Samantha starts her scrapbook explaining that it is after midnight, but she's not tired; Grandmary let her stay up for the ship's launch off. She describes it as a "sight" with the many white bulbs, confetti, and the startle she had when the whistle blew. She is pretty sure that her uncle, aunt, and the girls couldn't see her, but she waved anyways. She is traveling on the S.S. Londonia with her grandparents to London.
Samantha and her grandparents are sharing a cabin; there is a basket of oranges from Gardner and Cornelia there and Admiral Beemis explains that in the past, sailors used to get scurvy from not eating enough fruit at sea and so it is a good gift. The cabin is quite lavish and has a writing desk and porthole, a bell to call a steward, and Samantha's sleeping quarters have curtains to pull around it. The cabin includes their own bathroom as well.
Samantha and Grandmary have tea in the Ocean Garden room, which is decorated with plants and animals to feel like a tropical forest. The Garden room appeals to Grandmary as ladies miss nature while on a boat; it's a good place for conversation, tea, and needlework. Samantha is bored (and gets scolded for trying to move a wicker chair) but manages to watercolor paint two orchids, stitch a canary on a handkerchief, and have two cups of tea. Finally, Grandmary tells her she may explore, but to stay in places proper for a young lady.
Samantha enjoys the deck; there's shuffleboard and blowing bubbles. Every afternoon the deck steward organizes games for the children such as tug-of-war, three legged race, and egg-and-spoon race (which Samantha wins first place in and adds the ribbon to her scrapbook). Grownups mostly stroll back and forth; Grandmary opts to rest in a deck chair. Admiral Beemis helps Samantha lean over the railing to see the red port and green starboard lights.
Later in the library, Samantha is surprised with a card from Agnes and Agatha Pitt, which she wasn't to be given until they were at sea. Samantha likes the library, as it has a smell of wood and leather and is a quiet place to read her favorite book The Wizard of Oz, which is among the thousand books there.
The San Francisco Earthquake occurs while they are aboard. Grandmary's friends the Harringtons are upset by the news as they are from there. The ship's newsletter dated April 19th is attached; Samantha also comments on Susan B. Anthony having died (leaving her estate to women's suffrage) and lamenting that a women's right to vote has yet to happen.
Samantha states that while she knows better than to go in the Card Room, she does anyways since the door was cracked. The room is thick with cigar smoke and dimly lit. (A card explains that the room is for men only, and women should go to the Ocean Garden and partake in ladies' leisure, which Samantha takes to later show Aunt Cornelia.) Men are playing dominoes, cards, or telling tall tales about adventures on the seas. Samantha wants to stay but a Frenchman playing cards escorts her out. He's polite, though, and even gives her some foreign money he had won to put in her scrapbook. Admiral Beemis explains what the money is and shows her German money that he won for guessing how far the ship traveled in a day.
Since Samantha is so curious about the ship, Admiral Beemis says they should visit his friend the Captain, Arthur Goodwin. Samantha is scared, thinking she will get in trouble for being where she shouldn't have. The Captain isn't mad at all, and shows her many things in the management of the ship, including the compass they use to set the ship's course and lets her swing the handle on the telegraph that sends orders to the engine room. She also gets to see the Radio room and sends a telegraph to Agnes and Agatha, and learns of Morse Code which she uses to write in code frequently.
Samantha later gets bored and leaves to do more exploring; she finds her way to the Steerage section, where many people are speaking in languages she doesn't know. A girl explains where she is, and introduces herself as Annie. She explains that her family came to the US two years ago in 1904, but since no one would hire her father (due to Irish prejudice), they are returning home. She shows the tight bunks she shares with her brothers and sisters and the metal dishes they eat from, and gives Samantha her medical certificate that she received when she arrived in the US. Samantha takes a picture of her  and gives her her address on a ripped off part of her scrapbook, leaving a missing corner from the page. Samantha would have stayed longer but a ship steward yells at her for being "out of her class" and pushes her out--not before she can exchange gifts with Annie. (The Admiral gives her a card about caring for others once she tells him about Annie.)
On the way back, Samantha is startled by a gong; she's passing the boiler room, which is where the coal fires for the power are burning. Two men rush by her covered in coal dust with no eyebrows, and Samantha gets all sooty. She also stops by the kitchen and observes the cooking and work in there and the lobster storage tank (while having a jam tart and tea provided by a kitchen worker).
One night, Samantha, Grandmary, and the Admiral are invited to eat at the Captain's table, a big honor. The Grand Dining Salon is very elegant with stained glass, crystal lamps, hand embroidered seat cushions, and imported lace tablecloths, and the place setting is very fancy. Samantha sketches the place setting, but is personally sobered by the fact that Annie is being made to eat her once a day meal served from a pail and wishes she was there with her. Grandmary explains that the plates are kept on the table by suction, and allows Samantha to catch her peas with her potatoes when they roll, which is something she could never do at home.
The seas are rough one day due to rain, and Grandmary is seasick so takes to bed with medicine. Samantha must stay in the lounge all day and plays a game called Authors with the other children, winning three cards. The Admiral plays Whist. That evening they have a variety show, and Samantha sings "In the Sweet Bye and Bye." There is also magic and imitations, and Lady Chambers shows everyone how to make origami cranes.
On the evening of the Captain's Gala (to which even the children are invited), Samantha describes the cabin as busy; the hairdresser weaves flowers into Grandmary's hair, and Samantha takes a nice bath. Grandmary is glad there are barbershops on ships, as the Admiral is getting a lather and shave and he would be in the way. Samantha has a glorious night, feeling like Cinderella when escorted down the stairs, describing the decor, and dancing with the Admiral and the Captain. After the dance the Admiral takes her to the buffet, which has beautiful dishes and a swan carved of ice.
The last full day at sea, Samantha hears seagulls and the water lightens; soon enough, the call of "land ho!" is heard. All of Samantha's clothes are packed away in a trunk to be sent to London ahead of her. Samantha lists her favorite and least favorite parts of the journey, and the children's steward gives the children a gift. Samantha tries to see Annie among the steerage crowd as they disembark, but can't. On the train to London, the Admiral gives her small postcards to decide what to see. Samantha says she can't wait for the next part of her trip, and the trip home.
- Many items are reproductions of authentic items.
- Invitation from Grandmary and Admiral Beemis (in cream envelope with "seal")
- Ship Map of the S.S Londonia (in blue envelope) with markings of where Samantha went.
- Non removable card from Agnes and Agatha Pitt.
- Reproduction money from Austria, France, and Turkey (in blue envelope with flower "seal")
- Morse code deciphering card and telegraph Samantha sends to Agnes and Agatha (in blue envelope with flower "seal")
- Paper woman movable puppet (in olive envelope with bouquet "seal")
- Butterfly mask with pink ribbons in clear envelope
- Toy Wheel of Fortune in yellow envelope
Items Associated with Samantha's Ocean Liner Adventure
- The Morse Code Samantha writes is translated as thus:
- Ahoy Bridge!: "I miss you."
- Down Below: "It is not fair"; "Friends Forever"
- The Captain's Table: "Start here."
- The Captain's Ball: "My first ball"
- While this book was published before Nellie's Promise, the dates documented would indicate that the events of this book would occur in the middle of the latter in the unseen time between March and May.
References and Footnotes
- The invitation from Grandmary and Admiral Beemis is dated April 15, 1906.
- The ball is the last day before docking.
- This does not appear to be an authentic name for any liners in the White Star Line.
- The ribbon is an image and thus not removable.
- The picture is actually from the S.S. Pennland of the Red Star Line in 1893.