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Title: The Seashore Book: Bob and Betty's Summer with Captain Hawes

Author: E. Boyd Smith

Release date: January 8, 2014 [eBook #44629]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by David Edwards, haragos pál and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
file was produced from images generously made available
by The Internet Archive)


endpaper endpaper

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By E. Boyd Smith

THE EARLY LIFE OF MR. MAN. Illustrated in color.

THE STORY OF NOAH'S ARK. Illustrated in color.


THE RAILROAD BOOK. Illustrated in color.

THE SEASHORE BOOK. Illustrated in color.

THE FARM BOOK. Illustrated in color.

Books specially illustrated in color by E. Boyd Smith

IVANHOE. By Sir Walter Scott.

TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST. By Richard Henry Dana, Jr.



Boston and New York

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Published September 1912

The Riverside Press

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Now I will tell you how Bob and Betty spent the summer at the seashore with Captain Ben Hawes. Captain Hawes was an old sailor. After forty years' service on the high seas he had settled down ashore at Quohaug.

Bluff and hearty, and with no end of sea yarns and stories of strange adventures, and of foreign ports and peoples, he was more interesting to the children than the most fascinating fairy book.

His home was a little museum of odds and ends brought from different far-away lands, with everything arranged in shipshape order. The big green parrot, who could call "Ship ahoy!" "All aboard!" delighted the boy and girl. And the seashells, which gave the murmuring echo of the ocean when you put them to your ear. And the curiosities of strange sorts and shapes, from outlandish countries.

little museum

As their first day was fine and the bay smooth, Captain Hawes took the children out for a row in his "sharpey." How delightful it was, skimming so easily over the shining water. The shore, the docks, and the vessels at the wharves were all so interesting from this view.


The first row

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He told them all about the different craft they passed, the fishermen, the coal barges, the tramp steamers, how they sailed and where they went to, and now, finding them such good listeners, for the Captain liked to tell about ships and the sea, he launched forth into a general history of things connected with sea life, from the first men, long, long ago, who began poling about on rafts, to the coracle, and the dugout. The dugouts were canoes hollowed out of tree trunks.

"Down in the South Seas the savages still make them; I've seen them many a time," he explained; "and of course you've heard of our Indians' birchbark canoes."

By and by the use of sails had developed, and boats and ships grew bigger, and now the day of the steamboat had come.

"Now, I want you to know all about boats and ships," he added; "I'll take you to the yards to-morrow, if it's fine, and show you how they make them, so that when you go back home, where they don't know much about such things, you can just tell them."

I want you to know all about boats and ships

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The next day Captain Ben, true to his promise, took the children around to Stewart's Boat Shop where a fishing-boat was being built, and showed them just how the frame was made, the keel, the ribs, the stem, and sternpost, and how the planking was laid on. How everything was made as stiff and strong as possible so that the boat could stand the strain of being tossed about by heavy seas.

Bob followed it all with enthusiasm, for he was fond of carpentering and working with tools. He made up his mind that he would build a boat some day.

And now the Captain, having made everything clear with this small example which they could readily understand, proposed a visit to the shipyard, where a real life-sized ship was being built.

Here they found a busy gang of men hard at work, some with "broad axes" cutting down the planks to a line, "scoring" and "beating off"; others with "adzes" "dubbing," and even whipsawyers ripping logs.

Stewart's Boat Shop

On stagings about the great ship, which towered up as high as a house, more men were at work planking. The planks, hot from the steam boxes, carried up the "brow" staging on men's shoulders, to be clamped into place and bolted fast.

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The shipyard

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And how big it all was! This made the children open their eyes in wonder. They had already seen such vessels in the water, but had never appreciated how huge the hulls were, almost like a block of houses, or so it seemed to them.

Captain Hawes then showed them how this great ship was built on the same principle as the small boat they had just seen. And now if the children didn't really understand everything it wasn't the Captain's fault; the subject was rather a big one for beginners. But it was a great sight, and it wasn't everybody who had seen a ship being built, they knew that.

On the way home they rowed past sloops with a strange contrivance out on the end of the bowsprit; this Captain Hawes said was called a "pulpit." These boats went sword-fishing, and in the pulpit a man was stationed with lance in hand, while aloft in the rigging a "lookout" sighted the fish. When the boat was near enough, the man with the lance stood ready, and speared the fish as it passed. He promised to show them these big fish the next time a catch was brought in.

 These boats went sword-fishing

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Though there were so many interesting things to see and learn by the seashore, it was also an ideal place for play, and just now it seemed to our boy and girl as though nothing else could compare with it.

Clam-digging was such sport. Captain Hawes took them down at low tide to the soft mud and showed them how to dig the clams. And then the fun of roasting them in the driftwood fire, and the picnic clam-bakes, with the delicious chowder!

It was here the children met a future playmate, Patsey Quinn. Captain Hawes jokingly called him a little water-rat, for Patsey had been brought up along the shore and knew all about things. He proved to be a most valuable companion to Bob and Betty, and the Captain could trust him to look after them, for of course he knew just what was safe and what wasn't.

a most valuable companion to Bob and Betty

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Digging claims

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He took them on many expeditions along the beach, knew just where the best clams and mussels were to be found, and where the crabs lived, and how to catch them. Wading among the seaweed-covered rocks they had lively times, occasionally getting their toes or fingers nipped, for crabs object to being caught.

Patsey taught his new friends how to fish, though they never got to be as good fishermen as he was. They seemed to catch more sculpins than anything else, and though sculpins were wonderful looking creatures they were not, Patsey explained, very good eating; flounders and eels were better. But Betty was afraid of eels. They squirmed so.

The seaweeds and shells interested the children, and the many-colored pebbles, so nice and round, from being rolled by the sea, Patsey knowingly explained.

He showed them how to throw flat stones along the surface of the water, until they, too, could make them skip a number of times before sinking.

There was no end to the variety of amusements; every day seemed to bring forth new ones, and the sunburned, healthy children enjoyed it all to the full.

 children enjoyed it all to the full

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Nights, especially dark nights, the children watched with unfailing interest the great flash-light from the lighthouse out on the point. Captain Hawes had explained the uses of lighthouses, how they showed the way to ships at night, like signs on street corners or crossroads, and also warned them to keep away from the rocks. One day he rowed them out, and the light-keeper took them up in the tower and proudly showed them the powerful lamp with its complicated reflectors, and explained it all. Betty admired the bright, shining appearance of things, and was surprised to learn that the man himself looked after all this: she had thought that only a housekeeper could keep up such a polish.


Another time Captain Hawes took the children to Barry's sail loft, where the sails for the new ship were being made. He had already told them something about sailmaking, but knew they would understand better by seeing the real things. The sail loft, like everything connected with ships, proved interesting,—the broad clean floor, the men on their low benches sewing the seams of the heavy canvas, forcing the needles through with the stout leather "palms," instead of thimbles. And all their neat tools, the "heavers," "stickers," "fids," "grummet stamps," and such odd-named things.

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 The sail loft

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On the wall in one corner of the loft was a varied collection of bright "clew irons" and "rings," "thimbles" and "cringles," which aroused the children's curiosity. These, it was explained, were to be sewed into the corners of the sails to hold the ropes for rigging. Here and there compact, heavy rolls of canvas, sails completed, were lying by, ready to be taken away and rigged to the tall masts and broad yards of the ship; sails which later would look so light and graceful when carrying the ship along.

The summer days were passing quickly to the children, and Captain Hawes insisted that they must hurry and learn to swim, and with Patsey's help they were at it daily. After the first cautious wadings and splashing they enjoyed it immensely, and before the summer was really over they had learned to keep their heads above water: not to swim far, that would come with time and greater strength, but they had made a beginning, and felt justly proud of the accomplishment.

they had learned to keep their heads above water

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The two children, under the Captain's instruction, learned to row, after a fashion, though the oars of the sharpey were rather heavy for them, and sometimes would catch in the water with disconcerting results. The Captain called it "catching a crab." But it was all great fun, in spite of this.

Often Captain Hawes took them sailing in his catboat, the Mary Ann, and one day ran up close to the log "boom" which belonged to the shipyard, and showed them where the lumber came from, for the building of the ship. He explained how it had been cut far up in the back forests and rafted down the rivers to the sea. The great raft was now held in place by a frame of logs outside the others fastened together with "dogs" and chains. Here the children saw the men picking out the special logs they needed, and doing various stunts, paddling and balancing with boathooks. Some would even paddle off to the shipyard on a log, balancing much like a tight-rope walker. But once in a while accidents would happen, and they would get more than wet feet, to the great glee of their comrades.

Captain Hawes took them sailing in his catboat

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The log boom

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When the logs reached the shipyard they were sawed into planks by the "whipsawyers," or the machine saws, cut into shape, as they had already seen, by axes and adzes, and fitted to their places in the building of the ship.

You may be sure the children had to try this game of logging, and they built themselves a raft, of loose boards lying along the beach, and while Betty was the passenger Bob vigorously poled his raft about in the shallows. Patsey Quinn, more ambitious, and used to frequent wettings, boldly imitated the log-men in their balancing feats, not without coming to grief occasionally, though it worried him but little; being in the water to him was much the same as being out of it.

These were busy, happy days for the children; there was always plenty to see or do. Patsey was curious to know about the things of the city, but Bob and Betty felt perfectly sure, at least just now, that the seashore was a much more interesting place.

they built themselves a raft

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The children were always hearing about lobster fishing, for that was an important industry at Quohaug, so Captain Hawes took them out in his boat to see the fishermen at work hauling in their traps. The fishing-beds were dotted with little buoys, each fisherman having his own, with his private mark. To each buoy a trap was attached by a long line. Down on the bottom the lobsters would crawl into the traps after the bait, and then could not get out.

But Bob and Betty were disappointed to find these lobsters as they came out of the water a dull green instead of the beautiful bright red they expected. Captain Hawes explained that they would come out red after they were boiled.

To-day was the day set for the launching of one of the new ships the children had seen almost finished in the shipyard on their first visit. High tide was the time set, and the whole village turned out to see the event. Captain Hawes had told them that they would soon see the ship floating out in the bay; but this was hard to believe; how would it be possible to move that big mass? "Just you wait and you'll see," the Captain assured them.

 lobster fishing

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The launching

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At the yard everybody was eager and excited. Captain Hawes put the children up on a tall wooden "horse" where they could get a good view.

The ship, all decked with gay, fluttering flags, had been wedged into her "cradle." The ways down which she was to slide were well greased, and the builder was waiting for the tide to be at its highest.

At last the moment had come. The signal was given. Busy workmen with sledges, under the ship struck blow on blow, setting up the lifting wedges, and knocking away the few remaining props; then scampered back out of danger.

Slowly at first, the great ship "came to life," then began to move. Slowly but steadily gaining speed, she began to slide down the ways. Fast and faster, gaining momentum, she rushed, as though really alive, gracefully sliding, into the sea. Then sped far out into the deep water, where she floated on an even keel. From being a mass of planks and beams she now seemed to be a great living creature, and the lookers-on cheered her and waved their hats, as she proudly took her place on the sea, where she would pass the rest of her life. Bob and Betty were so impressed that even the yacht race they saw that afternoon, though a fine sight, seemed tame after the launching.

the yacht race

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To the children the restless sea with its many changes was a new sight. One day it would be flat and calm and shiny, like a big mirror. Again quickly changing with a breeze to blues of various shades. Again it would be broken with white-caps and spray, as the wind grew stronger.

And it was so big! And Captain Hawes assured them that it was even bigger than it looked, telling them that if they went away out there to the distant edge by the sky, they would still see another just as far off, and so on for many, many days before they would get to the other side of the ocean.

When the winds blew high and the waves dashed against the rocks and tossed up the white spray, he would take them down to the beach to watch the storm, and see the surf roll in. Of course this was a time for rubber boots, "oilskins," and "sou'westers," such as the seafaring people wear.

this was a time for rubber boots

One day during a gale, a "nor'easter," when they could hardly stand alone, they saw a schooner wrecked out on the rocks. Everybody on shore was greatly excited. And the life-boat with its hardy crew put off to the rescue of the sailors, who could be seen clinging to the rigging, waiting for help. They were all saved, but the vessel was lost, and dashed high up against the rocks.

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The wreck

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A few days later, when the storm had passed and the sea became calm again, Captain Hawes rowed the children out to the rocky point to see the wreck. Here the stranded schooner lay firmly wedged among the rocks. Her masts were gone, her back was broken, and her bow splintered in pieces, rigging and tatters of sails hung about in confusion. And the good craft, which such a short time before had been sailing so proudly, was now but a worthless hulk.

Such was often the end of a good many stout vessels, the Captain told the children; this was the chance of the sea. And then, once started, he told them long and thrilling tales of his different voyages and adventures, and the wrecks he had known, and been in.

this was the chance of the sea

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This life by the sea made an endless appeal to the children's imagination, and offered a never-failing amount of wonderful things to see and learn about.

"Now," said Captain Hawes one day, "we'll go over to the wharf and see the riggers fitting up the new ship we saw launched."

You may be sure the children were willing. Captain Hawes, who knew everybody and was welcome everywhere, took them on board and showed them everything, from the bow to the stern. And all about the ship was so neat and well made it was a constant marvel to the children. High up in the rigging men were swarming, "reeving" on "stays" and "shrouds," and no end of "running" rigging, doing the most wonderful circus stunts in the most matter-of-fact way, far up on dizzy heights. The children fairly held their breath to watch them.

Captain Hawes took them on board and showed them everything

Out on the yards sailors were "bending on" the new sails, the sails Bob and Betty had seen being made at the sail loft. The whole work seemed to them a wonderful confusion of lines and ropes and pulleys and tackle. Captain Hawes tried to explain what each rope meant and how it was used. But there were too many; it was all too confusing. Each rope, he told them, had its own name; every sailor had to know them to be able to do his work.

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The riggers

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The riggers built trim little rope ladders from the rail to the crosstrees by lashing small "ratlines" to the heavy "shrouds." The "stays" and "shrouds," of course, were to hold the great masts in place. The children wondered at it all, but didn't pretend to understand it, though Bob was especially interested, for climbing he understood, and such climbing was far ahead of anything the biggest boy in his school could do.

They delighted in the cook's kitchen, the "galley." Such a compact, neat little room, where the most ingenious shelves and lockers were arranged, in which to hold everything needed in the way of dishes and pots and pans. The stove was chained down solidly so that no storm might upset it and cause fire, the cook explained.

To Betty, the "galley" was the most interesting thing about the ship; it pleased her housekeeping instincts, though it did seem strange to see a sailor cook.

They delighted in the cook's kitchen, the galley.

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The city children never wearied of Captain Hawes's stories of his voyages, and the Captain, with such good listeners, never wearied telling of them,—a perfect combination.

He told of how when a young man he used to go whaling. "Of course you know what whales are, big sea animals, you couldn't call them fish, often sixty or seventy feet long, 'as long as a big house,' huge creatures who lived in the northern or southern seas, though once in a while a stray one had been known to come into the Sound, not far from here."

Now the children were really excited. "Oh, if only one should happen to come this summer!" The Captain said that would be just a chance; it was hardly a thing you could count on.

lookouts were stationed aloft at the masthead

When the ship reached the far-away seas where whales were to be found, "lookouts" were stationed aloft at the masthead to watch for them. When one was sighted the lookout shouted, "There she blows"; for the whales have a habit of blowing up spray when they come to the surface to breathe, then the boats were lowered and away the sailors went after the whale. When they came up with him they rowed as close as they dared, and the harpooner in the bow of the boat hurled his harpoon into the big creature's side.

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The whale at once made a great commotion, slashing about and beating up the water, then diving deep down. The sailors "paid out" the rope attached to the harpoon as the whale went down. Sometimes they had to cut it to keep from being dragged under. But when this didn't happen the whale would come up after a while and start away dragging the boat along at a terrific speed. In time he would get tired and the boat would again be rowed near, and a lance thrust into his side until he was quite dead.

It was all exciting and dangerous work, for sometimes the whale would attack the boat and splinter it to pieces with a blow of his tail, and the men, often badly hurt, be thrown into the sea, and sometimes lost. The dead whale was towed off to the ship, here he was moored to the side, and the body cut up. The great pieces of fat blubber "tried out," that is, melted in pots over the fire on the deck, and the oil run off into barrels and stowed away in the hold.

the dead whale was towed off to the ship

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Captain Hawes made the children a little toy schooner which they sailed in the coves along the beach. He showed them just how to "trim" the sails and set the rudder, so that the boat would "tack" and sail against the wind, "on the wind," he called it.

About this time they heard that the new ship, now all rigged and with all sails in place, had been taken to the neighboring port and was taking on her cargo for a long voyage. As they wanted to see the ship again, the Captain took them on this little journey to see the work being done at the docks.

Loading a ship is always a strenuous and hurly-burly affair, with much bustle, shouting, hauling, pushing, and pulling. The children, under Patsey's lead, found a good point of vantage on top of some boxes, and watched the work.

Captain Hawes made the children a little toy schooner

Busy "stevedores," who had charge, were hurrying the "longshoremen," who rolled barrels, and carried bags up the gangplank into the ship, to be snugly stowed away between decks. Bales and boxes were being hoisted over the rail, to be lowered through the hatches into the hold. The donkey engine buzzed, the mate shouted orders, and everything, to the children, seemed confusion, but it was orderly confusion, for the work was rapidly going ahead. The great quantity of goods which went aboard astonished Bob and Betty; they had never seen so many boxes, barrels, bales, and bags before. And yet this was only the beginning, for the Captain told them that even at this rate it would still take many days to load the ship.

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Loading the ship

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When the first of the cargo went aboard, the vessel sat high out of the water, but when all should be in and stowed safely away, she would settle deep down to her "water line." This was where the green and black paint met. All this had been planned before she was built, Captain Hawes explained; the ship designer knew just how she should sit in the water when loaded; there was no guesswork about it.

The ship was to go on an Eastern voyage. He had often been out there, away off in the China seas, where strange craft came about you: junks with their odd, high sails, their yellow sailors with "pigtails" down their backs, everything so different from our part of the world.

 junks with their odd, high sails

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In the evenings, as Captain Hawes sat smoking his pipe, he would tell the children of strange lands he had visited in his voyages, and then suggest that they look up these places in their geographies, and this study, which before was a task, took on a new interest for Bob and Betty. China and Greenland now meant so much more.

Telling about Iceland and Greenland, he said that up there in those parts, where almost everything that wasn't snow was ice, certain animals lived which couldn't be found anywhere else, like the big white polar bear, and the walrus.

"Why, we know a polar bear," Betty broke in. Why, of course, he was an old acquaintance. They had often seen him in Central Park.

"Well, now, that's good," said the Captain; "now you'll remember where he came from. I've been up his way more than once."

Often whalers chased the "right" whale away up there; dangerous seas to work in, as icebergs were plenty and the risk of striking them in the fog was great.

telling about Iceland and Greenland

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Burned at sea

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But the thing which sailors dreaded most was fire at sea. This seldom happened, but when it did it was bad. Once his ship was burned at night among the icebergs. There was nothing to do but take to the boats and escape to shore, which luckily was near. They lost everything but the clothes they wore, and a small amount of provisions. And there, while they looked on, the ship went up in a sheet of flame, and that was the last of her. The Captain said they felt pretty blue and lonely out there far away from the rest of the world, with no means to get away but the small boats. Fortunately they soon managed to reach an Eskimo village. These Eskimos are the natives who live there always, short people, dressed all in heavy, warm furs, who build themselves snow houses, where in the coldest weather they keep comfortably warm. They live by hunting and fishing. They spear seals from their skin canoes,—"kayaks,"—and fish through holes in the ice. These are the people you hear the explorers tell about when they go on expeditions to the North Pole. Captain Hawes thought they were the strangest people he had ever met. As whalers often put in up in these parts, the Captain and his mates did not have too hard a time, and were picked up by a passing ship and brought home.

Eskimos are the natives

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Summer was passing quickly now, and it would soon be time for the "long vacation" to come to an end.

Before they had to go the Sachem—that was the name of the new ship—was ready to put to sea. The children had admired her "figure-head," an Indian chief, gilded and painted in bright colors. The ship had taken on her whole cargo, the hatches were closed, and everything made tight and taut for her long voyage. She was bound for the Far East, the Captain told them. First she would touch at some South American ports, then go across the ocean to Africa, stopping at Cape Town, and other less important ports, then around the Cape and up the Indian Ocean to India; then to China and Japan. With the goods she had taken aboard she would trade with the different ports, either selling or exchanging what she had for the things made or raised in those far-away countries, which she would bring back home to sell in our markets. This was the way, Captain Hawes explained, that we got many good things that we couldn't raise in our own country.

the new ship was ready to put to sea

The day the ship sailed, everybody turned out to wish her a good voyage.

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The ship sails away

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With all sails set she was a beautiful sight; a gentle land breeze filled her sails and slowly and gracefully she drew away, headed for the open sea. The steamers and the tugs in the bay whistled salutes.

Captain Hawes, with a sigh, told the children that probably that was the last square-rigged ship they were likely to see leaving this port, as the old-style ship was now almost a thing of the past. The "fore-and-aft" rig was more practical and generally used where sailing vessels were still employed. But even they were all giving way before steam. Nowadays steamers, freighters, did nearly all the carrying trade.

They watched the ship till far, far away, as the sun was setting, she showed as a small black spot on the horizon.

And now it was time to leave Quohaug, for this summer vacation was ended. At home again they were just in time to see the review of the country's war fleet on the Hudson. This was the latest development of sea power, great, massive steel vessels, with no sails, driven by steam. They were grandly impressive, but just wait till you hear Bob and Betty tell of Quohaug and then you will know what ships with sails mean.

Nowadays steamers, freighters, did nearly all the carrying trade.

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a small black spot on the horizon