FICTION

PROTEST

This is a story about a buoy and a girl and a young man who lost his shirt but found that was one way to win

ROGER PETTIT January 15 1948
FICTION

PROTEST

This is a story about a buoy and a girl and a young man who lost his shirt but found that was one way to win

ROGER PETTIT January 15 1948

PROTEST

ROGER PETTIT

SINCE EARLY morning a procession of slooprigged Class E racing scows had paraded under billowing jibs along the windward shore of Lake Arrowhead. The coves and bays of the lake were strange waters to most of the polished scow bottoms; they had been brought in on trailers during the past week for the Interlake E Class Regatta. In honorof the regatta the little yacht club at Acorn Point flew every multicolored signal flag in the book and some not in the book. The members of the club had gone all out in their role as hosts to the visiting sailors—everyone, that is, except Bill Todd, president of the club’s Junior Auxiliary.

Unaware of the swanlike scows coasting majestically past his father’s pier, Bill, who up to live weeks ago had been the club’s most ardent sailing enthusiast, dejectedly tunneled his crew-cut head under a pup tent constructed of t he morning paper. Beside him. on a wire strung from the flagpole on the pier to a tree on shore, a Comet sail dried in t he sun. The sail was warm and crisp by now but Bill made no move to take it down. Both sail and newspaper served a purpose; they shut off from Bill’s vision the goings on at the Sawyers’ boat house thirty feet to northward.

Even though Bill couldn’t see next door he was painfully aware of all that went on. Briefly, a suntanned, deliciously, slender young woman would be posed on her pier next to the baby-blue deck of the Class E scow that Randall Hargraves, III, had sailed downlake from the exclusive North Shore Boat Club. With the breeze whipping her golden hair and her blue eyes sparkling, she would be holding one of the starboard shrouds to prevent the scow’s gleaming white-cedar planking from scraping against the pier. Bill had no trouble picturing all this because up until five weeks ago the girl with the blond hair and blue eyes had skilfully tended his own little Comet-class boat. That was before she had forsaken the old white clubhouse on Acorn Point with its rocking chairs and Sunday night family suppers for the cocktail parties on the glass brick and grey field stone terrace of the North Shore Boat Club.

The girl was named Sally. So was the sloop with the baby-blue deck. No one but an operator like Randy Hargraves, Bill decided morosely, would think of naming his boat after a woman. All of the E boats at Acorn Point were owned by old men like Sally’s father. Only at North Shore did the juniors sail t he big expensive scows themselves.

IINDER HIS improvised newspaper tent the ' relentless heat of the unsympathet ic sun made Bill gasp for air. Just as he turtled his head out for a sniff, the Comet sail shielding him from the Sawyers’ pier swished aside. Sally looked down at him.

“Hi, Bill,” she said softly.

“Huh!” Bill gasped. Then he saw that Sally was not actually suspended over the lake in thin air. She knelt on the stern of Randy’s scow, which was so infuriatingly sleek and long that it neatly bridged the thirty feet between the two piers. “Bill, listen to me,” Sally pleaded, and her quiet blue eyes were troubled, “why do you act this way?”

“Act what way?” he demanded belligerently, sitting up and clutching the funny papers to him. “How’m I supposed to act?”

“We could be friends—”

“Friends! After what we used to mean to each other?” This, Bill thought, is the crudest cut of all.

“But—you never really said anything, Bill about us, I mean.”

“Was I supposed to draw you a diagram?”

Sally paused unhappily and wrinkled her forehead in a frown. “If 1 asked you, would you come over to the regatta with us, Bill?”

“With that sour note?” Bill nodded toward Randy, tall and broad-shouldered, sauntering across the Sayers’ pier to take command of his sloop. “The answer is no!”

Randy grinned over at Bill and carelessly waved his pipe. Bill felt like a scrub-team substitute fumbling under the amused eye of the varsity captain. “Why don’t you try minding your own business?” he said angrily to Sally. He yanked back his flapping Comet sail with a flourish and retired once again beneath t ht* morning paper. Maybe Sally Sawyer believed that a man and a woman who’ve practically been engaged to be married

This is a story about a buoy and a girl and a young man who lost his shirt but found that was one way to win

every summer of t heir lives since t hey were six venrs old, can break up and still remain platonic friends, but not so William Todd.

After Randy’s scow, the Sally, had left to jom the cluster of gleaming sails off Acorn Point, Bid stood up and slowly stuffed the morning paper into his sailbng. He shook his head sadly. Sally was just making trouble for herself. Five weeks ago ho had fried to tell her, “Sally, you’re a good kid. It grieves me to see you making such a dope of yourself over that big stuffed shirt. What do you see in him— besides money?”

“Don’t be childish,” Sally’d answered, “Randall is a man of the wor—well, anyway, lie’s mature. He’s— he’s—-aware.”

“Aware? What ’s he aware of?”

“Of the finer things of life. After all, Randall works in a big advertising agency.”

“Uh-huh. His old man’s agency and he’s only a mail boy.”

“He is not! He’s a junior executive.”

“Is that the line he’s been feeding you?” Bill sighed. “Sally, you’re sweet, but you’ve got, a loi to learn.”

Totally fhe wrong approach. Nothing made Sally madder than to tell her she lacked experience. She hastened to inform Bill there was practically nothing she didn’t know and that little hit slic’d learn by experience. “And with Randy I’ll have .plenty of fun learning!”

That was the beginning of Bill’s retirement from life. But now on the long('untinued on /a/.gc J.'f

( (~~jf/P~I~4/ (~fl /)(Ige 33

Continued from page 17

awaited first day of regatta he wished he’d chosen some other means of registering his protest against the inconstancy of woman besides hiding out under a newspaper. He heard footsteps on the plank pier and turned toward shore. It was Sally’s father.

“Hello, Uncle Si,” Bill said dismally. “Bill, I need a crew for the race this afternoon,” Mr. Sawyer said, “Come on, man, shake a leg.”

“I’d like to, Uncle Si, but I can’t. I—uh—don’t go to the club any more.” Mr. Sawyer peered intently at Bill. “My daughter, eh?” he grunted. He offered Bill a cigarette, took one himself and they puffed in silence. “We’ve missed you around the house, Bill, this past month and, frankly, I don’t like current developments any more than you do.” He watched Bill’s serious face and tried to think back twenty years. He flicked his half-smoked cigarette into the lake and watched it sizzle out. “I think the time has come to hash this thing over, man to man. If you’re not coming to the club at least you can help me rig my boat.”

They walked along the retaining wall that connected the two proper-

ties and sneaked Mr. Sawyer’s Class E scow alongside the pier. Bill studied the familiar lines of the boat’s curved hull lying feather-light on the water. Uncle Si kept a very shipshape craft. The name Gimmick was printed in neat gold letters across her stern. Not matchbox-new, but all her rigging was in first-class condition. Seeing so much sheer beauty close at hand made Bill feel better than he had felt in five weeks.

For several minutes the two men worked in silence then Mr. Sawyer said, “William, I think we ought to do something.”

Bill scowled fiercely in concentration.

“Or rather,” Mr. Sawyer added, “I think you ought to do something.”

Bill looked desperate. He started to reply but changed his mind. “Something I’ve got to get,” he mumbled. He trotted next door and hauled his lucky red sailing shirt out of his sailbag and pulled it over his head as he ran back. It wouldn’t break his heart, he decided, any more than it was broken already to take it over to Acorn Point.

“Okay, Uncle Si,” he said when he got back, “if you still need a crew.”

They located Chuck Garrison, the third member of the crew, and dropped from the pier to the deck of the Gimmick. Mr. Sawyer was still talking

as though he’d waited a king time to give vent to his feelings. “We’re depending on you, Bill, to snap Sally out of this this fog she’s in. She moons around the house ail day making sheep’s eyes at a picture of that big handsome horse. Somehow I can’t trust that guy. Oh, he’s proper enough, calls me ‘sir’ and is very polite to Mrs. Sawyer, but 1 get the impression he’s secretly laughing at us.”

Mr. Sawyer ordered his crew to cast off. “And Sally I don’t know what’s got into her. She passed up a second helping of her mother’s chicken pie last night and she’s taken to calling everything provincial. She even says the club is provincial. That from Sally!” Mr. Sawyer shook his head and ducked it its the scow went about hard alee and the boom crossed overhead. “Apparently everything south of the North Shore Boat Club has suddenly turned provincial.” Mr. Sawyer sighed the kind of a sigh that can only come from the male parent of a beautiful female.

“What,” gulped Bill, “does she say about me?”

“Nothing, Bill, not a thing.” Nothing! That’s just about how I stack up, Bill told himself. He stripped off his outrageously red shirt and threw it down. He wished the regatta was over. He wished he hadn’t sailed. No use kidding himself any longer. He’d get a job in the city tomorrow and go live there at the ŸMCA. He never wanted to see the lake again. Without Sally it was just a cold hunk of water.

He felt a splash of that cold water in his face and turned quickly aft. Uncle Si shook a wet finger at him. “Don’t give up the ship, my friend. Sally likes you, we all like you. What you’ve got to do now is get in there and slug. Win her back, man. Stop sitting around like a bump on a log.”

“I know,” said Bill, “hut what can I do about a guy that’s older and, well, better-looking and owns a Class E scow?”

“Don’t tell me you’ve fallen for the myth about this bird! Do you know what my daughter said to me? She told me that everything Randall Hargraves, III, did, he did better than anybody else. Do you believe that?” “Heck, no! He’s just, it big smooth fat bag of hot air.”

Bill’s first-hand analytic observation pleased Sally’s father tremendously. He laughed till his sunglasses fell off. “Now you’re talking, man! The first thing we can do to get our campaign started,” he said, “is to beat the pants off him in this regatta. Are you with me?”

“Roger,” Bill grunted, “All the

way !”

\CCORDlNG to E Class Association Regatta Rules the first race on Tuesday afternoon was a tryout race with a small silver trophy to the winner, but no points to accumulate toward the grand total. There was a fresh wind making — almost gale strength anti the Gimmick loved the feel of it in her teeth.

On a broad reach, with her skyful of sail anti an over-all rigged weight of no more than eight hundred pounds, she seemed to pause, shake herself, then lift high in the water and plane tit fantastic speeds. Last yettr she’d established the lake’s unofficial speed record over a measured mile.

During the first of two times around the triangular course the Gimmick and Randy’s scow held close together, hut Bill was too busy to more than glance across the water at the proud square cut of Sally’s shoulders and the familiar profile of her trim body against the white sail. The blow came in puffs and demanded constant

balancing of live load to keep the scow on its most advantageous windward heeling angle. Chuck Garrison and Bill spent most of the race riding far out on the weather bilge board, hanging to the monkey rail and absorbing the cold green spray by the bucketful.

On the last leg of the race two boats from the North Shore Club blanketed the Gimmick and forced her off course, leaving a clear path for Randy to shoot across the finish line in first place.

“Keep your shirt on, Bill,” Mr. Sawyer said hastily. He was alarmed at the color Bill had turned under his tan, a dull shade of reddish-purple. “Tomorrow morning when the points count we’ll he a smoothly working unit. You two are a trifle overeager, especially you, Bill. On your spinnaker work you’re too anxious to bend on sail the instant we round the weather marker and come downwind. Give it a few more seconds to make sure you’re not fouled.”

The two races on Wednesday, the first official day of the regatta, were sailed in airs ranging from flat calm to fresh shifts and slants resulting in a two-mile parade of more than forty boats at the finish line. Randy won the morning race with Mr. Sawyer a poor third. Bill was so miserable his appetite left him. He cut his lunch to three hot dogs.

The situation improved considerably in the afternoon. The Gimmick moved up one notch and scored a second place with the Sally trailing six boats behind.

Tn AT evening the parking lot behind the Acorn Point clubhouse was full of green and maroon convertible station wagons. The North Shore had come down in strength to see how the other half of the lake lived.

Bill sat at the Sawyers’ table and drew designs on the tablecloth with his fork. Sally was in the ladies’ room. »She’d spent most of the evening there. Each time Bill attempted to talk to her he caught her looking toward Randy who was dancing with a tall dark girl in a white dress. Sally wore a yellow dress which Bill, with enthusiasm if not originality, had described as terrific. Sally miserably wished she’d sent it back the day it arrived.

Bill got up and wandered over to join the skippers and crews from Loon Lake. They analyzed the merits of elliptical masts, flexible booms, and most of the women present, but Bill found himself straining to hear what was being said in the grill room to his right.

The North Shore bunch had left off poking fun at the moth-eaten moose head over the fireplace and the pictures of past commodores on the wall and were kidding Randy about something. Bill’s heart rolled over and gave a violent chug as he heard Sally’s name mentioned. Randy was telling his exotic dancing partner that she’d have to break down and admit that Sally was beautiful.

“How is she,” the dark girl laughingly asked him, “when it comes to parking in the dark up on Mount Lookout?”

“Not that,” laughed Randy. “Parking on Mount Lookout is off limits. She promised mommy and daddy. We had a fight about it last night . . . the little kitten has quite a temper . . . all of which is none of your business, m’pretty.”

Bill excused himself and went out on the front porch. He sat on the railing and concentrated on the blinker buoy off Bishop’s Rock. So that was why Sally had asked him to dinner. She and Randy had fought. Learning by experience the Randy Hargraves way was not what it was cracked up to be. Bill sighed with relief. Good old Sally . . .

women just don’t come any—any— more wonderful! He guessed he’d known right along that it would be only a matter of time before she’d come to her senses.

Armed with an entirely new set of values, Bill stationed himself near the ladies’ room and captured Sally when she came out. “Dance?” he asked. It was more a command than a request. The situation called for tact but above all, for her own good, Sally needed discipline.

“Pretty slinky article dancing with Randy,” Bill observed, nodding in the direction of the girl in tiie white dress. “Kind of scrawny but definitely his type.” He held Sally confidently tight around the waist and energetically adapted his determined fox trot to rumba rhythm.

He looked down at Sally’s blond head on his shoulder. The little darling! It would take courage but it had to be done. “1 notice Randy hasn’t danced with you tonight.”

No answer.

“It grieves me to have to be the one to tell you, but let this be a lesson to you, m’pretty.” This last expression Bill had but recently added to his vocabulary.

He felt Sally’s hand on his chest, pushing, and suddenly she was no longer in his arms.

“I’m not your kid sister, William Todd,” she blazed. “So don’t try to tell me what to do! On account of I’ve always liked you I’ve tried to be nice to you, but now’, for all 1 care, you can go jump off the dock!”

She turned and marched over to the long table in the corner and sat down between two men from the North Si lore Club. They were extremely glad to see her. So was Randy. He stopped dancing and came over to the table.

Very shortly after, Sally and Randy left the club arm in arm.

When Bill got home he W’ent through the motions of going to bed but there wasn’t much point to it. Sleep just wouldn’t come. He sat on the dark front porch in his pyjamas and watched the running lights of a speedboat mingle with the fireflies in the trees. Next door an orange spark arched out. from the porch into the night. Bill, too, lit a cigarette to let Uncle Si know that he was not alone in his vigil.

Bill must have dozed and when he awoke it was to hear angry voices. He shook his head hard to clear his mind. Mr. Sawyer’s voice was angry, Sally’s defiant—and that slightly amused but well-controlled tone, of course, belonged to Randall Hargraves, III. The words “Mount Lookout” and “disobedience” kept ringing in Bill’s ears long after the light in Sally’s room had gone out. The faint rose flush of dawn touched the eastern sky as he went up again to bed.

The wind on Thursday showed little improvement over the dullness of the day before. “You know the lake better than anybody I know,” Uncle Si said when he met Bill down on the pier, “suppose you plot our course for today.”

Bill looked in amazement at Mr. Sawyer. How could he talk so calmly of sailboats? Except for the hollows under his eyes and the worried crow’sfeet around them, Sally’s father showed no effects of the tragedy of several hours ago. Not so Bill; he had eaten no breakfast at all. “What are we going to do now?” he blurted.

“Nothing,” sighed Mr. Sawyer, “besides wait. When you have children, Bill, take my advice and order boys. Girls are so adorable and then one day they tear your heart out.”

“I know,” said Bill, unconsciously massaging his chest.

“In time you get used to it, though. Sally’s mother and I have always tried to avoid driving Sally into anything she’ll regret. We may wake up one day

and find she isn't a member of our family at all any more.”

“Holy smokes! Uncle Si,” Bill groaned, “Sally isn’t—she’s not going to marry Randv?”

“I’m afraid she would if he asked her. Sally has a mind of her own . . . Everything seemed to be well under control last evening before we left you two at the club. 1 can’t understand what happened.”

“I drove lier to it,” Bill accused himself dismally, “me and my big mouth.”

Bill looked so biliously green that Mr. Sawyer was alarmed. “Hold on, man,” he said, “all is not lost—yet. We’ve got to take things as they come. For the time being, let’s concentrate on getting the regatta out of the way.” “What good’ll that do, even if we win it?”

“It won’t do us any harm, I know my daughter that well.”

THE GIMMICK tucked away the race Thursday morning handsdown. With points toward the grand total accumulat ing on the basis of one point for finishing and one peint fer every boat beaten, the Gimmick and the Sally sailed into the last race well up among the top scorers. If either boat beat the other and finished within the first five places, she would carry home the massive bronze regatta trophy.

Twenty minutes after the start of the deciding race the Sally and the Gimmick lay side by side becalmed with a dozen other boats less than a thousand yards from the starting line. The hot sun broiled their crews and the few vagrant whispers of wind spilled out of their sails.

Bill lay on his back on deck gazing at the limp sail against the hot sky. Last night had brought his morale to an irreducible minimum. Every look across the water at Sally chewed another edge from his heart. He tried desperately not to think of Sally as the property of another luckier man, but life can’t be viewed through the small end of a telescope. He decided that it wouldn’t do much good to go to the city and bury himself in a job. The city was too near and his troubles too big. He’d sign on a banana boat bound for Central America and jump ship and stay there and rot in the steaming jungle.

The pennant on the masthead fluttered and Bill sat up and wrinkled his nose. There was freshness in the dull air. “Wind’s stirring ” he announced. He went forward and scratched the mast for luck. “It’ll probably shift and come out of that bay over on the west, shore.”

The wind did shift west and sprinted down the mountainside and out. of the bay. All around him Bill heard the noise and shouting of E boat crews scrambling into action. The Gimmick, lying out toward the lake’s centre, caught the breeze first and scudded on a broad reach for the first marker. As they rounded the buoy Bill was already running up the balloon spinnaker.

“Look at those stinkers right behind us!” Bill shouted, pointing to Randy’s scow fast crowding the buoy. Still looking astern at the beautiful job Sally was doing with Randy’s parachute spinnaker, Bill wound his own spinnaker halyard around his right hand and hauled hard. He cleated the line down neatly and prayed that the wind would hold and keep the huge white mushroom-shaped sail full and pulling.

He looked aloft and swore. Of all the lubberly tricks! There, high up on the strut which held the spinnaker block, he spied his red sailing shirt.

Mr. Sawyer chuckled dryly. “I

warned you, Bill, not to be too anxious to cram on sail. You even fly your own shirt. What happened, did it catch in the hook on the peak?”

“Guess so,” Bill admitted sheepishly. The wind held and the bulging parachute spinnaker lifted the Gimmick till she planed on the lake’s smooth surface. Bill bent down and hung over the side trying to peer under the spinnaker to gauge their approach to the buoy. As he went forward ready to haul in the extra sail for the beat to windward, which was the next leg of the race, he looked hack at the Sally. “What a spot we’re in,” he chortled, “We can cover any manoeuvre they pull out of the bag!”

When the marker was less than fifty feet ahead Bill began to haul in the spinnaker—but she refused to c me down. “She won’t drop!” he shouted frantically to Mr. Sawyer. “My shirt’s fouled in the block!”

They dropped the buoy to starboard and began to blow off course. “Can you go up after it?” Mr. Sawyer shouted. “We’ll try to hold her steady.”

Bill thrust a sheath knife into his trouser top and began to climb the smoothly varnished rectangular mast. The sharp edges of the sail track dug into his elbows and toes. The flapping spinnaker covered him and whipped at his face. Down below the water seemed unbelievably far away. He reached his hateful red shirt and slashed it with the knife to dig it free of the block. Suddenly he felt in the pit of his stomach the beginning of the slow curved swing downward that meant the Gimmick was going over.

For long helpless seconds his dead weight hung from the mast and he watched the sun-flecked water rush up to meet him. Fie twisted frantically to drop clear of the engulfing folds of the mainsail. When he came to the surface the sail lay white and tentlike on the lake.

Chuck and Mr. Sawyer had scrambled over the scuppers out onto the bilge hoard and were straining to right the corklight hull before the sail filled with water. Even lying on its side the hull drew no more than twelve inches leaving the narrow cockpit high and dry. “Lift the masthead!” Mr. Sawyer shouted. “See if we can break the suction on the sail?”

Bill swam to the masthead and tried to free it. He braced both feet against the shiny wood and shoved, pushing his own body down into the green water. The tiny pennant on the masthead hiftig limp and wet, hut clear of the water! He thrashed around the stern of the scow and climbed onto the bilge board. Slowly the mast and the wet sail lifted as the Gimmick’s crew pumped her upright.

They hauled the soggy spinnaker in over the bow and picked up the race squarely in the centre of the cluster of boats they had once left becalmed far astern. During that endless second lap around the triangular course Bill hated himself with an intense concentration. He savagely kicked his torn red shirt far under the deck. The brass cannon signaling the winner of the regatta boomed and echoed in the hills as Randy slid over the finish line. Bill wanted to roll up in a sail and hibernate for the rest of his life.

THF] Gimmick finished seven minutes after the Sally in fourth place. She moored next to a Lake Markham skipper who called to Mr. Sawyer, “Tough luck, old man, on that jammed spinnaker. You had the race sewed up.”

Bill winced and reached for his torn red shirt and automatically put it on. Sally crossed the pier and perched on the log piling at the Gimmick’s bow.

‘That was a very nice race you sailed, dad,” she said.

Bill watched her from the cockpit where he was slipping the soggy mainsail off the spars. A sympathy act from Sally Sawyer would be the last straw.

“May I please speak to your crew a minute?” Sally asked.

“Why, yes, I think that would be permissible,” Mr. Sawyer answered seriously. “Request granted.”

Numbly, Bill climbed onto the dock and stood beside Sally.

“Over here a bit,” she instructed him. When she had Bill squarely in front of open water she jabbed him sharply in (he chest with both fists. Fie hit the water on the hack of his neck, long arms and legs sprawling. A crowd gathered to cheer.

“What the—” Bill sputtered when he came up. Fie grabbled the tire bumper hanging on the dock and pulled himself up. Sally, with her eyes laughing, leaned over to help him. Fie took her warm hand in his, and with red blood in his eye and blue murder in his heart, he yanked hard and watched her tumble in.

“You old sorehead!” Sally accused him when she stood on the dock wrapped in a blanket. “Why did you have to throw me in? You ought to know better than to pull a girl into the lake when she’s wearing a wrist watch.”

“It’s waterproof,’’ Bill said defensively.

“Yes, but my white sharkskin playsuit isn’t!” She pulled the blanket tight around her shoulders. “Honestly, I was never so embarrassed in all my life . . . Besides, I only pushed you in because I wanted to be the first to congratulate you.”

“Huh? What for?” Bill demanded belligerently

“For winning the regatta, stupid. The crew of the winning boat always gets thrown in the lake. You know that.”

“Huh?”

“Randy was disqualified for fouling the weather buoy the first time around the course. You ought to know, you were the ones that flew the protest flag as soon as it happened.”

“Protest flag? Wh—” Bill suddenly remembered his red shirt flapping from the spinnaker strut. He started to explain but thought better of it. He looked over to where the commodore and the chairman of the race committee were extending official congratulations to the Gimmick.

“I think the least you could do is buy me an ice cream cone,” Sally said.

Up on the club veranda Bill sat soggily in a porch rocker and hitched Sally’s chair next to his. Smooth puddles of water fanned out beneath their chairs.

“Swell regatta,” Bill observed noncommittally, staring intently at a frozen strawberry in his cone. This was like old times, sitting on the porch with Sally, hashing over the post-mortems of a race, but Bill waited cautiously for the joker. He didn’t think for a minute that simply winning a regatta could mean everything to Sally. But still, women are hard to figure out.

“Randy wasn’t going to report that he fouled the buoy,” Sally said after a while without looking at Bill. “He told me to shut up about it. He said that nobody saw us and nobody’d ever know the difference.” She scraped her chair forward and put her feet on the railing beside Bill’s. “But when I saw you run up a protest flag I told him he’d have to turn in the foul to the committee. He was awful mad.”

Bill glanced down at the triangular hole in the midriff of his wrinkled lucky red shirt and came within a gasp of blurting out to Sally the truth about the Gimmick’s protest flag. Instead

he thoughtfully squinted between his feet at the club flagpole.

“It sure wras lucky you were racing in the boat ahead of us,” Sally said softly. “I can’t think of anybody else in the world who’d be dumb enough to get his shirt caught in the peak of a spinnaker. You sure are awfully wonderful, Bill.”

Bill felt his throat freeze as the strawberry cone lodged halfway down. “You mean you knew all the time?” he croaked. “But why didn’t you tell Randy?”

“It served him right and I was glad he got caught. Anyway, long before

I found out [what a sneak he really is, I wanted to come back to you, Bill, honest. I tried and tried to talk to you but you never would let me.”

Bill groaned and held his head. “I ought to have my brain overhauled!” “And after what happened last night, I thought you’d hate me.”

Bill was dismayed to see Sally trying to wink back her tears—tears for him, Bill Todd! With one heroic swallow Bill demolished the rest of his cone and took Sally’s hand in his. “Hate you? . . . Listen,” he said, “I think I’ll wear this shirt for luck when we get married.” ir