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Excursion to the Orkney Islands
Chapter VII. Morning in Liverpool


Most heartily glad were Mrs. Morelle and Florence to set foot once more upon dry land. Grimkie and John, though on the whole well pleased to arrive at the end of the voyage, had, nevertheless, found so much to amuse them, and to occupy their minds, on board the ship, especially during the last few days, that they had not been at all impatient to reach the shore. Immediately on landing they all got into a cab and drove to the Waterloo Hotel, where rooms had been ordered for them beforehand by Mr. Jay, who had written to Liverpool for that purpose, the week before the Europa sailed.

They found the rooms all ready for them,—a parlor and two bed-rooms. The parlor was on the front of the house, and looked out upon the street. The bed-rooms were in the rear. One of the bed-rooms was for Mrs. Morelle and Florence, and the other for Grimkie and John.

Of course they all went to bed early. They found it inexpressibly delightful to have a good wide and soft bed to get into, and to go to sleep without being rocked, though Mrs. Morelle and Florence still continued to feel the rocking motion of the ship whenever they shut their eyes.

In an English hotel the usages are entirely different from those which prevail in America. There are no stated hours for meals, and no public room except one for gentlemen. In an American hotel there is no objection to a little bustle and life. Indeed one of the charms of traveling in America is the pleasure of witnessing the bustle and life of the hotels. In England, on the other hand, the hotels are kept as still and quiet as possible. The idea is, especially when a lady arrives at one, to make it as much as possible like her own private house. Often the landlord, the landlady, the porter, the waiter and the chambermaid, meet her at the door when she comes, and receive her just as if they were her own private servants, and the house was her own private house. The porter receives and takes care of the baggage, the landlady conducts the guests to their parlor, and from the parlor the chambermaid presently shows the way to her chambers. The lady establishes herself in these rooms just as if she were at home. She has all her meals with her own party, in her own room, ordering just what she likes, and fixing the hours to suit her own convenience. The fact that there may he other parties in the hotel, living in the same way, is kept as much as possible out of view. Thus it happens that a lady is sometimes several days at a hotel, and one of her best friends is there too all the time, living in another wing or in rooms approached by some other passage-way, while she knows nothing about it.

Of course there ’was a great deal to be done that evening before the members of our party were ready to go to bed, but when finally bedtime arrived, Mrs. Morelle said that she should not wish to have breakfast very early the next morning, but the children might get up, she added, as early as they pleased, and if they wished, go out and take a walk.

“Only you must be back by a quarter to nine,” said she, “for I intend to have breakfast at nine. And Florence,” she added, “if you are up in time, I should like to have you order it.”

“How shall I order it, mother?” asked Florence.

“When you go out into the parlor you will find the table already set. The waiters always set all the tables in the different parlors early in the morning, when they arrange the rooms.

You must then ring the bell and the waiter will come. Tell him that your mother will have breakfast at nine o’clock, and also tell him what you will have.”

“And what shall we have mother?” asked Florence.

“You may have whatever you please/’ said Mrs. Morelle, “only I should like a fried sole for one thing.”

The sole is a remarkably fine fish, in some sense peculiar to England. It is particularly nice when fried, and the Americans generally count a great deal upon having one for breakfast on the morning after they arrive in Liverpool from a voyage across the Atlantic.

Liverpool lies so far to the north, that the sun, in the middle of June, rises very early,—between three and four o’clock—and it is quite light at half past two. Grimkie was deceived by this very early dawn, and he got up about three o’clock on the following morning, and began to dress himself, but happening to look at his watch he saw how early it was, and so he went to bed again.

When he next awoke, it was half past six. So he determined to get up. John got up too. They both dressed themselves and went out into the parlor, hut they found that the shutters were not open.

“John,” said Grimkie, "the waiters are all asleep. We will go out and take a walk and come hack again by and by.”

So the two boys passed down stairs and went out into the streets. There were milk carts and other such things going about, but the shops were all shut, and there were no signs of opening them.

“John,” said Grimkie, “the shopmen are all asleep too, and there is nothing to see here—but let us go down to the landing. We shall find somebody awake there you may depend.”

Now there is something very curious at Liverpool in respect to the arrangements made for the shipping, something that is especially well calculated to interest such boys as Grimkie and John, and that is the system of docks and landings. The tide rises and falls so much that the ordinary system of fixed piers for vessels to lie at, and rise and fall with the tide, will not answer. Accordingly there have been built a range of immense docks, extending along the shore for many miles. The ships go into these docks through vast gates which are opened at high tide, when of course the river and the docks are both full. Then the gates are shut to keep the water in, and thus although the tide in the river may go down very low, the ships within the docks, are kept afloat all the time—the water there being kept up by the resistance of the gates, which are made of immense size and strength, in order to enable them to sustain the pressure.

Thus in sailing up the river opposite to Liverpool the voyager sees nothing for miles along the shore but a lofty wall, of prodigious size interrupted here and there by towers, gateways, and other curious structures—and beyond it a forest of masts and steamboat funnels, rising above it, in countless thousands. The wall is the outer line of the docks, and the masts and funnels seen beyond belong to the ships and steamers which are lying within.

Grimkie and John went down to the shore and rambled about for an hour or more among these docks. They saw immense numbers of ships floating in the basins—which were full of water, although it was low tide in the river outside— and-the draw-bridge and gates connecting one lock with another, and vessels loading and unloading, and men hoisting boilers and machinery into steamers by means of prodigious iron cranes, and other such spectacles.

They also saw the landing-stage, which is one of the wonders of Liverpool. It is an immense floating wharf which rises and falls with the tide so as always to preserve the same level in respect to the water. Here all the ferry boats, and tug boats, and tenders, and other small steamers land, as well as row boats and sail boats innumerable, the coming and going of which make the great landing-stage one of the busiest places in the world.

The boys were so much interested in what they saw, that instead of getting back to the hotel at eight o’clock as they had intended, it was a quarter of nine when they arrived. They found that Florence had ordered breakfast, and that the table was set. There was also a pleasant little coal fire burning in the grate, for the morning was cool. In a short time Mrs. Morelle appeared, and soon afterward the whole party sat down to breakfast.


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