R. M. S. Queen Mary, blazing with lights, lay berthed in the Clyde. Jane and Robin, slightly dazzled by the wonders they were seeing, were going over her with their father and the Chief Engineer - a very important person on board, it seemed, but only Uncle Archie to them.
They went down a sumptuous staircase - and again Robin bumped into Jane. "Robin," she said patiently, "that's the third time you've tramped on my heels."
"I can't help it," said Robin. "I can't write in my notebook and watch your heels at the same time."
"But," said Jane, "why d'you have to write in your notebook?"
"I told you. When Snooker - our history master - heard I was coming to see the Queen Mary he said I was to write an essay on 'Ships of To-day and Yesterday.' So I've got to take notes, haven't I?"
Jane said, "I'm glad I didn't tell anyone at my school-" And just then Uncle Archie opened a door.
"You pop in there for ten minutes," he said, and Jane and Robin found themselves in a lovely room, with bicycling bears and things painted on the walls and crowds of toys all over the floor.
"Oh," cried Jane, sliding down the chute, "isn't this fun?"
"Yes," said Robin gloomily. "But I'm worried about my essay." He poked with his foot at a sailor doll sitting on the floor. "You're a sailor," he said, "I wish you'd help."
"I might," said the sailor doll, "if you'd stop kicking me about. What d'you want?"
Robin was so surprised he didn't stop to ask questions: he just said, "I want to know about ships of long ago-"
"That's easy," said the sailor doll, "I'll put you on board one or two. What will you go as - Captain, or Mate, or-"
"Cabin-boy would be safer," said Robin modestly.
"Ship's cat would be safer still," said Jane.
"Right!" cried the sailor doll. And the room suddenly went dark...
From MAGIC SHIPS, Part One, Boarding the Queen Mary.