“In a minute,” answered Madge, giving a final pat to her curls.
“Do hurry along, children. The sailboat is nearly here.” This time it was Miss Jenny Ann’s voice. “They signaled us several minutes ago. They have several other persons on board.”
Mrs. Curtis and Tom signaled as they approached the “Merry Maid.” Their guests were the artist, whom the girls had met the day before, Jack Bolling, and one or two strangers from the big summer hotel. Mike Muldoon, the owner of the boats, had another sailor on board to help him. Tom soon transferred the girls and their chaperon from their craft to his. The party intended to sail down the coast to a point of land known as Love Point and to eat their luncheon somewhere along the shore.
Mrs. Curtis sat across from Madge during their sailing trip, but every now and then she would look over to laugh at one of the young girl’s amusing sallies. It was evident that the little captain of the “Merry Maid” had found favor in her eyes. Mrs. Curtis had planned a dainty luncheon, to which the steward at the hotel had given special attention, even to the sending of a man to serve it. There were delicious sandwiches of various kinds, chicken and Waldorf salads, olives, salted nuts, individual ices sent down from Baltimore and bonbons. It was quite the most elaborate luncheon the girls had ever eaten and they were rather impressed with both it and the service.
After luncheon the party sat for a long time on the clean, white sand, laughing and talking gayly. It was a perfect day and everyone was in the best possible spirits. Later on they divided into little groups. Lillian and Phil wandered off with Jack Bolling. Eleanor found a congenial companion in one of the young women guests from the hotel, while Tom, Miss Jones and Mrs. Curtis sat under a tree with the artist, watching him sketch. Madge, alone, flitted from one group to another, a little, restless spirit.
“Why don’t you take Miss Morton for a sail, Tom?” suggested his mother. “You will have time to go a short distance out. We shall not start for the hotel until four o’clock.”
“A good suggestion. Thank you, Mother,” cried Tom. “Come on, Miss Morton.”
Madge and Tom went gayly down to the boat. Tom’s big setter dog, Brownie, dashed after them, pleading so hard to be taken aboard that Tom at last consented to have him, though he gravely assured the animal that three was a crowd, to which statement Brownie merely gave a joyful yelp and darted on board without further ceremony.
[Illustration: Madge and Tom went gayly down to the boat.]
It was a glorious day with a stiff breeze blowing. The water was fairly choppy, but the boat sped along, occasionally dashing the spray into the two young faces. Madge wore a white cloth cap, with a visor, such as ship’s officers wear, and looked as nautical as she felt. Both Tom and Madge were possessed with an unusual fondness for the water, and their common love of the sea was a strong bond between them.