“How’ll we get over there?” demanded Ikey. “There’s no boat here.”
Whistler Morgan, barefooted and with his sleeves rolled up, came aft and tossed Ikey the end of a coil of line.
“Draw her in to the float. I’ll pay out the mooring cable. What have you in that basket?”
“A litter of pups a neighbor wants him to drown,” answered Frenchy solemnly. “You fellows brought lunch enough for all, didn’t you?”
“Couldn’t get any at my house,” Al confessed. “The girl’s on a strike.”
There was no mother at the Torrance house, and sometimes the housekeeping there was “at sixes and sevens.”
“I was going to get some crackers and sardines,” confessed Whistler. “I had no idea we could get this boat when I left the house. But I can run up and get Alice to put us up a snack.”
Frenchy was carrying Ikey’s basket very carefully—indeed, lovingly. He allowed his mate to catch the line and draw the Sue Bridger in to the float alone.
They stepped aboard, and Al made a grab for the basket handle with his greasy hands. “Let’s see the pups,” he demanded suspiciously.
“Have a care! Have a care!” cried Whistler as the two struggled for possession of the basket. “What is in it, Ikey?”
“Oi, oi! Oi, oi!” moaned Ikey. “They will the basket haf overboard yet! Stop it! Stop it!”
It was Whistler who rescued the lunch basket with a firm hand. In the struggle Frenchy came near going overboard, but he fell into the bilge in the bottom of the boat instead.
“Wow!” he yelled. “Me clean pants! This old tub is leaking like a sieve, Whistler!”
Whistler and Al were peeping into the basket. Their delight was acclaimed at once.
“Good boy, Ikey!” declared Torry, smacking his lips. “You must have robbed the whole delicatessen shop.”
“You don’t know my papa,” declared Ikey with pride. “He would like to feed the whole American Navy—that’s the way he feels about it.”
“He’s all right,” agreed Torry. “Come on, now, fellows, let’s stir around. The best of the day will be gone soon. Don’t worry about your wet pants, Frenchy. Get up and pump out the bilge. She hasn’t been used for a fortnight, and of course some moisture has gathered.”
“‘Moisture?’ Good-night!” growled the Irish lad, setting to work as he was told with the tin pump. “I bet I have to sit and do this all day while you fellows fish.”
The engine was only for an emergency. Captain Bridger had told them that. Gasoline was expensive. So Whistler and Ikey got up the sail, it filled, and they cast off the moorings. The catboat began to edge her way out into the cove. There was no rain falling; but fog wreaths rolled in from the sea.
“Get your scare!” shouted Whistler as he ran back to take the tiller. “Toot away once in a while. We don’t want to stub our toe against some other craft, and that before we get out of the cove.”