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Excursion to the Orkney Islands
Chapter I. Letter from Singapore


On one occasion, when Mrs. Morelle went down to New York with Grimkie and her two children Florence and John, while her husband was in the East Indies, she heard that a letter had arrived from him that very day, and that it had just been sent to the post-office in order to be conveyed to her at her house up the North River. The letter, she was told, came from Singapore.

Singapore is a large English port situated just about half way round the world from America, on the way to the East Indies. It is a sort of center and rendezvous for all ships navigating those seas, and letters go and come to and from it in all directions.

It is often visited, moreover, by ships of war, cruising in those seas.

Grimkie went down to New York with his aunt and cousins, on this occasion, because it was holiday at his school at the Chateau. Every Saturday was holiday at the Chateau.

His aunt and also his cousins were always very glad to have him go to New York with them when they went, but he never left his school to go on such excursions, except upon the regular holidays.

Mrs. Morelle would have been very impatient to reach home if she had supposed that her husband's letter would arrive there before she did. But she knew very well that the mail from New York did not get in till about eight o'clock, and that the letter would not be brought up to the Octagon until about half-past eight. She was, therefore, not in any special haste to reach the end of the voyage, but amused herself talking with the children very quietly and contentedly all the way.

The steamboat arrived between four and five. Grimkie obtained a carriage at the pier, and, after assisting Mrs. Morelle and the children to get into it, he bade them good-by, and turned his own steps toward the Chateau.

At half-past eight o'clock the letter came. Mrs. Morelle, who had been watching for the coming of the boy who brought the mail, took the letter from him at the door, and went at once into her little room to read it. It was as follows:

Singapore, August 16.

“My very dear wife :

“I have just arrived at this port from Calcutta, on my way to Canton, and in consequence of letters which I have received here I find that next summer I shall have occasion to go to London. I hope to reach there about the first of September.

“Now I have a plan to propose to you, though I do not know what you will think of it. It is no less than this—that you should take the children and come out to England and meet me. I shall be able to spend four or five weeks in England, and then I must return to Canton again. I might come to America in that time to see you, instead of asking you to cross the Atlantic to see me, but if I were to do so, the voyage would occupy nearly all the time that I should have to spare, and thus leave me only a very few days to spend in your company; whereas, if you come to London, I can enjoy the pleasure of being with you and the children a whole month.

“Besides, I think it might perhaps be agreeable to you, and also improving to the children, to make a little tour in England and France.

The facilities for travelling are such now that I think you will have no difficulty in coining out alone. If you approve of this plan, I would recommend to you to cross early in June, and spend a little time in rambling about England before I come. By sending your address to my bankers from time to time, I could come to you immediately on my arrival. Let me know what you think of this plan.

“The overland mail is just closing, so I can not write any more at this time, I shall, however, write you again very soon, and in the meantime I am your very affectionate husband.

James Morelle.”

The children came into the room just as their mother had finished reading her letter, and so she read it aloud to them. They were very much excited at the idea of making a voyage to England, and they asked their mother if she thought she would go.

“Yes,” said Mrs. Morelle. “I rather think I shall.”

The children clapped their hands with delight at hearing this answer.

“I wish that Grimkie could go with us,” said Florence.

“So do I,” said John.

“Ah!” responded Mrs. Morelle, shaking her head, "I am afraid that will be impossible.”


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