At ten o’clock Jean called at the dock to learn if the half-dozen steamer chairs and as many warm blankets had arrived, and he found everything in readiness. It was 10:30 o’clock when the Waldorf bill was paid, and the good-bye given. The young people were jubilant, as the long hoped-for pleasure trip to Europe was about to be realized.
The carriages for the steamer could not go fast enough to satisfy the old, or the young people. Several schoolmates, artists, business and society friends met them on the dock. Many fashionable people had already arrived to say “Bon Voyage” to the Harrises and to Leo. Hundreds of others had come to see their own friends off. It was all excitement among the passengers, and carriages kept coming and going.
Not so with the English officers and sailors of the “Majestic.” They were calm and ready for the homeward passage.
The last mail bag had been put aboard, and the receipts to the government hurriedly signed. Mr. Searles had said good-bye, and last of all to Colonel Harris. As the colonel went up the gangway, the bell rang and the cries “All aboard” were given. For once, Colonel Harris felt a sense of great relief to thus cut loose from his business, and take his first long vacation, in twenty-five years from hard work.
“Now, I shall have a good time, and a much needed rest,” he said. But just as he stepped into the steamer’s dining-saloon, Mr. Searles, who had hastily followed, touched him on the shoulder and said. “Here, Colonel Harris, is a telegram for you.”
Harris quickly tore it open. It was from Wilson, his manager, and it read as follows:—
Harrisville, June 9, 18—.
Colonel Reuben Harris,
Steamer Majestic, New York.
Our four thousand men struck this morning
for higher wages. What shall
Harris was almost paralyzed. His wife and daughters ran to him. The steamer’s big whistle was sounding. All was now confusion. There was only a moment to decide, but Harris proved equal to the situation. He stepped to the purser, surrendered his passage ticket, kissed his wife and two daughters, saying to his son, “Alfonso, take charge of the party as I go back to Harrisville.”
Gertrude, insisting, accompanied her father, and remained ashore. On the dock stood Colonel Harris, Gertrude, and Mr. Searles, all three waving their white handkerchiefs to Mrs. Harris, Lucille, Alfonso, and Leo. What a bad send-off!
The best laid schemes o’ mice an’
Gang aft a-gley,
And leave us nought but grief and pain,
For promised joy.
The Harrises on the steamer, and the Harrises on the pier had heavy hearts, especially Colonel Harris and Gertrude so suddenly disappointed. It was soon agreed that the three should start that evening for Harrisville.