Penny's father and mother had adopted Penny when he was a tiny baby. They had waited for him a long time but when they found Penny, he was exactly what they wanted. They named him William but they called him Penny because his curly hair was just the color of a brand-new copper penny.
When Penny was six years old, he started to go to school. There he met Peter who was eight. He was the best baseball player in the school. Peter lived in a children's orphanage because he didn't have any father or mother. The two boys were so fond of each other that Penny's father and mother took Peter to the seashore with them for the summer. At the end of the summer, they decided to adopt Peter. So, when the summer vacation was over and it was time to return home, the two little boys knew that they were going to be really truly brothers.
"Really truly brothers for ever and ever," said Penny.
Mother and Daddy had decided to leave the seashore the week after Labor Day but Daddy had to make an unexpected business trip so he had to leave the day after Labor Day.
Before he left, he put the sailboat away for the winter. Then he packed the car full of things that Mother said had to go back to town. When he finally drove off, there was nothing left for Mother and the boys to bring home on the train, along with Minnie, the cook, but one suitcase and the little traveling bag in which Really and Truly traveled. Really and Truly were Penny's kittens but by this time they had grown into two very handsome cats.
"It's a great relief to have Daddy drive all of those things home," said Mother. "I would much rather go in the train. It is more comfortable than riding in the car with my feet in a pail and the floor mop hitting me on the head every time we turn a corner."
"Do you remember last year," asked Penny, "when Daddy stopped suddenly and the basket of tomatoes upset just as I slid off the seat?"
"I certainly do," said Mother. "And you landed right on top of those beautiful tomatoes. And was I angry!"
"And did we have tomato juice!" cried Penny. "It was all over everything, wasn't it, Mother?"
"It certainly was," said Mother. "But mostly all over you and the floor of the car."
Penny laughed as he recalled the mess he had suddenly found himself in, with all those tomatoes.
"We can laugh about it now," said Mother, "but it didn't seem very funny when it happened. This year, there will be nothing like that. We'll have a nice, quiet, peaceful trip home on the train."
"When are we leaving?" asked Peter.
"Next Monday," replied Mother. "We will go up on the two o'clock train. That will get us home before the rush hour."
Monday morning, after the boys had had their breakfast, they wandered around the house. They didn't seem to know what to do with themselves.
"Seems funny not to have the sailboat, doesn't it?" said Peter, as the boys sat on the dock swinging their feet.
"Seems 'though we ought to go out in a boat the very last day," said Penny.
"We could go out in the rowboat," said Peter.
"All right, let's!" said Penny. "And let's catch some crabs and surprise Minnie. It would be nice to take some crabs home with us. Don't you think so, Peter?"
"Yes," said Peter. "I love crabs. And we won't get any more until next summer."
"Well then, we'll have to catch a fish for bait," said Penny.
Penny ran to the garage to get their fishing tackle, while Peter hunted for a clam to use for fish bait.
In a short time, the boys were settled on the end of the dock each with his line in the water. They were as quiet as two statues.
Then Peter began to pull his line. He didn't jerk it but pulled it in carefully.
"I've got one," he whispered to Penny.
Penny looked down into the water. Sure enough, there on the end of Peter's line was a good-sized fish. It was fighting hard but Peter knew how to handle his line and he landed the fish, flip-flapping, onto the dock.
Ten minutes later, Peter and Penny were out in the rowboat with half of the fish fastened to Penny's line and the other half fastened to Peter's. They sat motionless a long time, staring into the water.
"Don't seem to be any crabs this morning," said Penny.
"Sometimes they come along all at once," said Peter.
"I know," said Penny. "But sometimes you have to go someplace else."
"Well, let's wait a little longer," said Peter. They sat waiting.
All of a sudden, Peter picked up the net and scooped down into the water.
"Got one!" he said, as he lifted the net. "A great big one."
"Me, too!" said Penny. "Quick, Peter, get it."
Peter emptied his crab out of the net into the basket that the boys had placed in the center of the rowboat. Then he scooped up the crab that was busy nibbling away at the fish on the end of Penny's line.
Suddenly, the water around the boat was full of crabs. Peter scooped them up, one after another, as fast as he could. In no time at all, the boys had caught about fifty crabs.
"Aren't they beauts!" cried Peter.
"They're the biggest crabs I have ever seen," said Penny.
Peter looked across the water toward the house on the cliff. Then he said, "Lunch is ready. Minnie has put the signal out."
At mealtimes, Minnie always hung an old red sweater on the clothesline. This was the signal to come home.
"Well, we made a good haul," said Penny, as Peter began pulling on the oars.
When the boat was secured to the dock, the boys lifted the basket of crabs out of the boat.
"They're lively critters, aren't they?" said Peter, watching the big green crabs.
"They sure are the biggest crabs we've caught all summer. They must all be granddaddies," said Penny.
The boys carried the basket between them to the back door.
"Look, Minnie!" cried Penny. "Look at the beautiful crabs we caught."
"Crabs!" cried Minnie. "What made you catch crabs? What are we going to do with crabs when we're going home on the two o'clock train?" Minnie came to open the screen door to let the boys in.
"Goodness!" she cried. "All those crabs! How many have you got there?"
"About fifty," said Peter.
"Fifty crabs!" cried Minnie. "Fifty crabs, and we're going home on the two o'clock train."
"But they're beautiful crabs, Minnie," said Penny. "You never saw such beautiful crabs. Look how big they are."
"I'm looking at them," said Minnie. "But what I want to know is what you're going to do with them."
Just then, Mother came into the kitchen.
"Look, Mother!" cried Penny. "Look at the beautiful crabs we caught."
"But what are we going to do with them?" asked Mother.
"That's just what I want to know," said Minnie.
"We can take them home with us," said Peter. "They will be all right in this basket. We can put more seaweed over them. They'll be all right in the train. And I love crabs."
"So do I," said Penny.
Minnie grunted. Then she said, "Come along. Lunch is getting cold. Never know what you boys will bring into the house."
"Well, the boys will have to carry the basket of crabs," said Mother. "In fact, they will have to take full charge of them. Minnie and I have enough to take care of."
"Okay!" said Penny. "We'll take care of them, won't we, Peter?"
"Sure!" said Peter.
Mother had the one remaining suitcase packed and Minnie had a large black leather bag and a shopping bag. In the shopping bag she had odds and ends. It was filled with half-empty packages of flour, cocoa, sugar, cornstarch, and raisins- things that Minnie would use up when they got back home. Also, into the shopping bag went Minnie's favorite gadgets, such as the can opener, knife sharpener, and apple corer. Sticking out ...