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Excursion to the Orkney Islands
Chapter II. Taking Passage


While Mrs. Morelle was reflecting upon the arrangements which she should make for her intended voyage, she thought a great deal of the suggestion which Florence had made, namely, that she should take Grimkie with her.

“I wish I could take him with me,” said she. “He would be a great help to me, and a great reliance. He is so capable, and at the same time so considerate; besides, he would be a great deal of company for the children, and would make the tour not only doubly pleasant, but doubly profitable for them.”

But then there was the difficulty of his studies. He was fitting for college; and Mrs. Morelle knew very well that his father was always extremely unwilling to allow any thing to interfere with his studies in school.

At first, Mrs. Morelle thought that this difficulty was insurmountable, and that it was wholly out of the question that Grimkie should accompany them on the proposed tour. But on reflecting more fully upon the subject, she recollected that it was not usually considered well for a boy to enter college until he was about sixteen years of age, whereas Grimkie was not yet fourteen. She knew also that he was already pretty nearly fitted for college, and she thought it possible that his father might think that he could now spare a year from his studies as well as not. It would undoubtedly be greatly promotive of his health, she thought, and of the strength of his constitution, to spend a year in travelling, and thus enable him to enter upon his college course with more vigor and energy. He might travel with her and the children a year, she thought, and still leave a year for school, to complete his preparations for the college examination, before it would be time for him to be offered.

So she determined to propose the plan to Grimkie's father, though she did it with great doubt and hesitation.

“It will be exactly what I want for him,” said Mr. Jay, when he heard the proposal. “I have been quite at a loss to decide what to do with him for the two coming years. I thought seriously of sending him to some farmer for a year. A boy ought not to be kept at his studies all the time, while he is growing.

“But it seems to me, sister/' he added, after a moment's pause, “ that you show a great deal of courage in undertaking the charge of three such children, in making the tour of Europe. I should think your own two children would be charge enough for you."

“That is just it." said Mrs. Morelle. “They are too much of a charge, and so I want Grimkie to go with us to help me take care of them.”

Mr. Jay made no farther objection, and so it was arranged that Grimkie should go.

Mr. Jay made it a condition, however, that Grimkie should have all the charge of the baggage and of the accounts during the tour, so as to learn to do such business properly.

Grimkie was, of course, greatly pleased when he heard of the plan which had thus been formed for him, and it was determined that the very next Saturday the whole party should go to New York and take passage in the Cunard line of steamers. It was necessary for Grimkie to go, for this was a part of the business which he was bound to attend to, according to the arrangement. Grimkie wished that Mrs. Morelle should go, in order that she might choose the staterooms which the party were to occupy, and Florence and John must go for the pleasure of being of the party.

“Besides,” said Florence, “we want to go on board the ship and see the staterooms.”

“Ah! but we are not going on board the ship,” replied Grimkie: “we are only going to the office.”

“Then how is mother going to choose the staterooms that we are to have,” said Florence, “if she does not see them.”

“She will see a plan of them,” said Grimkie. “They have plans of all the ships at the office, with the plans and shapes of all the staterooms laid down upon them.”

“Ho!” said John, in a tone of disappointment; “I don't care any thing about seeing a plan. Nevertheless,” he added, after a moment's pause, “I should like to go.”

So it was agreed that they should all go together.

It was necessary to go immediately, too; for the berths and staterooms in the Atlantic steamers are usually engaged long beforehand. Mrs. Morelle asked Grimkie to inquire which was the best steamer in the Cunard line; for as the precise time of their sailing was not material, they could go a little sooner or later, for the sake of having one of the best ships.

Grimkie accordingly inquired, and he learned that the Persia was the largest of the ships, though in other respects they were all nearly equally good. Mrs. Morelle accordingly determined to take passage in the Persia, provided she found that that ship was going at any time near the first of June.

Accordingly, on the first Saturday morning after it was concluded that Grimkie should go, the whole party set out together to go to New York to engage the passages. They went down by the railroad, and arrived at the Chambers-street station about ten o'clock.

“This is just right/' said Grrimkie. “The office opens at ten, I suppose."

So Grimkie selected a nice looking carriage from among those that were standing at the station, and after assisting his aunt and his cousins to enter it, and also getting in himself, he directed the coachman to drive to the office of the Cunard Compapy. The office was situated at the foot of Broadway, opposite the lower end of the Bowling Green.

They all descended from the carriage, and went up the steps which led to the office. On entering it they found a large room, in the front part of which was a counter with a desk at one end of it, and on the counter were lying one or two immense books containing plans. The books were about a yard long, and perhaps two feet wide, and each leaf contained a plan. The leaves were very stiff, as if the plans had been pasted upon sheets of pasteboard, in order that they might be turned over easily, and also to protect them from injury by constant handling.

In the back part of the room were other desks, where several clerks were engaged in writing.

Grimkie accosted the clerk who stood* at the desk near the counter, saying,

“We came, sir, to engage passages in one of your ships.”

The clerk bowed politely to Mrs. Morelle, and after some conversation in respect to the time when she wished to sail, and the steamer which she preferred, he looked into his books, and found that the Persia would be coming to America, instead of going to Europe, about the first of June; also that the ship which would sail from New York nearest to that time, namely, on the 23d of May, was full. All the staterooms were engaged. There were, however, some excellent staterooms at liberty in the Boston steamer, which sailed on the following week, namely, the 30 th of May.

And here, perhaps, it is necessary to explain that there are two branches to -the Cunard line of steamers, one of which connects Liverpool with Boston, and the other with New York. A ship of each line sails alternately from Boston and New York—one week from Boston, and the next from New York.

As soon as Grimkie heard that there were good staterooms disengaged in the Boston steamer of the 30th of May, his eye brightened up at once, and he proposed that they should go that way.

“But that will make us an extra journey from here to Boston,” said Mrs. Morelle.

“Yes, Auntie,” said Grimkie, “that is just the thing. We shall have the journey to Boston into the bargain, and without paying anything for it, for the price is less from Boston, and a good deal more than enough less to pay the expenses of going.”

“Yes, mother,” said Florence, “let us go that way.”

“Besides,” said Grimkie, “the Boston steamers touch at Halifax, into the bargain.”

“Is that so?” said Mrs. Morelle, turning to the clerk.

“Yes, madam,” said the clerk, smiling; “but I think the passengers do not usually consider the touching at Halifax any special advantage in favor of the Boston line.”

“Why? Does not the ship stop long enough for them to go on shore?” asked Mrs. Morelle.

“She stops usually two or three hours\'' replied the clerk; “and the passengers can go ashore, if they please."

“Then let us go that way, mother/' said Florence.

“We must go that way for aught I see." said Mrs. Morelle, “if there are no staterooms for us in the New York steamers."

The clerk looked into his books again, and said that there were no two continuous staterooms disengaged in the New York steamers until after the middle of June. He, however, then opened one of the big books, and showed Mrs. Morelle the plan of the Europa, which was the Boston steamer that was to sail on the 30th, and pointed out upon the plan two staterooms lying contiguous to each other, which were disengaged.

One of them was what was called the family stateroom, being nearly square in form, with two berths, one over the other, at the end, and a settee along the side, upon which a third person might sleep, if necessary.

“I could sleep on the sofa, mother," said John, “just as well as not."

“Then what should we do with Grimkie?' asked Mrs. Morelle.

“We might give the young gentleman a separate berth in another stateroom" said the clerk; “and then you would have only three passages to pay for. But in that case" added the clerk, "you might find it more convenient to let the young lady sleep upon the sofa, as the upper berth is pretty high, and her brother could climb up to it perhaps more easily than she could."

"I can climb" said John, eagerly. “I can climb up to the upper berth, just as well as not."

Mrs. Morelle found, on further conversation with the clerk, that if she took only a single berth in the second stateroom, the other berth would be occupied by some stranger, who might or might not be very agreeable company for Grimkie. So she concluded to take two staterooms herself, with a view of letting Grimkie and John occupy one of them, while she and Florence occupied the other. The clerk accordingly put down her name for two staterooms contiguous to each other, one of the large ones for herself and Florence, and a smaller one, next to it, for Grimkie and John. Mrs. Morelle paid the money and took a receipt, and then the whole party left the office and returned to the carriage.


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