Then Greg did a fire dance with two sparklers. He dances rather well,—not real one-steps and waltzes, but weird things he makes up himself. This one lasted as long as the sparklers burned, and it was quite gorgeous. After that we had a candle-light procession around the garden, and the grown people said that the candles looked very mysterious bobbing in and out between the trees. We felt more like high priests than patriots, but it was very festive and wonderful, and when we ended by having cakes and lime-juice on the porch at half-past nine, everybody agreed that it had been a real celebration and quite different.
In spite of being up so late the night before, Greg was the first one down to breakfast next morning. Our postman always brings the mail just before the end of breakfast, and we can hear him click the gate as he comes in. This morning Jerry and Greg dashed for the mail together, and Greg squeezed through where Jerry thought he couldn’t and got there first. When they came back, Jerry was saying:
“Let me have it, won’t you; it’ll take you all day!” and dodging his arm over Greg’s shoulder.
“Messrs. Christopher, Gerald, and Gregory Holford; 17 Luke Street,” Greg read slowly. Then he tripped over the threshold and floundered on to me, flourishing the big envelope and shouting:
“It’s funny paper, and it’s funny writing, and I know it’s from The Bottle!”
“My stars!” said Jerry, with a final snatch.
But I had the envelope, and I looked at it very carefully.
“Boys,” I said, “I truly believe that it is.”
The envelope was a square, thinnish one, addressed in very small, black handwriting.
“It must be from The Bottle,” Jerry said; “otherwise they wouldn’t have thought you were a boy and put Christopher.”
I had been thinking just the same thing while I was trying to open the envelope. It was one of the very tightly stuck kind that scrumples up when you try to rip it with your finger, and we had to slit it with a fruit-knife before we could get at the letter. There were sheets of thin paper all covered with writing, and when Jerry and Greg saw that, they both fell upon it so that none of us could read it at all. I persuaded them that the quickest thing to do would be to let me read it aloud, and as we’d finished breakfast anyway, we each took our last piece of toast in our hands and went out and sat on the bottom step of the porch. I read:
Fellow Adventurers and Mariners in Distress: