The man laughed contemptuously. “I can’t do it,” he said. “That boat is cheap at a hundred dollars.”
“At fifty, you mean,” retorted Jack stubbornly.
The girls stood back quietly and allowed Jack to drive the bargain, which he did with so much spirit that the coveted boat was at last made over to him at his price, fifty dollars.
For the rest of the day the four girls spent their time interviewing carpenters and painters. At last they found a man who promised to deliver the boat, rebuilt according to Madge’s idea, at a little town several miles farther down the bay. The man owned a motor boat. He was to take the houseboat to a landing, where the girls could load it with the necessary supplies, and then to tow them farther down the bay, until they found the ideal place for their summer holiday.
“I declare, Madge, dear, I was never so tired, nor so happy in my life,” declared Eleanor Butler late that afternoon, as the quartette were on their way back to their school at Harborpoint. “I can see our houseboat, now, as plainly as anything. At first, Lillian and I couldn’t quite believe in your idea.”
Madge had heard Eleanor’s comments but vaguely. She was doing a sum in mental arithmetic. “Fifty dollars for the old shanty boat, seventy-five for remodeling it, fifteen to the man for towing.” Here she became confused. But she still knew there was quite a large sum of money left for buying the little furniture they needed and their store of provisions.
Phyllis Alden, too, had been busy calculating. “I think we can do it, Madge,” she said, leaning over from the back seat to speak to her friend.
“Of course we can. We shall have whole lots of money,” announced Madge triumphantly.
Phil shook her head. “I am afraid we won’t. There is one thing we must buy that will be expensive.”
Lillian straightened up. She had been leaning against the back of the seat, utterly worn out. The three girls gazed at Phil in consternation. What was this new item of expense that threatened to eat up their little capital?
“Don’t keep us in suspense, Phil,” laughed Eleanor. “What have we forgotten to buy?”
“A kitchen stove!” cried Phil dramatically. “And I know they must be awfully expensive.”
“What a goose you are, Phil,” said Lillian in a practical tone. “We don’t want a kitchen stove. It would take up too much room. We need an oil stove or something like that.”
“Then I appoint you as a special committee to look into the stove question, Lillian,” laughed Madge.
“I accept the appointment,” bowed Lillian, “and I won’t waste our capital on kitchen ranges of elephantine proportions, either.”