I must say at the beginning that it was all my fault. Jerry says that it was just as much his, but it wasn’t, because I’m the oldest and I ought to have known better. To begin with, Father had to go to New York to give a talk at the American Architects’ League, or something, and Mother decided to go with him. At the last minute Aunt Ailsa got a weekend invitation from somebody she hadn’t seen for ages and went away, too, which left us alone with Katy and Lena. Katy has been with us next to forever and took care of Jerry and Greg when they were Infant Babes, so that Mother never imagined, of course, that anything could happen in two days. It wasn’t Katy’s fault either.
The first day was foggy, and the garden dripped, so we went down to call on Captain Moss, who lives near the ferry-landing. Besides having boats for hire, he sells such things as fishing-tackle and very strong-smelling rope, and sometimes salt herring on a stick. The things he sells are all mixed up with parts of his own boats and pieces of canvas and rope-ends, and curly shavings that skitter across the floor when the wind blows in from the harbor. There is a window at one end of his shop-place that goes all the way to the floor, like a doorway, and it is always open. His shop is half on the ferry-wharf so that the window hangs right over the water, very high above it. It is quite a dizzyish place, but wonderful to look out at. Far away you see boats coming in, and Wecanicut all flat and gray, and then right below is nice sloshy green water with old boxes and straws floating by, and sometimes horrid orange-peels that picnic people throw in.
That afternoon Captain Moss was mending the stern of one of his boats, and when we asked him what he was fitting on, he said: “Rudder-gudgeons.”
He grunted it out so funnily that it sounded just like some queer old flounder trying to talk, and we thought he was joking. But he wasn’t at all. Sometimes he is very nice and tells us the longest yarns about when he shipped on a whaler, but this time he was busy and the rudder-gudgeons didn’t behave right, I think, so he let us do all the talking. We told him a good deal about the bottle, and also something about the city under the sea. He said he shouldn’t wonder at it, for there was powerful curious things under the sea. He also said he supposed now we’d be wanting to hire the Jolly Nancy “fer to find submarine cities, sence he wouldn’t let us have her to go a-stavin’ in her bottom on them rocks off Wecanicut.”
We decided that he really didn’t want to be bothered, so we went away presently. To soothe him, Jerry bought some of the dry herring things and carried them home in a pasteboard box that said “1/2 doz. galvanized line cleats. Extra quality” on the lid. Lena cooked the herrings for supper, but I don’t think she could have done it right, because they were quite horrid.
The second day was the perfectly gorgeous kind that makes you want to go off to seek your fortune or dance on top of a high hill or do anything rather than stay at home, however nice your own garden may be. We agreed about this at breakfast, and I said: