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Excursion to the Orkney Islands
Chapter V. The Embarkation

On Tuesday morning, when Mrs. Morelle and her party arrived at Boston, they learned from an advertisement in the newspaper that they must he on hoard the next morning at eight o'clock, as the steamer was to sail at nine.

“I am glad of tha"' said Grimkie; “for now the sooner we are off the better." Only he added, after a moment's pause, “we shall not have a chance .to change the rest of our money.''

“True" said Mrs. Morelle; “and I think I shall have nearly forty dollars over, after I have paid the bill at the hotel."

“That would get us eight sovereigns more," said Grimkie.

“I don't know what I shall do with that money," said Mrs. Morelle. “It is in bank bills, which will be of no use in England, and it will make me considerable trouble to carry them with me all the time of my tour."

“Perhaps we might get five-dollar gold pieces with the money her# at the hotel," said Grimkie, “and that would be much better than to carry the bills, for we can sell the gold pieces in Liverpool to the brokers there, for nearly as much as they are worth.”

“That will be the best thing that we can do,” said Mrs. Morelle.

So Grimkie took the money and went to the bar of the hotel, and the barkeeper said he could change it into gold just as well as not. He accordingly gave Grimkie eight half-eagles, and Grimkie, after wrapping them up carefully in a paper by themselves, put them into the top of his money bag, with the rest of the coin, and then put the whole carefully away in his aunt's trunk.

The next morning, at half-past-seven, a coach which Grimkie had ordered the night before, came to the private door of the Tremont House, in Tremont Place, and took the whole party in, with their luggage, and conveyed them to East Boston, where the steamer was lying.

As soon as they arrived upon the pier, they found themselves in the midst of a scene of great bustle and excitement.

Carriages were arriving in rapid succession, bringing passengers to the ship. Piles of trunks and carpet-bags were lying upon the pier, and a line of sailorlike-looking men were engaged in taking them on hoard. As soon as Grimkie’s baggage—for from this time he called it all his, since he had now the exclusive charge of it—was set down, Grimkie paid the fare, and the coachman, mounting upon the box, wheeled his carriage round, and drove away. Very soon one of the porters from the ship came and took up one of the trunks to carry it on board.

“Johnnie," said Grimkie, “you go with Aunt and Florence on board, after this man, and see where he puts this trunk, and then come back here. I'll stay in the meantime, and watch the rest."

So John led the way in following the porter over the plank, while his mother and Florence followed him; As soon as he got on board, he saw the porter put down the trunk in a sort of open space in the middle of the deck, with a great many others, and in a moment afterward several more were piled up upon it and around it, so that it rapidly disappeared from view.

John found a place near by where Mrs. Morelle could stand, a little out of the way of the crowd, and then immediately hastened back over the plank to where he had left Grimkie on the pier.

“Grimkie," said he, “they have covered our trunk all up with fifty others, and I don’t see how we shall ever get it again.”

“Never mind," said Grimkie; “we'll wait and see how the other passengers get theirs."

Just at this moment some porters came and took up the two remaining trunks, and heaving them up upon their shoulders, began to walk with them on board. Grimkie and John followed, bringing with them the valise and several other similar things. When they arrived on board they saw the two trunks deposited with the other baggage, and where they soon began rapidly to disappear from view.

“Now," said Grimkie, “we will go down and put the valise in our state-room."

The deck and all the passages leading below, were crowded with people going and coming. A large proportion of these people were friends of the passengers, who had come to accompany them on board, in order to see the ship and the state-rooms which their friends were to occupy. Grimkie led the way through this crowd, working forward slowly, as well as he could, and followed by the rest of his party. Indeed there were two lines of people moving in contrary directions, and Grimkie supposed that by following the one that was going on, he should sooner or later find his way below.

He was right in this calculation. He was soon conducted to a door which led into a narrow but very elegant passage-way. In the middle of this passage-way was a door to the right, leading into a magnificent saloon, with a walk up and down the middle of it, and rows of long tables on each side. The aspect of this room was very brilliant, but Grimkie had only time to glance at it, for opposite to it, on the other side of the passage-way were three other openings, the center one opening into a most spacious and elegant china closet, and each of the two side ones leading down a flight of winding stairs, with very bright brass hand-rails on the sides to take hold of in descending.

On reaching the foot of the stair-case, the party entered a bewildering mass of passages and open spaces, all elegantly finished, with highly polished woods, and handsomely carpeted, and lighted moreover with strangely placed skylights and panes of glass placed in rows near the ceiling. Grimkie thought that he knew from the plan exactly where to look for his aunt's state-room, but he found himself completely bewildered and lost. There were various stateroom doors opening all around him. He went into one or two of them and looked at the numbers inscribed upon the berths, but they were not the right ones. .

At length he met a very respectable middle aged woman, who seemed to belong on board. She was in fact the stewardess. Grimkie asked her if she would show him state-room number twenty-three and twenty-four.

“Ah yes,” said she, “with a great deal of pleasure. This is it. It is one of the three best state-rooms in the ship.”

Grimkie stood back and allowed his aunt to go into the state-room first, and then the other children and finally he himself, followed.

The state-room was in size like what in a house on land would be called a large closet, being about seven feet wide and eight feet long. Across the end of it, and against the side of the ship, were two berths one above another, with pretty curtains before them, and a space underneath the lowermost berth, where trunks might be placed. Along one of the sides there extended a wide settee, covered with a hair-cloth cushion, and on the other side two wash-stands in the two corners, with a short and narrow seat, also covered with a haircloth cushion, between them. There was a looking-glass over the settee, and various little shelves, with ledges upon the outer edge of them, to prevent the things from rolling off in a heavy sea. There were also sundry large brass pins for hanging cloaks and dresses upon, and brass rings projecting from the walls in the corners to put tumblers into.

Opening into the upper berth was a small, round window, deep set in the thickness of the ship's side, and there was also a very thick piece of glass, of prismatic shape, set in the deck above, making a sort of window there, six inches by three. Over the door, too, and extending along the whole of that side of the state-room, was a row of panes of glass, which admitted light from the passage-way, and from other panes set in mysterious recesses above.

Mrs. Morelle as soon as she had entered the state-room, drew back the curtain of the lower berth, and laid her shawl and her parasol upon the bed, while Grimkie placed the valise under the little seat between the two wash-stands. Mrs. Morelle then sat down upon the settee and looked around to take a survey of the place, and then at the sky-light, above. At the same time she drew a long breath and said,

“Ah me! This is rather a small cell to be shut up in as a prisoner for two weeks."

“Oh mother!” exclaimed Florence, “we shall not be shut up here. We can go about all over the ship."

“You children will do that,” said Mrs. Morelle, “but I shall be shut up here. I shall be sick.”

“But mother you will not be sick all the voyage" said Florence.

“Perhaps not" said she. “I am sure I shall not be very sick, all the voyage. After a day or two I shall be only comfortably sick, and you will all be perfectly well I am quite sure, and can run about wherever you please.”

Then rising from her seat she said,

“But I need not begin my imprisonment yet. Let us go up on deck and see the people come on board.”

So they all left the state-room, and making their way through the crowd as well as they could, they went up to the upper deck, where they found a great number of ladies and gentlemen assembled in various groups—some standing and others sitting upon settees and camp-stools, while the pier, which was here in full view, was crowded with other parties coming and going, and with porters bringing more trunks and baggage on board.

Grimkie found seats for his party, and they all sat down. They remained in these places an hour, amusing themselves with the extraordinary spectacle which was exhibiting itself around them.

As the time drew nigh, for the sailing of the ship, the excitement of the scene was increased by the steam which having now been raised in the boilers to its full tension, and not yet being allowed to expend its energies in turning the paddles, made its escape through the waste-pipe with a thundering roar which made it almost impossible for the friends who were taking leave of each other to hear the parting word. From time to time the bell was rung, loud and rapidly, to warn those who were only on board as visitors to go on shore. A long and crowded procession of these visitors poured over the bridge to the pier, and when all were gone the bridge itself was raised, and hoisted to the shore, by a vast tackle and fall. The noise of the steam now suddenly ceased. The hawsers at the bow and at the stem were cast off, the paddle-wheels commenced their motion, and the ship began slowly to move away from the pier. A moment afterward two guns were fired one after another from the bows of the ship, with a deafening sound. The passengers standing along the hand-railing of the upper deck waved their hats and handkerchiefs to their friends who thronged the pier, and who waved their hats arid handkerchiefs in return. Many of them were in tears. Mrs. Morelle herself might have experienced some misgivings and have felt a little homesick and gad, at parting thus from her native land, and setting out upon so long a voyage with only three children, as it were, for her companions,— but she was going to meet her husband; and when a wife is going to meet a husband that she loves, or a mother to her son, she rarely experiences any misgiving. Her heart reposes with so much confidence and hope, upon the end of her journey, that she seldom shrinks very much from any thing to be encountered on the way.

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