The water was warm, but Irving swallowed a good deal of it and also was conscious of the fact that he had on a perfectly good suit of clothes. So he came to the surface, choking and annoyed; and when he recovered his faculties, he observed first of all Westby’s grinning face.
“You can swim all right, can’t you, Mr. Upton?” said Westby. “I thought for a moment we might have to dive for you.”
Irving clutched at the stern of the capsized canoe and said, rather curtly, “I’m not dressed to enjoy swimming.”
“I’m awfully sorry,” said Scarborough. “But I never thought they were going to turn that way; I don’t know what Carrie thought he was doing—”
“I’d have shown you some strategy if you hadn’t blundered into us,” declared Carroll.
“Blundered into you! There was no need for Wes to give us such a poke, anyhow.”
Westby replied merely with an irritating chuckle—irritating at least to Irving, who felt that he should be showing more contrition.
Collingwood and Morrill came alongside, both laughing, jeering at Westby and offering polite expressions of solicitude to the master. They told him to lay hold of the tail of their canoe, and then they towed him ashore as rapidly as possible. When he drew himself up, dripping, on the bank, Baldersnaith, Dennison, and Smythe were all on the broad grin, and from the water floated the sound of Westby’s merriment.
Irving stood for a moment, letting himself drip, quite undecided as to what he should do. He had never been ducked before, with all his clothes on; the clammy, weighted sensation was most unpleasant, the thought of his damaged and perhaps ruined suit was galling, the indignity of his appearance was particularly hard to bear. He felt that Baldersnaith and the others were trying to be as polite and considerate as possible, and yet they could not refrain from exhibiting their amusement, their delight.
Scarborough, who had swum ahead of the others, waded ashore and looked him over. “I tell you what you’d better do, Mr. Upton,” he said. “You’d better take your clothes off, wring them out, and spread them out to dry. They’ll dry in this sun and wind. And while they’re doing that, you can come in swimming with us.”
Irving hesitated a moment; instinct told him that the advice was sensible, yet he shrank from accepting it; he felt that for a master to do what Scarborough suggested would be undignified, and might somehow compromise his position. “I think I’d better run home and rub myself down and put on some dry things,” he replied.
“Well,” said Scarborough, “just as you say. Sorry I got you into this mess.”
“Oh, it’s all right,” said Irving.