I.From New York to Aspinwall.
"TELL us a story, aunty,—tell us a story," came in pleading tones from a group of children; and they watched my face with eager eyes to see if I looked willing.
"A story, children; what shall it be about?"
"About the places you went to while you were gone, and the people you saw."
"Now, aunty," said Carrie, who was one of the older ones, "we are going to be here a whole month, and if you will tell us a story every day, we shall know all about your journey."
I thought the matter over for a few minutes. "Well, children," said I, "I'll make a bargain with you. If you will promise to get your work done nicely every day by four o'clock, I will tell you a story until tea-time."
"A bargain! a bargain!" shouted the children.
It was winter when we went away, you remember, though there was no snow on the ground. We went on board the steamer Ocean Queen, in New York, on the 12th of January. Uncle George went down with us, and what a crowd there was on the wharf,—men and boys, coachmen and porters! It was some time before our carriage could get inside the wharf-gates, and when I got out, it seemed as if horses' heads were all about me; but seeing Uncle George was not afraid, I took courage, and keeping close behind him, soon left the horses. I found the people were worse than the horses; but after many jostlings and pushings, I got into the saloon, safe and sound, all but a rent in my dress.
Grandma and I stayed there, while grandpa and Uncle George went to look after the baggage. Strangers were all around us, and we couldn't tell who were our fellow-voyagers, and who not. Soon one and another of our friends came to say good-by. It was all very much confused, and we were glad finally when we were actually off.
Then I took a look at the stateroom where we were to spend ten nights. What a little box, almost too small to turn round in!—and our berths had so little space between them that we couldn't sit up at all. We went to bed early, quite disgusted with sea-life to begin with, and were wondering how we could get along for ten days thus cooped up, with hard beds, and not much to eat; for we had had no dinner that day, when—crash! a shock—and the machinery stopped! What could it be? Heads were popped out of staterooms, and "What's the matter?" was in every mouth. We had run into a small schooner, which had imprudently tried to cross our bows. For an hour there was noise overhead,—men running across the deck; and then all was still, only the thump, thump of our engine; so we went to sleep, thanking our Heavenly Father that no worse thing had happened to us.
"Aunty," said Harry, "what became of the poor schooner?"
We gave her one of our boats, and the captain thought he could get her into port; but she leaked badly, and I afterwards heard he had to run her ashore on some beach just out of New York.
Next morning, in my forgetfulness, I attempted to sit up in my berth, and gave my head a great bump on grandma's berth. On the third night out we had a heavy gale, and one of our sails was blown away with a noise like that of a cannon.
"Aunty," said little Alice, "do steamers have sails?"
Yes, we always had a sail on the foremast; it steadies the ship, and if the wind is right helps the vessel. Almost every body was sea-sick during that gale, for it lasted two days. We went scarcely a hundred miles, and were off Savannah when it cleared up.
"Oh, I know where Savannah is," said Harry; "it was in my last geography lesson."
When Sabbath came, it was very rough, so we could not have preaching....