Motor Boat Boys Among the Florida Keys - novelonlinefree.info
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"By the way, I notice that Jimmy doesn't get busy any longer with that shark line," remarked Herb, turning to the Irish lad with a questioning look.
"Then he must have given it up as a bad job," said George.
"How about that, Jimmy; are you ready to crown Nick as the king pin of the bunch when it comes to bagging big fish? Shall we get the laurel wreath, and put it on his brow? Will you admit that you're cleanly beaten at the game?"
Jack put the question direct, for he privately knew that Jimmy had yielded the palm. The other jumped up, snatched his banjo from the ground, and began to strum something that set the boys in a roar, and made Nick blush with pleasure. For the tune was, "Lo, the Conquering Hero Comes."
"How long have we been in making this splendid run from Philadelphia?"
Herb asked a little later, as Jack was jotting down some notes of the day's run in his logbook.
"Nearly three months, all told, counting our numerous stops," was the reply; "or it will be that when we get to New Orleans. December is nearly over now; Christmas has gone by, and the New Year only a few days away."
"Well, I haven't kept exact track, to tell the truth," Herb went on; "but I guessed it must be about that. Do you want to know how? Why, you remember that on our very first night out, the moon was just four days old?"
"That's a fact," spoke up George; "for I can recollect noticing it up in the western heavens, and wishing it would hurry along, so as to give us more light nights."
"Well, this is about the dark of the moon now," added Herb, triumphantly.
"No use for Herb to ever own a watch again," laughed Josh. "He just prides himself on being able to tell the time of day by the sun; and now he's shown us how he can find out what day of the month it is by the moon. Pretty soon he'll be using the stars to tell his age, and when he cut his first tooth. Once you start in along that line, there's just no limit to what you can do, I reckon, eh, Herb?"
"Well, all I can say, fellows," quoth Jack, as he slapped his logbook shut, and glanced around at the sunburned and healthy looking faces of his five good camp-mates, "is that we've surely had the time of our lives on this dandy voyage; and no matter what happens next, we're never going to forget the glorious runs our little fleet of motor boats have made outside, and in, along the whole coast, from the frozen North to the Sunny South!"
"Hear! hear!" shouted Josh, enthusiastically waving his hat above his head.
"You never spoke truer words, Jack," remarked George, with deep feeling.
"It's sure been the happiest time of my whole life; or would have been,"
he hastily added, while a slight frown broke over his face, "only for the trouble that blessed old motor gave me every little while."
"But you're all right now, George, with the new engine aboard," condoled Nick.
"Perhaps I am," replied the skeptical George; "but the proof of the pudding is in the eating of it. The new machine may go back on me yet."
"But, my goodness! you've had it, going on three weeks, and in all that time she only shied once! What better do you want than that?" demanded Herb.
"Oh! well, you never can tell," replied the skipper of the _Wireless_.
"Fact is, fellers," Nick declared, "George has become so used to looking for sudden trouble to spring on him, that he can't think of anything else. He's all the time watching for a breakdown to happen."
"Three weeks ought to satisfy him that his new engine is all to the good," remarked Josh, "but seems like it don't. Say, George makes me think of that Irishman who was always looking for trouble. He had been employed by the same railroad company forty-three years; but, getting too old for the work, he was let go. When some of his friends, seeing him look so doleful, took him to task, he shook his head and said, says he: 'It's not surprised at all I am; for ever since I began work here I've known it wouldn't be a permanent job!'"
And so they laughed and joked as the time slipped away.
Of course they did not intend passing around to the delta of the mighty Mississippi, when there was a much more convenient way of reaching the Crescent City by passing through the straits called the Rigolets, and thus entering Lake Ponchartrain; from whence, by means of the canal, the city could be gained.
It was on New Year's day, at about three in the afternoon, with a piping cold wind streaming down from the frozen North, that the little motor boat flotilla came to a last stop in a quiet boatyard near the great city on the river, which had seen the windup of a previous voyage of the club.
And, anxious as they were to hear from home, the six chums did not neglect to shake hands all around over the remarkably successful termination of their long and adventurous trip down the Eastern coast, and among the keys of Florida.
If the news they received was what they expected it would be, they intended to load the three boats on the first packet bound up the river, and then wend their way home by train.
Whether this plan was fated to be carried out or not, must be left to another book. Having attained the goal for which they had striven so splendidly; and with the bitter rivalry between Jimmy and Nick settled for all time, we can safely leave our young friends at this point, wishing them all good luck in other voyages which they may undertake in the near future.