But old Dillaway had something to say.
“Cap’n,” he says, looking round to make sure none of the comp’ny was follering him out to the ice-boat. “I’ve wanted to speak to you afore, but I haven’t had the chance. You mustn’t b’lieve too much of what Mr. Catesby-Stuart says, nor you mustn’t always do just what he suggests. You see,” he says, “he’s a dreadful practical joker.”
“Yes,” says Jonadab, beginning to look sick. I didn’t say nothing, but I guess I looked the same way.
“Yes,” said Ebenezer, kind of uneasy like; “Now, in that matter of Mrs. Granby. I s’pose Phil put you up to asking her about her son’s laundry. Yes? Well, I thought so. You see, the fact is, her boy is a broker down in Wall Street, and he’s been caught making some of what they call ‘wash sales’ of stock. It’s against the rules of the Exchange to do that, and the papers have been full of the row. You can see,” says Dillaway, “how the laundry question kind of stirred the old lady up. But, Lord! it must have been funny,” and he commenced to grin.
I looked at Jonadab, and he looked at me. I thought of Marm Granby, and her being “dying to know us,” and I thought of the lies about the “hod of change” and all the rest, and I give you my word I didn’t grin, not enough to show my wisdom teeth, anyhow. A crack in the ice an inch wide would have held me, with room to spare; I know that.
“Hum!” grunts Jonadab, kind of dry and bitter, as if he’d been taking wormwood tea; “I see. He’s been having a good time making durn fools out of us.”
“Well,” says Ebenezer, “not exactly that, p’raps, but—”
And then along comes Archie and his crowd in the other ice-boat.
“Hi!” he yells. “Who sailed that boat of yours? He knew his business all right. I never saw anything better. Phil—why, where is Phil?”
I answered him. “Phil got out when we jibed,” I says.
“Was that Phil?” he hollers, and then the three of ’em just roared.
“Oh, by Jove, you know!” says Archie, “that’s the funniest thing I ever saw. And on Phil, too! He’ll never hear the last of it at the club—hey, boys?” And then they just bellered and laughed again.
When they’d gone, Jonadab turned to Ebenezer and he says: “That taking us out on this boat was another case of having fun with the countrymen. Hey?”
“I guess so,” says Dillaway. “I b’lieve he told one of the guests that he was going to put Cape Cod on ice this morning.”
I looked away up the river where a little black speck was just getting to shore. And I thought of how chilly the wind was out there, and how that ice-water must have felt, and what a long ways ’twas from home. And then I smiled, slow and wide; there was a barge load of joy in every half inch of that smile.
“It’s a cold day when Phil loses a chance for a joke,” says Ebenezer.