“No, thanks,” he said. “If I was secretary I’d have to keep the accounts and all that sort of thing, and I’m no good at it. You’re the very fellow for the job, Phil.”
The assemblage broke up shortly after, to meet again that evening at eight, Steve undertaking to have a map on hand then so that they might plan their cruise. As none of the seven was bound to secrecy, what happened is only what might have been expected. By the time the ball game was half over Steve and Joe had received enough applications for membership in the Adventure Club to have, in Joe’s words, filled an ocean liner. It is probable that a large proportion of the applicants could not have obtained permission to join the expedition, but they were each and all terribly enthusiastic and eager to join, and it required all of Steve’s and Joe’s diplomacy to turn them away without hurting their feelings. Wink Wheeler—his real name was Warren, but no one ever called him that—refused politely but firmly to take no for an answer. Wink said he didn’t care where he bunked and that he never ate anything on a boat, anyway, because he was always too seasick to bother about meals.
“One more won’t matter, Steve,” Wink pleaded. “Be a good chap and let me in, won’t you? My folks are going out to California this Summer and I don’t want to go, and they’ll let me do anything I like. Tell you what, Steve. If you’ll take me I’ll buy something for the boat. I’ll make the club a present of—of a tender or an anchor or whatever you say!”
Steve found it especially hard to turn Wink down, because he liked the fellow, just as everyone else did. Wink was eighteen and had been five years getting through school, but he was a big, good-hearted, jovial boy, and, as Steve reflected, one who would be a desirable companion on such an adventure as had been planned. Steve at last told Wink that he would speak to the others about him that evening, but that Wink was not to get his hopes up, and Wink took himself off whistling cheerfully and quite satisfied. But when Steve tentatively broached the matter of including one more member in the person of Wink Wheeler, Joe staggered him by announcing that he had promised Harry Corwin to intercede for the latter.
“He pestered the life out of me,” explained Joe ruefully, “and I finally told him I’d ask you fellows. But I suppose we can’t take two more. Nine would—um—be rather overdoing it, eh?”
Everyone agreed that it would. Han suggested that Wink Wheeler and Harry Corwin might toss up for the privilege of joining the club. “After all,” he added, “we aren’t all of us certain that we can go. If one or two of us drop out there’ll be room for Wink and Harry, too.”
“Seems to me,” said Phil Street, “it might be a good plan to enlarge the membership to, say, twelve, and let the new members find a boat of their own. I dare say they could. Then—”
“Fine!” exclaimed Joe. “Harry and his brother have some sort of a motor-boat. He told me so today. That’s a bully idea, Phil! With twelve of us we could divide up between the two boats—”