“People live on those shanty boats,” announced Madge.
“Yes, we have noticed it, my dear girl,” Phil responded dryly. But there was a question in her eyes as she looked at Madge.
“Shanty boats do not look exactly like house-boats,” went on Madge speculatively.
“I should say not,” returned Phil. “There is considerable difference.”
“But they might be made to look more like them. Don’t you believe so?”
“They are awfully dirty,” was dainty Lillian’s sole comment.
“Soap and water, child, is a sure cure for dirt,” replied Madge, still in a brown study. Then she sprang to tier feet and almost ran out of the little park, nearly to the edge of the canal. Her friends followed her. There was no doubt that Madge had an idea.
“Girls!” exclaimed Madge fervently, pointing toward one of the shanty boats, “first look there; then shut your eyes. With your eyes open you see only an ugly canal boat; with them closed, can’t you see our houseboat?”
“Not very well,” replied Lillian without enthusiasm.
“Well, I can,” asserted Madge with emphasis.
Then her quick eyes wandered toward a man who was coming slowly up the path along the canal.
“Please,” she asked breathlessly, stepping directly in front of him, “do you know whether any of the people along here would be willing to rent me a canal boat?”
The man stared in amazement at this strange request. “Can’t say as I knows of any one,” he answered, “but I kin find out fer ye. It may be some of the water folks goes inland for the summer. If they does, they’d like as not rent you their boat.”
“Then I will come down here to-morrow at nine o’clock to find out,” arranged Madge. “Please be sure to be here.”
“What did I tell you!” exulted Madge as they left the little park a few minutes later and made their way to the street car. “I am going to draw a plan to-night to show how easy it will be to turn one of these old canal boats into our beautiful ‘Ship of Dreams.’ By this time next week we’ll know something about the ‘vicissitudes’ of a sailor’s life or my name is not Madge Morton.”
THE FAIRY’S WAND
“You are a direct gift of Providence, Jack Bolling,” declared Madge the next morning, shaking hands with her cousin, in the parlor of Miss Rice’s boarding house. “How did you happen to turn up here?”
“Well, I unexpectedly had a day off from college,” explained Jack. “So I just telephoned to Miss Tolliver to ask whether I might come to see you, like the well-behaved cousin I am. She replied that you were in town and that I might come to see you. So here I am! What luck have you had?”
“None at all at the old places you recommended,” Madge returned scornfully and in a most ungrateful fashion.