“Can you carry all of us?” asked Peggy incredulously.
“Every last one, little girl, and a dozen more if you like. So fly to the east and fly to the west and then invite the very one whom you love best,” answered Captain Boynton, pinching Peggy’s velvety cheek.
“Oh, there are so many we love best,” she laughed, “that we’d never dare ask them all, would we, Polly?”
“Let’s ask all who are here tonight,” was Polly’s diplomatic answer, “then no one can feel hurt.”
“Hoopla!” rose from the other end of the porch where Durand, Ralph, and three of the other boys from the ships were sitting around a big bamboo table drinking lemonade.
And so the party was then and there arranged for New London’s big day.
Peggy and Polly scrambled out of bed the morning of the Yale-Harvard crew race, to find all the world sparkling and cool with a stiff breeze from the Sound. It was a wonderful day and already the sight presented in the bay was enough to thrill the dullest soul. During the five days in which “Navy Bungalow,” as it had been promptly named by the young people, had been occupied by the congenial party from Annapolis, old friendships had strengthened and new ones ripened, and a happier gathering of people beneath one roof it would have been hard to find. Perfect freedom was accorded every one, and the boys who had just graduated soon found their places with the older officers, for the transition, once the diploma is won, is a swift one. As passed midshipmen and “sure enough” junior officers, they had an established position impossible during their student days in the Academy.
The boys on the practice cruise also felt a greater degree of liberty, and the fact that they were the proteges of Commander Harold and Captain Stewart gave them an entree everywhere.
To Durand the experience was not a new one, for he had the faculty of winning an entree almost anywhere, but to Ralph and his roommate, Jean Paul Nicholas, as bright, merry a chap as ever looked frankly into one’s face with a pair of the clearest, snappiest blue eyes ever seen, the world was an entirely new one and fairly overflowing with delightful experiences. Then, too, they were now youngsters instead of plebes, and this fact alone would have been almost enough to fill their cups with joy. The other boys who came from the ships had been second-classmen during the past year, but were now in all the glory of first-classmen, and doing their best to make good during the cruise in order to carry off some of the stripes waiting to be bestowed upon the efficient ones during the coming October.
In the two weeks spent with Mrs. Harold at Annapolis, Mrs. Howland had learned to love Peggy Stewart very dearly and Mrs. Harold said: