Rapturous greetings followed.
“Of all things,” said Sahwah, “to run across you two in the woods like this! What on earth are you doing here? We thought you were doing some summer work at your college.”
“We are,” replied the Captain, looking from one to the other of the girls with a face beaming with delight at the unexpected meeting. “We’re making a survey of different parts of the state—it’s part of our course—and incidentally we’re compiling certain statistics for the government.”
“Oh!” said the two girls respectfully.
“But what, if I might make so bold as to ask,” said the Captain, “are you two doing here in the wet, wild woods, all by your wild lone?”
Sahwah explained and extended a cordial invitation for the two boys to come to Carver House whenever they had time.
“Is Hinpoha there?” asked Slim and the Captain simultaneously.
“She certainly is,” replied Sahwah.
Slim squinted critically down his nose at his tub-like form. “Do you think I’ve gotten any thinner?” he asked anxiously.
Sahwah scrutinized, him closely for signs of reduction and decided he might possibly be half a pound thinner than when she saw him last. Slim sighed and looked pensive and Sahwah had hard work to keep her face straight.
“But what on earth was all that racket as we came up?” she asked, unable to restrain her curiosity on that point any longer. “What were you chasing the chicken for?”
Slim’s eye roved regretfully back toward the trees among which the chicken had vanished, and the Captain answered for him.
“You see,” he exclaimed, “today is Slim’s birthday and we were going to celebrate by having a chicken dinner. So Slim went out to buy a chicken and came back with a live one. Then he didn’t have the heart to chop its head off, and was trying to drown it in a barrel of water when you came up. By the way, Slim, where is it now?”
Slim pointed to the bushes with an expression of chagrin on his fat face. “It’s gone,” he said with a sigh of regret. “A dollar and eighty-seven cents’ worth of chicken stew running loose on the landscape.”
“But it wasn’t the nerve I lacked to chop its head off,” he added, looking reproachfully at the Captain. “It was the hatchet. You see,” he explained, “we didn’t exactly come prepared to catch our meals on the hoof, so to speak, and all I had to chop his head off with was the can-opener on my pocket knife, and that wouldn’t work, so I had to drown him.”
“Oh, you funny boys!” said Sahwah, laughing uncontrollably.
“I think you might have helped me hold him down,” said Slim to the Captain in an injured tone.
“I couldn’t,” replied the Captain gravely. “The butter got overcome with the heat and I was reviving it with a fan.”
“Oh, you babes in the woods, you!” said Sahwah, with another burst of laughter. “You must be having the time of your lives.”