This process made one very alert lest he be trapped by the feet. Stewart was always regarded by the most conservative shoppers as a parvenu. Personally Mother never shopped-by that I mean she did not have the habit of going from place to place examining and handling articles that she did not intend to buy. Snooping, sister Bea called it, this having roll upon roll of heavy woolens or delicate silks taken down and displayed simply for a morning's amusement.
At this time all materials of light color or delicate fabric when stored upon the shelves were usually wrapped in cloths, so there. There were trials as well as pleasures connected with these shopping trips. Often when the visitors had made a purchase and the goods been taken to Boston or Providence, they would come back by way of Mother for exchange. Up to a certain point she was very patient even though she had no sympathy with indecision.
All the martyrs did not die in the Roman arena. Our budget always being an eel-skin fit, buying, with Mother, was the art of harnessing need and desire as evenly as possible, so every purchase was final. There were no mailorder departments in the shops then to relieve city dwellers of this responsibility of exchange shopping. The day came, however, when Mother shut down upon any and all exchange making.
This was when a friend of a second cousin in Boston, having in May bought a cut-off dress length of summer silk, the same being of an extremely splashy pattern, returned it the next December to be "exchanged for something more seasonable. The hotel itself was a landmark of romance, the centre of a popular go-to-bed story, for it was there that Mother and Father had spent three days on the return from their Niagara wedding trip in , this journey having in part been accomplished by canal boat.
This long trip was taken in a Broadway stage, the choosing of which was a matter of some moment to me, for the high-swung stages showed elaborate pictures painted on their sides and of these I had my favorites so that I would coax Father to allow several to pass until the desired picture came by. So real were these paintings to me that when once.
The Broadway stages ran past Trinity Church quite down to the Bowling Green, a neat little park enclosed by a high fence. Beyond this was land's end, not no man's land but every man's land-Castle Garden, the gate thrown open to welcome all strangers, where a clearing house for immigrants had followed the Concert Hall of Jenny Lind's fame. In the open space about the building there was a strange mixture of romance and geography, strange faces and strange costumes. From what countries had they come, and why? Father's answers and putting them together made a game for me to play, half reality, half make-believe, for one day I was quite sure that I saw Hansel and Gretel walking hand in hand.
I loved these trips, for Father was always my companion. We usually stopped at Trinity Church, if there was a service or choir practice, or if not there was always a chance that the bells might peal the hour and these bells spoke a tongue that I understood beyond the power of words. Even the usual walks up Broadway from Canal Street were also Wonderland to me if Mother was my companion. Besides the broad-fronted houses of many people who belonged to the parish, all of whom Mother knew, there was Barnum's Museum and the Olympic Theatre, where I was always allowed to stop and read the display bill of the play.
Then came the bookshops, Scribner's and David Francis', who, not being a publisher but a general dealer, spread forth many delectable meals, so that it was almost a club gathering place where Father was sure to meet friends, both amateur collectors and the real grubbing bookworms. Francis knew Mother's. Chances were that, as we passed, Father himself might be coming out the door with a package in his hand and a bump in each side-pocket of his coat. By this time Bea and Gatha, being grown-up young ladies who were mindful of the fashions, had coaxed Father to give up his heavy gray long-shawl which had done noble service as an extra winter wrap, so that now in addition to the straight black overcoat worn of Sundays and for funerals he had an ample and quite modish mixed gray coat called a raglan, with shoulder capes covering the arms.
This was much more efficient for smuggling books home than the shawl, which, if suddenly and heedlessly loosened, would dump its contents with a thud and a slide-off as startling as when a two-wheeled coal cart lets down its load. Of all these places the best came last, the picture shop, that was called an Art Gallery because it had an exhibition room with top light. This was not far from Father's church and on the opposite side of Broadway.
In the front of this shop were counters and drawers full of prints. In the rear the walls of the gallery were hung about with paintings and prints both black and white and in colors. It was in this room that the proprietor Wilhelm Schaus could be found. He might have traced his lineage back to Santa Claus, so big a heart had he and so well could he read and understand the mind of a child. A child who vaguely but intensely loved color and beauty of form, but whose art sense and love, at this period, was centered upon a series of kitten pictures in which snow-white kittens with blue eyes were doing all the possible tricks of the pets beloved by childhood.
I would stand quietly for a long time dividing my attention between the kittens and what must have been awful and very robust still-life studies, the combination of a dish of cherries, a. Meanwhile Father would be seated before a portfolio of steel engravings, some friend having asked Mr. Schaus to ascertain his likings prior to the next Christmas or perhaps Easter, having a gift in view. Bartholomew, The Prayer Before Battle, John Calvin,-yes, and they gave them to us, for we had these and many more on our walls in the course of time, all framed in heavy black walnut with sad gray-tinted mats.
It is but a short time ago that I have shaken myself free from the last of them and not wholly free even now, for 7ohn Calvin has elusively slid down behind the rafters in the country attic and may again see light when the roof is reshingled. Mother meanwhile would flit gracefully about in her black velvet bonnet, plain cloth gown, and the bright India shawl, chosen by Father be it said, looking among the dark frames very like a scarlet tanager in the country woods. She never paused long until she reached the corner where were kept the colored prints of hunting scenes, stage coaches and prancing horses and such like, for Mother dearly loved good horses and the pictures of them.
As a very young girl she had possessed a riding horse of her own and Grandfather Murdock let her pin up the skirt of her long habit well above her boots when she was quite out of Boston town and together they explored the wild, unpathed fen country in a freedom almost of today. The time came when one of the kitten pictures preceded me home. It was with difficulty that I was kept from taking it to bed for a pillow.
Most of us have had a kitten period in our lives, from which, circumstances permitting and if we are wholesome out. Yet not to have known at least one kitten intimately is to have been cheated out of one's rights, just as a child who has never had a widebranched, climbable apple tree in its life, with whispered secrets of birds' nests above and a strong branch to hold a swing, has missed a lasting thrill and a good bit of education as well. Dear Wilhelm Schaus! He was of the type of wholesouled Germans that will be cherished long after the taint of Prussianism is washed from the race.
In course of time he led me from blue-eyed cats to nobler animals, though of course there were a few of Prang's chromos, in between; and I vividly remember the day when with a smile he said, "Meine herz blumen, now thou shalt see true art," and he took from a newly arrived packing case the engraving after Landseer's The Twins, -sheep and two collies; Two Nut Crackers and a Piper, gray squirrels and a bullfinch, the latter being a combination of line, stipple and mezzotint giving the squirrels' fur such an effect of reality that I tried to stroke it with my hand, also a brownish print of Moreland's Rural Pleasures.
Many years after Evan gave me proof copies of these prints, but the memory of that smile and his pleasure in my first delight has never faded. After this we would walk up Broadway until we reached Eleventh Street and turned west. This street, unlike other crosstown thoroughfares, was then numbered from Broadway instead of from Fifth Avenue, as the refusal of the Brevoorts to sell a right-of-way through the original farm cut off the street. The architecture of two churches broke the monotony of rows of very uninteresting houses, Grace Church at the head of the street and the First Presbyterian at Fifth Avenue.
This latter to myself I called the "wicked church,". Once I had been taken to a service there by Norah Goodnuf, a very nonconformable Scottish second-girl. Instead of the singing being led by organ music, a tall, thin man stood up and tweaked something that looked like a twig and when it hummed the hymn began.
Norah called it a "tuning fork" and said that the man was setting the key, also that "organs were ill-favored, unseemly instruments of Baal and wicked to have in a kirk, not being mentioned for such use in the Scripture. Soon after this one day when I was walking with Aunt Cinder we saw a group of people dressed in black standing in the grassed yard at the north of the church close to the edge of a deep hole. Aunt Cinder said it was a funeral and wished to hurry on. I understood funerals as I knew them in the country, but here there were no name stones and no flowers.
Thinking she was mistaken and being balky, I clung to the bars of the high fence and watched. Presently some men came up a ladder out of the hole; a tomb I found was the name of it. They covered the hole with earth, put back the sods, and went away, leaving nothing behind, not even one flower-only loneliness. Then I felt sure that it was indeed a wicked church whose yard swallowed people and left no sign.
Once or twice each week Mother asked Father to go to market, because, as I heard her tell Madam Gray, "it gives Samuel a reason for leaving his desk and taking a breath of morning air, it brings him in contact with many groups of people, and it keeps him in touch with the exact cost of our daily bread without any words of explanation from me.
Oh, unnecessary talk about money is so bad for family life! The Dominie must come out of the clouds to earth occasionally and in this way you do it without jarring him. Two dimples played about the corners of her mouth and then disappeared as her lips took serious lines. Of course I did not then understand Madam Gray's exact meaning, but in later times it Mother loved her mate in so complete and protective a way that she would never jar his sensitive nature by letting material needs become a personal matter. Thus through a life of much strain, many dark corners and heart-rending sacrifices, the veil of romance was never rent in twain by her and she turned the silver lining toward Father from many a sable cloud.
Jefferson Market was a delightful place to go. Everyone knew us and said good morning even though we did not buy at their stalls. The first stand as you entered the middle door belonged to the pork butcher, who also sold butter, eggs and cheese. This stand was kept by a middle-aged man and his old mother. His real name has gone from me. I called him the Pink Man and so it is written in memory, for his skin was the color of the meat of a rosy ham and his hair the hue of the pale yellow rind of fat. Back of this stall, with its cleanly scraped white wood counter, was a sort of closet with a half door.
Within this little pen was a small stove holding a tea kettle that seemed to be always purring and anxious to boil. The Pink Man's mother used to take refuge in this coop on cold mornings or when trade was slack. She was a buxom little English woman also of very warm coloring, through which her age was told by its deeply veined quality. She wore a clean white apron over her black gown, and a tartan shawl folded diagonally was crossed over the chest and tied back of the waist to keep the ends from dragging.
Above her shining, well-oiled black hair I did not realize then that it was the half wig called a frizzette , beginning almost between her shoulders there grew a bonnet of curious pattern. It was half sunbonnet, half coal-scuttle poke. Lace tabs fell over her ears. These I later discovered belonged to the typical lace cap worn by self-respect. The wide bonnet strings were usually untied and rolled up neatly and pinned into little bobs under the ears.
She seemed always to be either drinking or brewing tea. An iron bracket was hooked on the side of the stove as a hob for the steeping, for if the teapot were set directly on the fire it might "over do," as she worded it. Back of the stove was a shelf holding half a dozen dark blue china cups and saucers, a tin box for bread, and some jars of jam. As soon as the old lady came to the door of her retreat, cup in hand, and the aroma of the freshly made tea floated out, it was a sign as sure as the hands of the market clock that it was nine, and quite time that early risers should have a cup and a snack, she said.
In the beginning she had sometimes asked me into her "bit coop" to warm myself, as often Father met friends also bent on marketing with whom he stopped to chat. Samuel Ward also, who gave wonderful dinners, so delectable that they made Father eat too much, Mother said, and was so witty and had so many long stories to tell the other men that when I saw him I was glad to take refuge in the coop. This she said was for me, and I was to tell my mother that it was only calico tea she was giving me. I failed to see any calico in it, I only knew that it was hot and tasted something like when you chew a stalk of new,.
Next beyond the pork stall on the opposite side of the aisle came Tyson with poultry and vegetables; next was Devoe with meats. Devoe was very pleasant and smiling; very good meat he had too, but I had heard Mother say the weight was very short. Then one morning when Father remembered to ask him if his scales were in good repair, he said that lately he himself had suspected them and had just ordered new ones. After that Mother said there was at least one more chop in the pound.
At the end of the main aisle was Davis the fishmonger. Sometimes I found small shells, tiny fiddler crabs, sand-dollars and starfish in the seaweed packed among the oysters and clams. But after all it was the pork butcher's store that attracted me most, not his wares but Cup o' Tea, his comfortable mother, and in spring the bunches of fresh lilacs that garnished the stall long before the half starved bush in our yard opened a single bud, added to the lure.
Especially was I glad of Cup o' Tea's coop and company if the great fire bell above our head began to boom. For some years after the fire engines were drawn by horses, instead of, as in the early sixties, by the volunteers running afoot, this bell was sounded from the watchtower and it was by counting the strokes that we might locate the fire.
The key to these numbers was in the form of a small book with a dull pink cover. This book cost six cents and could be bought, among other places, at Taffy John's Candy Shop near the brewery at the Greenwich Avenue corner of Eleventh Street. I always kept this little book in my apron or coat pocket, for going to fires was one of my greatest desires. In those days when my home name was Tommy and I could stand on my. I had seldom seen a really big fire, for neither Father nor Aunt Cinder cared to run after the engines. Mother usually had sewing to do, or callers when the fire bell rang, Gatha would be at her music lesson, and Bea her drawing class at the Cooper Institute.
One day, however, I did see a really satisfactory fire though in a very unexpected way. There had been a triple alarm, and people were running down the street westward toward the river. Clouds of heavy smoke rising above the brewery were goading me to desperation. O'Connell the chore man, who had a trade in rags, bottles and scrap-iron as a side issue, was coming out of the basement and found me hanging on the front gate in the hope of having an invitation to run to the fire.
Melted by the sight of my tears, which were too profuse to be licked up, without asking a question or by-your-leave, he lifted me into his twowheeled pushcart with its string of bells dangling merrily above and seated me on a bundle of papers. Looking up at the windows and seeing no one, he bumped me over the cobbles toward the North River pier where a great five-masted schooner laden with lumber was in flames.
These had leaped over to the shore to feed on piles of lumber as well as many low rambling buildings. When O'Connell got as near as he thought safe he lifted me on his shoulders so that, he being a tall, bulky man, I not only saw perfectly but sat comfortably. We stayed until the brilliancy of the fire had passed and O'Connell, fearing that I might be hungry, bought some oysters from a grimy-looking man who was peddling them from a large basket, opening them for the buyers who ate them out of the shells.
O'Connell, who would have none of the strange man's handling, did the opening himself with a stout clasp knife. I almost felt afraid of them, for the first seemed to wiggle its way down as if it did not like being swallowed. But these being my Tommy days I felt that I must live up to my name and so I managed five, one after the other rapidly, their intense saltiness coming to my aid.
To attempt the sixth I felt would result in a calamity of which no child who wished to be a good sport would be guilty in the street. Six was the number that O'Connell felt suitable for me, so, as he shifted me from one shoulder to the other, I slipped the final oyster inside the neck of my frock where it slid coldly down until it was stopped by my belt.
Be it said that home was reached in safety and I was again swinging on the gate when Gatha returned from her music lesson. Of course I told Mother about it in the go-to-bed-time of confidences and conscienceeasing confessions, and O'Connell squared himself in the kitchen with Mary Daly and she passed his apology on to Father who, judging by the way he took me about with him, had much the same ethics concerning my bringing-up. All the family went excepting Mother and me. Mother was too busy sewing, and as for poor little me, I "might take cold or get in the way," Gatha had explained, when Aunt Kinnie Haven's invitation came.
On their return the account of the thrilling scene was told and retold downstairs to Mary Daly, the most angelic, big-hearted Irish helper that we ever had. She listened and at first said nothing, but gave a little twitch to her left shoulder which I knew by experience meant that she was thinking out something, while I stood beside her wide-eyed and disconsolate. Tomorrow there'll be smoke and smoulder enough, I'll warrant ye, and we'll have the grand time seeing what isn't there any more. There was enough confusion and smoke left to satisfy anyone and my curiosity was soon gratified, for I had not only seen what was not there, but the smell of the "smoulder" is yet a vivid memory.
Going with Aunt Cinder was like walking through a sort of golden maze, stopping before various shop windows, or watching children sliding in the gutter, flying kites, playing marbles or pegging tops according to season. Dear Aunt Cinder, I wonder that her right hand could hold either pen or needle, from the pulling it had from mine in these walks. For I always held her hand from choice, touch is so subtle and means so much; to be able to squeeze her hand expressed pleasure more quickly than words-a return squeeze meant approval.
As our circuit was limited, every detail in consequence became of importance. It was here that school books, stationery and valentines could be bought. This was one of those very useful stationer's shops of the old era, in which books were treated with a respect which lent dignity to the salesman and impressed the buyer, a dignity that is lacking in these days of competition when literature and face powder or flesh-reducing rubber corsets are sold in adjacent sections of a department store.
The return from Burnton's was usually a detour 4'. If it was very cold or threatened rain I went in also to look at the Chinese curiosities that Nabob had brought home. Or perchance I might have the good luck to see Nabob himself. This was my name for Madam Gray's eldest son, who having been in the China trade was caught in one of the periodic uprisings against the English, in whose defence he had taken up arms.
Having been shot by a poisoned bullet of cruel, triangular shape he had lost a leg well above the knee. This was replaced by one of cork, which he did not always use, but mostly sat in a deep chair with a wrap thrown over his knee and a small table beside him for his books, cigars, or whatnot. To me Nabob was a cross between a potentate and a magician, who told wonderful tales of Oriental splendor, half folklore, half experience, and was always sure to produce something desirable, by what appeared to be sleight-of-hand, for me to take home. Sometimes when he felt very poorly and did not leave his chair, he would send Lewis Potter, his body servant these men were not called valets in New York at that time , to bring some candied ginger or sweetmeats, or, if it was midmorning or late afternoon, he would call for his tea service of egg-shell porcelain set on a lacquered tray with raised gold figures, a burnished metal kettle with spirit lamp, and a tea caddy of octagon shape decorated with dragons.
On the tray were two bowl-shaped cups, without handles but covered, broad as they were deep; in fact the cups and covers looked the same. The cup partly rested in a little frame of exquisitely fine wicker that kept it from slipping in the saucer. I can see his thin nervous fingers now, as, after Lewis Potter he was always addressed by his full name had scalded the tea cups, he measured an even half caddy-spoonful into each, poured on the boiling water, and covered the cups for exactly three minutes.
To impress upon me the importance of exact time in tea brewing he always made me hold his watch and count the seconds. This done, with a deft motion he poured the liquid into the cover which then became the cup, and the potion was ready. Nabob drank his tea clear, as he said one would never think of spoiling a finely flavored wine with sugar and cream.
In my cup he dropped a few bits of rock candy as a concession to childhood. It was in these halcyon days that Nabob gave me, besides a red lacquered cabinet, a desk and several chests of small boxes, and the figure of a porcelain mandarin done in bright colors, whose lack of clothing over the abdomen caused me to wrap it in a flannel garment on cold nights even though its home was on the mantelshelf above the fire. He also had made for me a complete sailor suit, bell-shaped trousers, widecollared blouse, cap, bos'n's whistle and all, and taught me by directions executed by the horrified Lewis Potter, to dance a sailor's hornpipe, slap my thighs and say, "Shiver my timbers!
My walks did not always lead to Washington Square. On the east side of Sixth Avenue a little above Eighth Street was the Shop of Severe Temptation-Minner's the confectioner, in whose window there was always a display of bride's cake sometimes three stories high, with trimming of silver lace and rosebuds, topped by a miniature bride and groom. Then there would be. This was the hungry side of Sixth Avenue, for a block above was Walduck's bakery that lured both eyes and nose with cracker rabbits and sheets of crinkled gingerbread.
Then came De La Vergne's chemist shop with gloriouscolored glass jars in the windows, and one small counter holding rows of highly flavored lozenges and barley sticks that could be bought for a few pennies, as well as rock candy of several colors that one might make into a necklace by joining the strings about which it had crystallized. Rhubarb and senna were also bought at this shop, but one could forget that when looking in the window. If Aunt Cinder steered successfully by these places, for she had a soft heart and always a little money in her purse, we walked more briskly.
The Grapevine, the saloon at the corner of Eleventh Street that always smelled of beer from the kegs piled on the sidewalk, and Quimby's hardware store on the opposite corner, were easily passed except when displays of sleds or skates were in season. Heath was one of the long-bodied, shortlegged type of perfectly self-sufficient English tradesmen; he had straggling side-whiskers, parted his hair down the middle at the back, and shed a musty odor such as wasps gave to our attic in the country.
Heath was a timid, slender gentlewoman whose mismating was quite evident, even if silently borne. She had a little parlor back of the shop to which we sometimes went, where many bits of old china, figurines, candlesticks and such like interested both Mother and Aunt Cinder. One of her old country treasures, a candle-holder with three lilies painted on its porcelain screen, is on my table now.
Samuel Heath was set against hoarding them. Heath's keynote. So Mother and Aunt Cinder, who understood, often dropped in for a chat and to admire the little woman's possessions which seemed to restore her pride, making, as a reason for these visits that S. Heath could understand, purchases of odds and ends, though most of the stock on sale was unseasonable.
Jones, stationery and notions, came next. Everything was desirable there; slates with a place in the frame to hold the string of a sponge, for we used slates then with stone pencils that scratched and squeaked until you had spent a deal of time working them soft between your lips. I can even now taste that slate-pencil flavor.
Book slates were the last word of refinement. These were made of some light unbreakable black material on which a soft pencil could be used. Paper dolls were in a glass case, sharing it with colored picture books and picture books to color with boxes of crayons, and cardboard palettes on which were fastened half a dozen cakes of paints and a small brush. Beside these everyday things Mr.
Jones kept a large assortment of decalcomanias, transferable pictures of many sizes and types, with which children were prone to decorate door handles and various articles of furniture to the horror of their parents. These were sold in sheets and only needed moisture for their transfer. One was supposed to dip them in water, but in a hurry licking would serve as well. Jones himself was tall, and always wore a top hat in the shop. He had a wry-neck which made it quite uncertain whether or not he was looking at you, but if by any chance you handled his wares too freely, you were sure to find that he could see round a corner.
Until Fourteenth Street was neared temptation waned. Near that corner was R. Macy's shop, where. I suppose it must have been a rather small affair, but it was to me a sort of dreamland, and the rosy haze of it still clings, for my love of flowers has always been as instinctive as breathing. In the centre of the glass-covered portion of the house was a rockery. Pot plants were banked about this, pink and white bouvardias, fuchsias and heliotrope. Vines of passion flower were trained to the roof supports. An orange tree or two, fragrant white jasmine, and some camelia shrubs filled the long side benches.
There were several small basins among the stones with goldfish in them, and as a great treat one of the men would turn a faucet and water would flow, very cautiously, over the larger of the rocks. In the rear of the shop where orders were taken there was a small display of cut flowers in jars. The tea roses being in tight buds and pungently fragrant were of two kinds only, yellow and pink, chiefly Safrano and Bon Silene, I should judge. Not sumptuous or long of stem, for there were no sturdy hybrid teas or forced hybrid perpetuals then, but very dainty and charming were these buds when made into what were called nosegays, the roses being set deep in heliotrope or double violets, edged with jasmine, bouvardia and the leaves of rose geranium.
Flower seeds might also be bought here at five cents a package, the limited selection not being confusing to a shallow purse. As spring came on five cents meant to me a package of seeds, the same holding their own in a tug-of-war with marbles, kites or hoops. Usually we merely walked about the rockery and looked at the flowers, but once a year there came a veritable orgy for me, the day when Father went to pay for the Easter flowers used at the - ' -. Then I was always given a small tight bouquet for Mother and five packets of flower seeds for myself.
A package of early radish seed was usually my first choice. These I planted in the back yard, but the place being shady and the soil like brick, they were never edible before we went up to Mosswood, yet as spring came I always hoped against experience. I do this sort of hoping still, for when experience succeeds in downing hope, then one is indeed emotionally dead. The greenhouse visited, then came the Van Beuren house and its piece of garden, part of the original farm that reached up to Fifth Avenue.
Here, nipping at the frosted grass, browsed two placid cows, that hurried eagerly to the fence to get such bits of green stuff, a carrot or apple, as Mary Daly had crowded into my small Shaker basket. Sometimes a few hens and a gallant rooster followed the cows.
Then we might continue on to the Peacock House at Broadway and Nineteenth Street, where the Cruger ladies lived, and gorgeously plumed peacocks preened and strutted in the garden, enclosed with a high iron picket-fence. One longer walk there was, but I never enjoyed its ending. Irving Place stopped at Gramercy Park, a private enclosure set in the midst of wide comfortable houses somewhat like those surrounding Washington Square but on a smaller scale. The park itself was guarded by a high fence and locked gates. The children of the surrounding householders, who held keys, might play in the park and be safe from street accidents, but when they went in the gate was locked behind them!
There were well-kept walks without interruption of traffic, to be sure, but it was always the same round and round, no delightful excitement of having one's hoop skid into the gutter or all of a sudden cross the street in peril of being crushed by one of the swiftly moving, dare-devil, two-wheeled butcher's carts dreaded by all staid pedestrians. Outside the fence there were always some " beggar children" looking in at us who sometimes jeered, and I always craved the very exclusion that caused their envy-the liberty of action, the most desirable thing of all.
It was not in the least akin to lawlessness, but the very shadow of restraining bars was dreadful to me. Thus I always resented the enclosing feet of the flannel night gear that Mother made with such careful stitches. I preferred to be able to kick my feet under the covers and wiggle my toes at will, insisting that it made me feel much warmer than being bagged, until finally she quite understood.
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Our own front yard, small as it was, was so much better than this park. A fence and gate it had, but the gate was only closed to keep out stray dogs and never locked, while the Red Lion of our favorite game, who lived in the den under the openwork iron steps, was chosen from among my playmates who could growl the best, irrespective of caste or place of residence.
The foolish hurdy-gurdy man who often served as orchestra for our plays, enjoying them as much as we did, sat enthroned on the top step of the area-way with the door-mat under him, lest his twisted back should grow worse from taking cold. There is no child's play unless Make-Believe is there, and MakeBelieve refuses absolutely to be deprived of liberty. New ways began to id icreep into every set.
From the. Long after the peace, work went on daily at the New England Relief Rooms and at the headquarters of the Sanitary Commission, but this little betweentime gathering at our house, consisting of Madam Gray, her daughter Elizabeth, Aunt Kinnie Haven, Mother and Aunt Cinder, was luminous in many ways. Came ten o'clock in the morning, marketing and day-planning all done. Tom-dog, Madam Gray's very independent Skye terrier, would appear around the corner of the street, push open the gate and give a few sharp barks at the door, to be followed more slowly by his mistress who progressed rather than walked.
Sometimes her pet dogs, two very small black-and-tan toy terriers, with bulging eyes, needle-point barks and dispositions She always had several of these dogs and in her back yard at the Square were several little marble headstones to mark those that had been, "Tiny" seeming to have been a favorite name in a clan which needs no further description. If the black-and-tans came, considerable diplomacy was a prelude to the sewing, for Tom-dog was of the actions-that-speakbefore-words type, while Tiny and Teeny were all words.
Usually, however, Aunt Kinnie's Ann, the ever-smiling and much enduring maid, remained in the coupe and took the dogs for an airing.
Pixies and elves inhabit Colchester
The work being arranged, the cookie jar was placed on a stool within easy reach of every one. Our house was, it seemed, quite famed for the contents of this jar, and the Washington Square folk were convinced that no other cookies equalled these, not excepting Madam Gray's famed New Year's cakes. The cookies were of three kinds: sugar, cut in oak-leaf shape and sent on monthly from Boston by the Aunties; Grandmother Murdock's hard gingerbread, made by Mother, rich and spicy, spread with a crinkled rolling pin and cut in squares to prevent having to reroll between bits; the third and prettiest kind, Aunt Cinder's lemon jumbles, not cut out but made into rings by a deft motion of the spoon.
All my days I nibbled the hard gingerbread with great respect, for this and a Christmas pudding were Mother's only cooking achievements. Anything and everything else she would and could do, everything but cook. A family date from which things were reckoned forward and backward was "the day when Mother burned the omelet.
At Mosswood, the home of summer rest, in the early days when living was very primitive and informal, it was arranged that some member of the family should. In New England Monday was the day sacred to the wash-tub. Two or three Mondays passed comfortably that summer before Mother's turn came.
This day, there being on hand fruit, a cold custard, and a salad, only an omelet was to be beaten up and the tea drawn. Cousin Mary from Boston was staying with us and she, Mother and Aunt Cinder were reading aloud of afternoons 7ane Eyre, which had just reached America. At Mother's suggestion each one was pledged not to open the book between whiles and so gain on the others.
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Mother said emphatically, she didn't wish any help with dinner, she surely could be trusted to make an omelet. Cousin Mary and Aunt Cinder therefore were to go out in the orchard and stay until called. They went, but when a reasonable time of silence had passed, after the egg-beating stopped, they wondered.
Presently Aunt Cinder, having, like myself, a hunting-dog nose, sniffed. Aunt Cinder's nose, however, reported differently. Slipping into the kitchen by the back door she not only smelt, but saw the smell-the ten-egg omelet in its pan was the foundation of a column of black smoke, and the tea kettle had boiled over into the stove so efficiently that the fire was failing. Outside, seated on the wide step in the shade of the well-house, sat Mother reading the last page of Jane Eyre, in complete oblivion of her surroundings. The family quite agreed with her that cooking was bad for her morale.
Then, too, her fingers were shaped for taking fine stitches and smoothing tired foreheads with the divine gift of touch that was hers, rather than for being blistered by egg-beating and handling hot pans. To this day a comment heard then will flash through my memory bearing a new meaning. No, children may not understand but they remember, and by and by when they are able to interpret happenings they never forget their source. There was an unhappy marriage under discussion followed by something they called divorce.
It seemed from their attitude that this thing was much worse than death. Then the talk turned to a wedding so intimate that the affair came almost within family lines. It had evidently been marked by untoward frivolity on the part of the young couple. I listened, and when a dozen years later the sequel followed, I remembered, as I do still, sister Bea's pitying attitude toward the tragedy.
Divorce had come. The children were to be separated, and only one, who seemed to be in some way undesirable, was left to the mother, herself not yet thirty. Then there was a duel and the father shot and lamed the other man, who was a friend of his and much older and who had, it seemed to me, been very kind to the lady when her husband was away on journeys. If she played tag and tagged the wrong man in a hurry-it makes me sad and sorry.
Years later the understanding followed. She had in truth tagged the wrong man, which comes of taking marriage as a play. But the right one scored at last, and when she was gray and worn, and it was possible, he married her and nursed her through the cruelest of all illnesses until she died. The term "Shoddies" came from one of the greatest manufacturing evils of the Civil War, the making of cloth for uniforms and blankets that sleazed out and was not properly woven.
The bad stuff was so concealed by a little real wool as to appear to be durable material of the required standard. This cloth that melted and gave scant service was called shoddy, and it soon became a term also for people not up to form or standard. The profiteer of today was in Civil War times called a Shoddy, a class who bought their way where personality or previous standing would not admit them.
The climb via the golden ladder is nothing new, and people have used the same methods to get money since the days when the robber barons lay in wait for the pack-trains at the fords. Gradually the Shoddies have prevailed, been accepted, and become a part of New York life. Nobody cares except a few of the "other people" with traditions. Yet in the sixties to be termed a Shoddy was a serious matter, and it was said the term was first used for a class by Brown, the celebrated sexton of Grace Church, the predecessor of Ward McAllister as a social herdsman. Be this as it may, there were some doors unopened to them.
Late in the last year of the war George Bancroft, the historian and later our Ambassador to Germany, gave a masterly reception to Professor Goldwin Smith of Oxford, then visiting New York. They did not. Theatres and the opera flourished, Brignoli, Strakosch, Clara Louise Kellogg and Annie Louise Cary were constant entertainers at musicales in private houses. The cotillion or German had grasped the youth of the city. One dance late in , at Edmund Miller's great house in West Fourteenth Street, to which Gatha was bidden as the dominie's daughter, lasted so long that there were two suppers.
The ballroom, done in yellow satin and gold, was lighted by splendid candelabra of glittering crystal, and when Gatha had to leave at one o'clock a very late hour for one of our family , though the twentieth figure of the cotillion had been reached there were as many more and the second supper ahead. A popular dancing man was always chosen as the leader of the elaborate figures, in this case a Mr. Peabody from Boston; and the late Jules Vatable was long a favorite cotillion leader. So important was the function that in describing the various attributes of a man when his engagement was announced, this grace held a conspicuous place, closely following his pedigree and the list of his clubs.
Many social and civic organizations flourished amazingly in the late days of the war and immediately after it. A notable group of New Yorkers founded the. The club's first home was at Broadway, upstairs, as reads a circular printed on vellum, now in my possession, and the times of meeting were monthly, eight a year, the gap being from May to October.
It was in this same year that Faganni did a very introspective portrait of Father in oils, which afterward fell to my share, so that when Evert Wendell, the staunch and enthusiastic son of Harvard, was some years ago seeking to assemble the portraits of the presidents for the clubhouse in West Forty-fourth Street and lacked two only-Father's and that of Joseph H. Choate, which was duly painted-I gave him this portrait, which now hangs in the great hall in dignified architectural surroundings. By strange chance the first of the two portraits sought was of the minister who officiated at Mr.
Choate's wedding in I, and in referring to the fact a few years before his death Mr. Choate said to me "Your father did an excellent job, sound from cellar to attic. Even though the shingles on one part of the roof are a trifle thin, they are still water-tight. Stone, M. Hazeltine; while in the list of members are names of families that represented the city at its best-Henry W. Bellows, D.
Choate, James T. Carter, Willard Parker, M. Poor, John O. Sargent, George Cabot Ward, E. Washburne, D. Yet during the war years the minister had a weary time of it. The day on which the Seventh Regiment marched down Broadway on its way to Washington,. The next Sunday some of the main props of the parish had stepped out, leaving empty pews, their patriotism being first of all a matter of trade, with which the call to arms had interfered.
Others that remained grew restless and said the city was moving up town, and the Church must follow. So the old Church of the Messiah was sold, and a landmark not only of Christian culture but of the appreciation of symbols disappeared, for it was the first Protestant church, after Trinity, not only to use flowers at Easter, but to weave them in the form of the Cross. Why did the Puritans shrink from this symbol and avoid its use? It often seemed to make them as uncomfortable as it did the stage Mephisto of Faust. When the war was technically ended by the surrender of Lee, New York drew a long breath.
Reconstruction must follow. Marvellous prosperity and dire disaster were both predicted. Which would it be? Spring came on, the spring of I In early April it was mild enough for children to play out again. The little tufts of round-leaved blue violets, that huddled in our back yard in the exact spot that the sun touched first, were showing buds. The long windows were opened each day in the late morning, "to blow the winter out of the house," Mother said, for she was a pioneer of ventilation and therefore rather dreaded by her friends, who sought to preserve their health in winter by huddling behind double windows, three sets of curtains, and felt-covered, inside vestibule doors.
Father had begun his morning walks. Here he usually met a few friends who had come out for the same reason-either they. Greetings and bits of news were exchanged and when Father returned, bringing the morning paper, breakfast was always ready. On this particular April morning Mother was quite dressed and I was sitting on my small bed that was alcoved into Mother and Father's room. I had taken my bath and was being very slow in putting on a new pair of blue and white striped stockings, presently discovering that the difficulty came from invisible metal tags that held them together.
How clearly those stripes were to be impressed upon me! The front door opened and closed sharply. His face was white and drawn, dry sobs tore at his throat. I can never forget how he looked, also how I could neither wholly put on those striped stockings nor get them off. I almost fell from my bed and stumbled over to get closer to Mother. It is strange how in tense moments trifles impress themselves.
As I think of this time it seems as if the new striped stockings kept coming between myself and Father's face like bars, until I ceased struggling with them, took another pair, and finished dress. The words that passed between Father and Mother sounded as if they came through deep water and did not bear a meaning until long after. Has the assassin been in our house? I had been daily taught, and by what I knew that others felt, to love "Father Abraham" as someone wedged tightly in between my own father and God, in importance and power.
A framed picture of him, in which he sits with his arm about his little son Tad, hung in my room. I was comforted, for sister Bea always told the truth. Father said afterward that New York stopped that day, was dead to all other thoughts. The next days, until the funeral procession should pass through the city, were confused and strange. I scarcely saw. Gatha sat all day sewing long strips of black that were to be hung from the top piazza of our house on either side of the flag.
Bea took me over to the Grays' for a walk but I did not like to be in the streets, the closed blinds and so much black everywhere frightened me. I wanted to get home again, for our blinds were left open, Father would not have them closed. Father and all our family were invited to the house of Mr. Smith, who lived on the corner of Union Place and the Square, to see it go by.
From this house a wide view could be had toward Broadway and the procession would pass the very door. There was a balcony outside the parlor windows and wide front steps, while the railing about the yard would keep the great crowd from pressing in on us. Mother was fearful least I should become tired at the hours of waiting that might be necessary, but I promised not to complain, and as there would be no one to keep the house at home but O'Connell and the Frog, his dog, I was allowed to go.
We had a hasty lunch before leaving, but owing to my excitement my stomach soon forgot it, and as the day wore on I grew painfully hungry. Middle afternoon came, division after division passed and it grew monoto. At this moment some light refreshments were served to the guests indoors, those outside not caring to miss any of the procession. How good the hot cocoa tasted, and the buttered biscuits spread with honey! Then came a filigree silver basket of the small, round, pink, frosted cakes that only Mrs. Carleton, the society cake-maker of the time, turned out.
Very dear to my heart were these cakes, only to be had by us for the New Year's table or some great festivity. I took two. They didn't last very long. The basket made a second trip. I took two more and put them in the pockets of my much prized gray beaver cloth coat, the first coat that I had ever owned that was neither made over nor cut down, but came straight from Mrs. Paddon's over in Thirtieth Street and was a birthday gift from the Aunties,-as was also the round velvet hat from Honeywell with a lovely white ostrich plume to complete it. I had feared that the sugar frosting might stick to the coat lining, but there was no time to hesitate and immediately afterward one of the gentlemen said that we would all better come to the windows.
Picking me up, as being so small that I should be lost in the crowd, he carried me down to the steps and gave me a fine place on a broad-topped fencepost of wrought iron. It proved to be a false alarm but I was quite happy, even though when I tried to eat my cakes the icing stuck fast to the pockets. Suddenly I spied the basket, refilled and alluring, being passed to those outside. Would it reach the fence? It did, and was thrust quite under my nose. I took another pair! At this moment some one next me called, "Here comes the guard of honor, General Dix and his staff!
I couldn't eat the cakes. Then the crowd became silent, not a murmur. The tramp of the officers of the Army and Navy who were on foot resounded from the cobbled pavement. Then horses' hoofs-a break-more horses' hoofs. Slowly, making a wide curve, the great car supporting the catafalque swung from Broadway into Fourteenth Street, an escort of the Seventh Regiment on either side. It was my first sight of this noble regiment, which afterward had not a little part in the days that backgrounded my life in early womanhood. The car came on slowly, the various trappings of silver and black relieved by many flags.
In spite of its solid structure the whole framework trembled from the unevenness of the pavement. It seemed to me as if something unearthly must happen. I should not have been surprised to see the pall fall away and Father Abraham come forth, like Lazarus at the command of Jesus, as pictured by Dore in his illustrations of the New Testament. The horses, almost hidden from sight by black drapery, were led, a man at the bit of each.
As the car came nearer every head that I could see was hatless so I quickly pulled off my own hat. Out fell the two pink cakes, and rolling between many pairs of legs, disappeared in the gutter! After the car had passed we soon went home, Father alone remaining, to join the group over in the Square for the memorial service, to be held near a bust of Lincoln that was surrounded by flags and flowers. George Bancroft was to give the oration, and Father was to read the poem that William Cullen Bryant had written for the service, he being selected for his clear ringing voice.
I told sister Bea about the cakes sticking to my. That night when I was going to bed Mother, seeing that I was wrought up and tearful, said that I might sleep with her and that she would go to bed with me then, for she was so very tired. So when my head was all comfortable and quiet on her soft shoulder I whispered in her ear about the cakes and that I hoped a nice hungry dog had found them.
She said she hoped so too, and did not scold me at all, only her shoulder shook just a little. We were both awake when Father came home looking very white and worn. He stood at the foot of the bed looking down at us and then he smiled and said, "Mab, sister Bea tells me that you are worried now that Father Abraham has gone lest the little colored children may be sold again.
Listen to what your friend Mr. Bryant has written and I read to the people in the Square this afternoon: 'Thy task is done-the bond are free; We bear thee to an honored grave, Whose proudest monument shall be The broken fetters of the slave. Father had come home. I was by Mother's side and therefore safe. Drowsiness waved its truce flag to the excitement of the day.
Then the balky striped stockings and the pink cakes danced happily together across my vision followed by a playful dog, hiding all the black draperies, and so I fell asleep. Bea had finished school and I had regular lessons with her in the morning. I had learned to read almost by myself in the midst of the general tumult. The beloved Mary Daly, kitchen commandante, had received an oldcountry, convent-school training and not only read aloud distinctly with a delightful brogue but wrote a good hand. She would seat me at the white table between the kitchen windows and show me how, by cutting words from the headlines of the newspapers, short sentences might be pieced together.
Then all of a sudden, how to read came to me over night, as it were. Immediately I waded knee deep through the Rutherford Children and a series of probably inane and very detailed but to me delightful books called Susie's Six Birthdays, thereby saving the family the misery that the reading and rereading would have caused them.
Through the war days and long after, Mother and Aunt Cinder had so much that was extra to do, aside I never had a nurse at any time in my life, the second girl, as she was then called, with the exception of Norah Goodnuf being usually quite young and of a less responsible type than the cook. File Format: MP3. All other trademarks are acknowledgedas belonging to their respective owners. Author: Neil GaimanTerry Pratchett.
You can read on a computer or iPad. Free postage. The Plant Paradox shows the world what pioneer thinking is about and is a must-read book for anyone interested in being as healthy as nature has designed them to be. Most of us have heard of gluten—a protein found in wheat that causes widespread inflammation in the body.
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