He wasn’t Payne to me. He was Joy. Easy? Why, he fairly pushes me into it! Digs a white jumper out of a locker for me, and a little round canvas hat with “Vixen” on the front, and trots back uptown to buy me a swell pair of rubber-soled deck shoes. Business of quick change for yours truly. Then look! Say, here I am, just about the yachtiest thing in sight, leanin’ back on the steerin’ seat cushions of a classy speed boat that’s headed towards Vee at a twenty-mile clip.
AUNTY FLAGS A ROSY ONE
Lemme see, I was headed out of Boothbay Harbor, Maine, bound for Roarin’ Rocks, wa’n’t I? Hold the picture,—me in a white jumper and little round canvas hat with “Vixen” printed across the front, white shoes too, and altogether as yachty as they come. Don’t forget young Mr. Payne Hollister at the wheel, either; although whether I’d kidnapped him, or he’d kidnapped me, is open for debate.
Anyway, here I was, subbin’ incog for the reg’lar crew, who was laid up with a sprained ankle. All that because I’d got the happy hail from Vee on a postcard. It wa’n’t any time for unpleasant thoughts then; but I couldn’t help wonderin’ how soon Aunty would loom on the horizon and spoil it all.
“So there’s a picnic on the slate, eh?” I suggests.
Young Mr. Hollister nods. “I’d promised some of the folks at the house,” says he. “Guests, you know.”
“Oh, yes,” says I, feelin’ a little shiver flicker down my spine.
I knew. Vee was a guest there. So was Aunty. The picnic prospects might have been more allurin’. But I’d butted in, and this was no time to back out. Besides, I was more or less interested in sizin’ up Payne Hollister. Tall, slim, young gent; dark, serious eyes; nose a little prominent; and his way of speakin’ and actin’ a bit pompous,—one of them impatient, quick-motioned kind that wants to do everything in a minute. He keeps gettin’ up and starin’ ahead, like he wa’n’t quite sure where he was goin’, and then leanin’ over to squint at the engine restless.
“Just see if those forward oil cups are full, will you?” says he.
I climbs over and inspects. Everything seems to be O. K.; although what I don’t know about a six-cylinder marine engine is amazin’.
“We’re slidin’ through the water slick,” says I.
“She can turn up much faster than this,” says he; “only I don’t dare open her wide.”
I was satisfied. I could use a minute or so about then to plot out a few scenarios dealin’ with how a certain party would act in case of makin’ a sudden discovery. But I hadn’t got past picturin’ the cold storage stare before the Hollister place shows up ahead, Payne throttles the Vixen down cautious, shoots her in between a couple of rocky points, and fetches her up alongside a rope-padded private float. There’s some steps leadin’ up to the top of the rocks.