THE SUNNY SIDE OF DIPLOMATIC LIFE
L. DE HEGERMANN-LINDENCRONE
Author of "In The Courts of Memory"
ILLUSTRATED WITH PORTRAITS, FACSIMILES, ETC.
Harper & Brothers Publishers New York and London MCMXIV
1913, 1914 By Harper & Brothers Printed in The United States of America Published October, 1914
THE ALPHABET OF A DIPLOMAT ix
WASHINGTON, 1875-1880 1
ROME, 1880-1890 89
STOCKHOLM, 1890-1897 201
PARIS, 1897-1902 237
BERLIN, 1902-1912 277
LILLIE DE HEGERMANN-LINDENCRONE Frontispiece
MRS. U.S. GRANT Facing p. 6
SARAH BERNHARDT " 12
DOM PEDRO " 12
HENRY W. LONGFELLOW " 50
JAMES G. BLAINE " 50
OLE BULL " 82
QUEEN MARGHERITA " 102
KING VICTOR EMANUEL " 106
TWO YOUNG QUEENS " 130
THE PALACE, MONZA (FRONT) " 136
PALACE AND GARDENS " 136
NOTE FROM F. LISZT " 152
AALHOLM. BUILT IN 1100 " 168
INSCRIPTIONS IN ONE OF THE ROOMS AT AALHOLM, BEARING THE DATE 1585 " 168
FRANCESCO CRISPI " 198
KING OSCAR " 212
THE KING OF SWEDEN " 220
THE RIKSDAG OF SWEDEN " 224
FACSIMILE OF LETTER FROM GRIEG " 230
A LETTER IN ENGLISH FROM KING OSCAR " 234
JULES MASSENET AT THE HEIGHT OF HIS CAREER " 246
A NOTE FROM MASSENET " 248
FELIX FAURE WHEN PRESIDENT OF FRANCE " 252
LINES FROM "LA PRINCESSE LOINTAINE" WITH ROSTAND'S AUTOGRAPH " 260
BJOERNSON " 270
THE EMPRESS OF GERMANY ON HER FAVORITE MOUNT " 280
EMPEROR WILLIAM IN THE UNIFORM OF THE GUARDS " 280
TWO VIEWS OF ROYALTY " 282
THE THRONE-ROOM OF THE ROYAL PALACE, BERLIN " 290
QUEEN LOUISE OF DENMARK " 296
THE ROYAL PALACE AND LUSTGARTEN, BERLIN " 306
COUNT HATZFELDT " 326
THE EMPEROR IN 1905 " 332
MADAME DE HEGERMANN-LINDENCRONE, the writer of these letters, is the wife of the recently retired Danish Minister to Germany. She was formerly Miss Lillie Greenough, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she lived with her grandfather, Judge Fay, in the fine old Fay mansion, now the property of Radcliffe College.
As a child Miss Greenough developed the remarkable voice which later was to make her well known, and when only fifteen years of age her mother took her to London to study under Garcia. Two years later Miss Greenough became the wife of Charles Moulton, the son of a well-known American banker, who had been a resident in Paris since the days of Louis Philippe. As Madame Charles Moulton the charming American became an appreciated guest at the court of Napoleon III. Upon the fall of the Empire Mrs. Moulton returned to America, where Mr. Moulton died, and a few years afterward she married M. de Hegermann-Lindencrone, at that time Danish Minister to the United States, and later periods his country's representative at Stockholm, Rome, Paris, Washington and Berlin.
THE ALPHABET OF A DIPLOMAT
Ambassador A man, just a little below God. Attache The lowest rung of the ladder. Blunder How absurd! Why, never!... Chancellery The barn-yard where he is plucked. Chief The cock of the walk. Colleagues A question merely of time and place. Court Where one learns to make courtesies. Decorations The balm for all woes. Dinners The surest road to success. Disponsibility The Styx, whence no one returns. Esprit (de corps) The corps is there, but where is the esprit? Etiquette The Ten Commandments. Finesse A narrow lane where two can walk abreast. Friendships Ships that pass in the night. Gotha (almanack) The Bible of a Diplomat. Highness His, Her, make a deep courtesy. Ignoramus A person who does not agree with you. Innuendo An obscure side-light of truth. Joke Something beneath the dignity of a diplomat to notice. Knowledge (private) News which every one already knows. Legation Apartments to let. Letters (de creance) The first impression. Letters (de rappel) The last illusion. Majeste (lese) Too awful to think of. Majesties Human beings with royal faults. Nobodies People to be avoided like poison. Opulence When in service. Pension Too small to be seen with the naked eye. Poverty When out of service. Quo (status) Diplomatic expression, meaning in French, Une jambe en l'air. Ruse A carefully disguised thought as transparent as a soap-bubble. Secretary Furniture easily moved. Traditions A door always open for refuge. Traites (de paix) A series of dinners paid for by a lavish government. Uniform A bestarred and beribboned livery. Visits The most important duty of a diplomat. Wisdom Good to have, but easily dispensed with. Xpectations A tree which seldom bears fruit. Yawn What a diplomat does over his rapports. Zeal Something a diplomat ought never to have too much of.
THE SUNNY SIDE OF DIPLOMATIC LIFE
WASHINGTON, November, 1875.
Dear Mother,—After my hurriedly written letter of the 24th you will know that we have arrived here safely. My first introduction to my first post as diplomat's wife was made unwittingly by a gentleman walking with a friend just behind me. "Who is that gentleman?" said he, indicating Johan. "That? That is the Minister of Denmark." I, struggling with an arm-load of flowers culled from well-intentioned friends at different stations on the road, my maid and Johan's valet bringing up the rear with the overflow of small baggage, passed unnoticed. Now we are quite established here, and I have already commenced my diplomatic duties. There seems to be no end of card-leaving and card-receiving, and a list of rules on etiquette (the Ten Commandments of a Diplomat) as long as your arm. I never knew of anything so confusing. I try to remember the things that I must do and the things that I must not do. How many cold shower-baths of reproval have I already received; how many unruly things have I already done! We are invited to many dinners, luncheons, and entertainments of all kinds. I am knee-deep in engagements, actually wading in them. The engagement-book you gave me is already overfilled.
We were very much amused at the collection of newspaper cuttings you sent us. Johan thought the one describing him as "a massive blonde of magnificent proportions, whose pure heart and clean hands had won all hearts in Washington" [previous to winning mine], was much too personal. "The medals [his prized decorations] were not his fault, and should not be laid up against him; and as for the gold key which he wears on his back, it is considered a great honor, as few Danes have had it conferred on them, being, as it is, the key of the king's own bedchamber, and giving the wearer the privilege of entering there when he likes."
Another one which amused us says "the bride is to be congratulated on having annexed as fine a specimen of a viking as any one could desire, and, although she has not secured a golden crown for her marble brow, she has secured a name that ought to be good for a 'three-bagger' on any diamond, and that just to see it written on a hotel register makes any hotel clerk faint." Johan asked me what a "three-bagger" was, but I could not tell him. Then the worst one! "Mr. de Hegermann is envoy extraordinary and parson to his Danish 'nibs.'" Johan was horrified at this lese majeste. We looked the word "nibs" out in the dictionary, only to find that in cribbage "nibs" means the knave of trumps. This made matters worse; to call his sovereign a knave—even of trumps—seemed too disrespectful.
It was very nice of Norris, your Cambridge grocer, to placard the fruit in his shop window in our honor. "Lindencrone beauties" and "the Danish pair" show a certain amount of humor which ought to be applauded. Such a pun goes to my heart. I hope you encouraged him by buying them all and can tell me what a "Danish pair" looks like.
It would take more than one letter of mine written on foolscap paper to tell you of our colleagues and friends. I can do it in sections when I have time. But, oh, when can I get the time!
* * * * *
I have had my "audience" (Johan calls it an "audience"; I call it a "call on Mrs. President Grant at the White House"). There was nothing formal or formidable about it. Mrs. Grant and I sat on the sofa together and talked generalities. Johan could not tell me what to expect. He said his audience with the President had been a surprise, unprecedented by anything he had ever seen. As it was his first post as Minister, he had pictured to himself that it would be somewhat like the ceremonies abroad—very solemn and impressive. Of course he was in his red gala uniform, with all his decorations. A hired landau brought him to the steps of the White House, which he mounted with conscious dignity. His written speech, nicely folded, he carried in his hand. In Europe there would have been a crowd of gorgeous chamberlains to receive him, but here he found a negro, who, on seeing him, hurriedly donned a coat and, with an encouraging wave of the hand, said: "Come right along in, sir. I'll let them know you're here, sir." Johan was shown into a room and waited with patience until the President and Mr. Hamilton Fish came in. Mr. Grant was dressed in a gray walking-suit and wore a colored tie; and Mr. Hamilton Fish (Secretary of State) had evidently just come in from a walk, as his turned-up trousers signified.
Johan read his speech, and the President answered by reading, with some difficulty, a paper which Mr. Fish handed to him at the last moment. After this exchange of formalities Johan shook hands with the President, and without further ceremony he left the room, the door this time being opened by a white servant in black clothes. Mr. Fish at parting casually observed that the weather was fine.
I was officially presented on their reception days to the wives of all the Ministers, and made my visits to the members of the Corps Diplomatique. We were invited to dinner at the White House—a dinner given to the Corps Diplomatique. I was taken in by M. de Schloezer, the German Minister, and sat between him and Sir Edward Thornton (the English Minister), who sat on the right of Mrs. Grant. We were opposite to the President. I noticed that he turned his wine-glasses upside down, to indicate, I suppose, that he did not drink wine during dinner. Afterward we amused ourselves by walking in the long Blue Room. The President disappeared with some of the gentlemen to smoke and was lost to view. The company also faded gradually away. Mrs. Grant did not seem inclined to gaze on us any longer, and appeared to be relieved when we shook her outstretched hand and said "Good night."
A dinner to which we went, given by the Schiskines (the Russian Minister) in honor of the Grand-Duke Constantine of Russia, was most delightful. The Grand Duke is very charming, natural, with a sly twinkle in his mild blue eye. He has a very handsome face, is extremely musical, and plays the piano with great finesse, having a most sympathetic touch.
After dinner we darned stockings. This sounds queer, but nevertheless it is true. The Schiskines had just bought a darning-machine. They paid eighty-six dollars for it; but to darn, one must have holes, and no holes could be found in a single decent stocking, so they had to cut holes, and then we darned. The Grand Duke was so enchanted with this darning that he is going to take a machine home to the Grand Duchess, his august mother.
The darning done, we had some music. M. de Schloezer improvised on the piano, and after the Grand Duke had played some Chopin I sang. M. de Schloezer went through his little antics as advance-courier of my singing: he screwed the piano-stool to the proper height (he thinks it must be just so high when I accompany myself); he removed all albums from sight for fear people might be tempted to glance in them; he almost snatched fans from the hands of unoffending ladies, fearing they might use them; no dogs were to be within patting distance, and no smoking; he turned all the chairs to face the piano so that no one should turn his back to it. These are all heinous crimes in his eyes. He would, if he could, have pulled down all the portieres and curtains, as he does in his own house when I sing there. What must people think of him?
You ask me, "What kind of a cook have you?" Don't speak of it—it is a sore subject! We have the black cook from the White House (so her certificate says). She is not what our fancy painted her. Neither is the devil as black as he is painted (I don't know why I associate them in my mind). We had painted this cook white. I shudder to think how the White House must have lived in those years when she did the cooking. Our dinners are simply awful. Although she has carte blanche to provide anything and everything she wants, our dinners are failures. I look the fact in the face and blush. Our musical parties are better when I do the cooking and Johan does the serving—I mean when I sing and he fills the gaps. The diplomats groan. "Think," they say, "what a finished cook would do with all the delicious things they have here—all these wonderful birds and meats and vegetables, and only the one sauce!"
The charity concert, of which I was dame patronesse, went off with success. We made a great deal of money. M. de Schloezer paid twenty dollars for his ticket. My chorus covered itself with glory and was encored. As the concert finished at ten, we adjourned to the Zamaconas' (Minister of Mexico) first ball, and I hope, for them, their only one. It was one of those soirees where people appropriate the forks and spoons. It cost, they say, ten thousand dollars. The assemblage was promiscuous, to say the least. Every one who asked for an invitation got one, and went. The Minister had hired the house next the Legation, and cut doors into it so that there should be plenty of room, but even then there was not sufficient space to contain the crowd of miscellaneous guests. There were two orchestras, but no one wanted to dance. Every one wandered about through the rooms or lolled in the grottoes, which were lighted with different-colored lamps. In every corner were fountains of cologne, around which the gentler sex stood in crowds saturating their handkerchiefs—some of which had cross-stitch initials in red thread. Mirrors were placed at the end of each room to prolong the vista. "Mexico," in enormous letters formed by gas-jets, stood over the entrances. And as for the supper, it was in a room out of all proportion to the gathering! There was no question of getting into it; only prize-fighters and professional athletes could elbow their way through the crowd. The waiters had long since disappeared, frightened at their formidable task. The chairs intended for the guests were utilized as tables on which to put unfinished plates of food and half-empty glasses. Everything that was not spilled on the floor was spilled on the table. Such things as bonbons, cakes, etc., that could be stowed away in pockets, vanished like magic. Gentlemen (?) broke the champagne-bottles by knocking them on the table, sending the contents flying across the room. The lady guests drew out the silver skewers which ornamented the plats montees and stuck them in their hair as mementoes of this memorable evening.
Dear Aunt,—The best way I can spend this Ash-ful Wednesday is to write a penitent letter to you and beg you to forgive my long silence; but if you could imagine what a life we have been leading, I think that, being the being you are, you would make excuses for a niece who gets up with the sun and goes to bed with the morning star. When that morning star appears I am so tired I can think of nothing but bed and the bliss of laying my diplomatic body down to rest.
Dear old Mr. Corcoran (almost blind now) gave a unique banquet in honor of Johan and me. We went first to the theater to see "Rip Van Winkle" played by Jefferson. It was delightful, though I cried my eyes out. From the theater we went to Mr. Corcoran's house for a roasted-in-the-shell oyster supper. Johan, who had never before attended such a feast, thought he had got loose among a lot of milkmaids and firemen, each with his bucket and pail, and when he saw the enormous pile of oysters brought in on platters he wondered how many "r's" March had in her. However, like a lamb he sat next to his pail, and after having consumed about a bushel himself he became quite expert at opening the oysters and throwing the shells in his pail. It was a most amusing and original evening, and the amount of oyster-shells we left behind us would have paved the way to the Capitol.
Another original entertainment I must tell you about. We received a note from General Burnside (Senator from Rhode Island): "Will you come to my codfish dinner on Thursday next?" We of course accepted and went. General Burnside and Senator Anthony are great friends and live together. I never could understand, and never dared to ask, why such a little state as Rhode Island needed two Senators. However, that is neither here nor there. The other guests were Mr. Bayard, Mr. Blaine, Mrs. Blaine, Mrs. Lawrence, General Sherman. According to the rules of a codfish dinner, every one was provided with the same amount of boiled codfish, hard-boiled eggs, beets, carrots, and potatoes, and every English sauce ever made. Every one made his own mixture, which was passed about and "sampled." The lucky person who got the greatest number of votes received a beautiful silver bowl. The dining-room was arranged as if it were a camp. There were no ornaments of any kind, and we sat on little iron tent-chairs. You may imagine after we had finished with the codfish that our appetites were on the wane, and we felt that we had dined sumptuously, if monotonously, when, lo! our genial host surprised us with an enormous turkey (reared on his own estate), twenty-seven pounds in weight, with its usual accompaniments of cranberry sauce, sweet-potatoes, and so forth. Mr. Blaine and Mr. Bayard were fountains of wit.
Then another entertainment, a sort of mardi-gras maigre feast, was a champagne tea given for us at the Capitol by Mr. Blaine. He had invited a great many of the Senators and the Ministers, his wife, and some other ladies. These mighty people talked politics and had prodigious appetites. Sandwiches and cake disappeared in a hazy mist, and they drank oceans of champagne. They took cocktails before, during, and after! I amused myself—as I can't talk politics, and would not if I could—by noticing the ingenuity and variety of the spittoons placed about in convenient spots. The spittoons that tried to be pretty were the most hideous. I liked best the simplicity of the large, open, ready-to-receive ones filled with clean, dainty sand. There was no humbug about them, no trying to be something else; whereas the others, that pretended to be Etruscan vases or umbrella-stands or flower-pots, were failures in my eyes. Why are they ashamed of themselves? Why do they call themselves by the graceful name of "cuspidor"—suggestive of castanets and Andalusian wiles? Why such foolish masquerading? Spittoons will be spittoons—they risk not being recognized. I said as much as this to Mr. Blaine. "You are right," he said, "to fight their battles. Did you ever hear the story about the Western man who was not accustomed to such artistic objects, and said in one of his spitting moods, 'If you don't take that darned thing away I'll spit in it'?"
I forgot to tell you that the Emperor and Empress of Brazil are here "doing" Washington—doing it so thoroughly that they have almost overdone it. The Brazilian Minister is worn out. Every day he has a dinner and an entertainment of some kind. The Emperor wants to see everything and to know everybody. No institution is neglected, and all the industries are looked into thoroughly. He goes to the Senate very often and sits through the whole seance, wishing to understand everything. He always tries to get hold of the people who can give him the most information on any subject. Dom Pedro is most popular; one sees him everywhere. At the ball at the English Minister's for their Majesties, a gentleman presented to the Empress said, "Je suis le Senateur qui parle frangais." The Empress said to Johan, "I beg of you to keep near me and talk to me so that the 'Senateur qui parle francais' may be discouraged in his pursuit."
My dear Aunt,—Is your heart melted with pity, or does it burst with national pride, and do you disregard such trifles as heat and exhaustion? I told you in my last letter that the diplomats were invited en bloc (at the country's expense) to be present at the opening of the Centennial Exposition. The country provided good rooms for us at this hotel, where we are invited to spend two days: one of those days was the day before yesterday, and I think that the other will be enough for me, for anything more awful than the heat at the present moment cannot well be conceived. It is as if Philadelphia had said to its friends, "You provide the exposition, and we'll provide the heat." There were carriages placed at our disposal for the opening, and we drove out to the grounds in great style. We were welcomed at the entrance by some officials and ushered to our seats on the red-hot platform draped with flags. President Grant then entered, accompanied by all his Ministers. After the opening speech by the President all the church-bells in the city began ringing, cannons were fired, the orchestra burst forth with national hymns—"Star-spangled Banner" and "Hail, Columbia." People waved handkerchiefs, and the display of patriotism was overpowering. In coming out, after the President had left the tribune, the crowd filled in after him, and we had to fight our way out as best we could.
The heat, which no thermometer could register—and there was no shade for the thermometer to register in—and the crowd were something fearful. People were almost crushed to death, and those who did the most crushing were the fat policemen, who stood in every one's way and on every one's toes and barred the whole procession. Johan looked like an enormous poppy in his red uniform; the sun blazing through the glass roof almost set him on fire (the diplomats were begged to come in uniform, and that meant coats padded and buttoned up to the chin). Johan tells fabulous stories of the number of stout old ladies he saved, who all threatened to faint away on his decorations. He says he carried them bodily through the crowd and deposited them on the grass outside and went back for more. I was miraculously saved. I clasped my arms around the fat body of a policeman and whispered endearing words with a foreign accent to the effect that a foreigner who had come there at the invitation of the country ought to be saved at any cost. He thought so too, and was very kind and sympathetic, but as I clung to his padded coat and felt his scorching buttons I wondered whether it were better to die crushed than to suffer suffocation. However, we were all saved; even Johan's chamberlain key clung to his back, and his decorations actually stayed in their places, which I think was wonderful, considering the stout ladies. My dress left a good deal of itself behind—only the front breadth held it onto my person; the back breadths were trampled on as far up as people could trample and were dirty beyond words.
A large dinner was prepared for us, where patriotic toasts were drunk galore.
We went out to the grounds the next day and rolled about in what they call "rolling-chairs," and had things explained to us by some nice gentlemen with gold-braided caps.
We will go once more to see what we left unseen, and then I turn my head toward Cambridge.
WASHINGTON, March, 1877.
The question of the annual diner diplomatique was cleverly managed by Mr. Evarts. Mr. Hayes wanted to suppress wine and give tea and mineral water, but Mr. Evarts put his foot down. He said that the diplomats would not understand an official dinner without wine, and proposed, instead, a soiree musicale—in other words, a rout. The diplomats had a separate entrance (a novelty) from the garden side. There was an orchestra at the end of the Blue Room which drowned conversation when you were near it. I noticed that most of the young ladies found it too near, and sought other corners.
The supper ne laissait rien a desirer, and there was a sumptuous buffet open the whole evening; punch-bowls filled with lemonade were placed in the different salons. On the whole, it was a great success.
I think that the teetotality of the White House displeases as much our country-people as it does the foreigners. At one of our musical parties Mr. Blaine came rather late, and, clapping his hands on Johan's shoulder, said, "My kingdom for a glass of whisky; I have just dined at the White House." Others call the White House dinners "the life-saving station."
Mrs. Hayes was very nice to me. She sent me a magnificent basket of what she called "specimen flowers," which were superb orchids and begonias. On her card was written, "Thanking you again for the pleasure you gave me by your singing."
WASHINGTON, March, 1877.
My dear Mother,—We are now having a visit of the Queen of the Sandwich Islands. I suppose in Europe she would show to great advantage, but here her blackness is at a low premium. There was a large reception for her Royal Blackness at the White House, where all the diplomats were present. The queen talked with people with the aid of an interpreter. Her remarks necessarily being restricted, she said about the same thing to every one. She was bristling with jewelry, and the large white pearls on her broad, black bosom took on extra splendor. Robert (our colored valet), who was waiting in the corridor, caught sight of her as she walked by, and remarked, when he reached home, to my maid that he was "surprised that they should make such a fuss over a colored person"; and he attempted to turn his flat nose in the air; but, as it is not the kind that turns, it refused.
Robert wears a conspicuous decoration in his buttonhole whenever we have a dinner. The first time Johan noticed it he almost fainted away, as he knows every decoration under the sun, and, thinking it looked like the Legion d'Honneur, he proposed to question Robert about it; but Robert eluded the master's clutch as the door-bell was ringing. Johan was considerably disturbed until he learned the truth, which was that Robert belonged to a reading-club—a Browning and Tennyson club—and this was its badge. Our colleagues thought he was the Minister from Hayti!
WASHINGTON, Spring, 1877.
Dear Mother,—I must tell you the honor which has been conferred on me. I have been admitted into the enchanted circle of the Brain Club. I am an honorary member. Mrs. Dahlgren is the president, and I suppose all the set of intellectuals, "Les elus des elus" belong to it. I have only been twice to the meetings. I think I am a failure as far as brains go, but the members like my singing, and I am only called upon to take an active part when the members are falling off their chairs, trying with literary efforts to keep awake.
The first meeting was a ghastly affair. The subject to be discussed was the "Metamorphosis of Negative Matter." You may imagine that I was staggered. I had no more idea what negative matter was than the inhabitants of Mars. They took us alphabetically. When they got to "H," Mrs. Dahlgren (who, as president, sat in a comfortable chair with arms to it, while the others sat on hard dining-room, cane-bottomed chairs) turned to me and said, "Has Mrs. Hegermann anything to say concerning the Metamorphosis of Negative Matter?" I had on my blue velvet gown, and thought of it fast becoming chair-stamped, and I wondered if negative matter would comprise that. However, I wisely refrained from speech, and shook a sad smile from my closed lips.
"H" to "K" had a great deal to say. Every one looked wise and wore an appearance of interest. They slid down to "L." Then Mrs. Dahlgren said, "Has Mrs. Lindencrone anything to say on the Metamorphosis of Negative Matter?" I answered that I had not discovered anything since the last time they asked me. They were not accustomed to one lady having two names, each beginning with a capital letter.
The members had a beautiful time when they got to "R." Up rose a gaunt female who knew all about it and seemed positive about the "Negative" part. We were pulled suddenly up to time, and some one turned upon poor me and asked if I agreed. I answered hastily, "Certainly I do." Dear me! What had I said? Half the company rose with a bound. "Do you, really?" they asked in chorus. "That is more than we do. We cannot at all agree with a theory which is utterly false from the base." How I wished I knew what the false base had been. Was it the Negative, or the Metamorphosis, or the Matter? I murmured humbly, hiding behind a lame neutrality, that I had mistaken the cause for the effect. They all turned and looked at me with fierce eyes. I think they were staggered at this colossal utterance, for they gave up discussing, and "S" to "Z" never had a chance to say anything. Then they adjourned to the supper-room. After having eaten scalloped oysters and chicken salad, no more questions were discussed.
I was asked to sing. I am afraid that I am only looked upon as a bird on these mighty occasions. On the piano-stool I felt myself safe, and I sang. In the middle of my song some heavy person leaning against a shaky bookcase uprooted it, and it fell with a crash on the floor. I halted midway in my song. People rushing in from the supper-room asked, "What is the matter?" "Negative," answered Miss Loring, quick as thought, at which they all laughed. Mr. Brooks, to cover the confusion, said in a loud voice, "This is not the first time Madame Hegermann has brought down the house." There was more laughter, and I sat down again at the piano and sang "Tender and True," an exquisite song written by Mrs. Lincoln about a young soldier killed during the war, who wore to the last a knot of blue ribbon his sweetheart had given him.
M. de Schloezer is bubbling over with joy, for he has the famous pianist, von Buelow, staying with him at the German Legation. He says von Buelow is most amiable about playing, and plays whenever he is asked. His technique is wonderful and perfect. The ladies in Washington are wild over him, and figuratively throw themselves at his feet. He is giving two concerts here, and everybody has taken tickets. M. de Schloezer gave last evening one of his memorable dinners, followed by music. I know two people who enjoyed it—Schloezer and myself. Schloezer was going to ask Julian Sturgis, but Julian Sturgis had on some former occasion crossed his legs and looked distrait or had shown in some such trivial manner that he was bored, which so exasperated Schloezer that he barred him out, and invited Mr. Bayard instead, who perhaps loved music less, but showed no outward signs of boredom.
Von Buelow is not only a wonderful pianist, but a very clever man of the world. He sent me a book written by Wagner about music and wrote on the first page "Voici un livre qui vous interessera. De la part du mari de la femme de l'auteur." Clever, isn't it? You know that Madame Wagner is the daughter of Liszt. She ran away from von Buelow in order to marry Wagner.
Buelow dedicated a song to me, called "Adieu." It is pretty enough to sing when he plays the accompaniment, but otherwise I do not care for it. I sang it after dinner, and every one said it was charming, but I had the feeling that the ladies were more interested in my toilette than in Buelow's song. I don't blame them, for my dress is lovely (Worth called it "un reve"), but I fancy I look like a Corot autumn sunset reflected in a stagnant lily-pond. It is of light salmon-colored satin, with a tulle overskirt and clusters of water-lilies here and there. I could have bought a real Corot with the same money.
Mr. Blaine, who is at present Speaker of the House, and Mr. Roscoe Conkling, one of the Senators from New York, are the two most prominent members of the Republican party, but are personally deadly enemies.
Mr. Blaine is an excellent talker, very popular with the ladies. In a drawing-room, he is generally found in a corner, quoting poetry (a specialty of his) to some handsome lady. He knows all the poetry in the world! They say that he is the best Speaker the House has ever known; it is quite wonderful to see the rapidity with which he counts the Ayes and Noes, pointing at each voter with the handle of his club. He grasps a situation in an instant, and gives a quick retort when he thinks it is deserved. Roscoe Conkling is quite a different type. He is very dignified and pompous—perhaps a little theatrical; not at all a society man, and, though he may be less vain than Mr. Blaine, he has the appearance of being more so.
The foreign Ministers have the "right of the floor," which means they have the right to enter the House of Representatives when they like. On one great occasion a member of the House offered M. de Schloezer his seat, which happened to be between two members who suddenly got up and began the most heated discussion over Schloezer's head. He found the situation dangerous and wished himself elsewhere. He said he felt like the Biblical baby when the two mothers were wrangling before the great Solomon. However, the storm spent itself in words, and fortunately the disputants did not come to blows.
Johan says he was very much struck the first time he went to Congress by seeing two opposing members, after bitterly attacking each other for hours, walk quietly away arm-in-arm, obviously the best of friends.
A little incident which occurred in the Senate amused Johan very much. Roscoe Conkling begged a colleague sitting next to him to read out loud something he wished to quote in his speech while he paused to draw a breath. The colleague read, and Conkling, without a word of thanks, took back the book; but when a colored man brought him a cup of tea (which he always takes during his speeches) he stood up and in a very loud voice, making a solemn bow, said, "I thank you, sir!"
I call that coquetting with the gallery, don't you?
We have been invited to take a trip to California by the railroad company. We can transport ourselves to Omaha; then all our expenses are to be defrayed by the lavish company. We have all accepted. Who could refuse such a tempting invitation?
CALIFORNIA, Spring, 1877.
Dear M.,—The rendezvous was to be at the third station before reaching Omaha, where we really did all meet. On arriving at the next one, some of the party asked the conductor how long the train would stop, and he answered, "Twenty minutes"; so off they started on foot to see the town. We wise ones stayed in the train, which also started off, leaving our truants behind, but their bags remained with us.
When they returned to the station, before the twenty minutes had expired, they found the train gone! They hired a special train at great expense and delay, hoping to overtake us at Omaha. But before they reached Omaha an official appeared and said that he had received a telegram from headquarters at Chicago, acknowledging that the conductor had been at fault in starting a little earlier than he had said; therefore the company felt itself responsible and insisted on refunding the money the extra train had cost.
Where else but in America are mistakes so quickly and nicely remedied? Perhaps in this instance it could be explained by the fact that one of them was a prominent member of the Republican party, and the other no less than the Assistant Secretary of State. We were glad to receive our penitent wanderers, who promised to be more careful another time. We slept at Omaha, which is the jumping-off place, and to-morrow morning early we are going to "jump." We have already traveled seventeen hundred and fifty miles, and have not yet begun our real trip. Omaha has still wooden sidewalks and muddy roads; the post-office, school-house, and churches are all built on a grand scale, and the streets laid out in squares and broad avenues. Probably they have already designs for a grand-opera house. One can see FUTURE written all over it.
Mr. Cadwalader had bought in Philadelphia the best comestibles that it could provide, and had them stowed away in big hampers and put in the baggage-car. When the train stopped an hour for food, which it did three times a day, we preferred to spend that hour looking about us and (as Mr. Kasson said) stretching our legs rather than going into the overcrowded eating-rooms, which were reeking of food, loud talk, and ravenous passengers. The stations were always low wooden buildings with a piazza; sometimes no other houses were to be seen. On wooden boxes were enthroned the loafers, who must have ridden miles just to see passengers get in and out of the train. To show how kind these rough people must be when they are not engaged in killing people, chickens foraged about between their huge boots, and I saw a dog quietly asleep within an inch of a kick. As soon as the train started we went into the baggage-car and, seated about on the trunks, enjoyed our delicious feast.
We occupied almost one entire parlor-car. There were only two extra seats, and those were filled by two men surrounded by a mountain of newspapers and magazines of all kinds. I said, nodding toward one of these, "What a handsome man that is!"
"Do you know who it is?" asked Mr. Cadwalader.
"No. How should I?"
"That is the famous scout, Buffalo Bill."
"Really!" I exclaimed. "I had fancied him quite different from that. He looks like the pictures of Charles the First. His eyes are so soft, and he has such lovely brown curls and a could-not-hurt-a-fly look about him."
"Well," said Mr. Cadwalader, "he has killed more men than he can count on his fingers when he tries to go to sleep."
"I can't imagine it," I said, gazing with admiration at Buffalo Bill's fine and kind face and splendid figure. "His friend does not look so amiable."
"I should think not. That is the celebrated Mr. Holmes of Texas. He is a terror in this part of the world."
"He looks it," I said. "See all the pistols he has about him. I can see one in his coat pocket, and one in his vest pocket, and..."
"And many under his coat which you can't see."
Just at that moment the "terror" got up, and, lo! a pistol fell out of his clothing on to the floor. Fortunately, it did not go off, but it frightened us almost out of our senses (the ladies, of course). Buffalo Bill picked up the weapon and handed it back to Mr. Holmes, who put it quietly in his pocket, seeming rather abashed.
Buffalo Bill and his friend walked down the middle of the car, and we were somewhat agitated when he stopped in front of Johan and said in a soft, cooing voice, "Would you take a drink with me, sir?"
We gasped when we saw Johan shake his head and say politely with a smile, "No, thank you." We expected a volley of pistol-shots and the speedy wiping out of us all, but Buffalo Bill merely gave Johan an inquiring look and a tired but sarcastic smile.
Mr. Cadwalader said, hurriedly, to Johan, "Go, for Heaven's sake!"
Johan hastened to follow the good advice and Buffalo Bill, and said with diplomatic artifice, "On second thoughts, sir, I will not refuse your invitation, as I am a little thirsty." On which the three gentlemen went out together.
Johan came back refreshed and radiant. Never had he seen or talked to such a delightful person. Buffalo Bill had offered him some of his own favorite brand of whisky, which Johan found very good.
Johan asked B.B. later, being on more familiar terms, "Would you have been offended if I had refused to drink with you?"
B.B. answered, "If I had not seen that you were a foreigner I should not have liked it," meaning, I suppose, bloody murder and sudden death.
B.B. said the reason why he had chosen Johan out of the rest to drink with was that Johan looked so like the Grand-Duke Alexis, for whom he had been a guide on the prairies some years ago.
General Taylor, son of the former President, joined us at Cheyenne.
* * * * *
We have just passed thirty snow-sheds at Rock Creek, and have seen some wolves and some antelopes roaming about. We looked for buffaloes, but the only buffalo we saw was the mild Bill, who sat quietly reading a magazine, looking at us with his soft-brown eyes.
We were very high up in the Rocky Mountains. All around us was snow, and the view of the blue mountains, the tops of which were quite white, looked beautiful in the distance. There were some Indians on horseback drawn up in file as the train went by. They had all their war-paint on, were covered with picturesque blankets, and their feather head-dresses reached over their horses' backs; they had buckskin leggings covered with beads, which made them look very picturesque. They looked stolidly and indifferently at us while we stared at them admiringly from the car windows. The prairie-dogs looked like squirrels "sitting up so cute," as Miss C. said, "dodging in and out of their holes."
At one of the stations a whole band of Indians climbed into the train with guttural war-whoops and invaded the baggage-car. We thought we were being "held up," but they behaved themselves very well. The thought of Buffalo Bill, to say nothing of Mr. Holmes of Texas with his pistols, reassured us; and the only difference that the presence of the Indians made to us was that we avoided the baggage-car for our midday meal.
At another station a quantity of loafers, mostly Indians, smelling dreadfully of whisky, surrounded us and begged for money. Among them an old Indian woman who looked like the witch of Endor (they said she was over a hundred years old) stretched out a long, bony, orang-outang arm, and when we gave her a few cents the old thing actually grinned with joy. It was painful to see this creature with the accumulated look of greed on her withered old brown face.
Our baggage-master always kept his hat on, slouched at a tremendous angle. We wondered how it could keep on unless it was pinned to his ear. Mr. Kasson begged us to pretend not to notice it, because the man was very sensitive on the subject. He told us his story. The man had been fishing with some friends, near an Indian settlement, when the Indians attacked them and killed the others outright. The baggage-master saved his life by "playing 'possum" (as Mr. K. called pretending to be dead), and the Indians scalped him with a broken tin can. If he had made the slightest movement they would have despatched him. How horrible! We wondered if it could be true!
To-morrow "the distinguished party" mentioned in the paper are going to arrive at Salt Lake City. I will write from there unless I am snatched up by some craving widower, if there exists such a thing as a widower—or by some husband with too few wives.
* * * * *
A wild desire possessed us to sit on the cow-catcher in order to get a better view of the canon. The engineer refused at first, but gave in at last. He said it was most dangerous.
"You might," he added, "scoop up a Chinaman, or some animal straying on the rails."
"How exciting!" we cried. "Who but a chosen few have the luck to scoop up a live Chinaman?"
Johan had the worst place, and therefore the least chance of getting the Chinaman. He sat up on a little iron seat attached to the boiler, holding on to the piston for dear life, and every time the whistle went off—and it went off very often—he nearly did the same. The fireman was obliged every other minute to whistle to frighten the cows away from the track. We others were more fortunate, having only to balance ourselves and clutch our neighbor. The least jar would have capsized us all. The Chinamen working on the railroad gazed at us in wonder; but we did not scoop any of them in, nor did we get any cows. The long tunnels were nasty and damp, and we were glad to breathe the fresh air again after having passed through them. After a ride of half an hour we got off our cow-catcher at the next station, feeling rather proud of the bravoure we had shown, but, all the same, thankful to be safe and sound.
Salt Lake City is such a pretty place, so beautifully situated. The great mountains capped with snow surround it and send the clearest mountain streams down through the streets. No town could be better drained than this one.
The lake is eighty miles away, and salted to exaggeration. Out of four quarts of water one can obtain one quart of salt. We thought of taking a bath in it and being sent home pickled and cured—of traveling.
We met on the train a Colonel Hooker, citizen of Utah. He introduced himself to us and gave us free passes on the railroad where the Mormon line branches off; so he must be some one of importance.
He telegraphed to announce our arrival at the hotel, and we flattered ourselves that all Mormondom would be agog. We did not, however, notice any great animation as we drove up to the hotel, and felt rather hurt that we did not create more of a sensation.
We had introductory letters to Brigham Young. The next day being Sunday, we went to the Tabernacle to attend their religious service. Happily, Brigham Young had returned the night before from St. Joseph, where he had sojourned with the "faithful." The Tabernacle is an enormous building which, we were told, can hold fourteen thousand people. It was filled to overflowing. The seating for the members was arranged in a semicircle of tiers, the minor elders sitting in the lowest seats. As the tiers mounted there were fewer seats and therefore fewer elders, and so on, until the highest point was reached, where the high priest—Brigham Young—sat alone in his glory. On the opposite side was the magnificent organ built in Boston. When they began building the Tabernacle, gigantic as they intended it to be, they did not know that the organ which had been ordered from Boston (probably wrong measurements had been sent) would be bigger than the Tabernacle. When it arrived they found that, instead of the organ having been made for the Tabernacle, the Tabernacle would have to be made for the organ.
To celebrate the Prophet's return they had the communion service. People all stayed in their pews, and the bread, cut in good healthy pieces, was handed about in bread-baskets; after which pitchers with ice-water were passed, and the water was poured in goblets, which were placed before the people. Brigham Young gave his flock a tremendous rating with lowering eyebrows and a thunder-cloud in each eye, and the flock trembled as one man. He said that during his absence they had not behaved themselves as they ought to have done. They had not only been found swearing and drunk, but they had mingled breath with the Gentiles. We feared he referred to Colonel Hooker, whose breath had mingled—the finger of wrath seemed to point that way. We felt very sorry for our companion and sat huddled together, a humiliated group of Gentiles, trembling to meet the glance of the wrathful Prophet.
After the service we were all received at Brigham Young's house, where he seemed to be expecting us. He looked like any old Vermont farmer, with his white fringe of beard under his fat, puffy cheeks, and his thick, jet-black eyebrows over his keen eyes. He talked to us about his mission in this world and told us about the hardships his people had borne when they came to St. Joseph, which was the first place they "struck" after their tramp over the desert, where most of the men died. It was there he received a mysterious message from on high telling him that bigamy would be pardonable under the circumstances. He told Johan that the Danes were some of his best subjects. Johan made his most diplomatic bow, as if he thought that this compliment to his nation ought to be acknowledged. We heard after that Brigham Young had said this because the Danes were known to take the most wives and ask no questions.
It seems that B.Y. is almost a widower now, poor man. He has only twenty-seven wives. Amelia reigns supreme just now; the others sit forlorn in rocking-chairs in their empty parlors, biting their nails and chewing the bitter gum of envy.
Johan thought we ought perhaps to demand an official "audience" of Amelia, but the others repulsed this inspiration. It was amusing to walk by Brigham Young's big house, a long rambling building with innumerable doors. Each wife has an establishment of her own, consisting of parlor, bedroom, and a front door, the key of which she keeps in her pocket.
We walked about after luncheon, and Colonel Hooker drove us through the streets and up the hill to show us the view, which was magnificent beyond words.
We left Salt Lake City next day with regret.
It was telegraphed to Reno that we were to arrive there, to be treated, escorted, and transported to Virginia City free of charge. They began the treating by giving us an excellent breakfast at the hotel. They asked us ladies if we wanted to go down the shaft with the gentlemen to see the famous silver-mine. We cried "Yes" with enthusiasm.
A dressing-room was put at our disposal, and the clothes we were to wear were neatly placed in piles. There were miners' jackets, miner's leather trousers, and felt hats. We chose the suits best fitting our different anatomies, and dressed. My choice fell on a boy's rather clean suit. We felt very rakish in the dressing-room, but very sheepish when we joined the gentlemen outside. In going down the shaft we had to stand on the platform of the cage, which had neither railing nor support of any kind. We went down thirteen hundred feet and stepped out into the alleys of the shining ore. After walking for what seemed miles, they showed us a hole and a shaft. We looked down a hundred feet deeper, where the men who were working were almost naked. The thermometer was fabulously high. There was a tank of cold water where the men who worked could plunge every two minutes out of the five. The air beginning to be rather oppressive, we requested to be taken up to our mother Earth. How glad we were to breathe the fresh air. A bath was awaiting us, and when we became ladies again we were taken all over the works, and saw the process of making silver bricks out of the walls we had been walking between, the beating of the metal, the sifting and weighing, and finally the silver bricks. They have 2,000 men working day and night. They are 1,400 feet below the surface now, and hope to go lower. The "pocket" is 175 feet long, but the poor stockholders' pockets are empty, for all that. (I am a stockholder and ought to know.)
Each lady was presented with a bag of silver ore-rocks they seemed to me. My bag had "500 dollars" written on it, in fun, I am sure. I left it at the hotel, as it was too heavy to carry.
We left Virginia City that evening for Carson City and slept there, glad to shake off the silver dust from our weary feet. The next day at 7 A.M. two carriages, one with four horses and the other with two, were before the door, and we drove up the mountain, took the little narrow-gage railroad which is there to carry the logs down to the lake. Sitting on the front logs, we rode down the mountain. The big beams of timber are brought to the mines in order to prop up the places where the ore has been taken out. These logs do a lot of traveling. They are cut on the other side of Lake Tahoe, dragged over the lake by a tug, sawed the right length by a sawing-mill, then carried up the mountain by this railroad and floated down by means of a wood trough, three feet wide, for twenty-two miles to another railroad, thence to Virginia City.
A steam-launch was waiting for us, and we cruised about this lovely lake, which is of the bluest water and the greenest shadows you ever saw. One sees a hundred feet down; the water is as clear as crystal. J. talked fishing with the pilot, who promised to take him out fishing with him. He caught a beautiful rainbow-trout (as they are called here) from the launch. When he gets home he will tell you how big the biggest fish was he lost.
We arrived at San Francisco at two o'clock. One of the men brought me some splendid cherries, big as plums, and Johan's consul met us on the ferryboat. This last was in a great hurry to get back to his home, as he did not know whether it was a boy or a girl.
We were driven to the Palace Hotel, which is very fine. Each of us had a complete apartment, salon, bed, and bathroom. Having been five days and nights in the train, you may imagine we were tired. I was not only tired, but dizzy and glad to go to bed.
Senator Sharon, who owns this hotel, sent us word begging us not to make any engagement for Saturday and Sunday next, as he intends inviting us to his country place. No bill is to be presented to us here. We are not expected to pay for anything. We are his guests, and, strange to say, not one of us knows him, excepting, of course, Mr. Kasson.
The drive out to the cliffs is enchanting. I had never seen a live sea-lion before, and here were thousands of them, barking, diving in the water and wriggling out of it, and basking in the sun on the rocks.
General McDowell took us out for an early tour the next day in his steam-launch. At five o'clock there was a dense fog covering everything, but suddenly it lifted as we approached. We made the circle of the Angel Island, then landed in a paradise of flowers. I don't think I ever saw such flowers as these. The heliotropes looked as big as cauliflowers, and I saw an ambitious and enormous tomato resembling a pumpkin, on the top of a veranda. The fuchsias were as large as dinner-bells, and when the sun rose over the bay no words can describe how beautiful it was—like one of Turner's pictures, only more exaggerated.
I think if I am going to be an angel, as I certainly am, instead of going to Paris when I die, I should prefer to go to this angelic island.
We ladies were invited by a well-known Chinese tea merchant to a Chinese feast. The table looked rather bare, having only a teacup and a plate before each person. The cups are double, the smaller one being placed on the other to keep in the tea-leaves. After drinking the pale water in which the leaves have soaked, we were served the viands. Each dish is brought in separately and put on the table. Every one of them is a ragout of some kind. The Chinaman dives in with his chopsticks, and aims for the best piece he sees. Everything is eaten from the same plate—indeed, why should the plate be changed, since everything tastes and looks alike? I waited in vain for birds'-nest pudding, but I could probably not have distinguished it from the other ragouts if it had been there.
The gentlemen went off on a purely masculine tour, with a policeman in tow. They wanted to see opium-dens and slums. They never told us a word of what they did see—the mean things! Philip V.R., accompanied by an American policeman, took us to a Chinese theater in the evening. I was so nervous I hardly dared to look about me.
The dusky mass of uncanny Chinamen with their shaved heads and their black pigtails sitting underneath us in the parquet was not pleasing, and the stage was merely a platform where some privileged of the audience sat unconcernedly. The scenery was—screens. How easy to shift. We had the policeman of course; but, though he kept a vigilant eye on us to prevent anything from happening in the way of an assault, as frequently happens here, the idea of fire frightened us to such a degree that our one wish was to get away. The upper gallery in which our box was situated was so low that you could touch the ceiling with your hand. The gas-jets had no globes, and the flickering flames suggested everything that was horrible. If there had been a fire no one could possibly have been saved. We felt no interest in the play. It had begun a month ago; the hero had not yet advanced further than his childhood. Perhaps next year when he grows up the play will be more interesting.
Nougats and other sweets, which looked as if they had circulated since the hero of the play was born, were passed about to the spectators. We were glad to reach the hotel in safety and bid our nice American policeman good night.
SAN FRANCISCO, May, 1877.
My dear Aunt,—The letters of introduction we brought to San Francisco have already procured us many invitations.
We were at a dinner last night, which Governor Stanford gave us. He has only twenty-five millions—hardly worth mentioning. Each of us ladies had a millionaire to take us in to dinner. Mine was most amiable. He passed all the other millionaires en revue; I wish I could remember all he said about them, but I only have a sort of vague recollection that every millionaire had come to San Francisco with only fifty cents in his pocket, and that all the millionaires' wives had gone, in former days, about in the streets of San Francisco selling milk or thread and needles. I was not spared the history of any of them. Mr. S. himself told me that he had made his fortune first in hosiery, and then he invested his money in stocks.
There were thirty people present, divided thus: distinguished party, ten; millionaires, twenty.
Every conceivable bird, alive or mechanical, was heard during this repast; besides, there were musical boxes at each end of the room, which made a tremendous confusion. I know to a cent how much this house cost—one million two hundred thousand dollars, my neighbor told me. It is a great, white, wooden, square house with a veranda around it, perched up on a sandy hill without any garden and without a view of any kind, and certainly without the least beauty.
The picture-gallery, which really has some fine pictures, cost four hundred thousand dollars.
They had had Italian workmen brought especially from Italy to put down the mosaic pavement in the hall, which was huge. We wandered through all the rooms, each one in a different style and epoch, and all in bad taste. I looked about in the so-called ballroom for a piano, and was surprised at not seeing one there; but I noticed several in the other rooms, decorated in the style of the room. They were in every color of wood and charged with brass ornaments. Evidently they were there as ornaments, not to be used. Some one must have said to Mr. S., "You must have a piano." And he must have answered: "Certainly. Of course we must. Let us have one in each room, by all means."
The servants all had mustaches and hair curled with tongs. I saw the eyebrows of my party go up at an angle when the servants offered them Johannesburg in gold cups, and still higher up when they saw the mustached waiters pouring white wine in glasses which were previously filled with red wine and alternated indiscriminately.
We were taken up-stairs to see Mrs. S.'s bedroom. It was worthy of an empress, having point-lace coverlids, satin down quilts trimmed with real Valenciennes.
What struck me the most in all this splendor was that so much money should have been expended in furnishing a perishable wooden palace which any tuppenny earthquake or fire could demolish in a moment. Another thing I noticed was that, though everything else was so handsome and costly, the glass and porcelain were of the most ordinary kind.
We enjoyed ourselves immensely and compared notes when we reached the hotel. Barring our individual millionaire, we hardly spoke to the others. We were simply insignificant meteors passing hastily in their midst.
Well, we went to the Senator's country place. A carriage with four horses was waiting for us at the station, and we drove up in fine style to the millionaire's mansion, where some Irish servants with baggy trousers, tumbled cravats, and no gloves opened wide the doors, ushering us into a large hall, where a gentleman whom we guessed was our host came forward to greet us.
We were glad that we were going at last to make his acquaintance. He is a millionaire and a Senator. That is all I can say about him at present, except that he is extremely hospitable. He did not know one of us from the other, except Kasson. He knew we were a "distinguished party" because the papers said so. When we were being dealt out to our rooms there was great confusion. Senator Sharon had an ancient dame de compagnie—the head priestess—who made it a particular point to dispose of Miss Clymer before any of the rest of us. She said, "Which of these gents is your husband?" At which Miss C. blushed and found no other answer than, "None." J. and I finally secured the same room, because when Mr. S. in a moment of despair said, with an all-comprehensive wave of his hand, "Gentlemen, please take your wives," J. and I paired off. The Senator did not notice this little detail, for when dinner was announced he said to J., "Will you please take that young lady in to dinner?" pointing to me. Johan explained in which relation he stood to the young lady. The Senator was not in the least surprised, and merely answered: "Is that so? Well, then, take some one else."
A semi-millionaire took me in. He told me all his early life of poverty and threw in various reminiscences. I never knew the like of millionaires for telling you of their former miseries. They always do! When the ancient dame saw Mr. Kasson and me talking after dinner, she said to us with a kittenish smile, "Husbands and wives mustn't talk together." Hopeless! We did not even try to explain. The evening was forlorn. There were many dreary drawing-rooms, horribly furnished, but brilliantly lighted. A brawling musical box was supposed to enliven us. We talked in that desultory way that one does with people whom you meet for the first time and never want to meet again. Some of the millionaires hovered among us, but failed to impress us either with their past or present fortunes. Oh, joy! Bedtime came at last.
I have just had time to scribble these few words before the post comes for my letter.
We have been driving about, admiring landscapes, one another, every one else, millionaires! Everything that money can do to spoil Nature has been done here, but Nature will have her own way in the end; and in spite of the millionaires' millions and the incongruity of everything, we cannot but admire this beautiful and wonderful country.
Before our departure the Senator actually knew us one from the other. He said to me, struggling with my names, "Well, Mrs. Lindermann Hegercrone, I am very sorry you are going."
* * * * *
We started on visit No. 2—this time to Mr. Lathrop's beautiful place in Menlo Park. The grounds are perfectly laid out. Flowers of all kinds arranged in parterres, clusters of trees such as I had never seen before, roses as big as sunflowers, and the beautiful sparkling lake in front of the window and the blue mountains in the distance, made the place a perfect paradise. The stables were extra fine, the floor and ceiling being inlaid in two kinds of wood found only in California. The room where the bridles were kept had such beautiful polished panels that they shone like mirrors. There must have been harnesses for twelve horses hanging on the walls. Mr. L. gave me a box made of the thirty different kinds of wood found in California.
The following day we drove with four horses to Mr. Rathbone's, who also has a gorgeous place. His picture-gallery is worthy of a Rothschild.
* * * * *
We left San Francisco for Los Angeles; the directors of the road put everything at our disposition as usual. We had a salon, bed, and dressing-rooms in one car, and Miss Cadwalader and Miss Clymer had similar ones in another. There were kitchen, dining and reading rooms for the whole party, which had now grown to be sixteen in number, Senator Conover and his wife and some officers going with General Taylor to Fort Yuma having joined us.
We went to Santa Monica, which is the fashionable watering-place of these parts. Here we drove on the beach, which is thirty miles long. A gentleman of Los Angeles was attached to our party and showed us the sights. We saw all kinds of ranches—orange, grape, and bee ranches. Then we drove to a Mexican settlement, where they gave us a gorgeous dinner, really worthy of more time than we could give it, for we had to leave at five o'clock for Los Angeles, where we dined again.
The next day we started off on another tour. We drove through twenty-five miles of banana, pineapple, pomegranate groves and vineyards. We tasted all the wines and fruit-syrups, and drank native port and champagne. We had a special train and arrived at Merced the next morning, to start on our Yosemite Valley tour.
Just our luck! The first rain for four months pours down to-day. We drove, nevertheless, from 7 A.M. until 6 P.M. (only stopping for our meals), over barren, sandy, and desolate country. We saw whole flocks of sheep dead and dying by thousands from want of care and drought. We (seven and the driver) were packed away in an open three-seated wagon with four horses, and drove over the dreariest road one can imagine. We passed continually places where the ground was all upturned, evidently either worked-out or abandoned gold-diggings. It was very pathetic when one thought of the work, time, and hopes wasted there. At twelve o'clock we reached Hunter's (the name of the hotel), and then we drove over more dismal plains still to a hotel called Clark's. It must originally have been a lovely place, but now it is spoiled by the gold-diggings. Here we stayed all night in a very rough kind of tavern. During the night we heard the howls of wolves and jackals very near the hotel, which was not pleasant. We started at five o'clock the next morning in a big, open char-a-bancs, and went through the most beautiful forest. The trees are all from one hundred and fifty to two hundred feet high, and from six to seven feet in diameter; hardly any smaller trees among them. And such wonderful ferns! And the ice-plants! This has a brilliant red stalk and flowers coming from under the snow. We were so high up that there was snow on the ground all about us. The trees are perfectly beautiful. The mansanilla, the branches of which are like red coral, and the leaves the lightest of greens, the California laurel, and many others of which I do not know the names, were too beautiful. The white pine has cones one and a half feet long.
We drove up for four hours through the forest, until we reached the height of five thousand feet. Here was a magnificent view, as you may imagine. Then we began going down. That was something dreadful! The driver, with his six horses, drove at a diabolical rate, one foot on the brake, the other planted against the dashboard to keep his balance, holding a tremendously long whip in one hand and the six reins in the other. I shut my eyes and said my prayers. I cannot find words to describe my emotion when I saw the precipice on one side and the mountain on the other, especially when we came to a sharp corner and looked in front, when we actually seemed to be going into space.
We arrived exhausted at the Yosemite Valley, where the feeling of repose at being on flat ground and driving through those green pastures surrounded by the six-thousand-feet-high mountains was delicious. We found the hotel large, comfortable, with a good many other visitors. The table d'hote dinner was well attended. Outside the hotel we spied an Indian lurking about. They told us that he was the last of the Yosemite tribe; he boasted that he had never spoken to a white man. I am sure no white man would ever care to speak to such an uncouth-looking tramp as he was, dressed in ragged clothes and wearing shabby boots, playing hide-and-seek in the most undignified manner, and utterly unworthy of the traditional Cooper Indian.
J. had time to put in a little fishing. The last of the Yosemites dodged behind the trees, watching him and probably envying him the lone minnow which was brought back in triumph.
The next morning we mounted horses and donkeys and rode up to Cloud's Rest to see the glorious view over the whole Yosemite range. Our horses picked their way most carefully over the stones and water puddles. J. had a donkey who pretended that he was weak in all his four legs. When he went up the mountain his fore legs stumbled at every moment, inviting J. to get off and lead him, and when he came down the mountain his back legs gave way and he sat down, so that J. could not help getting off. The result was that J. had to lead him both up and down and could have dispensed with his services entirely.
The Bride's Veil falls six thousand feet in a straight fall, becoming only a tiny spray and a fine mist before it reaches the rocks at the bottom.
Bright and early the next morning we drove to see Mirror Lake, which was really like a mirror. The air was deliciously fresh and fragrant with spring flowers. We bought some photographs and turned them upside down. The lake and mountains were so mirrored that you could not see which was top or bottom.
The next day being Sunday, we thought we would stay quietly in Yosemite Valley, enjoying the rest and beauty of our surroundings. The hotel was good, and the place was enticing. Here it was that the funniest thing happened we had yet encountered. A deputation of one knocked at our door at an early hour this morning. We had just finished a plain Sunday breakfast of hash, fried potatoes, corn cakes, griddle-cakes, and syrup fresh from the white-pine trees. But I am digressing, and the man is still knocking at our door. J. opened it and let him in. With many hums and haws he said that he had been sent to ask J. if he would read the prayers and preach a sermon in the drawing-room of the hotel, "its being Sunday and you being a minister."
J. was a little aghast, not exactly understanding, while I was shaking with laughter at the other end of the room, and would not have interfered for worlds for fear of losing a word of the dialogue.
"I read the gospel!" cried J.
"Yes, sir. You're a minister, ain't yer?"
"Well, yes, I am, but not the kind you mean."
The little man said, condescendingly: "We are not particular as to sect. Whether you're a Baptist or Methodist, it makes no difference as long as you will preach."
J. had difficulty in explaining in his best English that preaching was not a specialty of his. He did not add that all he did in that line was to administer occasionally a mild savon which he kept only for family use when we washed our linen at home.
The abashed ambassador left us, shaking his head, and evidently wondering why a minister, whether from Denmark or Lapland, couldn't preach, any more than a doctor who was a doctor couldn't practise.
You may be sure that this episode gave us plenty to laugh about to last all that beautiful day in the valley of Yosemite.
We stopped there altogether three days, and were lost in admiration and wonder at the beauty of everything. The greatest wonder the gentlemen met was the item on the bill for blacking boots, which was fifteen dollars. They paid without a murmur, because they wanted to tell their friends about it when they got home.
We took our leave of beautiful Yosemite Valley, throwing a disdainful look at the boots, and we saw the last of the Yosemites peeping at us from behind the shrubbery. We mounted the stage-coach which was to take us to Mariposa Grove. We drove up the mountain all right, but when the summit was reached the coachman began to whip up his six horses and started galloping them down and turning those corners in such a reckless manner that our hair stood on end; and in answer to our gentle words reminding him that there were human beings in the coach he said, coolly:
"Oh, I guess it'll be all right, but this is my first experience." On a sharp turn of the road we suddenly saw a great white pine about six feet in diameter lying right across our path. It had evidently fallen in the night. Fortunately, the driver saw it and managed to pull up his six horses in time to avoid a catastrophe.
How in the world should we ever get over this obstacle? All our projects would be disarranged if there came a single unexpected delay. A conseil de guerre was held, every one talking at once, and it was decided that the driver should unhitch the horses, and that each lady should hold two of them, while the men were to look about to find timber enough to improvise an inclined plane on both sides of this enormous tree-trunk, so that the coach could be hauled up on one side and dragged down on the other. The gentlemen managed to get the carriage over, then they led the horses over, and lastly we ladies were piloted across.
After a delay of an hour we were able to drive to Mariposa Hotel, where we found eight saddle-horses waiting for us. It was all most exciting, and we enjoyed every moment of the ride through the most beautiful forest in the world. The ordinary trees of this forest would be gigantic in any other part of the globe (six to seven feet in diameter), but when we "struck" the first big tree I almost fell off my horse with wonder. This tree was four hundred feet high and about thirty-three feet in diameter. I knew beforehand that they were monstrously big and high, but I did not know that they had such a beautiful color—a red cinnamon. The first branch was a hundred feet from the ground and six feet in diameter. In the Mariposa Grove there are three hundred of these giants. In one tree, which was partly hollowed out by fire, we seven people sat on horseback. That gives you an idea! We saw a carriage full of travelers drive through a hollow fallen tree as if through a tunnel. One must see these to imagine what they are like. The "Old Giant" was the most imposing and grandest of them all—thirty-seven feet in diameter, and high! One got dizzy trying to see the top, which is really not the top. The winds up there do not allow themselves to be encroached upon, and the young shoots are nipped off as soon as they appear.
We had to sleep at Mariposa Grove (Clark's Hotel) in the evening. We talked of nothing else but the wonderful trees until some one asked me if I was too tired to sing. I was willing enough. There was, in fact, a piano in the parlor—an old, yellow-keyed out-of-tune Chickering which had seen better days somewhere—and a spiral stool very rickety on its legs. There were wax flowers under dusty globes. Though no one of our party cared much for music, and the surroundings were anything but inspiring, still I longed to sing.
I sang a lot of things, and my tired audience no doubt thought I had done enough and ought to go to bed, which I did, after having received their thanks and seeing the heads of the servant-girls and various other heads and forms disappear from the veranda.
We left Clark's early in the morning without having made a second trip to the trees, as we wanted to, but the time was nearing when John Cadwalader was to leave us for his trip around the world. We were already too late as it was, and if anything should happen like another Gulliver across our downward path he would lose the steamer which starts from San Francisco in three days. I sat in the favorite seat next to the driver and waved a long farewell to the beautiful forest which I shall probably never see again.
Here another funny thing happened. Everything funny seems to happen at the end of our trip. The driver (a new one, not the one of yesterday) after a long silence, and having changed a piece of straw he was chewing from one side of his mouth to the other many times, made up his mind to speak. I did not speak first, though I longed to, as I am told it is not wise to speak to the man at the wheel, especially when the wheel happens to be a California coach and six horses.
"A beautiful day," the driver ventured.
"Yes," I said, "it is one of the most beautiful days I have ever seen."
He, after a long pause, said, "Was you in the hotel parlor last night?"
"Yes," I said, "I was."
"Did you hear that lady sing?"
"Yes, I did. Did you?"
"You bet I did. I was standing with the rest of the folks out on the piazza."
How curious it would be to hear a wild Western unvarnished, unprejudiced judgment of myself! "What did you think of her singing?" I asked my companion.
He replied by asking, "Have you ever heard a nightingale, ma'm?"
"Oh yes, many times," I answered, wondering what he would say next.
"Wal, I guess some of them nightingales will have to take a back seat when she sings."
I actually blushed with pride. I considered this was the greatest compliment I had ever had.
We arrived safely, without any adventure, at Sacramento, where John Cadwalader left us, and the rest of the party continued as far as Chicago together, where we bade each other good-by, each going his different way.
CAMBRIDGE, June, 1877.
My dear Sister,—Sarah Bernhardt is playing in Boston now, much to Boston's delight. I went to see her at the Tremont House, where she is staying. She looked enchanting, and was dressed in her most characteristic manner, in a white dress with a border of fur. Fancy, in this heat! She talked about Paris, her latest successes, asked after Nina, and finally—what I wanted most to know—her impressions of America.
This is her first visit. I found that she seemed to be cautious about expressing her opinions. She said she was surprised to see how many people in America understood French. "Really?" I answered. "It did not strike me so the other evening when I heard you in 'La Dame aux Camelias.'" "I don't mean the public," she replied. "It apparently understands very little, and the turning of the leaves of the librettos distracts me so much that I sometimes forget my role. At any rate, I wait till the leaves have finished rustling. But in society," she added, "I find that almost every one who is presented to me talks very good French." "Well," I answered, "if Boston didn't speak French I should be ashamed of it." She laughed. "Sometimes," she said, "they do make curious mistakes. I am making note of all I can remember. They will be amusing in the book I am writing. A lady said to me, 'What I admire the most in you, madame, c'est votre temperature.'" She meant "temperament." "What did you answer to that?" I asked. "I said, 'Oui, madame, il fait tres chaud,' which fell unappreciated."
She is bored with reporters, who besiege her from morning till night. One—a woman—who sat with note-book in hand for ages ("une eternite" she said) reporting, the next day sent her the newspaper in which a column was filled with the manner she treated her nails. Not one word about "mon art"! "Some of my admirateurs" she said, "pay their fabulous compliments through an interpreter." She thought this was ridiculous. When I got up to leave she said, "Chere madame, you know Mr. Longfellow?" "Yes," I replied, "very well." "Could you not arrange that I might make his bust? You can tell him that you know my work, and that I can do it if he will let me."
I told her that I would try. She was profuse in her thanks in anticipation, but, alas! Mr. Longfellow, when I spoke to him, turned a cold shoulder on the idea. He begged me to assure Sarah Bernhardt nothing would have given him more pleasure, but, with a playful wink, "I am leaving for Portland in a few days, and I am afraid she will have left Boston when I come back"—thus cutting the Gordian (k)not with a snap. But, evidently regretting his curtness, he said, "Tell her if she is at liberty to-morrow I will offer her a cup of tea." Then he added: "You must come and chaperon me. It would not do to leave me alone with such a dangerous and captivating visitor." He invited Mr. Howells and Oliver Wendell Holmes to meet her. I wrote to Sarah Bernhardt what the result of my interview was and gave the invitation. She sent back a short "I will come." The next afternoon I met her at Mr. Longfellow's. When we were drinking our tea she said, "Cher M. Longfellow, I would like so much to have made your bust, but I am so occupied that I really have not the time." And he answered her in the most suave manner, "I would have been delighted to sit for you, but, unfortunately, I am leaving for the country to-morrow." How clever people are!
Mr. Longfellow speaks French like a native. He said: "I saw you the other evening in 'Phedre.' I saw Rachel in it fifty years ago, but you surpass her. You are magnificent, for you are plus vivante. I wish I could make my praises vocal—chanter vos louanges."
"I wish that you could make me vocal," she said. "How much finer my Phedre would be if I could sing, and not be obliged to depend upon some horrible soprano behind the scenes!"
"You don't need any extra attraction," Mr. Longfellow said. "I wish I could make you feel what I felt."
"You can," she said, "and you do—by your poetry."
"Can you read my poetry?"
"Yes. I read your 'He-a-vatere.'"
"My—Oh yes—'Hiawatha.' But you surely do not understand that?"
"Yes, yes, indeed I do," she said. "Chaque mot."
"You are wonderful," he said, and fearing that she might be tempted to recite "chaque mot" of his "Hiawatha," hastened to present Mr. Holmes, who was all attention.
At last the tea-party came to an end. We all accompanied her to her carriage, and as she was about to get in she turned with a sudden impulse, threw her arms round Mr. Longfellow's neck, and said, "Vous etes adorable," and kissed him on his cheek. He did not, seem displeased, but as she drove away he turned to me and said, "You see I did need a chaperon."
Johan has just come home from Boston, bringing incredible stories about having talked in a machine called telephone. It was nothing but a wire, one end in Boston and the other end in Cambridge. He said he could hear quite plainly what the person in Cambridge said. Mr. Graham Bell, our neighbor, has invented this. How wonderful it must be! He has put up wires about Boston, but not farther than Cambridge—yet. He was ambitious enough to suggest Providence. "What!" cried the members of the committee. "You think you can talk along a wire in the air over that distance?" "Let me just try it," said Bell. "I will bear half the expense of putting up the wire if you will bear the other half."
He was ultra-convinced of his success when, on talking to his brother in Cambridge from Boston in order to invite him to dinner, adding, "Bring your mother-in-law," he heard, distinctly but feebly, the old lady's voice: "Good gracious! Again! What a bore!"
There is also another invention, called phonograph, where the human voice is reproduced, and can go on for ever being reproduced. I sang in one through a horn, and they transposed this on a platina roll and wound it off. Then they put it on another disk, and I heard my voice—for the first time in my life. If that is my voice, I don't want to hear it again! I could not believe that it could be so awful! A high, squeaky, nasal sound; I was ashamed of it. And the faster the man turned the crank the higher and squeakier the voice became. The intonation—the pronunciation—I could recognize as my own, but the voice!... Dear me!
[Johan, desiring me to know his family, suggested that we spend the Christmas holidays in Denmark, and we arrived safely after a slow and very stormy voyage.]
"BJOERNEMOSE," December 20, 1877.
Dear Mother,—Denmark looks very friendly under its mantle of snow, glistening with its varnish of ice. It is lovely weather. The sun shines brightly, but it is as cold as Greenland. They tell me it is a very mild winter. Compared with Alaska, it may be! The house, which is heated only by large porcelain stoves, is particularly cold. These stoves are filled with wood in the early morning, and when the wood is burned out they shut the door and the porcelain tiles retain the heat—still, the ladies all wear shawls over their shoulders and shiver. I go and lean my back up against the huge white monument, but this is not considered good form.
The Baltic Sea, which is at the foot of the snow-covered lawn, is filled with floating ice. It must be lovely here in the summer, when one can see the opposite shores of Thuro across the blue water.
My new family, taken singly and collectively, is delightful. I shall tell you later about the dear, genial General—my father-in-law—the kind mother, and the three devoted sisters. Now I shall only write—as I promised you—my first impressions.
We live in a manner which is, I fancy, called "patriarchal," and which reminds me continually of Frederika Bremer's book called Home. A great many things in the way of food are new to me. For instance, there is a soup made of beer, brown bread, and cream, and another made of the insides of a goose, with its long neck and thin legs, boiled with prunes, apples, and vinegar. Then rice porridge is served as soup and mixed with hot beer, cinnamon, butter, and cream. These all seem very queer, but they taste very good, I asked for oatmeal porridge, but I was told that oatmeal was used only for cataplasms. Corn is known only as ornamental shrubbery, and tomatoes, alas! are totally unknown.
Every one I have met so far has been most kind and hospitable. We have been invited out to dinner several times. I will describe the first one, which was unique as a debut.
The distances are enormous between country houses in this land; and, as the hour named for dinner was six o'clock, we had to begin dressing in the afternoon at the early hour of three. At four we were packed in the family landau, with a mountain of rugs and different things to keep our feet warm. We jogged along the hard, slippery highroad at a monotonous pace; and, as it is dark at four o'clock, nothing could have been more conducive to slumber and peaceful dreams. Finally we arrived. Every one was standing up when we entered the salon. There seemed to be a great number of people. I was presented to all the ladies, and the gentlemen were brought up one by one and named to me. They bowed, shook my hand, and retired. I noticed that all the ladies wore long trailing skirts—lilac or gray—and had real flowers in their hair and on their bosoms. Dinner was announced. Then there came a pause. The host and the hostess were looking about for some one to undertake me—some one who could tale Engelsk (talk English). Finally they decided upon a lank, spectacled gentleman, who offered me his arm and took me in.
My father-in-law, who was the person highest in rank, sat on the left of the hostess. I thought this peculiar, but such is the custom here. From the moment we sat down until we rose from the table my English-speaking friend never stopped talking. He told me he had learned my language when a boy, but had forgotten a great deal; if he had said he had forgotten it entirely he would have been nearer the truth.
He wanted to tell me the family history of a gentleman opposite us, and began by saying: "Do you see that gentleman? He has been washing you all the time."
"Washing me?" I exclaimed. "What do you mean?"
"Yes, the one with the gray hairs and the bird."
I looked about for a canary perched on some one's nose.
"It is a pity," he went on to say, "that he has no shield."
"How is that?" I asked. "I thought every one had a shield of some sort?" To make it clearer to me, he said, uln Danish we call a shield a barn."
"Is he a farmer?" said I, much puzzled.
"Oh dear, no! He is a lawyer like me."
"Then what does he want with a barn?"
"Every couple [pronounced copol] wants burn," he replied.
"What is it they want?" I asked. "What do you call burn?"
"Burn," he explained, "is pluriel for barn. Eight barn, two burn."
"What?" I cried, "eight barns to burn! Why do they want to burn eight barns? They must be crazy!"
All this will sound to you as idiotic as it did to me, but you will get the explanation at the end of the chapter, as I did—on the drive home—the two hours of which were entirely taken up in laughing at the mistakes of the good lawyer, who did his best.
Our conversation languished after this. My brain could not bear such a strain. Suddenly he got up from his chair. I thought that he was going to take himself and his English away, but after he had quaffed a whole glass of wine, at one swallow, bowed over it, and pointed his empty glass at Johan, he resumed his seat, and conversation flowed again.
It seems that Johan had honored him with a friendly nod and an uplifted glass, which obliged him to arise and acknowledge the compliment.
In Denmark there is a great deal of skaal-drinking (skaal, in Danish, means drinking a toast). I think there must be an eleventh commandment—"Thou shalt not omit to skaal." The host drinks with every one, and every one drinks with every one else. It seems to me to be rather a cheap way of being amiable, but it looks very friendly and sociable. When a person of high rank drinks with one of lower the latter stands while emptying his glass.
When we left the table I did not feel that my Danish had gained much, and certainly my partner's English had not improved. However, we seemed to have conversed in a very spirited manner, which must have impressed the lookers-on with a sense of my partner's talent for languages.
On our return to the salon we found more petroleum-lamps, and the candelabra lighted to exaggeration with wax candles. The lamp-shades, which I thought were quite ingenious, were of paper, and contained dried ferns and even flattened-out butterflies between two sheets of shiny tissue-paper. The salon had dark walls on which hung a collection of family portraits. Ladies with puckered mouths and wasp-like waists had necks adorned with gorgeous pearls, which had apparently gone to an early grave with their wearers. I saw no similar ones on the necks of the present generation. After the coffee was served and a certain time allowed for breathing, the daughter of the house sat down, without being begged, at an upright piano, and attacked the "Moonlight Sonata." This seemed to be the signal for the ladies to bring out their work-bags.
The knitting made a pleasing accompaniment to the moonlight of the sonata, as if pelicans were gnashing their teeth in the dimness. The sterner sex made a dash for the various albums and literature on the round table in the center of the room, and turned the leaves with a gentle flutter. The sonata was finished in dead silence. As it was performed by one of the family, no applause was necessary. I was asked to sing; and, though I do not like to sing after dinner, I consented, not to be disobliging. Before taking my seat on the revolving piano-stool I looked with a severe eye at the knitting-needles. The ladies certainly did try to make less noise, but they went on knitting, all the same.
The flushed-with-success lawyer, wishing to show his appreciation of my singing, leaned gracefully across the piano, and said, "Kammerherrinde [that is my title], you sing as if you had a beard in your throat."
"A what?" I gasped. "A beard?"
"Yes! a beautiful beard," and added, with a conscious smile, "I sing myself."
Good heavens! I thought, and asked, "Do you know what a beard is?"
"In Danish we call a beard a fugle" (pronounced fool.)
"Then," I said, pretending to be offended, "I sing like a fool?"
"Exactly," he said with enthusiasm, his eyes beaming with joy through his spectacles.
This was hopeless. I moved gently away from the man who "talked English."
The candles had burned down almost to their bobeches, and we were beginning to forget that we had eaten a dinner of fifteen courses, when in came a procession of servants with piles of plates in their arms and trays of smoerdroed (sandwiches), tea, beer (in bottles), and cakes, which are called here kicks. Everything seemed very tempting except the things handed about by the stable-boy, who was dressed for the occasion in a livery, much too large, and was preceded and followed by a mixed odor of stable and almond soap.
What struck me as unusual was that the host named the hour for his guests to go home. Therefore all the carriages were before the door at the same time.
Johan explained the mistakes on the way home.
"The man with the gray hairs and the beard" (pronounced like heard) had been watching me. Shield meant child! A child in Danish is et barn, which sounds the same as eight barn. Two children (in Danish) are to boern, pronounced toe burn. Bird he pronounced like beard, because it was written so. A bird in Danish is fugle (fool).
Do you wonder that I was somewhat bewildered?
Dear Mother,—After Christmas Johan and I went to Copenhagen, where I was presented to the King and the Queen. I was first received by the Grande Maitresse, Madame de Raben, and three dames d'honneur, who were all pleasant but ceremonious. When the Queen entered the room and I was presented to her she was most gracious and affable. She motioned me to sit down beside her on the sofa. She said that she had heard much about me. She spoke of my father-in-law, whom she loved, and Johan, whom she liked so much. She was most interested to hear about you and the children. She had heard that Nina promised to be a beauty.
"If children would only grow up to their promises!" I said.
"Mine have," said the Queen; "they are all beautiful."
She showed me the photographs of the Princess of Wales and the Grand-Duchess Dagmar of Russia. If they resemble their pictures they must indeed be beautiful.
The salon in which we sat was filled with drawings, pastels, and photographs, and was so crowded with furniture that one could hardly move about.
"I've been told," the Queen said, "that you have a splendid voice and sing wonderfully. You must come some day and sing for me; I love music." Then we talked music, the most delightful of subjects. The King came in. He was also perfectly charming, and as kind as possible. He is about sixty years old, but looks younger, having a wonderfully youthful figure and a very handsome face. The King preferred to speak French, but the Queen liked better to talk English, which she does to perfection.
"Have you learned Danish yet?" the King asked me.
"Alas! your Majesty," I answered, "though I try very hard to learn, I have not mastered it yet, and only dare to inflict it on my family."
"You will not find it difficult," he said. "You will learn it in time."
"I hope so, your Majesty—Time is a good teacher."
He told me an anecdote about Queen Desiree, of Sweden, wife of Bernadotte, who on her arrival in Stockholm did not know one word of Swedish.
She was taught certain phrases to use at her first reception when ladies were presented to her. She was to say, "Are you married, madame?" and then, "Have you any children?" Of course, she did not understand the answers. "She was very unlucky," the King laughed, "and got things mixed up, and once began her conversation with a lady by asking, 'Have you any children?'"