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Excursion to the Orkney Islands
Chapter IX. The Railway Ride


"Now, Florence,” said Grimkie, when the cab arrived at the station, and stopped for the party to get out, “now we shall see which is the best — an English railroad ride, or an American one.”

A man in a peculiar velveteen dress of a bronze green color, and with a badge upon his arm to mark his official character, came with a barrow, and in a very respectful manner asked where the party were going.

“To Carlisle,” said Grimkie.

“Yery well,” said the man. “If you will follow me to the platform I will show you where to get the tickets.”

So saying the porter put the trunks and all the parcels carefully upon his barrow, and led the way through an arched passage into the interior of the station. Grimkie paid the cabman, and then, with the rest of the party, followed the porter.

When they entered the station, a remarkable scene presented itself to view. Florence looked about with great surprise and admiration. She saw an immense space covered with a glass roof, with platforms flagged with stone along the sides, and great numbers of trains on the different tracks in the center. Great hissing locomotives were moving to and fro, on these tracks, and parties of travellers, with porters wheeling their trunks and parcels on their barrows, were moving in various directions along the platforms. There were doors opening into pretty rooms, with signs over them, marked, First Class Waiting Rooms, and Second Class Waiting Rooms, and First Class Refreshment Rooms, and the like. One of the objects which most strongly attracted Florence's attention, was a very elegant little book stall, with a great variety of entertaining books displayed on the shelves of it, together with prints, newspapers and periodicals, all neatly arranged on open shelves, or behind glass sashes.

But there was not time to stop and look at these things, for the porter went on, and it seemed necessary to follow him. He took the barrow near to one of the trains which was standing upon the track, and stopping there, he said to Grimkie,

“You have plenty of time, sir. The train does not go for twenty minutes. Your luggage will be quite safe here, and if you will come with me I will show you/the waiting-room, and then I will come and tell you when it is time to get the tickets.”

“Can’t I get the tickets now?” asked Grimkie. “Not quite yet, sir,” said the porter. “The ticket office for this train will be open in about ten minutes.”

So saying, the porter led the way to the first class waiting room, and the whole party went in. They found a spacious and handsomely furnished room, with a great table in the center, and very comfortable-looking sofas and arm-chairs against the walls. On one side was a door opening into the refreshment room, where they saw a large table elegantly set, as if for a sumptuous dinner. Beyond was a counter loaded with decanters, plates of fruits, tarts, pies, and all sorts of delicacies, and with one or two very tidy-looking girls behind it, ready to wait upon customers.

“What nice rooms!” said Florence.

“Yes,” said Grimkie. “These are for the first class passengers.”

“How did the porter know that we were going first class?” asked Florence.

"He knew by our looks,” said Grimkie; “besides, he knew by our being Americans. Americans always take the first class. They don’t go for marking themselves publicly as second rate people, and so whether they are rich or poor, they all rush into the first class carriages.”

“Who told you that?” asked Florence. Florence knew very well that Grimkie was quoting what somebody else had said, for the language did not sound at all as if it were original with him.

“A gentleman on board the steamer,” said Grimkie, coolly.

“Mother,” said Florence, turning to Mrs. Morelle, who had seated herself comfortably upon one of the sofas, “let us go out on the platform again. It is a great deal more amusing there than here.”

“I think so, too,” said Mrs. Morelle. So saying, she rose from her seat, and they all went together out upon the platform, and began to walk up and down, amusing themselves with observing what was going on. Grimkie and John began to read the placards and notices which were posted up along the walls. Some of them were adorned with pictures printed in. colored inks, and were mounted in handsome frames.

While they were looking at these things, the porter came again and told Grimkie that the ticket office was now open, and he proceeded to show him the way to it. Grimkie bought the tickets, and then the porter led the way toward the night train. Mrs. Morelle and John went on together after him, and Grimkie and Florence followed.

“This is very nice,” said Florence, “to have a man wait upon us in this way, and show us exactly what we are to do.”

“Yes,” said Grimkie, “but then we have to pay for it.”

“No,” replied Florence, “for I saw a notice posted up that the men were not allowed to receive anything whatever from the passengers. If they do take anything they are to be dismissed.”

“I don't mean that we have to pay the men” said Grimkie, “but the company. The fares are a great deal higher in England than in America. Here they have plenty of servants to wait upon us at the stations, and they charge accordingly. In America every man takes care of himself and saves his money.”

“Not all of it,” said Florence.

“No, not all of it,” replied Grimkie, “but all that part which the company would require to employ servants at all the stations to take care of him. Besides, this porter will expect a sixpence from me, and I have got one all ready to give to him. You will see how he will manage to get it slily. The gentleman on board the steamer told me all about it.”

By this time the porter had come to the train. The train was not composed, as in America, of a few long cars, but of a larger number of carriages, each of which contained three separate compartments, with doors at the sides. The porter went to one of these carriages, marked First Class, and opened the door. Grimkie put in some of the small parcels of the luggage, and the porter put the trunks upon the top. He kept one bag in his hands and told Grimkie that he would hand it to him after he got in. So Grimkie got into the carriage and took his seat, and the porter, after he had put up the trunks upon the top, within the railing which had been made there to keep them from falling off, and had covered them with a tarpaulin, took the bag and put it into the carriage, contriving at the same time, when he shut the door, to hold his hand inside of it a moment, in such a way that Grimkie could give him the sixpence.

“You will not change carriages, sir,” said he to Grimkie, “until you get to Carlisle, and then you will find your luggage on the top quite safe.” “Grimkie,” said Florence, as soon as the man had gone. “You ought not to have given that man a sixpence. He is liable to lose his place for taking it.”

“Yes;” said Grimkie. “Provided any body saw him take it.”

“That makes no difference,” said Florence, “whether any body saw him take it or not. It makes not the least difference in the world. You have broken the law.”

“No,” said Grimkie. “I have not broken any law. There is no law against the traveller's giving the sixpence, but only against the porter’s taking it. He may have broken a law, but I have not.”

“Oh Grimkie!” said Florence.

Florence was no match for Grimkie in the logical management of an argument, and she did not know exactly how to reply to his reasoning in this instance, though she felt very confident that he was wrong. Her thoughts were, however, for the present, at once diverted from the subject, for the train began to move, and in a very few minutes it appeared that it was entering a dark tunnel. The interior of the carriage, however, did not become dark, for in proportion as the daylight faded away the illumination which it had produced was replaced by a lamp-light which gradually began to appear. Where this lamplight could come from was at first a mystery, but, on looking up, the children saw a lamp burning brightly in a glass which was set into the top of the carriage over their heads, with a reflector above it which threw the light down. This light made it very cheerful and pleasant within the car while the train was passing the tunnel.

On emerging from the tunnel at the other end a marvelous picture of verdure and beauty met the view of the travellers, and filled them with delight. Florence particularly was charmed with the aspect of the scene. She looked out first at one window and then the other, scarcely knowing which way to turn in her fear that something would escape her. The rich and deep green of the fields, the hawthorn hedges, in full flower, the gardens, the beautiful villas, the charming cottages, half covered with eglantine and ivy, the little railway stations, which the train passed from time to time, built substantially of stone, in very picturesque and endlessly varied forms, and with the prettiest ornamental gardens which can be imagined surrounding them, or extending from them each way along the sloping banks which bordered the track—these and a hundred other objects which came into view in the most rapid and ever changing succession, kept her in a continual state of excitement.

It was about one o'clock when the train left Liverpool, and it reached Carlisle about half past five. The distance was about a hundred and thirty miles. The. time passed, however, very rapidly. A short time before the train arrived, Mrs. Morelle asked Grrimkie what he was going to do about a hotel.

“You know,” said she, “that the agreement is that you are to take the whole care of the party, just as if you were my courier.”

A courier is a travelling servant, who is employed by a gentleman travelling, or by a lady, or a family, to conduct them wherever they wish to go on their journey. He takes care of all the luggage, knows which are the good hotels, makes bargains with the keepers of them, and settles the bills, makes arrangements for horses and carriages when travelling, and in a word relieves his employers of all trouble and • care, and enables them to make their journey with as much ease and quiet of mind as if they were merely taking a morning’s drive on their own grounds at home.

That is to say, this is the case when the employer of the courier understands how to manage properly. It is with travelling couriers as with all other servants ; every thing depends upon the principles of management adopted by the master or mistress. A courier is a means of great convenience and comfort in travelling, or a source of continual vexation and trouble, according to the tact or want of tact displayed by the traveller himself, in employing and directing him.

Grimkie looked a little at a loss when his aunt asked him what hotel he was going to. He said he had intended to have asked some gentleman in the cars, supposing that the cars would be large, as in America, and that there would be a great many people in them. But in fact there had been no one in their compartment of the carriage all the way. He had looked into his guide book, and the guide book gave the names of two or three of the hotels in Carlisle, but did not say which was the best.

“Read us the names, Grimkie,” said Florence. “We can judge something by the sound of them.”

So Grimkie opened the book and began to read “There's the Royal Hotel,” said he.

“We won't go there,” said John, “at any rate. We are republicans.”

“And there's a hotel called the County Hotel,” continued Grimkie. “It is in the station.”

“In the station?” repeated Florence; “let us go there, It will seem very funny to be at a hotel that is in the station. May we go to any hotel that we choose, mother?”

“You may go to any one that Grimkie chooses" replied Mrs. Morelle. “He is responsible for finding us comfortable quarters for the night.”

“I'll see how the station hotel looks when we get there" said Grimkie to Florence, “and if it looks pleasant we will stop there.''

This plan for deciding the question in respect to the Station Hotel seemed to be in theory a very good one, but it proved unfortunately impracticable, for when the train stopped, and Grimkie had helped his party out from the carriage to the platform, He found no signs of the hotel to be seen, except two or three porters who wore the badges of the hotel upon their caps, and one of whom stood ready at once to take charge of Grimkie's luggage and to show the way to the hotel. Grimkie, who had no time for reflection, decided at once to accept the offer, and as soon as the trunks were handed down and put upon the hotel porter's barrow, he followed with Mrs. Morelle and the children where the porter led.

They went for some distance along the platform, and then turned to a side door which led to a long passage gently ascending. At the end of this passage they ascended some steps and entered a door, and there turning to the left they came into another long passage which looked like the entry of the hotel. Apartments of various kinds opened from it on each side, and waiters were seen carrying dinners and suppers to the different rooms. At the end of this passage was a sort of office, and turning round the comer an elegant stair-case came into view, leading to the stories above. A pretty looking young woman met the party at the office door. Grimkie said they wanted a sitting-room and two bed-rooms. The young woman led the way up stairs to show the rooms. ,

In about half an hour after this time the whole party were sitting down, in excellent spirits, and with great appetites, to a very nice dinner, in an elegant little room, with windows looking out upon a great area filled with omnibuses and cabs that were waiting for the arrival of the next train, and upon a street which passed by a spacious castle-like building that seemed to stand at the entrance to the town.

After dinner they all went out to take a walk. On entering the town they found themselves in a narrow street with very ancient but very solid and substantial looking buildings on either side of it, the whole entirely unlike any thing which they had ever seen in America. They passed by several inns which were so quaint and curious in their structure, and looked so snug and so neat, and so much like the representations of English inns which they had seen in pictures and drawing-books, that Florence began to be sorry that they had stopped at the Station Hotel, which was modern and new, and the rooms in which were very much like those of a nice hotel in America.

“Grimkie,” said she, “we made a mistake. We ought to have come to one of these little old fashioned inns here in the town. See what nice curtains at the chamber windows. If we had only known about these.”

“Ah yes,” said Grimkie. “If we could only manage when we are coming into a strange town, to have a chance to see all the hotels and inns beforehand, we could choose a great deal better.”

“You made a great mistake this time,” said Florence.

“Next time then you shall choose,” said Grimkie.

Florence was prepared for some sort of tart reply from Grimkie, to her finding fault with him, but when she heard so kind and polite a reply, it produced a reaction in her own feelings. After a moment’s pause she said,

“Grimkie, it was I that chose this time. Going to the Station Hotel was my plan, after all”.

“Was it?” said Grimkie; “well you shall choose the next time too, if you like.”

The principal object of the walk which our party were taking at this time, was to visit the Cathedral of Carlisle. It was the first cathedral which the children had had an opportunity of seeing. They found a very ancient and venerable pile, with ruins around it, and several little streets, and open spaces, with pretty houses fronting them, all of which seemed to belong to the cathedral, for they were enclosed with it in a wall which separated the whole precinct from the rest of the town. This precinct is called the cathedral close! It pertains exclusively to the cathedral, and is under ecclesiastical jurisdiction, in a measure, and contains the dwellings of the various clergymen and laymen that are attached to the cathedral service.

There was a certain air of solemn stillness and repose reigning about the precincts of the cathedral, when our party entered the close, which was very impressive. The venerable walls of the cathedral itself crumbling with age, the old inscriptions and sculptured images, now in some cases almost wholly effaced by the decay of the stone,—the masses of ruined walls, the remains of ancient cloisters or chapels which were seen here and there rising from the patches of greensward,—the smooth and solitary walks—and above all the mournful chirping of the rooks and swallows and doves that were flying about among the turrets and parapets far above, or in the tops of the ancient trees—combined to impart a peculiar expression of solemn and melancholy grandeur to the scene, which was wholly indescribable.

After rambling about the town and the environs till after ten o’clock, the party returned to the Station Hotel, where they all went to bed without candles, for it was not yet dark.

The next morning, soon after breakfast, Grimkie paid the bill, and they all went down to the platform to take the train which was to leave about half-past eight o’clock for Glasgow. They were soon all comfortably seated in the carriage, and five minutes afterward the train was in motion. They had a delightful journey to Glasgow, where they arrived safely a little after noon.


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