.”

Patella pellucida, semi-transparent, sticks to fronds of seaweed,” responded “Grandma,” in her deliberate way.

She lifted a long, wet strand of seaweed, and waved it in the air. Something fell off.

“It’s a crab,” said Ted. “Look at him play ’possum.”

Ruth poked at the shell diligently, until she turned it over on its back.

“It’s a horse-shoe crab,” she said. “They call them king crabs too. They shed their shells, and then they are the soft shelled crabs. They’re regular fighters unless you catch one with a new shell, then he’s tame enough.”

“What are hermit crabs, Ruth?” asked Sue.

“I don’t know why they call them hermits, unless it’s because they steal other shells and live in them.”

“Hermits don’t do that, Ruth. They’re just people who isolate themselves from the world.”

“Well, these crabs like to live all by themselves. They hunt up snails, and eat the snail and steal its shell. Sometimes two crabs will fight over the same shell.”

“Just like people,” Sue said. “I think it’s awfully queer how much people and animals and fishes and everything look and act alike. Maybe we’re much closer related than we think.”

“Now, Sue, I refuse to have this crab’s pedigree traced to mine,” laughed Kate. “Throw him back into the sea.”

“That’s good,” said Crullers, solemnly. “Maybe he’s the father of a large family.”

Polly tossed it back into the next upcurling wave, and they all made up some poetry on the spot, and chanted joyously.

“Oh, I am a family crab, so treat me quite tenderly.
There are generations down below, and they’re all awaiting for me.
I’ve sisters and cousins and aunts, and some great-grand-children too.
So I beg you not to cook me into crab a la Newburg stew.”

Suddenly a hail came from the main shore, and they were silent. It was past sunset, and a soft twilight afterglow was settling over the world. Coming along the ridge of sand from the Point was a lone figure, and from where they stood it looked immensely tall, outlined against the clear orange of the southern sky. Even while they hesitated, wondering who it could be, Nancy’s clear voice called far down the shore,

“Ahoy, dad, ahoy!”

“It’s the Captain,” said Polly, starting to put on her stockings instantly. “Hurry, and catch up with him. Nancy says she goes to meet him every night.”

They slipped on shoes and stockings quickly, and ran back to the house just in time to see Nancy and the Captain crossing the hummocks. Polly never forgot that first look she had of Captain Ben Carey of the Sickle Point Life Saving Station. Tom was a pretty good reproduction of him, but there was something in the Captain’s expression that Tom lacked, a curious look in his deep blue eyes, as though they had always gazed out over wide distances. He was tall and broad shouldered and mighty, the girls thought. His face was smooth-shaven, but tanned and weather-beaten and crisped into innumerable fine wrinkles, until Sue declared it made her think of a baked apple. His hair was thick and curly like Tom’s, and his closely shut lips seemed to be ever smiling out at a world that even its Maker could still pronounce good as He had at its first dawning. But it was his voice that Polly loved best. Such a rich, hearty voice it was, with a rollicking roll to it when it burst into a sailor boy “come—all—ye,” and a deep, resonant tone in speaking that simply won your heart.

“Ahoy, there, ahoy,” he shouted back, as they called to Nancy and him, and then Polly saw that he was to be their best friend all that long happy summer.

“It’s this way, you see,” he told them all, when they had led him up on the porch of the cottage, and gathered around for good advice. “I’ve told the Admiral that he may leave you here alone any time, and we’ll all keep an eye on you. Tom and he were down to the Point awhile back, and had a talk.”

“And he told us he was going back to the hotel,” said Polly.

“Well, he changed his course. He says to me, ‘Cap’n, do you think they’ll be able to handle a lot of yachts alone?’ And I told him, ‘Leave ’em to me, sir, with an easy conscience. I’ll keep my mind on them, and so will Mrs. Carey, and so will the children. And as for handling the boats, why, Lord love you, there ain’t nothing over fifteen foot in the lot.’ My Nancy here runs all over the bay in Tom’s knockabout, the Pirate, and her own catboat. She’s been out around the Point too, alone, in fair weather. And she’s only thirteen. Tom is going on sixteen, and I guess betwixt the two of them, you’ll turn into able seamen, and learn how to handle a boat. If you don’t, they won’t sink anyhow. You want to learn how to swim, every girl jack of you, first of all. What would you do out in the bay if the boat took a notion to stand on her beam ends, and ship a lot of water clean over into the cockpit? I’m a believer in swimming. It’s a good deal like unto the Kingdom of Heaven, I’m thinking. Learn how to swim first, and all these things shall be added unto you.” He smiled around at the circle of young faces, and rose. “Come on, Nancy. Mother’ll have supper piping hot, and she’ll give us pickles if we’re late.”

“Oh, please wait just a minute,” begged Polly. “We have so much to ask you, you know. You believe in prevention first, don’t you?”

“Prevention first,” answered the Captain, a trifle gravely. “Indeed I do, indeed I do; with over a thousand youngsters dying off every year at our summer resorts, just from carelessness in swimming and handling boats when they don’t know how to do either one right. Why, if I had my way, I’d take every land lubber in the lot, and put them through a course of sprouts, so they could qualify for a volunteer life saver ever after. Yes, I would.”

“I can’t swim,” said Sue, ruefully. “And Polly and Kate and Ted can only paddle around a little, and they think they could save all of us.”

“Then not one of you can go out in a yacht alone until you can all swim like a school of tommycods,” said the Captain, positively. “If I’m to be responsible for this station, I’m going to have things shipshape and seamanlike. To-morrow morning every one of you be ready at ten sharp, and Nancy and I’ll be over and teach you how to keep your chins out of water, anyway. And not one boat shall Tom bring over until you have learned.”

“Captain,” asked Polly, seriously, leaning forward with her chin on her palms, “Did anything ever happen to make you feel that way?”

The Captain eyed her whimsically.

“Found me out, didn’t you? Well, I don’t care. I’ll tell you about it, and maybe it will make you keep an eye on the buoys and signal lights. I used to have a knockabout called the Three Widows—”

“What a funny name for a boat!” exclaimed Crullers.

“She was named before I got her, by a skipper out of Noank, down on the Connecticut coast. Pretty light she was, too, and frisky in a gale. Tom and I could haul her close, but I didn’t let her out to any of the summer folks. Cats and flaties are the best for them, and then they can’t drown unless they jump overboard. But, anyway, this day I had been on duty down at the Point all night, and it was late before I got home. It was in September, and we’d had a regular run of nor’westers with thunder storms and general equinoctial cut-ups. Most of the summer folks had gone home except a few down at the hotel, and while I was on duty they persuaded Tom they could sail the Three Widows. And they didn’t know when to stop.” The Captain paused to let this part of his narrative sink deeply into the memories of his listeners.

“They sailed clear out around the Point, and when the big sea hit her just outside the channel in the open, she keeled over like a pasteboard box. We’d seen them by that time. Billy Clewen, the keeper at the station, sings out to us, and we got the boat out. There were five aboard, three lads and two of their sisters. Three went down while we were getting to them, two boys and a girl.” The Captain cleared his throat, and before he continued he looked out over the bay for a minute to where a lone star had lighted its signal fire in the eastern sky. “The last one of the lads managed to get his sister where she could get a grip on the centerboard, and the two of them clung until we took them off.”

“And the rest?” asked Polly, softly.

“That’s what I’m telling you. There wasn’t any rest left. None of them could swim an inch, and they went down. And that night their fathers and mothers came down along the Sickle yonder, and they walked the beach with us men, walked hour after hour, and sometimes the women folks would break down and cry. I found one of the lads myself, and brought him back to his mother, and while my heart sympathized with her, my common sense asked why in tunket she hadn’t taught the lad to swim and manage a boat right before she’d let him come nigh salt water. There won’t be any boys or girls that I have dealings with go into it till they can swim like a tommycod. That’s all. To-morrow at ten.”

“We’ll be ready, Captain Carey,” Polly promised. After the captain and Nancy had gone, the girls were rather subdued for a while, thinking over the Captain’s words, and as they stood out on the porch after supper, and looked seaward, they thought of what that night’s vigil along the lonely shore must have been, waiting for the bodies of the loved ones to be washed up by the waves.

It was strangely quiet away out there on the little island. They could hear the running feet of the surf along the shore, and its steady break against the rocks up at the Knob. The darkness seemed to fold itself around them like a tangible presence, but it brought no sense of fear, rather of peace and restfulness.

Over on the bay shore there were plenty of lights to keep them company. As Ted said, the hotel looked like a Mississippi steamboat with its triple rows of bright lights. Far out on the end of the Sickle, they could see the Point light blinking like some great eye.

“Oh, look, Polly,” cried Isabel. “Isn’t it beautiful?”

Polly leaned on the veranda railing and nodded absently, her eyes half closed like the Captain’s, as she watched the bay.

“It makes me feel as though somebody were watching us,” she said. “Doesn’t it seem queer to think that while we are all asleep, the life savers patrol the beach, taking care of things. Grandfather’s a sort of a coast patrol. He’s on the retired list, Rear-Admiral Robert L. Page, you know. He cannot go to sea any more on active duty, but he’s our coast patrol, and he sees that all wrecks are looked after, and relief sent. I think he’d make a good one.”

“You don’t mean that really, do you, Polly?” Isabel never could catch a figure of speech until it had been fully explained to her. But Polly only smiled and straightening up she started to sing, her full, young soprano voice floating out clearly on the still night air.

“Sunset, and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar
When I put out to sea.”

Softly the other girls came from the inner room, and joined in the old, sweet words.

“But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.
“Twilight and evening bell.
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark.
“But though from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.”

There was silence for a few minutes, then Aunty Welcome’s voice came from the kitchen, in agonized accents,

“For de mercy sakes alive, he’s got me by mah toe!”

Sue was the first to grasp the situation, and she made a frantic dash for the door.

“It’s my pet crab,” she exclaimed. “I found him down on the rocks after you girls had gone away, and I brought him back and put him into a tin can in the kitchen so we could tame him.”

“Tame a crab, you goose,” cried Polly, and she followed at headlong speed, for Aunty’s wails rose higher and higher.

The crab had managed to wriggle out of the tin can where Sue had left him to meditate, and had started on a leisurely examination of the kitchen floor. Aunty Welcome’s big toe had proved a happy diversion, as she was going to bed, and he had caught at it instantly. Polly disconnected him with difficulty, took him down the beach, and threw him out into the water.

“Now, you stay there, you family crab,” she cried.

“Oh, Polly, how cruel, when I wanted to tame him and study his construction,” Sue protested.

“I reckon that was what he was trying to do to Aunty, study her construction,” laughed Polly. “Let’s turn in now. And, say, girls,” she paused a minute, her face suddenly sober and earnest. “I don’t know just what it is, but doesn’t it truly seem as if we were nearer Heaven away out here? I wonder why? And didn’t you notice that the Captain and Tom speak of God as if they almost knew Him, instead of just worshiping Him? Did you hear them singing ‘Pull for the Shore,’ as they walked down the shore road to-night? While we are all here, let’s say our evening prayer together out on the porch, and put in the one about ‘all perils and dangers of this night.’ You know, Ruth.”

So out there in the darkness the girls knelt, with their heads bent on the railing looking seaward, while Ruth’s voice led them in the beautiful old evening prayer.

“‘Lighten our darkness we beseech Thee, O Lord, and of Thy great mercy save and defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of Thy only son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.’”

And from the far corner of the veranda, they heard Aunty Welcome’s deep-toned response, “Amen, chile, Amen.”

So ended the first day on Lost Island.



At ten o’clock sharp the next morning the girls saw the Captain’s dory round the curve of the bay shore from Fair Havens, and make for the Knob. Nancy waved her hand to them, her face shaded by a pink sunbonnet. The girls were already in the water, paddling around in their new swimming suits, and splashing one another. Ted, Kate, and Polly, could just manage to keep their chins above water, and float, but the rest kept at waist-deep limits.

“We brought along some ring buoys,” said Nancy, as she stepped out of the dory, and helped run it up the beach. “That’s how I learned to swim. If you just hold on to one and start out with your feet, you can learn to use one arm at a time.”

That they were very willing and obedient pupils, even the Captain had to admit. Nancy was the teacher, while the Captain stood by in case of trouble, and gave orders.

“Let yourself go,” Nancy urged Sue, as the latter clung closely to her in the deep water. “Just let yourself go, and you’ll find out you’re floating.”

Sue obeyed, willingly enough, and the next instant a pair of stockinged feet waved in the air above the water. As Nancy pulled her up, spluttering, she laughed, and insisted on going ahead, and before she realized it she was making the stroke properly and could keep herself afloat.

Polly had caught the stroke almost at once, and was swimming around helping Nancy. Ruth and Kate went about it practically, counting their strokes, and trying first in water up to their armpits. But Isabel waded in and sat down at ease in the water, just where the waves could curl up around her comfortably. Then she proceeded to loosen her hair, and give it a good wetting. Then back on a rock she climbed, and sat there, letting it dry in the sun.

“Come on in,” called Polly, splashing her with water. “You mustn’t sit up on that rock and play you’re a nixie or a mermaid while we have to work so hard. Come on in, and swim.”

“Oh, Polly, I don’t think I want to,” said Isabel, anxiously. “I can’t keep the water out of my eyes.”

“Fiddlesticks,” cried the Commodore; “come and splash her, girls,” and they drove Isabel back to work like the rest.

“Now then, now then,” shouted the Captain in his rolling bass. “Keep at it lively, keep at it lively. Tom’s coming with the boats at noon if the wind holds fair, and you must learn how to keep your heads out of the bay.”

So they kept at it diligently, and when it was over they went up on the beach. While they lay around in the warn sand, the Captain took Nancy and gave a regular life-saving drill to show them what to do in case of danger.

“First aid to the injured class,” Polly called it, and it was a good name.

“Don’t scream and get excited. That’s the first and last rule I want to give you,” he told them, emphatically. “What would you think of a boat crew of life-savers whooping at the top of their lungs when they were going out at a call? If you do happen to fall overboard, or you see one of the others in trouble, don’t run and call for help. Keep cool, and get right down to business.”

“Don’t people who are in danger of drowning try to catch hold of any one who goes to rescue them, and they both are lost?” asked Isabel, doubtfully. “I should think it would be better to throw them a buoy or a life preserver or something.”

“That’s something you don’t worry about,” the Captain told her, comfortably. “I guess if people had always been thinking of that sort of thing, there would never have been any life saving apparatus at all. I sorter feel that we must leave a whole lot to Him who holdeth the sea in the hollow of His hand. Now, remember what I did just now, and how I did it. I’ll drill you on it next week. You never can tell when it will come in handy. Don’t start giving a drowned person strong black coffee or clam chowder the first thing to brace them up, do you mind me? ’Tain’t done by real life savers.” The Captain’s eyes twinkled. “Just roll them over a barrel, or your knee, and get the water out of them; then take hold of their tongue, using a piece of clean cloth, and get somebody else to work their arms up and down, and if there’s any beat left in their heart it’s going to start up again. And when you do start them going, then it’s time enough to give them coffee, or hot ginger tea, or anything. Mother’s great on hot ginger tea, and I don’t know but what prayer and ginger ought to be counted in with the first aid to the injured. I use them both myself in strong doses.”

Promptly at eleven they all straggled up the beach, a happy, dripping lot, running in to dress and get luncheon over before Tom came with the boats.

A Happy, Dripping Lot

“Do you think we’ll do, Captain?” asked Polly, when she reappeared.

“Do? Of course you’ll do. I’ll come over every morning on my way to the Point for a week and drill you until you can swim. Now you take Nancy and Tom out with you this afternoon. It’s calm and easy, with a light breeze blowing off shore. Better try going out in two of the boats for a few days with Nancy and Tom to show you how to handle them.”

Sue ran upstairs to the “lookout,” to see if their fleet was in sight.

“Sister Anne, Sister Anne, do you see anyone coming?” called Ted, merrily.

“Here’s Tom,” Sue cried. “Oh, I wonder how soon I can make a boat act like that.”

Tom came around the bay from Fair Havens beautifully. He was showing off his sailor craft freely, and the fifteen-footer was as tame to his touch as a horse to the rein. Polly watched him eagerly, as he brought it gracefully to the landing. The name on the prow was the Tidy Jane.

“That’s the best sail boat in the lot,” the Captain declared, as he left them. “Nancy named her after the first fishing boat I sailed on up to the Banks of Newfoundland. And she’s a good one. She’s shapely as a sloop-o’-war, and twice as slippery.”

“Then she ought to be the flag ship,” said Kate. “Why don’t you take her, Polly?”

Polly’s face fairly glowed with pride and pleasure. Although in a way the whole club owed its existence to her, and she was the ruling spirit, yet she never allowed the girls to give her, as Crullers said flatly, “the best of everything.” In a hundred ways she showed a steady, loving generosity and unfailing thoughtfulness and courtesy to her “crew,” as the Admiral called the rest of the club, but Polly said he was wrong.

“A crew mans one boat or vessel, but we are an independent club of yacht racers.”

So to-day when the Tidy Jane was handed over to her, she hesitated, saying that it didn’t seem fair to the rest. But the rest insisted and Polly consented.

“Why, I’d love her just on account of her name,” she said, as she ran down to the landing, and stepped over into the cockpit. “You go back and get the other boats, Tom, please. We shall want to look this one all over till we know the name of every part of her and just what it is for.”

“I’ll bring up a knockabout next,” said Tom.

“What’s the difference between a catboat and a knockabout?” asked Ted.

“A cat’s different from all other yachts because her mast is set right up in the eyes of her,” explained Tom. “And she’s broader beamed, and wider, and has only one sail.”

“She’s a beauty,” Sue exclaimed, and Polly nodded.

“I know it,” she laughed.

Tom made six more trips, and finally the last of the boats lay close to the little landing. It was a long-remembered afternoon, as under Tom’s guidance the girls had their first lesson in sailing them. The day was a perfect one. A southerly breeze came up, just enough to bear them lightly on their course over the bay. The Admiral had come down during the afternoon and had given much valuable advice; but as Polly said herself, as she stood on the porch at sundown, her face already tanned and sleeves turned back to the elbows:

“All the advice in the world won’t help us to sail these boats till we know all about them ourselves, know every bit of wood in them, and every inch of sail, and every cleat and bolt and pin—”

“Don’t they call them pintles?” suggested Kate, but Polly never noticed the interruption.

“And we know what they’re going to do next in all sorts of weather. But I like it, don’t you, girls?”

“It’s glorious,” cried Ruth, enthusiastically. Her hair was hanging down her back, while she brushed it vigorously, trying to get the salt water harshness out of it. “I’ve named my yacht the Iris. It means a rainbow.”

“Mine’s the Patsy D.,” Sue said complacently. “I’ve always wanted a boat named the Patsy D.

Patsy D.,” exclaimed Polly, laughing. “Why do you want to call her that?”

“Because,” said Sue, firmly, “I want a name that will be simple and vigorous, and easy to say, and besides the only boat I ever had a really happy sail on was named the Patsy D. It’s the excursion steamer that runs around Chesapeake Bay for Sunday-school outings, and last year she bumped into something and spoiled the shape of her lovely nose, and now she’s a barge down at Newport News. So I shall perpetuate her memory and call my yacht the Patsy D.; and you may name yours after all the rainbows and other beauties in creation. I believe that names should be suggestive of pleasant memories.”

“Hurrah for the Patsy D.,” sang out Ted from the couch corner.

“I don’t care if you do make fun of it. She’s the Patsy D. all the same,” said Sue, stoutly.

“How can she be the Patsy D.?” asked Polly, teasingly.

“Well, she is,” retorted Sue. “Maybe her real name’s Patricia.”

“My boat is the Witch Cat and Kate’s the Hurricane,” said Ted slowly; “so we shall not have the trouble of naming ours.”

“Tom says my boat is called the Spray. Do you like that, Polly?”

“Yes, I do,” said Polly. “Don’t you?”

“Not very much. I thought I’d change it to the Lurline, or Lorelie.”

“I like the Spray the best. The name of the yacht Dorothy and Bess Vaughan sail is the Nixie. You don’t want to get too near to that. Crullers, have you named yours? It’s the smallest one in the lot, isn’t it?”

“Yes. Her name is the Yum-Yum. The sail is like a junk boat’s,” Crullers announced, thoughtfully; “or a bat’s wing.”

“Tom says the boys fitted it out that way, just for a novelty. It’s broad, and deep, and wide, and positively unsinkable.”

“I’ve got two life preservers, and three ring buoys in the lockers,” Crullers said. “Tom and the Captain put them in there so I’d feel perfectly safe and easy.”

“Safe and easy? Safe and easy?” Aunty Welcome’s voice came from the kitchen. “Dey ain’t nuffin on earth could make me feel easy a-sailing round on de face ob de deep like a leviathan. You couldn’t get me on dat waste of waters in sech a li’l’ boat for all de gold in de bowels ob de earth. No, sah.”

“Oh, but, Aunty, you’re going in swimming with us some day,” coaxed Polly.

“Deed, I wouldn’t any more’n I’d step into an open grabe and pull de cover in after me,” protested Welcome. “Last night I couldn’t sleep a wink a-listening to de rolling ob de waves.”

“Girls, just look out there,” cried Kate suddenly, as she rose and pointed over the bay towards the Point Light. It was past sunset, the purple hour, as Polly always called it, and the whole world lay wrapped in softest violet. From somewhere beyond the Point, a deep, long-drawn whistle sounded, then another, then another. A faint sound of music drifted to them on the night air, and as the steamer rounded, they caught a glimpse of her cabin lights, a row of gleaming diamonds against the gloom of the twilight. Then a search-light sent a quick arm of radiance flashing over the bay, and for a second the little group on the porch were right in its path, before it swept on.

“I didn’t know any steamers ran in here,” said Polly. “Isn’t that splendid? Perhaps it comes often, and it’s really company just to see it go by.”

“It must be the Portland boat,” said Kate. “There’s one that makes a landing at Eastport, Tom said, and stops first at the hotel pier, before it goes up through the inlet.”

“Then that must be the steamer that grandfather meant, when he said he would go back by boat. He’ll go from Eastport to Portland, then down the coast to Boston, and so on straight south.”

“Then we’ll be alone away off here,” said Isabel, sadly. “Doesn’t it seem deserted? Think of it when there’s a storm.”

“And the thunders roll from pole to pole,” groaned Polly, mischievously. “Sue, get your mandolin, quick. Let’s play something that will ‘soothe this restless feeling and banish the thoughts of day.’”

Across the inlet made by the Knob’s projection into the bay, the sound of music floated even to Fair Havens, and Nancy stopped her evening task of washing the supper dishes to listen at the open door. The girls over at the Knob were singing, with the three mandolins and guitar giving a splendid accompaniment. Across the water the melody seemed indescribably softened and enhanced, as the gay, girlish tones rang out:

“Oh, a life on the ocean wave,
A home on the rolling deep,
Where the scattered waters rage,
And the winds their revels keep.
And the winds (bing, bing),
And the winds (bing, bing),
And the winds their revels keep.”

“I just love that bing, bing part,” said Nancy, drawing in a deep breath. “May I go over some evening, mother, and hear them play?”

“Indeed, you may,” Mrs. Carey replied heartily. “For they seem to be as warm-hearted and well-mannered a lot of girls as I ever did see, and the Captain, your father, agrees with me.”

“They’re not like those Vaughan girls from the hotel,” Tom said, stopping his whistling long enough to join in the conversation. “They had that knockabout of theirs out on the bay to-day, and when I sent out a hail at them they never even waved a hand. Some folks haven’t any more sociability than a mosquito.”

“They waved to Polly, Tom,” Nancy said; “but then I do believe the fish would stand up on their tails and waggle their fins at her, if she sang out to them.”

“What was it that father said about her?” asked Mrs. Carey, smiling till her blue eyes were almost hidden in wrinkles, as she stopped her mending a moment, and leaned back in the big, red rocker beside the south window where the roses climbed.

“Said she carried the starriest top-lights he ever saw on a craft under her t’gallant eyebrows.”

Mrs. Carey laughed as she turned to her sewing.

“Well, she has a pair of the brownest eyes, seems to me, I ever saw. And she’s lively too. I’d a sight rather have those girls than a pack of boys raising hob over there on the island all summer long. I hope nothing will happen to any of them.” She looked out of the window towards the Knob. Its outlines showed up darkly against the night sky, but the music had died away and no light was to be seen. “I think I’ll tell the girls to put a lamp in that side window every night, so I’ll know they’re safe and comfortable.”

So after that first night, all summer long while the Polly Page Yacht Club held forth on Lost Island, a beacon light was placed at the side window to assure the Careys all was well.



For the first two weeks hardly anything was done, except steady, earnest lessons in swimming and sailing. The excitement and novelty of it made the sport a delightful one to the girls, and they were out whenever the weather was good. During the morning hours the bay held many bathers, over on the hotel shore, and on the strip of beach at the Knob likewise. Afternoons the white sails spread and dipped like gulls out on the water, and the Tidy Jane was usually the first out and the last one in. After the first week or so, Tom and Nancy helped only occasionally, but the girls were doing so well they did not need much direction now.

The Admiral returned south at the end of the second week, but promised to run up for the regatta in the latter part of August, and make sure they were getting along.

“If it wasn’t for the Careys I’d feel as though it were risky, my leaving you girls up here with just Welcome to see that you have plenty to eat and don’t come down with croup—”

“We don’t have croup, grandfather,” Polly interposed, that last day, when he dined with them in state at the little cottage.

“Well, never mind, whatever you should be threatened with, I know that the Captain has you on his mind, and you’ll be looked after and made to behave if you get too headstrong.”

“What will he do to us?” Ted and Sue leaned eagerly forward.

“Put you in irons down below,” laughed the Admiral, and he sang a line or two of a rollicking sailor song,

“Down below, down below.
Sailors often go below,
Storms are many on the ocean.
Sailors have to go below.”

But they missed him until the duties and excitement of the yacht club made them even forget his departure. Like everything else she undertook, Polly went into the thing heart and soul, with both feet and hands and her sleeves rolled up, as Sue said. She was up at five and down on the beach with Ruth, hunting over the last tide’s treasures for new specimens for their collections. Although Ruth was seventeen and Polly not quite fifteen, they had been such staunch, firm friends at school that the summer vacation seemed to draw the ties of friendship all the closer.

“Ruth always understands just what I mean,” said Polly. “Everybody else thinks I am too quick-spoken and changeable. But I’m not, truly I’m not; am I, Ruth?”

“Yes, you are, too,” Ruth answered, in her placid way. “But I like you for it. You’re like a sea anemone. They can change their colors, you know, to match their surroundings. And I think it’s a good plan, the same as the chameleon. Somebody, Emerson or Thoreau, I forget which, says we should all keep our natures in tune with the harmony of the spheres. What does that mean but adapting yourself to your immediate environment—”

“Cut out the big words, Grandma,” Polly said, briefly. “It makes me think of Honoria, and I’ll get homesick if you don’t stop.”

“Well, you know what I mean, Polly, don’t you? It’s why you’re always a favorite with us, even your very first year you could sit down at Calvert Hall and listen sympathetically to Miss Calvert’s detailed description of how much she had suffered from neuralgia; then you’d go right down to the kitchen and cheer up poor Annie May and tell her the sun was surely coming out right away, and her ‘rheumatuz’ would be better. Then upstairs you’d fly, and help Crullers with her Algebra, Sue with her English Literature, and me with my Civics, and still have time to get your own work done before class-time. And you never grumbled one bit.”

“No, but I lose my temper all at once,” said Polly dolefully, as she picked up a starfish out of a tiny pool left by the tide and straightened out its arms. “Never mind me now, though. Let’s not talk psychics. Look at this fellow, Ruth. Wonder if Sue would want to tame him to walk a tight-rope.”

Polly lay flat down in the sand, despite her fourteen years, and examined the starfish at close range, in true youngster fashion, while Ruth poked it over gently with a long splinter of wood.

“They say if one of its arms breaks off, another will grow in its place,” said Ruth.

“Will it? I wish ours would. Think how nice it would be for all the cripples if their arms and legs would only sprout again. Can starfish see, Ruth?”

“Indeed they can. See that tiny red speck at the end of each arm? That’s the eye. Its mouth is underneath, and look at all the feet on the under side of the rays, Polly. They say a starfish is like a sieve, all tiny holes that the water runs through.”

“Well, this one is going to be dried, neatly dried,” said Polly. “It’s a shame to do it, but in the interests of science he must be dried.”

“Don’t show it to Sue, then,” Ruth suggested. “She’ll want to tame it, surely. She wants to tame everything we find and make a pet of it. Tom brought her two turtles this morning, besides a tin box half full of periwinkles. She’s trying to train them to come out of their shells when she whistles to them; think of it, Polly.”

“Ruth, what’s a chambered nautilus?” Polly picked up a round shell, white and fragile, with little raised dots on it like lace work.

“That is not,” laughed Ruth. “That’s a sea urchin, I think. You can find the nautilus only in the tropics. They call them Argonauts too, did you know it? I think it’s pretty, for they say they can rise to the surface of the sea and spread a little sail.”

Polly leaned back her head, her hands clasped behind it, and repeated softly:

“This is the ship of pearl, which poets feign
Sails the unshadowed main.
The venturous bark that flings
On the sweet summer winds its purple wings,
In gulfs enchanted where the siren sings,
And coral reefs lie bare,
And the cold sea maids rise to sun their streaming hair.”

“Oh, I love that,” Ruth exclaimed, pushing back her hair from her face, as she, too, leaned back to listen. “Say it all, Polly?”

“Not now,” Polly shook her head, “wouldn’t it be a good idea, though, for us to have a sea-poetry night while we’re here? Build a great driftwood fire on the beach, and invite everybody we know, and toast marshmallows, and each one recite or sing her favorite piece about the sea.”

“Fine, Polly, fine,” Ruth nodded her head emphatically. “The Vaughan girls might come over, and Nancy and Tom and maybe Mrs. Carey. Let’s.”

They wandered away, then, towards the long line of rocks that appeared at low tide at the head of the Knob. Polly said they looked like the Aleutian Islands in miniature, and she felt like a lady Colossus stepping out over them. By hunting very closely around them, one could find what Ruth called “the enchanted gardens of the sea;” little pools in the rocks, with sea moss that, when turned over, was full of life, crawling, sprawling, atomic life. The finest strands of seaweed were away out there also, great loose bunches, some like fern fronds, others like live moss, and some like chains of big brown beads or beans.

“Have you found any limpets yet, Polly?” called Ruth. “They’re the wisest ’possums you ever saw. They shut their shells up closely when they know the tide has gone, and then when it comes in, they lift up the top like a little tent, and let the water in to take a drink.”

Polly had taken off her shoes and stockings, and she paddled intrepidly about in the water, and poked after new things. There had been a heavy sea the night before, and the beach was strewn with strands of seaweed, and driftwood, and a fringe of shells at the high tide mark.

Among the odd things they found were oysters fastened in all sorts of strange shapes to bits of rock and wave-worn stones. Polly found a smooth white one, nearly a perfect oval, with two shells opening upward from it, like wings, and she called it Mercury’s slipper. Another flat, green rock had ten tiny baby oysters clinging to it, the shells overlapping one another like barnacles.

So it went every day. When they had a good-sized collection, they would go up on the porch, to sort out, and share, and trade. The prettiest ones they saved for paper weights, but Isabel and Kate refused to declaim over the oystered rocks. With pails they hunted up and down the shore for the pink and green and opal tinted shells that Marbury had nicknamed Neptune’s finger nails. These shells were very shy of the land. You had to walk along the very edge of the water, and watch each incoming wave, then catch the wisps of shells before they slipped back into deep water. Some were pale green, some a cloudy pearl like opals, and others were deep salmon pink. Some were iridescent, and gleamed in the sunlight beautifully. Isabel had set her heart on stringing a portìere to carry back to her mother, and Kate was making one for Miss Calvert as a memento of their summer vacation.

Sue’s hobby was the live castaways of the sea. While the other girls hunted for shells and seaweed, she it was who sought crabs, lobsters, fish, and turtles. Tom brought her some fish poles, and Nancy would join her as she sat on the little, lopsided landing place, fishing tranquilly hour after hour. Good luck attended her, too. Many a savory mess did she bring up to Aunty Welcome for their dinner, and several mornings, long before the other girls were awake, she had sailed away out with Tom and Nancy to what the former called the Little Banks, where the cod ran. One day when the wind had been in the right quarter, they even sailed out around the Point, and caught a glimpse of the open channel out to sea, and the life saving station.

“Nancy,” Sue had said solemnly that day, when they tacked and started homeward, “I should think you would be so proud of your father you wouldn’t know what to do. Don’t you know that a life saver is a hero? Why, down home, if a man saves anybody else’s life, he gets a medal, sometimes from Congress, and it is all written up in the papers, and away off up here, these men go on saving people and saving them, and no one hears anything about it or seems to think it’s wonderful.”

Nancy nodded. “Oh, yes, they have medals too, sometimes.”

“But not enough. How many people do you really suppose the Captain has saved?”

“Oh, my, I don’t know,” laughed Nancy. “There are ever so many of them. I don’t think even father has kept track. He says it’s just his day’s work, and his duty. His favorite hymn is the one we so often sing at church over in the village, ‘Brightly Gleams Our Father’s Mercy.’”

Nancy’s strong young voice sang out the sweet old hymn until it fairly echoed over the waters. She was at the tiller of the Pirate, Tom’s catboat, while Sue sat up on what Nancy called “the lid,” the little deck between the cock pit and the coaming, her feet dangling over in true sea-rover fashion.

The lighthouse and life-saving station stood out in silhouette against the bright, sapphire sky, and the sea had the glimmer and the sheen of a blue bird’s glancing wing, with tints that changed prismatically with every cloud shadow.

“Nancy,” called Sue, suddenly, bending forward to take a better look at an island they were passing, “what’s that pile of rock over there, shaped like a tower?”

“It is a tower, or used to be. That’s Smugglers’ Cove. Father says he’s heard his father tell how a band of Nova Scotia pirates used to put in this bay years and years ago, and land their goods on this island, and a family of fishermen lived here who were really smugglers.”

“Are there any left now?” asked Sue, her blue eyes wide with interest.

Nancy shook her head, the fresh breeze blowing her yellow hair back from her tanned, happy face, that always seemed to be smiling like the Captain’s.

“They didn’t play fair with the pirates, and one night a ship was seen just outside the harbor, and nobody knows her name, or where she was bound. But after that night no living soul was ever seen on the island again, and the pirates never entered Eagle Bay after that. Father says after a few years some fisher boys ventured to land there, but they didn’t find anything. The pirates had carried away everybody, and all that belonged to them.”

“Maybe they left some buried treasure there.” Sue’s tone was brimful of romance and wonderment, but Nancy answered in a matter-of-fact way:

“Maybe. Nobody knows. And years ago, too, there was a big French boat wrecked off our coast that was blown southward down the shore, and folks say there was treasure on board, money for the French provinces up in Nova Scotia and Canada. So that’s down with the fishes too, probably.”

“Oh, dear,” said Sue, ruefully, “and here I thought it might be some place where we could get it. Polly’d find a way if there was any sort of chance. I wish we could train a tommycod to go down and bring up one piece of gold at a time.”

“It isn’t in pieces. It’s gold bars, bullion, father called it.”

“Then it will have to be a tame tommycod. Just wait till I tell Polly.”

Polly’s opinion was given swiftly. Her eyes sparkled as soon as she heard the story of Smugglers’ Cove.

“Let’s take lunch, and all sail over there to-morrow and explore.”

“The Commodore’s word is law,” replied Kate, laughing. “Aye, aye, sir.”

They had found out the very first week after their arrival that a row-boat was a necessity for shore trips.

“Something like a dory or a ‘dink,’” Ted suggested. “I know my brothers, when they took the yacht out, talked about the ‘dink,’ and it was a little boat swung up handily to use when the yacht wasn’t needed.”

“That’s the dinghey, you mean,” Tom told her. “You folks over here need a dory.”

“Well, what’s the difference between the two, Tom?” Polly called from the inner room, where she sat writing letters home, so Tom could take them over to Eastport that afternoon.

“A dory’s a freebooter, and her own mistress,” said Tom, “but a dinghey belongs to the ship her painter’s fastened to.”

“Then we want a dory.”

Accordingly a dory found its way over, and became part of the club’s equipment. The girls liked it, too; they averaged from two to six trips a day in it over to Fair Havens. It was handy when they wanted to send by Tom or the Captain to the village for groceries, for they could bring them home in the dory from the Captain’s house.

Friday night it was when Sue told of Smugglers’ Cove, and they decided to picnic there the next day; so early the next morning Polly rowed over to ask Nancy to go with them.

“I had better help mother with the cleaning,” Nancy said, hesitatingly, but Mrs. Carey smilingly waved her away.

“Land, Nannie, you’re only young once. Go along and be happy. There isn’t much to do at all.”

“We’ll have to start away from the island at about five, Polly,” Nancy said, as she slipped off her big apron and brushed her hair, “because the Portland boat gets in to-day, and she’s due at six-thirty. We had better keep out of her way.”

“Yes, and you children don’t want to catch her swell in those wisps of boats,” Mrs. Carey added, firmly.

“They wouldn’t sink, would they, Mrs. Carey?” Polly asked.

“Maybe they wouldn’t, but they’d ship a lot of water, and rock so that any one who wasn’t used to them, might be thrown overboard, and in a heavy sea like the Portland boat leaves behind her there’d be no picking you up.”

Polly forgot to tell the girls the warning, and in the hurry of preparation for the day’s jaunt it slipped from her memory. Aunty Welcome packed a mighty lunch for them, but flatly refused to be one of the party. It was their first extended sail without Tom’s company to reassure them against mishap, but the day was perfect for sailing, and the yachts took the breeze as lightly and as easily as gulls. Polly led, and took a course across the bay towards the hotel, then tacked, and started straight for Smugglers’ Cove. The Tidy Jane led the way gallantly, clear to the Cove, as a flagship should, but the girls declared it was no proof of the Jane’s superiority as a sailing craft. It was the way the Commodore handled her. While the others handled their main sheets gingerly and cautiously, letting out and tacking slowly, Polly was ready and waiting as soon as she reached the end of the first course to let go, and the minute the point was reached, biff! Polly’s sail slackened, the boom swung about, and the cotton caught the puff in a jiffy, and was off on the new stretch.

“Some day you’ll do that, and you’ll tumble over into the water,” Isabel told her. “I always expect to get hit on the head when my boom swings about.”

“Then you’ll be like Yonny Yohnson, the little Swedish sailor from Stockholm that the Captain told us about,” laughed Polly. “Listen,” and she quoted: “‘Yonny Yohnson, he yump off yib-boom into yolly boat, and spoil his yellow yacket.’”

Crullers was always the last to get started from the landing. Yachting with Jane Daphne Adams, as Polly said, was a serious matter, and she gave it her undivided attention. Her sail was different from those on the other boats. It was shorter and wider, and ribbed crosswise like a junk boat’s sails. Tom told them that Phil and Jack, Polly’s cousins, had put it on, just as a freakish notion, and it surely was freakish to look at; but it was easy to handle and Crullers liked it. There was no cabin, but the cockpit was roomy and had several lockers underneath the seats.

“Cabin,” she had said quite scornfully, when the girls had said it was too bad she didn’t have one. “Call that little dark hole a cabin? Why, it’s all you can do to turn around in it. And even if I did have one, I’d only use it to sleep in, and then where would my yacht be?”

“You mean where would you be?” laughed Polly.

It was a little past eight in the morning when they arrived at Smugglers’ Cove. There was a line beach to run up on, and the shores looked inviting.

“This is a perfect cove,” said Ruth. “It must have given the place its name years ago. Those little bunches of grass over yonder look like an atoll, girls, the way they bob up here and there around the shore.”

It took some time for the newly fledged skippers to drop anchor, and furl their sails, but finally it was done. The tide was out, and the girls took off their shoes and stockings and waded up the beach from the boats, carrying their lunch boxes and some pillows that Aunty Welcome had put in at the last minute. It was comical to see the procession of eight wading in, each with a gayly colored sofa pillow on her head, and a box under one arm, but finally everything they wanted was ashore, and the invasion of Smugglers’ Cove was complete.

Polly said it would be better to explore before the sun rose high, and they started off, taking the beach as the surest path. It was even a better strip of sand than they had at the Knob, firm and beautifully white, with the remains of millions of infinitely tiny shells crumbling into it. Polly took up a handful of sand and called Ruth to come and look at it.

“I wish we had a microscope. It’s all fragments of shells. Isn’t it lovely, Ruth?”

“Wait till you see the Castle,” Nancy called. “That’s what everybody along shore calls it, Smugglers’ Castle. The walls are made of rocks and shells, and a sort of clay with shells stuck in it.”

“Like the old walls at St. Augustine,” Polly exclaimed. “They are like mosaic, the shells are matched in so perfectly.”

“Oh, girls, I just thought of a good plan,” Kate remarked, suddenly. “Wouldn’t it be dandy for us to keep a log-book?”

“But do yacht clubs keep them?” Isabel said dubiously.

“I don’t know whether they do or not,” Kate returned. “But I think it would be fine for this yacht club to. Keep a regular daybook of general events, I mean, everything that happens to us of general interest. Then at the end of the vacation, have eight copies, and bind them in linen covers to keep as souvenirs.”

“Kate, we’ll do it,” Polly said, approvingly. “Call it the Memory Log Book of the Castaways of Lost Island.”

“What a dandy place for ghosts,” Sue called back to them, as she climbed up the rocks, her shoes and stockings in her hand.

“Girls, look at this!” Polly stopped short, and pointed down at the beach. There were footsteps plainly to be seen in the sand.

“Who on earth could it be?” Isabel gasped, while Nancy ran down the shore, and knelt to look at them more closely. Polly’s eyes danced with fun, and she sang softly under her breath:

“Oh, Robinson Crusoe, he lived alone,
On a little island, he called his own,
No one to say when he came home,
Robinson Crusoe,
What made you do so?”

“Don’t, Polly, please,” Ruth said softly, her face rather anxious. “You can’t tell who may be here now, looking at us, when we can’t see them.”

“Who cares?” Polly laughed, merrily. “It makes it all the better. I never read about an island yet but what it had savages, or pirates, or something on it to make it interesting. This pirate wears real shoes anyway, so he’s partly civilized. You can tell by the footprints in the sand. But what are all these other funny marks all around. One, two, three, one, two, three, as if a campstool had danced a jig in the wet sand.”

“Maybe it’s somebody clamming,” said Crullers, hopefully.

“You don’t clam that way,” Polly told her. “You dig for clams. You don’t spear them.”

“I don’t,” Ted said quite seriously. “I take my mandolin and sit down on the sand, and play to them, and they all come out and smile at me.”

“You silly goose,” Polly laughed, but Ted ran on ahead after Sue. She had vanished suddenly over the rocky ledge ahead. They could hear her in the distance singing “Nancy Lee” at the top of her healthy young lungs; then all at once there was a dead silence.

“Maybe they’ve caught her,” whispered Isabel. “Let’s run for the boats.”

“Run, and leave Sue behind?” Polly’s tone was full of reproach. “Not if I know it. Here are seven of us, and we’re all good and hearty. We’ll go and find out the trouble.”

They turned away from the beach and started up the rocks, Nancy and Polly leading. At the top they paused. The entire island lay outspread before them. It was a mass of sand, with gradually rising rock ledges towards its center, and scrub pines and willows everywhere. Right in the center, on the highest rock, rose the Castle, or “Smugglers’ Tower,” as it had been called. It was built over the site of the old fisherman’s hut, and was half overgrown by moss, vines, and clambering shrubs. Inside the ruins, willows and young birches had grown up in defiance of the place. But Sue was nowhere in sight, and they could see all over the island from where they stood.



“Don’t call out to her,” whispered Polly. “Wait here just a minute, while I climb down these rocks. This is the way she went, you can see her tracks.”

“Tracks, on a rocky path,” murmured Ted, helplessly. “Polly, where are they? I don’t see any?”

“Here, where the grass is trodden down. Now, don’t get frightened. Just wait for me.” Polly started down the rocky path, and at its base looked around cautiously. Not a living soul was in sight anywhere, but even while she hesitated, she saw Sue’s form come apparently out of the ground itself over in a rocky enclosure, well sheltered from wind and wave. Polly turned, called to the rest to follow, and ran ahead to join Sue.

“It’s a camp,” Sue said excitedly, as she reached her. “And there’s a real cave, Polly, and a bed in it, and dishes, and the bed’s just been slept in, and there’s a coffee pot in there that’s still warm.”

“Sue, I never knew you were such a splendid detective,” Polly answered, warmly. “Let’s drink the pirates’ coffee right away.”

But Ruth and Kate arrived and advised caution until they found out just what the mystery was.

“It’s probably only some fishermen,” said Nancy, in her matter-of-fact way. “Father’d be sure to know if any strangers had arrived and settled here.”

Polly started for the entrance to the cave.

“There may be somebody in there,” Ruth cried. “Please don’t go in.”

“There’s nobody at home,” Sue replied. “I’ve been in.”

It was a good-sized cave, Polly saw, as soon as she ventured into it. The floor was of finest sand. There was a bed, a very primitive bed, but yet a bed, made of branches of pine with blankets spread over them. Some boxes served as seats, and a ledge of rock as a shelf for some dishes. But Polly’s quick eyes noticed a couple of suitcases in one corner and sundry articles of clothing lying around such as no consistent smuggler or pirate would have deigned to don. When she came out into the sunlight and faced the girls, she was smiling.

“Do fishermen around here have books and magazines lying around in caves?” she asked. “There are all sorts of such things in this cave.”

“Well, anyway, Polly,” Kate put in, in her level-headed way, “whatever they have in there, we have no business going in and rummaging around, and they’ll very soon tell us so if they appear suddenly. I move that we vanish.”

The motion was carried unanimously, and the girls climbed the path back to the Castle.

“We can watch anyone who comes, from up here,” Polly said. “They’ll see the yachts anyway, and know they have visitors.”

“Maybe they have already,” Kate suggested. “Maybe that’s what ails them. Maybe they’ve seen us and have run away to hide.”

“Oh, such a hive of maybes,” laughed Ruth. “Still, maybe it’s so, Polly.”

The idea gave them fresh courage, and they hurried to the Castle, and hunted all over its ruins, enthusiastic over the outlook for adventure. But even when they had reached the topmost point and the entire island lay before them, not a sign of life did they detect. Save for their own pretty fleet, riding at anchor down in the cove, the shore was deserted, and not a single sound disturbed the air.

“I think whoever it is has gone fishing for his breakfast,” Nancy said, decidedly. “And it’s probably only some of the boys from the summer cottages or the hotel, having a little camp for a day or two. Let’s go along as if nothing had happened, and if they should come back, we’ll just tell them we came over to see the island and didn’t know it had any people on it.”

It seemed to be the only sensible thing to do, so the girls agreed. As Ruth said, in these days it was hardly likely there were pirates on the island, and a party of ordinary campers wouldn’t eat them up or open fire on them from any secret place. So in spite of their curiosity and natural uneasiness, the girls managed to spend a happy day. They dug clams and roasted them down on the beach for lunch, and even borrowed a few things from the cave outfit, pepper and salt, some forks, and an extra bottle of Chili sauce. With a plentiful supply of crackers, and all that Aunty Welcome had put into their lunch boxes besides, it was a feast. After it was over, the girls returned what they had borrowed, and placed a conspicuous sign on them, written by Polly:

Dear Smuggler:

“Thank you for your pepper, salt and Chili sauce. We leave in return this jar of Aunty Welcome’s marmalade, and half a nut cake, and six crullers, and some hermits. Do you know what hermits are? We thought it would be appropriate to give you some.”

“Put in an invitation for him to come over and see us,” Ted added, after the six had stood off and regarded the sign critically. So Polly added down at the bottom,

“And we should be happy to entertain you at any time at the yacht club on Lost Island.”

“But what if he should come?” asked Isabel.

“He won’t,” retorted Polly, happily. “Smugglers aren’t a bit sociable. But if he should, we’ll survey him in the offing, and if he comes in a long, low rakish looking craft, we’ll all take to our heels, and run at once for Fair Havens. This is what grandfather would say was a courtly and polite thing to do after we had taken his Chili sauce, and it really was extra nice.”

Later Kate climbed to the top of the ruined tower again, and returned, after making a careful observation.

“When you were in the cave, Polly, did it seem to grow larger towards the interior?”

“I think so. I could stand up in it easily, and it arched at the back.”

“I don’t think it’s a cave at all. I was on a direct line with it up in the tower from the place where I stood, and I’m wondering if it isn’t a passage cut through to the tower to make a way of escape at some time.”

“Kate, I never thought that you were a romancer,” laughed Polly. “If it had been Isabel, we wouldn’t have been surprised, but for you—” she shook her head doubtfully. “I shouldn’t wonder if there were sea chests of gold, and all sorts of loot hidden away in there, but I’m not going in after them. Come on, girls. It’s after five, and the wind will die down soon.”

“I don’t see how we’re going to beat back against it, anyway,” Isabel said. “It’s blowing this way from the Knob instead of towards it.”

“Oh, we’ll get back some way,” Polly led the way down the rocks to the shore, and the rest followed. But it took some time to gather up the shells and seaweed they had collected, so that when they were ready to start the sun was sloping well down in the west, towards the back of Bald Bluff on the ocean shore.

Crullers had a hard time getting started. The other girls were well along on their course, before she left the shelter of the Cove, and even then, she failed to catch the puff of wind that should have carried her towards the inlet, where Polly said, they would tack, and cut across the bay in a triangle.

“I don’t see how you can do it, Polly,” Kate said doubtfully.

“The wind will change when the tide comes in,” Polly called. “We’ll be all right.”

“Oh, Polly, look at Crullers,” Sue cried, all at once, as she happened to glance back over her shoulder. “She’s off the course, and making for the open channel.”

The yachts were spread out like a line of geese, one behind the other, and Crullers’ was last of all. Polly stood up, one hand on her tiller, and looked back. Crullers was waving wildly and shouting something to them, but the wind carried her voice the other way. And the little, broad-keeled “cat” was taking her own pleasure, headed merrily for the open channel.

“Crullers, sit down and steer,” shouted Polly.

“I can’t,” cried Crullers, helplessly, “the wooden thing in the handle part of it’s broken.”

“Now what does she mean by that, the little lubber,” thought Polly. “It must be the pintle bolt. I’m glad she’s got three ring buoys in the locker.”

The other girls were dazed and couldn’t think what to do. Polly slackened her sail, and put about. As she passed the others, she called to them to keep along as they were and she would look after Crullers.

“I don’t see what she’s making all that noise about,” Sue exclaimed, as they heard Crullers calling to them, frantically. “That boat of hers wouldn’t sink if you jumped on it, and she’s got all those life preservers packed away in the lockers, and the buoys too. There’s no danger at all. She’s just scared.”

But suddenly there came a sound from the channel that made their blood chill, the long, hollow boom of a steamer’s signal.

“Polly! Polly! Polly!” cried poor Crullers, in agony, and then they saw her drop down in the boat, and cover her face with her hands.

“It’s the City of Portland coming in, Polly,” Kate shouted, with her hands up to her lips.

Polly shook her curls out of her face and nodded. “I’ll get her all right,” she called back.

One hand held the tiller firm and steady, the other had loosened the main sheet, and held it so as to get the benefit of every breath of wind. Her head was bending forward, her eyes half closed like the Captain’s, as they watched the squat little catboat ahead with Crullers crouching it.

The big boat whistled again, sharp long calls of direction, of which not one of the girls understood the meaning. Crullers stood up.

“Sit down,” called Polly, “sit down, and steady your boat, you little goose. Hold her off to windward, Crullers, not that way, towards the island, towards the island! Oh, can’t you hear anything? Loosen the main sheet, that rope right there at the end of your boom, and let the wind swing her about. Oh, dear, can’t you do what I say, Crullers?”

Crullers’ fingers fumbled over the main sheet. They were out in the channel now, with the Point of the Sickle lying at their right hand, and the lighthouse and station in plain sight. Just as Polly set her teeth, and tried to make straight for the other boat, the great white steamer, City of Portland, hove into sight, steaming up the channel. Then something that Polly had either read or heard flashed through her mind. A sailing vessel has the right of way. But Crullers did not know that, and when she saw that monster bearing straight down on her, all her courage and presence of mind left her. The one thing she did remember were the ring buoys in the lockers at the stern.

The Portland was blowing its whistle steadily now, and Polly called as she came near, “It’s all right, Crullers. They’re holding up to let us pass. Keep right along.”

Crullers was ahead, and did not seem to hear her, and just as she felt sure they would pass safely, she saw Crullers deliberately stand up in her rocking, unsteady little craft, with her two arms thrust to the shoulders through a couple of ring buoys, and another held fast in her hands. Her round, good-tempered face was blanched white, as she turned towards Polly.

“I’m going to jump, Polly!” she called out shakily.

“Don’t you dare to!” Polly cried, but her words had no effect. They were right in the path of the Portland, and under her great bow. The Captain was shouting something to them, as he leaned out over the bridge. Bells seemed to be ringing, and the rails were lined with tense, startled faces. Polly could hear some women screaming up on deck. The engines had stopped on the big boat, and she was drifting easily with the incoming tide towards the inlet. It seemed in that second of time as if everybody on the steamer was shouting out something different as Crullers jumped into the water.

There was hardly any sea on. The bay was beautiful in the soft golden glow before sunset. The tide had turned, and was coming in in long easy swells like the waves from the wake of a steamer. It seemed to Polly afterwards, when she looked back to that time, as if she saw everything in the visible universe in those few seconds. The big boat standing off, and booming, booming at them distractedly; Crullers’ little catboat, righting itself gallantly after her jump, and starting off on its own hook towards the Point; Crullers herself, looking so comical in spite of the tragic danger, with the ring buoys around her arms like a new fashion in sleeve puffs, and the third one hugged to her breast as she slipped under the water; and most vivid of all, perhaps, the Life Saving Station, where they evidently had been seen, for somebody was running back up the beach towards the low white building.

Then suddenly she saw Crullers’ taffy-colored pigtails, lank and drenched, and her face dripping and deathlike, as she came up. It seemed the easiest and most natural thing in the world to lean over and catch hold of the pigtails. Polly never thought of doing anything else, but as she did so, and Crullers caught hold of the Tidy Jane and was helped and pulled over into its cockpit, a great, swelling cheer went up from the decks of the Portland, and the captain swung off his cap in salute to the little Commodore of the Yacht Club, as she tumbled her drenched mate on the locker, and went back to steering.

The Jane came about handsomely, and the engines on the steamer started to throb. Then Polly glanced up, with one of her rare, frank smiles that won her so many friends, and waved her hand back to all the faces that seemed to smile at her, and at the big, burly Maine captain, who laughed as he shouted down to her:

“Well done, mate, well done!”



“Put it down in the log book, Kate, under the head of current events,” Polly said that night, as she sat beside Crullers’ couch, and they all discussed the rescue. “And don’t say heroism again. It wasn’t anything of the kind. It was just plain common sense.”

“That’s so,” agreed the Captain, smiling shrewdly. “It’s an awful embarrassing thing, this being a hero, Miss Polly. I’ve had to go through it several times, more or less, whenever I happened to haul some landlubber out of deep water, and I can sympathize with you.”

“Just the same, Captain, you’ll never know how glad I was to see that life-boat round the Point. The tide was setting me at my wits’ end, and I never would have got the Tidy Jane back by myself.”

“She’s powerful skittish once she gets the smell of the open sea,” the Captain remarked.

“Yes, and they helped me get the salt water out of Crullers too,” added Polly. “I’ll bet a cooky she won’t like salt for a year, after that one good taste of it.”

Crullers laughed feebly. But the other girls could not make light of the affair. It had seemed altogether too serious and tragic, when they had watched those two frail, white-winged little boats drifting straight in the face of danger, and then Crullers’ frantic leap into the sea, and the coming of the life-boat around the Point. It all savored too much of real tragedy, Kate and Ruth said, and it ought to teach them a good lesson.

The life savers had picked up Crullers’ boat midway down the channel, and had towed the Tidy Jane in under bare poles. Polly and Crullers had been taken up to the Station, Crullers, dripping and half unconscious, carried in the arms of the Captain, while Polly walked along the narrow boardwalk behind them, and the rest of crew followed, five men altogether. At the Station, Crullers had a personal experience with “first aid” methods, for she had not kept her mouth closed when she had gone under, and as the Captain said she had “shipped a sea.”

The other girls returned to Lost Island in their boats, as soon as possible, and prepared Aunty Welcome; then walked back on the shore road to meet the Captain when he came along carrying Crullers wrapped up like a papoose in a real, United States Life Saving Corps blanket.

That night Mrs. Carey had come over to the island cottage to make sure that Crullers was doing well. Aunty Welcome had dosed her with hot ginger tea, which as Polly said was punishment enough in itself with a July thermometer climbing toward the nineties. She had also had a warm mustard bath, and lay wrapped in a blanket on a couch in the living-room. The Captain sat on a camp stool, and whittled away at a new pintle bolt for Crullers’ rudder. He said nothing all the time the girls told of the day’s adventures to Mrs. Carey, not even when Polly said she was glad the life boat had come after them, but he nodded his head slowly.

“Aren’t you going to scold us any?” asked Polly, finally. “We should have started for home sooner, and maybe we didn’t manage the yachts just right. It was a queer wind that came with the tide. It blew from the southwest—”

“West by sou’west,” corrected the Captain gravely.

“Yes, sir,” Polly agreed. “So we had to beat our way back criss cross over the bay to catch any good from it.”

“You needn’t explain,” the Captain shook his head, his eyes twinkling under their shaggy brows. “I’m ashamed of you all, getting the crew out on a day when there was hardly a ripple on the bay.”

“We didn’t call for help,” Polly pleaded. “They must have heard the Portland’s whistle. I am sorry about it. The captain of the Portland must think we’re a nice lot of yacht lubbers. More likely he’s calling us yacht lubbers.”

“I met him at the hotel to-night when I went down to telephone,” said the Captain, slowly.

“Oh, what did he say about us?” the girls broke in. “Please tell us, Captain Carey.”

“He said that the girl in the Tidy Jane deserved a medal for the way she handled her boat, and saved the little fat one.” The Captain’s face was quite serious.

“I didn’t do anything to Crullers except pull her over into the Jane,” said Polly, blushing. “She’d have kept afloat anyway till the life boat reached her. She was floating lovely with all those little buoys on her.”

“I was not,” protested Crullers, indignantly. “I was just full of salt water. I swallowed gallons of it when I went under that first time.”

Polly was watching the Captain’s countenance as the barometer of his opinion on the matter, but it betrayed little. He listened to all they had to say; then finally leaned back and closed his big jack knife. Mrs. Carey had gone out into the kitchen to confer with Aunty Welcome about the need of a doctor.

“I was expecting it,” said the Captain at last. “I’ve been telling all along, to Tom, and Nancy, and mother, that there’d be some doings pretty soon, and they came a little sooner than I expected. You’d better not go sailing about too much after this unless you’re sure of yourselves. For if you can get all tangled up like that on a fair day, where would you be in a sudden squall? I’ll expect now every time we get a good breath of wind to look over the bay and see one of the yachts floating around bottom up, and a couple of you youngsters hanging on to it by your eyelids. Now mind what I say, keep down at this end of the bay, out of the channel and away from the other craft, till you know enough to get out of the way. What were you doing out there anyhow, trying to round the Point?”

The girls had nearly forgotten their adventure at Smugglers’ Cove in the newer excitement of the accident, but now they told of the day there, and of the mystery, until the Captain leaned back his head and laughed over it.

“Now, who do you suppose it can be, Captain?” asked Isabel and Ted in one breath.

“Is there a passage from that cave up to the old ruins?” Kate added.

“They were footprints with shoes on,” Sue exclaimed.

“Were they indeed?” The Captain laughed till he coughed, and wiped the tears out of his eyes. “Well, now, you take my advice and keep off the island, for I’m thinking it’s inhabited.”

“Do you know who lives there?” Polly leaned forward to meet his glance, and the Captain slowly winked, oh, but so wisely and cautiously.

“I am saying nothing,” he told them. “Can you hear me?”

Mrs. Carey appeared in the doorway just then.

“Come along home, father,” she said. “We’ve decided not to get any doctor. I guess Welcome’s about right. She says they frets around, and muddles things up, and gets in the way, and she can mix up just as queer a mess as they can any time. I don’t think the child is hurt much, anyhow. She’s pretty well scared, and salted, and that’s about all. Polly, I’ll send over some fresh string beans and a mess of peas in the morning by Nancy, and Tom’s going to the village if you need anything.”

“Aren’t they good to us?” Polly said, as she came back after saying goodbye and watching the gleam of the lantern swing along the hummocks over to the shore road. “I thought he’d scold us hard.”

“We deserved it,” Kate answered, calmly, as she stuffed a couple of sofa cushions back of her head, and clasped her hands on them. “Here we’ve stopped a steamer, excited all her passengers and crew, made the life-savers hustle out in fair weather, and generally let everybody around Eagle Bay know what a lot of lubbers we are at handling yachts, all because Crullers’ pintle bolt got twisted and she took a jump overboard. It’s lucky, Polly, the Admiral isn’t here. He’d send us all back to Queen’s Landing in a jiffy.”

“We didn’t mean to make so much trouble,” Polly answered cheerily, as she shook up Crullers’ pillow, and got her a glass of fresh water for the night. “I’m only thankful it was no worse. Let’s make the best of it. Let’s make an interesting invalid out of Crullers. Aunty Welcome says she must stay in bed to-morrow till all danger is over of chills or fever or stomach upsetness. I’m going to loan her my pink kimono to wear over her nightgown, and we’ll bring in some wild roses from the shore road, and entertain her with a—oh, girls, I know what.” Polly stopped short, her eyes sparkling as they always did when she had a sudden idea. “Let’s give her a ‘Sea Social.’ We were going to have one some evening, but now we’ll do it to-morrow afternoon. We can get the Vaughan girls over. Have Tom leave word at the hotel for them, and Nancy will come, and we’ll all sing sea songs and recite sea poetry, and we’ll have a lunch right out of the sea, fried flounder.”

“I wish we could have crab a la Newburg,” Isabel remarked musingly. Polly went to the open window, and stretched out her arms seaward, as she sang:

“Flounder, flounder in the sea,
Come, I pray, and talk to me.
For my wife, Dame Isabel,
Wishes what I fear to tell.”

She turned just in time to catch the pillow that Isabel sent flying across the room, and they all sat down to make up a program for Crullers’ “Sea Social.”

It was a great success. Even Mrs. Carey came over, with a fresh gingerbread and a pail of rich cream.

“They go mighty nice together,” she said, smilingly, and the girls agreed with her before the feast was over.

Dorothy and Bess made the trip across the bay in the Nixie, to call on the invalid, and lend their share to the social side of the afternoon. Crullers had never been the guest of honor anywhere before, but she was that day, as she sat up on the couch in the living-room, with Polly’s long pink kimono around her, and pink wild roses fastened on each side her braids, above her ears, in Japanese fashion.

The glee club played all the sea songs they could remember, and all hands piped up merrily from “Nancy Lee” to “Anchored.” Then Polly announced that the best part of the program was yet to come. Each of the girls would render her favorite poem about the sea, and Crullers had to start the ball rolling.

“I only know the one about the ‘Schooner Hesperus,’ Polly,” she said, shyly, “and I like it best of all.”

“Say it, then,” Polly told her. “We like it, too.”

Then Kate recited “The Three Fishers,” her slow, contralto tones and rather dreamy air well fitting themselves to the sad old verses. Isabel gave “Annabel Lee” most touchingly, and Polly ordered a quick song in happier vein to offset the sadness of the two. So after a rousing “Billy was a Bo’sun,” Ted got up, and declaimed the only poem on the sea she knew, one she had had to memorize at Calvert Hall as a punishment for putting the house cat into Fraulein’s shirtwaist box, and scaring her nearly into a fainting fit (Fraulein, not the cat).

“The mountains look on Marathon,
And Marathon looks on the sea,
And sitting there a while alone,
I dreamed that Greece might yet be free.”

Polly always liked to watch Ted’s face when she came to that verse. She would lift her chin, and her gray eyes would flash, and her fists clench. At Calvert Hall Ted had always been the most successful “declaimer,” as Miss Calvert termed it, and she “fixed Greece good and plenty” this time; so Sue said when it was over.

Dorothy declared she didn’t know any poem about the ocean, but she would sing “Sweet and Low” if they liked.

“Not too low, please,” Crullers said, eagerly, “or I won’t hear all the words away over here.”

“I declare, Crullers,” laughed Kate. “We should have nicknamed you Stubs, for if there’s a possible thing for you to stumble over, you do it.”

Polly recited her favorite, “The Chambered Nautilus,” and as she came to the last verse Mrs. Carey closed her eyes and smiled, her hand up to her face, as the grand old words rang out.

“Build thee more stately mansions, oh, my soul
As the swift seasons roll.
Leave thy low vaulted past,
Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
Till thou at length art free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell,
By life’s unresting sea.”

“Oh, I love that,” Nancy cried, her blue eyes sparkling as Polly finished. “Father would, too.”

“Now, there’s just Bess, and Mrs. Carey, and you left, Nancy,” Kate said. “Come, Bess, do something.”

“Oh, I don’t know anything,” Bess said, shyly.

“Yes, she does, too,” Dorothy laughed. “Make her say the poem from ‘Alice in Wonderland’ about the whiting and the snail.”

All the girls added their persuasion and Bess agreed. She was only thirteen, and small for her age, with a mass of yellow, square-cut curls around her mischievous face, and she had plenty of freckles. The piquant, teasing look on her face was delicious as she asked, plaintively, coaxingly,

“Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, won’t you join the dance,
Oh, will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, won’t you, won’t you join the dance?”

“Now, Mrs. Carey and Nancy are next,” Kate said, as soon as the applause had stopped, and Crullers leaned back on her pillow flushed and radiant over the merriment.

“Well, now, we didn’t expect to speak any pieces,” Mrs. Carey answered, her pleasant motherly face beaming around at them with love and kindliness. She used to say that she’d got so in the habit of mothering the two children and the Captain that it was just second nature to her to mother anything in sight. “I don’t know any poetry, and neither does Nancy, but if you like I’ll read you something that we think’s the finest poetry ever was written about the sea, and then Nancy can sing her favorite hymn, ‘Pull for the Shore.’”

She stepped back into the kitchen and spoke to Aunty Welcome, and presently returned with the latter’s Bible in her hand. Sitting there in the cool, cosy room, whose windows all opened to the sea, she read that beautiful Psalm that both she and the Captain loved to read aloud, the One Hundred and Fourth, with its grand old song about He “who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds His chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind: who maketh His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire.”

Then Nancy’s clear, sweet voice fairly made the little room ring with the hymn she loved:

“Light in the darkness, sailor,
Day is at hand,
See o’er the foaming billow,
Fair haven land.”

After it was over, and they had all gone excepting the yacht club girls themselves, Crullers said she thought it was the happiest time she had ever had, and the next day she was able to “rise and shine,” as Aunty Welcome told her, and take up life again.

Things were very quiet at the island for a week after the mishap in the bay. The girls restricted their sailing to the west end of the bay, down towards Fair Havens, and Polly was busy finding out how to manage yachts, keep them in repair, and so on, and she called Tom to account roundly.

“Just look at these seams in the Tidy Jane, Tom,” she said one day, when they were down at the landing overhauling the boats. “Don’t they need re-caulking?”

“I guess not,” Tom responded, easily. “Father and I went all over them last spring, when we did the rest. They’ll swell after they’ve been in the water a few weeks anyhow. Sometimes when you caulk a boat up too tight, she’ll spring on you.”

“All right, then, but just look at the paint, will you? It’s fairly peeling off in some places, Tom. You won’t find any of the Orienta boats looking like that.”

Tom looked at her, his eyes beginning to twinkle as his father’s did.

“I know what you’re up to,” he laughed. “You’re going to race in the regatta!”

Polly said nothing, but she kept on her course of fitting out for the race. The Orienta was to open its club house the first of August for the regatta season. It had been open as a club house since the first of June, but officially it welcomed the sailing world from the first of August until the fifteenth, the day of the first run. Even from the porch of the little cottage on the Knob, the girls could look across the bay to where the handsome red and white club house stood midway between the hotel and the row of summer cottages that straggled along the north shore all the way to the Inlet. As long as the girls lived on Eagle Bay, they never knew the name of the little river that rambled down between the bluffs and mingled with the channel waters. Everyone called it the Inlet, so they did too.

At one side of the club house was built a tall yacht shed, for the housing of such boats as were left there in the winter time. The best ones came up from the south, Dorothy said. Not way down south, but around Boston harbor, and Long Island, and New York. Her father’s big sloop would be the flag ship at the regatta, she told them, for he was the commodore of the challenging club.

“They don’t have a flag ship at a regatta,” Tom had interposed. “I never raced in one, but I’ve watched them ever since I was knee high to a toadstool. There’s just the racing yachts, and the judge’s boat, and they divide them into different classes.”

“I thought that was what they called it,” Dorothy said, in her pretty, half serious way, and Tom walked away, grinning blandly over the ways of girl people in general.

The Admiral had written that he was surely coming north regatta week, and Polly felt a growing emulation in her breast, a feeling of pride in the Polly Page Yacht Club, against this mighty rival.

“Let’s go over there and watch them overhaul their yachts,” she said finally, the day before the opening; so they tramped around the shore road to Orienta Point. Almost the first persons they saw were the Vaughan girls, sitting up on the broad veranda with a lot of ladies and young girls.

“This looks like a celebration of some kind, girls,” Kate said, merrily. “We had better be careful.”

The others hesitated for a moment. They were dressed as usual in their dark blue yachting suits, with white sailor collars, and white duck knockabout hats to match. Even from where they stood, there was surely a festive appearance to the club group. But the girls had already seen them, and came hurrying down the steps to meet them, with outstretched hands and glad smiles of welcome.

“Oh, I’m so glad you came over at last,” cried Bess. “Mamma wants you all to come up and join us. To-morrow’s the official guest day, but mamma’s giving a tea this afternoon to the lady visitors, and we Juniors are helping pass cake and things. Come up, now, for we’ve just been telling about how Polly saved Crullers’ life the other night.”

“Oh, but I didn’t,” exclaimed Polly, reddening under her coat of tan. “Truly, Bess, I didn’t. Crullers, I mean Jane Daphne Adams here, jumped overboard, and she was floating comfortably with three buoys attached to her when I helped her into the boat.”

“Well, the captain of the Portland didn’t tell it that way,” Dorothy said. “He came up to the hotel that evening and told us all about it. He said that you were the pluckiest girl he had ever seen handle a yacht alone. Won’t you please come up, and let mamma talk to you about it? She’s ever so anxious to meet all of you girls from the island camp anyway, for Bess and I have talked of you so frequently.”

“But we really hadn’t better to-day, had we, Polly?” Ruth’s eyes questioned Polly. What would Miss Calvert say if she knew six of her best girls had attended a yacht club afternoon tea in blue duck.

“It’s the correct thing to do,” Bess persisted, laughing at their perplexity. “The law of yacht clubs gives a tacit membership, papa says, to all members of other clubs who may be in the neighborhood. And they can’t always be in party attire, you know.”

“Oh, let’s, Polly,” pleaded Isabel. So Ruth and Polly led the way up the broad steps to the veranda, with its handsome awnings, potted palms, and dark green wicker chairs and tables scattered invitingly about.

Mrs. Vaughan welcomed them cordially and introduced them to the other ladies and a lot of the “Juniors,” girls of their own age, and friends of Dorothy’s and Bess’s.

“And you are all Southern girls, Dolly tells me,” she said, looking from one face to the other. “Virginia girls. How did you ever happen to drift away up on our rocky coast?”

Polly explained how it had all happened, and then she discovered that Mrs. Vaughan was an old friend of her Aunt Milly, Mrs. Holmes, and knew the four boy cousins.

“So you must not remain isolated over at the Knob after this, girls,” she told them at parting, when they had partaken of ice cream, delicate shrimp and lobster salad sandwiches, and tea. “The Orienta is very gay during August, and we have a good many Junior functions for our younger element. I will speak to the Commodore about your club and see that it is listed for the regatta, and whenever you are able to come over I will chaperon all of you and see that you get back safely. We have our touring car up here, and you can all go home in that, you know, any time.”

“Well, forevermore,” gasped Polly, as they trudged back homeward with the sunset spreading its glory over the world of land and sea and sky. “Girls, we have stumbled all unawares into society. Let’s conduct ourselves as angels. Whatever will grandfather say!”

“Did you notice their dresses?” asked Isabel, her eyes dreamy with rapt remembrance. “That one which Mrs. Vaughan wore was sheer, hand-embroidered batiste, and the long coat was of real Irish crochet.”

“I don’t believe she sleeps one bit better than I do,” said Sue, recklessly.

“But, Sue, did you notice Dorothy’s dress?” persisted Isabel. “It was white organdie over pale yellow silk that just matched the tea roses in the pattern. I love clothes that show good taste.”

“Now, Lady Vanitas,” said Polly, reprovingly. “Don’t let your heart dwell so on raiment. Lilies of the field, you know. It was pretty, and there you are. We’ve all brought our Commencement Day dresses along for Sundays, so we’ll freshen them up, and I guess we can go to the ball without the help of any god-mothers or pumpkins. I don’t feel one bit bothered over the social side of it, but how can we hold our own in a regatta, girls? It’s so kind of Mrs. Vaughan to invite us to join them, isn’t it? How funny our little fifteen-footers will look alongside the big forty- and sixty-footers.”

“But she said they were going to have special entries for the Junior events, don’t you remember?” Sue interrupted eagerly. “I don’t see why we couldn’t enter for them. Dorothy and Bess are going to sail their yacht, and they say there are five or six others who are going in.”

“Then we will sail ours,” Polly retorted. “I have intended to all along, but I wanted some encouragement. I wouldn’t race with a great yacht towering over me like a genii just out of a bottle, but I’ll pit the Tidy Jane against any yacht of her build along the whole coast of North America.”

“Hurrah!” Sue threw her cap up into the air. “Wait till you see the Patsy D. come up gallantly in the wind, and grab the Orienta Junior cup away from all of you.”

It gave them plenty to talk about and plan for, at all events. As Ruth said the following morning, the summer was not half long enough for all the things they planned to do. They rose early, any time between five and six. Nobody except a clam could have slept with the sun coming up like a great, golden blossom behind Bald Bluff, and the sea running along the beach with little waves like dancing feet, calling to one to come and play too.

They tried over and over again to divide each day systematically, but, as Polly said, “current events tripped them up.” Aunty Welcome protested that she would do the washing, ironing, cooking, and kitchen work, but not a tap more; so each took care of her own room, and Polly looked out for the living-room besides. Sue had chosen the veranda for her special charge, and she kept it spotless. They had brought along two hammocks, and had found another one rolled up with the porch mats under a window seat. The three hung out on the veranda temptingly, and through the long warm afternoons, when they were not sailing, the girls would sit out there and make all sorts of decorative things out of the shells in their collection, while Ruth read aloud. The very week of their arrival, she had gone across the bay with Nancy in the Pirate and had discovered the village circulating library.

“I do believe, Grandma,” Polly had said, merrily, when she saw her returning with a brand new book, “that if you landed on the coast of South Africa, you’d ask the first gorilla you met, very politely, if he would please direct you to the nearest circulating library.”

But Ruth refused to be teased about her hobby, so the girls desisted. She loved books, however, and would have walked all the way to Eastport in order to get a fresh one. So with her rimless eyeglasses planted firmly on the bridge of her nose, the nose that turned up ever so little at the world in anxious inquiry, she smiled placidly at Polly, and hugged a new volume to her heart every time she went over the bay.

“You’re all ready enough to listen while I read aloud, just the same,” she told them, when they all settled themselves out on the porch, and called for the after-dinner reading. No one contradicted her. Polly was over in her favorite hammock at the southwesterly corner, her lap full of shells, and some sandpaper, with which she was trying to polish their outer side. Sue, Isabel, and Crullers leaned against the railing, so that their hair would hang over and dry in the sunlight. Only two of the girls wore caps when in bathing, and Aunty Welcome declared that their hair would be fairly pickled before they reached home.

“It’s ‘Treasure Island’ this time, girls,” Ruth announced.

“Smugglers’ Cove,” murmured Sue, mischievously. “See what an effect it had on her, oh, dear; oh, dear.”

Ruth uttered a sudden exclamation, and slipped into the house.

“There was another parcel in our mail box to-day,” she said, as she came back. “I forgot to give it to you.”

“This makes the fourth,” Polly declared, taking it from her, and handling it gingerly. “And they all come from Smugglers’ Cove. The first one had new magazines in it, and some patent fish hooks that Sue ran off with, and we haven’t seen since.”

“The second was chocolate mints.”

“Oh, my, weren’t they good?” Crullers added.

“Third, a full and complete Manual on Conchology and Sea-life, suitable for young persons marooned on an isle,” concluded Polly, returning with a pair of scissors to cut the twine. “I wonder what this is?”

It was addressed, as the other parcels had been, simply to “The Yacht Club, Lost Island, Eagle Bay, Maine.” Polly opened it while the rest stood around. One wrapping after another was removed, and finally a box appeared. When this was opened, there lay a microscope, a fine one, with several different removable lenses for observing specimens.

“Well, what a darling, tasty old pirate he is,” exclaimed Polly, joyously. “He seems to know all our needs. We’ll have to send something to him in return, girls.”

“I’ll make him a shell portìere to hang in front of his cave,” said Kate, soberly. Scarcely had she spoken when a strange and unusual sound broke the stillness of the bay.

“That sounds like a motor boat,” Polly said, instantly. “Maybe it’s the one from the Hippocampus.”

It was surely a motor boat, but not the bright-railed, mahogany-trimmed one from the Hippocampus. This was white, with a high, pointed prow, a cabin, and a cockpit similar to Nancy’s knockabout. But there the resemblance ended. The mast had been removed, and a small gasoline engine provided the power.

“I can see the name on the prow,” called Ted presently. “It’s the Natica.”

“Natica means a sea snail,” Ruth explained, with absent-minded reversion to lessons, but Polly dropped her shells helter-skelter into the hammock, and rose.

“I know who it is, girls,” she cried. “That’s our smuggler!”



“Ship, ahoy!” called out the lone occupant of the boat, as he waved his hand to them, and came alongside the landing. The girls saw at once that he was an elderly man, with a square-cut, iron-gray beard that curled upward at its edges, and a moustache. He wore a white sweater and linen trousers, and that was as far as their observation went at first sight.

“Won’t you come ashore?” called Polly, with cheery hospitality, as she waved back to him.

“Now, Polly, be careful,” warned Kate. “You don’t know whether he’s Captain Kidd, or Neptune in disguise, or Andrew Carnegie. He really looks like all three.” But Polly disregarded the warning. She ran down the steps, and met the stranger half-way up the little boardwalk from the landing, after he had moored his boat.

“He has something under his arm, girls,” Sue whispered. “Looks like a bottle—no, it’s our marmalade jar, all washed up nice and clean. Isn’t he the tidy old smuggler, though?”

“Good afternoon, young ladies.” As the stranger greeted them, he raised his cap with a gesture that even the Admiral would have approved of. “I have come to return the marmalade jar, and to thank you for the treat. It was the finest I ever ate.”

“You may have more of it if you like,” offered Polly, instantly, with all her Virginia grace and hospitality to the fore. “We have plenty of it on hand. And you need not have brought back the jar.”

“But I wanted to, I wanted to.” He smiled around at them through his rimless eyeglasses, with the friendliest interest. “It gave me a good excuse for calling. I’ve been wanting to come ever since I saw the first smoke rise from your chimney.”

“Did you think that perhaps we were pirates too?” laughed Sue.

This “unfortunate remark,” as Isabel called it later, required explanation, and the girls were only too ready to tell all their suspicions about the Cove, and its unknown Robinson Crusoe. He listened to them with the keenest amusement, his dark eyes twinkling under their “pent-house lids,” as Ruth called the bushy gray eyebrows.

“So you considered me a pirate or a smuggler, did you?” He laughed richly over the idea, but Polly shook her head.

“Not exactly. We thought you might be. We almost hoped you might be, so we could find chests of gold in that cave. You see, nobody around here knows anything about you, or where you came from, or when you came.”

“I came up from the South in a motor boat along the shore,” he replied promptly, almost happily. “And a rousing good time I had too.”

“But where were you all the time we were on the island, and Crullers nearly was drowned when she got in the way of the Portland?” Polly leaned forward, her chin on her hand, as she always did when she was perplexed.

“I had gone away from the island for the day,” he explained. “Up to Pautipaug Beach. It is about twelve miles along the coast towards Bar Harbor.”

“Well,” sighed Polly, “we’ve called you the Mystery, and it certainly suits you, for nobody knows even your name.”

“That’s just what I wanted,” he answered, comfortably. “That’s why I came here.” He leaned back in the most comfortable chair the club boasted, and piled cushions behind him, while Ted slipped away to tell Aunty Welcome of the guest of honor. “I’ve rented Smugglers’ Cove for the summer for research, yes, that’s a good word, very explanatory and truthful, for research. And—well, that’s all there is to it.”

There was a dead silence, while each of the girls regarded the mystery from her own point of view. Nobody questions a guest, not around Queen’s Landing, Virginia, not even when he is shrouded in mystery, so they gave it up. But Polly had a brilliant strategic plan occur to her. She would introduce all of the girls, gracefully, easily. Then he would have to introduce himself to them in return. It was simple.

“We must introduce ourselves to you, so you can tell one from the other,” she said. “This is Ruth Brooks. Sometimes we call her Grandma. She is our instructress in conchology, and also librarian, and acts as ballast for the entire establishment.”

“Polly, stop using such big words,” laughed Ted. “Polly loves big words. She told me once that Napoleon and the Admiral always used them, so she was going to.”

Polly went on merrily. “This is Isabel Moore, our mirror of fashion, Lady Vanitas. She should have been Solomon’s favorite daughter and shared his raiment. Kate, look around this way please, because your Greek profile is your strongest point. It is pure Greek, isn’t it?” she appealed to their caller, and he nodded delightedly. “Miss Julian is our club chaperon, and also the ship’s husband for the entire fleet, and also the Imperial Keeper of the Memory Log. If it were not for her and for Isabel, the rest of us would be just Girl Fridays on a desert isle. Jane Daphne Adams, where art thou?” Crullers rose from a hammock, her hair tousled like a Scotch terrier’s. “Crullers, have you been asleep?” Polly demanded, and Crullers nodded drowsily. The other girls laughed mischievously. It was just like Crullers to fall sound asleep at an important time. But Polly went on just the same. “This is Crullers, or Jane Daphne Adams, who fell overboard—”

“And woke to find herself famous, while they pumped out the salt water,” put in Sue, gravely.

“There are two more, Mr. Smuggler Man,” laughed Polly, “but I daren’t present them. Their names are Ted and Sue, and one is just as bad as the other.”

“Polly Page!” came an indignant gasp from the living-room, where Ted had retreated to help Aunty arrange the tea-tray daintily. “Just you wait till I come out there.”

“I am delighted to meet you all,” the Unknown said heartily. “I am certain this is the most unique club roster in the world. But you haven’t introduced yourself.”

“Let me, please,” Ted’s curly red hair showed at the open window. “Miss Polly Page, of Glenwood, Queen’s Landing, Virginia; Commodore of the Polly Page Yacht Club, Founder of the Hungry Six, Volunteer Life Saver of Eagle Bay—let’s see, anything else, girls?”

“Custodian of the Club Chafing Dish,” Sue added.

“Oh, stop, please, girls; I’ll be good, truly,” pleaded the Commodore, flushing and laughing at the way they had turned the tables on her. All her strategy had not resulted in the stranger’s revealing his name.

“I am sure we shall be the best of neighbors the rest of the summer.” The stranger smiled at the circle of eager, girlish faces around him. “If you will promise to keep me supplied with Virginia marmalade, put up by Aunty Welcome, as you call her, I will promise you a steady output of new magazines and books. Is it a bargain?”

“It is,” said the girls, resolutely, and then they remembered the mysterious parcels that Ruth had brought back from Eastport, and thanked him for their contents. But suddenly Crullers asked, in a gentle, interested way, the one question they had all avoided.

“What’s your name?”

“Smith,” replied the stranger, very simply, then he smiled around at them again in his whimsical, almost mischievous fashion, for there was frank disappointment on their faces. “There are a great many members of our family. I should have said Bold Daniel, or Blackbeard, should I not?”

“Well, we did rather hope you might turn out to be at least a smuggler,” Polly said, as she took the tea-tray from Ted, and set it down before their guest on a chair, for tea-tables existed not on Lost Island. “Won’t you try some of Aunty Welcome’s famous hermits, and sponge cake, and marmalade, and a cup of tea?”

For over an hour they entertained Mr. Smith of Smugglers’ Cove. He sat there with them on the porch till the sun went down, chatting happily, entertaining them with tales of adventure all over the world, and droll anecdotes that covered forty years of public life. He seemed to the girls, that first day, to be the most astonishing traveler they had ever met. He had served in many campaigns. He could tell them a story of the Civil War, and jump down to Chili with another tale about when he helped put through the first railroad that crossed the old trails of the Incas. Then before they could catch their breath, he was describing Egypt when the Suez Canal was being built, how one night he had watched the funeral of a little English baby, the child of one of the chief engineers.

“There was no coffin for it, no procession, nothing but the young, fair-haired English girl-mother standing on the shore, and a tall, bare-legged Arab, carrying the little form in his arms wrapped in the British flag, as he crossed over with the consul to the ‘Isle of the Sleepers,’ as the Arabs called their cemetery.”

“Oh, tell us some more,” pleaded Ruth and the rest, as he paused.

“Let me see,” he would lean back his head, and think of something else, his eyes twinkling with the pleasure of it all. “Did I tell you about the time I took tea with the king of Masailand in West Africa? Didn’t I? And he gave me a sack of purest ivory for a paper of pins?”

So he talked on, until the last rim of the sun dipped behind the purple hills in the west, and he started up.

“Bless my heart and soul, I must be going,” he exclaimed. “I expect the pirates to-night.”

The girls laughed, and Polly sighed contentedly.

“You’ve traveled everywhere, haven’t you?” she asked.

“Not quite.” He smiled down at her from behind his thick curly beard. “I have yet to see Glenwood, Queen’s Landing, Virginia.”

“And we’d just love to have you see it too,” responded Polly with quick southern warmth. “It’s the dearest spot of all, we think.”

After the motor boat had passed from sight around the Knob, the girls looked at one another in perplexity.

“Now, who on earth can he be?” asked Ruth. “For he must be somebody special, or he never would have traveled all over the world, in every place where interesting things have happened for years and years. I wonder who he is.”

“Just Mr. Smith,” said Polly, shaking her head. “But I think he is a mystery, girls. We’ll ask the Captain about him.”

“There’s one thing certain,” Kate added. “He’s a good neighbor to have handy.”

Before a week had passed, even Aunty Welcome agreed with the verdict. Mr. Smith of Smugglers’ Cove was surely a desirable neighbor. Books and magazines found their way to the house, as well as fishing tackle that made Tom’s devices look antiquated. Several times he presented the girls with a fine catch of mackerel that was served in Welcome’s best Southern style, and Mr. Smith always stayed to partake of the feast.

“I met your grandfather, the Rear-Admiral, Miss Polly, a few years ago, at a Naval banquet,” he said one day, “and do you know, the President paid us each a compliment. He said the Rear-Admiral was the handsomest man present, and that I was the most necessary to the nation. And the Admiral and I confided to each other later that we would willingly exchange places.”

“Now, Polly, did you hear what he said to-day?” Ruth asked in a puzzled tone, after he had gone. “Who can he be? The most necessary to the nation.”

Polly shook her head.

“I don’t know, and I don’t care. I like him just as he is. If he should turn out to be somebody very, very famous, he wouldn’t seem to belong to us at all.”

The Orienta Club opened its season with a “hop” for the Juniors, and a reception for the older members, and an invitation found its way to Lost Island.

“Miss Calvert would say we should not go unless we were chaperoned, Polly,” Kate said, doubtfully.

“You are our chaperon. You are nearly nineteen, dignified and responsible. We don’t need any other.” And Polly went serenely along with her preparations.

“This is partly a business affair,” she explained. “In outdoor sports strict rules all tumble down, I mean social rules. We’re just the members of one yacht club accepting the hospitality of another club. Ruth, don’t pull your hair back so tight. It makes your eyebrows look like a Japanese girl’s on a fan. Fluff it all out at the sides. Here, I will.”

And Ruth obediently sat down, while Polly’s deft fingers took all the primness and straight lines out of her hair.

Tom had promised to drive them over to the club house in the Captain’s old-fashioned carry-all. He came along the shore road about seven, and sent up a long “Ahoy!” across the sand.

“I wish Nancy could go, too,” Sue exclaimed, suddenly. “She’d love to.”

“Well, Sue, why couldn’t you have thought of it before the last minute,” Polly laughed. She stood still for a minute, and then said in the tone of decision all the girls had learned to know, “Why, of course Nancy can go along with us. She’s a member of our club. Not a resident member, but nevertheless she is a member, and our ‘coach’ in all nautical knowledge.”

“Would your mother let her go, Tom?” asked Kate, practically. Tom grinned happily, and hitched his one suspender up higher.

“Sure she would,” he answered. “And Nancy’s got a best dress too. It’s white with little blue flowers on it, awful pretty.”

Very sweet and fresh Nancy looked in that blue and white sprigged muslin, when she stood in the doorway of the Carey cottage and kissed her mother good-by, while the girls waited for her. It was her very first real “party,” as she said, and her cheeks were rosy with excitement, and her blue eyes shining. Every year she had gone over to the Orienta with Tom to stand down on the shore and look at the gayly-lighted verandas and happy throng, had watched the other children dancing and playing games, and had longed to join them.

“I can’t dance though, Polly,” she said now, as they approached the big white club house with its verandas all hung with Japanese lanterns and festoons of real flowers.

“Oh, yes, you can, too,” Polly assured her. “You can dance a reel. Even a telegraph pole could dance a reel, Nancy. And we girls will dance with you. That’s the way we used to do at Miss Calvert’s.”

Dorothy and Bess were on the lookout for them, and came down to meet them.

“We’re so glad you’ve come,” they cried, happily. “Because we’ve got a real guest of honor from Washington. He’s a friend of papa’s, and he’s the greatest naturalist in the country. Papa calls him the citizen of the world, for he loves all the world, and has been over it ever so many times. Papa says he holds it right in his hand, and pats it. Isn’t that funny?”

“The greatest naturalist in America,” Kate repeated. “From Washington?”

“Smith!” exclaimed Ruth, suddenly, “Smith!”

“Penryhn Smith,” added Polly, while the Vaughan girls looked at them with curiosity fairly bubbling out of their lips.

“Why? Do you all know him already?” asked Bess.

“Yes, we all know him well,” laughed Polly. “Come and see.”

They hurried up the broad flight of steps leading to the main floor of the club-house. Ruth reached over, and squeezed Polly’s hand. She was fairly treading on air. To think that their smuggler should have turned out to be Dr. Penryhn Smith of the Institute at Washington. Naturalist he was, yes, but more than that, they knew. Statesman, explorer, and most of all, perhaps, the Admiral had told them, he was a lover of all mankind, a lover of life in all its forms. He was the type of man who could hold a city audience entranced at a lecture, then turn and kneel beside a little child to show it the miracle of being in the wild flower it had just picked. Polly knew how dearly the Admiral valued his friendship, how Miss Calvert had taught them to revere his name, and she felt doubly happy over this disclosure of the Smuggler’s identity.

The club house seemed to be filled with guests that night. Juniors, and fathers and mothers of Juniors, and the people from the hotel and the summer cottages who had been invited. The girls were swept into the middle of it all before they could fairly catch their breath. And it seemed to them as if everywhere they caught the murmur, “Doctor Smith!”

“We might have known there was more to it than Smith,” whispered Sue.

Polly said nothing, but she was doing a lot of thinking, and finally when she saw Mrs. Vaughan and the Commodore standing at the head of the long room, there was the smuggler himself beside them, clad in white flannels, and his eyes twinkling merrily, as he caught sight of the eight white-clad girls with Dorothy and Bess.

Mrs. Vaughan started to present them kindly, one by one, to the guest of honor, but Dr. Smith laughed and explained.

“I’m afraid, Mrs. Vaughan, that you are too late with your kind offices. These young ladies have been close neighbors of mine, and have been very good to me.”

“But I don’t think I understand, Doctor,” said Mrs. Vaughan; “I thought you only arrived from Pautipaug Beach to-day.”

“I did, I did,” answered the Doctor, happily. “I came from down the shore in the Natica at five-thirty, to be exact, from the hotel at Pautipaug, but I stopped off at my secret hiding-place. You didn’t know I had one, did you, Mrs. Vaughan? Don’t tell the Commodore, for he still believes in me. Nobody knows about it except these young ladies and Captain Carey.”

“Does the Captain know?” exclaimed Polly.

“Yes. It was through him I rented Smugglers’ Island for the summer. I can make the trip back and forth in the Natica and study in peace there. I tried to keep under cover but Miss Polly, here, ferreted me out, and has kept me alive since on orange marmalade.”

“If we had suspected for one minute that you were famous, we wouldn’t have given you a bit,” said Polly severely. “I think you owe the whole club an apology.”

“I am asking it now,” the Doctor returned. “Mrs. Vaughan, you see how they order me around? If I had been a pirate or a smuggler, they would have respected me.”

“Oh, I think they will forgive you, Doctor,” said Mrs. Vaughan, as she smiled around at the happy, girlish faces surrounding the Doctor. “In fact, we shall all have to, for it is a joke on little Eagle Bay. I was reading only last week, in a New York paper, that the eminent naturalist, Dr. Penrhyn Smith, had vanished as usual, and it was thought he had slipped south on a trip through the Amazonian wilderness. And all the while you were right here on Smugglers’ Island.”

“But quite near the Amazonian wilderness just the same,” the Doctor added, teasingly. “They are all girl warriors over on the Knob, Mrs. Vaughan. You don’t know them as I do.”

“Why did you go there to live?” asked Crullers, in her point-blank way.

“It’s a state secret,” replied the Doctor, gravely. “I am on the trail of a certain polypus, and if I told you all about it, you’d hunt after it yourself, and you might possibly find it, and take all the credit away from me.”

“What were those queer tracks in the sand around the mouth of the cave?” asked Kate. “Like a three-legged crane. We saw them the day we were at the Cove.”

The Doctor smiled.

“I carry a camera with me,” he said, amusedly. “Those were the tracks of the tripod, a rare beast in captivity.”

“And does the cave really go clear through the island to the castle?” asked Ruth, eagerly.

“It does. If you will come over, you may go through it. But you won’t find any treasure or loot there. Plenty of old barrels, and boxes, but nothing in them. The pirates must have made a clean sweep that last night.”

“Isn’t he splendid?” exclaimed Kate, as they gave place to all the people who were waiting to be presented.

“And his flannels are so becoming,” added Isabel, thoughtfully. “Do you know, girls, I have found out something awfully queer. All of the really ‘great’ people I ever met are much simpler and pleasanter and more natural, than the little, everyday people who fuss around, and snub each other, and just live and grow fat on trouble. Isn’t that so, Polly?”

“Well, there are ‘deceptions’ to every rule, you know Aunty Welcome says,” laughed Polly. “I wouldn’t say positively, but I do think that the Doctor is a darling.”



The following day was Sunday, the fourth they had spent on Lost Island. The nearest church was two and a half miles around the bay shore road, at Eastport, but services were held in the open air stadium in the pine grove back of the hotel. The cottagers and shore people attended here, and the girls had been glad to go also. They tried to persuade Aunty Welcome to accompany them, but she steadfastly refused to budge along that bay shore road until she left for good.

“I’se hyar, and I knows I’se hyar, and I ain’t a-going to trust myself to any quagmires and pitfalls along any ole shore road till I has to,” she declared.

“Let’s stop for the Captain and the rest,” Polly said, as they came to the quiet cottage at Fair Havens, but it was locked, so they went on. The Captain usually took the big carry-all and drove over to the village church. There he could sit, and look out of the window beside his pew, straight into the little graveyard, where rows and rows of Carey headstones bade him be of good cheer, for the harbor was sure, and the Pilot faithful to His promise.

But the girls loved the open air service up in the pines. The stadium had been erected for lectures and Chautauqua meetings during the summer months, and was beautifully situated on Lookout Hill. On one side it commanded a fine view over the Sickle, clear out to where the old Atlantic rolled in in long, dark green combers. Behind it were climbing aisles of eternal green, depths of sweet-scented thicket, patches of wild flowers, and above all the towering pines, with their incessant murmur as though they were answering their big brother, the sea.

The stadium was a great wooden amphitheater, built roughly but strongly, and roofed to protect its audiences against sudden summer showers. The second Sunday the girls had gone, there had been a thunder storm, and it had seemed so strange to watch the trees lashed and torn by the tempest, while they sat under cover safe as could be.

“I never was so near a storm, and yet out of it,” Sue had declared. “Why, you could have reached out, and patted the wind on the back, and it couldn’t have hurt you.”

After service they walked slowly down the winding, rustic walk that led to the shore.

“It seems to me, girls, that the service sounds ever so much more solemn here than it does in a church,” Isabel was saying. “It seems so much nearer heaven here in the woods.”

“But it’s not, really,” Kate put in, briskly. “That’s only an idea that people have, and I think it’s wrong. Supposing God dwelt only in the high places, what would become of those who sit in darkness, and the shadow of death?”

Polly was looking out to sea, her brown eyes thoughtful, and a bit sad. She didn’t know why she felt sad, but she did, and only the Captain seemed to understand why. He had said once over at the island that a barometer probably had no idea what ailed it, but it ailed just the same, and Polly’s temperament was just as volatile.

“The other day,” she said, musingly, “the Captain said he had been tramping the beach one awful night in a thunderstorm, when he was first on coast duty, and he felt troubled about all the boats that were in peril. Then all at once he thought of those words, ‘He maketh His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire.’ And he felt strengthened all at once, so he wasn’t afraid any more.”

“How do you do, girls?” called Mrs. Vaughan’s pleasant voice behind them, and they turned to find her and the Doctor with Dorothy and Bess. The Doctor was to take dinner at the hotel with the Commodore’s family, but they all walked back through the pine grove together to the shore road.

“Wasn’t the sermon nice?” asked Bess, happily. “I love that parable about the merchant who sought pearls.”

The Doctor nodded his head.

“That simile is one of the finest in the Bible,” he responded. “I had the good fortune to attend the pearl harvest at Ceylon twice, and it sets one thinking, it certainly sets one thinking.”

“Oh, tell us about it, please, Doctor?” pleaded Polly, slipping her hand on his arm. “I’ve been wondering about it ever since we left the stadium. Are there any pearls around here?”

The Doctor was not a Yankee, but he usually answered one question by asking another, in Yankee fashion.

“What are you all going to do this afternoon?”

“Rest, and write letters home, and talk. Crullers and Aunty Welcome will take long naps. Sue and Ted will get out their book of class songs, and sing and play all of them over five times running. Isabel will read a book, and Ruth and I will write letters.”

“That’s all right; just as long as you had not planned to go sailing. About four, Dorothy and Bess and I will come over in the Natica and talk to you about pearls. I have some unset ones I will show you.”

“Is it true that they lose their luster, and people put them back into the sea to regain it?” Kate inquired.

“Well, people do it, but I don’t know whether it helps them any. A pearl merchant will tell you it is better to peel a pearl, but that is not so romantic, is it? There was one Empress, you know, who sent her casket of pearls every year to be immersed in the sea. Now, don’t ask any more questions until this afternoon, then we’ll hold a talk fest.”

“No, a pearl fest,” Polly suggested. “And we’ll have a driftwood fire on the beach after dark, and toast marshmallows, and eat hermits.”

“Will you tell me what hermits are?”

“I had rather leave that to Aunty Welcome, for she makes them, you know,” laughed Polly.

They caught up with the carry-all on their way back, and walked beside it on the path next the road. The Captain looked different without his uniform, all dressed in a suit of sober black, but he was as rosy and as twinkly-eyed as ever, and he looked over the girls with a feeling of pride.

“You’re getting to be a credit to the sou’west shore,” he told them. “Trig and taut as a fleet of clipper-built coasters, be’ant they, mother? But you keep away from the Point, now mind. There’s a reef out there that at low tide would rip up a keel like a submarine mine hitting a Russian man-o’-war. And any sort of a west gale would blow you straight out on it.”

“But there aren’t any gales,” said Sue.

“Not yet, but wait a bit. We’ll be into August shortly, and then, I tell you, look out. There’s some quick fellows come a’racing out of the sou’west that would take your heads off.”

“I wish we could get out into the open sea, though, before we go home, Captain Carey,” said Polly, wistfully. “We’re only shore sailors. Couldn’t we go out around the Point some fair day, and reach the open?”

The Captain put his head a bit on one side, and trailed the tasseled end of the whip between the colt’s ears. Then he shook his head.

“You’d better not. That’s the safest way. If you want a good sail outside the harbor, I’ll take you for one on a top master, forty foot long, yes, I will. Billy Clewen, the station keeper, has one, and we’ll sail clear out to Tarker’s Light. How’s that?”

“Beautiful,” the girls cried, and Polly added, “Don’t you forget, now.”

“Father never forgets anything,” Mrs. Carey spoke up, contentedly, “excepting his place in the hymn-book, and in the Bible reading for each Sunday.”

Then they all had a good laugh at the Captain, who was famous for losing his place, and would be far ahead or far behind when the congregation were just moving along easily.

“Avast there, where are you bound?” he would whisper to Nancy, and nudge her to show him the right place.

“How’s an old fellow to know where they’re going to bring up next?” he asked, indignantly. “They never hold true to their course, and they are tacking before I know it, and off they go like a herring from a hook.”

“I thought they caught herring in nets,” said Crullers.

“They do,” agreed the Captain, heartily. “And that’s why you can’t make one stay on a hook. They’re the most notional fish I ever saw. I’ve had one get on a hook, and fairly wink me in the eye, and wiggle off again.”

“Benjy Carey!” exclaimed Mrs. Carey, “and you a-coming direct from meeting to tell a yarn like that!”

But the Captain only laughed until he coughed, and Nancy had to pat him on the back.

That afternoon the yacht club entertained in its own, particular fashion. Nancy came over, but Tom went down to the station with his father. Some day he meant to go on duty there too. It was one of the Captain’s boasts that three generations of Careys had patrolled that strip of rock-strewn coast, “and there’s another one in the making,” he always added; so Tom would square his shoulders and try to look like one of the crew.

The doctor dined at the hotel that day with Commodore Vaughan and his family, and it was late afternoon before the girls caught sight of the white motor boat cutting its way across the sparkling waters of the sunlit bay. The broad veranda looked very cool and restful that afternoon. Polly and Kate had spread all the available mats and had carried out the round table from the sitting-room, dropping new magazines over it invitingly, with a pitcher of fruit lemonade and a plate of hermits to nibble on.

“Hermits, do you call these?” asked Bess, as she bit into her third one. “I never heard of them, but they’re just dandy.”

“Well, there are hermits and hermits,” Polly explained. “But Aunty Welcome’s are the best we’ve ever had, much better than Annie May’s at the Hall. How do you make them, Aunty?”

Welcome paused in the kitchen doorway, her hands on her broad hips, her brown eyes fairly shining with delight at their appreciation of her cooking.

“I takes some flour, and den I takes some ’lasses, and it has to be good ’lasses. None ob dis syrupy trash dat just drizzles down. I want ’lasses you can hyar go kerflop when it hits de dish; yas, I do.” She shook all over with laughter. “Den I takes some cream, den I takes some spices, and some brown sugar, and some eggs, and I mixes ’em up good. Den I jes’ puts in all de ’vailable fruit I got lying ’round, raisins, and currants, and citron, and figs, and dates, and nuts, any ole thing. And den I bakes ’em.”

“And we eat ’em,” concluded Sue, forcibly.

Even the doctor shook with laughter over the recipe.

“But I’m afraid if we tried to make some, Aunty, we’d make a failure of it,” he said. “And they are certainly fine. Please may I have some marmalade with mine?”

“Now tell about the pearl harvest,” prompted Ruth, when they were all fairly settled, and the supply of hermits had diminished somewhat. “What is it like?”

“How often have you been there?” added Kate.

“Twice. Last year and once when I was a youngster just out of college, and bent on globe-trotting. Ceylon, you know, is the great pearl market of the world, and yet the season of the catch lasts only six weeks. But during those six weeks, instead of a long, jungle-fringed beach, there rise the tents and houses of the pearl seekers, like a city of magic. Every morning you can see the long boats go out, hundreds of them, and each carrying from sixty to seventy men.”

“Divers?” asked Polly.

“Not all. Some are rowers, and some take care of the catch as the divers bring it up. They are all natives, and trained to the work. When they dive, all they carry down with them is their basket and a small tortoise shell clip that holds their nostrils closed.”

“Don’t they have to wear diving suits?” asked Ted.

“No. They can stay under water longer than any human beings I have ever seen. And after the catch of the day is brought in, it is put up at auction, and then there is excitement enough to satisfy anyone. I have often wondered why some artist has never put the scene of the pearl harvest on canvas;” the doctor’s eyes were half closed, as if he could recall it perfectly even then. “I have seen as many as five million oysters piled there, waiting to be sold, and to the crowd it is one great lottery. Any shell in the lot may contain a pearl worth thousands. So they scramble, and push to get up close to the auctioneer, and even the children will beg you for pennies so that they may buy a handful of the shells and have the fun of opening them. Last year while I stood there, a little old man in front of me, with a crutch, turned and begged me to lift him up so the auctioneer would be sure to see him. He was a Burmah merchant and told me afterwards he was sent every year to buy for the native princes. Behind me was a tall, quiet Persian. They told me he had found a pearl once years before that brought him over seventy thousand dollars. It was a pink one, and flawless. And he had come every year since and bid on every day’s catch in the hope of finding its mate.”

“Oh, I’d love to be there,” cried Polly her eyes sparkling with excitement. “And do they open them right in front of you so you can see them find the pearls?”

“Some do. And when a pearl of great price is found, even to-day the bidding jumps like magic over that catch the same as in the old days of the parable. The merchants will still go and sell all they have to buy the one pearl if they can get it.”

“I wonder why it is everybody loves pearls so,” said Ruth thoughtfully. “I do myself, better than diamonds, or any of the colored stones. They seem different, almost as if they had life. Were they ever alive inside the shells, Doctor Smith?”

“Let me see,” mused the doctor. “Are pearls alive? I’ve wondered that myself. The scientists tell us, though, that a pearl is a disease of the oyster, and others say it is only a grain of sand that has slipped inside the shell and irritates the mollusc, so it wraps it about with a secretion of its own that hardens and, after a while, you have the pearl. The Chinese open oyster shells and slip inside tiny images of Buddha, and the oyster covers them with mother-of-pearl.”

“Oh, Polly, don’t you know how we studied last year about the Malays, and their pearl legend?” exclaimed Ted, eagerly. “They say at the full of the moon the pearl oyster rises to the surface of the water and opens its shell, and a dew drop falls into it, and is crystallized. And they say the pearl is colored by the weather at the time it was born. If the night is clear, the pearl is perfect, and if it is cloudy, the pearl will be opalescent and dim, and if there’s a flash of lightning, the shell shuts up instantly and the pearl will be dwarfed.”

“It makes me think of the Polynesian way of catching pearls,” said the doctor. “They send out a long boat at sunrise, a canoe, with some old tribesman playing a weird, plaintive melody on a sort of flute, to scare away evil spirits. Young girls are chosen to dive for the shells, generally the fairest and purest in the village and they poise themselves in the prow of the canoe and dive just as the sun rises.”

“I shall try it to-morrow morning,” said Polly promptly, her eyes dancing with mischief. “Ted and Sue shall play on their mandolins for me, and I will dive for pearls.”

“And you dare to call me vain,” teased Isabel. “I guess if anyone is to dive, I will.”

“Let’s all dive,” suggested Kate, the peacemaker, laughing. “Tell us some more, please, doctor, and don’t mind these giddy creatures.”

Ruth leaned forward, reflectively, her eyes dreamy and full of thought.

“Polly,” she said, “didn’t Mary Stuart love pearls? Didn’t she always carry a rosary of pearls with her, and didn’t we read some place that it was found clasped in her hands after she was killed?”

“Here, child, stop talking about such gloomy things,” Ted interposed, briskly, lifting the tall pitcher of fruit lemonade. “May I pour you another glass, doctor? It’s delicious. Polly dissolved some pearl dust in it, and dreamed she was Cleopatra.”

“I never heard sech talk in all my born days, doctah, I never did,” exclaimed Aunty Welcome, putting her head out rebukingly. “Ain’t dey a lot ob crazy creeturs, sah?”

“Full of the joy of life, Welcome, full of the springtime,” replied the doctor, happily. “Let them alone. I can stand it. Give me some more pearl dust elixir, Miss Edwina.”

“Pearls stand for tears, really and truly,” said Dorothy, seriously. “I’ve always heard that. The night before the king was killed, Marguerite of Valois dreamed all her diamonds had turned to pearls, our history teacher told us.”

“Stop it,” Ted insisted. “Can’t you see how melancholius-like Polly and Ruth are looking? I shall be afraid, pretty soon, to touch a pearl with a ten-foot pole, even if I find one in my oyster stew.”

“Don’t mind them, doctor,” said Polly, cheerfully. “The pearl is my birthstone, and I love it dearly, and you won’t find me weeping often. See, it’s past sundown now. We’re going to set fire to that pile of driftwood down on the beach, and toast marshmallows around it, while the glee club holds forth.”

“Just one minute,” called the doctor, as they rose. “I want you to look at this.”

The girls gathered around his chair, as he drew a tiny packet from his pocket, wrapped in tissue paper, and unfolding it disclosed several unset pearls, large as peas, and rarely beautiful.

“Do you carry them with you like that?” asked Kate.

“Just like that,” replied the doctor, blithely, and he let them roll about in the palm of his hand. “I bought them at the pearl harvest, and I like to have them close to me. They say that Napoleon, when he sat and dreamed of the conquest of the world, loved to feel unset pearls slip through his fingers. So, why not I?”

“Oh, they are lovely!” Polly touched them lingeringly. “Isn’t it too bad that such things should be shut up in a shell at the bottom of the ocean?”

Ruth was calling to them to hurry, for the marshmallows were waiting to be cooked, and the fire was started, and as they walked down to the beach the doctor quoted:

“‘Full many a gem of purest ray serene, the dark, unfathomed caves of ocean bear,
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, and waste its sweetness on the desert air.’”

“I think those pearls in your pocket are just as hidden and wasted, doctor,” said Sue, deliberately, “as if they were in a dark, unfathomed cave.”

“Do you? Well, it was kind of you not to say as if they were cast before swine,” laughed the doctor.

“One of Sue’s charms is her engaging frankness,” put in Kate.

“I forgive her, for it’s in a good cause. And some day, if I find anyone who will love and cherish them more than I do, I may give up one.”

“First Batch of Marshmallows Ready!” Called Ruth

“First batch of marshmallows ready,” called Ruth, and the pearl fest was over.



“Do you girls realize that it is the first week in August?”

It was about a week after the doctor’s talk, and they had just come up to the porch after a dip in the bay.

“Let’s stay down in the sand, and dry off,” Ted suggested. “It’s early yet.”

So down they trailed again, and sat on the sand. One special charm of belonging to this yacht club was that you could do just what you wanted when you wanted. As Polly said, it took all the fun out of anything when you had to wait for it.

“Poor old King Solomon,” she would say, “I don’t know what it was he longed for, but I am sure he never got it, because he said so mournfully, ‘Hope deferred maketh the heart sick.’ And I know just how he felt when he said it.”

“I ought to mend my jacket,” said Sue, easily. “But there’s plenty of time.”

“That’s what Sue always says,” Kate declared. “I think her motto and Ted’s should be ‘There’s plenty of time.’”

“Well, there isn’t,” Polly remarked, as she sat down on a sand dune, and rested her chin on her hands, with her hair falling around her like a meditative mermaid. “The regatta is the fifteenth, and we’ve got to have our boats all spick and span for the race.”

“You’re not really going to race for the Junior cup, are you, Polly?” Isabel’s tone was very discouraging.

“I am.” Polly smiled at the big white club house across the bay quite as if she expected it to nod back at her. “The Tidy Jane is just as fine a catboat as there is on the bay, and so are all our boats. Nancy’s going to race the Pirate, Tom’s knockabout, and the other afternoon when we sailed to the inlet and back, I had the best of her all the way. Of course I shall race.”

“Is there a prize?” asked Crullers, the practical. The girls all broke into a peal of laughter, and Ruth declared that Crullers never could see anything in empty glory. There had to be a tangible goal for her to exert herself.

“There’s a silver cup for the big boats to race for,” Polly replied. “Commodore Vaughan’s sloop, Adventure, has held it for sixty-footers for three years, they say. And there’s a smaller cup for twenty-footers and under. We’d come under that head.”

“What will you use it for, Polly, after you win it?” asked Sue, innocently, and Polly promptly threw sand at her, till she cried quarter.

“Whether I win it or not, it’s the sport of the thing that counts,” she said. “I never saw a race in all my life that I didn’t wish I was in it, just for the chance of winning. It isn’t the prize so much, it’s the honor of the thing, and the sport.”

“I know, Polly, that’s perfectly right,” rejoined Kate, approvingly. “What if no one ever entered a race for fear they might not win; there’d be no racing at all.”

“Well, if you intend entering, I shall too,” said Sue. “For I know that the Patsy D. can outsail anything on this bay if she once ‘gets a’going,’ as the Captain says. The trouble is, she won’t ‘get a’going’ until she has a mind to. I can’t seem to make her grab hold of a breeze and pull.”

“You don’t let go your main sheet right,” Polly told her. “You hoist your sail, and let it wobble before you let the boom swing about, and catch the wind into the sail right. Makes me think of a story the Captain told about one of the summer cottagers last year, who went out with Tom and him one day. There was a big sea on, and when a puff of wind caught her, the Captain called out, ‘Let go that jib, let go that jib’. And the guest was really angry and indignant. ‘Who’s touching your old jib, I should like to know,’ he said, huffily. The Captain just shook when he told it.”

Ruth sat up suddenly, and put back her hair from her face.

“I just saw a boat put off from the Orienta dock,” she said. “It looks like the Nixie. Bess is at the tiller. I wonder what they can want. They’re making for here.”

It took hardly ten minutes to cross the bay at its narrow end, with a good wind to help, and before the girls had time to run up to the cottage and dress, the Nixie was at the landing, with reefed sails.

“Mamma sent us over,” Dorothy exclaimed, as soon as she stepped ashore. “The Portland brought a consignment of fruit for the club last night, and papa sends you over a basket of it with his compliments.”

The girls bore the heavy basket up to the porch and promptly explored its contents. There was a large watermelon, some canteloupes, peaches and pears, and a box of stuffed dates.

“Mamma put those in because she says she knows what girls like,” said Bess, perching herself on the porch railing contentedly. “And what do you think? We’ve teased and begged to be allowed to come over here with you for regatta week, and now we may if you will let us. You can get a better view of the bay from this porch than you can from the club.”

“Well, young lady, you’ll get your view of the race from the stern locker of the Nixie,” said Dorothy, firmly. “Polly won’t allow us in the club unless we agree to race for the glory of it, will you?”

“No, ma’am,” returned Polly, serenely, as she knelt down, and spread out several newspapers.

“What are you going to do, Polly?” asked Isabel, who believed firmly in the fitness of things. “Oh, don’t cut into the melon out here, dear. Put it on the ice, and let it cool.”

“Put it on the ice!” Polly repeated, with fine scorn. “Listen to her, girls. You’d think we had a whole refrigerator handy. Dorothy, all the ice we own is wrapped up in Ruth’s old waterproof cape, in a tub down in the cellar. It’s about the size of a pincushion, and if I were to set this watermelon on it, it would just evaporate. We will eat the melon now to save it.”

“It’s plenty cold,” Dorothy helped lift the melon down on the papers. “But, Polly, will it be all right if we come over and stay for regatta week?”

“It will, and we’ll be ever and ever so glad to have you. It’s very stylish, Isabel, to entertain guests during a regatta week. Will you please bring along your own blankets, as we haven’t enough to go ’round.”

“Indeed, we will,” Dorothy cried, happily, “and I’m so pleased. Mamma always is busy regatta week, and so is papa, and Bess and I just have to look after ourselves. She’s going on the Adventure too for the race. Oh, Polly, it’s splendid to watch them. Last year, at the finish, the Adventure and Mermaid were right together, and we all stood up on chairs, and waved flags at them, and shouted as they came down the last stretch with every inch of canvas crowded on.”

Polly was very busy carving the watermelon in fancy fashion, so that when it fell apart, it looked like a huge, red-hearted lily.

“Makes it taste better,” she said, judiciously. “Who won last year, Dorothy?”

“Oh, the Adventure, of course. Right at the very last they crowded on another reef—what do you call that little bit of a sail way up top on a sloop, Polly?”

Polly shook her head.

“T’gallant something, isn’t it? That’s what the Captain calls my eyebrows. Tarry top lights, and t’gallant eyebrows, so it must mean something way high up.”

“Probably,” Dorothy agreed. “Anyway, they let out another reef, and the Adventure just slipped by the Mermaid like a bit of down. Papa’s boat’s a sloop. It seems to me it’s all sails. It looks like a great gull with outspread wings when it’s going full tilt out to sea.”

“You must always speak of a ship as she or her,” corrected Bess. “Papa called you a sandpiper for that, Dolly.”

“I don’t care,” Dorothy laughed. “I want to tell the girls about it. There are six staterooms on it, and when the season closes up here at Eagle Bay, we sail south to Boston, and then home. Bess and I go to boarding-school.”

Just then Tom appeared around the west shore, holding down the Pirate, while he called,

“Want anything over to Eastport?”

“Yes. Mail, potatoes and soap,” called back Polly, with a smile and wave of her hand; then to Dorothy, as if no interruption had occurred, “We’re going out with the Captain for a sail around the Point Light, and down to Tarker’s Light. He said he’d take us if we behaved for a week, and we have. Haven’t been out once in a bad wind, haven’t made any trouble at all, so now we’re going. Why can’t you and Bess stay and have dinner with us, though? We won’t start before two, and Aunty’s making clam pie, Maryland style, and baked, stuffed tomatoes, and peach dumplings.”

“Oh, we’ll stay fast enough,” cried Bess, while Dorothy just smiled. “You do have the best things to eat over here that I know anything about. Papa says he’s coming over some day just to sample them, and find out if it’s really true. Doctor Smith says it is; so papa can’t really tell us out and out that we are coloring it up a little.”

“Tell him we’d be delighted to entertain him any time, and Mrs. Vaughan, too,” exclaimed Polly, with true Southern hospitality. “We’ll have fried sweet potatoes, and fried chicken, and corn fritters, and corn pone, all from Aunty Welcome’s special recipes. She’ll be so proud to get up a dinner and we’d love to have you.”

“Where’s Isabel?” asked Sue suddenly. “Did she go up to dress?”

“No, I’m up here in the hammock. I don’t want to get all freckled in that sunlight,” came Isabel’s tones from the shadiest corner of the porch.

“Pull her forth, girls,” ordered Polly, gaily. “She’s too exclusive. She just wants to set herself up before us as a mirror of style, and we won’t have it. Pull her forth, and walk her in the sun till she’s as freckled as a cowslip. What do you think, Dorothy, this young person wants to wear a bathing cap with a bow on the front and a ruffle around it like an old maid’s nightcap, and she takes a bar of violet scented soap with her into the deep blue sea when she trips down to bathe. It once dropped like a stone down to the bottom, and she never got it.”

“‘Though lost to sight, to memory dear,’” quoted Sue; she linked arms with Ted and sang the refrain over and over with variations, until Isabel put her fingers in her ears and ran for the house. Suddenly the majestic form of Aunty Welcome appeared on the porch, and waved a dish towel at them.

“Ain’t dey nobody at all going to eat clam pie?” she called. “If you all don’t look like a mess ob turtles burrowing in de sand, den I miss my guess. And every one eating watermelon. Well, for de love ob cats! Miss Polly, don’t you know you’s going ter be so freckled dat you can’t find de jining places? You come on up out ob dat sand now, you hyar me?”

“Yes’m,” said Polly, meekly, and the rest trailed after her, for Aunty Welcome’s word was law on Lost Island.

After dinner the Vaughan girls had to return, but the others dressed and sat out on the steps, awaiting the Captain’s coming. The everyday suits of blue duck had been discarded, and they had dressed in festal array to honor the Captain. They were all in their best yachting suits of white duck, trimmed in dark blue, with dark blue reefer jackets, and caps to match. But before the trip was over, when the seas had swashed up merrily over the sloop, as she keeled over to the lee-shore, they wished they had worn the blue duck.

“What boat will he bring that can carry all of us?” asked Sue.

“Tom said the sloop,” answered Polly, as she sat up on the railing, and re-tied Crullers’ hair bows into a semblance of neatness and taste. “It belongs to the lighthouse keeper at the Point, but the Captain can borrow it whenever he wants, and it’s a sea-going craft.”

“Is it, indeed?” giggled Sue. “Girls, do you notice how Commodore Polly tosses around nautical phrases real careless-like nowadays?”

There hove into sight around the Knob, just then, the Captain and his sloop. Nancy and Tom were aboard too, and acting as able seamen.

“Polly, I’ll get your soap and potatoes and mail to-night,” shouted Tom, as they came within hail. “I saw Billy Clewen over at the Inlet with his tender, and I hopped in so as to meet father at the Point, and come on down.”

“That’s all right,” Polly responded. “Oh, girls, isn’t she handsome,” as they watched the sloop under the Captain’s handling. Steadily, easily, without any apparent fuss or bother, he brought her about, reefed her sails, and left her standing, as Tom said, quiet as a lamb, without a halter on.

“Who puts a halter on a lamb anyway, Tom?” teased Nancy. “Besides, the Lucy C. has a halter on. Didn’t you see me just drop it overboard? We can’t bring her up to the landing, Polly. She draws nine feet—”

“Seven,” corrected the Captain, as he smoked comfortably on his pet pipe, an old briarwood whose bowl was all charred from long usage. “And ten-foot beam.”

“How can we get aboard, then?” asked Polly.

“I’m coming after you in the ‘dink,’” Tom answered.

“Well, my land! If I ever see sech a top-heavy, lopsided thing,” murmured Aunty Welcome. “Is you all going to trust your precious lives out in mid ocean in sech a contrivance?”

“Don’t you fret one bit, not when we’re with Captain Carey,” Polly laughed as she waved her hand. The last girl stepped aboard, and the sails were hoisted. After the little spreads of canvas on their own boats, it seemed to the girls as if the sails of the Lucy C. were gigantic, but Tom and his father managed them trimly, and as the wind filled them, they struck out across the bay with a tilt to leeward that was delightful.

“Captain, do I walk with the right sort of roll?” asked Ted, her hands deep in her reefer pockets, her cap on the back of her red curls, as she stepped boldly out on the slanting deck. But the sloop dipped to a wave, and came up with a lurch, and Ted sat down with startling suddenness.

“Well, not quite,” the Captain answered from the wheel, his blue eyes twinkling. “You’d better get acquainted with her first. Now, you can’t get up and do a grand march along the deck of a driving sloop. It’s against all human nature and boat nature. You’ve got to sit tight, and mind the sloop, and follow her moods, and get ahead of them too. A sloop has got more moods than any boat I know of. A yawl is sort of divided in her ways, like a widow after her second husband. She’s got one before, and one behind, so to speak, and it steadies her a bit, but a sloop’s sails act in close sympathy, and when one of them starts acting kittenish, the rest follow suit.”

“How large is this one, Captain?” asked Ruth, holding to her cap, as the wind blew freshly around her.

“About forty foot, more or less. Her draught’s seven foot.”

“Why here we are to the channel already,” Polly sang out, as they slipped past Smugglers’ Cove, and could see the view out to sea around the Point. The doctor was sitting down on the landing fishing; fishing tranquilly, in his own way. There were lines hanging all around him, fastened to the planks with an invention of his own, by which a little bell rang every time a fish took the bait. Placidly he sat there, his hat tilted forward to shield his eyes, and a pile of magazines beside him betraying his real occupation. The girls called and called to him; at last he looked up and waved to them.

As they rounded the Point the wind freshened considerably. It was glorious to sail with the sharp bow cutting the water like a knife, and throwing up great clouds of spray that drenched the girls like an April shower as the head wind threw it back on them. Overhead the canvas tugged until the rigging sang a tune all its own.

Ted and Sue were singing at the tops of their voices, arms linked closely, backed up against what Crullers called “the high side of her.” The others joined in the choruses, except Polly, who stood beside the Captain at the wheel. There was a look in her dark eyes that matched his own, as she half closed them in the face of the wind, a look out at the open sea they both loved well. Once the Captain turned his head, and smiled down at her, as if to let her know he understood her feelings exactly, and he let her help with the jib several times, while he and Tom managed the main sail, and Nancy held her steady on her course at the little pilot wheel.

“It’s ever so much rougher out here than it is in the bay, isn’t it?” Isabel called faintly, but the wind drowned her voice, and she sat huddled up on a locker with her coat turned up around her ears, for all the world like a ship’s cat in a storm, Tom said.

Tarker’s Light was about five miles down the west shore towards Portland. The seas were longer and heavier than those on the bay, but the sloop rode them easily, and only shipped one big green fellow, as the Captain tacked south of the Light, and cut across back towards home. It splashed up over the deck house, and caught Isabel and the rest fairly, until they shrieked. Polly and Nancy escaped, for they were with the Captain, and they rounded the big bell buoy out in mid channel that clanked a warning note as if it had a cold in its head, Sue said.

It was after five when they came up to the Life Saving Station on the Point, and stood by handsomely while Billy Clewen, the keeper, came out in a dory and took off the girls.

“I’m thinking that I’ll send you home by the shore road, with Tom and a lantern,” said the Captain, as they walked up the beach towards the low wooden buildings that nestled among the great hummocks of sand at the Point. “I’m on the eight to twelve watch to-night, and I can walk a ways with you myself, but the wind’s dropped down with the sun, and there’ll hardly be a puff to carry you back by water.”

“How lonesome it looks out here,” said Polly, standing on one of the sand dunes, and gazing around her. The Point of the Sickle came down to what Tom called a mere “spit of sand.” There were few rocks out there, except for the reef that lay east of the channel, towards the east shore. On the Point there was just a long, low stretch of sand, with great circling combers flowing in ceaselessly, breaking one above another on the long, shallow shingle. Dark green they were underneath, then lighter, and lighter, as the sunlight shot them through with rainbow hues, and last of all the curling plumes of spray tossed on their crests.

“Isn’t it all pretty,” cried Ruth, her cheeks turning pink as she ran to Polly’s side. “Don’t you know some place in Kipling where he tells about the white horses of the sea? Oh, Polly, I love it all so. I never saw the real ocean before. I mean to stand on a shore, and look out and out and out on just waves, and know that there’s no land for a thousand miles.”

“Farther than that,” said Polly. “I think it’s beautiful.”

“So it is, so it is, now,” agreed the Captain, “but ’tain’t so pretty in the winter, when the ice piles up, and the sleet beats you half down to the ground, when you try to fight your way in its face.”

“Do you have to patrol all night long on the beach?” Polly asked, in her earnest, compassionate way.

“Well, no. We take it in watches. One watch leaves about sunset, and they travel two miles to the half-way house over yonder, and they meet the next watch, and so it goes through the night.”

“What’s the name of that queer light they carry around their necks?” asked Crullers. “It explodes, I think.”

“That’s the Coston light,” said the Captain. “I’ll show you some when we get inside the station. We don’t use them unless there’s a ship in danger at night. It’s to let the crew know they have been seen and help will be sent. There’s a spring you tap, and a percussion cap explodes that sets fire to the red light. Last spring, along the first of April, we got the tail end of a gale that had traveled all along the coast, and still had spunk enough to run a schooner on the reef yonder. We saw her beating her way down about sunset. Lumber boat she was, bound for Boston. I says then to Billy Clewen over at the Light that she’d never get by the Point. So we was looking out for her, but the crew were all Gloucester boys, and they wouldn’t give up till she’d struck fair and square.”

“Then what?” Polly’s dark, straight brows drew together anxiously. She looked out at the reef that showed its teeth about the incoming tide.

“We lost two of them,” said the Captain. “They was brothers, poor laddies. They came ashore two and a half miles below here. But we took off the rest.”

“Oh, I think it’s terrible, all the wrecks there are,” exclaimed Ruth, tensely. “Death seems so useless when it’s an accident.”

“Well, I’m thinking there ain’t anything that happens under the sun you can call useless,” rejoined the old sailor, placidly.

Polly began to sing, her voice rising clear and high on the breeze that blew up from the west, as the sun went down.

“Three fishers went sailing out into the west,
Out into the west as the sun went down,
Each thought on the woman who loved him the best,
And the children stood watching them out of the town.
For men must work and women must weep,
And there’s little to earn, and many to keep,
Though the harbor bar be moaning.”

“Oh, Polly, don’t, please,” cried Ruth and Isabel together. “It makes the cold chills run down your back.”

“Well, now, I never feel that way about it,” said the Captain, contentedly. “Our times are in His hands, do you mind? Our times are in His hands. Don’t you ever forget that. When I was a youngster like you girls and Tom here, I used to reason along those lines too, and I’d be hoping I’d die this way and that way, and I’d be wishing for a chariot and some angels. Well, now it rests me to feel that I’m going to tread the same gangway as the rest, and my Captain is counting on me to stand faithful to my articles. I’ve a pretty good notion this dying business isn’t so troublesome as folks think. I’ve picked up a good many poor lads along the shore, and not one of them looked worried. Some were sort of smiling. It’s real comforting, if you look at it sensibly.”

The girls remembered that sunset hour all their lives. There was nothing exciting about the quiet station, nor the lighthouse out on the Point, although they did find the keeper, Billy Clewen, very kind. He was a little old man about seventy-four, but everybody along the shore called him Billy Clewen. One thing that he told them the girls thought very pathetic. He said in bad weather the sea birds would see the light and would fly to it, and beat their lives out against the heavy glass, seeking shelter from a storm.

“Were you ever in danger out here, Mr. Clewen?” asked Isabel, whose mind always drifted towards romance.

“Just call me Billy, miss,” answered the old fellow, happily, as he followed them out into the neat garden, with its paling fence half buried in sand. “I can’t just say as I was, and I can’t just say as I wasn’t, nuther. It’s about ten years ago, and my wife was alive. Her father used to be lighthouse tender before I come here, and she was born in this house. And that winter I come down sick with pneumony. Pretty bad sick I was, too, pretty bad sick. Sally, she had to turn in and trim the lamps and see they was lighted up on time, and look after me besides, and she was sorter tangled up herself with sciatic rheumatiz, and if the ile didn’t give out on top of it all.”

“The what, Billy?” asked Crullers, innocently.

“Ile, ile, what we put into the lamps. Anyhow, I remembered it the last thing, and told her the boys at the station would help her. There was a nor’wester a-blowing round this Point that would have picked up an ocean liner, and played ball with it, and the snow a-banking up around us like sand dunes. I didn’t think Sally would weather it, but she started off. The fever had me tight, but I held my course and when it grew dark and no Sally, up I gets out of bed, and crept along on my hands and knees to the passageway that leads to the tower, and that’s where the Captain found me when he came to fill the lamps and light ’em up.”

“How did he know?” asked Polly, eagerly.

“He knew I was sick, and he was bringing me over some medicine Mis’ Carey fixed up for me, and he found Sarah in a drift, half-way between the Station and this here fence, half froze, but he had the ile, Lord bless your hearts, he had the ile, and he set the light burning.”

“Avast there, Billy,” shouted the Captain over his shoulder. “Are you spinning that there oil yarn to those poor children?”

“I am, Cap, I am,” laughed Billy. “And I’ll spin it to Saint Peter too, when I stop to rest a bit by the gates of pearl, if he’ll give me an ear, just to let him know you’re coming.”



It was dark when the girls reached the cottage on the island that night. They lingered at the Life Saving Station until the Captain ordered them home, and then Tom led the way with a lantern along the shore road. There was no moon, but the stars shone, and the wind had gone down, leaving the sea quiet, except for the long, lazy swells that brushed along the ocean beach to their left.

Once Tom paused at a rise in the ground and pointed away off to the south side of the Sickle where a light twinkled.

“That’s the half-way house,” he told them. “They have one every two miles along shore; the men meet there and exchange slips and pass on. I’ll be glad when I’m old enough to join.”

“Say, Polly,” exclaimed Ruth that night, as the girls sat around in the living-room, after they were undressed, combing their hair, and chatting girl fashion, “isn’t it queer that people who lead lives of danger never seem to think anything of it at all?”

Combing Their Hair and Chatting, Girl Fashion

“You’re never afraid of anything you know all about,” Kate put in. “It’s the unknown danger that scares you.”

“I mean firemen, and soldiers, and life-savers—”

“And mothers and fathers, and heroes generally,” put in Polly, as she sat on a sofa cushion, her long, brown curls falling loosely around her, and her pink kimono slipped on over her night gown, for the nights were always cool on the bay. “I know what you mean, Ruth. It’s because they have so much else to think about that they haven’t time to worry. Tom’s all ready to make a business of being a hero, and he doesn’t realize it is being a hero. He thinks it’s lots of fun.”

“Girls,” called out Sue from the table, where she was tracing strange figures on a sheet of paper, “does the course cut around this side of Smugglers’ Cove, or the Inlet side?”

“Inlet,” Polly replied. “It’s a straight line due northeast, then east by southeast for the channel.”

“Then we can see it better from our own porch than from the Orienta.”

“I know we can, but we’re going over to the Orienta, because grandfather will be there, we hope, and we want to be all mixed in with the really, truly yachtsmen.”

“It won’t matter the first day, Polly, because that’s for the largest boats. They are to sail on a fifteen-mile course, Dorothy says, out to sea, then zigzag back to Tarker’s Light, and along shore home. The second day is for thirty-footers and forty-footers, and they take the north shore run for eight miles and back. The third day is ours, the twenty-footers and under, and we are to sail right here in Eagle Bay, from the club to the Point, and across the bay to the mouth of the Inlet, then back on the two-mile stretch to Fair Havens.”

“It’s more than two miles from the Inlet to Fair Havens,” protested Crullers.

“No, it isn’t,” said Polly. “Nancy and I have sailed it often. It’s a longer stretch from the club house to the Point by a mile, than it is from Fair Havens to the Inlet, because the Sickle runs away out into the sea, don’t you know.”

“How many of us are going to enter for the Junior Cup?” Kate asked.

Polly looked around her at the assembled group. Isabel and Crullers preserved a dignified silence. Ruth hesitated, pondering many things. Only Sue and Ted and Kate said positively that they would enter the race for twenty-footers and under; Sue with the Patsy D., Ted with the Hurricane, and Kate with her skip-jack, the Witch Cat.

“Nancy’s going to enter the Pirate,” Polly said. “And I will sail the Tidy Jane! How about you, Ruth?”

“Polly, I don’t honestly think I had better go into the race. I can’t manage the Iris well enough to race her, and I’ll be sure to get into somebody’s way if they don’t succeed in getting into mine first.”

“No, you won’t, Grandma. Stop your fussing,” laughed Polly. “You can sail a boat as well as any of us, and it’s lots of fun. Dorothy says we will be the only outsiders in that class, the rest are Juniors from the Orienta.”

“Boys?” Ruth’s tone was ominous.

“I don’t know whether they will be boys or pollywogs,” said Polly, her eyes full of mischief. “Who’s afraid, anyway? I’d just as soon race against boys as girls.”

“No boys in the twenty-footer class,” called Kate.

“How do you know?”

“I asked Tom. The only boys’ yacht club around here is the Pautipaug Beach Club, about five miles east, and they never race, he says. All they do is fish, and camp out, and slosh around shore.”

“What’s that?” asked Polly.

“I don’t know. Tom called it that. He says they hoist a sail, and lash the tiller, and then go to sleep.”

“Well, that’s only one of Tom’s yarns, but just the same I think that is all most yacht clubs do, ‘slosh around shore.’” Polly’s tone was full of fine, ringing scorn.

“But, Polly, there are five or six girls from the Orienta Juniors, and we’ll have to race against them.”

“All the more fun,” responded the Commodore with true sportsmanlike generosity. “I do hope that grandfather will come north so he can see it.”

“And watch us win,” added Sue.

“Oh, you may laugh,” persisted Polly, happily, “but I can’t see why one of us shouldn’t win. We can sail our boats every bit as well as Dorothy and Bess, or any Orienta girl. Nancy is the only one who can beat us, and I’d just as soon she did, if it had to be somebody. It would be for the glory of our club anyway, if she did. Week after next, children, nine days, to be accurate, as Fraulein used to say, is the event, and we must clean up our old hulls, and get in line, and practise along the course. It means work, every single day, with our sleeves rolled up.”

“Well, I am not going to race,” Isabel said, decidedly. “I want to finish my shell portìere before we go home, and fix up my collection, and it’s too hard work.”

“I’d like to race, but I’m afraid to,” Crullers put in, dubiously. “Polly, I just can’t.”

“Well, don’t then,” said Polly, cheerfully. “You two can be our rocking-chair fleet. There’s always one in every club. You may sit up here and enjoy the view with Aunty Welcome.”

The following days were the busiest that Lost Island had seen that summer. Tom and Nancy came over every morning, after their own work was done, advising and assisting. Dorothy and Bess were enthusiastic over the Junior event. There were more entries for it than ever before, Commodore Vaughan said, and they were all girls. Every afternoon the graceful little “cats” and knockabouts, yawls and skipjacks, sailed on the bay, and it looked as if Nancy and Dorothy had the best showing, for theirs were the largest boats.

The course was neither difficult nor dangerous in any way, and providing the weather and wind held fair, the race was bound to be a spirited one, for it would be a straight away run.

One day they all went over to the Orienta Club to look at the trophy the winner of the Junior event would bear away. It was an exact reproduction of the large Championship Cup the Orienta Club had held for several years. The cup stood about eight inches high, lined with gold, and shaped like a chalice, the outer side was of richly chased silver, and engraved.

“I like that very much,” Polly remarked, critically, as she scrutinized the workmanship on it. “Don’t you remember, Ruth, the summer we went down to Old Point Comfort with grandfather and saw the regatta? I went on the committee boat that day, and followed the race. But the cup didn’t look like a cup at all. It looked more like a silver ice-water pitcher.”

“Maybe it was a flagon,” Kate said meditatively. “Did it have a beak, and a handle?”

“Two handles,” Polly returned, “and a large curved beak, and a cover to it like a syrup jug. And yet they called it a cup.”

“This one has two handles, look, Polly,” said Ted. “I like it that way.”

“So do I,” said Sue. “I shall enjoy drinking the Patsy D.’s health in it with Aunty Welcome’s fruit lemonade after the race is won.”

“Listen to her, Polly. As if her old Patsy had any chance at all against my Hurricane.”

Sue smiled, and slipped her arm through Ted’s.

“Bide a wee, Edwina,” she laughed. “I’ll let you drink out of it first of all.”

The day before the regatta was an exciting one on Eagle Bay. Sometime the night before the Adventure dropped anchor, and the first object the girls beheld the following morning was the slender, low yacht, with her great uplift of spars and white-clad sailors running about the deck.

“She’s won ever so many cups,” Dorothy said, as they watched her through opera glasses, which Polly had thought to slip in with her equipment. “They stand all in a long row on her cabin sideboard. And she’s worth over fifty thousand dollars. When I told papa I thought that was too much to pay for a yacht, he laughed at me and said some steam yachts cost as much as that just to keep traveling for a year.”

“There comes another one around the Point,” called Ted. “That’s a yawl, isn’t it?”

“Auxiliary yawl,” corrected Dorothy. “How queer her sails look from here, the big mainsail, and topsail, and the jib, and then that funny spread down near the end. Makes me think of a cat and her kitten. But wait till the sloops arrive. I like them the best. They are so stately and slender, and when they sail under full canvas they dip to the wind like gulls.”

Polly had hesitated over putting fresh coats of paint on the Tidy Jane, and the Iris. The other boats were in fairly good order, for Tom and his father had repainted them early in the spring for the Holmes boys. But that final week before the event, Polly painted and caulked seams, and overhauled with an energy and vim that made even Tom remonstrate.

“Now you mind what I tell you, it won’t make them go a bit faster, not a bit,” he grumbled, when Polly coaxed him to help them fix a dry dock.

“Oh, but Tom, they’ll look so handsome,” pleaded Polly. “I’m going to run a beautiful dark blue belt ribbon of paint around the Tidy Jane, and then, under strained circumstances—”

“Now, see here,” Tom crawled laboriously out from under the Jane, a paint pot in one hand and a brush in the other, “you can strain all the circumstances you want, but she won’t go a bit faster.”

The girls broke into a peal of laughter at him, but Tom stolidly refused to see anything funny in the whole proceeding and went on painting reluctantly.

But it paid, even the Captain said so the last day, when he came over on a tour of inspection, and approved of the Polly Page Club’s racers, clean and trim as paint and polish could make them.

“Aren’t they handsome?” asked Polly, proudly, as she stood beside him on the landing, and surveyed the fleet.

“Fine and dandy,” echoed the Captain, heartily. “If they act as saucy as they look, there won’t be a running chance for any other boat on the bay. You want to look out for the Jane, mind. Don’t give her her head. She’s a smart one, now, I tell you. I never let her find out she could get the best of me, but she was always a-trying. Make her feel your hand steady on the tiller, every minute, or she’ll bolt like a wild thing. And when she takes a notion to tilt on her beam end in a good puff of wind, why, let her tilt. She can’t do a mite of harm, not a mite. I’ve had her out when the seas would skip clean over her, and half fill the cockpit, and she’d tilt till she’d lift her centerboard out of the water. Yes, ma’am. And what did I do? Just patted her down easy, and let her drift off a bit to leeward till the wind spilled out of her sail, and when she came about again, she’d right herself like a lady and walk on.”

Polly nodded comprehendingly.

“I know how she acts,” she said. “And that’s just the way I feel about her, too, Captain Carey, as if she were alive, and could almost understand what I say to her.”

“Well, it’s something plain humans can’t know about,” the Captain answered, in his slow, restful, philosophic way. “Every boat on the face of the waters has got just as much personality as you or I, and they’ve got dispositions too. I’ve shipped before now on vessels that you couldn’t make behave themselves any more’n you could harness up a porpoise to a plough. Then I’ve shipped on bashful, nervous creeturs of boats, that would dance and shiver their timbers from one beam end to another, for all the world like some old woman. There was a three-master out of Martha’s Vineyard when I was a lad. She carried various articles of trade along the west coast of Africa, and she was the skeeriest thing I ever sailed on. She had her favorites among the crew too, mind you. I’ve seen her fairly tremble and waver when the pilot for the day would take hold of her. He was a big, slow chap from a place called Noank down on the Connecticut shore. Name was Shad Hardy, and it suited him. He had the identical expression of a shad. I was on night duty then at the wheel, and the minute she’d feel my hand on the spokes, she was like a lamb. I’d speak to her, and steady her up a bit, and she’d march along in the wind, like a grenadier to band music. I always did say it wa’n’t no use trying to make a ship like you, when it had made up its mind it wouldn’t. They’re the notioniest things alive, ’cepting females, and I sometimes think that’s why some discerning seaman called a boat ‘she’ and set public opinion that way.”

“Oh, Captain, when you know how nice we are, and how we mind you,” rebuked Polly. “Just wait till to-morrow.”

“The Junior race won’t come off till the third day Tom tells me,” the Captain answered. “And that makes me think.” He dipped into his jacket pocket, and pulled forth neat rolls of twine and lines, a pouch of tobacco, and some keys. “They just gave me a telegram for you over at the hotel. Here ’tis. No, ’tain’t. Avast there, maybe it’s down below. Nancy and mother told me not to give it to you sudden, for fear it might be bad news.”

“Oh, I don’t think it is,” Polly said, hopefully. She never went out and opened the gate for trouble, not Polly.

The Captain drew forth the yellow envelope gingerly.

“I wouldn’t open it in too big a hurry, anyway,” he warned. “Better take such matters pretty easy. I’m suspicious of the pesky things every time I see one. I never got one yet that told me any good news. It always plumps you full of bad surprises, all to once.”

“Well, this is good news,” Polly cried, as she glanced over the sheet of paper. “It’s from grandfather, and he’ll be here to-morrow, and stay for regatta week, then take us home with him! Let’s see, from the fifteenth to the twenty-second is the regatta, then allowing four days down the coast we’ll get to Queen’s Ferry just in time to rest up before school opens.”

The Captain’s eyes twinkled under their bushy brows.

“I shall have to hand in a true and faithful report if the Admiral asks me for one,” he said.

“Oh, but we’ve been good, haven’t we, Captain Carey?”

“Fair to middlin’, fair to middlin’,” laughed the old sailor, as he started down the beach, and Polly ran up to the house to break the news to the other girls.



There was an air of excitement and activity about Eagle Bay the following morning. All summer long it had been a quiet inlet of the great Atlantic. When the long breakers would come surging in on the south shore of the Sickle, half a mile over on its north shore there would hardly be a ripple on the bay. Up at the east end of course, near the Point, the heavy seas would come racing through the channel, but before they had gone far, the bay had caught them and soothed them, and all their fury died away in her placid arms.

But when the sun rose on the fifteenth of August, all along the bay there was a holiday look to things. The weather was splendid, not too warm nor too windy, but just right, the girls declared, as they all trouped out on the porch before breakfast, with various “envelopes” around them, as Crullers expressed it, to take a look at the scene. The hotel flaunted flags wherever a flag could be placed to advantage, and all along the beach, the cottages had out bunting and flags too. At the landing at Fair Havens, one huge flag was unfurled with dignity to the morning breeze.

“Oh, dear, I wish we had thought to buy a lot of flags too,” cried Isabel.

“There’s a whole week of it,” Polly answered. “We can buy them to-day over in the village. Don’t worry over anything at all, girls. Let’s be just as happy as we can while it lasts.”

Twelve large yachts they counted, besides several steam launches, motor boats, and smaller sailing craft. From the rigging of every one of them fluttered gay strings of small flags, and Polly finally ran down to their own flag pole and raised the blue and gold pennant of which the girls were so proud.

“Before the week is over, girls,” cried Kate, waving her towel at it joyously, as she came out on the porch after her bath, clad in her bathrobe, “every boat on the bay will know and respect that flag.”

The Commodore had sent over a cordial invitation for them to be the guests of the Orienta whenever they felt like it during regatta week. Polly hardly knew what to say about it. The best view of the course could be had from Lost Island, but the girls wanted to go to the big club house and “strut,” as Sue said.

“You’re a lot of vain bluejays,” Polly declared laughingly. “All you want to do is dress up in your best yachting suits, and go over there and be petted. I know you all.”

“Oh, Polly, come on. We haven’t been petted much this summer, have we?” pleaded Ted. “We’ve stayed right here and worked like able seamen, you know we have. Mayn’t we tie on our best hair ribbons now and go and eat ice cream, please?”

“Please, Commodore,” echoed Kate and Ruth, laughingly, and the Commodore finally agreed.

“I think we’d better start by half-past eight, girls,” she said, as she sat in the hammock and deliberately brushed out her brown curls.

“Say, Polly, suppose somebody over on the yachts had field glasses, and could see you?” questioned Isabel.

“See me? Look at Kate clad in a bath robe of bright blue Turkish toweling. Look at Crullers with a red shawl draped artistically over her nightgown. I move we all adjourn out of sight.”

Aunty Welcome’s turbaned head appeared at the kitchen door, as they all trooped back into the living-room.

“Has you all been out on dat porch in your nightgowns?” she asked, ominously. “Well, I did think I might make a Spanish omelet for breakfast, but now you don’t get it.”

“Oh, please, darling, precious Aunty—” began Polly, who loved Spanish omelet, but Welcome held firmly to her point.

“No, ma’am. It’s de only power I got over you all, and if you don’t behave, I won’t cook nice things for you. Oatmeal and boiled eggs is what you’ll get.”

“Let’s hurry and dress, girls, and maybe she will.” Polly curled her hair over her finger quickly, and tied the cluster with a soft satin ribbon. “Grandfather arrives at Eastport on the nine forty-five train from Portland, and I want to be there to meet him. So I think you girls can all go up on the Orienta veranda and watch the start, and we can join you there.”

“There won’t be any start before noon,” Kate answered. “Why can’t we all meet the Admiral at Eastport and let everybody else know we are meeting him. It’s an event for a little place like Eastport to catch a real Rear-Admiral even if he is on the retired list, and we must let the town know its honor. Let’s all carry blue and gold flags, and dress up in our best, and salute him in state when the train pulls in.”

Polly enjoyed the plan, and they hurried with their dressing, then walked out sedately into the little room that served as a dining-room. Welcome’s face was immobile and unrelenting, but on the table there were neither boiled eggs nor oatmeal. Crullers saw, and gave one glad cry.

“Girls, waffles!”

Now waffles are usually merely an adjunct to a full meal, but not Welcome’s waffles. There was no room for other food. The girls ate waffles with butter and sugar on them, and then waffles with honey on them, then Polly tried some maple syrup, and Sue hunted up the strawberry jam jar, and Ruth appeared with some marmalade.

“’Deed, an’ I nevah see sech appetites,” Welcome declared, her indignation forgotten, as she stood over the cookstove, and guarded the waffle iron, her old face smiling broadly. “Dat’s jest sixty-nine I done cooked dis yere morning for you all, and I don’t see whar you puts ’em, chillern.”

“It’s your own fault, Aunty,” Polly declared. “You make them so light and nice, that when we eat them, they just evaporate.”

“Listen to her get ’round her mammy,” Welcome’s fat sides shook with laughter, as she ladled out more. “Hyar goes seventy-one.”

Tom had agreed to drive over after them in the carry-all. Polly’s orders had gone forth, and not a single boat was to be taken out on the bay until the Junior race. She wanted them spick and span for the event of the regatta, and even Dorothy and Bess’s boat, the Nixie, looked weather-beaten beside the newly painted challengers of the Junior Cup.

“Who are the judges, Kate?” asked Ted, as they drove along the shore road towards town. It had been a matter for calculation to get seven girls into the carry-all besides the driver, but some way it had happened. There was room for four people, and under pressure, five, but when they picked up Nancy too, down at Fair Havens, there were nine aboard, and the colts moderated their pace. Tom’s special pride in life, next to his hope of being a life saver, was the colts. Sorrels they were, and almost a perfect match to Ted’s red curls. The Captain had owned them twelve years, and they had grown up with the children, so they still called them the “colts.” And they had traveled that shore road so often during those twelve years that the Captain declared he shouldn’t be at all surprised to see them walk out of their stalls, harness each other up, and start off alone at any time. As the two trotted along the shore road together, they scattered a cloud of dust behind, and their short manes caught the breeze like a t’gallant peak flag, Tom said.

It was the first time the girls had all been to Eastport since their arrival at Eagle Bay. It lay about two miles from the club house on Orienta Point, and a quarter of a mile up the Inlet. A big lumber mill off to one end of town hummed its song lazily. You could tell just what the saw was doing from the tone, Sue said. First the sharp hiss as it cut the bark, then a gradually rising buzz and hum, till there came the crack as it fell apart. Off to the other side of the village lay the railroad station. There were half a dozen buildings around the central square of green, some low white houses, with their green blinds tightly closed, and little garden patches out in front filled with sweet-scented old-fashioned flowers.

“I was born over yonder,” Tom told them, pointing his whip at a little house next the white church that occupied the north end of the green. “So was Pa, and his Pa too, but now my Aunt Cynthy Bardwell lives there. She’s got the finest rose garden in Eastport, and all the summer folks come down here to buy her roses. She’s Pa’s only sister, and her husband was a captain too, sailed a schooner up to the Gulf every year for over forty years, and fell off the dock down here one day loading ties.”

“Doing what, Tom?” asked Polly, anxiously, as they stopped.

“Loading railroad ties from the saw mill yonder, to carry south. He was just visiting around the docks and saw a tie slip into the river, and it knocked off a little chap with it, Dicky Button, it was, and Uncle Bardwell went in after him, and just then a boat come along, and her swell swashed the schooner up against the dock, and when they got him out he was dead, but Dicky’s alive.”

The girls listened and made up their minds they wanted to see the rose garden then and there. It was only nine, Polly said, and the train couldn’t possibly get through the village without everybody knowing it was there. So Tom tied the colts to the hitching post, and they went in to call on Mrs. Cynthy Bardwell.

Ruth started to walk up the front path, but Tom told her they had better go around to the back door, so they followed him obediently along the graveled path, bordered neatly with clam shells turned face downward in the mould. Then came “old hen and chickens,” as Kate called them, mignonette, sweet alyssium, marigolds, and pansies. And in the center of each bed there rose up stocks, pink and white, and so fragrant and lovable, that the girls begged for some at once.

“Well, I do declare!” exclaimed a sweet, friendly voice so near to them they nearly jumped. “I’m right here at the buttery window, girls, and I saw you and Tom coming. Wait a minute till I change my apron.”

“It gave me quite a turn to see such a lot of youngsters in my garden so early,” she told them, when she appeared, tying the strings of her apron as she talked. “Come and see my roses.”

It seemed as if nothing but roses grew in that long back garden, shaded with horse chestnut trees, excepting the tall lilac bushes along the fence and the lilies of the valley that grew thickly on the ground beneath them.

“They’ve gone by long ago,” Mrs. Bardwell said, “but they’re real sweet in the spring.”

On the white and green trellis work above the kitchen portico, a crimson rambler climbed sturdily to the “ell” roof. A sweetbrier hung over the gate, with little white roses nearly gone. Then there were bushes of old-fashioned blush roses, so delicately pink and sweet that Polly declared all she could think of was her grandmother’s wedding chest at home, with its flat silk bags of dried rose leaves, still heavy with fragrance from roses that had bloomed half a century ago.

“Yes, they’re sweet, but I have a leaning towards the white brides,” said Mrs. Bardwell, moving from bush to bush like a white bride herself, with her silver white curls, pink cheeks, and fresh white apron. “And the bees love them best too. They’re all gone by, now. I can generally count on them along in June. The crimson rambler’s real hardy, but it’s beginning now to shake its petals. I suppose you folks down south have roses so much you hardly appreciate them, but we love them. Summer’s kind of late up here, and I’ve had roses for my table clear to the end of August. These here were American Beauties. I never tried them before this year, but a man come along last fall and sorter talked me into taking them, and they did bloom up real sightly, but terrible thorny. This bush I raised from a slip my mother gave me the day I was married. It’s a cabbage rose. ’Tain’t a pretty name, but I love the bush, and the flower too. It looks more like a lot of little rosebuds all clustered together than just one flower, don’t it? There’s moss roses down in that corner by the fence, but they went by last month too. These here, they call them Gloriana Wonders. I always feel like shaking them same as you would a child that won’t behave. They bloom all to once, and just open up their whole hearts in a day, and the wind blows them to Halifax.” She laughed happily, touching the leaves with tender, lingering fingers as you would the flushed cheek of a baby. “I suppose I’m foolish over them, but they’re all I’ve got to love and care for now. I used to have five babies of my own, and they’re all lying over yonder around their father, the Captain, in the little cemetery across from the lighthouse, on the east shore.”

“We haven’t been there yet,” Polly said, her dark eyes full of sympathy, as she held the flowers that Aunt Cynthy clipped steadily while she talked.

“Haven’t you? It’s real int’restin’,” answered the old lady cheerily. “I like it better, somehow, than the new one down by the church. That was built recently, thirty years ago, wasn’t it, Tom? The old one goes back long before that, and I want to lie there, even if the graves be half sunken, and some of the stones lopsided. I guess they sleep the long sleep just as well. I had father and the children buried sorter opposite from the way other folks do. I didn’t p’int them to the east and the sunrise. I p’inted them due west, so they can look straight out over the bay from the east shore of the channel. I know that’s the way they would have liked it best. These here tea roses are real sweet and friendly, don’t you think so? and lasting, too.”

“I think the whole garden is lovely,” cried Polly. “I just wish I could reach out and hug them all. Seems as if I never saw such a garden before.”

“Well, flowers are like children and friends. Give ’em love and care, and plenty of fresh water, and they’ll love you back a hundred-fold. Stop in any time, girls. Tom and Nancy are over every day or so, and they always come to see me. I was born to mother something, and as long as the dear Lord saw fit to gather my babies in his arms, I have to mother the roses, and all the other babies, little and big, that come to my garden, don’t you see?”

“Isn’t she a darling?” exclaimed Ruth, when they finally left the little white cottage, and started over to the depot. Polly had coaxed and coaxed until she had prevailed, and Mrs. Bardwell had promised to go back with them to watch the races. The carry-all and its capacity had been argued over, until Polly said the Admiral could get one of the village teams and take Kate and Ruth with him.

Polly buried her nose in her bouquet, and just smiled and sighed all at once.

“I’m too full for utterance, as Crullers says after dinner,” she laughed. “But there’s one thing certain. I am coming back to that white cottage again. Wait till we see Aunty Welcome’s face when she smells these late roses. She was saying only yesterday that the only thing she was homesick for were the roses at Glenwood. Listen. Oh, girls, there’s the train whistle!”

She forgot everything except the dear grandfather who was on that train, and before the rest could catch up with her, she started on a run towards the little red station. It was an excursion train from Portland, one that connected with the southern expresses and came up to Eastport in honor of the regatta. Polly stood up on a wooden box near the express office, and watched the outpouring of the crowds, men, women, and children, all bearing lunch boxes, and all dressed in holiday and outing clothes. But she could not see the Admiral anywhere. Finally, somebody put an arm around her very quietly, and she turned to find the Admiral smiling down on her.

“Oh, you dear, you precious old dear,” cried Polly, as she nearly strangled him with her strong, young embrace. “I never even saw you leave the train and I watched everyone.”

“Didn’t you see me riding on the engine so I’d be the first one off?” the Admiral asked, teasingly, as he pinched her cheek. “I was up forward in the smoker, mate. Where did you collect those freckles? Where are all the other girls?”

“Here we are, sir,” Sue exclaimed, as they came up, breathlessly. “Polly wouldn’t wait for us. She wanted to meet you first of all, so we let her.”

“Let me?” repeated Polly, but the girls wouldn’t allow her to finish.

“You don’t know how she orders us around,” Ruth added.

“Does she?” The Admiral leaned back his head, and laughed in his deep, hearty fashion. “And I am afraid I cannot do a thing about it. She’s the Commodore, you understand, and if I had my choice between a kingship and a commodore’s berth, for real sovereignty, I’d choose the berth. Where’s the Doctor?”

The girls caught their breath, and their eyes fairly shone with interest and subdued excitement. Polly laid her hands on the Admiral’s shoulders.

“Grandfather dear,” she exclaimed, solemnly, “do you know him?”

“Oh, but he’s a smuggler,” added Ted, mischievously. “He’s just disguised as a doctor of something.”

“And he’s addicted to orange marmalade something terrible, Aunty Welcome says,” Kate put in.

“But he’s got the finest Chili sauce over in the cave you ever tasted, grandfather,” Polly concluded.

“Now, wait one moment, and let me catch my breath.” The Admiral put out his hands to defend himself, as the girls all clustered around him, each one eager to tell about the mystery of Smugglers’ Isle. “I mean Penrhyn Parmelee Smith of Washington, D. C.”

“So do we,” came a united and positive chorus, “Washington, D. C., and Eagle Bay. He lives right next door to us in a cave on an island.”

“God bless my heart and soul,” exclaimed the Admiral, and he took off his glasses to wipe them, as he always did when he was startled. “I am sure I have never been surprised but twice in twenty years. Once when Welcome marched forcibly into my study and placed this person with the freckles in my arms, and again to-day. And yet it may be true. It is quite like Penrhyn to do such a thing. For a man in his sixty-sixth year he is the most irresponsible, child-like creature I ever knew. Polly, did you say orange marmalade?”

Polly nodded her head emphatically.

“He’s had six jars out of the ten we brought with us,” she replied, solemnly. “Aunty declares it can’t hurt him one bit, but we don’t believe he eats it himself. We think he uses it as bait to catch—what is it, girls?”

“Polypi,” supplemented Ruth. “Polypi.”

More than one in the holiday crowd turned at the hearty laugh that broke from the group around the stately old Admiral. And suddenly the girls saw a figure approaching, whose white suit of flannel and white yachting cap, they recognized at once.

“Admiral,” the Doctor fairly beamed as he put out his hand. “I salute you.” He smiled his slow, dry smile that only drew down the corners of his mouth, and stretched his dimples more, Polly declared. The Admiral gripped his hand warmly.

“Polly, my dear, we went to college together,” he exclaimed. “Didn’t we, Penny? Some day when you girls meet one another, and have grandchildren beside you, perhaps you’ll look back and understand how we two old fellows feel this minute; eh, Doctor? I think if I took a deep breath I could give the grand old yell yet.”

“Don’t,” cautioned the Doctor. “It won’t do in Eastport. Polly would hand us over to the authorities without a qualm. You don’t know how she rules us.”

“Oh, yes, I do,” said the Admiral, merrily. “I’ve heard reports of it already.”

The Doctor’s eyebrows lifted.

“Marmalade?” he queried, as he took Polly by one arm, and guided her deftly through the crowd, the rest following. “I have to eat it, to keep in their good graces.”

“You shall not have another jar after that,” Polly cried, severely. “Wait till I tell Aunty Welcome. Where’s Tom with our carry-all? Oh, I see him, over under the horse chestnuts at Aunt Cynthy’s.”

“Aunt Cynthy, Polly?” asked the Admiral. “Who is the lady?”

“She’s the mother of the roses,” Polly told him, mysteriously, as she raised her bouquet for him to catch a whiff of its fragrance. “Tom’s aunt. And she’s going back to the Orienta with us to watch the races. Now, the carry-all won’t carry all, at all. It will just about carry seven people.”

“I have a conveyance here some place,” spoke up the Doctor. “At least I did have. I can take two with me. Wait just one minute.”

He disappeared around the corner, and came back driving a trim top carriage.

“It’s the hotel keeper’s,” he told them. “I didn’t know these children were coming to meet you in state, so I plotted to carry you off myself. Now, I think I had best take Mrs. Bardwell with me, and the thinnest one of the girls.”

“Thinnest!” exclaimed Sue. “Thinnest! You won’t find any thin people in this club after six weeks on Lost Island. Crullers, won’t you please ride with the Doctor, just as a matter of revenge?”

And Crullers, whose one strong point was her weight, agreed willingly to share the seat with the doctor and Mrs. Bardwell.

It was a gay ride back along the bay shore road. The Doctor was an old acquaintance of Aunt Cynthy’s, for he loved flowers and had often stopped on his way to the post-office to look at her garden and chat awhile over the white cross-bar fence.

When they arrived at the club house, the whole place seemed filled with people. All of the summer colony had turned out in state to do honor to the regatta, as well as the visitors. Up in the balcony that overhung the bay, a band played, and the view out on the water was one the girls never forgot all their lives.

After they had greeted the Commodore and Mrs. Vaughan, they found chairs at a good angle of vision, and established themselves around Aunt Cynthy as chaperon, while the Doctor and Admiral Page went out on the committee boat.

The bay was brilliant in the sparkling morning sunshine. It was a perfect day. Crullers said the sky looked higher than usual, and the clouds drifted lazily up from the southwest. The great sails were hoisted, and curved out in great white swells, as the wind filled them. Orders rang out sharply, as the white-clad sailors ran here and there, and finally the start was made at 11:02 sharp. One after another, eight yachts dipped to the wind, crossed the imaginary line of starting, and the fifteen-mile race was on.

“Oh, Polly, just think how we shall feel when we start like that,” exclaimed Sue, excitedly. “Just look at the spread of canvas on that last sloop. All I can think of is a sheet tacked to a shingle, by way of comparison. Polly, Polly, watch her keel over as she catches the wash from the others. Oh, isn’t it glorious!”

“Don’t gush so, child,” said Aunt Cynthy, placidly. “No sailor talks that way at all. But ’tis a sightly lot of sail boats, and no mistake. What’s the name of that last one?”

Dorothy leaned over her chair, happy and proud.

“That’s my father’s sloop, the Adventure,” she replied. “Mamma is with him. They are waving to us, don’t you see?”

“And she’s the only lady in the race,” added Bess, her eyes full of love and pleasure. “She loves it the same as we do.”

Polly leaned eagerly forward over the railing. She had handed the glasses to Kate and Isabel. Her cap was off, and the breeze blew her curls back from her forehead. Her lips were half parted, and her eyes shining like stars as she watched the stately yachts cross the bay, and make for the open channel to the sea.

“I don’t see how they can sail with a southerly wind,” Ted said. “Aren’t they going to tack south as soon as they strike the ocean?”

“Well, we’re facing more southeast, than south, aren’t we, Polly?” Ruth asked with one eye on the sun.

“Girls,” breathed Polly, tensely. “I don’t care a rap how we’re facing. Watch the race, and stop your talking.”

“Spoken like a true sailor,” Aunt Cynthy echoed, warmly, and they all turned to the railing to watch the yachts as one by one they slipped through the channel, and the race was really on.



It was late in the afternoon before the first sails of the returning fleet appeared in the channel. All day long the girls had been honored guests of the Orienta Club, and had enjoyed themselves thoroughly. Although both Mrs. Vaughan and the Commodore were away on board the Adventure, the other members and their wives had all heard about the yacht club over on Lost Island, and were happy to meet the girls, and see that they had a pleasant day of it.

“I think,” said Mrs. Allison, the chairman of the reception committee for regatta week, “I think it would be nice for you to meet your competitors in the race, the girls of the Junior Club. Let me see how it can be best managed? There are six, no, eight, in your club, and nine in the Juniors. Dorothy, will you just press that button behind you, dear?” She smiled around at the circle of interested faces. “We will call the club steward, and you may have a luncheon all by yourselves and get acquainted.”

So it was arranged. Instead of the “girl element,” as the Doctor laughingly dubbed the rival clubs, eating luncheon in the large dining-hall with the other guests and members, they were given one of the smaller side rooms all to themselves.

Dorothy and Bess acted as official hostesses, and there was a great cluster of red and white carnations in a cut glass bowl for a centerpiece, as red and white were the Orienta colors. Besides the Vaughan girls, there were seven others, all daughters of club members, and a delightful lot of girls, the rest decided.

“Only five of us are going to race, though,” said Connie Evans. “This is my first year at the seashore. We always go up to the Adirondacks. Father has a lodge up there, and it seems so strange not to be closed in by the mountains. I never sailed a yacht until this season, and mine is just a ‘cat’ with one sail.”

“Most of us have catboats,” replied Polly, reassuringly. “Mine is a ‘cat,’ too, and it is our first season with boats, so you need not be afraid of racing against experts. I think it will be lots of fun. Can you all swim?”

“No, we can’t, not one,” Bess declared. “We’ve been sand bathers this summer, mamma says, and haven’t been in at all above our shoulders. But I don’t think anything will happen, do you, Polly?”

“Polly believes that prevention is earth’s first law,” laughed Kate, as she saw Polly shake her head doubtfully. “You had best put a lot of buoys and life preservers in your boats.”

“What time would they have to put them on,” demanded Sue, “if they just dropped into the water? I think it would be a good idea if we wore belts like acrobats when they are training, with a ring in the back, and a rope fastened to it. Then if we fell over all we would have to do would be to hold on to the rope and be hauled in.”

“They say one of the men from the Station is to be on guard at the pier all day, and they will watch from the Point too.”

“That’s all right,” Crullers broke in, wistfully, “but if you fall overboard, you’ll swallow salt water enough to drown ten cats, before they have time to get to you; I know from experience.”

“Let’s not even think it may happen,” said Polly, happily. “Dorothy, couldn’t we have the Cup on the table just as a reminder?”

Dorothy thought perhaps they might, and after a consultation with the steward the Junior Cup was borne in state into the room, and set in the place of honor at the head of the table between Dorothy and Polly, the two commodores.

“Day after to-morrow,” said Sue, thoughtfully regarding it, “I shall go home with that under my arm.”

“Listen to her, girls,” Kate cried. “And remember what I prophesy. The Patsy D. will finish fifth, while the Witch Cat glides over the line first.”

Polly said nothing. From her seat beside Dorothy, she looked at the beautiful silver cup and thought of the race. She had said she was a good sportsman, as the Admiral wished her to be, and she was sure she could see the Cup go to the best yacht without any feeling of envy, but she almost wished there might have been nine consolation prizes, for something seemed to tell her that the Pirate would be the winner. There was something different about Tom’s big knockabout, and the daring way that Nancy sailed her, that left the other boats out in the cold. Nancy knew the bay well. She was used to every ripple on it, every turn of the tide, every breath of wind, every mood and whim that passed over it like cloud shadows. And she knew, too, the trim, slender boat as she might some live, tamed animal that loved her. The Cup would mean a great deal more to her than to the other girls. Most of them came from well-to-do families, and they themselves were happy, normal city-bred girls, who had had plenty of amusement and novelty in their lives, while Nancy had spent all of hers in the little gray cottage that listed to leeward on Fair Havens’ beach. She had never even been inside the Orienta until the girls took her with them, and now that she was there and had a chance of winning the Cup, she seemed like another girl. While the rest chatted and laughed, she sat quietly by, but Polly caught her glance now and then, and the quick, wistful smile, and she knew what she was thinking about. Once, when Dorothy rose to make a little speech, Polly closed her eyes for a second, in a half-expressed prayer that if it were right for Nancy to win the race, she herself might be willing and glad to have her.

“But you’re not,” she told herself, after the luncheon, when they all went down to the beach to walk and pass the time. Her chin was raised, her brown eyes troubled, but she smiled in the old bright way, and laughed with the rest, even while she thought: “You’re not glad, Polly Page, that Nancy has even a little bit of a chance against the Tidy Jane, and you want the Cup with all your heart, and you know perfectly well that if Nancy were not in the race, you could win it.”

“Polly, you look just like the Winged Victory with the wind blowing back your hair and dress that way,” called Ruth.

“I wouldn’t allow such a comparison,” Kate declared. “Polly, it doesn’t have any head, you know.”

But Polly smiled and waved her hand at them, and said nothing. Nancy was walking beside her, and she wondered whether a true sportsman ever allows sentimental reasons to outweigh his sense of fairness, whether it was wrong for her to hope with all her heart that she might win the race when Nancy had set all her hopes on it.

“Father says that if I should win the Cup,” Nancy whispered, happily, as she slipped her arm through Polly’s, “he’ll build me a knockabout for next year just like Tom’s. And just think, if you girls hadn’t let me come into your club, I couldn’t have raced at all. Aren’t things queer, Polly?”

“Curious and curiouser,” smiled back Polly, remembering the expression of one of her favorite heroines. The Doctor and Mrs. Bardwell were walking towards them, with several of the club members, and they all strolled down to the pier to watch for the incoming yachts. At just four-thirty-two by the Doctor’s watch, the first boat hove in sight around the Point. She was too far away for them to distinguish her identity, but hardly had she come about and started on the new stretch than a larger yacht appeared, following hard in her wake.

“That’s the Thistle,” cried Dorothy. “I know the cut of her sails. Oh, dear, I wonder if the other is papa’s?”

“The Thistle’s crowding on more sail, and gaining,” Polly exclaimed, watching them through glasses. “She will win!”

“Perhaps not,” Mrs. Bardwell rejoined cheerily. “A race is never won till it’s done, you know, so hope to the finish.”

There were three in sight now, one following the other as closely and evenly as flying geese, but still the Thistle strove to the fore. That first mile up the bay, the girls hardly spoke, as they leaned over the iron chain that was stretched along the pier for safety. Their eyes were bright, their lips half-parted as they tried to watch every swerve, every manœuvre on the part of the racers. All at once Bess declared she knew the first vessel was the Adventure because there was a lady on deck, and she had waved to her.

“Bess Vaughan,” laughed Polly, “you make me think of the soldier in the fairy tale who was a sharpshooter and could aim at a fly on the limb of a tree five miles off. That boat is a mile and a half from us now.”

“Just you wait and see,” Bess retorted seriously. “Maybe it wasn’t her handkerchief, but I know it’s the Adventure.”

“Oh, girls,” exclaimed Isabel, excitedly. “See the big one dip sideways.”

“Sideways, child,” Aunt Cynthy repeated, merrily. “To leeward, dear heart, to leeward.”

Even at that distance it appeared as if the larger yacht had the best chance.

“I’m sure they could crowd on more sail,” Dorothy said, helplessly. “Why don’t they do it? Tom says there’s always room for another reef some place on a sloop.”

“That’s just what’s happening this minute,” Kate said. “The Thistle has every inch on she can carry, and there’s still over a mile to go.”

“Polly, if that old New York boat should win, I shall lie down on the sand, and simply, simply—” Isabel hesitated for lack of an apt expression, but Ted filled it in for her calmly.

“Suspire. And be sure and do it very quietly, Isabel, so as not to disturb the race.”

Isabel laughed good-humoredly with the rest. The six weeks’ vacation at Lost Island had helped her in many ways. She would always be more precise than the other girls, more attentive to the formalities of life, as Miss Calvert expressed it, but the hearty, daily companionship and example set by the rest had filed down many sharp little points in her character. At Calvert Hall both Ted and Sue had loved to tease her, but someway she did not mind it any more. She could laugh back at them like Kate or Polly now, and it was rarely that one of “Isabel’s grumbles” was heard. “Lady Vanitas” she would always be, for she dearly loved pretty clothes and dainty things. Sue had expressed her ideas on dress aptly one day when she had remarked that Isabel couldn’t even wear a sweater at basket ball unless it had a fancy border to it and a stickpin in front. Even to-day the brim of her white duck yachting cap was pinned jauntily back with a class pin, while the other girls had turned theirs down to keep the sun out of their eyes. It seemed as if Isabel’s collar never wilted under the hottest sun, her belt never sagged out of place, and her shoe strings never came untied. Polly’s eyes always lingered over this member of her crew approvingly, for she, too, loved neatness and good taste.

All of the club verandas were thronged with onlookers during that final half hour. Both boats were hesitating under a vagrant puff of adverse wind, when suddenly the Adventure seemed to get under way and slipped steadily down the course, ahead of her New York rival. Something white fluttered from her deck, and all of the girls waved their handkerchiefs wildly in response. Somewhere back in the crowd on shore a boy’s voice shouted:

“Come along, Adventure, come along there!”

The girls laughed, for they knew it must be Tom, losing his head at the critical moment. The little sloop held gallantly to the point she had gained, and glided finally over the imaginary line that ended the course, while cheer on cheer rang out from the club house and the shore away up to the hotel. The cup would remain with the Orienta Club for another season.

After the shouts had at last died away, and the fussy little committee launch had puffed back and forth among the returning yachts, the girls took their leave, and started homeward, with the Admiral and the Vaughan girls in tow. The Doctor had undertaken to return Mrs. Bardwell safely to the house of the roses, and she declared as she kissed each girl that it had been the first day she had spent in society in twenty years.

“Bless her,” Polly said tenderly, as she watched the Doctor tuck the tan lap robe about her. “She doesn’t know what a nice ‘society’ she is all by herself.”

“Admiral Page,” interposed Ted, gravely, “isn’t Polly sentimental?”

“All sailors should be,” rejoined the Admiral, his eyes twinkling. “Not exactly sentimental, but full of sentiment, eh, Polly, mate?”

“Aye, aye, sir,” said Polly, but she was thinking of something else, thinking of Nancy and the Junior Cup.

Aunty Welcome lived up to her name in the dinner that she had prepared for her “Marse Bob.” Polly had declared the dining-room in the cottage was too small for such a festive occasion, so dinner was served in state out on the porch. It was an evening they all remembered out of a long, happy summer-time. Two small tables set together made quite a commodious banquet board. Aunt Cynthy’s bouquets, freshened up after a good drink of water, made a pretty centerpiece, with the blue and gold yacht club pennant waving above it. The Admiral insisted on Polly taking the head of the table with Kate, as club chaperon, at the foot.

“I am merely a guest,” he said, “and will sit at the Commodore’s right hand, if she will permit.”

Long after the sun went down, the little dinner party went on, until the moon rose, and the bay lay like a sea of quicksilver and jet below them. Then they heard the sound of wheels along the shore road, and Tom’s long cheery hail, and the Admiral rose to take his leave.

“To-morrow,” he told them, “you had better stay right here and rest. The day’s event is for twenty-footers and over, and they have a long course to cover. I’ll run over in the afternoon and see how you are. Tom or the Captain will go over the yachts with me, for I want to be sure everything is shipshape.”

Dorothy and Bess had returned with the girls, and as it was their first night at Lost Island, there were whisperings and smothered laughter long after the official “taps” had been sounded.

“What’s ‘taps’?” echoed Ted when Bess asked what they meant. “Just listen.”

Out in the kitchen Aunty Welcome’s steady footfalls could be heard as she moved around, locking the door, winding the clock, humming a sweet old camp-meeting tune under her breath, and finally stepping to the foot of the stairs, to blow out the bracket lamp that hung there.

“You all keep still, now, and go to sleep, and say your prayers, like good chilluns, you hyar me?” she asked forcibly. There was a dead silence, supposed to come only from heavy sleepers. As soon as she had gone to her own room, Ted’s head rose from the couch, and she whispered:

“That’s ‘taps’.”



They took the Admiral’s advice the next day, and rested. Dorothy and Bess were anxious to look over the shells and specimens the girls had found during the summer, and helped arrange them for the home going the end of the week. The two shell curtains that Kate and Isabel had made were completed, and ready to be shipped by express, with some of the heavier shells.

Crullers had surprised everybody by finding out a new way to use the small shells in decoration. She had had quite a taste for drawing and applied design at school, and now had glued the shells to heavy cardboard, after first tracing out a decorative design. The effect was surprisingly unique and attractive. Ted had looked at the result with a speculative eye, but she was generous with her praise, and frank spoken.

“I never thought old Crullers had such a knack in her fingertips,” she said.

“Didn’t you?” Polly asked, smiling. “I always knew that she loved beautiful things, and when you do you’ll generally make something beautiful yourself to add to it, don’t you know?”

“I know what you mean,” Ted agreed, pushing back her red curls restlessly. “Fraulein called it the personal quality in art, the gift of expression. What was that old painter’s name who used such a wonderful red in his pictures, and when he died they found it was his heart’s blood he had been painting with. I guess that’s personal expression, isn’t it? I haven’t any, Miss Calvert says. I haven’t any artistic sense.”

“We all have it,” Polly insisted. “You cannot help but have it, because it’s the gift of yourself. What do you like to do more than anything else in the world?”

Ted meditated, then her face brightened.

“Travel,” she said. “Walk, ride, swim, run, sail, do anything as long as I’m going some place.”

Polly laughed heartily.

“That’s what the Captain says about you, that you won’t stay put,” she said.

The Captain had come down to the island in the afternoon and gone over the racing boats carefully with Tom and the Admiral. Finally they had pronounced everything “fit,” as the Captain said, and started to go when Polly asked for an opinion as to which one stood the best chance of winning the race.

“With a fair wind and tide, anyone of them is liable to win,” the Captain declared flatly. “They’re the knowingest lot of boats on the bay, anyhow. Start them properly, and lash their tillers, and I’d be surprised if they didn’t start and race by themselves.”

There were light appetites at breakfast the next morning.

“Mah sakes alive,” protested Aunty, “how you spec you going to win any race and old silver cup an’ saucer, lessen you get good inside linings so your ribs don’t stick together, honeys?”

But it was no use. Chocolate and toast was the repast, and then they dressed for the race. The start was to be at ten from the Orienta. Bess and Dorothy crossed the bay on the Tidy Jane with Polly, then took their own yacht. The girls had precious little to say to each other. Just before the moment of starting, Commodore Vaughan made them a little speech from the deck of the committee launch, commending them highly for their ardor in outdoor sport, and the spirit of good fellowship that existed among them all.

“There is a double emulation in all this,” he remarked. “This is a race between two clubs, and a race between individuals as well. You may beat the Juniors, or the Juniors may beat the Polly Page Club, but besides that you will win or lose from each other, even as members of the same club. I wish you a fair wind and all success.” He glanced at his watch, hesitated, and just on the touch of the hands at ten, gave the signal for the start.

Sue was the first to gain. For some reason Polly and Nancy blundered in the get-away. It looked as if each had tried to give the other one the advantage in the start, but as they all slipped down the bay they looked like a flock of white winged sea birds, flying low.

South they sailed towards Lost Island and Aunty Welcome came out on the porch and waved a tablecloth at them excitedly, so they would feel encouraged. The committee boat puffed behind, and picked up two of the Juniors at the end of the first mile, when they became confused over tacking around the small islands. Nancy was ahead now with the Pirate, and Kate’s Witch Cat second, with the Nixie pushing her way steadily towards them. When they passed Smugglers’ Island, the Doctor was waiting for them in his motor boat, and the Natica joined the committee yacht as a sort of marine rear guard.

To Polly the first five miles seemed like a dream. She could feel the Tidy Jane spring to the touch of the waves, and her heart seemed to leap with it. When they neared the Point, she saw the white-clad crew come down from the station, and caught the hearty cheer they sent ringing over the water to the girl sailors.

Nancy hardly stopped long enough to wave back at them. The turn in the course came at the end of the Point, and she hardly thought about it, so intent was she on speed, until all at once Polly came steadily up behind her, passed Ted and Sue, Kate, and the others, and made the tack with hardly any pause.

“That’s Polly’s best trick in yachting,” Ted thought, with a big throb of admiration. “She sees it coming, and is ready to let go her main sheet on the instant, and come about. And then she goes after the cup a-flying.”

It was true. In that last joyous spurt ahead, all thought of Nancy left her. There was only the beautiful stretch of sky, and wind and waves calling to her. Her cap fell off in the bottom of the cock pit, and she lost her hair ribbon. The wind caught her long curls and blew them about as it pleased, as she leaned forward, keen eyed, intent on every point that needed watching. And finally, away down the bay, she caught the sound of cheers and wondered what the matter was.

“It must be Nancy catching up with me,” she thought, but one name on the wind caught her ear, one name shouted over and over and over.

“The Tidy Jane, the Tidy Jane, the Tidy Ja-a-ane!

How they shouted it, and dwelt on it, and hung to it, until the echoes flung it back from the big bluffs above the shore, but all at once something happened. Polly did not realize it herself, until she caught sight of Nancy’s face, brave and sweet, but deadly white.

Not twenty feet away from the Tidy Jane, the prow of the knockabout came about, as Nancy tried her best to overtake her rival. Down on the shore they could hear Tom’s voice shouting,

“Come along, Nance, come along in.”

To Nancy it was the final touch of the spur. She forgot Polly, forgot everything, except the fame of the Pirate, and the Junior Cup. She measured the end of the course with a steady, practiced eye, and her distance from the Tidy Jane. Nobody but Polly saw how she did it, and even she did not understand the craft of it. It had been a fragment of the Captain’s teaching long ago.

“When the wind and the tide’s agin your making a certain point, jam her down hard into the teeth of it, and give your tiller two sharp turns, hard to port then hard to starboard, and she’ll come up handsomely.”

Straight for the pier the Pirate turned, and then came about, and made for the end of the course.

The other yachts were strung out behind, Dorothy beating up closely, Connie Evans and Sue last of all, and the rest dotting the bay between the Pirate and the Tidy Jane.

Polly saw the way Nancy had caught up to her, and for the minute she held her breath. All at once she knew that she was going to lose the race, and the strangest part of it was, she could see Nancy win, and feel a great wave of joy over it. As the Pirate’s boom passed her, she slackened her own main sheet, turned her head and smiled at Nancy, and the first cheer that went up for the winner of the Junior Cup, was when Polly stood up, and waved her hand with a clear,

“Hurrah! Hurrah!”

Tom promptly stood on his head, as the shouts rang out over the bay, and shore. The Admiral himself helped Nancy out as if she had been a queen.

“You did handsomely, little girl, handsomely,” he said.

Polly was hardly a minute behind her, and as she too reached the Orienta pier, and tossed her rope up to the willing hands, she threw her arms around the victor.

“I am so glad you’ve won, Nancy,” she said. “You don’t know how glad.”

“So am I,” answered Nancy, softly, her glance seeking one face out of all the crowd. “Where’s father?”

“Here I be, mate!” called the old skipper, joyously, and right there before the crowd, he swung Nancy up in his arms, and kissed her proudly.

Just then the Commodore himself appeared, and he bore the fateful cup. Blushing, and with downcast lashes, Nancy listened to the presentation speech. She couldn’t quite catch it all, but there was one expression that lingered. He called her a daughter of the old Pine Tree State, who had borne off a trophy that should remind her not only of a deserved victory but also of the friendship and fellowship of the sister club, the Orienta Juniors.

“Neatly put,” said the old Admiral, as they journeyed back home, and for the first time he was a guest on the Tidy Jane. “Nancy, you’re a conquering heroine, my dear, like your namesake, Nancy Lee, and the Captain, and Polly and I are proud of you.”

When they reached Lost Island, the Doctor detained Polly a moment at the landing, while the others went on to the house. “I have a trophy for the second in the race, one that is given jointly by Father Neptune and myself,” he said, as he reached his hand into his pocket mysteriously, then held it out to Polly. On the open palm lay one of the pearls from Ceylon.

“Just in memory of many happy days and many jars of marmalade,” he smiled, as Polly took it, speechless and radiant. “And I want to tell you a secret. You accused me, Miss Polly, of using marmalade as bait. But I never did anything of the kind. Don’t laugh, now. What I did do was to eat it and imbibe courage and peace and a settled happiness from the atmosphere of Lost Island, so that I have triumphed. I am going back to Washington this week myself. I have found the polypi!”

Two days remained to the girls, but they were so taken up in packing, and preparing Aunty Welcome for the trip back South, that they passed swiftly. Saturday morning the carry-all bore them over to Eastport, but it had to make two trips, and each time it stopped at Fair Havens, where Mrs. Carey and Nancy said goodbye to the girls, and the Captain waved them a salute.

“It has been the best summer I ever had,” Nancy cried, as she shook hands with them all, and kissed the girls and Aunty too. “You’ve been so good to me, and given me such a happy time, that I just can’t thank you.”

“We’ve got the Junior Cup up on the parlor mantel,” added Tom proudly, “right under mother’s framed marriage certificate, and father’s model of his first schooner. And Nancy sticks a bouquet of fresh posies in it every morning, girls.”

Nancy blushed radiantly, and kissed Polly a second time.

“Sometimes I wonder if you let me win,” she whispered. “You held up a little I thought, there at the very last.”

“Did I?” laughed Polly. “It was because I was so glad and surprised when I saw the old Pirate nosing her way past me, that was all. Goodbye, dear. Don’t forget us.”

“Fair wind and tide to you wherever you sail, mates,” the Captain called; and there were tears in the girls’ eyes as they watched the last view of the little shore cottage, and the two figures there at the garden gate, the Captain with the wind blowing back his curly hair, as sturdy, as tall, and as storm-proof as one of the pines up on Bald Mountain.

“Girls, it’s been the happiest summer I’ve ever had,” cried Ruth as she put her head on Polly’s shoulder, and wept.

But Polly laughed in her old cheery way.

“Cheer up,” she said. “It won’t be the last. Turn around, like a good fellow, and wave a salute back at the old flag pole, and to Nancy, bless her.”

So they all stood up in the old carry-all at that last turn in the old shore road, and solemnly, hopefully, lovingly saluted the last glimpse of Lost Island, and the winner of the Junior Cup.

End of Project Gutenberg's The Polly Page Yacht Club, by Izola L. Forrester


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