Some bad news
“Well, she is smashed this time, sure!” exclaimed Jerry Hopkins, to his chums, Ned Slade and Bob Baker.
“What’s smashed?” asked Ned. “Who’s the letter from’?” for Jerry had a slip of paper in his hand.
“It isn’t a letter. It’s a telegram.”
“A telegram!” exclaimed Bob. “What’s up, Jerry?”
“She’s smashed, I tell you. Busted, wrecked, demolished, destroyed, slivered to pieces, all gone!”
“Our motor boat, the Dartaway!”
“Not the Dartaway!” and Ned and Bob crowded closer to Jerry.
“That’s what she is. There’s no mistake about it this time, I’m afraid. You know we thought once before she had gone to flinders, but it wasn’t so. This time it is.”
“How did it happen?” asked Ned.
“Yes, tell us, can’t you?” cried Bob. “What are you so slow about?”
“Say, Chunky,” remarked Jerry, looking at his fat chum, “if you’ll give me a chance I’ll tell you all I know. I just got this telegram from the Florida Coast Railway Company. It says:
“’Jerry Hopkins. Motor boat Dartaway, shipped by you from. St. Augustine in freight wreck just outside Jacksonville. Boat total loss, buried under several freight cars. Will write further particulars. J. H. Maxon, General Freight Agent.”
“That’s all there is to it,” added Jerry, folding up the telegram.
“All there is to it! I guess not much!” exclaimed Bob. “Aren’t you going to sue ’em for damages, Jerry?”
“Well, there’s no use being in such a rush,” observed Jerry. “Maybe they’ll pay the claim without a suit. I’ll have to make some inquiries.”
“Let’s go down to the freight once here and see Mr. Hitter,” suggested Ned. “He can tell us what to do. The poor Dartaway! Smashed!”
“And in a land wreck, too!” put in Jerry. “It wouldn’t be so bad if she had gone down on the Atlantic, chasing after a whale, or in pursuit of a shark—”
“Or with the flag flying, out in a storm, with Salt Water Sam,” interrupted Ned. “But to think of her being buried under a lot of freight cars! It’s tough, that’s what it is!”
“That’s right,” agreed Bob. “Just think of it! No more rides in her! Say, we ought to get heavy damages! She was a fine boat!”
“Come on then,” cried Ned. “Don’t let’s stand here chinning all day. Let’s go see Mr. Hitter. He has charge of all the freight that comes to Cresville, and he can tell us how to proceed to collect damages.”
“Yes, I guess that’s all that’s left for us to do,” decided Jerry, and the three lads started for the railroad depot.
They lived in the town of Cresville, Mass., a thriving community, and had been chums and inseparable companions ever since they could remember. Bob Baker was the son of a wealthy banker, while Jerry Hopkins’s mother was a widow, who had been left considerable property, and Ned Slade’s father owned a large department store.