“Oh, I knew a girl couldn’t find the right sort of boat without a fellow to help her,” Jack teased, knowing Madge’s aversion to the idea that a girl couldn’t do anything she liked, unless with the help of a boy.
“Just you come along with us, Jack, and we will show you what we have found,” invited Madge. “I think the girls are ready. We are. Here come Eleanor and Lillian. Miss Lillian Seldon, I wish to present my cousin, Mr. Jack Bolling. Where is Phil?”
While Lillian, looking unusually lovely in her gown of pale lavender organdie, with a cream-colored hat covered with violets, was shaking hands with Jack, Phyllis Alden came down the hall with a slight frown on her face.
Hadn’t she and Madge vowed within themselves and to each other never to ask a man’s help in anything they planned to do? And here was Madge introducing her cousin into their plan the very first chance she had. But in this Phil was mistaken.
Madge had made no explanations to Jack, and her cousin asked her no questions as the party started on their walk. When they came to the line of canal boats that the girls had seen the afternoon before a halt was made.
“There is our houseboat!” cried Madge, waving her hand toward the half dozen disreputable looking canal boats huddled close together.
“Where?” asked Jack in amazement.
“Oh, I don’t know just exactly where,” returned Madge with twinkling eyes. “Everyone look here, please.” She took two large squares of white paper out of her bag. “You see, it is this way, Jack: We found that to rent a houseboat takes such a lot of money that we decided yesterday, to try to turn one of these old canal boats into a houseboat, and I have drawn the plans of what I think ought to be done.”
Madge, who had a decided talent for drawing, had sat up late into the night to make her two sketches. One pictured the shanty boat as it was, dingy and dirty, with a broken-down cabin of two rooms at the stern. In the second drawing Madge’s fairy wand, which was her gift of imagination, had quite transformed the ugly boat. The deck of the canal boat was about forty feet long, with a twelve-foot beam. To the two rooms, which the ordinary shanty boat contains, she had added another two, forming an oblong cabin, with four windows on each side and a flat roof. The flat roof formed the second deck of the prospective houseboat. It had a small railing around it, and a pair of steps that led up from the outside to the upper deck. Madge had decorated her fairy ship with garlands of flowers that hung far over the sides of the deck.
Jack Bolling looked at the drawing a long time without saying a word.
“Don’t you think it can be done, Jack?” inquired Madge eagerly. “You see, this old boat could be cleaned and painted, and any good carpenter could put up the extra rooms.”
“Right you are, Madge,” Jack answered at last, making a low bow. “Hats off to the ladies, as usual. Who is that queer-looking customer coming this way?”