But out yonder the shells were already in the water and the electric spark of excitement had flashed from end to end of that long line of gayly bedecked expectant yachts and launches, as down to them floated the strains of the Yale boating song as it is never sung at any other time, and thousands of eager eyes were peering along the course watching for the first glimpse of the dots which would flash by to victory or defeat.
The shells had now gotten away and were maneuvering to get into a good position at their stake boats, far beyond the sight of the gay company on hoard the Frolic, which could only guess how things were progressing by the rocketing cheers all along the line of anxiously waiting spectators.
Along the course the launches of the committee were darting thither and yonder like water-bugs in their efforts to keep the course clear. Presently arose the cries:
“They are off! They are off! They are coming! They are coming,” and far up the line the puffing of the observation train could be heard with now and again an excited, hysterical tooting of the engine’s whistle, as though in the midst of so much excitement it had to give vent to its own.
Presently two dots were visible, looking little more than huge water-bugs in the perspective, the foreshortening changing the long sixty-foot shells into spidery creatures with spreading legs.
The observation train following along the shore presented an animated, vari-colored spectacle, with its long chain of cars filled with beautifully gowned women and girls, and men in all the bravery of summer serges and white flannels. Banners were waving and voices cheering, to be caught up and flung back in answering cheers from the craft upon the river.
Peggy and Polly stood as girls so often do in stress of excitement, with arms clasped about each others’ waists. The boys stood in characteristic attitudes: Durand with his hands upon his hips—lithe and straight as an arrow, but intent upon the onrushing crews; Shortie with his arm thrown over Wheedles’ shoulder subconsciously demonstrating the affection he felt for this chum from whom he would so soon be separated and for how long he could not tell. The friendships formed at the Academy are exceptionally firm ones, but with graduation comes a dividing of the ways sometimes for years, sometimes forever. It is a special provision of Providence that youth rarely dwells upon this fact, and the feeling is invariably expressed by:
“So long! See you later, old man.” Captain Stewart and Commander Harold were a striking evidence of this fact. They had not met until years had elapsed and the common tie of daughter and niece had re-united their interests. But, another strange feature; they had as much in common today as though their ways had divided only the week before.