The Wizard of the Sea/Chapter 1
INTRODUCING OUR HEROES.
"Hip, hurrah! Hip, hurrah!"
"Well, I declare; Mont Folsom, what is the matter with you?"
"Matter? Nothing is the matter, Tom, only I'm going to a boarding school—just the best place on the face of the earth, too—Nautical Hall, on the seacoast."
"Humph! I didn't know as how a boarding school was such a jolly place," grumbled old Tom Barnstable. "They'll cane ye well if ye git into mischief, lad."
"Will they, Tom? What for? I never do any wrong," and Mont Folsom put on a very sober face.
"Jest to hear the lad! Never do no mischief! Ha! ha! Why you're the wust boy in the town fer mischief, Mont—an' everybody knows it. A nautical school, did ye say. Maybe they'll take ye out in a ship some time in that case."
"They do take the pupils out—every summer, so Carl Barnaby was telling me. He goes there, you know, and so does Link Harmer."
"Then you an' Carl will make a team—an' Heaven help the folks as comes in your way," added Tom Barnstable decidedly.
"But we are not so bad, I tell you, Tom," said Mont, but with a sly twinkle in his bright eyes.
"Oh, no, not at all. But jest you tell me who drove the cow into Squire Borden's dining room and who stuffed the musical instruments of the brass band with sawdust at the Fourth of July celebration? You never do anything, you little innocent lamb!"
And with a loud guffaw the old character sauntered down the street toward his favorite resort, the general store.
Montrose Folsom continued on his way. He was a handsome youth of fifteen, tall and square-shouldered, with a taking way about him that had made him a host of friends. He was the only son of Mrs. Alice Folsom, a rich widow.
A moment after leaving Tom Barnstable, Mont reached the home of his particular chum, Lincoln Harmer. Throwing open the gate, he espied Link in the barnyard, and made a rush forward.
"Hurrah! hurrah! hurrah!"
"That settles it, Mont, you're going with me next term!" exclaimed Link, a bright fellow of our hero's age.
"If I wasn't I'd sing a dirge instead of shouting, Link. Yes, it's all settled, and I'll be ready to start with you Monday."
"Your mother has written to Captain Hooper?"
"Yes, and got word back in to-day's mail."
"I'm to buy a lot of things down to Carley's store and then go home and start to pack up. Come on."
Arm in arm, the two chums made their way to the large general store, where Tom Barnstable was again encountered. Here Mont purchased some extra underclothing his mother said he needed. While he was at this Tom Barnstable came close to him.
"When are ye goin' away?" he asked.
"Monday morning, six o'clock."
"Don't fergit the old man, Mont. We've had lots of good times—fishin' an' huntin', ye know."
That was Tom Barnstable, good-natured and willing to do, but an absolute beggar at the slightest chance.
"I won't forget you, Tom, not I," said the merry-hearted lad. "Here you are," and he slipped a shining dollar into the man's hand. A moment later he called one of the store clerks aside.
"Have you any of those April-fool cigars left?" he whispered.
"I'll take them."
The cigars bought and paid for, the boy put three of them in an inside pocket and then turned the fourth over to Tom Barnstable.
"Here, Tom, put the pipe away and have a real Havana to celebrate the parting," he said, and the old man immediately did as requested.
The cigar burnt all right for just half a minute. Then something began to bulge at the end. It kept growing larger and larger, forming into what is called a Pharaoh's serpent, three or four feet long.
Tom Barnstable's eyes began to blaze. He stared at Mont wildly.
"Who—what—what is that?" he stammered. "Great Scott! I've got 'em!"
And, dashing the weed to the floor, he rushed from the country store, with the boys' laugh ringing in his ears.
"He'll remember you now, no doubt of that!" said Link merrily.
The day was Saturday, and it was a busy one for both Mont and Link, with packing trunks and bags, and getting ready otherwise.
The Sabbath passed quietly enough, and five o'clock Monday morning found the two boys on their way to Nautical Hall.
The run of the train was to New York, and here they fell in with their mutual chum, Carl Barnaby, a rich young fellow from their town, and several others who will be introduced as our story progresses.
From the Metropolis the boys took another train directly for the seacoast. At Pemberton they had to change cars, and here they met several more scholars of Nautical Hall.
"There is Ike Brosnan and Hoke Ummer!" cried Link. "Two of our fellows."
The newcomers were quickly introduced. Ike Brosnan looked a whole-souled fellow and full of fun. Hoke Ummer, on the other hand, seemed of a decidedly sour turn of mind.
"Hoke is a good deal of a bully," whispered Link, later on. "You want to steer clear of him."
"Thanks; he'll not step on my toes," returned Mont firmly. "The first man who tries to haze or bully me will get his fingers burnt."
"Oh, the boys will be sure to want a little fun. You mustn't be too particular."
"I don't mean that—I mean they mustn't go too far," replied Mont.
Little did he dream of all the hazings and larks to be played ere that school term should be over.
The journey to the seacoast was devoid of any special incident. The ride on the train was magnificent, and all enjoyed it thoroughly.
Towards nightfall a landing was made not many miles from Eagle Point. Here at the dock a long stage was in waiting to take them to the Hall. The four boys, along with a dozen others, got aboard, and they moved off rapidly for Nautical Hall, two miles distant.