American Native Press Archives and Sequoyah Research Center
"An Oklahoman Abroad" from Sturm's Oklahoma Magazine (Jan. Feb 1911), A Selected Edition [a machine-readable transcription]
By Carrie LeFlore Perry
By Carrie LeFlore Perry
Carrie LeFlore Perry was born about 1874 at Boggy Depot, Choctaw Nation, the daughter of Forbis LeFlore (Choctaw) and his third wife, Anne Marie Maurer, whose father, like Forbis LeFlore's, was born in France. LeFlore, a well-known and respected leader in the Choctaw Nation, served as superintendent of Choctaw schools, as a tribal judge, and as a representative for the Choctaw Nation in Washington. Marie LeFlore, according to family tradition, was the granddaughter of one of Napoleon's bodyguards. Carrie, the youngest child of their marriage, grew up in a cosmopolitan, Catholic household in which French was often spoken.
Carrie LeFlore was educated in the convent schools of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart, which were considered premier schools for well-bred young ladies. She first attended the Sacred Heart mission school in the Potawatomie reservation in Oklahoma Territory and later graduated from Maryville College in St. Louis.
In 1896, she married Adolphus Edward Perry, a Canadian-born entrepreneur, who was set on making his fortune in Indian Territory. As an intermarried white citizen of the Choctaw Nation, Perry could thereafter conduct business as any native Choctaw could. But as a permitted resident in the Choctaw Nation, he had already established himself in the business community by the time they married. Born in 1867, Perry had moved with his family at age twelve to Denison, Texas, where he obtained his early education, which was continued under the Jesuits at Montreal. He began his career as a "drummer," spending his vacations in the Indian Territory, where he made friends among influential people such as Douglas Johnston and the Colbert and Love families of the Chickasaw Nation; Robbert L. Owen of the Cherokee Nation; and Choctaws such as Green McCurtain, Peter Hudson, and Charles LeFlore, Carrie's half brother. In 1888 he moved to Atoka, Choctaw Nation, where he entered the general mercantile trade with his brother. After a year, the Perrys moved their business to Cottonwood, which later became Coalgate, where they continued in the mercantile trade and began mining coal. Apparently backed by his father, the contractor who had overseen construction of the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad, Perry flourished. Except for a period after 1891, when he attended Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts, Perry remained at Coalgate until he and Carrie LeFlore married.
For a year after their marriage, Perry managed a ranch at Citra, Choctaw Nation, before returning to Coalgate, where he began to expand his enterprises. He remained in the mercantile business, developed his mining operations, and entered the real estate business. By 1905 he had amassed enough capital, influence, and confidence to offer the government $15 million for the segregated coal and asphalt lands of the Choctaw Nation, an offer the Secretary of the Interior refused.
The wealth amassed by Perry provided his wife with the life style of a typical well-to-do woman of the late Genteel Period. Always referring to herself as Mrs. A. E. Perry, she entertained, traveled frequently to St. Louis, Kansas City, or elsewhere to visit friends, and, with her mother, spent time at Lake Michigan to escape the heat of the summer months. After more than a decade of marriage, her husband said of her, "She is the loveliest and sweetest of women. We are very fond of each other and are exceedingly congenial. We are almost always together." And, he said, "She is very retiring and dislikes notoriety."
By the time he made these comments, Edward Perry was a well-known politician, whose own notoriety certainly eclipsed his wife's. As Oklahoma statehood approached, he had become active in Republican politics and had earned the nickname "Dynamite Ed" as a result of having tossed lighted sticks of dynamite from a moving excursion train to call attention to his political cause. In 1907 he served as chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Campaign Committee and the following year ran for chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party. He lost but was rewarded with an appointment as vice-chairman. In the latter year, perhaps seeking relief from a difficult political season, Ed and Carrie Perry went on an extended tour of Europe. During their tour, Carrie wrote frequently to her mother, Anne Marie LeFlore, sometimes daily.
The Perrys remained in Coalgate until 1920. After a year in Texas, they moved to Oklahoma City, where Ed tried the real estate and oil businesses before becoming president of the Concho Sand and Gravel Company, which position he held until he retired. He had continued to dabble in politics until 1926, when he withdrew from the lieutenant governor's race because the state would not allow him to appear on the ballot as "Dynamite" Ed Perry. Throughout this period, Carrie Perry faded from public view. Ed died while they were on vacation in Colorado in 1939. She lived on until July 27, 1966, her life all but obscured from public view.
Despite her reticence, Carrie LeFlore Perry apparently had literary aspirations. As a student at Sacred Heart Mission, she had published a series of stories and narratives, for the most part related to Choctaw history and lore before Choctaw removal to the West. In 1905, she became a writer for the newly established Sturm's Oklahoma Magazine, publishing a piece on Choctaw and Chickasaw history. It was the publisher, O. P. Sturm, who in 1910 and 1911 published her 1908 series of letters to her mother as "An Oklahoman Abroad." Her last piece of writing, which appeared in 1928, was a biographical essay on her father, Forbis LeFlore.
After Sturm called her an Indian when he introduced the series of letters in 1910, he received expressions of surprise from Easterners "that she could have manifested such vivacity, enthusiasm and intelligence as mark her articles." Sturm answered one stereotypical view with another, apparently believing it necessary to denigrate her Choctaw heritage: "With her mother the daughter of one of Napoleon's ‘Old Guard,' and her father Col. Forbis Le Flore, youngest brother of the first governor of the Choctaws, is it any wonder that Mrs. A. E. Perry should find that she is dominated by the hot blood of the French, only to be bewitched now and again by the call of the wild, and again that she often arises to the heights of her dignity through her English ancestors?. . .Like a large per cent of her people in Oklahoma, Mrs. Perry's Indian blood is the smallest of the strains; but her French blood not only dominates her physically but intellectually, and both evidence a high degree of culture." In reality, much of Carrie LeFlore Perry's writing is typical of that done by tribal writers, especially women, of the Five Civilized Tribes during the closing years of the nineteenth and early decades of the twentieth centuries. Possessed of a romantic, nostalgic, patriotic attachment to the past, they set about writing the folklore and history of their tribes, the subjects of the largest number of Perry's published works. Thus "An Oklahoman Abroad" is the odd work among her writings.
I shall send a letter from the cities we visit and I promise to "do my best" to let you know if the reality equals the dream. As I do not remember to have included Chicago in my dreams, I shall pass her by.
We have decided to go by way of Niagara Falls and the St. Lawrence river to Quebec and there board the express. As we go the extreme northern route it will be cold; I am shivering in anticipation, think how glorious to freeze in warm sunshiny June.
Mother, how did we ever make our way in those awful streets? Is it possible that we, unassisted by man, actually found life enjoyable there? I am helpless. Ed pokes much fun at me but I care not, I cling to him! He declares I am "truly savage" hence my dislike to this hustling city.
This afternoon was spent shopping. As we were preparing to return to the hotel we saw a man struck by an auto. Of course we remained to see the "after doin's." Fortunately the man was very slightly injured but what a spectacle of abject fright he presented! I was disgusted, you expect a woman to do the "fainting Araminta" part, but a man should brace up.
We are really beginning our journey! I am so elated that I simply must write to you, although writing aboard a train was never my best. This train is in a hurry, going at an unholy pace and to my sorrow, the scenery is being whisked past at greater speed than a moving picture show, therefore I cannot truthfully state I am enraptured. We have just passed Michigan City, with its mountains of white sand, "Hoosier slide." The train obligingly remained at a standstill for at least three minutes and we dashed madly out, gazed, and rushed back. From the porter I learned that the sand is piled two hundred feet high, and is owned by the U.S. government. What a delightful place for children to play! I am going to curl up in a seat and dream in this growing twilight.
How would you like to be here in this Mecca of lovers, the true honeymoon city? We arrived here early this morning almost earlier than even old Gabriel would care to blow his trumpet, and after finding a suitable hotel we started out merrily to view the mighty falls, even my voluble French blood found not a word to express my feelings. I stood there entranced, listening to the voices of the gods. I heard their silver, sweet calling, calling, every calling, beneath the wild waves of sound and I know why many have cast themselves into the foaming water. They heard the voices and could not resist.
Tell the boys, Auntie has been in Rainbow Land, and yet missed the pot of gold! We went on this wonderful journey in a little boat, the "Maid of the Mist." Ed declares she must be an old maid, as he trod her decks many, many years ago, but what of that? She rode the waves quite youthfully. We were enveloped in rubber by a very obliging lad, and then sought a chair on the deck. We plunged through the blinding spray and were soon within Rainbow Land! Such a cruel rainbow, it tossed our little Maid again and yet again until I was so sick I could hardly watch the colors come and go; just as I felt the ride on that particular rainbow was too rich, we fell off and then mounted another! Oh, yes, it was beautiful beyond expression but I would have enjoyed it far more had we been less buffeted by the waves. The reason I missed the gold was because when we were at the proper place I was too seasick to grab it!
Surely the Great Spirit must have created the falls to over-awe the souls of men. I am sending you a descriptive pamphlet of the trolley ride, now one of the features of the resort. Following the advice of a friend, we crossed and went down the Canadian side and up the American. Why do they think it necessary to make this magic place useful? Surely a little beauty that "toils not, neither doth it spin" would not be amiss in this too prosaic world of ours.
Long, long years ago, just as the warm winds from the Southland kissed the flowers into radiant beauty, the Great Spirit sent his angel and bore away the soul of the young bride of a chieftain of our clan. In the sighing breezes, in the waving grasses, in the nodding flowers from dawn until dusk, from dusk into day, he heard her voice calling, every calling: "Follow, follow me." Unable longer to bear the agony he besought his people to release him from duty that he might seek the voice. With sad misgivings, the permission was granted and the young lover-husband began his quest of days, weeks and months over hill and dale, ever hearing the silvery "follow, follow me." At last a day dawned in autumn splendor and he stood beside the roaring waters of the great fall. He bent to listen; hark, clearer and every clearer, high and sweet above the awful roar: "Come, my beloved, oh come; here at last is rest." One eager look, one plunge and the beplumed warrior found his bride! When the marvelous joy of this place unfolded itself to me this day, I no longer wondered that the over-wrought, untutored soul thought that here he would find her with the gods.
As the car wound in and out, following the canyon, now we saw the foaming hissing water, madly falling over gigantic rocks in its haste to reach the sea; again it flowed calmly, sanely, as if it was pleased to dally between frowning banks; again it paused to retrace its steps, and then as if in anger at the delay, churning, boiling, raging in its wrath, it leaps high in the air, and tumbling, twisting like a mad thing, returns again to its seaward course.
One must be a dreamer of dreams, mother mine, to see the true beauty of this place, and then the gods let its true grandeur sink so deeply within your soul one aches with the anguish of it, yet it is given to but few to express the visions vouchsafed. I am not one. I can only throb with the glory of it, and sob with the pain!
Did I ever complain of the cold? Well Heaven forgive me, for now I must cry out against the heat, that even the night does not drive away! Oh, for only a little breeze; the nights in Oklahoma are cool. An amusing incident occurred at our table this evening; a foreign gentleman and his wife were striving to make the ebon-hued waiter comprehend that they wished dinner served in courses; he, not knowing how to serve, a la American, in many little dishes!
After a very unsatisfactory repast of which they expressed their opinion in voluble French, thus giving much pleasure to Ed, they left the dining room, disgusted with American ways. As we now had the undivided attention of the waiter, Ed casually inquired, "Pretty hard time you were having, John. What was the trouble?" " ‘Fore Gawd, mister, but I never seed such orderin' one thing at a time, clean plate, knife and fork every time! Them furriners don't know nothin'."
A very peaceful day, truly a Sabbath; the divine service in the little church overshadowed by giant trees was so restful. I enjoyed the sermon very much. We were greatly amused when the contribution box was passed, for a man accompanied the collector and appeared to record amount placed therein! Ed whispered he was the auditor. If the congregation is no more blessed with worldly goods than one I know in the far West, that auditor is not needed. We have spent the afternoon strolling leisurely about the little islands and enjoyed the glimpses of honey-mooners who, thinking themselves hidden, have betrayed their newness to matrimony. Ed teases me, because I insist that I am glad that we leave here tomorrow morning, but I am so weary of the "ever-never" of the water I cannot rest, for its ceaseless roar unnerves me. Just suppose that Indian ancestor of mine should rise up and beckon! Do not be uneasy. I'll wager my French blood would come gallantly to the rescue, with, "Pardon, monsieur, I dare not intrude."
2. "Maid of the Mist" boats have been in operation at Niagara Falls since 1846 with tours leaving both the United States and Canadian side of the falls. It has the distinction of being the oldest tourist attraction in North America. Mrs. Perry and her husband took the tour of the falls on the American side.
Out of the United States! We passed across the lake from Lewiston to Toronto and finding a couple of hours at our disposal, we proceeded to "do" the town. I cannot say it is especially interesting; it is clean and hustling, but too much like an American city to please me. You see, I am looking for the old, the beautiful and the picturesque, not the new and practical. The night was so cool I slept like a child and awoke at five-thirty ready to enjoy the Thousand Islands. I think a picture of an openmouthed rustic and a whole row of exclamation points would give you a better idea of my state this morning than words. Island after island, bearing homes of splendor, then dear little wooded spots with an unpretentious cottage peeping from the trees; again, a monster club house and magnificent grounds, just one continuous picture of homes and places of pleasure. Many of the houses crowning the islands were such monster affairs the lawns were lost in the river! Do they have babies in those homes? If so, how do they keep them out of the water? Ed chuckled with pleasure over the mental picture of you, on a little pocket-handkerchief lawn, with those irrepressible boys, in a wild endeavor to keep them out of the St. Lawrence!
The castles are too new, the homes do not show the caress of time; it is like our entire country, great and beautiful, but so new, so palpably new. We were from six to ten-thirty passing through this wonderful bit of the St. Lawrence, and like unto children, we were quite sure the island of the moment was the most fair.
We were told that there were 1,642 in all, and I do not doubt the statement after this morning. Leaving Prescott where we changed to a smaller boat, we were soon passing the numerous rapids. They increased in wonder until the Lachine Rapids were entered, and there we were truly amazed! A lady friend had informed me that I would be greatly disappointed with the rapids, as they were very peaceful, like unto soap bubbles! My comment is this: I would not wish that brand of soap turned loose in my vicinity if I were boating. Do you recall the legend of the Indian, who, for telling a lie, was doomed by the Great Spirit to ever wander by streams with his canoe upon his back in a fruitless search for a place to launch it? I wonder if he ever tried the Lachine Rapids? If he did I'll venture the Great Spirit had to hurry to save man and canoe. When we reached Cornwall, we found the bridge had fallen, blocking the canal, and learned our boat would be the last to Montreal for several days. You see the vessels go down the river but up the canal, because of the rapids. I am so thankful we did not miss our river trip.
We are staying at a quaint old hotel, in the French part of the city, very near the cathedral where Ed was christened. You need a guide in the hotel; it is a succession of up you go and down you come! There is an air of age and an odor too, about the rooms and corridors. We were told the present King stayed here, when he visited Canada as Prince of Wales, and I feel sure there has been little change since then! We have a monster apartment lined with mirrors and such massive furniture I feel oppressed. I tried to find the office before commencing this letter, and landed in an unknown hall. Seeing a chambermaid I inquired the way to the elevator, and was told something like this: Up two stairs, around a corner, down three steps, a long corridor, up three, then up two, across a hall, and enter the elevator and I would soon find myself opposite the office! I appreciated her directions but begged her to escort me to room 45 as I would defer the excursion until my husband returned.
Mother, Ed came in just as I was finishing the above paragraph, and with his assistance I found the lion and also enjoyed a street car ride. Today we have been "sight-seeing." Right here I wish to say that Ed would be a capital guide, he will even sacrifice truth to interest if he is not sure of his data. You would never suspect it, but I have a lurking suspicion that I have been told many dream tales, although what of it? May not a man romance of his home city? The very first thing we did was to make our way across the historic Place D'Armes Square into the old cathedral. It is a place of shadows, where prayer comes easily to the heart; beneath the giant crucifix of our Lord thereon, the soul is melted with tenderness.
I did so wish to examine the records and see his name there, as a tiny infant, but we were too early, and later in the day we would be elsewhere. We had decided to have breakfast in the Café A--, where Ed assured me the delicacies offered were beyond compare, and the room a little palace. Ah, the eyes of childhood! When we entered the small place, Ed with a twinkle said: "My dear, this place has grown smaller; I assure you it used to be the size of the cathedral!" Dear old café, perhaps it had seen better days; I know I have never seen a poorer breakfast. I drank to the King, in a cup of awful liquid called English Breakfast tea. Heaven pity the subjects of King Edward if they drink that decoction frequently! After a most unsatisfactory repast Ed said: "Now we will buy the very finest peppermints in the world; the kind I used to eat." Alas for the dreams of childhood, the candy was the "last straw." When we reached the street it was my turn and I said, "Let us buy presidents at a baker shop, you know dear, the kind you used to buy in old Montreal." You see I was determined to finish the "dream" right then and there. Cruel of me, I hear you say? Do believe me, that pastry was delicious, the very best every; I shall urge all my friends to visit Montreal and eat "Presidents." We walked on old Bleury Street to the Jesuit College where his young ideas were encourage to burst into bloom, and there I met an old priest who knew Ed as a boy, and had the pleasure (?) of teaching him. He assured me that Ed's ideas were always ready to bloom and ofttimes the flowers were startling.
No one feared he would die early because of his angelic goodness, but they often expected him to enter the pearly gates in a violent manner. He was permitted to lead me through his former class room, recreation room, and out-door play grounds; it was quite interesting to see the places and hear his animated tales of old school days.
From the College to Mount Royal on the cars it is but a little time, and there we were high above the city, enjoying the wondrous panorama. Ed pointed out all the historic houses and thus I have learned my Montreal fairly well, even if here but a day. This is a city of churches and charitable institutions, if we had more time we would surely visit many of them; I am not fully content with a "bird's eye view." When we returned to the hotel, while I rested Ed went out to see a college chum who is now a dignified attorney; he must have had a jolly time as he was quite late returning to the hotel for me, and our little excursion to the Convent of the Ladies of the Sacred Heart was begun as the afternoon was almost ended.
The trolley ride was so cool and through such fine country I was rather sorry when the convent cross appeared. Madame K.,my old teacher, gave us welcome and showed us the many beauties of the place. It was such a comfort to talk with dear Madam, I felt that she was truly interested in all that concerned me. After a pleasant hour, we turned our faces towards Montreal; the lamps were glowing when we reached the city and thus our pleasure was enhanced, it lies so quaint and queer under the gleaming lights. After a dinner--not at the Café A.--we strolled along the streets of the French town and Ed aired his mother-tongue with the many children scampering here and there in the joys of hide and seek. Thus ends our day in Montreal; we are true birds of passage, in twenty minutes we leave for Quebec, and until then you will have peace.
We arrived here at the early hour of six-thirty, entered a cab and were driven up, up, almost to heaven! The streets were in gala attire, banners of the saints hanging everywhere. We just missed the religious celebration in honor of the ter-centenary of Quebec. In the morning light the ancient city looked her best, and the drive to the Chateau Fontenac was filled with interest. There is a magnificent hotel built on the site of Chateau St. Louis, of historic associations. There is nothing ancient about this hostelry. It is a place of beautiful nooks and corners, wide spaces and sunshine. Far below lies the old town, and high above frowns the famous citadel.
The Dufferin Terrace, two hundred feet above the St. Lawrence, is the pride of Quebec, and here you see the beauty and chivalry ever promenading. We followed it for quite a distance, then I desired to reach the top of the fortress crowned rocks that we retraced our steps, and finding a street car, were soon at our goal. The view is beyond description, and had I not felt time was passing we would have lingered there for hours. Of course we were on the heights of Abraham, where Wolf died and Montcalm was mortally wounded. Do you remember as a child I used to be disconsolate because I knew not which hero I should mourn--whether I should rejoice with the English or weep with the French? Well, Dear, I felt just the same this sunshiny morn.
The street car rides are delightful; you are in such unexpected places, now in a broad, modern thoroughfare, and then into a tiny street where children, chickens, dogs and cats scamper into doorways to escape the car, which I assure you fully occupies the street and even extends over the narrow sidewalk. Ed was determined that I should visit the fish market. I cannot say I desired it, but of course I followed him. The place was filled with queer fish and I am glad I saw it, yet I shall not visit another. It is too "smelly" for me.
As we were turning down a little street, not far from the market, Ed saw a sign, "Dressmaking," and shouted: "Hurrah, come on, C.; this is where we get your dress altered." To explain, Mother, my suit in which I expected to travel all over Europe came from the maker too large and I did not have time to have it made smaller, and this appeared to Ed, "the time, the place and the woman."
We entered the shop and a French lady of imposing dimensions assured him that her time was fully occupied, but that she knew of a seamstress who would gladly effect the change. We were to go up one block, then turn north, walk two, and half way of the next block we would see a stairway, walk up, and there we would find her. We started. The street was like the road to heaven, narrow, steep, and beset with pitfalls. We boldly opened the outer wicket of the stairway into a dark passage, age old, up a flight, into Stygian blackness and the odor of the grave. I saw a door on a little landing and knocked. Hearing a voice, I opened, and imagine my consternation when I caught a glimpse of a man and woman seemingly engaged in preparing dinner. The man turned a scowling face and I quickly closed the door, caught Ed's hand and pulled him helter skelter down the musty, dusty stair into God's sunlight. My dress shall await a London tailor. We hailed a cab and drove to the city walls, and into all sorts of nooks and corners. After luncheon we decided to take a car for Montmorency Falls and the shrine of St. Anne de Beaupre. The Falls are exquisite, so foamy and milky white. We were told they were far higher than Niagara, but they are not so awe-inspiring--you can laugh and chatter without feeling that you are misbehaving in church. We entered a cage and were drawn to the plateau above the falls where we drank tea on the veranda of Kent House, once the home of the grandfather of Edward VII. and wandered at will in the zoological garden kept up there by the big fur establishments of Quebec.
The water power is utilized for many purposes. You see the spirit of commercialism is even invading this delightful spot. We barely caught the car to St. Anne's we remained so long. The little French villages nestling beside the hills, with the river flowing peacefully towards the sea, are very picturesque. The houses are all of the same type, be they old or new, just as much alike as peas in a pod, all with dormer windows and an outside stairway. The farms are so tiny not like a farm out our way. In Oklahoma a tenant would expect you to allow him that amount of land rent free, for a garden.
The place of the shrine is a village with an air of the medieval ages. The chapel is ancient, but the Basilica with its twin towers and colossal statue of St. Anne, is of comparatively recent date. Such faith as is evinced here! How can it be, in this material age of ours? I knew of St. Anne's, but I never conceived of anything like unto this. We talked long with the priest in charge and he told us of cures at which we marveled greatly. It is a place of many miracles, judged by the number of crutches, canes, etc., left by cured supplicants.
Oh, dear, we are hurried. Hardly do we become fairly interested when we must move on. We did not reach the city until nightfall and thus once more enjoyed a Canadian twilight. Glimpses of the inhabitants engaged in evening chores, laughing children, green fields, and the lights on the river gave to all an air most enthralling. Surely this must be like your beloved France, for it is not English nor American.
The city is brilliantly illuminated and Dufferin Terrace is aglow with handsomely gowned women. I do not feel that I could have done dear, dear old Quebec even scant justice, and I could find it in my heart to wish the boat did not sail so soon. We are going to the Empress in a caleche, so, as Ed declares I may have a foretaste of a ship at sea. Mother, I have your last letter to solace me when I am far from my "ain countree" but oh, dear, I do feel such a clutch at my heart when I think of the vast sea so soon to separate us. --Why can we not have pleasure without pain?
June 26--Off at last! We came early to the vessel and were comfortably settled before we left Quebec. Our state rooms leave nothing to be desired. Ed says we have 1,910 passengers aboard; would be quite a large town in Oklahoma. Little book, do you think I'll often write on your nice white pages?
27th--Away out somewhere on the broad bosom of the St. Lawrence. We anchored at Rimouski for twelve hours awaiting the mail. I am feeling a little queer; surely I am not to be ill on this placid river?
28th--Sunday, up at seven-thirty. I am feeling like a new person. Assisted at mass this morning at ten-thirty; now I am writing this in a sheltered nook away up stairs. It is very, very cold. We are passing the bleak coast of Labrador, and whales and icebergs are enchanting all of us. The sun shining on the wonderful masses of ice renders them like fairy castles. I am feeling very, very dizzy.
29th--Doctor here to see my wife; high fever; feed her chipped ice all the time! Phew! I am freezing; glad I am not obliged to eat this ice. Wish I had my winter clothes. Poor little woman, the sea is not kind to her.
July 3rd--Wife spent miserable night, but the sight of land this morning helped her greatly. We are nearing Liverpool. I have my wife ready to leave. She is very weak, but insists upon leaving for London on the fast express at three-thirty. We land at one-thirty.
How beautiful the coast of England and what a desirable city Liverpool appeared. To be candid, I think a desert island would have been to me a bit of paradise, I so longed for solid earth beneath my feet. How we did rush to get off on the three-thirty express only to learn later that another train left at four o'clock. Ed succeeded in convincing an inspector that it would be a splendid thing for him to get busy; then he grabbed a porter who grabbed the trunks and we made a rush for the train; I was thrown aboard, Ed jumped after, but the porter was too slow. Ed tossed him a bit of silver, yelled, "London," and we were gone. I was quite sure I had seen the last of my possessions, but the guard assured us that the trunk would reach London thirty minutes after our arrival. And so it did. Can you imagine a bit of baggage being so transported in our country, if left in the hands of an unknown? You do not check over here, just toss it in the van labeled your destination, and claim it when you reach that place. I think our system better, but of course they could not change over here.
I was too weak from my long fast to enjoy the scenery had the speed of the train permitted. As it was we rushed through the green fields of England so rapidly that I almost shared the fears of the American who wished the train to slow down before it ran off the pesky little island. We awaited the next train from Liverpool, claimed our baggage, and with it tucked away were driven rapidly to this hotel. We are conveniently located under the shadows of Westminster Abbey; the very heart of historic London; within a few blocks of Buckingham palace and not far from Regent street. From my window I look into the dearest little garden beside an ivy-covered church, and Big Ben booms for me the hours.
I was very hungry, but in the dining room were so many gorgeous gowns I could hardly find time to eat. Such low necked frocks, Mother, I was honestly surprised, although I have always heard of the vast expanse exposed to view. Candidly, some of them could have been rendered only by removing the belt. I can understand why a woman would show a beautiful neck and shoulders but a skinny neck and a knotted backbone is beyond my idea of the fitness of things.
We found Victoria street wrapped in sleep, not a café open, although Big Ben proclaimed the hour of six-thirty. A couple of policemen eyed us suspiciously as we walked towards Westminster Abbey. Our first view of England's pride was thus obtained in the early morning light, when the sun had not yet dispersed all the shadows of night. Beyond loomed the Houses of Parliament, making a picture to carry with one a lifetime, and even after. I confess I breathed in exclamation points and my thoughts tumbled over each other in their mad effort to obtain the recognition. Ed removed his hat and whistled in the intensity of his feelings. Not being able to whistle, I could not thus relieve my wrought-up self. We walked and walked, always finding a more entrancing view. I wished to sit on the curbing and meditate, but Ed declared the two policemen were following and would surely run us in.
We crossed the Thames and gazed from the other side, looked up the river and down. It was worth the early rising to get such a glorious impression of this modern Babylon. We loitered until the sun was high and the increasing traffic assured us London was awake.
Oh, for a cup of uncolored Japan tea! I am so tired of this cloying English Breakfast, I would just as soon drink coffee. Westminster Abbey is not open to the public until about ten o'clock so we decided a bus ride would fill in the time. The great double-deck affairs are queer and antiquated, but oh, so comfortable away on top, and such a fine place from which to view the houses and streets. I know I shall contract the bus habit. We sat next to the driver and a bit of silver turned him into a most affable guide, with an interesting accent.
Down the Strand into Fleet street. I cannot describe that ride as I should; I am too English, you know. A penny will take you quite a distance, but in America you can ride much farther for less money, as the conductor collects a penny here when you have traversed a certain number of miles. We are just becoming acquainted in a business way with this money and it is not easy counting. Why does England use such a complicated system? When the conductor approached with "tup-pence, thank you, sir," Ed looked at me, and I returned the look, then he drew out a handful of copper cart wheels and gravely remarked in approved western style, "Stranger, you look honest to me, help yourself." The conductor with equal solemnity selected a large copper and said, "Thank you, sir, this is tup-pence." Then and there Ed had him give him a lesson in the value of the money and I know a tiny bit more than I did before.
The word circus over here does not denote a show or collection of wild animals, but it is used where many streets center. Thus Piccadilly circus and Ludgate circus are places where several streets begin or end. At Ludgate circus we left our accommodating driver and climbed aboard another bus returning to Victoria street. The conductor thanked us for entering his car, the driver thanked us for a coin, and we thanked Providence for the day, so we were quite a thankful party.
I cannot tell you very much of our homeward trip, if ever I am to reach the Abbey. Ed says I must tell you of how I tried to hurl myself off the bus when the "thank you" driver said: "Downing street, sir, thank you." He declares that but for his timely aid I would have been rolling wildly towards the home of the Prime Minister.
The very names of the streets bring up such visions of the past the present is often obscured. Trafalgar Square looked so familiar to me. Even the lions were as old friends, and I could hardly believe that was my first introduction to the square and to them. The murky city is gay with blossoms. From the strange little iron balconies hang magnificent vines and pots of gorgeous bloom are everywhere. The glimpses of the parks made me long for more--the grass so green, the flowers so brilliant, so fragrant.
This is the Fourth of July, and from the number of flags seen there are many Americans in London. From the United States headquarters on Victoria street, Old Glory is floating in the breeze and from every corner peeps a tiny emblem. I cannot believe this is the Fourth; where are the fireworks and the orators?
Westminster Abbey was wide open, and many passing in and out. The main body of the edifice is free to the people, but a small fee is charged for admission to the chapels and royal tombs. You know with what a spirit of reverence I trod those aisles, hallowed by the dust of heroes, saints, poets, kings and queens. All my days I had dreamed of this hour. We walked slowly, not as tourists, but as if we had the leisure of years to view it all. In the poet's corner we loitered until a glance at my watch made me exclaim, "Oh, Ed, let us hasten to enter the chapels." One guide, a clergyman, I presume, from his attire, was a very encyclopedia but his voice sorely lacerated my nerves. Do you know I had fully believed the tale that all English voices are pleasing, and my very first day I am listen to one far worse than any I have heard in Yankeeland.
Elizabeth and Mary await here the judgment day. I am glad to say their bones are in different chapels, hence perhaps they can escape that final meeting face to face. I wonder if Elizabeth knows Mary has the finer place of repose? Poor old Cromwell's tomb is vacant. He could usurp a throne but not a grave beside kingly dead, and he waits the resurrection, heaven only knows where! The tomb of Edward the Confessor is said to rest upon earth from the Holy Land. I wonder if his sleep is sweeter because of it? After viewing tombs of great men and women, of kings and queens who were not at all great, it is like finding a blossom in a crowded, dusty street to come upon the tombs of the little Princes of the Tower and the babes of James the First. Dean Stanley very appropriately named this Innocent's Corner.
The coronation chair and the stone of Scone greatly interested Ed, and he asked if Jacob had left a sign on the stone whereby they were sure of its authenticity. The clergyman was rather inclined to be indignant, but Ed looked so innocent he answered his question at length, being convinced that a true desire for information prompted it. From what I heard Jacob neglected to send his autograph down the ages. From the chapel we passed to the great cloister and walked over the grave of many an abbot of the ages when Roman Catholicism swayed England. Only the prosaic pangs of hunger and the thoughts of another day drew us from the open pages of history.
At lunch we discovered that bread and butter does not accompany a meat order. Indeed, there is a fixed fee for everything except the tip, and even that is regulated for an Englishman, but for the American is just so large as the waiter can by his look induce you to make it. We also found that ice water is not an usual beverage over here, and you can only obtain it by rising in wrath. Then you are labeled by the waiter as a crazy American. Even the beer is served lukewarm. Will you try to imagine that dose?
The afternoon found us occupying a bus seat on the way to the general post office. I hugged your letter to my heart. It was like a bit of your mothering; a glimpse of your face. We were on Cheapside, historic Cheapside, and I was determined to go further to the church of St. Mary le Bow and listen to the bells saying "turn again, Dick Whittington, thrice Lord Mayor of London." The new chimes are said to be the old metal recast after the great fire. I am sure they ring out the self-same words of encouragement to the youth of London if they would listen.
We only indulged in a little glimpse of St. Paul's; by the time we reached it the afternoon had almost slipped away, but we shall go another day and offer homage to the shades of Nelson and Wellington. At five o'clock we were being jostled by the crowds on Cheapside, buying useless toys and fragrant roses. Beside a fountain congregate the flower girls with numberless blooms. Ed bought until my arms were laden and I was intoxicated by their dewey sweetness.
At last we pulled ourselves from fascinating Cheapside and for a change entered a bus going on Regent street. A nice English rain was falling. How could Kipling call it "the blasted Henglish drizzle?" We rode quite a distance and truly enjoyed it. After dinner, to finish this strenuous first day in London, Ed suggested the Franco-British Exposition. By this hour the rain was descending in torrents; and we mounted the bus, wrapped in oil covers provided by the thoughtful company, opened umbrellas and proceeded to enjoy London at night-time in a pouting rain. The streets were gleaming, slippery things and a haze enveloped all. The exposition is doubtless beautiful, but did not show up well in the rain. The illuminations were poor. We returned on the "tup-penny tube," which is English for subway. I am so tired I am falling asleep over this. Good night, dear. What will Sunday in England be like?
Sunday--Now I can answer my question of last night. It is a day of rest, a calm, peaceful, church bell ringing and church going, too, if the crowds entering the places of worship in this vicinity are a fair average. We learned this day that in England the established church is called Catholic, and we are only Roman Catholics. A kind clergyman informed us of this and then directed us to the Roman Catholic Westminster Cathedral. We reached there in time for a high mass with many dignitaries of the church, in cloth of gold, filling the sanctuary. The choir was divine. How can such little terrors as boys usually are make such angelic music? The cathedral will be magnificent some day; at present it is only massive. There are no pews. You can, if you wish, use a chair. At the entrance two boys stood shaking tin boxes and calling in a dead level voice, "pitty pen, pitty pen." After careful consideration I decided that they thought they were saying "Peter's pence." After mass we walked over to the Westminster Abbey hoping to enter and thus get a glimpse of the Episcopal ministers now in convention here, but there was not even standing room inside. So we stood with many others on the square and awaited the dispersing of the congregation. The clergymen were a fine body of men, and if a good appearance and well-doing go hand in hand, England should be proud of them.
This afternoon we rode for hours and hours, changing from bus line to bus line as the fancy willed. If I had not been accustomed to long drives over rough roads in Oklahoma, I suppose these cobble stones would have finished me. We reached the Oratory on Brompton Roads just in time for the four o'clock sermon. The church is a credit to English Catholics and of course they are proud of it. Ed induced the sacristan to give us two rosaries. I am keeping mine for you, dear. We managed to enter the Abbey for even-song and found the music simply grand. The sermon may have been excellent, but as the voice of the speaker did not reach us, we soon left and sought a place to dine. We had another struggle for ice water and when Ed told the "thank you" man to bring a second glass, he could hardly conceal his astonishment. Ed says he arraigned us far more severely than were the "furriners" at Niagara Falls. The waiter was talking in French with the head waiter and took it for granted that "American" was our only tongue.
I wish you could taste the water cress over here, it is simply delicious; indeed, I can complain of nothing except the tea. Mother, I am going to bed this very moment and dream I lived when all maidens were fair and knights were brave.
Monday--Mother, do we appear changed this day? We should, for we are no longer lone Oklahomans, we are nice little "Cookies," ready to "do Europe" and thus be "crisp brown Cookies" in a few short weeks. Ed asked me if I would object to a continental tour with a party, and of course I did not. You know Ed loves mankind and would never wish to be alone; then, again, I believe he wishes to escape responsibility.
He met an American yesterday who told a woeful tale of his travels while on the Continent with wife and daughter. His days were chiefly spent in hunting baggage, buying tickets, looking up trains, securing guides, etc. Ed immediately decided to shift his burden to the shoulders of Thomas Cook and Sons. We joined them at Antwerp Thursday and follow just about the same route we had planned
We have arranged to leave the party at Mayence and proceed alone to St. Croix, your birthplace, and rejoin them at Bale. Do you know I wish we could have visited your village first, Mother, as I shall always be thinking of that and perhaps miss a little of the beauty of the trip.
After leaving Cook's office we sought the gates of Buckingham palace to await the outgoing of the king. We had heard he held a levee at St. James at the hour of eleven-forty and would leave Buckingham in semi-state. Finding ourselves opposite the entrance to the royal stables Ed decided to ask several questions of the man at the gate. We learned that permission from Lord Somebody would enable us to view the horses. Ed assured the man that Lord--would be only too glad to give us the order but we did not have the time at our disposal to visit him.
Fearing the crowd would be large, we early made our way to the main entrance and stood beside a giant policeman on the very front row. With his usual skill Ed soon had the bluecoat chatting amicably. As he did not appear to wear a pistol, Ed could not resist asking him where he carried it. Imagine our surprise when he pulled it from his trousers leg. Ed told him how western men kept it in a handier place. The man smiled a British smile and said: "Has 'ow I doubt 'is drawin' hit quicker than me."
He was sure his way was best, for have not British policemen always carried it thus? At last the coach containing Edward VII. appeared. There was little demonstration, but when he passed us he knew at least one man was glad to see him. Ed waved his hat wildly and shouted: " Hurrah for King Edward," in true Oklahoma style, and His Majesty gave him a broad smile and a bow. I was disappointed at the lack of enthusiasm shown, and when the queen appeared on a little balcony, and not a voice raised to salute her, I could hardly credit my ears and eyes. I asked the policeman if the lady was really the queen. He assured me she was. Then I asked: "Why do not the people cheer her? At home a crowd like this would make the heavens tremble with their wild hurrahs." He replied, without a movement of his face, "So hi 'ave 'eard," then contemptuously added--"hover 'ere we would run 'em hin hif they made such noises." It is their business, yet I wish I could inoculate these people with a little American "hip, hip, hurrah!"
We lunched in a café where they cater to middle class English customers, not to tourists. The prices were lower; we did not enjoy the cooking nor the serving. This afternoon we devoted to exploring the shopping district--Regent street, you know. The stores are not like ours. They are truly traps for the unwary. Little wonder a polite "thank you" man conducts you from department to department, otherwise you would be inevitably lost, there are so many steps, so many corners, so many dark places. Such obsequious salesmen.
You cannot purchase in a hurry; too much time is used by the clerks in saying "thank you." Something like this occurs when you enter: A man approaches, bowing and saying, "thank you, sir, any thing you wish sir?" you state your desires. "Thank you, sir, this way, sir." On to another, same formula, and this continues until you fear old age will overtake you before you reach the article you desire. About this time you are turned over to a clerk who produces it. If you are not too worn out you purchase it; if you do not the man looks sad and says, " I am sorry," thanks you limply, and you depart, much older and oh, so careworn. In one of the turnings Ed caught a glimpse of a linen room after our little parcel was duly tied up with a neat little loop to carry on my finger he asked to be returned to that department. We were comfortably seated and a linen shower commenced. Ed became "daffy" he was so pleased, so I just turned the purchasing over to him and proceeded to enjoy myself. The linen was exquisite. Ed has a supply to last us until we "shuffle off this mortal coil." He shops to the manner born from the way the clerks try to please him. In the land of the free the salesman would not half try to please you if you used the tone employed over here. I am afraid I shall require time to learn that it is not good form to thank a servant for a service rendered. Here they thank you for the permission to be of use to you. I am learning to say "I am sorry" in the true British tone, not expressing anything in particular but everything in general. The man who jostles you in the crowded street, the clerk who cannot find the article you wish, the maid, the boy, the high, the low, monotonously repeat,
Shopping in Regent street is soul-satisfying, but shopping in Cheapside is far more fun, of that I am convinced. I assisted Ed for the first time in our married life to select his apparel. He has ordered two suits and the tailor promised an American cut. I'll wager the result is a remarkable hybrid. I wish you could glance in the windows of the jewelers on Regent and Bond streets. I prefer the outside to the inside of the shops for you are made to feel that the inside is only free to customers. Ed rather enjoys the scowls of the clerk when he leaves without a purchase; I always feel guilty of a misdemeanor.
We hailed a cab to return to the hotel and enjoyed a little spin on the Embankment, then caught a glimpse of the frowning Tower of London, crossed the famous bridge, whereon Ed insisted on stopping the cab and singing: "London bridge is falling down," saying that in his childhood he dreamed of saying that ditty on London bridge--and wished it to come true. I do not believe him; I am sure he concocted the tale that very moment. After dinner we joined the throngs on Piccadilly circus, but were soon overjoyed to climb on a bus and view the crowds from above. We seem never able to get way from Trafalgar Square; from whatsoever direction we start we eventually find ourselves facing the lions. Today we tried to lose them but always the bus we selected returned us there. We are in early tonight as I admitted to being very tired. We go to Hampton Court early in the morning. I am pining for a glimpsed of you, mother. These voluminous letters are my safety valves; I pretend I am really talking with you.
Dear Mother, I wish I could write verse, only rhythmical lines could do justice to this day. The drive to Hampton was a succession of such delights I feel as if I had attended a concert where all the singers were artists. We left Ludgate circus at nine-thirty, fourteen in the coach, and a guide. We soon reached Victoria Embankment, followed it to Westminster Place, then turned entering very shortly St. James Park. The glimpse of Belgravia recalled my youthful days, my attempts to escape your watchful eye and peruse the entrancing works of "the Duchess." There was not a moment when the interest flagged. If I named a third of the places passed it would require pages and you would think I was compiling a guide book. Cook's man was a veritable book of information and Ed whispered to me that he would make a dandy book agent. At Cheyne Walk, the most memory-haunted portion of London, the horses barely walked. The guide had pages of history he deemed it necessary to recite and although I did not listen to him I found all I desired.
At Putney we stopped to rest the horses and give the driver an opportunity to get a glass. It is the starting point of the races on the river and thus attractive because of the present as well as the past.
The boats are so tiny and the oarsmen are little burdened with clothes. Like the American Indians of yore, in his frail craft on the bosom of the Mississippi, they are dressed for speed. The inn where we alighted is kept by a former champion and he showed to us many trophies. I liked best the visit to the champion polo ponies; they were little beauties and seemingly so full of knowledge. After leaving Putney we soon entered our first English Lane, Roehampton, and then I knew the fairies had me. Fine old mansions, trees whose every limb betokened loving care, flowers, flowers, everywhere. I was filled with a desire to leave the coach and live there ever and forever. I exclaimed, "this must be the loveliest lane in England." Said the guide, "No indeed, we pass through a far more beautiful one before reaching Hampton Court." Away off the distance shone the convent of the Ladies of the Sacred Heart, and how I wished for the time to visit it. You see, Mother, I have not the days in which to see even half the interesting places. Through the Clarence Gate into Richmond Park. We were told it comprised two thousand one hundred acres, being larger than the combined parks of London. It is so beautiful, natural, yet showing the hand of man. Little wonder the people rebelled when the daughter of George III. endeavored to deprive them of their ancient right of entrance. Deer, deer everywhere and undisturbed by our approach, like ours, they regard mankind as friends.
After passing White Lodge, the girlhood home of the Princess of Wales, we left the park by Kingston gate and in a few moments were in one of the oldest towns in England, Kingston-on-Thames, the city of Saxon kings. We could not linger here, only a glimpse was given us the coronation stone in the market place. At Kingston Bridge the guide pointed to the ancient dunking place where scolding women were given a kind of water cure, not always effectual, I have been told.
Oh, that lane; I sigh with pleasure as I write of it. It was of incomparable beauty. It was so ideal, the voice of the guide ceased, and we passed in a stillness broken only by the call of the driver to his horses and the laughter of children at play. Giant limbs interlaced above our heads, roses rioting, flowers peeping coyly from the deep shadows, and the smell of new mown hay wafted on the breeze.
We did not reach the village of Hampton until the hour of noon, so we were served in a quaint little inn overlooking the river before going to Hampton Court. The Thames is thronged with houseboats at this portion, all worthy of praise for their freshness and flowers, yet one stately boat stood out beyond all others, covered with blooms, and high above floated Old Glory and the Union Jack.
Our first view was of the west front of Wolsey's Palace; the chimneys are so unique, no two of the same design; think of the ingenuity displayed. Ed liked the gargoyles and bemoaned that he did not see them when a boy, as his command of ugly faces in school would have been greatly increased.
The noble staircase and the great hall of Henry VIII. are truly regal, a fit setting for royal pomp. The tapestries are the treasures of the palace; you would have appreciated them, dear, I could only enjoy. The great astronomical clock of Henry VIII. gave me a crick in my neck from the endeavor to see all the remarkable points designated by the man from Cook's. The state apartments were a revelation of bygone ages, yet I am wondering how they kept them warm. I prefer less state, more comfort. Think of the many, many things that have transpired in Hampton Court since Wolsey incited the jealousy of the King by his magnificence. What tales the walls could tell if they might speak, of love and hate, of chivalrous deeds and black intrigue. Perhaps it is best they are doomed to silence. Some episodes of the reign of Charles II. would doubtless prove too racy for twentieth century ears. Lely's court beauties look down with glances of honey-sweetness. Did he do full justice to their languishing beauty? There are many pictures of historic value in the Queen's audience chamber, but as works of art they are not highly rated. Poor Queen Anne, dying all alone upon her crimson velvet bed, did she her father and her young brother in her last moments?
When the little feet of Pocahontas[2 ]echoed in those halls, did her timid heart fret at the golden chains and long for the limitless forests of her father's domain, the wild, free life of her childhood?
After all this glitter and gold, this curious commingling of beauty and ugliness, visions of the pure and the true, of the wicked and the corrupt, I welcomed the gardens, bathed in the golden sunlight.
Mother, if only you have been beside me in that enchanting land. Imagine long stretches of greensward, ponds covered with plants of tropical splendor, trees of wondrous girth, roses form the purest white to deepest crimson, playing fountains and singing birds. I was here and there, the voice of the guide often warned me that I might be lost in that fairy land. Ah me! Just to sit in the sunken garden hours and hours, with quietly folded hands, dreaming of the past, weaving bright fancies of the future. Queen Mary's Bower must have been designed by an artist who had seen the New Jerusalem. The great vine planted in 1728 is quite worth of note. Our guide said "all the grapes produced by this vine are consumed by the King alone. In one season it has borne two thousand pounds." Ed whistled expressively, "Say, but isn't Edward the champion grape eater?" I know that Englishman is even now wondering why Ed thought so.
The return drive was by a different route, equally fraught with interest. We saw where "the little gentleman in gray" threw the horse of William III. causing the death of that king and for a time reviving the hope of the Jacobite party. The mile long triple avenue of horse chestnuts is of a magnificence not expressible, yet we were told that to obtain the best of it we should see it when the trees are in bloom. Past the site where once stood the home of Pope, a glimpse of Twickenham Ferry down the narrow old lanes, just tantalized by a tiny bit of an historic house on the Kew road to the Royal Botanic Garden. Here we left the coach and visited the palm houses, strolled beneath ancient trees, and listened to the tales of the guide. On Kew green lived the three brothers of George IV. who, according to the story he told, married within eight days, each hoping to produce the heir to the throne. The late Queen Victoria was the first child. Outside the park we entered an old fashioned garden sloping towards the Thames, sat at little tables beneath giant trees, with roses shedding perfume all around. Quiet voiced thank you men served us with delicious tea and the many sounds of the busy street came to us as a far-off murmur. It was easy there to forget that a new world existed to believe that time had ceased, therefore the coach in waiting was long unheeded. We left the party at High Holburn as Ed was bent on seeing diamonds and sought and found the number given. It was such an unspeakably dingy house I could not believe it was the place of a diamond merchant. Ed pressed a button, a voice called, "what business?" He answered, "diamonds." Again the voice, "open the door; walk up." At the top of the stairs a man met us, opened a door which clanged ominously behind us, through a passage, then into a room all hung in black with many mirrors; as the door clicked suggestively behind us I turned and tried the knob. We were locked in! The man smiled and I laughed outright, it gave me such a shivery feeling to know all the means of exit were closed. The proprietor or general manager now appeared, and when he found out Ed was an American gentlemen, not a diamond merchant, he was inclined to be angry, and in a curt manner he observed that "time is money over here; I do not care to sell to Americans." Ed said: "Is that so? I thought it was said only of the United States that her business men where too busy to learn good manners. Good day." We turned to leave but the man evidently regretted his outburst for he offered to show us gems.
Ed assured him that we did not care to trouble him, yet the wares were displayed. I was truly bored after the first look, you know I have never cared for the glittering baubles. When the man saw my indifference he seemed determined to interest me, showing superb tiaras of diamonds, chains and rings. Ed thoroughly enjoyed himself and I believe the grouchy manager found a pleasure in showing his beautiful stones to such an appreciative audience. I saw several eyes behind the hangings. We were not to escape with jewels; locked doors, mirrors and gleaming eyes protected them. I would not have missed the sensation, I assure you. Ed thanked the man courteously and believe me, the once cross man accompanied us, smiling, to the end of the bolted passage.
I was so tired when we reached the hotel I had barely the energy to summon the maid and order a hot bath prepared. Mother, the tubs here are pools. I am afraid each time I venture in, as you know I cannot swim. This evening Ed is smoking all alone. After I finish my conversation with you I shall sleep the sleep of the thoroughly tired. By the way, I have lost six pounds; are you surprised? Tomorrow we leave London. We have hardly turned a page of this fascinating book and we must leave it. Dear, if these numerous letters give to you half the pleasure in perusing they have afforded me to write, then I am satisfied. Ed has sent you cards every day and sometimes twice per day, so how can you be lonely?
July 8--We were up early, this our last day, and hailing a bus were soon far down the Strand. It was fun to be abroad before the shops were open and to see the market wagons filled with fruit, flowers and vegetables. At Covent Garden we bought a basket of the loveliest raspberries, of delicate bloom and sweet aroma. The flower girls were arranging their blossoms. We chatted pleasantly, buying huge roses all glorious with dew. From a dear little girl we learned of a restaurant near by where a simple breakfast could be obtained.
The tiny room was so clean--highly scrubbed tables and a neat little waitress; I was much pleased with it. We were told that all dishes were served in penny portions. We ordered rolls and coffee and gave to the girl our berries, requesting her to prepare and serve with cream. She assured us of her willingness but could not serve cream as penny portions do not call for that luxury. Ed gave her a sixpence, and in short while she returned with a pot of delicious golden cream; thus we dined royally even if the board was bare and the china not of the egg-shell variety.
We have spent this day as fancy dictated, loitering in parks, jostled in crowded streets, driving in a cab, looking from the top of a bus; indeed our pleasures were as varied as the year book of a woman's club in our own country. We peeped into St. George's, Hanover Square, visited St. Martin in the Fields, where Nell Gwynn sleeps the sleep that knows no wakening, down Pall Mall and into many a queer and out of the way corner. Perhaps the hours could have been passed with greater benefit under the care of a guide, but our pleasures could not have been enhanced. I almost neglected to write of our visit to a cat store, pussies of high and low degree, all beautiful, all long-haired. I did so wish I could take two home with me and thus increase my cat farm in Oklahoma. To please Ed we entered a dog store, and now he feels that life has ill treated him because as yet he has not owned an English bull dog. A dear little Pomeranian came beseechingly to me. I managed to stroke it, but not with pleasure; I am always afraid the petted dog will bite me.
We are packed and ready to leave, and I am hurriedly finishing this lengthy epistle, as we wish to mail it from here. I have not eaten since my early breakfast and I feel rather weak; I am hoping to prevent a ghastly attack of seasickness tonight. We are going farther from you, Mother mine; good-bye until we reach Antwerp.
Leaving Harwick the boat glided from the harbor so gently I became poetical and exclaimed, "How I shall enjoy the faint new moon glimmering and gleaming o'er the water of the deep." The lights on the shore were not dimmed by distance when my enemy gripped me. The night might have been worse but I thank heaven it was not. When we arose the boat was entering the harbor at Antwerp. Ed made me comfortable in a secluded corner of the deck, then went in search of his breakfast. I could not eat so I sat there communing with myself and sipped ginger ale; perhaps the shores were interesting but all my attention was demanded elsewhere.
Quite a little time was consumed in the examination of our baggage, the inspector was inclined to believe Ed's London suit was too new, and perhaps for sale. Let me whisper, I believe Ed would gladly have sold it to the inspector, as it is neither American nor English in appearance. We were driven to the hotel behind the finest cab horses I have seen, perfect beauties and absolutely matched. We passed many fine horses to carts, wagons and cabs. The drivers manage them with one small line. The shaded streets were at their best and I responded quickly to the spirit of repose, yet how short was my pleasure in Antwerp.
At the hotel we were informed that Tour No.--left on an early train for Brussels, so we hurried to the station, a mad race to purchase tickets, have trunks weighed, and get off on the train, then ready to leave. After we were seated the guard informed us that we were on a local, the express did not leave for two hours. That was the last straw. My vaunted stoicism availed me little in that hour. I sank upon my suit case and wept aloud. Poor Ed was so upset, his world was topsy turvy, and he besought me to tell him where I pained. I wailed, "We will not overtake them, we will go through Europe just one day behind." He tried to console me, but I was too far gone.
At last he confined himself to this: "Do let me get you a sandwich." I continued to cry, he continued to urge a sandwich, I promised not to move, and off he started to obtain his panacea. Many gazed curiously at the "weeping lady." I cried unrestrainedly and even defiantly, with a naughty desire to make faces at the onlookers.
Just as I was thoroughly enjoying myself I saw Ed approaching with two young men, and I lifted a woebegone face. "Now don't cry any more, dear, here are two boys also seeking Tour No.--. Ed evidently believed the old adage, "misery loves company," and having found if for me, was sure I would recover. The gentlemen, one a professor from Montreal, the other a Harvard student, were gaily encouraging, and assured me the three of them would stop Tour No.--in Brussels or greatly disturb Thomas Cook & Sons. Leaving me in possession of the baggage they resumed the search for sandwiches. When they returned the shower was over, and I was powdering my nose.
We were much pleased with the sample of Tour No.--and the hours passed pleasantly. Ed telegraphed to Cook's office, Brussels, and we found a man awaiting us, who turned us over bag and baggage to Mr. B. our good angel for the next two months. I am prepossessed in his favor; he is a quiet, unassuming German, of excellent manners and a pleasant smile. Your letters were awaiting me at the hotel, we left our address at the general post office and they were forwarded immediately. We were introduced to the members of Tour No--at luncheon, and from general appearance I think they will prove satisfactory. I know we shall like them. Ed is happy once more, he is radiant, and his laugh is truly infectious. At two o'clock a guide appeared and we started the afternoon of sight-seeing; first the City Hall, with its wonderful lace like tower dating from 500 years past, and of course we were shown the room wherein was given the ball on the eve of Waterloo, and I listened for the music of other days and almost heard the cannons boom.
The house where Victor Hugo wrote "Les Miserables," is just opposite. The cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudule is very beautiful. The pulpit of Adam and Eve, so called because the carvings depict scenes from their lives, is a fine piece of work. We were told that from this on the churches will increase in beauty until Rome is reached, where we will find the climax of grandeur and wealth.
The Museum of Wiertz is one of Brussels' treasure houses. It is a little old structure, far up a hill, once the work shop and home of the artist. He could not afford canvas and his paintings are on the very walls. One, a girl with a rose, leaning from an open window, is so natural you would not start to hear her speak; another of a dog in kennel is so perfect you fully expect to hear him bark. Then, in cabinets with peep holes, are pictures so horrible you are sorry you have been to see them . Poor man, his genius was his undoing. It is said he starved rather than dispose of even one of his creations. We enjoyed a long drive in what was once the ancient forest of Soignes, but not to the site of the battle of Waterloo. I regret that very much, as I had hoped to stand on ground where my great-grandfather fought for his beloved Napoleon, and in despair saw him made a prisoner, but "Cookies" are not people of leisure, we are here today and far away tomorrow. After the drive we explored queer streets and enjoyed the holiday appearing crowds in the open air cafes. We saw dogs harnessed to heavily loaded carts, all wearing muzzles as it is said the hard work renders them very fierce. We also saw women dragging heavy carts; I wonder if the drudgery, in time, makes them savage, and do they need muzzling?
Think of it, I am leaving Brussels without buying one yard of lace. The beds have the dearest feather covers, and from the pillows and mattresses used it must be customary over here to sleep sitting up. I must ring for the maid to bring me a ladder to reach the bed, unless I run and jump. Good night, Mother of mine, with many a loving thought.
As in Brussels, we have only half a day to devote to this capital city of Holland. I regret this very much, but our time in Europe is far too short to do justice to any one city. Like our humming bird, we shall sip from many a flower to produce the honey of this summer. We were obliged to consume the morning on the train. The country through which we passed had the charm of novelty, canals, wind mills, cows knee deep in luscious grass, and gardens like unto flower beds This afternoon carriages were placed at our disposal and a guide furnished. The streets are charming, and the many quaintly costumed women and children add to the picture. I wonder how the women produce that wonderfully bouffant condition of skirts, is it a hoop or numerous petticoats? The children do not seem hampered by their wooden shoes, they "klump, klump" merrily along with their dear sunshiny faces, just typical Dutch dolls.
The House in the Woods is all one could wish for a quaint retreat, yet I believe after a few months of residence there I would welcome war. We were shown the treasures by a woman who evidently loved the palace, but was too given to minute detail to be a pleasing narrator. Mr. B. was in our carriage, also Mr. R., from Montreal. Ed and the latter persisted on bowing to every pretty girl we passed. Noticing how much attention we attracted I asked Mr. B. the cause of it, and he informed me that we were regarded as a wedding party. Ed was hugely delighted, and thereafter would toss pennies to the children to hear them wish us happiness.
The old Spanish prison, with its many instruments of torture, caused me to exclaim: "Why American Indians were novices in the art of torture." Ed can tell you all you wish to know concerning the devices, for I detected him actually trying a stretching machine. Think of the fiendishness that starved men in a room filled with tantalizing odors from the kitchen, or roasted them alive, or varied that by rendering them insane with dropping water. One of the torture chambers boasts a floor of over six hundred years of age. Can you bear to think of the weary feet that have pressed that oak? I could write pages of the horrors therein, yet why should I? Alva is dead and so are all the others, just and unjust, let those who may slumber in peace.
We reached the Art Gallery just before the great doors were closed, so we did that building with cyclonic speed. I only saw two paintings, Rembrandt's "Lessons in Anatomy," and Murillo's "Madonna and Child." Do not expect me to criticize works of art, I feel my inability to do so. I can only say I like or do not like. In the Houses of Parliament we sat comfortably in the seats of members while the woman in charge explained the beauties of the ceiling. This city was truly a worthy setting for the peace conference, it has such an air of contentment and well doing.
The drive to Scheveningen was a continuous succession of beautiful streets and shady lanes. The long promenade must be fascinating when the fashionable are parading there. It was too late for bathing when we arrived at the beach, so we were content with fifteen minutes on the sands. Ed is sending you a post card he purchased from a little boy who was afterwards arrested for selling post cards without a license. I felt so sorry for the little man, as he was taken off the beach sobbing dismally. After dinner we visited quite a number of shops and I purchased a love of a Dutch spoon for my collection. So many people, all out seemingly on pleasure bent, I could have walked the brilliantly lighted streets for hours if my body could stand so much exertion as my spirit. The streets are so broad and handsome, it must be a lovely city in which to live. What would I do without Ed? His knowledge of French increases our pleasure and comfort.
If you remember, John requested his uncle to write him of the boys in other lands. Well, Ed is preparing to send him quite an epistle, urge John to reply immediately. Have you a post card album? If not, do send for one, Ed is determined to mail you cards of all places he considers interesting. I confess to being very tired tonight, I have not fully recovered from the passage to Antwerp.
I enjoyed quite a lengthy conversation with two ladies of the party, sisters from Denver. They felt like "people from home." Good night, Mother, I must rest. It is fascinating to write to you, but is it not wise to exercise moderation in all things?
The trip from the Hague to this city only occupied about one hour. The scenery was so novel I found it within my heart to wish the distance greater. The giant windmills, so unlike our western ones, although, do you know, we saw two American ones twirling busily, aggressively, completely out of tone with their surroundings. The possessors lack artistic feeling, otherwise they could not tolerate the incongruity. The many canals, the slowly moving boats, the sleek lazily browsing cows, the low lying fields and the busy workers, all form a picture as from a book of toy land.
Amsterdam is called the "Venice of the North," because of the numerous canals and bridges. I am not greatly pleased, I object to the musty odors and would suggest the women's club order the canals thoroughly cleansed with sapolio and place trash receptacles everywhere, forbidding the use of the canals for that purpose. After lunch we went on an excursion to the Island of Marken,[2 ]and as we did not have many hours at our disposal, I am pleased to state that the greater part of the trip was by tram-car. The boat from the last village afar out from the city was the slowest thing it has ever been my misfortune to use as a means of travel. Truly I think it was a model of the age of Noah. We were met by almost the entire population of the island, given a hearty welcome, and an outstretched hand begging money.
The costumes are quaint, with their voluminous skirt, tightly laced bodices, brilliant apron and close fitting cap. From before the ears hang two curls of whatever length the possessor can coax them to become. The boys and girls are dressed alike, except shape of cap, until about the age of seven. If you are in doubt as to the sex of the child, examine the cap. Plain spells girl, round piece in crown, boy. One little girl with long flaxen curls and a mop of hair escaping her little cap seemed to fancy me, and walked holding my hand. After a while she shyly whispered, "please buy my hair." I asked her what I should do with it, and she said, " wear it." The raven hue of my own locks did not appear to her a reason for not wearing her hair. Ed caught the little thing and insisted that she sell him her two curls. How frightened she appeared, gasping hurriedly, " no, no, only back hair." It was told us that they never dispose of those as there is disgrace attached to their absence. We were invited to enter several houses and urged to purchase souvenirs, the owners offering all sorts of household goods for sale. One old lady displayed a gorgeous bed, in which she said her gracious queen had slept. I trust the royal lady's rest was unbroken; as for me I prefer a bed a little less like a cupboard. Truly the sleeping places are just like closets in the wall. How they are ventilated I know not. A very elaborate wedding trousseau Friesland style was shown to us and said to be the property of Queen Wilhelmina. A young fellow in white linen bloomers was our guide, and he informed us the islanders were very poor, finding existence barely possible with a bounty from the government and the gifts of tourists. The women do the field and housework, and the men ply the fishing boats. The beauty of the village was introduced to us, but not one of our party became infatuated. Her figure left much to be desired, and her features were heavy. Her complexion and flaxen curls were her only charms. The women are broad of shoulder, flat breasted, of medium height and without a waist line. There is nothing delicately feminine about them.
I was rather glad when the whistle bade us go aboard the boat, as the odor of the stale fish was over powering. Do you know that old tub was so slow that we missed the car to Amsterdam, and were obliged to wait in the little village for more than an hour. The numerous youngsters were delighted and established themselves as our rear guard first, but soon invaded our ranks, considering us as their prey.
We wandered about the canals watching the fishing boats unload. One cargo of eels caused me to give an unearthly screech and convulsively grab Ed. The boys were so amused. They could not understand my fear. Thereafter, whenever eels appeared, one little mimic would scream affrightedly and clutch his friend, thus giving joy to them all. The most disreputable specimen, with dirty face, cross eyes, turned-up nose, wide mouth, freckles galore, dressed in old trousers miles too big, the same hitched up with a lone strap, and a tattered coat, was the leader of the band. He found Ed very fascinating and no amount of "shooing" could force him from us, so we were regaled with tales and witticisms in the queerest of English. Ed asked his name. The answer flashed: "Huckleberry Finn," his pal was "Tom Sawyer." Evidently Americans had assisted in their education. (?)
We desired to enter the ancient church, but the woman who kept the key had gone to Amsterdam and neglected to leave it. The men induced the boys to run races and wrestle for pennies. The noise of the wooden shoes and the shrill voices of the children proved trying to me, and I walked beside a near by canal, wishing for a pin and a string, the fish were so saucy, leaping everywhere. A herd of cows from the other side eyed me in mild surprise, and a lordly bull tossed his head and dared me to come over. The day was waning when we entered the car, hence we passed many men milking the placid cows beside the canals.
After dinner we were ready for new adventures and were glad to accept the invitation extended by Ed to show us the streets by night. Three of the young ladies accompanied us. Before leaving the hotel I asked the clerk if it would be all right for us to go without our hats, and he replied, "certainly, many Americans do."
Ed walked with two ladies, I followed with the third. We had not progressed far in the crowded street when we were separated quite a distance. Two well dressed men approached and said something in French, and then in English, "Girls, where are your hats?" We hurried forward but they smilingly persisted, "where are your hats?" just then Ed turned and called, "hurry, we are waiting." The two quickly disappeared in the throng. We have learned our lesson, hereafter we wear hats. I am rather indignant with the clerk. Of course I know Americans go without hats; I wish to know the custom of this country. Our room is large and the bed would accommodate a family of seven; I might be comfortable if my sense of smell was not acute. I have tried to ventilate the room, but the odor comes from outside, from the canals, you know.
Tomorrow is Sunday and we are not supposed to be "personally conducted" on the Sabbath, yet the afternoon is to be devoted to sight seeing and a carriage drive, kindly furnished by Cook & Son. You see our time is so limited how can we spare Sunday to rest? I shall write of the city tomorrow evening, until then, I love you, good night.
Sunday 12th.--Another strenuous day is at an end. If I survive this summer I shall be capable of any exertion. Mass at ten-thirty in a cathedral. I hesitate to state the age, as it sounds rather incredible to our western ears. The music furnished by a choir of men was fairly good, and the long sermon in Dutch sounded full of religion. When we entered the church the ushers conducted us to seats, Ed with the men, I sat across the aisle with the women. It is evidently not customary for the sexes to sit together. I was in a dilemma when the three collectors passed as I did not have a piece of silver in my purse. I looked wise and nodded toward Ed. His tale is this: he saw his neighbor take out a handful of small coins, make them into three neat piles of different sizes, so he immediately did likewise. When the first collector passed he placed in the basket the pile corresponding to the one his neighbor deposited, thus doing until the money was all given. After mass we walked home, walking through queer little streets and over many bridges. We found the most luscious cherries for sale and purchased a basket; we commenced eating cherries in Canada, I wonder if we can get them all the way to Rome?
The afternoon has been ideal, the weather so agreeable, and we were in comfortable rubber-tired carriages behind a pair of dandy horses. Our team were blacks and real high steppers, the driver said they required much attention, as they longed to run. At the palace a guide regaled us with tales of its past and present glory. It was built as a city hall in 1600 and made a royal palace by Napoleon in 1800. The entrance hall is of purest marble, just a cool dream; the city fathers were surely lovers of chaste, cold beauty.
At the Ryks Museum we were shown all sorts of treasures; the chair of Kruger recalled the old patriot so forcibly I would not have been surprised to have seen him in it. The native costumes were interesting, but the time given did not admit of more than a glance. When we hurried through the art room seeking Rembrandt's "Night Watch," I thought of the cartoon of the Cook tourist--a man in an art gallery, stop watch in hand, wiping his moisture-laden brow, and exclaiming: "Gee! we did that last mile in a minute."
You know the time is so limited that it is useless to try to see many pictures, better follow the advice of the guide and see a few of the most noted. It was worth all the struggle upstairs and down at last to stand before the magnificent "Night Watch." The figures were so real and coloring so satisfactory. The copy shown in St. Louis at the World's Fair was indeed good, I think. We were given a drive to rest our eyes and enable us to form an idea of the city. We drove slowly through the Jewish quarters, where humanity seemed numberless, and there was little evidence of Sunday rest. I am glad to leave tomorrow, I feel malaria in my bones. If I owned this hotel I would remove all these heavy hangings and use muslin curtains. Good night, Mother dear. Just think! tomorrow we are going to be in Germany. How often I wish for your presence.
There is a distinct advantage in traveling with Cook; you can sleep in the morning until called, secure in the knowledge that the conductor has all things arranged, and you will be given sufficient time to breakfast and reach the train. My only grievance is, we are given too many minutes at the station, yet I realize it is unavoidable in a party of this size: the man in charge must have time to count us and search for the missing. The change in scenery was gradual. All the country, one great garden, is delightful to eyes accustomed to western wide tracts of uncultivated land.
Ed gave a dinner today. Issued invitations to four ladies, and managed it so they were in our compartment. A suit case was the table and dainty paper napkins were used. He was gracious host and nimble waiter. First course, peanuts, followed by honey cake and peppermint candy, from Montreal. He arose, made a little speech concerning the work he had obtaining for us the next course, one of the delicacies of Holland. He passed crackers, then a very queer shaped package appeared; with a quick movement he opened it, and out tumbled a half a dozen monster baked eels. Such shrieks. The table was over-turned in the wild effort to escape the things; Ed urged "keep cool, I beg you, ladies, the poor creatures are cooked." After the tumult subsided, from some hidden place he brought forth a bottle of champagne, and in the sipping of it, from a collapsible cup which collapsed oftener than it remained upright, we managed to forgive him. Mother, he is irrepressible, nothing tires or annoys him, he is always full of sunshine.
We reached this city at two o'clock and as our hotel is very near to the great cathedral, carriages were not provided. In the expression of England, "I'm sorry." When grandfather used to describe this cathedral I thought he was just romancing. He did not do it half justice. It is superb, like a sweet strain of music with a minor chord. If the devil did design the wonderful towers he must have remembered a bit of his former home in heaven, for not from his present abode could such beauty spring. Ed wishes me to send a few figures. You know he always wishes to know "all about it." The capacity is said to be 30,000; it is the third largest church in the world; the central tower is over five hundred feet and the length of building is five hundred and thirty-two feet. Perhaps the statement that one hundred and twelve columns in the interior do not impress you as many, will better serve to make you comprehend its vastness.
There are many sacred relics, which thanks to Mr. B. we were shown--a bit of the true cross, upper part of the staff of St. Peter, etc. The real treasure of the church is the tomb of the Three Wise Men. A solid gold casket, inlaid with precious stones valued at over two million dollars, and said to contain the mortal remains of the Three. Sacred vessels, marvelous vestments decorated with precious stones, superb golden receptacles, holding relics of saints, worth millions of dollars. When the guide quoted figures I felt like I was listening to an article in frenzied finance, they were so stupendous. The cathedral was not made in a day as we do out west, it was commenced in the thirteenth century and finished in the nineteenth.
It was plundered by Napoleon's soldiers and we were shown statues, etc., denuded of precious stones by the Christian vandals. From the cathedral or dom, as they call it here, to the church of St. Ursula and her eleven thousand virgins, is but a short walk. It is said the saint and her virgins were passing through Cologne from England on a pilgrimage, to end in Rome, when the Huns under Attila took the town and put all inhabitants to death. Years afterwards a pious man gathered the bones, built a church, and dedicated it as a receptacle for their remains, cursing any who would dare to mingle their dust with the dust of the martyred dead.
When Pepin was king, losing his little daughter, he wished her to sleep with the virgins, yet fearing the curse he evaded it by building a tomb supported by four columns in the body of the church, and there his child awaits the judgment day. There is one dear chapel devoted entirely to skulls, seventeen hundred exposed, we were told, and countless bones in great vases and lovely shrines. It is strange, but the gentle virgins have given even to their bones an air of peace and you do not feel repelled by the gruesomeness. They show there an amphora which is claimed to be one of the jars used at the wedding feast in Cana. It is doubtless of great antiquity. After leaving the church we scattered, some going to the stores, others to drive. Ed and I determined to enjoy a street car and also lookup a certain gentleman he wished to see concerning a business venture. The town is a veritable fortress and I think quite picturesque. We found the number in a beautiful residence street. We were surprised, as we thought it his business address. The maid urged us to return, when we said we were from America. "Ah," said she, "from America, the master will be so glad; only this morning his son left for Chicago."
We left our cards and agreed to return at eight o'clock. It seemed rather "a la Mr. Butinksy," yet the business must be transacted and we knew not how else to do it. I do wish you could have seen us struggle to explain our wants in a drug store where only German was spoken. We wished seidlitz powders, and after exhausting ourselves in French and English Ed thought of pantomime. He folded two papers, seized an ash tray and an ink bottle, emptied the imaginary powders therein and pouring together made a noise like a soda water fountain. "Yah, Yah," exclaimed the delighted clerk and produced the right medicine.
After dinner we again sought the home of Mr. Z. where we were so cordially welcomed we forgot we were strangers in a strange land. Before we were permitted to introduce business his daughter appeared, and over a glass of wine and little cakes we enjoyed a pleasant conversation. His knowledge of our new state and entire constitution surprised me. His daughter is very proficient in English, having spent many months in England. The son is in Chicago to learn American business methods. I am glad he is young, otherwise the ordeal would be dreadful. Mr. Z. paid me the compliment of saying that my enunciation was so perfect and my voice so charming he found not the slightest difficulty in comprehending my every remark, although English was not to him a very easy language.
Ed says I am "real puffed up," that very soon I'll say I have a true English voice. I think not, I'll wait until I hear a few more and see if I like them better. We were urged to spend several days in Cologne and permit them to be our guides. We expressed regret that being "cookies," we were not long in a place. They laughed heartily at the term, and assured us that Thomas Cook & Sons always fulfilled their promises. We parted with mutual regret. Oh, I forgot to state the business terminated satisfactorily.
It is near the hour of twelve and the dear little bed with its heaped up pillows looks very inviting. May I leave, if I promise a letter tomorrow, all about our Rhine trip? We leave here by boat early, to go so far on the river as Mayence. I am so excited I can hardly think of sleep, not only the Rhine, but in one more day we are to be in your native village. Good night, dear Mother of mine, I am always thinking of you.
If you were here my happiness would be increased a thousand fold, and, from the state I am now in, I judge I would require another body. Owing to the mistake of the proprietor at Mayence, concerning the train schedule, we missed the express and were compelled to take the local; thus, carried far out of our way and stopping at all the tiny stations, we lost several hours. I was quite weary, and when we reached Worms and were told to change cars for Strasburg my fears became intense, having a vision of an all day jaunt through Alsace. At Strasburg another wait. Here we obtained a lunch of sausages, beer, bread and fruit. I would have preferred visiting the famous cathedral, but Ed said, "no," we must eat here, as in Colmar we would not wish to lose the time required to obtain luncheon, so my view of the church was obtained from the passing train.
Colmar at two o'clock. We were driven quickly to this hotel, the newest and best in the city. We have an immense room on the second floor, containing two handsomely carved beds, with crimson silk covers, seven chairs, two wash stands, two tiny night tables, one large table, a couch, an immense wardrobe with two full length mirrors, and a piano; all for the sum of one dollar and seventy-five cents per day for two. What do you think of that? I would like to remain here all summer.
After ponderous knocking and prolonged ringing of the bell we were ready to conclude another hitch in our arrangements had occurred. From a window in a house opposite a woman leaned out and inquired as to the cause of the disturbance. Our driver replied: "two Americans to see Prof. H." She suggested we try the school, so away over the well worn cobble stones; were greeted warmly by many boys, but informed that Prof. H. was absent. Just as we had decided to drive alone to Heiligkreuz, a breathless boy appeared, waving his hat wildly. When he could speak he said: "Come back with me, Mrs. H. is home!" We were cordially welcomed by a handsome lady gowned in black, who assured us of regret that Prof. H. was unavoidable absent, attending a board meeting. She had been out shopping. We chatted pleasantly, sipping wine of '65. Ed made a jolly interpreter, but I have fully decided to master the French language. I cannot talk through another. When we informed Madam H. of the very few hours at our disposal, she kindly offered to accompany us to Heiligkreuz and do her utmost to find a few relatives for me.
Down the six-mile avenue of trees which connects Colmar and Heiligkreuz, the mountains showing blue in the distance just as I have so often heard it described. It required little imagination to picture the quaint girl of long ago, stepping quietly along the beautiful lane; now inhaling the fragrance of a flower, pausing to listen to the song of a bird and ever turning wistful eyes toward the far off mountains. Dear Grandmother! How deeply within my heart she planted the love of her country, her home.
Up the old world street to the village inn. The low-ceilinged room, its massive cupboard, plain tables and smiling landlady was as my fancy painted. Here we learned the village postmistress belonged to the family of M., and a child was dispatched for her. In a great arm chair beside a many-paned window sat an old woman in the quietude of age. Being told she was the god-mother of our Rev. Fr. H., Ed delighted her with news of him. The door opened quickly and in came a plump little body, excitedly demanding her cousin from America. Madam H. introduced me, and I received a warm welcome, yet her dismay at my inability to speak either French or German was amusing. Ed came gallantly to the rescue, and then she was inclined to think Madam H. was misinformed and he was truly the cousin. I was delighted with the artless way in which she inquired if it was true that her American cousins were Indians. Did not all Indians, "wear a scarcity of clothes and many feathers, and much paint?" If so, how could "my cousin" be an Indian? Ed gave her my genealogical tree, and ere its completion she exclaimed, "Is it thus Indians are now made in American? What queer customs!" If she knew that it is only a few short months since a "paternal" government performed for me a vital operation, "removal of restrictions," thus declaring me capable of managing my own affairs she would doubtless expire of sheer astonishment.
I could not walk too swiftly along the cobble stones oft pressed by your childish feet, to the "house on the corner of the court house square, facing the village well," where so many generations have lived. The old house is vacant now, yet it stands immovable in majestic age, seeming to brood over the days gone by, when it sent forth lusty children to battle with the world. Surrounded by a stone wall, with massive gates, it looks as if built to withstand the ravages of time. The rooms are hung with cobwebs, and so forlorn, yet withal holding a dignity born of centuries. The stairs are worn by the pressure of many feet, the woodwork is falling into decay, and the room wherein you and many before you first drew breath is oh, so lonely. It seems to listen for the voices of the babes of long ago. This quaint house was the home of the matron whose kindness to a wounded enemy saved the village from fire and sword in the wars of long ago. Here, too, lived the soldier of Napoleon, your grandfather, ever recounting the deeds of his hero, and filling the hearts of his children and their descendants, even to the third generation, with loyalty to the "man of destiny."
It is good to feel that for centuries you have had a part in the affairs of this old world of ours. Upstairs and down we wandered, peeping here and there, lingering in the court yard where you played, finding everywhere fresh delight. In the attic, such rummaging. Here we found many things once belonging to grandmother's family, for you know this is her home, her village. Grandfather came from another, in the mountains. There stood the cupboard fashioned by him for his bride, "la belle Marie," the spinning wheel to whose music many a housewife had listened. The cousin, seeing me regard the latter with longing eyes, offered it. Alas, when Ed removed it from its resting place, it fell into many pieces. It was only the wraith of a wheel. I am bringing home a tiny bit of it for you, dear. We sat in the huge arm chair built for the old soldier, my grandfather, when he came courting Marie. I asked for your cradle. The cousin said it was elsewhere in the village; tomorrow she would find it for me. Ed told her for us there is no "tomorrow" here.
Around the corner, barely two blocks away, is the village church, with its bit of the true cross, from whence the name. I knelt before the altar of the Madonna, with its marvelous statue of the poor, sorrowing mother, with her tear-dimmed eyes, looking down, not upon the body of her beloved Son, but into the very heart of the supplicant. Here dear, saintly grandmother voiced her petitions long ago, and you, a tiny toddler, oft came with posies to lay at our Lady's feet. Colmar cathedral has the baptismal font where in ages past pagans were made the children of God, and you and many before you were baptized. The cousin proudly pointed to the handsome new basin, but I turned sadly away.
From the church to the school where you studied, and played, too, I venture to say. Then down the village street to the house once the home of Rev. Fr. H. The man into whose hands it has passed was absent, and we turned toward the "old, old village of the dead." I asked if the massive gates of the court yards were always fastened. The cousin replied at nightfall they were locked. I then queried as to the necessity. She answered: "It has always been done. Why change?" Little wonder that here it is as when you left it years ago. We were followed by a train of children. Ed said they were fascinated by my attire, especially my tan shoes and hose. The cousin wished to "shoo" them off, but we objected. Ed found their comments very amusing. The cousin often halted the procession while she explained to a peeping lady that we were her cousins from America. Often an old woman would hobble out and greet us with a quaint bow and a smile. Here the graves of the dead are well kept, many profusely decorated with flowers made of colored beads. Fluttering white streamers and pure white wreaths mark the graves of virgins. The tomb of the parish priest, who died a few years ago, is the pride of the village. Returning toward the inn I asked if the cousin could show me the wardrobe so elaborately carved by my grandfather for his young bride, and sold when they left for America to a former suitor of "la belle Marie?" How rapturously I was embraced, truly was I a child of the family to know that tale. We were cordially greeted by the grandson of the purchaser, and, after a few moments conversation, were led to the best upstairs chamber, and there I saw it. I ran my hands over the two fishes bearing the ring, admired the bunches of grapes and the delicately carved flowers, opened the doors, pulled wide the drawers, sought the hidden places, guided ever by fond remembrance of the description given by grandfather. Dear, some day I must return, buy the old home and the scattered furniture, restore it as it was in the days of yore.
In the postoffice we found cards giving good views of your home, the church and school, so we have this day mailed to you and our cousins in Oklahoma quite a number. As we were preparing to leave, an old gentleman entered seeking the Americans. Having heard or our presence, he came to ask us to his home, as his wife was dear grandmother's first cousin. Ed thanked him, and expressed our regret that we were even then leaving. We were requested then to please go with him if only for a moment, and meet his aged wife. At a massive gate stood a sweet faced lady, looking with eager, faded eyes at our approach. Oh, I ran and clasped her in my arms with a flood of tears, for truly it was the face and figure of grandmother. When Ed explained to her my agitation, she smiled so sweetly, and comforted me with the gentle caress I knew so well in other days. We lingered until the lengthening shadows and the voices of the men returning from the fields warned us the day was at an end. We left them there in the old world street, with the soft rays of the setting sun falling like a benediction upon their uplifted, eager faces, passing from their lives as we came, quickly and silently.
Madam H. is so charming; I would like to know her far more intimately. The professor had not returned. She assured us that immediately following his arrival they would seek us. She most hospitably urged us to remain with her to dinner, yet, as we had kept her so very late, and to prepare for strangers requires time we deemed it best to courteously refuse, and thus enable her to spend the evening with us free from her care.
Prof. H. is so much like his brother, the priest, that I often said, "Father," and jumped affrightedly at his startling "Bah," much to his amusement. We were piloted through ancient streets and told many quaint tales. One old, old house near to the cathedral caught my fancy, and in the morning I shall go there, and, in the little shop beneath, purchase a spoon, with a picture of it engraved in the bowl. A brilliantly illuminated garden, with merry-go-round, etc., is evidently the city play ground. We entered, and at a little table drank beer and watched the fun-makers. By the way, I enjoyed that glass of Munich. First beer I ever tasted that I considered palatable. Ed says I am cultivating a taste for strong drinks. We lingered in pleasant converse until the hour was late, so loth were we to part, and here I am, burning the after-midnight oil, pouring it out to you, my dearest and best. Shall I say goodnight?
July 16, eleven a.m.--Dear, just a few lines. We leave in thirty minutes once more to be "cookies." I have lived years in the past twenty-four hours. I went out alone this morning, to purchase the spoon, saw a funeral procession, a sale of oxen, a wedding procession, and managed to lose my way. Prof. H. and his wife came this morning to bid us farewell. I wasn't there, so missed the Professor. Madame came to seek me and how pleased I was to see her face among all the strange ones. I tried to tell her of my dilemma, and succeeded excellently, as she gave to Ed a graphic description of my woes. Before taking final leave she presented us with a dear picture of the cathedral, as "a souvenir of your visit to Colmar." We parted with mutual regret, I promising to learn French, she to master English. Thus, when next we meet, Ed's occupation will be gone.
We reached Bale about thirty minutes before the arrival of Tour No.--from Heidelberg. We were joyfully welcomed, and it was a delightful sensation to be "home again." At Berne a stop of thirty minutes afforded us a street car ride, and I found a moment to purchase a spoon. As to the city, I can only say it looked very prosperous, and the shops were inviting. When we returned to the station we found Mr. B. anxiously checking off his numerous charges. Our worthy professor and his wife came hurriedly just as the train started. This, we thought completed the number, but in a few moments we found that the two ladies from Massachusetts were not with us. The conjectures were many as to their behavior when they realized the situation, alone in a foreign land. Ed declared that we need not worry; they were daughters of the Pilgrim Fathers, and such a little adventure would only give them pleasure. Mr. B. assured us that they would be in Interlaken in thirty minutes after our arrival.
The first glimpses of the mountains were very fascinating, and as we penetrated farther and farther the view became more entrancing. The air is so invigorating, and the eye so pleased by all the surroundings that it is impossible not to be happy.
When we reached Interlaken we were in the very center of beauty; green fields, torrents, everlasting hills clothed in verdure, picturesque houses, and, above all, the shining, snowcapped mountains. We are up the side of a little hill, in the quaintest hotel, beneath whose many windows a mountain stream flows noisily. Ed declares from our window he can see the fish leaping the whirling waters. I think he has fish on the brain, for we did not cross a bridge in our walk about the village without stopping to learn over the side, and call, "See! There he is! What a whopper!" I looked carefully, and not even a little fish would jump for me. Ed can tell you the prices demanded for horses, the wages of coachmen, the usual fares, etc. You see, he decided to investigate a very fine livery stable, and after allowing him ample time to inspect the horses, I found it necessary to pretend faintness to get him away. He claimed he was in search of "local color." On the one principal street we found shops galore, filled with every imaginable kind of souvenir. How can the tourist escape? After dinner we again visited the shops, finding the busy throngs very interesting. Here all are pursuing pleasure, and the city has the air of a holiday. This evening I heard so many English voices and saw so many faces typically American that it was difficult to realize that this is Europe. Ed purchased souvenirs for the ladies' of my home club, dear little edelweiss pins. I am sure they will be pleased.
Shopping wearies me, and thus quiet early I was ready to return to the hotel. Ed is sleeping, with the noisy torrent as a lullaby, and I think it would be wise for me to follow his example. Mr. B. informed us that tomorrow would be spent in carriages, climbing the mountains to the glacier of Grindewald. I never know when to say good-night, dear mother. A talk with you is such a pleasure. I always think of "just one more thing." How I pity the children who have never known a mother's love. What a dreary place this old world would be without you.
July 17.--We have been favored with glorious weather; a brilliant sunshine, breezes blowing softly, like the balmy days of Indian summer. The carriages accommodated six passengers. The horses were noble animals, well fitted to draw such a load and to add to their comfort, and thus to ours. A little distance from the city boys appeared bearing monster bushes with which to keep off the mountain flies. The youngsters also carried blocks of wood, to place beneath a wheel when the driver wished to rest his team. We were seldom without a child toddling beside the carriage, urging us to purchase bits of lace. We only bought one little doily, as I did not care for the kind shown. We had our two young men and the " lost" ladies in the carriage with us. Ed asked the two ladies to accompany us, as he insisted that he deemed it necessary to "have an eye on ‘em." The company increased our enjoyment of the drive, as you know we like to share our enthusiasm. I wish I could paint you a word picture of that still, slow climb, the winding road, the echoes here and there, the sweet voices of children, the joyous laughter of care-free tourists, torrents tumbling down the mountains, green fields, gardens so steep that surely the plants dare not slumber lest they lose their foothold and fall far below, goats everywhere, beautiful Swiss cows with tinkling bells knee deep in the hillside grass; then, far above, the vast panorama of the snow crowned Alpine giants. Mother, our Rockies are so sombre in their limitless grandeur, the Alps are so intimate in their beauty. Our mountains tolerate us; here you are invited to rest and be happy. No long stretches of sage brush, of dust blown valleys. You do not cry aloud at the awful loneliness. Nature is kind, and has clothed her Alps in radiant garments. It is like this, Mother mine. Our Rockies have been alone so many aeons they do not need us. These Alps have so long cradled mankind they would be inconsolable without them. Which do I prefer? Truly I cannot say. I have Rocky mountain moods and Alpine moods, so I, like the little boy, "choose both."
It was the hour of noon when we clattered up the main street of the village of Grindewald. At the hotel selected by Mr. B. we descended from the carriages, and in a short while, with a guide, proceeded to walk to the glacier. The tiny path was so steep and the atmosphere so light I would have given up and sat by the wayside if Ed had not urged me onward. When we reached the entrance to the tunnel cut in the heart of the glacier for the benefit of tourists, I was glad I had persevered. The ever watchful Mr. B., before entering the cave, urged us to resume the wraps discarded in the climb. We were so grateful for his thoughtfulness when we retuned to the sun. At the very end, in a tiny chamber, we were greeted by a dear little Christmas tree. It is a pleasing climax, and I thought of the delight such a tunnel and then a tree would afford sister's boys. The descent was easily accomplished. Being told our path was over age-old ice, Ed declared he shared the sentiments of the people of Missouri, and hence he drew his knife and investigated. Beneath a layer of earth he found the ice. It was very warm, almost hot, and I could not suppress the wonder that the ice did not melt. Ed wished to take a trip in a basket high about the glacier. I saw many make the ascent, but I declined, having no desire to hang suspended by a thread between heaven and earth. An awkward waitress gave Ed's London suit a gravy bath at luncheon. The manager was apologetic, and the girl frightened, but alas! the glory of the suit, wherein he hoped to dazzle his Oklahoma friends, is forever dimmed.
The boys changed things a bit this afternoon, Mr. R. returning to Interlaken, the willing captive of a young lady of Tour No--, that he had met in Brussels. Mr. M. captured a pretty girl from the same tour and brought her to the city in our carriage. I know he hoped to occupy the high seat where he might whisper sweet nothings, but Ed and Miss C. were in possession when he arrived. I felt rather sorry for the young people, yet I was amused, they tried so hard not to appear disappointed. The afternoon drive was far more gorgeous than the morning, the western sun so longingly kissed the earth, and, as the hour of his departure drew nigh, he excelled himself, bathing the valleys in golden light, touching the snow-capped mountains with vivid crimson, rapidly giving to us a succession of impressions too beautiful to be real. Ed is sure this is his "promised land" and now he wishes to live here.
I was so weary from the exertions of the day that I determined to retire before dinner. After a rest of thirty minutes, I arose, dressed and was not only desirous of dining, but was ready to explore the city once more. There are so many Americans here, and, as elsewhere, they are too noisy, too loud voiced in their patriotism. I believe in loving your country, yet it is surely unnecessary to parade the flag of the United States and swagger as if the universe belonged to us, and it was only by our magnanimity other countries are permitted to exist. I regret to state, Mother, that women are the worst offenders in this manner. I often wish to exclaim, "For heaven's sweet sake, lower your voices; let your country and your state have a rest. There are others, you know."
Tomorrow we are off. Just think how we flit from place to place. Ed is in his element. I must confess that I would prefer my pleasures not so overwhelmingly rapid. Good night, and goodbye until we reach fair Lucerne.
We left Interlaken by steamer to Brienz; thence by rail to Meiringen; then over the Brunig Pass to Lucerne. Mother I was so ill on the horrid boat that when we changed to the puffing little train I felt like hugging the engine. The trip should have been one of exceptional beauty, but Providence was unkind; the rain came, obscuring all things. We reached Lucerne at noon hour, and although the rain was falling forlornly, we decided to follow the program, visit the points of interest this afternoon, and thus have Sunday truly our own. Clad in short skirts and rubbers we braved the weather. When I stood before the Lion of Lucerne I exclaimed that to view it was worth the facing of an Oklahoma cyclone. Could I say more, indicative of my appreciation? The glacial gardens are a kind of pleasure ground, containing several places of amusement and many things of interest. The glacial pots, with rapidly whirling rocks, gave Ed much satisfaction, and in one mysterious dark cave he boldly seized the gyrating rock to discover how it worked. The lion was my delight, I loved him so I could hardly tear myself away. How I wanted him for my own!
After leaving the gardens we walked across the ancient covered bridges, inspecting their queer pictures. My me! The olden days were strange days and tastes were odd. Think of always passing to and fro over a bridge bedecked with startling views of the vagaries of death. We located the cathedral, with the monster organ, and tomorrow we attend mass there at nine-thirty. By this hour Mr. B. had left us to our own devices, and the rain coming in such torrents, we decided to see a few shops. We found them filled with beautiful embroideries and also crowded by tourists. You know how I declared that this American would not visit the stores. Well, dear, I am sure Ed is not permitting me to miss many. He calls shopping his recreation after so much history. Truly, I believe he frequents them to chat with the clerks and see the beautiful women who throng the aisles.
We have an elegant room on the second floor, with a balcony, and oh, so many mirrors. Ed declares he will not be able to exist any more without mirrors to see himself "all ways at once." He never before realized he was such a fine looking man. The room assigned us was tucked away off upstairs. My lord would not permit me to seek it by elevator or stairway, declaring that a second floor room must be given us. How he manages without paying any extra charge I know not, yet always the man in control yields, and we are comfortably located according to Ed's desires. For some reason our party was divided here, half at this hotel, half at another. We are so sorry. "The family" are all so charming, we can ill spare one. Mr. B. is with us, hence we feel that we have a distinct advantage. The rain has not abated; I am inclined to think it will continue for forty days and nights. We have not left the hotel since dinner. The streets are not alluring in their wet state, and the storm is too electrical for pleasure. I shall retire early and try to sleep ten hours, so until tomorrow, good night, sweet Mother.
Sunday--Raining, raining! The heavens frowning with disdain, caring little for our disappointment. We toiled through the storm to the cathedral at nine-thirty, listened to a long sermon in French. I trust Ed's soul was benefited thereby. As I could not comprehend a word and my skirts were far from dry, I sat there in a very uncomfortable state. At last it ended and the great organ pealed forth in the music of a magnificent Mass. I could not pray, so I folded my hands and whispered, "Dear Lord, do please consider this rapture a prayer of praise." I forgot the rain, my wet garments, all my little woes, and ascended right to the gates of paradise.
Sunday is not a day of absolute rest in Lucerne. Many of the shops were open, but the rain was so wet we did not linger, too eager to reach the hotel and dry shoes. We spent the day in visiting with the members of the party, recalling past pleasures and anticipating the future. I confess to several waves of homesickness.
Our hostess is a remarkably handsome woman, with a wonderful figure, so tall and willowy. She said her brother resided in the Indian Territory, U.S.A., but seemed to think the name of a town a superfluity; persisted in saying, " surely you know him, such a little place is the Indian Territory." The hotel is filled to overflowing, the parlors are utilized as bedrooms. We are quite near to the barracks and this appears a favorite place for the soldiers to dine. Today a dinner was served quite a number of them in the private dining room. Many ladies were of the party, and the merriment was prolonged and hearty. It is very cold this evening, I am wrapped in a feather quilt, and even then am cold. Is it possible that you are struggling to keep cool in our far-off home? There is a strange little porcelain stove concealed in a hole in the wall of this room, and I am tempted to request a fire. Ed has retired beneath an avalanche of feathers. I have, until tonight, persuaded him to use only the blanket provided. I am sure to be awakened by a fearful tumult. As I know he will dream horribly beneath such warm coverings. We lose two of the party here, the Misses--. They go directly to Paris to select a trousseau for the younger sister, and then home and a wedding.
You will pardon me, dear heart, for leaving you so early. This has been an uneventful day, yet I am so cold if I had the most interesting news to chronicle I could not do it with the smallest degree of comfort. If the rain would cease, and the good old sun shine out.
Monday.--First by boat, then by rail, to the summit of Mount Rigi, on the stormiest day we have encountered. The wind blew in great gusts, the rain came in vast sheets, and the vivid flashes of lightning made me sit very near to my dearest. All the beauties of nature were hidden by the dense rain and thus we have missed some of the most magnificent views in Switzerland. Mr. B. brought us out to be happy, and we determined to be happy, so we beguiled the hours with laughter and song. "How Dry I Am," was a favorite ditty, and "the Old Folks at Home," second choice. There are several good voices in the party, and Miss L., of New York, is a most obliging leader, always ready to warble, tell stories or join in a laugh.
When the station at the summit was attained it surely required courage to face the storm and thus reach the hostelry many steps above us. We were sadly buffeted by the wind and drenched by the rain ere we entered its hospitable doors. We were huddled about a monster porcelain stove, half frozen this July day when Mrs.--created a diversion by fainting, and in our solicitude for her welfare we forgot our discomfort. I am glad to state she soon recovered and was quite able to enjoy the excellent lunch served. The question how to make the hours pass pleasantly was quickly settled, an excellent floor and a piano suggested dancing. In a short while all who could were "tripping the light fantastic."
Your son could not dance because of the altitude. He tried courageously, but his breathing was so labored I begged him to desist. I did not notice the change, except a slight sensation of fullness in my ears. When one by one the dancers dropped exhausted, we gathered around the great stove, told stories, and persuaded the young lady from Australia to read our palms. I think, mother, you would like Miss B. I am greatly interested in her, more so because she can ill conceal her dislike of Americans. I must become better acquainted with her and learn of her country.
The return to Lucerne was accomplished without accident, but not a glimpse of the far-famed scenery was afforded us. Ed purchased thirty-seven Edelweiss flowers for one franc on the summit of Rigi. I was so afraid he would lose them I determined to carry them myself, and thereby hangs a tale. When we left the boat at Lucerne we hurried to the cathedral, as it was the hour of the organ recital, tickets one franc-fifty. We seated ourselves well to the front and I went without delay to paradise. How I dreamed, and dreamed again. Life was all before me, now joyous, now sad. I ached with the pleasure of existence, then stumbled beneath the burden of life. I was weary, I was triumphant, I was a distressed mortal, I was a god. I had lost all count of time, the world was no longer my resting place. When Ed touched me as the last note died away, I arose and left the church as in a dream--the said dream cost me my precious flowers. I did not discover my loss until the hotel was reached. Ed declares the moral is: "Wives, trust your husbands." Lucerne, her lion and her organ shall be locked in my memory cabinet, and when I am home again I shall open the door for you, dear. Tomorrow we bid Switzerland goodbye, for "across the Alps lies Italy," and oh, I am so eager to see that fair country. Do not let the children forget Auntie. I am always thinking of them, and hardly a day passes without their uncle mailing a card to one of them. I wish you, sister, and the children were with me, then my happiness would be complete.
We left Lucerne in a furious storm, which did not abate until we passed the part of which the guide book says, "it is crowded with visions of gorges, snowy peaks, inaccessible heights, etc." We passed through eighty tunnels, mother mine, aggregating over thirty miles, What do you think of that for a smoky time? The change in temperature come suddenly, and I found it disagreeable--so much so I could not enjoy the luncheon served en route. Such a conglomeration of odors in the little stations. Mr. B. says it is better not to have an acute sense of smell if you would enjoy fair Italia. Do you know, the only handsome men I have seen so far have been Americans. How can a girl from the United States prefer the little fellows you see over here? We have been warned not to indulge too freely in cold water and I am striving to be a moderate drinker of "Father Adam's ale," but I find it very hard. Wine is considered the proper beverage here. I have tried it, and do not consider it palatable. Wish I could have a whole pot--no, two pots--of uncolored Japan tea, served piping hot in real china cups. Two weeks in Italy and ever to remember that an indulgence in much cold water is likely to produce bowel trouble. Will you believe me when I state that several of this party have not tasted water since leaving the vessel at Antwerp? How can they exist without it?
This hotel, as usual, is very centrally located. Cook & Sons are thoughtful of their "little Cookies." After thirty minutes to remove the dust of travel, carriages appeared and a guide also, to show us the sights of Milan. I have always thought of this city in connection with a kind of hat. Wonder if I shall find it here? At three-thirty, so we were informed, Italians begin to awaken for the evening. If so, today they overslept. Not many were astir at four o'clock. At the great cathedral, the pride of Milan, I was rendered speechless, it so far surpassed my preconceived ideas of its magnitude. Its loftiest tower stands four hundred feet above mother earth. The entire edifice is of marble; 2,500 statues adorn it, and there are niches for many more. Fifty superb columns, each cut from a solid block of marble were pointed out by the guide. Altars, altars everywhere. We saw the body of St. Charles Borromeo lying in state and marvelously preserved. The jewels within the casket are worthy to ransom a king, one ruby being of fabulous value. Think of the years he has lain there for the veneration of the faithful and the flippant remarks of tourists. We were told many things of his charity and of the love the Milanese bear him, their patron saint. I used to think the nose embellishing his pictures was exaggerated. Nay, nay, mother mine, the saint possessed a regular Cyrano de Bergerac affair. I wonder if he is troubled in heaven by knowledge that his body is gazed upon by hundreds of scoffers. Would he not be happier if it was hidden away until the resurrection morn? In the sacristy were vestments so gorgeous and altar vessels so rare my eyes ached and my mouth formed the exclamation "Ah!" so frequently I have difficulty this evening to keep it closed. Above the high altar in the wall is a niche wherein is a nail from the true cross. Once a year the Archbishop comes in state and is drawn up there in a basket, opens the door, exposes the sacred relic to the faithful, gives with it a blessing, and returns it to its resting place until another twelve months roll by. Ed stopped with me at a small table near to an entrance to purchase a medal of St. Charles Borromeo, and when we turned our party had disappeared. The edifice is so vast we were fifteen minutes locating them. Does that sound incredible? We visited several churches of minor importance. In one we were shown the only altar whereon a priest offers the sacrifice of the Mass with his face toward the people. In this same church is a bronze serpent which we were gravely assured was the one elevated in the wilderness for the children of Israel. I regret to state that I giggled ecstatically, thus obtaining a reproachful glance from our Milanese instructor, and a murmured, "Why inquire too closely concerning a beautiful myth?" We had expected to see "The Last Supper," by Leonardo de Vinci, but were informed that it was being restored and would not be shown to the public for several days. "I am sorry," said Mr. B. in true English style.
The carriages provided by our good Cook & Son are so comfortable that a drive is never too long. This afternoon, our first in Italy, was far too short, and our impressions have been so agreeable that surely nothing can make us dislike the "land of flowers and sunshine."
It was quite dark when we returned to the hotel, and after dining sumptuously we sought the streets and the shops, where Ed gets his local color. He will have more anecdotes to relate when he returns than you can find time to hear. There is a vast glass covered shopping district in this city which would certainly prove a bonanza in Lucerne, if the weather is often as we found it. I am dead tired; the heat has wilted me, although I do not consider this so hot as our summers at home. The mosquitoes are blood-thirsty creatures and my pillow is of cotton, so I have a few grievances even in this Eden. Mr. B. offered consolation in this manner, "Ach! await Venice before you complain of mosquitoes, and no feather pillows in Italy."
The morning is to be spent as we please. Ed and I have planned to attend High Mass at the cathedral and enjoy the music. We have a corner room, with a full view of the long street. It is quite pleasant tonight, if the mosquitoes would cease calling "consin, consin."
Ed is sleeping as usual. He is so thoughtful of my comfort. Knowing how nervous I am he never leaves me alone in these vast hotels. I cannot bear to think of what life would be without his watchful care.
Until we are enjoying the "Queen of the Adriatic," I shall bid you farewell, mother mine. I just wish I could fly to you this night, clasp you within my arms and hurry back to Italy with my precious burden. How good it is to realize dreams. I am glad I am alive, glad I am young. "God is in His heaven, all is right with the world."
The day has been hot and dusty, yet we have been fairly comfortable, compartments were reserved for us and we were not crowded. I miss the ice water provided in our country; here you are expected to purchase drinks at the stations from the numerous vendors. At Verona the train stopped for fifteen minutes and we braved the sun, walking the long platform wishing we had time to visit the city of the immortal lovers, Romeo and Juliet. Verona and queer lemonade must always be associated in my memory. You see Ed thought I ought to have a drink, and as I would not have wine he purchased, "lemonade." Perhaps it was that beverage, as made in Italy. I do not care to try another glass. Swiftly passing through lazy, sleepy, entrancing Italia. The very fields bask idly in the sun as if they were sentient things, and everywhere we caught glimpses of strenuous workers stretched peacefully in the blazing sun. In Oklahoma the sun is man's enemy, in this clime God made it for his comfort.
At the station we found gondolas awaiting us and within a few minutes we were gaily afloat. In Venice you know the streets are canals and the carriage swiftly gliding gondolas. Oh, dear heart, the grand canal, palaces here and there and beyond, the dome of St. Mark, with its winged lions the symbol of fair Venice!
We lost nothing of her beauty as she lay soft and breathless beneath the western sun, the water gently lapping the time-worn palaces of her prime. "She to me was a fairy city of the heart, rising like water columns from the sea, of joy the sojourn, and of wealth the mart."
Our gondolier was persistent in his soft appeal for money with which to drink our health, so I tossed him a coin. I do wish you could have seen his contemptuous expression, heard his tones of disgust. "Merci, Merci," and he tossed the piece upon the floor. Ed reached over and quite coolly pocketed it. The man grew violent in his demands, begged, stormed and even swore in liquid Italian. Ed smoked steadily, not even vouchsafing a glance. I confess I was frightened and only the knowledge that we were on the grand canal and surrounded by friends sustained my courage. The gondolier looked so wicked, not at all like our western bad men, but just like a dark-browed devil, you know. When we reached the hotel he exhausted his fury and came cringingly to beg for money. Ed assisted me to alight and said, "not a cent." Cook had hired him, and of course we are not even supposed to tip, yet had not the man so rudely spurned my gift he would have been some richer.
This hotel is all O.K. in appearance, yet it has the odor of a closed cellar. We were assigned a third floor room, oh, so smelly. That husband of mine ordered the man to return the grips to the office, and absolutely refused to occupy the chamber. Now we are on the second floor with plenty of ventilation and mosquitoes galore. More cotton pillows. I am glad I have an air one with me. We spent the evening on the Plaza of St. Mark's listening to the music, sipping wine and resting. Ed, of course, made excursions into the near-by shops, investigating, and airing his French. The Plaza is like a big café, with numerous little tables and white aproned waiters darting here and there. The tables encroach upon the walk, pedestrians wind in and out, and shop keepers standing in doorways call attention to their wares.
July 23--Do you know, dear, I was so sleepy last evening I crawled off to bed without writing you goodnight. Never mind, mother dear, I whispered it when I said my prayers. This day has been a Rooseveltian interpretation of the simple life. If we have many more in this climate I shall rebel.
We left the hotel promptly at nine. The guide is an old man, and I think he suffers from insomnia, hence the early hours. Fed the doves of St. Mark and listened to a dissertation by a man not thoroughly conversant with English as she is spoken. Ed caught a dove and the man ceased his flow of eloquence to warn him that a large fine and three months in prison follow the killing of a bird. As were served the little things in a pie at dinner Ed was eager to know when our landlord will occupy a cell.
How can I describe St. Mark's? My, me, you just use your imagination, stretch it and then stretch it some more, and perhaps you may reach its magnificence. It is a mass of color, gleaming crimson and gold everywhere; above it the lion of St. Mark and the bronze horses once carried by Napoleon to his beloved Paris, but finally returned to heart broken Venice. You see the Venetians have forgotten that once they stole them from Constantinople. Here Frederic Barbarossa knelt and made his peace with God and Holy Church. Within we were shown treasures beyond price, everywhere magnificent columns all of one block of marble, crosses from Santa Sophia, alabaster pillars from the temple of Solomon, and the best of all the very doors are from the wondrous temple, built of the cedar of Lebanon. The guide related to us many a tale of "ye ancient days," and in the very midst of a most unlikely one, Ed was quite sure to whisper, "now, honey, would you believe it;" thus destroying my poise. We have several in the tour who are evidently gathering material for class-room use, and their numerous questions are often trying the to patience of us on pleasure bent. The new Campanile is near completion. Ed asked, "What happened to the old tower," and our instructor replied, "Oh, the Campanile, he sat down." That finished me, I sat down and wept with laughter. I do wish, dear Cook and Sons would provide a guide not quite so funny.
In the palace of the Doges we were shown Venice in the hey-day of her glory. Our instructor gave us much valuable information in his inimitable way. For instance we were grouped before an historic painting; he pointed with dramatic gesture, saying "see, there stands the artist all covered with nothing." It was literally true and many of us chocked with repressed laughter. Ed alone as unmoved, urging him always to newer and more fantastic remarks, gravely supplying him wit choice slang to serve the next party of tourists.
Yes, I stood there quite a while, then gently fainted. The professor from Kansas City was in search of information and the guide was eager to impart it. We were huddled in that narrow place, and the oxygen soon became too diminished for me. It was impossible to get out and when I regained consciousness I was far from the approved position for a fainting person. Ed had me high in his arms, my face at a tiny port hole, Mr. B. was frantically fanning me, Mr. M. was holding beneath my nose pungent salts. I was led to the balcony of the condemned and given a chair. Of course all I needed was fresh air, and I was quickly myself, yet I yielded to Ed's request and did not go below to the dungeons. Mr. B. remained with me and told me so many interesting stories of days in Venice I was glad I fainted. I have a fair share of teasing at my choice of a place to faint, being accused of doing it for effect.
We returned to the hotel at twelve to enjoy a lunch and a sleep before the gondola ride. Out into the grand canal we swung, the gondolas swaying and dipping like birds at sea. I urged our gondolier not to try any fancy antics, for I felt a touch of my old enemy, sea sickness. Now, will you think of that, to be sick on a peaceful canal in a dear gondola. Ed declares he is ashamed of me, he brings me out to be happy and I waste golden moments in that manner. When we reached the steps of Santa Maria della Salute, I almost shouted, "Glory Hallelujah!" It was like a church in the books of fairy land, marble steps to the very water's edge, showing dazzling white in the glaring sunlight. Up we climbed out of the glare into the cool dimness of the house of God. In this we were shown many paintings. The one remaining in my memory is that of St. Mark, the work of Titian when a youth of twenty. The professor from Kansas City refuses to enter another church until we reach Rome, he declares he is "dead tired of cathedrals." You will be surprised when I give you the list of edifices in which we have bade the Lord "Good day." Sometimes I feel like I am on a pilgrimage, not a Cook's tour.
On the other side of the canal, almost opposite Santa Maria, is a house of ancient design, pointed out to tourists as the home of Desdemona. I have mailed you a card with a good picture of it. Let us believe, mother, that Desdemona leaned from those windows watching her brave Moor, and sat within listening with bated breath to his tales of martial deeds. On we swept with musical dip of oars, past the home of Byron, the palace where Browning died, and dear, so many, many more places that belong to history I dare not attempt to enumerate. The church of the Jesuits was our next stopping place. Here we were met by numerous beggars, young and old, even the babies in arms are taught to extend their tiny hands for alms. Our guide chased them with his stick, and indulged in violent language, if we judged by the elevation of his voice. In this country of superb churches, all built of marble, this building is worthy of consideration. The design is unique and the black and white is pleasing to the eye. The main altar is deserving of special mention, and the tombs are magnificent. Really, mother, the houses of God over here are treasure halls of art, relics of ages of faith, when the very best was not considered too good for the Lord. A few more canals were lazily traversed and we anchored before a glass factory which proved interesting. The men were so courteous, so willing to give us their time and attention. I had little idea of the true beauty of Venetian glass, I wish I could bring home a car load. From glass to lace, here hundreds of girls were busily engaged in catering to the feminine love of the exquisite. I had always imagined lace makers with stooped shoulders, dimmed eyes and unhappy faces. I was agreeably surprised, the girls in this well equipped factory were young and charming, with bright eyes and happy faces. Ed conversed with many of them. Their wages are very low if we compare them with America, yet when the cost of living is considered they are not more to be commiserated than our work people. Indeed, the advantage is with the Venetian girls, for they do not struggle to keep up appearances, but are content with the position in life to which they were born. Some of the girls would have been beautiful had we fancied prominent noses. It seems all Italians are favored with quite sufficient of that feature, far more than consonate with my idea of beauty.
We cannot complain of the day's pleasure as arranged by Cook, for it is varied and comprehensive. The hours are full, yet we are not hurried and our evening are always our own. After dinner Mr. R. joined us and we indulged in our usual walk. The streets are narrow beyond belief. Two persons are often a tight fit therein. I am confident the sun strives without avail to peep into many a crowded district. The city is so poorly lighted that burglars and foot pads might operate without fear of detection. Even the grand canal is not so brilliantly illuminated as our little western town. In the evening the city is awake and the inhabitants gather on the numerous squares, eat, drink and chatter. I wonder if Venetians notice the musty odor of their old canals. After a while do you lose your acute sense of smell, and do the mosquitoes cease to bite you? If I could have those questions answered to my satisfaction Venice as a home would call me in siren tones. Poor Ed looks like a person with a bad case of measles. If the mosquitoes wish to bite him tonight they will find it difficult to find a new spot. The call of the gondoliers has been mastered by him and he finds pleasure in standing beside a canal and giving it to the mystification of an approaching gondola and its occupants. The call is always given at a turn in the canal and when a collision is imminent. It doubtless means "make way there."
We were passing a shop on the Plaza of St. Mark when a necklace within attracted my attention. I stopped to admire and soon came out the "spider" to enveigle the "poor little fly." We were urged to enter. Ed politely refused saying he did not wish to buy. The man insisted. He so longed to "fleece the Americano." With great seeming reluctance Ed entered. The necklace was produced. "Twelve dollars," said the man, then the fun commenced. Fast and furious waxed the bargaining. Ed soon used French, as he says it gives him greater scope for "artistic work," the man comprehended it better than English. The poor shopkeeper tried to talk, but Ed had the lead and the political meeting progressed. A free for all discussion, but one on the floor. Ed offered one dollar and fifty cents for the bauble; the man was aghast. "Let us talk it over," said Ed. What arguments he used I know not but the man was lost. We left the shop with the necklace, and a dazed shopkeeper bade us a weary good night. He looked after us so wistfully I know he was longing for the American's gift of gab. Mr. B. our book of general information, assured us that it was a great bargain, each mosaic bangle being of great beauty.
This is one of our "three night stands," and we play to such "full houses" we cannot retire early. Ed is restless for the mosquitoes are loving him and about every fifteen minutes he arises and "shoos" desperately at his "foreign cousins." Goodnight, dear mother, perhaps I shall sleep, perhaps I shall join my husband in the war with mosquitoes.
July 24.--The lark found us asleep, for the fight was fast and furious for hours, then our friends in the street did not sleep until two-thirty and they very inconsiderately arose at three-thirty, to retire for the day just as the lark was opening his sleepy eyes.
We were not personally conducted this morning, so we were enabled to sleep until a late hour. After breakfast we wandered where our fancy led and very much undressed boys directed. You can always have a half dozen boy guides for a few pennies and Ed finds them so entertaining, and so do I. We reached the Rialto after many a twist and turn; as in the time of Shylock it is the place of merchantism, and many are the close bargains made there. Ed talked with the numerous Shylocks, so he named them. I was not attracted by the display of goods, and the fruit stands were abominable places. Ed found out from a boy in our train that the fish market was near by, and do you know I had to entreat him not to visit it. Think of a fish market, under an Italian sky. I was tired now, and the canopied gondolas were very attractive. We selected a handsome one with a pleasant faced man in charge and in luxury enjoyed the heat. We went on and on like the brook, you know. A funeral cortege passed us. In Venice the hearses are gondolas, as the streets are water, and the only horses are the bronze ones over the portico of St. Mark's. I do believe I would prefer to seek my last resting place behind high-stepping horses. You see the boat ride I am expecting in purgatory will come soon enough.
At noon we clamored so for Mr. B. to make a suggestion for the afternoon that he said, "let us go to Lido and bathe in the Adriatic." We hailed it with shouts of delight, elected him chairman, and were soon enroute. As only a few of the ladies wished to venture in the water Ed agreed to assist me in chaperoning the girls of the party who desired to dip beneath the waves. To have us all on the same side of the pavilion he purchased tickets for himself, wife and daughters. The suits offered were "fierce," made of red and white bed ticking, all in one piece, shapeless trousers to the ankles, at the belt line a "dust ruffle" of about three or four inches, standing out belligerently, something like the waist adornment of an African chief. This attractive garment was buttoned "all the way down the front" without due regard to proper spacing. I was amazed and positively refused to don the ridiculous thing. As we were discussing it Ed appeared, bearing a bit of cloth aloft, crying. "Just see, girls, what your ‘dad' is to wear." We shouted. All the material had been doubtless used in making the modest trousers for the women, leaving the men to appear almost as nature made 'em. At last Ed teased us into consenting to "dress up," but I insisted that a blue and white one must be found for me. When we retired to the cubby holes provided for ladies I discovered my precious blue suit was built for a woman of Herculean frame. I called; Ed said, "take it off, dear, all that surplus cloth would drown you. Gee, I wish I had a bit of it attached to my trousers." And I assure you he needed it. The woman in charge demurred at changing it, declared it medium size. "Perhaps, madam, yet I dare not trust my wife within, suppose she passed out of a leg or an arm into the sea." The other suit was given him, but to my horror it was of the despised red and the trousers ended at the knee, the useless dust ruffle being correspondingly placed. Fortunately I had a pair of black hose, so I was quite covered, if not according to the standard here. We were soon on the beach, where we were met by the men of the party, suffering noticeably from the shock to their Anglo-Saxon modesty by the scantiness of their attire. After the first dip our bed ticking garments were clinging and to leave the water we dared not, until Ed obligingly brought out linen sheets, off the line stretched along the beach. We were like sheeted ghosts on the hot sands, but at least we were safe from the Kodak fiends of our party. Such fun, we found the water so warm, the sand so pleasant, that two hours passed before we were aware of it. Truly, mother, some of the Venetians in bathing, of the masculine gender, were dressed like Sandwich Islanders. In this country modesty is not expected of men, on the streets or elsewhere, you are always being surprised. I mailed you a post card from Lido with bathers disporting thereon, thus hoping to give you an idea of the appearance of your son and daughter while in the Adriatic. As we were leaving the dressing rooms an attendant appeared and gave us quite a lecture, of which we understood not a word. When Ed came out he sent us forward, the man giving to him the discourse--he was demanding extra pay because we had been out over an hour.
Returning to the city, the Australian lady and the Boston man of our party engaged in a battle of words. The Massachusetts man made a slighting remark concerning the degree of civilization of Australia, and as was quite natural she resented it. I know her blood boiled at the ignorance and prejudice evinced, yet I laughed at her, because I am accustomed to such expressions from easterners in regard to the Indians and Indian Territory, and consider them unworthy of notice. I would have agreed with him and revenged myself by a marvelous tale of Australian wilds.
How do you think we have spent the evening? Can you guess? Of course not. Well, here it is, in a gondola, "spooning." Ed hired a fancy affair with an equally fancy gondolier, and then we sought the lover's paradise. Ed singing sweet songs of love, and by his actions convincing the man that we were desirous of sequestered spots. I have always love Ed's tenor voice, but tonight it was heavenly on the water, and others found it so, for many gondolas followed us, and applauded him often. I am sure they wondered why he did not stop and pass his cap.
Like Byron, my imagination is all sufficient, fair Venice is peopled for me, as she was when, "a queen with an unequalled dower," she reigned supreme. Her glories are of the past, yet how exquisite she is in her decay. I can ill bear the thought that tomorrow we bid her, not farewell, but adieu.
We came by way of Bologna and Ed pretended to be greatly disappointed because the station was not filled with vendors of Bologna sausage, saying that another belief of his childhood was dispelled. The train only paused for which I was thankful, the heat being intense, we were soon puffing hurriedly, at least, so we were told, towards Florence. Italian train service is not worthy of comparison with that of Germany, it is like it is with us far south, the climate and the temperament of the people preclude a hurry. Only forty-six tunnels today, or that is the number Ed reported. I ceased to count when fifteen were on my list. The Tuscan country is worthy of her noble sons, and the city of Florence drew from me many an exclamation, where she nestles.
Cook always pleases me in his selection of hotels, he does not put us away in remote corners and thus lose valuable time. Here we are near the Cathedral, within walking distance of many an ancient pile.
After removing the dust of travel, and viewing ourselves in numerous mirrors, we dined, then Heigh-ho for the streets. We are enjoying a little joke on two of our party. They were in a rush to see the Duomo and Ed had not nearly finished dinner when they were off. We met them returning, greatly disappointed, the edifice was not at all "magnificent." We followed their directions and found ourselves facing a museum, the cathedral was far from there! I was not disappointed in the imposing appearance, yet I do not think it appeals to me as did the cathedrals at Cologne and Milan. Perhaps I shall like it better under the glowing sun. We expect to attend mass there in the morning. As usual in Europe the side walks are used as cafes. We sat across the street from the cathedral, drank a little wine, gazed at the vast edifice, and watched the passing throng. I wish I had a wee bit of the Indian's love for "firewater," the Frenchman's love for wine, or the Englishman's love for whisky and soda. With all that admixture of blood I cannot get up a decent thirst for any liquor, thus you see I make a fine prohibitionist! Hearing music afar, we sought it, found the plaza near our hotel the scene of a concert. Here we again sat before a table, this time with lemonade, or at least the beverage honored with that name over here, for it is not the American brand. To obtain the privilege of a chair, you are expected to partake of something. I am always interested in the constant drinking, and yet the absence of intoxicated men. In our state, where red ink, Peruna, Jamaica Ginger, Lemon Extract, etc., are in demand, such frequent quaffs of this glass, would mean promiscuous shooting, and a town of bright vermilion hue! I remember as well my grandfather's dissertations on the evils of prohibition. I understand his attitude now. Do you know, I do not think this fair land has changed in a hundred years or so, the people are just as their forefathers were, live in the same houses, eat similar food, think the self-same thoughts. I know in my short life I have seen greater changes wrought in the beautiful Indian Territory than have taken place here in many centuries.
The night is the day over here, and it is easy to be gay and laughter-loving when the stars are out. It is always difficult to leave the novel scenes for our rooms and I am afraid I am losing too many beauty sleeps. "Gather the rose buds while you may." I think I have, my arms are laden today, so out with the lights, and "good night, sweet mother."
All good people in Oklahoma are abed at this hour, and I trust, dreaming of angels. You will please dream of me. When the sun awoke me, I jumped up glad to be alive and in this old world city. Even a day in the art galleries could not lessen the ardor. The programme for the day would not admit of attending High Mass, so we dressed and at six thirty were praying in the Cathedral. Mother these magnificent temples of the Lord have not seemed like His home to me, they are great museums of the ages, open to the public for a fixed fee. Of course, the treasures are within, and the people have a right to see them, yet my religious sentiments are a tiny bit shocked when I see the lights gleaming on an altar where rests the sacred Host, and careless jostling throngs almost through His throne. This morning when only a few lowly worshippers were before Him, and the tourists were not there, for the first time I felt the full beauty of these, His sanctuaries, and my heart surged with the thought that here mankind had given Him his best, great artists, great sculptors had considered it an honor to lay their genius at His feet. After mass, finding the Baptistry open, we walked in to look and to pray. This church is said to have been built in the sixth century, the dome is all covered with mosaics of great beauty, and the floor bears a zodiac, said to be the work of Strozzo Strozzi. The massive doors are of bronze, the work of Pisano and Ghiberti. A mass commencing we remained until after the elevation, and thus reached the hotel just at the breakfast hour. This being Sunday that repast had been delayed to accommodate those desiring a late sleep. The Florentine guide soon appeared and we walked the streets of Florence in the Sabbath calm. This is one of the few cities in Italy with a Sunday closing law, thus the shops do not entice and there is an air of peace everywhere.
Of course, the art galleries and churches are open to the people and they have no cause for complaint of lack of places to visit. Let us skip a little mother. I feel so inadequate to the task of writing intelligently concerning the pictures. Two hours were spent in the Pitti and Uffizi Palaces looking amazedly at the wealth of art displayed. Art, with a great capital letter, mother, far beyond my capacity to criticize, yet I know the ones I like best and have safely stowed away in my house of dreams realized. "I'll bring out for you, Raphael's "Madonna of the Chair," the "Magdalena" of Carlo Dolci, Del Sarto's "John the Baptist," Guido Reno, "Cleopatra," Titian's "Flora," Fra Angelico's "Angels" and Botticelli's Consumptive Madennas! Then when you are keyed to the highest pitch, I shall tell you of the Venus de Medici, that poem in marble with which I was so enamored, I longed to clasp her within my arms and fly with her to the Golden West. After standing before her, the gallery attracted me no further, I simply wished to gaze and gaze until always, like the Lion of Lucerne she would be my very own. It is said that Florence retains her ancient form, and is very much as in the years of her prime, I believe it, for the streets are quaint, her houses queer and over all broods a spirit not of the twentieth century. We stood where Savanarola paid with his life for being in advance of his age, offered homage to the house that saw Dante open his eyes to this earth, passed by the church honored by his marriage, then on to Santo Croce's hallowed walls. Here rest the bones of Michael Angelo, Galileo, Alfieri and Macchiavelli.
Promptly at three-thirty the carriages appeared and we were off to drive beside the Arno. The afternoon was warm and sunshiny, the sky was true blue, yet in justice to Oklahoma I must say not bluer than her skies. We passed the home of Maechiaville [sic] and Ed was greatly pleased, he has heard the term "Macchiavellian policies" so often, the home of the man to whose works the epithet was first applied was doubly interesting, then the Fiesole, the road winding up the hill, gardens and villas, until the topmost garden is reached, then a glorious panorama of Florence and the Tuscan country. I leaned over the parapet entranced hardly hearing the words of the guide, so engaged in watching the hot sun making long wavy lines over the city, (the lines which in my childhood I fancied were ropes from heaven whereon the angels swung in happy abandon), and the hills softly green beckoning all to seek their cool embrace.
When the line of carriages commenced the descent, we were treated to a diversion not planned by Mr. B. A runaway came swinging crazily along, we heard the sound, but did not heed until our driver swerved his horses so quickly we lurched forward violently. Ed opened his lips to remonstrate when we saw the vehicle swept past our wheels. Owing to the celerity of the drivers, not one of our party was touched, the maddened animal was given the right-of-way and he passed from sight trailing the ruined cab behind. All along the road were broken bits, at the gate below we saw him standing broken and dejected, quivering like a frightened child. I hope his master was kind and gentle to him, he looked so pitiful there, beside his captor.
On the fashionable Cascine we saw really beautiful women, and others doubtless lovely to Italian eyes, but for me they were blessed with too much nose. Ed found much enjoyment in bowing and smiling to the indolent beauties and they returned his salute with charming grace. One raven haired goddess of a truly beautiful type, accompanied by a masculine fashion plate, passed us several times, and with consummate skill she would attract the attention of her escort elsewhere, and then would bestow upon my own American, a radiant smile. Oh, she was well worth a smile or two. I am just delighted to have seen such a perfect bit of God's handiwork. At the extreme end of the promenade is a monument by Fuller erected to the memory of the Rajah of Kalapore, who died in Florence in 1870. It has an Eastern air strangely at variance with its surroundings. I forgot to inquire if the young Rajah sleeps beneath. I hope not, for surely his spirit would be restless in the other world if his body rests in this foreign land. I shall believe he was taken to his beloved India, and there awaits the resurrection.
Just us two, were in the rubber-tired carriage, rolling swiftly by Arno's silvered stream, the spirited blacks tossing their heads in proud disdain, what more could we desire. Why, we could clasp hands and not one of the passing throng be the wiser. Cook is the very prince of providers. He can have my vote any old time in a popularity contest. The breezes are flower laden, yet alas always to me is borne, the indescribable scent of the great unwashed. I am ashamed of my awful American nose, I wish I could lock up my love of soap and lose the key until Fair Italia is left behind. Do you recall the solemn child of long ago, who stood beside your knee and with tiny finger traced the Arno begging for stories of the sons of Florence and crying, "Mother mine, shall we not live there some fair day?" Dearest, because of you, my fancy painted glorious pictures and now the reality is even fairer than my dreams, yet this could not be my home.
After the drive was ended, Mr. B. called us into the parlors, we were given the choice, an early express, Rome at mid-day, or an afternoon local and a late night arrival in the Eternal City. By a majority vote the early train was selected, several of the party were greatly perturbed at giving up the morning in the Mecca of Artists, yet when told that they might join us in Rome the next day they decided to leave with us, so it's "up at five in the morning!" If I chat much longer with you, I shall be saved the trouble of retiring, as I told you earlier in this Florentine epistle, there is a Sunday law here and it is enforced. The post-card boys are not allowed to sell their wares. When our departure was decided upon we were in despair, a wail arose, "what shall we do about our post-cards." We decided to search the highways and byways, and report. The Harvard man discovered a hotel with an obliging clerk and in a few minutes he was doing, as we say out in Oklahoma, "a land office business." When Ed and I returned to the hotel at ten o'clock we found Miss B., of Australia, all alone in the parlor lamenting her lack of post-cards. I offered to go with her to the desired hotel. As the streets are well lighted and filled, and the distance short, Ed gave us his blessings and bade us trot along. We were soon plunged into a discussion of Uncle Sam and his numerous progeny. Miss B. is sore at Americans and all things American. I told her not to mind me just wade right in, I would surely enjoy hearing Uncle Sam and his representatives abused, had often desired to do a little of it myself. I wish you could have seen her look of astonishment. I said I did not object to the old gentlemen quite so much as to his numerous sons, who insisted that authority from him made them my guardians, and knowing that I possessed a few drops of Indian blood they were sure of my incapacity to manage my own affairs! Now, I hear your gentle voice saying, "daughter." "Well, mother" I just could not resist it, too good an opportunity to express a few of my sentiments. I have not recovered from that operation of removing restrictions, you know. I cannot blame the Australian for her feeling of resentment, yet I am confident that not a member of this party would have knowingly hurt her feelings. You see, Americans are so everlastingly well pleased with themselves and so cock-sure of their ability to "Jump over the Moon," that they step around lively and boast without thinking of "the other fellow." She complained of the inability to decide which type truly represented the U.S., the oh so narrow ones, the jolly tolerant ones, or the courteous yet reserved ones! I said Uncle Sam was the father of all, yet he possessed several wives, and they molded the children, hence the variety shown! We had not as yet produced a type true of the entire vast domain, and never would. I pointed with pride to my incomparable husband, and exclaimed dramatically, "Canada gave him birth, Texas mothered his childhood, Indian Territory fostered his young manhood, and now Oklahoma enjoys his perfection." I had her laughing, the storm was past. She asked: "What of yourself?" I made answer thus: "France gave much, Germany furnished a little, England was there, and the American Indian completed the whole, behold the result, another Oklahoman." As the anger was flown away, I read her a little lecture with "put yourself in his place" for a text, and I think I convinced her that Americans were not half bad. Now, I wish I could preach a sermon to the children of the land of Freedom. I'd tell them to go softly, not to make so much noise, to realize that after all, we are not so much. We have youth that is true, and if we are prudent some day we may astonish the world. In the meantime, let us try to listen more and talk less. Mother I am going to leave you this moment before you have time to scold me for abusing Uncle Sam to a stranger! Good night, truly "cross my heart" I love Uncle Sam, but I do not love all of his understudies!
2. The Maharajah of Kalapore, Rajaram Cuttraputti, died while in Florence at the age of twenty. Mrs. Perry would be sad to learn that he was cremated according to the tradition of India far away from his home. His family erected the monument in place of a tomb.
The road from Florence was long, yet so filled with delight, I would not shorten it, not by even one mile! Do you think my ancestor, when, with Napoleon he entered the Holy City, experienced half the thrills, that this day have been mine? It is like returning home after a long sojourn in the country of strangers, this city does not belong to Italy, it is the heritage of the Christian world! It is mine, it is yours, it belongs to the humblest of the human race!
I always imagined Rome as in the very midst of fruitful vineyards and fair gardens, thus the vast stretches of parched-looking grass, drew from me many an exclamation. It looks like Oklahoma, with the numerous herds of browsing cattle, and the hay makers. The cattle are fierce in appearance, having immense horns, I said, surely they are the forefathers of the Texas stock. Ed insisted that they were the sacred cattle of the circus! The hay-makers were not over-working, I assure you, the children were playing the women chatting and the men sleeping, or chewing straws and perhaps, thinking the "great thoughts" I wrote of from Florence, do you think? All of us were early watching for the dome of St. Peter's, I am quite sure I saw it before Ed did yet he insists that to him belongs the honor. A thunderstorm was brewing when we reached the station, and we were doubly glad to see the closed cabs awaiting us. We were driven to the Hotel Milano, on the Piazza Monte cetorio, near to the heart of modern Rome and yet within easy distance of the principal points of interest. Cabs are so cheap in this city we do not expect to walk, so declares my better half. It is said that this hotel is frequented by members of Parliament, as it is on the square containing the house; I do not doubt that statement. The afternoon was before us with nothing planned, our good angel Mr. B. came to the rescue with an offer to act as cicerone and take us to the Catacombs of St. Calixtus.
Cabs were quickly called and we commenced one of the most pleasant afternoons of the trip; Mr. B. is an ideal guide, not too loquacious, yet ready to vouchsafe any information desired. We stopped first at the church of Santa Maria Maggiore, one of the eighty dedicated to the Virgin, and built on the spot selected by the Mother herself indicated to Pope Liberius by a fall of snow on the 5th of August!
In this is the miraculous picture of the Virgin, painted by St. Luke, and deeply venerated by all the faithful. There were many other things fully deserving of note, but Ed declares my letters to you will bankrupt him in postage, therefore I shall save a bit for conversation.
As we stood on the beautiful portico the storm broke in fury, then I sent my soul away back to pagan days, and it was easy to believe we were watching with bated breath the thunder bolts of Jupiter. It was soon ended and the sun tried to bid us be of good cheer. I am sure I cannot express the riot of my emotions when the Colosseum was before us, we did not tarry there but were soon on the Appian way, then I was a Roman Matron, watching the advance of the Emperor's cohorts, and my husband was a tribune with captives at his chariot wheels! I whispered this to Ed and he refused to be a Roman, saying he preferred twentieth century garments, the toga was so revealing! What do you think of that? We visited the little chapel, which marks the spot where Peter fleeing from Home met his Lord and said, "Quo Vadis Domine." We were shown a fac-simile of the original stone, bearing the miraculous foot-prints, it being kept in another church. Poor old Peter, how bitterly he must have wept over his cowardice, as he trudged back to receive his crown of martyrdom! This was our last stop until the Catacombs were reached, not because of lack of desire, but the afternoon was not elastic. The sun was bringing from the earth a myriad of sweet scents. When leaving the cabs we walked within the monastery grounds. The breeze was so fragrant, so clean and wholesome that I was glad of the time consumed in properly registering the party. It is a precaution taken to prevent the loss of a person below, without means of identification. As we were preparing to descend, a drunken American appeared and insisted upon joining us; Ed very diplomatically engaged him in conversation and convinced that the only way to see the Catacombs, unless burdened with a wife, was to go alone with a guide. The man was so pleased with the idea he asked Ed to negotiate for a Monk; a few words in French, and the last we saw of our countryman, a white-robed Monk was leading him off to first visit the monastery. We were given tapers and following a monk, with a flaming torch, we descended into the tombs, it was so damp and cold, our jackets were not too heavy. We have in our party a very young man from the state of New York, who is obsessed with the idea, that he will contract a disease over here and never again, see home and mother. The others do not spare him, hardly were we below, when Ed coughed and buttoned up his coat and said: "Here, Mr. B., fasten your coat, this air is dreadful; we are quite likely to have a chill when we leave this hole." The others were "on" and such coughing and complaining, the poor guide was quite bewildered and assured them there was little danger. The young fellow from New York was pale with fright, and would have gladly retreated could he have found his way. The bones of many have been removed and repose under altar stones in far countries, or else are scattered heaven knows where. I kept close to the Monk, his torch was so illuminating and his descriptions so satisfying; his English was perfect and his voice like a sweet-toned bell. The early Christians buried their dead for keeps, some of the tombs are intact, and present a formidable front, families evidently owned certain rooms, as the inscriptions show; just as we own cemetery lots. The guide informed us that it [sic] of dust or bits of bones from the Catacombs, unless with special permission.
We returned to the city by a different route, visiting two churches, St. Paul without the walls and St. Pietro in Vincoli. The first is a structure of imposing grandeur, looking more like a ball room than a church, adorned with pictures of all the Holy Church. It is modeled after the Forum of Trajan, the columns arranged in the self-same manner. It possesses a superb malachite altar, presented by the Czar of Russia, and a queer Byzantine Christ of great value, but I like our Lord, as western artists have depicted Him. I enjoyed seeing the Byzantine masterpiece, yet I do not long for a copy.
At St. Pietro in Vincoli's Mr. B. obtained for us a view of the chains of St. Peter, and after a long look at the Moses of Michael Angelo, we were ready to return to the Hotel Milano. Our cab stopped at the Collegio Romana, as Ed was anxious to leave the letter so kindly given us by our Rt. Rev. Bishop to Monsignor Kennedy. He was told to return in the morning. I do hope we can have the happiness of being received by the Holy Father, the days in Rome are so few, we are fearful it cannot be arranged.
After dinner Ed said: "A cab for us, and Rome under the arc-lights." You know Mother, this is our wedding anniversary and we wished a few hours--just we two. This has been an ideal celebration, breakfast in Florence, dinner in Rome! When the cab paused at the fountain of Trevi and I sat watching the antics of the numerous children, Ed presented me with a tiny package. I was greatly surprised, as I had assured him that this Roman holiday was sufficient for me, I found a cameo pin therein, a well-cut head of Dante. In the exuberance of my joy I almost hugged him beneath the glowing lights.
I longed to cross the Tiber and see St. Peter's, but Ed urged me to await the morning for my first impression. We may have courted illness by these hours of the night yet I can hardly think so, the air is so deliciously fresh, not damp, but cool and sweet, after the storms of the afternoon. The music on the Piazza has long since ceased yet I hear voices below me, the people are reluctant to concede the hours to slumber. I am restless, Mother mine, I feel too strongly, the magic of these hours, the martial strains of ancient Rome, still the lullaby of sleep. Good-bye until tomorrow.
Mother, this is the hour when all sensible people enjoy a little sleep; Ed closed the shutters and left me to rest, but I decided I would find a conversation with you more satisfying. He is disturbing shop-keepers with a couple of young ladies of the party, who are as irrepressible as he is. Mother, do you not often feel like exclaiming at the number of things we do in one short day? I too, am astonished that we accomplish so much. I can only attribute it to the wonderful system employed by Cook and Sons, we do not lose a moment; we move with the regularity of a Convent school.
I awoke with the birds this morning and the streets looked so inviting, in the soft light, that I urged Ed to get up and go with me to visit churches. He refused, so I dressed and ventured forth alone. The streets were almost deserted, only a few laborers plodding to work, and a number of women, evidently going to or from the nearby churches. I found sextons sweeping and at side altars masses were being read, with few worshippers present; I did not tarry long, just using the sanctuaries as beads for my morning rosary! The thought struck me that the church of St. Lorenzo, containing Guido Reni's Crucifixion, must be within a short distance of our hotel, a look at my map of the city, and I was sure all I need do was walk down the Corso and there would be the desired basilica. I walked and walked, seeing a little girl before me I hastened to her and with my map, made her understand my wish. She gave instructions by gestures and I gaily proceeded, alas, if only Sister had been with me, you know how easily I can lose my way, so of course, I went far astray! This time, two women of the laboring class, were the only beings in sight. I accosted them, my English and my outspread map proved too much for them. I was in despair when a well-attired gentleman approached and very courteously inquired if he could be of any assistance. I poured fourth my tale, and he smilingly, offered to accompany me. Within a few moments I was before St. Lorenzo's. I looked everywhere for the painting, not in sight, only a heavy curtain above the main altar, hiding something from view. A kneeling Monk and the busy sexton were the only occupants, so I determined to interrupt the devotion of the priest; a whispered "Father" and his attention was mine. My me, his language was Italian, mine English. The conversation was low pitched, but animated, at last I thought of pantomime, a gesture, an imploring look, then "Guido Reni." Joy, he comprehended, he smiled, then hastened to pull a cord, and there was the masterpiece. After due contemplation of it, I approached to ask the fee charged, again was the kind father puzzled, yet only a moment then, he beckoned me to follow. We passed into a long corridor and just as I was wondering whether I was going to be presented to the Superior of the order, we entered a chapel or sacristy I know not, here he lighted a taper, unlocked a door beneath an altar and revealed to my astonished gaze the sacred treasure of this church, that is, the gridiron of St. Lorenzo and several other precious relics. When we returned to the main sanctuary I opened my purse and thus endeavored to make him understand my desire to pay him for the privileges accorded me. His face was so reproachful and I know he said: "Madam, I showed you those for the love of God and St. Lorenzo," So I closed my purse with heightened color, thanking him sincerely and left him to his interrupted devotions. I found my way to Hotel Milano without trouble, reaching it at seven o'clock. Mr. R. was awaiting me as I had agree to attend mass at the Church del Jesu with him this morning. We hailed a cab and soon arrived there. A mass was in progress in a little chapel dedicated to the Virgin.
The walls are hung with votive offerings of great value and the statue of our Lady is gorgeous without precious stones. This church is considered the richest in Rome, and from the display of jewels and cloth of gold hangings, I am quite ready to believe in its fabulous wealth. I was gratified by the reverence shown by Mr. R. I think I informed you in a previous letter, that he is a clergyman of the church of England; Ed thinks he is a man of fine character, so quiet and unassuming. When I told Ed of all I had seen this morning he regretted his sleepiness, and declared his intention to accompany me tomorrow. At nine-thirty we were off for the morning. Ed had asked the guide and Mr. R. to occupy the other seat in our cab, so we were quite sure of pleasant hours. We passed the Pantheon, once dedicated to all gods, now a Christian church and one of the best preserved Roman edifices. On the Piazza del Compidoglio we remained quite a while enjoying the view afforded of the ruins of Rome.
Proceeding to the Colosseum we were treated to a learned lecture; we lingered amid the ruins until the flight of time forced us to proceed. I was only reconciled to visiting St. John Lateran before St. Peter's by the knowledge that it was the oldest basilica, and also the guardian of Scala Sancta. Here were crowned the popes of Mother Church, until the day of Leo XIII. The treasures displayed are beyond price, containing the heads of St. Peter and St. Paul, and other relics too numerous to mention. The papal altar here, legend declares, contains a table once used by St. Peter when offering the sacrifice of the mass. The Scala Sancta is just across the way from St. John Lateran's and we paused there to watch the faithful painfully climbing upward, many praying audibly. Ed and I are going to ascend the Holy Sta[i]rs, the last day of our visit here. On the return drive we visited the church of Santa Maria in Aracaeli erected on the spot, where it is said, the Virgin and child appeared to Augustus, thus causing him to refuse the divine honors offered by the Senate, and build here an altar to the heavenly apparition. Is it not a pretty legend? In this church is also kept the Santa Bambino, the wooden Christ Child, to which has been attributed many miracles. Ed is coming, I must cease. Mother I pity your struggles to decipher my hieroglyphics, they surely call for a Rosetta stone.
Ed succeeded in delivering his letter to Monsignor Kennedy and was promised an early reply. Our Roman again occupied our carriage. He deprecated the month chosen for our visit to Rome, saying the weather was so disagreeably warm. I hastened to assure him this was ideal; in Oklahoma we would now be panting for a breeze. We visited so many churches, so many monuments, so many ruins, I cannot find time to even cursorily mention them, in the few short hours before me. I have my note-book and post-cards, so do not fear, you will miss nothing! We left the carriages at the Palatine and walked amid the ruins, listening to the interesting explanations of the guide; we rebuilt the Rome of the Caesars; listened to the wild beasts in the Circus Maximus; heard the cries of tortured Christians in the Mamertine Prison. At this place we entered the carriages and were driven to the Baths of Caracalla. Much of it is an excellent state of preservation, here and there wild flowers are shyly peeping, as if to cover the ravages of time.
The Basilica of St. Cecilia is very attractive for its numerous relics of the Saint and its ancient date. It is said to be built over the ruins of her home, the cellars are shown beneath, also the bath-room, where it was vainly tried to suffocate her. There is a bit of fairy-land below the main edifice, an exquisite chapel, built in honor of the dear Saint by Cardinal Rampolla. It is fitted with modern electric lights so artistically arranged that it is a poem, a stream of heavenly harmony! I could have knelt there hours, steeping my soul in its beauty. When we visited the cellar Ed and Mr. R. found the air filled with noxious vapors and within a few moments the man from New York was white with fear, and saying: "Here, let us get out of this, I have had enough." Such coughing, you would have thought all the party influenza victims. The poor man turned to leave; I was so provoked I caught his arm and said: "Heavens, can't you see they are making fun of you? Do be a man, stay and turn the joke."
This evening, at the suggestion of Mr. B., we were driven to the Pincio, and away up there viewed the mystic city far below, gleaming with her myriad lights. Ed smoked delightful black Italian cigars and talked with the driver while I leaned over the ramparts and dreamed. As the man's French was limited to a few words, his English conspicuous by its absence, and Ed's Italian vocabulary not extensive the conversation was not very profitable. I know he tried to show us the magnificent monuments erected to Victor Emmanuel and Cavour, but as we had been having a surfeit of the two we were not very enthusiastic. After leaving the Pinchio, we told him to drive in ancient Rome and in the half light, time turned backward. The Colosseum was in its prime, the golden house of Nero was there, palaces were peopled and temples lifted graceful spires heavenward. I like the up-hill and down of Rome, the turns and twists of the Tiber, the indolent air of the people, I know poverty exists, beggars are everywhere, yet to be poor does not appear so dreadful here, Nature tries so hard to compensate with her radiant sunshine, her soft breezes and her fragrant flowers.
This is the hour when all Rome is wrapped in slumber except a few shopkeepers, kept awake by irrepressible tourists, like my husband and Miss L. Although they were not cordially welcomed yesterday they are out today. We were down-stairs before the night clerk was relieved, and his expression of surprise was really comical. I know he called us names. It was worth the loss of sleep to first view St. Peter's, undisturbed by comments of tourists or words of guides. Mother, it is like an anthem, intoned by thousands of voices, in honor of our Lord of Host; it is a prayer in stone! I thought I was prepared for its magnitude, yet I was overwhelmed, not only by its vast proportions, but the harmony of detail. I felt that it was the embodiment of the faith of the ages! Mass was being offered at one of the numerous altars and we knelt with the few worshipers there and tried to forget the edifice in homage to the God it honored.
You may read of the glory of this, the largest Basilica in the world yet, when it is before you your amazement exceeds all bounds, words have been so inadequate to convey to you an impression of its grandeur. The morning was so ideal, we crossed the Tiber and drove to St. John's Lateran's to enjoy the awakening of the city. Meals are very informal in sunny Italy; eat when and where you please; houses are useful to sleep in and not always used for that! We saw men, women and children partaking of a frugal breakfast, in the streets or in doorways. I think the houses are cold and they seek the sunlight for warmth. The view of the Campagna and Sabine Hills from the steps of St. John Lateran's is very fine but we did not tarry long as we wished to reach the Pantheon before eight o'clock and thus obtain a glimpse of the Queen-Mother and King, it was said that they would attend a memorial mass in that church at that hour. The streets were so crowded our cab was stopped several blocks away so we alighted and made our way on foot to the very guards. The Queen-Mother lacks the youthful figure of Alexandra of England and is not so beautiful as her portraits, yet her face is sweet and attractive. The King is handsome, in a foreign way, and does not appear so very small. We had excellent appetites for breakfast. Ed finds the coffee of very good quality everywhere, and I am learning to accept without comment the tea served.
I was called just now to receive a messenger from the Vatican; we are to be given an audience at "eleven and three quarters" tomorrow! The hours of the morning have been spent in St. Peter's and the Vatican. I was amused at the wrath shown by our guide when we paused before the tomb of a pope, adorned with two female figures of great beauty, one old, one young, both draped. It appears that the draping was not the idea of the artist nor of the pope for whom it was designed, but a succeeding pontiff thought it unseemly for the sister and mother a pope to be in such classical garbs and ordered them dressed! Our Roman said it was barbarous! I cannot agree with him. I love the nude in art, but not as a decoration for tombs in St Peter.
I did not kiss the well-worn toe of St. Peter--too many microbes for me! In the Sistine Chapel, thirty minutes were spent, the guide explaining the paintings. Of course, we were shown the Cardinal whom Michael Angelo placed in hell; I could almost hear the pope saying: "In hell did you say? Too bad, too bad; if it was purgatory I could help you, but I have no jurisdiction over hell." The Swiss guards are very attractive, the dress designed by the versatile Michael Angelo is so fantastic. The four cabinets with their priceless works a respectable list, yet I see most plainly the grand Stair-case of Michael Angelo and in the Vatican we were shown so many treasures in so few minutes that I felt as if I attended an Observation party, and this was the paper given me to record all the objects seen. I know I could send you quite [sic] of art, "the Lacoon," [sic] "Apollo Belvedere," "the Three Conovas," "Perseus and the Boxers," and the "Mercury!"
We drove first to the Church of the Capuchins and were shown the Guido Reni, "St. Michael conquering the Dragon," the face is that of Beatrice Cauci, and is very beautiful. We then went below to visit the bones of the dead. I thought I had seen the climax of such display in Cologne, but the Monks have far outdistanced St. Ursala and her Virgins! The old Monks, long since dead, standing so solemnly in niches, framed with the bones of brother Monks, struck me as being very comical and I shocked several by my levity. There is a figure there called the "smiling one" and the guide announced that all who wished might gain an indulgence by kissing it, and when a lady asked me if I would try for it I simply could not restrain my hilarity. Ed was interested in the designs and was always finding some novelty and calling, " Just see this; that old fellow must have been a genius." I know some of the party were eager to leave the charnel house but to me there was nothing awesome in the place. I know they must have chuckled when doing the work. Ed whispered that the Superior gave them this to do for recreation.
Well, Mother, I too have seen the tomb of Adam! Our guide told us the following tale, " When Mark Twain visited Rome, many years ago, he found great pleasure in teasing his Cicerone, and one day greeted him thus, ‘Well, why don't you show me the tomb of Adam; I have seen nearly everything else.' The man quickly retorted ‘that is where I shall take you this morning,' so away they were whisked, to this church, where stands an ancient tomb, bearing this inscription: ‘Here lies the body of Adam,' then follows a list of his titles, it appears he was an English Cardinal, who many years ago died in Rome and was buried here."
We enjoyed quite a long drive in and about the city and on the Margherita promenade up the Janiculum; passed the oak, beneath whose shade Tasso dreamed, the cell wherein he died, and the steps where St. Phillip Neri sat watching the children play, often repeating his admonition: "Be quiet if you can." At the very top is a statue of Garibaldi and here we left the carriages, and leaning over the ramparts looked at the city far below. Ed enjoyed the "huge map" and declares he is now at home in Rome, as he can locate all the principal buildings. On the return drive we discussed international marriages and American women; the guide waxed eloquent and assured me, in all deference to my feelings, he must declare that American women are given too much liberty! "See them all over Europe; their poor husbands slaving at home to make them money for their many holidays." Again, "I have heard women address their husbands so rudely that over here a wife would be knocked into the Tiber for such an affront." Ed was overjoyed at the discussion and solemnly agreed with him in all his views, thus hoping to provoke me to retort, but I was too wise. I said, how I deplored all this freedom, for surely it was bad for women, children and idiots to be without a master! I expressed my pleasure in the fact that my husband was not such a man; he was the supreme head of his family. I was amply repaid; Ed's face was a study, he had fully expected me to express a few opinions to that foreign gentleman. Between you and me, I do think it would be far better for American wives to remain with their husbands, and if both cannot visit Europe, then let both stay at home.
After dinner we asked Miss B., the Australian lady, to accompany us for a drive. She leaves us Friday for Naples to embark for her distant home; I am sorry. We kept her out for a couple of hours, but after reaching the hotel, we decided the evening was not finished so Ed and I hailed a cab and visited the Colosseum by star shine! It was glorious, and we fully enjoyed the ampitheatre in the half-light. Suddenly I heard muffled breathing! My me, I was frightened; Ed declares I caught his arm and whispered: "Lions! let us go." Of course, I did not fear wild beasts; I had just remembered the guide said it was a favorite rendezvous for robbers and thugs and we were alone with the cab driver, not even a torch!
Did you ever get up in the morning so excited that the world seemed literally to stand still? In all this city of churches and priests we found it difficult to obtain an English confessor or to be strictly accurate, to find one, to hear confessions at an early hour. At St. Peter's the sacristan said: "Return at eleven." Church del Jesu: "English priest in the country." At the Collegio Romano: "Return at nine-thirty" I was ready to give up the thought of confessing but Ed said: "Let us dismiss the cab, and just enter all the churches until we find and inquire for an English priest." It was very interesting at first, yet after my fingers would not suffice to count all the edifices entered, I felt tired of it all, and suggested a return to the hotel and breakfast. Behold then a fair sign: "St. Sylvester, English Pastor." Hurrah! Alas for our hopes: "Father Kelley does not enter the confessional before nine." As we turned sadly away, Ed saw a priest of unmistakable American type entering the door-way; we were soon telling him our troubles; he was jolly and sympathetic. "Aha! Americans in a hurry. Well, well, this is Italy, the country of leisure, not hustling America." Ed was pleased, indeed, when, in the conversation he found that the kindly priest was from Baltimore and the uncle of a college chum of his. The Reverend gentleman promised "to wake up Father Kelly" and soon our trials were ended. After breakfast we sought a shop to purchase a black veil, as that is the regulation headcovering for women in a papal audience. You know, mother, we sent our best garments home from Chicago, and, of course, Ed's dress clothes are not with us, so when I read on the card: "ordinary dress clothes for men," I was greatly troubled--not so my husband, he whistled as usual, and said: "I'll borrow a suit from L." That is a very kind gentleman of our party, and one of the few with his best clothes in his trunk.
Mr. L. was pleased to render such assistance and this morning he helped attire Ed; I wish you could have seen him when arrayed. Mr. L. is taller and broader than Ed so please use your imagination. I am glad the Holy Father is not "a glass of fashion!" We were laden with articles of piety; my arms bedecked with rosaries of every hue.
We toiled up the marble staircase, past the Swiss guards up and then up again until Ed said: "The Holy Father would not have far to go from his home to heaven." We were always within sight of gorgeously attired guards. His Holiness appears well protected. When we entered the first room we found ourselves in a cosmopolitan crowd--Japanese, Chinese, African, Anglo-Saxons, and etc.--we handed our cards to a much-bedecked functionary who approached, he then disappeared and within a few minutes we were led to a chamber containing a few chairs and several people. I was growing nervous, because of the oppressive stillness, broken only by the rattle of a rosary or a medal.
When the door opened and we were beckoned to enter, another long wait, then a third change! Here we were joined by many people, all waiting for the eleven and three-quarter audience. I was dying to laugh, Ed looked so pious and his garments hung so queerly. After a wait of seemingly interminable length we were admitted to the chamber of audience. Here we were arranged on three sides of the room, facing the east door. We had in our number a bride, her white dress being the only light in the somber line, her face was flushed with happiness and eager anticipation--her lord looked pale and uncomfortable.
Why does a man always appear at such a disadvantage on his wedding day? In the stillness I caught the faint sound of approaching footsteps; the door was opened, the guard appeared, waved his stick and we promptly fell upon our knees. The Holy Father entered, accompanied by Cardinal Merry del Val, and passed slowly along the line, extending his ring and speaking a few low words of blessing. I had a hard struggle not to distinguish myself by fainting my agitation was so great. The face of the Holy Father is so gentle, so sweet, just as if he loved us all very tenderly. There is an air of sadness over his features, not even dispelled by his smile. He addressed a few words to us in Italian and then gave the Papal blessing, for ourselves, our families and friends. My eyes wandered often to the face of Cardinal Merry del Val. I have followed his career for so many years. He has been to me a very real personage and I have always said a visit to Rome without a glimpse of him would be incomplete, and here he was before me when I least expected it. Alas! For preconceived ideas of personal appearance, my tall, ascetic archangel type of a man was not; the Cardinal is tall it is true, but not ascetic looking I assure you. He has a strong fine face, with glorious eyes and the figure of an athlete. Oh well, I like the reality, just as well as the dream. When His Holiness and retinue left the room we quietly sought the ante-chamber, resumed our wraps and down the many stairs to the waiting cab. The audience was only a memory--our tangible evidence of the same, rosaries and medals galore. I am afraid the customs officers will think we are preparing to open a shop and sell religious articles! It was after one before we reached the hotel and at three-thirty we were in a cab driving and talking. Mother do not ask me to tell you of all the churches, etc., we have seen this afternoon. Ed was master of ceremonies and we have surely gone at a mad pace. At five-thirty he announced his intention of dismissing the cab and of "shopping." For hours he tormented Roman shop-keepers, declaring he was avenging the wrongs done to American tourists. He is selecting some cameos for me a necklace and bracelet, has discovered several beauties and tomorrow a certain jeweler has promised him a large selection. I hope my purchases will not turn out, as did the Boston lady's who bought a coral necklace, and found it made of macaroni!
Our after dinner drive was not long this evening as I am truly tired. Ed says cabs are so cheap we must drive all we can. When I said we drove all the time at home, so where the luxury, he whimsically replied: "Oh, we own those horses and carriages, and this belongs to another, we hire it you know, and it is so cheap."
It is quite early in the evening and I am writing in the library, just beside the open window. Ed is having a time with the post-card boys, obtaining and imparting information; his Italian is being enriched and the English of the boys rapidly increased. The mother of Miss L. of New York, had an accident today, fainted on the stair and in the fall, injured her wrist, severely bruised her face and body; we were quite alarmed as her daughter is in Naples and we know not what to do. When the physician came he pronounced her condition not at all serious and declared that tomorrow she would be quite well, except for the wrist and a little soreness, so we shall rest in peace.
Oh, glory, what a day of sunshine, to be our last in the Eternal City! A letter from you gladdened my heart for are you not quite well and a little lonely for me? We were climbing the Scala Sancta ere the sun gilded the spires of Rome. Ed found it far more difficult than I did, even though I was hampered by skirts. I insisted on a drive along the Appian Way before returning to breakfast; I never tire of the streets of Rome. The morning slipped past ere we knew it. There are so many things to see, and to do I wish the days were twenty-four hours long and the nights could be dispensed with.
We visited the Convent of the Ladies of the Sacred Heart in Trinita del Monti. When Ed told the portress that I was a former pupil of the order in the U.S.A. we were cordially welcomed and the nun remarked: "of course, you came to see Mater Admirablis?" The only English Madam was engaged with a class at the hour of our visit, so a young girl acted as our guide. I fully enjoyed myself; it felt like home to be in a convent of that order. We have explored all sorts of queer streets, Ed declaring that is the only way to fully enjoy Rome. This afternoon we spent quite a while searching for a place to have my hair shampooed; at last we were successful, and having seen me turned over to the "lather" lady, Ed left to enjoy his chief diversion.
Before leaving he inquired concerning the hours of work and the wages--to hear him you would imagine he was a "walking delegate." The girl in charge received the munificent sum of three dollars per month! I feel so nice and clean this evening, with my sweet-smelling locks arranged in elaborate coiffure.
I wish I could remain here months. Why I have not seen anything yet. This evening we enjoyed our last drive in Rome. We crossed the Tiber, bade farewell to St. Peter's and the Vatican, then back once more amid the ruins.
The beggars use the doorways of the churches for bed-rooms and this evening as we were passing the Church del Jesu we saw a family preparing for slumber. Ed had the cab stop as there seemed a dispute in progress. The man evidently desired to utilize a step for a pillow and the woman opposed it, urging him to place his head on the bundle of rags she offered. The man upheld his right to sleep as he pleased, the woman opposed; he tried the step, she gently removed his head to the rags; he tried it again, same result; at last he gave in and composed himself for the night as she wished. Said Ed: "Oh, yes, Italian men boss their wives, of course they do! Let me find that Roman guide!"
Mother will the memory of these days in Rome ever fade? When the winds are blowing in far Oklahoma, and the newness and the crudeness of my surroundings appear unbearable, shall I be able to close my eyes and see all this? Mother, dear, with your poet, artist soul, what did you in the years when first you dwelt in the wilds of I.T.? Did you find in your husband, your babies and nature, compensation for all you had missed? Did your visions suffice?
My Dear Mother: I was so tired last evening from the long hot journey from Rome I could not write. We were traveling from eight a.m. until seven-thirty p.m., and as the coaches lack the conveniences of American cars we were not very comfortable, and when we entered the hotel in Genoa we looked far more like a Negro minstrel troupe than respectable "Cookies." We counted seventy-five tunnels before we realized that the route was "all tunnel." The thick yellow dust was like a sand storm in Oklahoma, and just as agreeable. I was disappointed that our itinerary did not include a visit to the leaning tower of Pisa. As we passed through that city we obtained an excellent view of it and of course Ed sent you a post card. Ed and Miss L. were good angels, by their fun keeping all of us in the best of spirits, even if the trip did lack comfort. We had a little excitement at the noon house; over here, there is an unwritten law for travelers that if an occupant of a seat is called elsewhere, to retain it he must place thereon an article belonging to him. Now to the tale: At a certain station Mr. B. told us to enter the dining car; before leaving the compartments we carefully complied with the law, yet when we returned a woman and two men were coolly enjoying our seats. We politely requested them to vacate, one man did so, the other, a portly Italian with a tiny wife, decided to run a bluff. Mr. B. tried persuasion, then called in the guard, that worthy explained that Cook reserved those compartments, the Italian was unconvinced, asserting that the seats were empty therefore he had the privilege of taking them. The argument waxed hotter. You know how Ed loves a scrap and he was valiantly assisting Mr. B. as the man was equally conversant with French as with his native tongue. The guard advised Mr. B. "to throw the intruder out." The passage way was jammed with our men and Italians. I looked for an "Irish fair" disturbance, and when I saw Mr. B.'s blue eyes assume a frozen glare, and the joyous smile come to the face of Ed, I knew it was only a question of moments until the Italian was ejected forcibly. I cried, "Oh, please do not throw him out." My evident fear arrested them, and after a few more exchanges of violent epithets the man grabbed his trembling wife and left the compartment. Ed and Mr. B. reproached me saying I had deprived them of a bit of pleasure. I told them if it had been in any other country I would not have feared the outcome, but here I had visions of daggers, and I did not wish them mutilated, if not killed. I am glad it ended so peaceably.
This being Sunday we arose early and attended mass in the Cathedral of the Annunciation and returned in time to breakfast with the party. Our number has sadly decreased and we are to lose several within the next few days. I am sorry. At nine-thirty we went to the beach in a street car, and there with difficulty obtained bathing suits and were soon removing the dust of yesterday! If it could be possible I would say the suits were funnier than those used at Lido, the women were again monopolists, the Chinese cut of coat and trousers using so much cloth that the suits of the men were microscopic as to leg! As the coats were minus belts, I had a strenuous half hour in the endeavor to keep mine within speaking distance of the trousers. The beach is too full of deep holes, the water too cold and the waves too fierce. I did not enjoy the dip. If you leave the ropes you are told to wear a life preserver. Ed donned one and had a glorious time tossed hither and thither, finding in the violent exercise all the delights of a scrap! Mr. B. also appeared to find in it too much pleasure, but the rest of us were not very much enthusiastic.
This afternoon a conveyance on the tallyho style was provided by Cook and with a guide we commenced our usual diversion. I thought it would be fun to ride so high up but after the second descent I begged a seat in the one carriage furnished. Our guide today was a queer specimen, evidently believing he was the whole show and that it was "his time to talk." At the first Cathedral we were met by the Sacristan or Sexton, I know not which, who deemed it his duty and privilege to earn a gratuity by explaining the beauties of the ancient edifice. Our Cook cicerone waxed indignant and endeavored to out-talk him, then the fun commenced, the men urging them on by questions, etc. Their English was a queer mixture at best, and under the excitement fostered it was quite marvelous, we had much trouble to keep from spoiling it all by undue laughter. The tomb of John the Baptist was shown to the men, women are not allowed to approach his resting place. I inquired the reason and the Genoese replied: "No, No, St. John he losa his heada because a woman aska for it, now not woman cana com-a near." At the next Cathedral the sexton and our guide almost came to blows in their endeavor to out-do each other in explanations. Of course, you know that the churches all contain masterpieces of art, yet I cannot write one-third I see. We visited the house of Columbus, at least the one so-called. The guide candidly informed us that the best authorities concede Columbus was born in the hills. Carriages are not permitted to traverse that street, and for a very good reason, it is very steep and about the width of a small runabout. This is one of the quaintest cities we have visited, the houses are old, the streets up and down. There are many where the sun has not entered for centuries and the only cleaning they have received is when flushed by a rain. Italians have plenty of nose yet I think it must be strictly ornamental affair; if not, how could they endure all these odors? Ed sent you a couple of cards showing the dank darkness and the clothes lines running across the narrow street from the window to window, to the topmost story and the duly adorned with the family wash. By the way, Sunday appears to be the favorite wash day in Genoa; we have seen many women washing at public fountains and washhouses. Ed explains it thus: they have only two suits, one every-day, one Sunday; and as this is the day of the best the other is cleaned for Monday! The Genoese women do not trouble about the latest style in hats. They wear a tiny veil tied in a lovely bow above their raven locks.
Having seen the Campo Santo, I am quite willing to declare it is the grandest cemetery in the world. The tombs are of the finest marble and ornamented with statuary and other work by the best of Italian artists. Some are exquisite, others grotesque, all worthy of notice. The guide with a dramatic gesture exclaimed: "Many who are here dead are living yet." It appears that you do not await death, to have a tomb in Campo Santo. You have it made beforehand and thus you are sure the inscription etc., will please you. A monument representing an aged woman selling newspapers attracted our attention. We were told it stood above the grave of a peasant woman, who had earned the money to have it made by selling papers, and it was a true likeness! The surrounding hills, with their beautiful villas almost hidden by the trees, are very inviting, and with the blue waters of the Mediterranean far below, it is little wonder poets loved "La Superba" and that Shelley preferred it to England. If I had lived here as did Columbus, I would have been so satisfied I would never have faced the dangers of the deep in the search for another hemisphere.
This is the first evening I have felt too tired to walk with Ed, he is on the Plaza smoking and endeavoring to buy watches from a street peddler. Tomorrow I shall have my breakfast in bed and rest until eleven o'clock. We leave for Turin after twelve.
3. The Swiss Guards have been serving the Popes of the Roman Catholic Church since the beginning of the 16th Century. It has been a tradition that Michaelangelo designed their uniforms; however, there is little basis to this.
My Dearest Mother: Another long, hot railroad journey only rendered tolerable by the good humor of the members of the party and the kindly services of Mr. B. We have been told this is the cleanest and most modern city in Italy. I am quite sorry as I would have to leave Italia with the flavor of romance unchanged.
After dinner the usual walk, but the shops did not prove so attractive, too modern, you know, and I was quite glad to "turn in." I truly have nothing to write this evening, yet I could not resist the desire to speak with you. We drive tomorrow from nine until twelve and at noon I shall finish this. Our room is so immense and the distance between the beds so great that I am afraid that I shall dream of burglars and ghosts. Good night, mother, the very nicest mother in all the world!
In handsome, rubber-tired rigs, behind spirited horses, we have been doing the metropolis of Italy! It is truly a magnificent city, with broad streets, handsome houses, modern monuments and an air of busy activity entirely out of keeping with the country; why, even the river tries to hurry! I cannot say I am charmed. I like its cleanliness, yet it has no allurement for me; perhaps it is ideal for residence. Now, I have been longing for a "clean Italy" and when I find a spot where Sapolio is evidently known, I begin to offer objections. We visited the palace of the Queen-mother[ ]first, and found it more up to date than any we have yet seen, and again I was disappointed at the want of age! The state apartments are gorgeous, yet I prefer the subdued splendor of the semi-private rooms. The pillows of the bed were of cotton. What is the use of being a queen if you cannot have feather pillows! The oratory is such a quiet place, I know the Queen-Mother must find prayer in these very comforting. From the palace to the church, just a short distance, here we viewed the superb casket containing the great religious treasure of Turin, that is the sheet wherein our Lord's body was wrapped when taken from the cross. It is said to bear the visible imprint of his body, and is shown only every hundredth year, and when a prince of the house of Savoy is wedded. The guide informed us that once he had seen it, that the people commenced filing before it at seven o'clock in the morning and at nightfall the crowd was seemingly undiminished!
We drove to Monte dei Cappucini, and made the ascent in a little car, and viewed the city. It was a panorama of clean streets, large houses, winding Po and waving trees. The shops are large and with the air of well-doing that recalls America. Ed did not care for them; said they lacked "local color." A letter from sister was received today. Please tell her that these lengthy letters to you require so much of my time, that I cannot write to her very frequently. I know that she will pardon me. Tell her that these are for her, also. We leave for Geneva this afternoon. I am sorry, indeed, to bid farewell to Italia, and even the thought of the feather pillows and cold, cold water that awaits me in Switzerland cannot reconcile me to this parting.
We arrived here too late to see anything of the city:; indeed, we are all so tired that a bed, with feather pillows, seems the most desirable thing in the world. Ed is already sleeping audibly, and I am just resting previous to seeking slumberland. We were served dinner at a little station in the mountains and I enjoyed it far more than the usual meals served en route because I was out of the train and stationary. We passed tunnel after tunnel and now the road to and from Italy, in my mind, seems one continuous tunnel! When we reached the frontier we were ordered into the station and the compartments were thoroughly searched. I heard they were looking for tobacco and as Ed had smoked his last Italian cigar I was not uneasy. Our trunks were not carelessly and ruthlessly overhauled, the magic word "cook" was spoken and we were very courteously treated. The cool air of Switzerland was very welcome and we rejoiced to see her snow capped mountains and rushing torrents once more. The hour of sunset was so gorgeous that only a guide book can do justice.
We had quite a "singin' skule" this evening Ed and Miss L were the masters and the music produced was inspiriting if not up to grand opera standards. We are feeling blue at the prospect of parting so soon, we have been such friends we hate to think the partings are coming one by one. Ed declares he is going to arise early and milk a goat before breakfast. Of course, I must assist him, so here is a fond good night to you, mother of mine.
Just from the opera house, where we have enjoyed (?) a very bum comedy. Why we would consider it poor away out west. The orchestra, under the leadership of a Negro, was the only redeeming feature. The expression of the minister's face was good to see. He had accompanied Miss L and thus he felt doubly shocked. We had planned to view the illumination, but a storm came up and it was postponed. All the fancy decorations were destroyed by the rain, and finding the evening before us unoccupied, we decided to try a play. Sorry we did, I assure you.
As the usual hour the carriages were at the door and we were off. We are an unusually prompt crowd; it is seldom we are delayed. Today we enjoyed the unique sensation of visiting a Protestant cathedral, St. Peter's. You see, all along our route Catholicism has been in the ascendant, since leaving England, therefore, the noted places of worship have been Catholic. This cathedral dates before the Reformation and has great somber beauty, yet I felt that it was lonely. It surly misses the Blessed Sacrament! In the Chapel of the Transept a statue of Duke Henri de Rohan, a protestant leader is shown. It is not far from St. Peter's to the Russian church and here I felt, indeed, a stranger. I was not impressed by its beauty or magnificence, only its queerness. It truly has a Muscovite air, and radiates the spirit of Russia. The icons were interesting, yet I did not find the chief representation of the face of Christ very attractive.
In the Hotel de Ville we were shown a portrait of Marie Leczinska, which would have amply repaid us for the visit, if we had not entered the room where the Alabama claimswere adjusted and viewed the peaceful plow made of swords used in battle. The stairway is interesting because it is just an inclined way, so prepared that the magistrates in ye olden day might be carried up in their litters. The yellow robes of the members were on racks in a room off the main assembly chamber, and it was not in man's nature to resist trying them on when the woman guide was afar. The two boys looked very handsome and we voted them in on the spot. I wish I had a gown of that shade!
The powerhouse with its twenty turbines greatly please Ed, but I could not appreciate its ceaseless roar--made my head ache. The drinking water furnished is said to be the purest in Europe. I know it is excellent. We went down a lovely path to a terrace, where we obtained an excellent view of the Rhone and the Arve the blue current and the dark rushing side by side for over a mile before the waters are commingled. Like a long courtship which eventually ends in matrimony. We were given a lengthy ride along the lake and shown the Brunswick monument and the Rousseau statue and we watched the many boats filled with pleasure seekers; Ed belonged to one, but I was quite pleased with a carriage. The far-off mountains in their everlasting white formed an exquisite background for the blue waters of the lake. Do you know, mother, that you cannot imagine a blue quite so pleasing as the tint of this water? Angels must have painted it! Tonight when the storm lashed it to fury and the lightning flashed and the thunder pealed like minute guns, I could not believe we were beside the placid, unruffled lake of today. Ed would have liked a boat trip, but I so feared an attack of sea sickness that I refused to go, urging him to go with the others. He would not so we visited the watch factory of Vacheron and Constantine, established in 1785, and it was there the first watches were made by machinery in the world, in 1828, so we were informed by an obliging attendant. Ed was pleased with the exhibits, but I enjoyed it only because he did. From here we walked down the Grand Quai and entered several of the shops to see the jewelry for which Geneva is also noted. Ed found that there is no "jewing." The price is fixed and there is no display of talent in bargaining. We purchased a lovely enameled spoon; it is the prettiest of my collection. I am very proud of it and so will Mary be some day, eh?
We say good bye to feather covers tonight, they are not used in Paris. O dear, why must we move on! I am so tired, I would enjoy a long rest yet for that I must wait until in Oklahoma. Surely a letter from you awaits me in Paris. I am anxious to know all about you and the family. How are my cats? You have not mentioned them.
My Dear Mother: We left Geneva at 10 a.m., and reached this city at 11 p.m. A long trying day, yet the country through which we passed was so attractive we longed to leave the beaten track and visit provincial France. Hardly did we reach the hotel, when several of the party sought the gay streets, we were so tired, to explore did not tempt us. We are located near Aved 'la Opera, and in one of the best shopping districts, the hotel is very poor, the rooms lacking in conveniences, and the table lacking in food. If the dinner does not far surpass luncheon and breakfast, we shall be obliged to seek a café to still the pangs of hunger. This is our very first opportunity to complain of Thos. Cook & Sons.
No rubber tired carriages for us here, a conveyance is used, large enough to hold the entire party. I am so sorry, I am quite stiff from climbing in and out of the vehicle. You know mother how great has always been my desire to visit the tomb of Napoleon, so when we swung through the beautiful shaded streets, on our way to the Hotel des Invalides I was so engrossed with that wish that I missed the explanations of the guide.
Past the Arch of Triumph, the Place de la Concorde where stand eight allegorical figures representing the chief cities of the Republic. Strasbourg is draped in mourning for la belle France yet mourns her fair daughter; past the Vendome column built of captured cannon and surmounted by a statue of Napoleon then before us the Hotel des Invalides.
Not in the church all hung with battle flags, but beneath the monster dome he sleeps. A giant red granite sarcophagus, with mosaic wreaths commemorating his victories, contains the dust of the Man of Destiny. How the tears fell as I stood there, and ever uppermost the thought, did the belated honors heaped upon his poor ashes compensate for the lonely years of exile, the twenty years in an unadorned grave?
The Louvre is a fairyland of art, a grand surplus of pictures and statuary, but not a chair! The hall of Venus de Milo is almost worthy of that radiant goddess, and the Salon larre, where hang the work of the world's best masters, is fairly bewildering. Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" was my lode star. I could not rest
until I reached her, and now I shall never rest for dreaming of her smile! Titian's "Laura Dianti" gained Ed's attention by the gorgeous tints of her hair and the wonderful attraction of her face. Murillo's "Immaculate Conception" alone, was worth the fatigue of that hour. The "Winged Victory of Samothrace" stands at the head of a stair case leading upward, and you verily believe you see the wind lifting the draperies. We were before so many celebrated paintings in that short time I did not try to remember them, yet perhaps my sub-conscious self has retained a few and in the future, will produce them for my enjoyment.
In the Luxembourg Ed and preferred to linger in the hall of statuary, as the pure white was such a relief after the myriad of colors of the Louvre. We were enchanted with Croissy's "The Nest," the little tots in the great chair asleep are so human, "Pau and the Bears," amused Ed, he declared the fellow was so evidently enjoying himself. "The Kiss" of Rodin's is a long drawn out affair. We came up with our people before Whistler's "Portrait of His Mother" and heard the guide say "The Luxembourg is called the house of trial, the works of living artists are placed here, and if after the lapse of ten years they are deemed worth of the honor are then removed to the Louvre or to galleries in the provinces."
The Palace of the Trocadero was next visited. There we didn't linger, just entered the famed concert hall and at the request of the party I recited a little poem in Choctaw to show the remarkable acoustics of this vast room. Of course the audience was duly enthusiastic. We are going out again this afternoon. You see our luncheon was so meagre I have had plenty of time to converse with you.
We devoted the afternoon to cathedrals, the first to Notre Dame, the great portals are so magnificent that with difficulty I left them. Just think, we stood where kings have been baptized, crowned, married and from here taken to their final resting place! Hats suspended from the ceiling attracted my attention, in answer to my inquiry the guide replied, "When a cardinal dies, he hangs up his hat in Notre Dame, and goes to heaven."
From Cathedral to Palace of Justice, a monster building yet not particularly interesting, then to the exquisite chapel built by Louis IX to receive the sacred relics from Palestine. This little church has oft been threatened, and even partly destroyed by fire, yet is so well restored, it is now as it was when the dear St. Louis worshipped there. The rose window is considered one of the best extant.
The Madeleine, Paris' famed modern church delights the eye with its many columns and magnificent portico, it is like the Greek temples. It is sad for a Catholic in "La Belle France," you cannot keep from thinking hard thoughts of a government that openly boasts Christ has been driven from the schools and must eventually leave the country.
We crossed the Alexander bridge, the largest and finest that spans the Seine, then a short drive in the Bois de Boulogne, the playground of all Paris, gave to us the needed change from pictures and monuments. In the streets, the trees are a russet brown, just as if they were tired of summer and would don their autumn robes, the guide said "no" they were always that color. Well, I do not like it, I prefer green trees.
Mother, it is so late, I dare not whisper the hour, yet the streets are filled with pleasure seekers, only a few seem to have gone home. We attended a garden theater where a light opera was given, the singing was good, the gowns magnificent, the dancing excellent, as not one of us except Ed could understand the dialogue, we were quite content, Ed whispered that he had a blush warranted not to fade. We peeped at Maxim's giddy place, but Ed bade us pass on, his purse could not stand the strain. We were soon installed at little tables on the sidewalk, watching the strenuous pursuit of the Goddess of Pleasure. It was with difficulty that we convinced ourselves it was time to sleep if we wished to enjoy the drive to Versailles. Ed wishes me to be careful not to write you too much concerning our evenings in Paris. You might be shocked! I love you my dearest mother.
The dear Lord furnished sunshine and refreshing breezes, Cooks and Sons a crazy vehicle with fine horses and an accommodating coachman, so, with our good Mr. B. to guard us, we found the excursion to Versailles almost ideal. One cannot tire of the streets of this city, they were surely fashioned to entice the population to live out of doors. It is strange that we do not see many children--where are the jolly little fewllos, who in all other places have followed us? Here we have beggars galore, but they are not children. Ed misses the little tots so much says he cannot be happy here without his ragamuffin friends! When our conveyance would halt at a wayside inn, to enable the driver and guide to quench their unquenchable thirst, we would be surrounded by unfortunate beggars, vying in the endeavor to expose to us loathsome sores or hideous deformities. Ed tried to shield me, but I could not keep my eyes always closed, and oh the horrors! Truly the Parisian beggar is more loathsome than his Italian brother, if that is possible.
We were served luncheon before entering the palace, a blessed forethought, for those miles of rooms on an empty stomach would have a dreary task. We were served "American pie" for dessert, thank heaven, I have never chanced to meet it in the U.S.A.! I cannot say I like Parisian meals--they are too "skimpy." If we dare wish for a tiny bit more we are met with "It is all used." Ed says the man in charge sizes us up, and woe betide you if your appetite exceeds your appearance!
The Versailles Palace suffered in the days when the government was overthrown, yet its magnificence is little dimmed. It is filled with objects of surpassing interest and you pass from apartment to apartment with a feeling that you are walking in a lovely dream. Such gorgeous rooms, such beds with coverings of silk and satin, did the occupant sleep more soundly because of this state? The apartments of Louis XIV are truly regal befitting the grand monarch, yet I prefer the simple rooms of Napoleon. We were shown the rooms prepared many years ago for the young Queen Victoria, yet not occupied by her, she declaring they were too gorgeous. The guide said, the real reason was because the suite once belonged to Madam Maintenon! The Gallery of Battles is a monster hall four hundred feet in length, the walls covered by paintings depicting French victories on land and sea, from Charlemagne to Napoleon. I felt at home in this as I have been so well drilled in the glories of France. There is a gorgeous room in the palace, the ceiling painted by Labrior and representing the victories of Louis XIV, so charming did I find it that I did not complain of the hurt to my neck, although I do think it would have been more considerate to use the four walls! In one room we were shown the cameo sent by the Queen of Naples to Marie Antoinette. I found more beauty in it than the Regent. I was glad when we went in to the gardens my mind was in a queer jumble of Trianon, coach houses, state equipages, Louis XIV, Madam Maintenon, Don Louis le Valliere, Marie Antoinette, the lost Dauphin, the hordes of the revolution, monster state beds, and miles of pictures! Until I can reduce all that to order how can I write interestingly of Versailles? I think it is Napoleon who confuses me, he looms so large I found it difficult to turn long enough from contemplating him to inspect the glory of others. The grounds are dreams of loveliness, and chairs may be used for one penny, so I hastened to occupy one. Ed strolled here, there and everywhere, but I was content to sit and bask in the sunlight, inhaling the sweet scents, enjoying the beautiful expanse. It was dusk when we turned into the Avenue de l'Opera, that building looming mightily and inviting us to enter. We have tickets for William Tell next week, of that later. This is our last day with a guide, after this we "go it alone." Cook is wise, he wishes his lady tourists to have several days for the world-renowned shops. Did I tell you Mr. B. left us the first morning in Paris, he is off on a three weeks jaunt in England and Scotland by himself.
This evening we have invited Miss L to join us and we are going again to turn night into day. Mother, how would you describe pleasures so giddy as those of this city. Ed says to be sure to tell you that we have dragged him to many a place of which you would disapprove. He says we have an advantage over him in this naughty city, we can enjoy the well-appointed stage, the exquisitely gowned creatures, the fine voices with never a blush, whereas, he is assuming a brick dust hue, and his ears tingle. Mother, I am so sleepy, my eyes are closing, let me wish you sweet dreams of me.
I am convinced that Paris is bewitched and has power to cast the spell over even her transient inhabitants! Not only do bona fide Parisians regard the commandments as obsolete but you see men and women bearing the impress of generations of puritanical ancestors turning the Sabbath into a day of revelry! Pleasure calls, none so deaf they cannot hear.
We attended high mass at the Church of St. Eustache noted for its fine music. This must have been an off day, as the singing was quite good, yet not of a character to make you tremble with rapture. It is a magnificent structure, and as usual in Catholic countries, men of genius consider it an honor to beautify it. This cannot be Catholic France. "The eldest daughter of the church" with her gendarmes controlled places of worship, her vacant convents and monasteries! Her Lord, only tolerated on altars, where once He reposed in regal state! Will hot-headed, impetuous France, blown hither and thither by bursts of passion, never open her eyes to the enormity of her crime against the gentle Christ?
This afternoon, with a few of the tourists we visited Eiffel Tower. We wished Mr. B. to accompany us, but he was personally conducting two ladies from Denver. We think a romance is brewing, if not, it is a great flirtation. Ed will give you the figures concerning this tower. I can only explain, "Law chile, dat house be monstrous tall and mighty big." The topmost landing but one is quite large, and with its many booths and many "barkers" it recalls a street fair. We bought little cakes, tried the fortune-telling machines, had our profiles cut from paper, looked through glasses at the city below, and if we could have found chewing gum and popcorn we would have felt quite at home. I thought Ed and several of the number would never tire of the maps and glasses, they seemed determined to master the plan of the city. When we reached the earth we decided to visit the zoological gardens. The drive was so satisfactory, I would have preferred to continue it. As all seemed desirous of paying their respects to the animals, I did not suggest it. We found vast crowds filling the open space and attending the side shows--it recalled a circus day to me. I walked until my feet felt as if they were of enormous size and weighed a ton, and a rocking chair with a foot stool would have been a paradise.
Ed made friends with the animals and tried to charm the few children abroad, the latter were so different, so shy, they do not take kindly to attention from grown-ups. I believe I like our children best, even if American youngsters are considered the worst in the world. I refuse to believe it, so there. When we turned toward the exit I was so fatigued I could with difficulty walk. Ed was greatly troubled, but I managed to reach the gateway, and it was like the open door to heaven to see the cab awaiting me, the luxury of those cushions, the delight of the rubber tires after hours of walking and standing!
We drove until the streets were illuminated, just enjoying the fine equipages, the well-gowned women, the dapper men, and the festive air over all. It is hard to realize that poverty stalks within the city gates, that crime is everywhere rampant.
My me, this has been the most trying day of this entire trip, only the desire to hear "William Tell" keeps me from going to bed this very minute. Do I hear you ask the cause of my distress? One word, clothes! O dear, why such complicated garments or having to wear them why change the style so frequently? Oh for the days of Greece, and the flowing garment that was always "the style." I have looked at gowns until my brain reels, and I am ready to fly to an island where clothes are unknown. Ed had a thoroughly good time really found pleasure in the display and in the chatting with salesmen and girls. If he had not upheld me, I would have cut the whole thing, hailed a cab and driven to the uttermost parts of Paris, feeling that it would be far easier to answer the questions, bear the surprised looks of my friends when I returned to Oklahoma from this mecca of fashion, without gowns than to suffer the pangs of shopping! He pulled me through and purchased many things, whether beautiful or not, I care little, he is pleased, and I am quite willing to escape.
The great department stores are not so well appointed as those of the U.S. Ed purchased so many hat pins, etc., that our fate is sealed, the custom officers will never believe he is "only a politician." They will be sure he is the owner of a notion store! In many of the shops we noticed a tendency to be discourteous to Americans, at one place where we were purchasing gloves the attendant was quite rude. The first glove, I objected to the fit, he jerked it off so vehemently that my thumb was hurt. Ed warned him to be careful. The next had a large rent in it to which I called his attention--again my hand was roughly jerked, and with his usual impatience. Ed demonstrated quietly. When the third proved defective and I refused to consider it the attendant lost his temper and as he turned away consigned all Americans to a warmer clime. Then, that husband of mine addressed him in French, and his remarks must have been very convincing for the man humbly apologized and assured "the hurt to Madame's hand was unavoidable." Two American ladies beside us were having great trouble with the salesman. Ed said he was using "cuss words" quite fluently, so he gallantly addressed his "fellow citizens" and offered assistance. They were quite pleased and poured forth their tale of woe. Ed made a little speech in French to the man which brought him quickly to time. Dear me, that blessed husband of mine is a true knight-errant, no damsel need go unaided if he is nearby. The dislike of Americans is universal over here, you feel the animosity everywhere; we are only fawned upon for the money we scatter so lavishly.
I wish you could see me mother mine. I have been to the hair dresser and my tresses are most becomingly arranged and greatly augmented. Ed said when I emerged from beneath the skilled hands of the man, "Gee. I am well pleased with the outlay, yet, what an enormous increase in the value of your head." I am glad today is over, and if tomorrow proves as trying I shall gladly leave for London.
The opera was enjoyable, even if we did not hear noted artists in the cast. I consider the view of the interior of the grand stair case alone, worth the price. I do not like women ushers, they are so disagreeable, why do American managers wish to introduce them? The tips demanded are enormous, you never know when you have finished. Programmes are sold by the ushers. Between acts the audience leave their seats and show their fine garments in the vast halls. I was content to watch the parade from above, but Miss L. and Ed joined the throng and returned with tales of Americans staring at Americans, thinking they were gazing upon Parisian leaders of fashion. You know at this season of the year Paris is deserted by her residents, only the shop keepers and hotel proprietors remain to fleece the tourists.
Today has been spent in doing all sorts of things, driving in the Bois de Boulogne, about the Latin Quarter, in the region made famous by the immortal lovers, Heloise and Abelard, crossing many times the Seine, penetrating into parts where the city is not beautiful, then passing from one fair monument to another here, the Maid of Orleans, there the Column de Juillet that rises, where one lowered the old Bastille, always finding food for thought, and something to delight the eye. Historic Paris, what piteous imagination paints, if only the river, the stones could speak, what tales would they unfold, for I know the real far surpassed all we can dream.
I do not like the shop keepers, and I miss the children; where are the babies of the poor? The churches are sad, tears are too near the laughter; too many tourists, the beggars are not picturesque. I am disappointed. I had expected to be enamored of Paris.
A "wee sma' hour;" guess which one? We are just home from an evening spent in the pursuit of the airy fairy nymph sometimes called Pleasure. The proprietor gave Ed the names of several resorts considered "perfectly respectable." Anglo-Saxon ideas of respectability and the French differ so widely! We saw many Americans evidently imbued with the idea they were doing something "delightfully wicked." Indeed, I overheard one elderly lady with a Y.W.C.A. air, say in answer to the question of refreshments, "Yes, and I'll take a glass of beer. I am seeing Paris, and I shall go the limit." Dear soul from the little town in the U.S. where beer drinking and card playing are capital crimes, she thought she was being wildly dissipated!
At first, the music, the glitter, the lovely faces, the sweet laughter charmed me, then after a time I saw this was a mask and beneath were many things! Poor, fluttering moths, enjoying their few short days filled with light; then the long, long, walk in the darkness, hand in hand with poverty and futile remorse. Mother, this is a city where it is bad for your peace of mind, to think, one must accept without question, and let the curtain hide the grewsome [sic] skeletons, thronging the festive halls.
Until we are in smoky London town I must bid you "au revoir." O, do please greet me there with stacks of letters! My best love to the boys. I appreciate their dear letters, and have written them this very day. Mother I am a tiny bit homesick for your arms, the distance seems so great, I cannot hear you whisper, do speak louder. Or, perhaps, it is the din of this modern Babylon. When I am "under the shadow of Westminster" shall I hear you!
My Mother: Here we are, once more in the city of London! The journey from Paris to Dieppe, again filled me with regret, you see we are returning, without seeing anything of provincial France. I have long dreaded the channel, but this time my good angel got in a little work and the voyage was ideal, just like a "painted ship on a painted ocean." I went below soon after leaving Dieppe and slept until Ed called me to see the chalk cliffs of Albion. Mr. B. attended to the examination of the baggage, so we were quite untroubled.
While we awaited his return, Ed handed the train guard a bit of silver, and in a confidential whisper, asked if Cook had reserved a sufficient number of compartments, for him to occupy one alone with a lady? The guard assured him that his desire could be easily granted, and thus we passed in, cheered by our merry party, the man convinced he had assisted a "honeymoon couple." The country through which we passed, is exquisitely pastoral, one immense park harbored so many pheasants that Ed almost tumbled out of the door in his excitement.
I like England very much. Ed likes it too, yet he is rather like the boy who returns to the farm after many years in a city. "How can any one live in such a poky land? No chance for ‘Dynamite Ed' over here. I would yawn myself to death." I insist that after a time he would adjust himself to business methods and even think these the best. He laughingly replies that he expects to be a long time dead, and thus now prefers to live.
We are in an elegant hotel near Victoria street, with all conveniences and many luxuries, yet ice water is not one of them. This is a decided contrast to the Paris hotel, Ed says Thos. Cook and Sons are trying to efface the memory of that!
After dinner, Ed suggested a bus ride; several of the ladies joined us, and soon we "were up on high." Piccadilly circus, for a penny, then on and on until we were "lost in London." The bus drivers vouchsafed much information, and a fellow traveler seemed to take great interest in our party, even assisting us to transfer to a line, where the streets were more "picturesque." Ed asked him if he was English, he replied Canadian, thus explaining his unusual loquacity and kindly feeling. We were quite sorry that Ed said it was "time for bed." Just think, mother there is a great tub of hot water awaiting me, that is one thing I like over in London, the hotels have such immature seas for their patrons. Good night I must hasten.
Only Ed's encouraging remarks, enabled me to leave my bed this morning, it was a pleasure to see him enjoy the "English breakfast;" for my part I enjoy the continental kind. Mine was not the only weary face at this table, we attributed our lassitude to the change of climate. Ed declared it was nature crying out, after the sleepless weeks in Paris. Doubtless he is correct.
Shortly after breakfast the English guide appeared, and we clambered into that clumsy conveyance, a spring wagon has that vehicle beat a mile! I wish Cook would use rubber tires and cushions, thus he would save the voice of the guide, the temper of the passenger, and rest bones, weary indeed after a jaunt over the continent. I do not like the guide; he has shown a decided tendency to jibe at America and Americans, perhaps he is trying for revenge, yet it shows poor judgement to antagonize people you are paid to entertain. Did I hear you laugh at my inconsistency? Only a few days since, I wrote that it was a pleasure to berate Uncle Sam, and yet at the first sneer from English lips, I am up in arms! Oh, well I can abuse my own, but woe betide the stranger who tries!
We commenced the sight-seeing from Ludgate Circus, where we were obligingly taken to enable us to cash checks, etc. First the sight of the old Fleet prison and several anecdotes concerning it, then Holburn Viaduct to Smithfield, the celebrated fair grounds; here a memorial stone records that it is the place of several Protestant martyrdoms, it was also the place of execution of William Wallace.
I did not see any roast pig, but the mention of that delicacy led to the meat supply of London, and the guide assured us that much of it came from the U.S., remarking that our meat scandal greatly hurt London. The Church of St. Sepulchre is noted for being the place of burial of John Smith of Pocahontas fame and Roger Ascham, the tutor of Elizabeth. I cannot mention one-third of the places shown, yet Ed bade me not omit Billingsgate, he plans to return there, and gain a little instruction in the art of Vituperation!
When we reached the Tower of London the guide declared as follows: I requested him to repeat slowly, so here it is verbatim: "The Pyramids are of infinitely greater age, St. Peter's at Rome of greater magnificence, the Mosque of Sancta Sophia of greater splendor; but, in vivid interest, in the enduring impression of the story its stones record, it stands alone."
Before entering the inner gateway we were requested to deposit with the man in the office, all hand bags, umbrellas, parcels, extra wraps, etc. we were also advised to leave our jewelry, because of pickpockets. My purse was so small and so empty that Ed slipped it in his pocket. We had not advanced far when an argus-eyed policeman spied it and told Ed to return and leave it. It seems such precaution is deemed necessary, since a crank gaining admission, fired a building, completely destroying it and endangering several. In some way I became separated from my lord and also the party, and as I was endeavoring to push my way through the crowd, a giant policeman touched me and in true Cockney English asked: "Where is the man who took the watch?" My me, I was frightened, yet I managed to say "How should I know?" and tried to pass on, another guardian of the law said "Where is the man?" I was sorely distressed, surely they regarded me as the companion of a man who had evidently stolen a watch! Just then, seven burly fellows surrounded me, then I was "all in." I could see myself in a London jail. "Where lady, is the man who took the watch?" Desperately I protested my complete lack of knowledge. I was not believed, one fellow muttering that he saw me with the man! Catching a glimpse of Ed afar in the throng, I called despairingly "Ed, oh Ed." Well, dear, there was something doing then; he came through without ceremony, and in a moment I was clinging to his arm unable to speak! Oh, he was furious; angrily demanding what they meant by frightening me. One spoke up, "What did you do with the watch?" Said Ed, "Here it is, I was on my way to the desk, when I heard my wife scream! Now explain yourself quickly." The policemen apologized for alarming me, said they were only following instructions, as all found objects must be turned in. All this was Sanscrit to me, yet I was satisfied. I knew Ed would make all things right and I was saved from that horrid jail! The tale told to me afterward was this: Mrs. B. of Denver, saw a little silver watch on a step, picked it up and then handing to Ed requested him to turn it in at the "found desk," he accepted it, and turned to do so, finding me missing thought first to search for me, and as the policeman had watched the transaction, yet did not hear the words, and saw him lose himself in the throng, hence the hub-bub. My morning was spoiled, truly, if it had not appeared childish I would have entered a cab and returned to the hotel. The others called it "an adventure." I called it a "fright;" perhaps I'll enjoy it when I am in the U.S.A.
The old gate with its queer portcullis was pointed out, it is said to be the site where the two princes were murdered; we passed on to the White Tower and here at the foot of the narrow staircase which leads to the Ancient Chapel of St. John, we saw the brass plate that records this, as the spot where in the reign of Charles II the bodies of the murdered princes were found. The banqueting hall is now a museum, of weapons and armor, here we saw the coronation robes of Edward VII and Alexandra; they are greatly trimmed, the queen's being extremely ornate. I was interested in the cloak of Gen. Wolfe, as we so shortly left the scene of his victory and death.
In the court yard we stood above the place of execution, while the guard pointed out the rooms in the adjoining houses, where once royalty dwelt, and told grewsome[sic] tales of the days of Henry VIII, when this spot was often wet with blood. The crown jewels are exposed in Wakefield Tower. I liked the ruby of the Black Prince and the sapphire of Edward, the confessor; the Kohinoor is immense, yet I did not admire it. I greatly prefer the Cameo of Marie Antoinette. The salt dishes and spoons of the present King and Queen are handsome things.
Leaving the Tower we sought St. Paul's, that largest Protestant church in the world, visited the tombs below, where rest Nelson and Wellington with many lesser dead. We marveled at the thickness of the walls and the beauty of the structure. The London fog is rapidly destroying the stone, and to preserve it for future generations, it is to be covered with mosaics; some portions of the interior are completed.
An English rain has been falling all the afternoon, yet what of it. London would be strange without rain. First we visited the Wallace collection, said to be a gift unequalled from a man to a nation. The rooms were almost empty, so we had excellent opportunity to enjoy all. Ed said the Royal snuffboxes were so gorgeous, he longed for the delicacy! So many master pieces! The "Laughing Cavalier," by Hals pleased me, so did several by Meissonier, and one by Landseer yet remains within my memory. It was "the Mare and Foal." The animals were so life-like. Sir Walter Raleigh's smoking set is shown, also a lovely miniature of Mary Queen of Scots.
In the British museum we waded in antiquities. Ed feels he is the reincarnation of an Egyptian deity. I told him his coloring must have faded. The Elgin marbles rebuilt for us the Parthenon, and we were greatly interested in the remains of the mausoleum erected by the loving Aretemisia over her beloved spouse. Wonder where his dust is? Does it "stop a crack to keep the wind away?" In the Egyptian rooms we saw mummies, beetles etc., but I was more interested in the array of surgical instruments. Ed said the cooking utensils and facial helps were more interesting. I said "no" for common sense would tell you that where there were men, cooking vessels would be plentiful and where there were women, helps to beauty would be found, but it was a genius who invented tools to carve mankind and then convinced them that such carving was necessary. At the extreme end of the Egyptian galleries, the famed "Rosetta stone" rests upon a kind of table, one corner is missing, and thus a portion of the hieroglyphics.
The manuscript room proved to me that it was not necessary to be a fine penman, to excel as an author. My chief complaint against Thos. Cook and Son, is this, the time passes too rapidly! Why can they not a way to hobble the sun? Have the no Joshua in their employ?
We thought of the theatre after dinner, then decided that a rest would be more satisfactory. The service is excellent at this hotel, the maids courteous and obliging. Quite different from those of the "land of the free." Yet I feel sorry for these girls. They are so sadly overworked. I wish a happy medium could be struck in this servant problem. Until tomorrow, good night my mother.
Another morning in Westminster Abbey! No, I am not going to rhapsodize over it. You were given it pretty thoroughly in a letter during our previous stay in London. After the noon hour we visited the National gallery, as Ed said "just to see a few paintings, this trip has been so lacking in art galleries?" He is only joking, for unlike the man from K.C., of the party, he really enjoys the works of art, indeed he now insists he is so familiar with "light and shade" has seen so many Rafaels, Rembrandts, Murillos, Del Sartos, Botticellis, etc., that his future will be devoted to lectures on art as seen by a Cook tourist! The Dutch painters called forth his admiration, because of their infinite capacity to take pains with tiny things. We were told to particularly observe Hel-beins, "The Ambassadors," as it is one of the important pictures of the collection. The real treasure is the Rafael "Madonna and Child," the most valuable and said to be the most perfect picture in the world. I know not if it is, yet I can say, I did not tire of contemplating it; Murillo's "Holy Family," Guido Reni's "Ecco Homo" and Reynold's "Heads of Angels" looked like old friends.
Do you know mother, I have looked upon so many canvases of Reynolds, Turner, Gainsborough, Greece, etc., that I seem to walk in a blaze of color. Poor Del Sarto, what a sad face he had, if his portraits depict him truly. "Chas I," by Van Dyck is a very large canvas and shows the martyred king at his best. I cannot tell you all, but Ed has a fine scheme, he purchased a book at the entrance, with cuts of the celebrated paintings. As we inspected them, he wrote opposite the cut, his valuable opinion, that is to be mailed to you, and thus you can follow us easily!
I wish I could say the usual drive was one of unalloyed pleasure. Like George Washington, "I cannot tell a lie." The absence of decent springs and cushions destroyed my delight, the sight of Dorchester house, now the residence of Whitelaw Reid, the palace built for Barney Barnato, or even Chesterfield House, could not compensate for the racking of my bones.
I was too tired for our usual walk or drive after dinner, so I urged Ed to leave me. He went off with the Prof. and Mr. F. the timid man, to further investigate a queer street near Victoria that had greatly interested us during our previous visit. When they returned they told us of "a near adventure." They passed the region of shops and saloons penetrated so far that the lights were few, and the alleys rather frightful in consequence, seeing a couple of vicious looking fellows following, they turned, sought the middle of the street, and preparing for an attack, came toward Victoria, the thugs following. Ed declared he was never so glad to see a policeman in his life, as when he reached Victoria. The hotel clerk who had been listening, remarked that they had reason to be afraid, and should be thankful they escaped injury, as that is considered one of the worst slums in London, the police never enter unless in squads, then selecting the daylight! Think of it, so near to Buckingham Palace and the very wealth of this vast city! The only reason Ed and I did not penetrate beyond the first few blocks, was because I objected to the odors. One good mark for my nose, eh? Mother, this day is ended and it is not Rome but England, so I shall kiss you "good" night.
A letter from you mother, has added greatly to my happiness, to hear from you, is like a whiff of violets in spring time. This is Sunday, a true day of rest, for as I told you before, England believes in keeping the seventh day holy. We spent yesterday in a very delightful way. I did wish to go on an excursion to Canterbury, but Ed very sensibly vetoed the proposition, asserting that I needed a rest, so he has been my guide. We used a cab for the morning excursion, Ed telling the driver to "show us the sights."
We drove along the embankment, then of course to Buckingham palace, as if we had not already seen that place many times. We enjoyed seeing the outside of Marlborough House, the present home of the Prince of Wales, and it goes without saying that the Athenaeum Club was interesting because of its "shining lights" and the qualifications demanded of its would-be members. In St. James park, the ducks especially interested me, and I did so long to see them. They are said to be descended from those once fed by Charles II. The Victorian Memorial at the West End will be a gorgeous affair, when it is completed. The Albert Memorial is very ornate, yet I did not fancy it particularly. Our luncheon was obtained in a queer café where a sign announced "American ices and drinks." I called for ice tea, the waiter said they did not have it, then in a burst of inspiration offered to bring me a pot of hot tea and a bucket of ice!
The afternoon we spent on the top of a bus, stopping where ever fancy dictated, then on again. Today we arose just in time to attend the last mass at Westminster Cathedral, thus we had breakfast and luncheon at the same time. The remarkable weather for London, sunshine you know has continued over today, so the chug-chugging of a motor tempted us to seek a suburb and again enjoy an English lane. Mother, mother, come over here and help me dream! How can I believe it is August when the trees are so fresh, and dewy green, the grass so luscious, the flowers so fragrant! Of course there is not the wealth of bloom of early July, but it is heavenly to eyes accustomed to the parched fields and gardens of Oklahoma in the month of August. There was an air of repose over the lanes, children were here and there but not engaged in boisterous play. We passed many orphans, so said the driver. Their queer old style dresses and pinafores, recalling to my mind Jane Eyre: American orphans are more tastefully attired. Poor little tots, how my heart aches for them. They appeared so wan and dismal, it is not surprising in those awful funeral garments.
I have truly rested these two days, and I am feeling so much more like enjoying the fleeting hours. The small remnant of Tour No.--met in the parlor after dinner. We are all so busy trying to miss nothing that we do not often meet. Even song at Westminster Abbey, we listened only to the music, then slipped away. We retire early in England dear, trying to make up for the hours of sleep squandered on the continent. Of course Ed is not truly tired, but he is so thoughtful of me, and pretends he too needs the rest, thus persuading me to "take it easy." Do you know mother, I am inclined to think London errs as greatly as Paris in her conception of how to keep Sunday, the former too strict, the latter too lenient. Why do they not go to Oklahoma and find out the best way! We know how to do everything, at least that is what the Democratic party avers. Well, well; let us hope for the best, although candidly, mother I think you Democrats are breaking the speed laws, and if you do not soon apply the brake, the twentieth century chariot of state will lose a wheel, perhaps be badly battered.
Think of waking up to realize that only a few hours are yours in which to enjoy a blessed treat. I have felt so blue, thus bidding a "long farewell" to the beloved spots of London town. In the early, early morning we walked out, told Westminster Abbey, fair St. Margaret's, the house of parliament, and the dear old Thames that we must leave them for the golden west, where history is yet a youngster and we are helping to develop him!
After breakfast, one glimpse of the horse guards, then world known Downing street, a last goodbye to Charles I where he stands so sadly looking down upon the place of his execution! I felt inclined to week when my lions passed from sight, far on the Strand, then Fleet street! That thoroughfare, so easily peopled, if you have imagination, with glittering pageants, kings and queens, lords and ladies, courtiers and fools! Back to Regent and Bond just a little goodbye shopping, you know. At one shop we were shown some linen bearing the monogram of Edward VII. The salesman informed us that the house was over two hundred years in business and often furnished linen to royalty. Perhaps it is an advertising scheme, yet the linen was fit for a king.
We dined in a café, where I know not, then we walked gazing with pleasure in the gorgeous windows. The glove shops are numerous and now I know that English gloves are heavy, French gloves medium and Roman gloves very light. I have been told the last are very poor material. I am bringing you the dearest, an all wool shawl, just like a cobweb. Ed saw if first and called my attention to it, then of course it was purchased, for it looks just like my dearie.
A fruit store on Regent street displayed such gorgeous apples, peaches, etc., we entered and inquired as to prices. We were overcome, all the fruit is grown in hot-houses, hence the extraordinary beauty and fancy prices. By the way, the melons on the continent and in England are such tiny things, wish they could see some of ours. They would by ashamed of their poor make believe melons! The carrots here, beat ours. I have found them most excellent. Cannot say I fancy the potatoes served at the hotels. Our Colorado ones are very superior. As I have remarked before, the cress is heavenly! What a dissertation in garden vegetables.
Another drive of a couple of hours, and we were not ready, but obliged to return to the hotel for the day was ended. Mr. B. has shown the young lady London in a "rushing" way. I wonder if it is to be "German-American alliance" or just a plain international flirtation? I am inclined to believe the latter.
We went to Shepherd's Bush this evening to the Franco-British Exposition, and just prided ourselves on the fact that the St. Louis Fair surpassed it unmeasurably. I told Ed we were allowing our Americanism to crop out dreadfully these last few days, yet we are sensible we do not openly criticize--just think, you know.
Mother, mother, I cannot say "good bye" to "London town." Let me take it home with me. When I am with you, let us pretend we are here, and we two, will wander hand in hand, where the history of the world has often been made.
My Dear Mother: Not for Tour No.--today, the ordinary compartments; we travel in a private car, it is a third cousin to a Pullman with a tiny observation compartment. Do you see it from my description?
Our first stop was at Oxford, a surprise planned by our Mr. B. as it is not in the itinerary, we called it our "reward of merit." Not many hours were at our disposal, yet as a carriage met the train, with the usual guide, we were soon seeing the University City. The very streets have a learned air, and the trees whisper in dead languages!
Do the students ever wildly carouse? I cannot believe it. At Christ Church College we entered and were given a tantalizing glimpse of "old Ben," first cousin to "Big Ben" of London, gave us the hour. The ancient stair-case, was called to our attention as we walked up it, and just as we were "oh'ing" in the proper manner, Ed exploded a dynamite cap, which some un-loving youth had placed on a step! The party was rather demoralized. The Hall is interesting for its portraits of former students and masters: then we sought the kitchens far below. They are just as they were in the days of the great Wolsey, of course modern conveniences are used, but they have been so arranged they do not detract from the ancient air. We "rubbered" at the rooms once occupied by Balfour, Salisbury and other: the chapel was worthy of admiration, yet I have seen so many churches, I can no longer enthuse. We were informed that " Old Ben" is kept five minutes ahead of the chapel clock, thus enabling the students to escape a tardy mark, if they delay arising until, "Old Ben" strikes the hour, for in five minutes much may be accomplished!
In a drive, we were given fleeting glimpses of All Souls, with her twin towers; St. Margaret's, ancient Baliol [sic], and the church of St Mary the Virgin, peculiarly an academic place of worship. A precious twenty-minute stop in the Bodleian Library, where I tell you candidly, I tried so hard to use every second that I overdid the act, and there remains to me only a blurred picture and a "booky" smell! Yet, I do not complain, many of the party did not even carry away that much! We were hurried to a little inn and quickly served an excellent luncheon. Think of servants knowing how to hustle over here. I was astonished, do you suppose the University boys have taught them the art? I left my dessert untasted to purchase a spoon. I have one all covered with markings, the man kindly furnished a key to the puzzle, so in my leisure moments I'll study it out. When Stratford was called, we almost fell from the car in our eagerness to save all the precious minutes given us, to view the birthplace of the "Immortal Will." It was a short walk from the station to his home, and we reveled in the shaded streets and sleepy stillness. Ed whispered to me that the village was a myth, we were all dead and in the land of eternal silence! We lost that feeling when we entered Shakespeare's house, for here the custodian made us shiver with disgust at his loquaciousness. He, at least was very much alive, worse luck. Now a little conversation, a little explanation, is all right, but deliver me from a man, who would be "the whole show and then some" even attempting to be witty. Do you know he even gave us that old gag about Henry VIII starting the first "Woman's Exchange." I know Shakespeare's ghost does not wander in that house, he would be raving in a few short hours. The building contains none of the original furniture, one portion is a kind of a museum. I recall a glass jug used by Garrick at the jubilee in 1769, a signet ring bearing the monogram W.S., some deeds relating to the family and numerous portraits, also a desk from the ancient grammar school, said to have been used by the poet. The garden is quaintly arranged, containing only the flowers and fruit mentioned by Shakespeare in his works. We left it to pursue our way through the deserted streets to Trinity church. Prof. H., regrets he did not leave London for this place, and sleep until we came for him. Truly it is an ideal place to rest, if you are weary of noises. I do not believe that babies ever cry here, or the children laugh. Can you conceive of the stillness? The church stands in an elm grove on the banks of the Avon, and the bard is thus lulled by the flowing waters and the songs of birds. I was fearful that here too we would find a guide who loved the sound of his own voice, but fate was kind, the clergyman fully understanding the value of silence and we walked in undisturbed calm. We stood before the tomb and the low-voiced clergyman told us that the slab, now above the bard is not the original, that becoming worn was removed, for the present one. He regretted to state that the original was thrown away. Perhaps, mother, it is now a doorstep for some humble cottage. The colored bust of Shakespeare was duly inspected, the story of its restoration quite interesting. I will tell you of it as related by the guide, when I am home. If solitude is required to develop the best in man, then it is little wonder the great Shakespeare delighted and delights the world, for surely here he found the real article. From his tomb to the handsome memorial building, here we entered a library, with numerous cases filled with manuscripts relating to Shakespeare; then the art gallery, with its many canvases depicting his heroes and heroines, or actors and actresses, who delighted to represent his characters. The theatre is well appointed, and will seat about eight hundred, the seats are in great demand on the annual festival, and actors and actresses desire the honor of appearing before its footlights.
From an upper window we looked upon the monument of the man to whom all this offers homage, and we thanked God for his genius. We wafted him a message from his admirers from "over the seas." I like to think he often returns to wander beside the stream "which makes sweet music, with the enameled stones, giving a gentle kiss to every sedge, He overtaketh on his pilgrimage."
The country through which we sped is marvelously well kept. Can you imagine fields without one weed, forests not showing a broken twig, a railroad right-of-way, like a well kept lawn? Of course you cannot, I could not, I always thought the descriptions exaggerated. Everywhere sleepy cattle, and the sheep of the story book, then a little canal, with its boat ladened with freight, and the boy on the well-beaten path. Little villages, all one long street, old stone houses with chimney pots, then behind a tiny garden all one blaze of color. I shudder when I think of our western villages, with their pine shacks, and formidable array of tin cans, not even a flower to cheer the eye. O, well this is the result of centuries, and we are so young, our life is all before us. Future tourists will admire us, for surely in a few decades we too, will commence to build for posterity. We did not stop in Warwick and barely caught a glimpse of the famous castle, as we were bemoaning this, that irresponsible husband of mine produced a postcard, advised us to study that, and then we could converse intelligently concerning it. You see he had not shown me the card, as I have positively refused to purchase a view of something not visited. Mr. B. telegraphed to Manchester to have dinner served us there, the answer came "o.k.;" alas, when we hurried to the dining hall we were met with blank looks, not a thing prepared. Mr. B. was greatly incensed, after much conversation a very indifferent repast was served and we returned to our car hungry. When we were leaving the lights of the city far behind, a chicken and other eatables which we had last seen adorning the side-board of the inhospitable inn, appeared from mysterious hiding places. Ed did wonders in carving with a pocket knife, and we ate with a relish, not inquiring as to the manner in which the articles were obtained, just heaping blessing upon our benefactors. It was late when we reached this city and the hotel appeared a haven of refuge. We are rather sad tonight. This is the very last of the trip. Tomorrow is the day of parting. Of course ever since leaving Italy we have been losing members, but this is the great finale. Mr. B. will return to London and another tour; we, to our widely separated homes, perhaps never more to meet, we are just "ships that pass in the night, and salute each other in passing." Good night, good night.
On board train to Liverpool.--Mother, a little more to this letter; you see there is not a word in it of Chester, and that must not be. We arose quite early, and to our surprise were served an American breakfast. To explain the phenomenon; we noticed a tall gentleman evidently very much at home in the hotel, English in appearance, yet American in manner, who bestowed upon Ed many glances. Ed leaned over to ask if there was anything wrong with his attire, when the gentleman approached and with an apology offered Ed a little case containing a card. Bless me, it was a membership ticket of the B.P.O.E. 
In the conversation which ensued; we were informed that he was an American citizen of Cincinnati, but the recent death of his father had called him to Chester, the affairs of the estate required time to adjust, and he was compelled to remain. The gentleman said he was quite longing for the U.S.A., the quietude of Chester was unbearable, so we said "Hooray for Uncle Sam," and wished him a speedy return to the "Buckeye state."
We rode to the Cathedral on the upper deck of the street car, thus fully enjoying the streets; this city dates from the Roman conquest, and is said to have the only Roman wall extant. In the church, the clergyman guide proudly pointed to a bit of flooring and commenced "this is from the floor of Solomon's Temple, brought to--" when he reached that, my laughter checked him; oh, he was mortally offended. Truly, mother, I could not help the outburst. Ed whispered to me, "Say, old Sol's temple was not destroyed, those smart Jews carted it over to Europe and sold it as souvenirs." I tried to apologize, but the man was implacable assuring me that my incredulity was uncalled for, as the remnant was authentic. Think of it, over in Italy the guide would have looked reproachful and said "accept the beautiful wherever you find it, why doubt, it might have come from the temple. Do not be so prosaic as to demand the proof."
We strolled on the ancient wall, until I felt sure the train to Liverpool would leave us, and thus many lose the homeward bound vessels. Just as we entered the station I remembered that the spoon was forgotten. Off dashed Ed and as the train was preparing to depart, he appeared, bearing aloft the desired article. It is another beauty, he refused to tell me how much he paid for it. You see I have a limit, and I know he exceeded it.
You must excuse me, mother, mine, I must join in the last fun of Tour No.--. We have three days before our boat sails, where we shall spend them I know not; so good-bye until we reach our unknown destination.
My Dear Mother: Do please exclaim with surprise at the post-mark of this letter, surely you did not expect me to "take the high-road, and be in Scotland afore ye?" When we bade Tour No.--, farewell at Liverpool ferry, Ed rushed me to Cook's office and there he learned that we could, with ease take the express to Edinburgh and have twenty-four hours in that city, so off we hustled. I was so surprised, so delighted, that I did not recover during the journey!
The country is unlike southern England, more rugged you know; the heather-covered hills and stone fences, very picturesque. It was dark when we reached Edinburgh, so we missed the approach. We hurried to a hotel to find it was filled, the proprietor sent us here, and thus we have a charming room in a semi-private house; we are enjoying the change from hotels. Last evening we looked up Mr. R., our minister friend from Montreal, and today he has been our guide. When we awoke we found a rain falling, not in the half-hearted fashion of London. This was a regular western affair. We were undaunted and were soon walking east on Princess street, positively enjoying the downpour; you know I have always delighted in a rainy day and Ed also enjoys the "splashing." Mr. R was clad in a tan rain coat, and was far from clerical figure. I asked him when he intended to don his priestly garb--he replied, "when in the pulpit," then informed us of a recent encounter with the archbishop of Y. That reverend gentleman, objected to his attire and said if he belonged to his diocese such latitude in dress would instantly be checked. Mr. R. assured him that he was quite well pleased with his superior the Archbishop of Montreal, and did not contemplate a change of residence.
The monument of Sir Walter Scott loomed mistily; we thoroughly inspected it, while Mr. R read from a guide book. I only recall that the designer was a working mason, and that one dark night 'ere the monument was completed, he fell into a canal and was drowned. You realize from the statue that the poet-novelist was not handsome.
The church of St. Giles with its many aisles opened to receive us; we were shown the spot where stood the clergyman, at whom Jenny Goddes flung the stool, in her resentment at the introduction of the Episcopal form of service. The very weapon is kept in a nearby museum. I refused to seek it, as nothing of such recent date can give me a thrill. I want things from Adam's hour.
We stopped before the house of John Knox, and although I would not do as the Calvinist of our party, did, when before the Vatican, "Shake my fist with wrath," yet I did affirm that I did not consider all I would see therein worth the expenditure of six pence entrance fee. Mr. R laughed with joy, but I told him that I did not object to his mirth, for I knew he had not visited the home of that great nonconformist, and do you know, he had not!
We leisurely gained the great gates of the castle and entering, looked over the ramparts, examined the cannon, delighted in the barelegged Scotch regiment, listened to the screeching, wailing bag-pipes as the band practiced gloomily in a turret chamber, inspected the ancient Scottish regalia, and visited Queen Margaret's chapel whose eight hundred years endeared it to my mind. When we considered our work well done for surely we had accomplished quite as much as a Cook party. We decided to walk to Holy Rood on the very street down which pageants of Mary's reign, always passed. It is not now the main thoroughfare, it is given over to the very poor. At one corner, a wheezy organ was giving forth melody and slum children were gaily dancing. We stopped for quite a while, the men keeping up the fun, by the judicious use of coppers. At least I rebelled at the delay and offered to return for them after I visited the palace.
The Abbey founded by King David for the Augustinians, has crumbled to dust. Only the ruins of the Chapel Royal remain. Many notables of Scotland repose here, and it was within these walls, Mary was married. Darnley sleeps well I hope. I do not think his ghost would care to walk, his cowardice was too pronounced. If he had been "half a man" perhaps history would have been far different. How could the peerless Mary care for such a figure head?
From the portraits of Scottish sovereigns I do not think there were noted for good looks. If so then a wholesale slaughter of the painters would have been justified. In the apartments of Queen Mary we lingered. I could almost hear the voice of the implacable John Knox as he severely berate the half-smiling Mary. Her bedroom, once a model of luxury, would be considered quite bare in these days. Her dressing room was not built for a modern beauty. The supper room where Rizzio was so foully murdered, is not much larger than a modern bath room and a back stair opens into it. After he was once within he could not leave without passing through the queen's apartments. Poor pleasure-loving Mary, her youth spent in the Court of the de Medici, where luxury reigned supreme, her young womanhood in cold, frozen Scotland, where even ordinary comforts and amusements were regarded as displeasing to God. Is it a wonder that she rebelled, that the untamed bird beat her tiny wings against the bars of her cage?
The morning was gone, and as Mr. R was to leave on an afternoon train for Melrose, we accompanied him to a café, and from thence to the station. After his departure Ed decided to visit the great bridge over the Firth of Forth. As it was about nine miles out from Edinburgh we had quite a drive. No lack of children in Scotland. We were followed by a yelling cart-wheel-turning bunch that rivaled the kids of Italy in effrontery. Ed had a hilarious time, the boys thoroughly enjoying his badinage and his pennies. We stopped a scant five minutes at the ancient bridge, where Scotland's king was attacked by robbers, and of course our driver "attacked and demolished" a glass of whiskey, that being the true reason of our delay. The coachmen over in Europe must have a drink about every hour.
I shall not attempt to describe that bridge. Ed is writing you a letter, so filled with figures it looks like a page from an Arithmetic. How you enjoy all that. I am a great grief to him, because of my inability to delight in length, breadth, heighth, etc.
My me, it was cold--we chased madly up and down to keep warm. We had a goodly number of youngsters to amuse us. They brought us treasures from the sea, and tried to get me to eat a few slimy creatures.
Such rosy cheeks, why I would give a goodly sum to sport such color. Ed teased the little girls by pretending to rub off the paint with his handkerchief. The return drive was facing a rain-storm. Of course we could not see, and I was chilled to the very bones of me. When we reached our hotel I cuddled up in bed for an hour, and then felt equal to a visit to the exposition grounds, but Ed said no, so we walked over to the hotel, found Mr. R had returned from Melrose, and before a cheerful fire, spent the evening. The two men regaled me with tales of Montreal in winter. According to them it is paradise.
We reluctantly bade Mr. R a final good bye. Tomorrow he is off for Ireland, and we return to Liverpool and embark for America. Oh that ocean voyage, I dare not think of it. I am longing to see you dearest and best, yet how I dread those days. Oh well I'll cheer up. I am sure it will not be so bad as I anticipate.
My Mother: I cannot pass by, the opportunity to send you a few lines from Melrose. We have just dined in this old inn, "King's Arms" and must await the express to Liverpool. A conveyance was at the station when our train arrived, and with several other tourists, we were quickly whisked the three miles to Abbottsford. At the lodge gates the vehicle halted and we entered the grounds on foot. Just inside we found heather tied in little bunches, and sign "Take one, leave a penny." Novel way to sell. The visitors here must be very honorable.
The home is well back in the exquisitely kept garden, and the slope is gently towards the Tweed. It is just the spot I would have known Scott would select for his home, on the borderland of ruggedness and sensuous beauty.
A side door gave entrance into a room evidently a curio shop. We bought several volumes of the poet's works, bound in the plaids of the clans. Then a woman with tickets appeared; we purchased them a shilling each; these we were requested to deposit in a box as we passed up the stairway. The woman in charge was our guide, and heaven save the mark, where are the low, sweet English voices? My ears are yet tingling from the hideous din, and why did she go, on and on, "world without end, amen?" My me, two places where I have anticipated heavenly visions, the "quiet English" have prevented them by their loquacity. Thank heaven, not many American voices, if any, surpass hers in disagreeable tones. We were first shown the room with its well-worn books and easy chair, where Sir Walter Scott did his work, then the well-appointed library where his friends were wont to gather. In a cabinet beside a window overlooking the Tweed we saw many relics collected by the poet. I recall Rob Roy's purse, Bobby Burns' tumbler, Cardinal Mezofanti's Cap, Mary Queen of Scots' cross, Napoleon's blotting book found in a carriage at Waterloo, Flora McDonald's purse, a lock of Bonnie Prince Charlie's hair. There were many other things which have escaped my memory. In an adjoining room we saw Rob Roy's gun, Napoleon's pistols, Genevra's chest brought from Florence, and Marie Antoinette's clock, thus before we left the house I lost the feeling that it was once the home of my poet novelist; it was a museum of interesting objects. To do justice to all here shown would require hours; we just glanced here and there. Truly though, I could not long endure that raucous voice, those rambling tales! O Scott, immortal Scott, come back to your home and frighten the good woman into silence!
The rain was falling fast when we drove to Melrose, thus our visit to the Abbey was "dampening." We could not "view fair Melrose by moonlight," so we viewed it in an almost misty rain. I wish you, too, could see its broken columns, its spires worn by years, lifting their dismantled heads heavenward, its crumbling wall eloquent of the days when it was Melrose Abbey the magnificent. The heart of Bruce is here interred and flowers there attest some loyal Scottish heart. We loitered in the ancient church yard unmindful of the rain, deciphering long-forgotten names and oft glancing with awe at the superb ruins towering near. When at last we were satisfied to leave the memory-haunted place we found the conveyance gone. We did not grieve it was only a short walk to this inn, and from here to the station is but a step.
I fully expected to write you pages of the pleasure of ocean travel on board a big liner, but, alas and alack! I went to bed even before England was far behind, and remained there until we passed the Statue of Liberty. How is that for a sailor? Oh, well, I gave the ship doctor a few interesting days, he was fully convinced that I was suffering from appendicitis. Think of it, dearie, a trip to England and appendicitis the same summer. I assured him as valiantly and frequently as I did, he too, would have had a soreness. He told me of my supposed malady, when we were three days from land; if I had been easily frightened Ed would have reported "one wife missing" and I should have missed living again in "God's Country." I smiled and "lay low." I am rather "wobbly" in my gait, as my diet has been strictly "bland," just ginger ale and ice water.
Do not speak to me of a "life on the ocean wave"; yes "roll on, thou deep blue ocean,"[10 ]but please do not ask me to roll with you. I feel in my bones that "it's a comin' my way" in the hereafter; then I shall toss and roll until I am "whiter than snow." Until that day, pass me by old ocean I pray you.
Our visit to New York is to be deferred; of course we are here, but as I am only the wraith of the lady who left Liverpool. Perhaps Ed is right to forbid me the attractions of "little old New York." He says Broadway is not healthy for ghosts; home is the place for this one. This letter leaves tonight, we rest until tomorrow at 5:30, then over the New York Central, to our beloved west.
Tell the boys we are coming; open wide your doors; smile mother darling, we are almost home. Shine out fair sun; in Oklahoma, the grand, blow breezes blow, the summer is ended, the holidays are past and every day life is beckoning! What care I?