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
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
“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.
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