Ham actually took a little boat, and went on board “The Swallow,” when they reached the landing, and Dab kept close to him.
“She’s all right, Ham. But what are you casting loose for?”
“Dab, they won’t all be ready for breakfast in two hours. The stock and things can go: the men’ll tend to ’em. Just haul on that sheet a bit. Now the jib. Look out for the boom. There! The wind’s a little ahead, but it isn’t bad. Ah!”
The last word came out in a great sigh of relief, and was followed by a chuckle which seemed to gurgle all the way up from Ham’s boots.
“This is better than railroading,” he said to Dabney, as they tacked into the long stretch where the inlet widened toward the bay. “No pounding or jarring here. Talk of your fashionable watering-places! Why, Dab, there ain’t any thing else in the world prettier than that reach of water and the sand-island, with the ocean beyond it. There’s some ducks and some gulls. Why, Dab, do you see that? There’s a porpoise, inside the bar!”
It was as clear as daylight that Ham Morris felt himself “at home” again, and that his brief experience of the outside world had by no means lessened his affection for the place he was born in. If the entire truth could have been known, it would have been found that he felt his heart warm toward the whole coast and all its inhabitants, including the clams. And yet it was remarkable how many of the latter were mere empty shells when Ham finished his breakfast that morning. He preferred them roasted, and his mother-in-law had not forgotten that trait in his character.
Once or twice in the course of the sail, Dabney found himself on the point of saying something about boarding-schools; but each time his friend broke away to the discussion of other topics, such as blue-fish, porpoises, crabs, or the sailing qualities of “The Swallow,” and Dab dimly felt that it would be better to wait until another time. So he waited.
It was a grand good time, however, to be had before breakfast; and as they again sailed up the inlet, very happy and very hungry, Dab suddenly exclaimed,—
“Ham, do you see that? How could they have guessed where we’d gone? There’s the whole Kinzer tribe, and the boys are with them, and Annie.”
“What boys and Annie?”
“Oh! Ford Foster and Frank Harley. Annie is Ford’s sister. They live in our old house, you know.”
“What’s become of Jenny?”
“You mean my boat? There she is, hitched a little out, just beyond the landing.”
There was nothing on Dab’s face to lead any one to suppose that he guessed the meaning of the quizzical grin on Ham’s.
It is barely possible, however, that there would have been fewer people at the landing, if Ham and Dab had not been keeping a whole house-full of hungry mortals, including a bride, waiting breakfast for them.