The somewhat bored group lifted interested heads. They, too, had trunks doomed to a mysterious exile at the hands of the electric freight.
“I’m Sturgis,” said the youth, “of the Sturgis Water Line. I have a large power-boat built for capacity, not looks. Your baggage will be safe in a store-room at the other end,”—Captain Sturgis here produced a new and imposing key,—“and will be taken to your hotel or cottage by a reliable man with a team at the usual rate of transfer from the trolley. My charges are a little higher than the trolley rates, but you’ll have your baggage before luncheon, instead of next week.” A murmuring arose in the group.
“Let’s see your vessel, Cap,” said another man.
Ken led the way to a boat skid at the foot of the wharf, and pointed out the Flying Dutchman, unpainted, but very tidy, floating proudly beside the piles.
“I have to charge by bulk rather than weight,” said the proprietor of the Sturgis Water Line, “and first come, first served.”
“Have you a license?” asked a cautious one.
Ken turned back a lapel and showed it, with the color rushing suddenly to his face.
But the upshot of it was, that before the Asquam car—later than usual—arrived at Bayside, the Flying Dutchman was chugging out into the bay, so loaded with trunks that Ken felt heartily for the Irishman, who, under somewhat similar circumstances, said “’t was a merrcy the toide wasn’t six inches hoigher!” Out in the fairway, Ken crouched beside his engine, quite thankful to be alone with his boat and the harvest of trunks—so many more than he had hoped to have. For this was the first trip of the Sturgis Water Line, and its proprietor’s heart, under the new license, had pounded quite agonizingly as he had approached his first clients.
Down at Asquam, the room on the wharf under the harbor-master’s shop stood waiting to receive outgoing or incoming baggage; at the wharf, Hop would be drawn up with his old express-wagon. For Hop was the shore department of the Line, only too glad to transport luggage, and in so doing to score off Sim Rathbone, who had little by little taken Hop’s trade. He and Ken had arranged financial matters most amicably; Ken was to keep all his profits, Hop was to charge his usual rates for transfer, but it was understood that Hopkins, and he alone, was shore agent of the Sturgis Water Line, and great was his joy and pride.
Ken, on this first day, helped the old man load the trunks, rode with him to their various destinations, saw them received by unbelieving and jubilant owners, and then tore back to Applegate Farm, exultant and joyful. Having no breath for words, he laid before Felicia, who was making bread, four dollars and a half (six trunks at seventy-five cents apiece), clapped the yachting cap over Kirk’s head, and cut an ecstatic pigeon-wing on the kitchen floor. “One trip!” gasped Phil, touching the money reverently with a doughy finger. “And you’re going to make two round trips every day! That’s eighteen dollars a day! Oh, Ken, it’s a hundred and twenty-five dollars a week! Why, we’re—we’re millionaires!”