NCE upon a time there was a wide river that ran into the ocean, and beside it was a little city. And in that city was a wharf where great ships came from far countries. And a narrow road led down a very steep hill to that wharf, and anybody that wanted to go to the wharf had to go down the steep hill on the narrow road, for there wasn't any other way. And because ships had come there for a great many years, and all the sailors and all the captains and all the men who had business with the ships had to go on that narrow road, the flagstones that made the sidewalks were much worn. That was a great many years ago.
The river and the ocean are there yet, as they always have been and always will be; and the city is there, but it is a different kind of a city from what it used to be. And the wharf is slowly falling down, for it is not used now; and the narrow road down the steep hill is all grown up with weeds and grass.
A long time ago, when the ships still came to that wharf, Captain Jonathan and Captain Jacob had an office not far from the wharf; for they owned many ships, and they liked to be near the place where the ships were. For, in those days, ships that sailed to far countries were not heard from until they got back again unless they happened to meet some other ship going the other way. And there was a great deal for the captains to tell Captain Jonathan and Captain Jacob when they got back, and it was convenient for them to be very near. Afterwards Captain Jonathan and Captain Jacob had their ships come to Boston, and took an office there. And that was the beginning of the reason why the wharf is falling down now.
One day, after the Industry had been built and rigged and fitted with sails, she lay at that wharf and men were getting things on board of her to take to a far country. But they didn't hurry about it, for Captain Jonathan and Captain Jacob hadn't got a captain for her. And Captain Jonathan and Captain Jacob were in their office talking about it.
"I'll tell you, Jacob," said Captain Jonathan at last. "You go yourself. You take her out and back. Then you can see for yourself what they are doing there. And you might take Lois, too. It will be a good wedding journey for you."
For Lois was engaged to marry Captain Jacob, but they hadn't set the wedding day yet. And Captain Jacob thought that would be a good way to hurry it up, for the Industry would have to sail in less than a month. So he agreed.
"All right," said Captain Jacob. "I'll go."
And, after that day, Lois was very busy getting ready for her wedding; and Captain Jacob was very busy, too, but not in getting ready for his wedding. It didn't take him long to get ready for that. He was busy in looking over the Industry and in fitting up a cabin for Lois. The cabin that she would have was very small, as every cabin has to be, on a small vessel; but he fixed it all up with everything that he thought Lois would like.
And he looked over the things that were in their office; great chests filled with beautiful shawls and fine cloth made of the hair of goats and cloth made of the hair of camels; and beautiful, fine rugs that were made in Persia, meant for men to kneel on when they said their prayers; and larger rugs that were not so fine but were just as beautiful in their way; and pretty little tables of lacquer and larger tables of teak-wood; and many another beautiful thing. For Lois was used to having those beautiful things from that far country in her father's house.
But Captain Jacob could not take many of these things, because the cabin was so small. Besides, he thought that if Lois could manage to get along with only a few things on the way out, she could get what she wanted when she got to that far country and could bring the things back with her. She could get enough to furnish a house, if she wanted it. And when Captain Jacob thought that, he laughed aloud, although he was all by himself in the office, pulling out the chests and looking at the shawls. And he chuckled all the rest of the day.
So he took a table of teak-wood, just large enough for the cabin, and a lacquer tray, large enough for Lois's tea-things; and the tea-things, made of the most beautiful china, and a prayer-rug, made of silk. He didn't take anything else of all the beautiful things. And he put those things in the cabin that was meant for Lois, and when it was all ready, he asked Lois to come down and look at the cabin that he had got ready for her. So Lois came.
She was all ready to be surprised when she saw her cabin, for she thought that probably Captain Jacob had filled it full of beautiful things. And when she saw it, the things that were in it were as beautiful as they could be, but there were very few of them, and Lois was really surprised, but she tried not to show how disappointed she was. She said to Captain Jacob how pretty it was, and she thanked him for making it so. But Captain Jacob knew, by the sound of her voice, that she was very much disappointed. He had expected that she would be disappointed, and he smiled as she thanked him.
And when Lois got home, Captain Jonathan asked her how she liked her quarters on the Industry. Then she couldn't help crying, and she told him that Jacob seemed so skimpy with his old things that she didn't know whether to marry him or not.
And Captain Jonathan laughed in a kind way. "Remember, Lois," he said, "you are going to India, where those very things came from. You can bring home a ship-load of them if you want to. In fact, Jacob and I talked it over, and we concluded that the fewer things you took out, the more room you would have for others to bring back. So dry your eyes and when you see Jacob again, ask his pardon."
So Lois did that, but Captain Jacob didn't say anything.
Then, at last, the wedding day came, and it was the day set for the sailing of the Industry on her first voyage to that far country. And all the things had been put in the ship; the things that they were to sell in the far country where they were going, and the things to eat, and the water that they would drink. And, because Lois was going, they carried more things than they generally did. There were two cows, with hay for them to eat, so that they could have fresh milk and cream and butter. And there were half a dozen sheep, so that they could have fresh mutton now and then. And there were a lot of chickens, so that they could have fresh eggs and some roast chicken or fried chicken now and then. And if the cook of the Industry didn't know how to cook any of those things fancy, Lois could show him. And if you don't believe that Lois knew how to do those things, you have only to look in her receipt book, with the most wonderful receipts written in her own old-fashioned handwriting, and then you will know that she did know how.
And the water to drink was in big hogsheads down near the bottom of the ship, in the hold, but it was where the sailors could get it out, one hogshead at a time, without disturbing the other things that were there. And they brought Lois's trunk and put it in her cabin. It was a wooden trunk, of a queer shape, and it was covered with deerskin, with the hair left on. You could see the spots that had been on the deer, for it had been the skin of a fallow deer. It was brand-new, for Captain Jonathan had had it brought from London, some time before this, for Lois to have when she got married. Lois didn't have any more than one trunk. And the sailors were all on the ship, and everything was ready for the Industry to start.
Then a great lumbering coach came driving down that narrow road on to the wharf; and, behind that coach, came others, and the coachmen had to drive very carefully, the road was so steep. And out of the first coach jumped Captain Jacob, and he was all dressed up in clothes that you would think very queer if you were to see them now. And he turned and helped Lois down, and when the sailors saw Lois, they cheered as loudly as they could; and sailors can make a lot of noise when they really put their minds to it.
A great lumbering coach came driving down that narrow road.
And, out of the second coach, came Captain Jonathan, but he did not jump out as Captain Jacob had done, for he didn't feel joyful. Lois was his only daughter, and her mother was dead; and he knew that she was going away and that it would be a long time before he saw her again—perhaps a whole year. He didn't think there was any danger that the Industry would be wrecked, for Captain Jacob was a good sailor and a skilful captain; but he thought that there was a chance for a great deal to happen in a year, and perhaps Lois might be sick. So Captain Jonathan was rather mournful, as fathers and mothers are apt to be at weddings; but he tried to look happy and to smile. And there came out of the second coach, besides Captain Jonathan, some of Lois's aunts and cousins.
And, when Captain Jonathan had got out of his coach, Lois went to him and put her arms around his neck, and she cried a little, and she bade him good-bye. And she said good-bye to her aunts and her cousins, and then she put her arms around her father's neck again. But presently she had got through saying good-bye to him, and Captain Jacob came up.
Captain Jonathan shook Captain Jacob's hand for a long time. "Take care of her, Jacob," he said.
And Captain Jacob tried to look solemn, but he didn't feel solemn. "I will," he said.
And Captain Jacob and Lois went up the sloping board with little ups on it, and went on board the ship. And the sailors untied the great ropes that had held the ship to the wharf, and they hoisted the sails, and the Industry went sailing off down the river and into the great ocean. And Lois stood beside the rail, waving her handkerchief, until she couldn't see Captain Jonathan any more. Then she went into her cabin.
And that's all.