A brisk wind held the many sails taut as the beautiful ship sailed away from the port the following day. It had only been a short stop where they had picked up a few crates of fresh food and a new mechanic and dropped off one energetic graduate.
Now they were hightailing it for the open seas and Mr. Dower was busily supervising the after lunch clean up while Mr. Harble took a short rest. He was just refilling the liquid soap in one of the dishwashers when the ship slowed to a halt, with a little jolt at the end that sent two plates crashing to the ground.
Benny stared at Mr. Dower with wide eyes, “They’ve stopped the ship!” he stated the obvious.
“The question is, what for?” said Mr. Dower, his brow furrowed in thought. “Why don’t you run along and see if you can’t find out what’s going on then come right back and report it.”
“Ok!” Benny practically bounced out of the room, delighted at the opportunity to get out of dishwashing and do a bit of first class eavesdropping with the permission of his boss.
An order to stop the ship could only come from the captain, so he hurried to the rear of the ship where the captain’s office and quarters were located. He took most halls at the pace of a fast walk that was only just barely under a run, and he actually ran down some empty halls. There were other boys and girls going the same direction as he was, clearly also wanting to know what was going on. There was a large, noisy gathering of students clogging the hallways near the captains office and a few teachers trying to establish order.
Benny joined the excited throng and after a few minutes, the captain emerged from his office and said, in his loud, booming voice, “Silence everyone!”
Everyone obeyed, so the captain continued. “Sorry for the slight jolt that was caused by our stopping. We have only stopped to pick up a new student coming from our last port. He should be here soon, and we will continue on our way. Please return to your daily activities.” No body moved. “Now!” said the captain, “get—scram!” he waved his arms and everyone quickly dispersed.
Benny hurried away, then looped back a different way and returned quietly to the hall in time to hear the captain say, as he closed the door to his office, “I sure hope Jimmy’s right about this kid as he’s already put us through a lot of trouble.”
Then the door closed and Benny dared not get caught with his ear to the door of the captain’s office, so he skipped away to tell the assistant cook what he had heard. He only stopped briefly at Kendal’s door (which was practically on the way) to fill her in on what was going on.
An hour later, Mr. Dower received an order from the captain’s office for a BLT sandwich, a bowl of tomato soup and a glass of root beer. Benny was the quickest to volunteer to take it, so, much to the envy of the other boys, he found himself on his way back to the rear of the ship, this time moving slower so as not to spill the root beer. When he arrived at the door to the office, he balanced the tray on one arm and knocked. The door was opened by the pretty Miss Pennington, the first mate, but Benny looked right past her into the room and saw Jimmy sitting at the big conference table with a scrawny, dirty little boy in rags next to him. The small boy sat with his legs crossed and a very serious expression on his narrow little face which brightened just a little at the sight of the food Benny was holding.
“Thank you,” said Miss Pennington politely, taking the tray and closing the door. Benny stood there for a moment, wishing he was on the other side of the door, then he dashed away to report what he had seen, first to Kendal, then to Mr. Dower.