The Valley BeLLe was the name of the canal boat that belonged to Melissa's Uncle Jed. For a special treat she and the other children in the family were taken on an excursion in the boat. When they docked, Melissa overheard a plot to prevent the Valley Belle from winning a canal race in which she was entered. The children were also on board during the race, when the boat took second place. ""Second place is good, too, ""they all agree complacently. But it's not very noteworthy. Nor is anything else about this trip, which, though set in 1845 Indiana, seems as commonplace as a regular commuter run on the Staten Island Ferry.