The train left so early the next morning that the sadness of parting was almost forgotten in the hurry of eating breakfast and getting down to the station. In the train Mark charged Frank to take good care of his canoe and rifle, Ruth begged him to be very kind to poor Bruce, who would be so lonely, and they both promised to write from Savannah. Then the conductor shouted, “All aboard!” hurried kisses and last good-byes were exchanged, and the train moved off.
Ruth cried a little at first, and Mark looked pretty sober, but they soon cheered up, and became interested in the scenery through which they were passing. For an hour or two they rode through a beautiful hill country, in which was here and there a lake covered with great pond-lilies. Then the hills and lakes disappeared, and they hurried through mile after mile of pine forests, where they saw men gathering turpentine from which to make resin. It was scooped into buckets from cuts made in the bark of the trees, and the whole operation “looked for all the world,” as Mark said, “like a sugar-bush in Maine.”
At Ellaville, sixty-five miles from Tallahassee, they saw great saw-mills, and directly they crossed one of the most famous rivers in the country, the Suwannee, and Ruth hummed softly,
“’Way down upon
de Swanee Ribber,
Far, far away.”
Soon afterwards they reached Live Oak, where they were to change cars for Savannah. They made the change easily, for their trunks had been checked through, and they had little baggage to trouble them. A few miles farther took them across the State line and into Georgia, which Ruth said, with a somewhat disappointed air, looked to her very much the same as Florida.
Now that they were in Georgia they felt that they must be quite near Savannah, and began to talk of Captain May, and wonder if he would be at the depot to meet them. Letters had been sent to Uncle Christopher Bangs, to Edna, and to Captain May, as soon as it was decided that they should take this journey, and Mr. Elmer had telegraphed to the captain from Tallahassee that morning, so they felt pretty sure he would know of their coming.
At a junction with the funny name of “Waycross” their car was attached to an express train from Jacksonville, on which were numbers of Northern tourists who had been spending the winter in Florida and were now on their way home. These people interested the children so much that they forgot to be tired, though it was now late in the afternoon. At last, as it was beginning to grow dark, the train rolled into the depot at Savannah. Taking their bags and holding each other’s hands tight, for fear of being separated in the crowd, the children stepped out on the platform, where they were at once completely bewildered by the throng of hurrying people, the confusion, and the noise.
As they stood irresolute, not knowing which way to turn nor what to do, a cheery voice called out,