Lillian and Phyllis had received their parents’ consent, by letter, the day before and had already agreed that their respective monthly allowances should be placed in the general fund.
“Be still, Madge,” begged Eleanor. “You are so noisy that you drive all thought from our heads. The first thing for us to consider is where we shall find a chaperon.”
“No; the first thing to do is to find the house-boat. O Ship of our Dreams! tell us, dear Ship, where we can find you?” cried Phyllis Alden longingly. She was looking past her friends with half-closed eyes. Already she was, in the land of her imagination, in a beautiful white boat, floating beside an evergreen shore. The little craft was furnished all in white, with dainty muslin curtains hung at the tiny cabin windows. Flowers encircled the decks and trailed over the sides into the clear water. And on the deck of the little boat, lying or sitting at their ease, she could see herself and her friends.
“Wake up, Phil! Come back to earth, please,” teased Madge, giving her usually sensible friend a sudden pinch. “I am going downstairs now to ask Miss Tolliver if we can go into Baltimore day after to-morrow. We must find our houseboat at once. School is so nearly over Miss Tolliver will be sure to let us go.”
“But the chaperon, Madge,” reminded Eleanor. “We haven’t decided on one, you know.”
“I have thought of a chaperon, if you girls are willing to have her,” said Madge almost hesitatingly.
“Well,” cried the other three voices in chorus, “who is it? Tell us sometime to-day!”
“Miss Jones!” declared Madge, a note of defiance in her voice. “I’m going to invite her now before I have time to change my mind. I’ll explain later.” Springing from her chair, she ran from the room, leaving her three friends to stare at each other in silent amazement.
THE SEARCH FOR A HOUSEBOAT
“Eleanor Butler, do hurry!” urged Madge two days later. “If we miss the train, I feel I shall never forgive you.” The two girls were preparing for their trip to Baltimore.
“Let me alone, Madge,” Eleanor returned. “If you will stay out of the room for ten minutes, I promise to be ready. You’ve talked so much in the last half hour that I haven’t known what I was doing and I don’t know now. You had better make another call upon Miss Jones. She is even more enthusiastic about your old houseboat scheme than you are.” Eleanor laughed as Madge disappeared in the direction of Miss Jones’s room.
“You must wish with all your heart that we shall find the houseboat to-day, Miss Jones,” declared Madge in her impulsive fashion. “You see, everything depends on our not having to waste any time. The sooner we find our boat, the sooner we can begin our delightful vacation.”