Dick Hamilton's Steam Yacht/Chapter 11

CHAPTER XI


PLUM DUFF OVERBOARD


Remaining on deck until the yacht was well on her way down the Jersey coast, Dick and his chums at length decided that they would go below and arrange their belongings in their staterooms. Captain Barton turned the wheel over to Ted Midwell, the first mate, who, with old Widdy, and his short pipe to keep him company, would navigate the Albatross until the commander returned on deck. Mr. Barton wanted to have a talk with Dick, to arrange certain details, and then pick out the two watches who would, in turn, have charge of the vessel.

"Isn't this slick, though!" exclaimed Tim Muldoon, as he gazed about below decks, and inspected the stateroom assigned to him. "It's great to be a millionaire!"

"Yes, it's lots of fun when you can have a boat like this," admitted Dick, "but——" He did not complete the sentence. He was thinking of the men who had attacked him in the dark, and those who had lured him to the other yacht. "A millionaire's life is not all roses."

Captain Barton showed the boys how to stow away their belongings to the best advantage. Dick's things had been put in the owner's cabin, which consisted of a large stateroom, a little parlor and a private bath.

"Oh, say, this is too gorgeous for me," objected the young millionaire. "I want a room like the other fellows."

"No, you stay here," advised Paul. "Don't you's'pose we want to put on some style when we have visitors? As soon as you come on board, down comes the blue burgee, to show you're ready for company, and then we chaps will escort 'em down below here, chuck a big bluff, and you can serve 'em with cocoa and cakes, or whatever other form of stuff they are addicted to."

"It sounds good," admitted Dick, with a laugh, and he was finally prevailed upon to occupy the rooms designed for the owner. Captain Barton had a good-sized stateroom near Dick's, and the other boys were provided with comfortable quarters adjoining, so they were all together. Grit was given a kennel on deck, but he knew the freedom of the yacht was his, and he poked his nose into every corner, from the engine room to the chart house.

Their trunks were put away, after their clothes had been taken out, and the boys arranged their rooms, donned suits in keeping with their characters as sailors, and then were ready to go again on deck. That is all but Dick and the captain, who wanted to have a talk.

"What's the matter, Henry?" asked the millionaire's son, as he saw the young iron merchant standing irresolutely in front of his stateroom.

"I don't know, but I can't seem to get used to it," was the reply. "Seems as if I'd ought to be hitching up, to go out and get a load of junk, or see a man about buying some, or else I ought to feed my horse, so his ribs won't stick together."

"Drop all that," commanded Dick, with a laugh. "You're out for pleasure now, and I want you to enjoy yourself. Get up on deck and watch the waves. Maybe you'll sight a wreck, and can get a lot of old iron out of it."

"Maybe," assented Henry, chuckling, but it gave him something to think about, and he hurried up the companionway with the others.

Dick and the captain discussed various details of the voyage. As the youthful owner was in no hurry, it was agreed not to crowd on any speed, but to proceed leisurely along, stopping at Savannah to see if Innis Beeby would join them, and then going on down the coast to Cuba. They would land at Havana, and from there Dick would begin to make inquiries concerning his mother's distant relatives. After that their program was not made out, but the young millionaire wanted to cruise about between Florida and Cuba, stopping at some of the many Florida keys, and, perhaps, spending a few days camping on one.

Captain Barton submitted to Dick a schedule of the management of the yacht, how he proposed dividing the crew into watches, and other matters which the lad, as owner, must sanction.

"I leave it all to you," said Dick. "We're out for a good time, and we're going to have it. I guess we'd all like it if we could help navigate some."

"Of course, you may," agreed the captain. "I'll be glad to teach you boys the rudiments of it, for it will be useful in case of trouble. Well, now that's settled, I think I'll go on deck and take the noon observation."

"And I'll watch you," said Dick, "for that's a good thing to know how to do. Another matter, Captain Barton, let the crew have plenty of good stuff to eat. I've read how sailors weren't treated any too well, and I'd like those on this boat to have the best."

"They'll get it," was the answer, with a laugh. "Your lawyer, Mr. Blake, said your father had written to him on that point, and the stores we took aboard can't be beat, even on an ocean liner. The crew will live higher than they have on many a voyage before this."

"I'm glad of it," and then Dick followed the captain on deck, while the other lads gathered about them to witness the taking of the noon observation.

The Albatross fairly flew along the blue sea, putting knot after knot behind her, leaving New York and Hamilton Corners farther and farther astern, and slowly forging toward Cuba, where, had Dick but known it, a curious and trying experience awaited him.

"Let's get Widdy to tell us a sailor's yarn," proposed Frank Bender, toward the close of that afternoon, when the lads had inspected every part of the ship, from the engine room to the chart house, and had even climbed part way up the shrouds.

"Fine!" cried Dick. "Widdy knows some good sea stories," and they gathered about the sailor who sat on a coil of rope, smoking.

"An' so," concluded the old salt, at the finish of his story, as he loaded his short, and rapidly blackening pipe, with some very dark tobacco, "an' so we was rescued an' taken aboard, an' the first thing my messmate, Marlinspike Ned, called for was plum duff, an' what's more, he got it."

"What's plum duff?" asked Paul Drew.

"It's a sailor's plum pudding," volunteered Dick, who had read many sea tales.

"Right," assented Widdy, "only it's better."

"I think I could make some," said the wealthy lad, who was not a little proud of his cooking abilities, and who had often shown his culinary skill when in camp.

"Ah, my boy!" exclaimed the old sailor, "plum duff ain't what it used to be. It ain't got the same flavor, split my lee scuppers if it has!"

"I'm sure I could make some that would have," declared Dick. "I'm going to try, too. Do you think the crew would like some?"

"Dash my belayin' pin, but they would!" exclaimed Widdy.

"That settles it!" cried the young yacht owner. "I'll make a lot, and we'll have some aft, too, fellows."

"Not any for mine, thank you," said Frank Bender, hastily, moving off to try a new acrobatic stunt he had been practising.

"Why not?" asked Dick, somewhat indignantly.

"I don't believe you know the difference between plum duff and sea biscuit," was Frank's answer, and he dodged behind a deck chair, to be safe, in case Dick threw anything at him.

"You'll see," was the yacht owner's comment, as he moved toward the galley, where a fat German cook, Hans Weyler, presided.

Dick's chums wanted to see him at work, but he shut himself in with the cook, and soon curious sounds proceeded from the galley. There was the rattle of pots and pans, and an occasional deep-voiced German exclamation, followed by Dick's calm words.

"Ach himniel! Vy you do it dot way?" cried the cook, so that he could be heard from one end of the yacht to the other.

"Because that's the right way," answered Dick.

"But, oxcuse me, Herr Hamilton, dot stuff should boiled be, und you haf roasted it on der oven alretty yet."

"Sure, Vm baking it. That's the proper way to do it. I'll steam it afterward."

"Ach! Vot a foolishness vaste of der good t'ings," was the cook's despairing remark.

"Fellows, there's going to be some fun before this plum duff is made," prophesied Paul Drew.

"It sure looks that way," agreed Frank, as he balanced himself on his hands and head on a coil of rope.

Dick was in and out of the galley several times. On each occasion he seemed to have accumulated a little more flour on his clothes or face. Finally, after more than an hour's work, he announced triumphantly:

"Now, fellows, it's done, and I want old Widdy to have the first sniff of it. He said I couldn't make one, and I want to show him that I can. Ask him to step here, Tim."

The newsboy found the old salt splicing a rope, and soon Widdy, having put away his pipe, stumped toward the galley. Dick emerged, gaily bearing on a large platter a round, brown, smoking object, with a cloud of steam hovering over it, and a most appetizing odor wafting from it all about the deck.

"Here, Widdy, take a look at this!" cried Dick, proudly. "Is this plum duff, such as you used to get, or not?"

"It looks like it," admitted the old sailor, carefully.

"How does it smell?" asked the young millionaire, holding it toward the old salt.

"It certainly do smell like it," further confessed Widdy.

"It is it!" insisted Dick. "Now the crew will have some for supper to-night, and I guess you fellows will admit that I can make a sailor's plum pudding as good as the next one."

With a smile of triumph at his chums, Dick advanced toward them, bearing the smoking platter. He was going to display the duff to them, but, as he neared the rail, the yacht lurched, and Dick gave a little jump to retain his balance. The platter tilted. The plum duff began to slide off.

"Look out!" shouted Frank Bender, making a spring toward Dick.

"I've got it!" cried the millionaire's son. He tried to straighten up, and, at the same time, keep the platter on a level keel. A moment later, before the eyes of all his chums, the elaborate concoction slid off the big plate, over the yacht's rail, and splashed down into the sea.

"Plum duff overboard! Plum duff overboard!" yelled old Widdy, stumping forward and catching up a coil of rope on the way. "Plum duff overboard! Lower a boat!"

"Well, split—my—lee—scuppers!" exclaimed Dick, slowly, as he peered over the side. "Wouldn't that frazzle your main topsail!"