Read CHAPTER II of Fred Fearnot's New Ranch and How He and Terry Managed It , free online book, by Hal Standish, on ReadCentral.com.

Terry Olcott on deck.

Finding all their pleadings with Mrs. Hamilton in vain, Fred and Terry began making preparations for the long trip down to Texas, accompanied only by Evelyn.

While regretting to see her leave, her mother never objected to her going anywhere with her brother; so, after a few days’ preparations, they were all ready to start.

Mary accompanied them down to New York City, where she was to spend a week with Mrs. Middleton.

They finally decided to take a steamer from New York to New Orleans, and quite a party of friends accompanied them down to the wharf. The very best staterooms in the steamer had been reserved for them. Evelyn’s cabin was a bank of flowers, which loving friends and admirers had sent down for her.

Evelyn was a pretty good sailor, and had once crossed the Atlantic without the least bit of seasickness. Among the passengers was a family of New Orleans people, a father and mother and two beautiful daughters. The father was a rich New Orleans merchant whom Fred and Terry knew well by reputation, and, of course, the merchant and his family knew them in the same way Evelyn made their acquaintance before the vessel had actually passed through the Narrows. The two sisters fell in love with her at once. The elder sister was about twenty years of age and of exquisite Creole beauty. She was very much surprised when she found out that Evelyn could speak French as fluently as she could.

“Oh,” said Evelyn, “I spent a most agreeable time in Paris once. My brother and Mr. Fearnot are both quite good linguists, Mr. Fearnot particularly. He can learn a foreign language more easily and rapidly than any one I ever knew. Brother can learn it easily, too; but not as much so as Mr. Fearnot.”

Just as the steamer was passing out of the Narrows both Fred and Terry came up to where Evelyn was talking with the two French girls, and she introduced them to the boys.

Both the New Orleans girls looked at them as though somewhat surprised. “Why, Mr. Fearnot,” said one of them, “I’ve heard a great deal about you, but you are much younger than I expected to find you.”

“Oh, I’m a kid yet,” he laughed, and Terry proceeded to amuse them with some funny stories.

The elder of the two Creoles remarked that she was very fond of the sea.

“Do you ever get seasick?” Terry asked.

“No; do you?”

“Yes, every time I get out on blue water I have to pay tribute to old King Neptune. I’ve done my best to make friends with him, but I always fail. He will have his joke with me.”

“Ladies,” remarked Fred, “if you want something to laugh at until you reach New Orleans just manage to see Olcott when he is seasick.”

“Why, what is funny about it?”

“I can’t tell you. He makes funny remarks and queer noises.”

Evelyn laughed and said:

“Yes, he expresses opinions about old Father Neptune that I think he really ought to be ashamed of.”

“Don’t you get seasick?”

“Not unless the water is rough and the waves come rolling high, and then I have to retire to my stateroom for at least twenty-four hours; then I’m all right for the rest of the voyage, even if it extends all around the world.”

As they were rounding Sandy Hook a great many of the passengers sought the seclusion of their staterooms and cabins, for the waves were rolling very actively.

Evelyn and the two Creole girls, whose name was Elon, remained on deck longer than any of the lady passengers on board.

By and by Evelyn and the younger of the two Elon sisters retired to their rooms.

The elder one laughed and said to Fred:

“Mr. Fearnot, we two seem to be on quite good terms with the old man of the sea.”

“Yes,” returned Fred. “When I made up my mind to go South by water I began to make preparations to remain on good terms with Father Neptune.

“Why, how in the world did you manage to do that?”

“Why, don’t you know a remedy for seasickness, or a pallative, at least?”

“Why, no, indeed. What is it? I have never heard of any except lemons.”

“Well, lemons are very good, and will be effective if you tackle them twenty-four hours or more before beginning the voyage. I have a bottle of acid phosphate in my room, and a teaspoonful in half a glass of water soon equips one in such a manner that he can resist the effects of the motion of the ship.”

“Oh, my! will you give me a drink of it? I’m not at all seasick, but if the water gets any rougher I will be.”

“Certainly,” and Fred went to his room and soon returned with a glass with about two teaspoonfuls of acid phosphate in it. He went to the water cooler, filled the glass with cold water and presented it to the young lady.

“Drink about half of it,” said he, “and in twenty or thirty minutes drink the other half.”

She took the glass, tipped it up and drained every drop of its contents.

“By George,” said he, “you took a good dose.”

“Oh, I’m used to drinking phosphates; but never heard of it as an antidote for seasickness before. Have you had a drink of it?”

“Oh, yes; I’ve had two drinks since I left the wharf.”

He took the glass to his room, and when he came out he tendered his arms to the girl and went promenading up and down the deck.

Her father went to her and asked her if she felt any seasickness.

“No, father,” said she, “not the least bit. This gentleman is Mr. Fearnot, the famous athlete.”

“Well, well, well! I’m glad to meet you, Mr. Fearnot. I heard of you several times when you were in New Orleans. What’s become of your friend Olcott?”

“Oh, he’s on board, and so is his sister Evelyn.”

“Well, I’d like to meet him and his sister,” said the old gentleman.

“Father,” said his daughter, “she is just the sweetest and prettiest girl you ever saw in your life. I met her when we first came on board, but as the sea was a little too rough for her she had to retire to her room, and I hardly think that we will have the pleasure of seeing her again before tomorrow. Mr. Olcott, her brother, Mr. Fearnot tells me, is an awful victim to seasickness, and that he says and does funny things while old Neptune has a grip on him.”

Then she suddenly asked her father how her mother was.

“Oh, she is in her room actually groaning and making believe that she is going to die.”

“Oh, she does that every time she sails,” and the girl laughed merrily.

Mr. Elon remained with her and Fred for at least a half hour. Then he drew a package of cigars from his pocket said tendered one to Fred.

“Thank you, sir; but I never smoke.”

“Well you will excuse me, then, if I indulge.”

“Certainly, sir; certainly.” So he retired to the further side of the deck and lit a cigar by using a match made in Sweden which the fiercest wind cannot extinguish.

Then he began puffing furiously.

The girl squeezed Fred’s arm and said:

“Just watch him. You’ll see him slipping back to his room pretty soon. He’s no sailor.”

“Well,” said Fred, “you seem to be a pretty good mariner.”

“Yes; if you have any suspicions that I will retreat, just stick to me.”

“All right, I’ll keep an eye on you, for you are beautiful to look at, if you will pardon the liberty of expression.”

“Mr. Fearnot, did you ever see a girl who didn’t like such expressions?”

“Yes, I saw one once when she was struggling with an attack of mal de mer, and she had to yield to its effect in the presence of all the crowd, for there was no place for retreat for her. We were returning from Coney Island. The young man who was acting as her escort thought that he would compliment her by mentioning that she was the most beautiful girl on the ship. She thought it was spoken sarcastically, for she couldn’t conceive how a seasick girl could be beautiful, and then just at that time she was disgorging the dinner which she had eaten an hour or two before, so she turned on him and gave him a pretty sharp rebuke.”

Miss Elon laughed heartily at the story, and said:

“Well, I don’t blame her, for a girl thinks at such a time as that she looks as ugly as she feels, even if she don’t. Now, Mr. Fearnot,” she continued, “will you please go back and bring me another dose of that acid phosphate?”

“Certainly, certainly!” and he hurried back to his cabin and returned with the glass with the phosphate in it. Filling the glass with water, he presented it to her and suggested that she take only half the dose.

“All or nothing,” she laughed, and swallowed the contents of the glass.

She returned the glass to Fred with thanks, and he took it back to his cabin and took a dose himself.

To his astonishment the girl kept her feet admirably, and even when supper was announced she looked up at him and said:

“Mr. Fearnot, father and mother and sister have all retired. Will you take me down to supper?”

“With the greatest of pleasure,” he replied, with a smile. “You are a strong, brave girl, and you must pardon me if I give utterance to my admiration.”

“Thank you. Thank you very much, Mr. Fearnot,” and, taking his arm, she accompanied him down into the dining-room, where she was the only lady passenger present.

She ate rather a light supper, and so did Fred. The meal over, they went back up on deck, for all people when seasick want to be out in the fresh air, and if the wind blows strong and cold they are all the better for it.

Of course, the air wasn’t cold at that season of the year, but the wind blew fresh and strong from over the sea.

They walked about on the deck until ten o’clock, and then she said:

“Mr. Fearnot, you will excuse me if I retire.”

“All right,” said he, “but tell me, do you feel the least bit seasick?”

“No, indeed. I did expect to be, but that acid phosphate seemed to have been the very thing for me, and I thank you heartily for suggesting it to me.”

“Perhaps you had better take another dose before retiring. You may need some, too, through the night; so you may take the bottle to the cabin with you,” and he got it and placed it in her hand.

The next morning the passengers came straggling into the breakfast-room, some looking very pale and wearied; but the elder Miss Elon came tripping down the stairs like a sparrow.

While she and Fred were at the table her sister and Evelyn came in together.

Fred sprang up to accompany them to seats.

“How are you feeling, dear?” Fred inquired.

“Fred, I confess I haven’t gotten over old Neptune’s slap yet. Did he worry you any?”

“Not the least,” and then he told her about Miss Elon’s sister.

The younger Miss Elon was sitting alongside of Evelyn and remarked:

“Oh, Josephine never gets seasick.”

“So I found out last night,” replied Fred, “for we promenaded the deck until ten o’clock. She drank pretty freely of acid phosphate, and that removed the feeling entirely.”

“Oh, my, Fred! Why didn’t you offer me some of it?”

“I did for two days before we came aboard, but you refused to take it.”

“Yes, but I didn’t need it then.”

“Well, that is the time when you should have taken it. I see you are looking a little pale yet, and it isn’t too late to brace up with a dose of it now, but Miss Josephine has the bottle in her cabin.”

“Yes,” said her sister; “she gave me a dose of it, too, and, Mr. Fearnot, I wish you could have heard the many kind things she said about you. It’s a wonder your ears didn’t tingle.”

“Well, well, well! Now I know why my ears did tingle so last night. I am glad I know what caused it.”

Evelyn laughed with Miss Elon and remarked:

“He is good at that sort of thing.”

The breakfast set the girls all right, and they went up on deck and promenaded until many other ladies appeared, some of them still showing the effects of seasickness, but by noon they were all out, for the sea was by no means very rough, and the further south the ship plowed the more quiet the waters became.

Terry didn’t eat any breakfast that morning at all, unless sucking two or three whole lemons might be called by that name.

He came out on deck about ten o’clock, still entertaining very bad opinions of old Father Neptune.

He could have abused the old fellow better without indulging in profanity than any man living, but along in the middle of the afternoon he recovered entirely.

He took charge of Grace Elon, the younger of the two Elon sisters, and kept her laughing heartily as they walked to and fro upon the deck.

When they struck Cape Hatteras, where the water is always rough, it was quite late in the night, and some of the passengers felt the effect of it, which spoiled the pleasure of the evening.

The water is nearly always rough at that point on the Atlantic coast.

The next morning, though, the bosom of the ocean seemed to be like a vast mirror, so smooth was it. Seagulls were flying around, following the ship to pick up such bits of food as the cooks and waiters cast overboard. Some four or five gentlemen got out on the stern deck and with revolvers were shooting at the birds.

Nearly a dozen shots were fired without a single seagull being hit.

All sailors object to passengers shooting at Mother Carey’s chickens, as they call the seagull, but the average passenger has no such superstition.

“It’s a pity,” said Josie Elon, “to kill such beautiful birds. How white and clean they seem to be, and what beautiful white wings they have. Every feather seems to have been made of snow.”

“They are very hard to hit,” remarked Terry, “and only a good marksman can hit one of them on the wing.”

“Mr. Olcott, I have read in the papers about you and Mr. Fearnot being the best marksmen in the country. Couldn’t you kill one of them?”

“Yes, easily, and if you want a wing to place in your hat I will procure it for you.”

“I would like to have one so that I could examine the feathers.”

“Wait, then, until I can get my revolver and I’ll bring one down on deck here so that you can examine it to your satisfaction.” So he went to his room and soon returned with his revolver.

“Now, let’s get out on the middle of the deck and wait until one of the gulls flies over us, then he will drop down on the deck and he can be your prize.”

He waited for about fifteen minutes before a gull flew directly overhead, and then he quickly raised his revolver and fired. The bullet actually cut the bird’s head off and it fell fluttering to the deck.

Of course, the marksmanship created quite a sensation among the passengers every one of whom exclaimed that it was an accident, and that the gentleman might fire one hundred times again without bringing down another bird, but not one of them thought to ask the name of the gentleman who had fired the shot, for the ladies gathered around to examine the beautiful plumage of the gull.

There were two or three ladies on board who had wing feathers of the same kind in their hats, and some of them insisted on comparing the wings of the dead gull with some found on the hats of the ladies.

Naturally a dispute arose among them as to whether or not those on the hat were the same kind as those of the dead bird. Some, of course, were larger than others.

Terry suggested that he bring down another one that the comparison might be made as to the size and exact color to settle the question as to whether they were all of the same kind.

“See here, my friend,” said one of the gentlemen on the deck, “I’ll lay fifty dollars down here which says that you can’t bring down another one in fifty shots.”

“What!” Terry exclaimed, “do you mean to say that I can’t bring down another with fifty shots?”

“That’s just what I do, sir.”

“Well, you are a very foolish man, if you will excuse the expression.”

“Oh, I’ll excuse that,” said the man, “but I mean just what I say. If you had a shotgun I wouldn’t make the bet, but with your revolver you couldn’t hit another bird on the wing in fifty shots, and if you want to cover the bet I’ll double it with pleasure.”

“Do you mind my asking you another question?” Terry inquired.

“No; ask as many as you please.”

“Well, I would like to know how much money you have with you.”

“Oh, I’ve got enough to pay all I lose betting on your marksmanship. If you want to make the bet a hundred, or two hundred, or five hundred, show your money and I’ll cover it.”

“My friend, I really don’t want your money, but I will make it five hundred dollars just to show you how foolish you are to make a bet of that kind with a stranger. Probably if you knew me you wouldn’t make such an offer.”

“Never mind who you are, I’m betting on the marksmanship,” and the fellow drew a big roll of money from his pocket and began to count it to the amount of five hundred dollars.

“All right,” and Terry proceeded to count out five hundred dollars which he asked the young lady from New Orleans to hold for him, saying that she would be his stake holder.

“Oh, my! What if I run away with it?”

“Oh, I’ll take the chances of it,” laughed Terry.