The next morning was gray and chill, for it was late in November. The first snow of the season was falling in a hesitating sort of a way, as though it hardly knew whether to come or not, and it was still quite dark when Mrs. Wing woke Mark and Ruth, and told them to hurry, for the stage would be along directly. They were soon dressed and down-stairs, where they found breakfast smoking on the table. A moment later they were joined by their parents, neither of whom could eat, so full were they of the sorrow of departure. The children were also very quiet, even Mark’s high spirits being dampened by thoughts of leaving old friends, and several tears found their way down Ruth’s cheeks during the meal.
After breakfast they said good-bye to the Wings, and went over to their own house to pack a few remaining things into hand-bags, and wait for the Skowhegan stage.
At six o’clock sharp, with a “toot, toot, toot,” of the driver’s horn, it rattled up to the gate, followed by a wagon for the baggage. A few minutes later, with full hearts and tearful eyes, the Elmers had bidden farewell to the little old house and grand trees they might never see again, and were on their way down the village street, their long journey fairly begun.
The schooner “Nancy bell.”
It lacked a few minutes of nine o’clock when the stage in which the Elmers had left Norton drew up beside the platform of the railway station in Skowhegan. There was only time to purchase tickets and check the baggage, and then Mark and Ruth stepped, for the first time in their lives, on board a train of cars, and were soon enjoying the novel sensation of being whirled along at what seemed to them a tremendous rate of speed. To them the train-boy, who came through the car with books, papers, apples, and oranges, and wore a cap with a gilt band around it, seemed so much superior to ordinary boys, that, had they not been going on such a wonderful journey, they themselves would have envied him his life of constant travel and excitement.
At Waterville they admired the great mills, which they fancied must be among the largest in the world; and when, shortly after noon, they reached Bangor, and saw real ships, looking very like the pictures in their geographies, only many times more interesting, their cup of happiness was full.
Mark and Ruth called all the vessels they saw “ships;” but their father, who had made several sea-voyages as a young man, said that most of them were schooners, and that he would explain the difference to them when they got to sea and he had plenty of time.
The children were bewildered by the noise of the railroad station and the cries of the drivers and hotel runners—all of whom made violent efforts to attract the attention of the Elmer party. At length they got themselves and their bags safely into one of the big yellow omnibuses, and were driven to a hotel, where they had dinner. Mark and Ruth did not enjoy this dinner much, on account of its many courses and the constant attentions of the waiters.