“I came from my home in Virginia, and if by ‘that’ you mean my boat, it is a ‘Ship of Dreams’ and was towed up here from Baltimore yesterday afternoon. What do you think of it?”
“She isn’t a dream, she’s a peach,” was the prompt retort.
“I’m glad you like her,” smiled Madge in a winning fashion that caused the lad to smile in return. “Why are you up so early in the morning?”
“Driving home the cows,” was the laconic answer.
“I don’t see any cows,” teased Madge. “Wait a minute. I have something for you to do. Would you like to earn a quarter? If you would, then come back here about nine o’clock. We are going to load our boat with some furniture and provisions, and we would like to have you help us.”
“All right, I’ll be here,” promised the boy, and ran off into the bushes with a derisive grin which Madge did not see.
A few moments later Madge went back to Eleanor to have breakfast at the little boarding house where she and her cousin had spent the night. Miss Jones, Lillian and Phil had not yet arrived, but they were expected by the early train that came from Baltimore. The little village from which they intended to go aboard their houseboat was only about half an hour’s ride from the city, and was situated on one of the quiet inlets of the bay.
Fifteen minutes before the train was due Eleanor and Madge were impatiently waiting at the station. The newcomers were so surrounded by bags, suit cases and mysterious packages that it took all the men about the depot to land them safely on the platform. Madge gave the order to the expressman to bring all their luggage to the houseboat landing near the willow tree. Then the party started out to find the boat, without losing a minute by the way.
Madge slipped her arm through that of Miss Jones and walked beside her dutifully, though she secretly longed to be with her chums. Lillian, Phil and Eleanor joined hands and ran ahead, without being in the least degree affected by the idea that they were no longer children. Madge, however, was the only one who knew the way. She hurried Miss Jones along until that young woman was almost out of breath. When they were within a short distance of the place where she had found her boat waiting for her in the early morning, she could bear it no longer. With a murmured excuse she broke away from Miss Jones and started on a run toward the willow tree. Her three chums were close behind her. The branches of the willow tree seemed more impenetrable in the bright sunlight. It was not so easy to see through them. Madge ran straight past the tree, then uttered a shrill cry. She stopped short, her cheeks turning first red, then white.
“What is it?” cried Phil, springing to her friend’s side.
Madge pointed dumbly toward the water.
“Tell us!” said Eleanor, running up to Madge and lightly grasping her arm.