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Excursion to the Orkney Islands
Chapter III. Preparations


Many we^ks intervened between the time when Mrs. Morelle took her passage and the day appointed for sailing. During this interval all parties were very much occupied with making the various preparations necessary for such a tour. Mrs. Morelle bought three trunks all alike and of medium size. One of these trunks was for herself, one for Florence and John, and one for Grimkie.

These trunks were all of a medium size, that is, about as large as could be conveniently handled when full, by one man. Mrs. Morelle had learned by former experience in travelling in Europe, that occasions would often occur when it was very inconvenient to have a trunk which it required two men to lift and carry away.

Besides these trunks Mrs. Morelle bought a sort of valise as large as she thought Grimkie could conveniently carry in his hand, which contained a set of night dresses and certain toilet conveniences for the whole party. This she called the night valise.

“Because you see,” she said in explaining the arrangement to Florence, “we are liable sometimes to be separated from our trunks for a night, but this valise we can keep with us at all times. Besides we shall sometimes wish to make a little excursion off from our main route, to be gone only a single night, and then we shall not wish to take our trunks with us. In such cases as this the night valise will be very convenient. Then it will be just the thing for me to use as a stool to put my feet upon in the railway carriages.”

“I don't see how we can ever get separated from our trunks,” said Florence. “They will always go with us in the same train.”

“But accidents happen,” said her mother. “In travelling, we have not only to make arrangements for the ordinary course of things, but we must also provide for accidents.”

“What kind of accidents?” asked Florence.

“Every kind that you can imagine,” said Mrs. Morelle.

“But tell me of one kind, mother,” said Florence.

“At one time,” replied Mrs. Morelle, “your father and I arrived in Liverpool late in the evening. It was eleven o'clock before we got through, the custom-house. The ship could not go into dock because the tide was so low. So we were obliged to go ashore in a tender, which is a small steamer somewhat like a Brooklyn ferryboat, but not half so large. It was dark and rainy, and the wind was blowing a heavy gale. We had to go down a long black ladder from the steamer to the tender. One of the officers of the ship held a lantern at the top, and a sailor held one below. We wished to take our trunks with us, but they said we could not do that. We must say what hotel we were going to, and they would send them there.

“So we told them that we were going to the Waterloo Hotel, and they marked all our trunks with a big W in chalk.

“Then we went down the ladder to the tender, and were sent on shore. When we landed we took a cab, and drove to the Waterloo Hotel. But we found that we could not have rooms there, for the hotel was full. So we were obliged to go to another and another. We went to three before we could get in.

“It was now about midnight, and we were very tired, and we would have liked very much to go to bed. If we had had night dresses with us we might have gone to bed at once, and let our trunks remain at the Waterloo until morning. But we had nothing of the kind, and so your father had to take a cab and go back to the Waterloo and wait there till the trunks came, and he did not get to our hotel so that we could undress and go to bed till nearly two o'clock.”

“That was curious,” said John, who had been standing by all the time, listening to the conversation. “But I don't understand very well what you mean about not getting into the docks."

“Ah, you'll find out all about that," said his mother, “when you get to Liverpool."

“Tell us some more accidents, then, mother," said John.

“No," said his mother. “I can not tell you of any more, but you will experience plenty of them, you may depend, if we travel about much in Europe, before we meet father."

One of the most important things to be arranged in making a tour in Europe is the question of funds. We can not take American money with us, for American money is not known, and does not circulate in foreign countries. We must have for each country which we wish to travel through, the kind of money that belongs to that country, except that in some cases we can use the money of a neighboring country, when it happens to be well known. We can use the principal gold coins of England and France, namely, the sovereign and the Napoleon, almost all over Europe, for they are almost universally known. With the exception of these, we require always the money of the country which we are travelling in.

Besides this, even if American money would circulate in foreign countries, it would be very inconvenient to take a sufficient quantity of it for a long tour, on account of the weight of it. I speak now, of course, of real money, that is, of gold or silver coin. Bank bills, as doubtless most of the readers of this book are aware, are not in fact money, but only the promises of banks to pay money. They pass as money in the country where the bank issuing them is situated, because every one knows that he can go with them to the bank and get the coin—that is, if he thinks the bank is good, and that it will keep its promises. But in foreign countries, where of course the banks issuing the bills are beyond the reach of the holders, the bills would be good for nothing except to sell at a loss to somebody who could send them across the Atlantic, and make arrangements for having the coin sent back to him.

The arrangements for furnishing travellers with the money they require, are made T5y the great banking houses. The banking houses must not be confounded with the banks. They are private establishments, conducted by men of great wealth. They have branches of their establishments in all the great cities and towns in Europe and America, and large supplies of money at all of them. At each branch they have money of the country where the branch is situated. An American traveller going to Europe, can go accordingly to one of these banking houses in New Yo^k, and make arrangements there to be furnished with any amount of money at any of the great towns in Europe, and of such kinds as they require, on condition of repaying the value of it in American money in New York, as soon as the news of its having been paid can come over.

The document which the banker in New York gives to the traveller, instructing the branches in Europe to pay him the money he may require, is called a letter of credit. A letter of credit may be given for any sum of money, and continue in force for any period of time.

There are several precautions and conditions to be attended to in making arrangements for a letter of credit. In the first place, the banker requires some security that the money which is advanced to the traveller in foreign lands, will be promptly repaid to him in America, as soon as notice arrives in this country of his having received it. This security is given in various ways. Sometimes the traveller knows some responsible merchant in New York, who will guarantee that the money will be paid. When he does not know any such person, or does not wish to ask any person to become surety for him, he can deposit bank stock, or railway stock, or bonds, or any other sure and good titles to property which he happens to- have, and give the banker authority to sell them, and pay himself with the proceeds, in case the traveller fails to make other provision for the repayment of the money advanced to him.

Another precaution which it is necessary to take, is one to prevent any other person than the traveller himself from getting any money with the letter of credit, in case he should steal it, or in any other way get it into his possession. Otherwise, in case the letter should be lost, and any dishonest person should find it, or in case it should be stolen, the wrongful holder of it might go with it to one of the bankers in foreign countries and ask for some money, and thus either the banker or the traveller would be robbed.

To prevent this, it is customary for the banker to send specimens of the traveller's hand-writing to all the branches in Europe where the traveller thinks he shall wish to draw money. The traveller writes his name on several slips of paper, and the banker in New York sends one of the slips to each of the branches in Europe, where ‘the traveller thinks he may wish to procure money. The clerks at these branches, when they receive these slips, which are sent to them by mail, paste them into a big book with a great many other slips of the same kind received before. Then, when the traveller arrives and calls for his money, they write a paper for him to sign, directing the person in New York who is to do the business for him there' to pay the amount to the banker in New York as soon as the paper reaches him. This paper is called a draft. When the traveller has signed the draft, the clerk at the branch in Europe takes it to the big book, and compares -the signature with Xhe one upon the slip of paper which he had received by mail. If he finds the hand-writing is the same, then he knows that all is right, and he pays the money. If it is not the same, then he knows that the person who has called with the letter of credit is not the person he pretends to be, and so he sends out at once for a police officer, and has him taken into custody.

In respect to the security to be lodged with the banker for the letter of credit, Grimkie had nothing to do, the merchants who had charge of Mrs. Morelle's funds having made arrangements for it; but Mr. Jay wished that Grimkie should attend to the business of procuring the letter himself, in order that he might learn how to do business at a banker's, and he recommended that Mrs. Morelle should go with him, so as to see how the business' was done, and also to give specimens of her signature.

“You might write the specimens at home,” he said, “and send them to the banker's; but I think it is a little better for you to go to the office. I could go with you just as well as not, but if you go alone you will see how easily the business is done, and you will have more confidence and self-possession in going to the banking houses in Europe. So I think I had better not go with you, but leave you altogether to Grimkie's care.

Mrs. Morelle entirely approved this arrange-metit; and, accordingly, on the morning of the day before she was to set out for Boston, she went with Grimkie and obtained the letter. It was on Monday that she did this. She had left her home on the North River the Saturday before, with a view of spending Sunday in New York, and then, after attending to this and some other business in New York on Monday, of proceeding to Boston on Tuesday, so as to be ready to sail in the steamer on Wednesday, that being the appointed day.

How Grimkie succeeded in doing the business at the banker’s, will appear in the next chapter.


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