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Title: The House Boat Boys
Author: St. George Rathborne
Release Date: January, 2004 [EBook #4941]
[This file was first posted on April 2, 2002]
Character set encoding: ASCII
*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE HOUSE BOAT BOYS ***
THE HOUSE BOAT BOYS
OR DRIFTING DOWN TO THE SUNNY SOUTH
BY ST. GEORGE RATHBORNE
Author of "CANOE MATES IN CANADA", "CHUMS IN DIXIE" "THE YOUNG FUR
The speaker, a roughly clad boy of about fifteen or over, caught hold of his companion's sleeve and looked sympathetically in his face.
The lad whom he called Maurice was better dressed, and he seemed
to carry with him a certain air of refinement that was lacking in
his friend, who was of a rougher nature. Despite this difference
he and Thad Tucker were the closest of chums, sharing each other's
joys and disappointments, small though they might be.
They had met just now at the post-office of a little country town
not many miles below Evansville, Indiana, as the afternoon mail
was being sorted.
"It's come, just as I've been half expecting it these four months,
Thad. The old couple I live with have sold their house and leave
for Chicago in a week. That turns me out into the Streets, for you
know they've given me a home ever since mother, who was a friend
of Mrs. Jasper, died; and in return I've tried to make good by
doing all their gardening and other work between school hours. Now
a son has sent for them to come and make their home with him.
Pretty tough on a fellow not to know where he's going to sleep
after a single week."
"Well, I don't know; if it comes to the worst, Pard Maurice,
you're a dozen times welcome to share my old bunky on the shanty-
boat. I'd just love to make another cot like mine, and have you
there. Say, wouldn't it be grand? Of course, though, you'd find it
a pretty poor contraption alongside the house you've lived in; but
if it was a thousand dollar launch still you'd be just as welcome,
and you know it," he said with a heartiness that could not be
The other looked at him affectionately, and was about to say
something in return when the window of the post-office was thrown
open as a signal that the mail had been distributed. So Maurice
stepped up to secure the usual papers, together with an occasional
letter, that came for the Jaspers.
Watching curiously, all unaware how history was making at that
identical moment for himself and Maurice, he saw the other smile
and nod his head, while an expression of delight gradually crept
over his face.
Then Maurice remembered that his chum was standing there waiting
for him to come, and together they passed out of the little
"If that doesn't beat the Dutch!" Maurice was saying, half to
himself, as he looked at the letter he was holding in a hand that
trembled a little despite his efforts to seem composed.
"Excuse me, old fellow, for not speaking up and letting you into
the facts; but you can see for yourself that the thing's kind of
staggering me a bit. Just to think of its coming today of all
times, when I'm most in need of a home. Talk to me about chance; I
guess there's something better than accident about this."
"All right; I agree with you, Pard Maurice; but suppose you let a
little light in on my dumb brain. Where's the letter from, and
what does she say?" observed the other, eyeing the envelope
dubiously, for he had a sudden fear that it meant the sundering of
the ties that bound them together.
"New Orleans, and it comes from Uncle Ambrose--you've often heard
me speak of him, and that he was a captain on a tramp steamer that
went all over the world picking up cargoes. For three years I've
lost track of him, but he hasn't quite forgotten his nephew
Maurice it seems. Listen to what he says, after telling me how
he's beginning to feel lonely without a relative near, and growing
old all the time. Sit down here where we can look out on the bully
old river, while I read."
Thad dropped beside him on a stone, and cuddled his arms around
his knees in a favorite attitude of his, while he prepared to
"We are billed to be back here in New Orleans about the fifteenth
of February, and if you can make it, my boy, I'd like to see you
here then. I've got a berth as supercargo open to you, and there's
a fine chance to see something of the world; for in the course of
three years we are apt to visit the seven seas, and many strange
countries. Be sure and come if you care to take up with your old
uncle. The older I grow the stronger the ties that bind to the
past appeal to me, and it will make me happier to have one of my
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