“Halloo! here we are. Why, Mark, my hearty, this is indeed a pleasure—and little Ruth, too! Won’t my Edna be delighted!” And Captain May stooped down and kissed her, right there before all the people, as though he were her own father.
“Oh, Captain Bill!” said Mark, greatly relieved at seeing the familiar face, “we are so glad to see you. We were just beginning to feel lost.”
“Lost, eh?” laughed the captain; “well, that’s a good one. The idea of a boy who’s been through what you have feeling lost—right here among folks too. But then, to one used to the water, this here dry land is a mighty bewildering place, that’s a fact. Well, come, let’s get under way. I’ve got a carriage moored alongside the station here, and we’ll clap sail on to it and lay a course for the Wildfire. Steward’s got supper ready by this time, and Sister Emily’s impatient to see you. Checks? Oh yes. Here, driver, take these brasses, and roust out that dunnage; lively, now!”
When they were in the carriage, and rolling quietly along through the sandy streets, Captain May said they were just in time, for he was ready to drop down the river that night.
“Then I’d better go to a hotel,” said Mark.
“What for?” asked Captain May.
“Because I’m to go to Boston by steamer from here, and Ruth is to go with you.”
“Steamer nothing;” shouted Captain Bill. “You’re coming along with us on the Wildfire. Steamer, indeed!”
This seemed to settle it, and Mark wrote home that evening that, having received a “pressing invitation,” he was going to sail to New York with Captain Bill May in the Wildfire.
The burning of the “Wildfire.”
“Aunt Emily,” as the children called her at once, because she was Edna May’s aunt, welcomed them as warmly as Captain May had done, and everything in the cabin of the Wildfire was so comfortable that they felt at home at once. Supper was ready as soon as they were, and as they sat down to it Mark said he wished “Aunt Clo” could see it, for he thought it would give her some new ideas of what Yankees had to eat.
After supper each of the children wrote a letter home, and Mark and Captain May walked up to the post-office to mail them.
About nine o’clock a tug came for the ship, and very soon they had bid good-bye to Savannah, and were dropping down the muddy river towards the sea. As it was a fine moonlit night, the children stayed on deck with Mrs. Coburn to see what they could of the river, which here forms the boundary line between the States of Georgia and South Carolina. On both sides, as far as they could see, the marshes were covered with fields of growing rice, and every now and then they heard the sound of music coming from the funny little negro cabins which were scattered here and there along the banks.