It had stopped snowing, and after dinner the party set forth in search of the Nancy Bell. By making a few inquiries they soon found her, and were welcomed on board by her young, pleasant-faced captain, whose name was Eli Drew, but whom all his friends called “Captain Li.”
The Nancy Bell was a large three-masted schooner, almost new, and as she was the first vessel “Captain Li” had ever commanded, he was very proud of her. He took them at once into his own cabin, which was roomy and comfortable, and from which opened four state-rooms—two on each side. Of these the captain and his mate, John Somers, occupied those on the starboard, or right-hand side, and those on the other, or port side, had been fitted up, by the thoughtful kindness of Uncle Christopher, for the Elmers—one for Mrs. Elmer and Ruth, and the other for Mark and his father.
“Ain’t they perfectly lovely?” exclaimed Ruth. “Did you ever see such cunning little beds? They wouldn’t be much too big for Edna May’s largest doll.”
“You mustn’t call them ‘beds,’ Ruth; the right name is berths,” said Mark, with the air of a boy to whom sea terms were familiar.
“I don’t care,” answered his sister; “they are beds for all that, and have got pillows and sheets and counterpanes, just like the beds at home.”
Mr. Elmer found that his furniture, and the various packages of tools intended for their Southern home, were all safe on board the schooner and stowed down in the hold, and he soon had the trunks from the station and the bags from the hotel brought down in a wagon.
The captain said they had better spend the night on board, as he wanted to be off by daylight, and they might as well get to feeling at home before they started. They thought so too; and so, after a walk through the city, where, among other curious sights, they saw a post-office built on a bridge, they returned to the Nancy Bell for supper.
Poor Mr. Elmer, exhausted by the unusual exertions of the day, lay awake and coughed most of the night, but the children slept like tops. When Mark did wake he forgot where he was, and in trying to sit up and look around, bumped his head against the low ceiling of his berth.
Daylight was streaming in at the round glass dead-eye that served as a window, and to Mark’s great surprise he felt that the schooner was moving. Slipping down from his berth, and quietly dressing himself, so as not to disturb his father, he hurried on deck, where he was greeted by “Captain Li,” who told him he had come just in time to see something interesting.
The Nancy Bell was in tow of a little puffing steam-tug, and was already some miles from Bangor down the Penobscot River. The clouds of steam rising into the cold air from the surface of the warmer water were tinged with gold by the newly-risen sun. A heavy frost rested on the spruces and balsams that fringed the banks of the river, and as the sunlight struck one twig after another, it covered them with millions of points like diamonds. Many cakes of ice were floating in the river, showing that its navigation would soon be closed for the winter.