In a few days satisfactory arrangements were made, which ended in their all leaving the Old Colony depot, Boston, in the half-past twelve train, for Wood’s Holl, where they arrived in two hours and a half. From that place they took the steamer for a nearly three hours’ sail to Nantucket, only to stop for a few moments at Martha’s Vineyard.
While they were thus ploughing their way on the mighty deep, Nantucket’s famous crier, “Billy” Clark, had climbed to his position in the tower of the Unitarian church of the town,—as had been his daily custom for years,—spy-glass in hand, to see the steamer when she should come in sight. Between five and six o’clock, the repeated blowing of the horn from the tower announced to the people his success, and became the signal for them to make ready to receive those who should come to their shores. Just before seven o’clock the steamer arrived. While she was being fastened to the wharf, Tom was attracted by this same “Billy,” who, having received the daily papers, was running up the wharf toward the town ringing his bell and crying out the number of passengers on board, and other important news, which Tom failed to hear in the noise of the crowd. A few minutes’ walk brought the party to their boarding-place. When Mrs. Gordon spied the soft, crayon likeness of Benjamin Franklin on the wall, as she stepped into the house, her historical pulse quickened to such an extent that she then and there determined to hunt up more about the Folgers; for was not Benjamin Franklin’s mother a Folger and born on this island? Then, as she saw about her some old portraits and copies of the masters, and, above all, a copy of Murillo’s Immaculate Conception in the dining-room, she was sure that the atmosphere of her new quarters would be conducive to her happiness and growth. The others saw the pictures, but they appreciated more fully, just then, the delicious blue-fish which was on hand to appease their hunger.
After a night of restful sleep, such as Nantucket is noted for giving, they all arose early to greet a beautiful morning, which they used, partly, for a stroll around the town. Of course, they all registered at the Registry Agency on Orange street, where Mr. Godfrey, who had entertained them by his interesting guide-book on Nantucket, gave them a kind welcome. Then they walked along the Main street, noticing the bank, built in 1818, and passed some quaint old houses with their gables, roofs, and sides, all finished alike, which Burdette has described as “being shingled, shangled, shongled, and shungled.” Tom was struck with the little railings which crowned so many of the houses; and which, since the old fishing days’ prosperity did not call the people on the house-tops to watch anxiously for the expected ships, were now more ornamental than useful. They passed, at the corner of Ray’s Court, a sycamore tree, the largest and oldest on the island, and soon halted at the neat Soldiers’ Monument, so suggestive of the patriotic valor of the island people. Later they found on Winter street the Coffin School-house,—a brick building with two white pillars in front and a white cupola,—which was back from the street, behind some shade trees, and surrounded by an iron fence. As they looked at it Miss Ray read aloud the words inscribed on the front:—