A MYSTERY SOLVED

When Winifred had returned to the convent, I waited patiently for
Roderick’s coming, which I knew could not be long delayed. Indeed,
before the week was out his card was brought to me where I sat at my
sitting-room fire. I glanced up at him as he entered the room. His face
was grave, even stern in its expression, reminding me forcibly of Niall.
After the ordinary salutations had been exchanged, he stood before me
silent a moment; then he said, with an abruptness quite foreign to his
manner:

“I think you will agree with me that this is no time for commonplaces. I
have come to know the meaning of this mystery.”

“Mystery!” I repeated vaguely; for, with all my planning and thinking
what I should say when he came, I was still hopelessly at a loss, and
resolved to be guided by the event.

“Yes, mystery,” he declared emphatically. “I saw in your company the
very child of whom I told you I had had a glimpse and whom I was so
eager to see again.”

“But how could I know that the child with me was the one who had
attracted your attention?”

“Well, in the first place,” he answered, looking at me keenly, “I gave
you a tolerably accurate description of the girl in question. The type
is not a very common one, and might, I think be easily recognized.”

He paused; and I remaining silent, he went on again:

“I hope you will not consider it rude if I say that I think you did know
it was the child I was in search of.”

“And why?” I asked, still with a mere helpless idea of gaining time.

“Because of your manner and your course of action the other day in the
parlor of the Waldorf. I saw at once that, for some reason or another,
you were disturbed at my presence there. When the girl spoke and thus
attracted my attention, you were distressed; and while I was in the act
of addressing her you seized her by the hand and fled from the hotel.”
(An irrepressible smile came over his face at the recollection.) “You
left in such haste that you forgot the letter you had been writing.
However, I posted that for you. And you went along Thirty-third Street,
I should be afraid to say at what rate of speed. Did you suppose I was
going to pursue you and forcibly wrest away the child?”

I could not help laughing in sympathy at the drollery which shone out
through the anxiety of his face, like sunshine from a cloud.

“Well, not exactly,” I observed; “but, truth to tell, I had no desire to
hold any conversation with you just then. And, besides, I was in a
hurry.”

“Oh, you _were_ in a hurry–there was no possible doubt about that!” he
assented, still laughing.

“Will you not sit down?” I inquired. “You look so very unsociable
standing, and the night is cold enough to make this fire agreeable.”

He took the chair I indicated, but he did not turn from the subject.

“May I ask,” he resumed, “if the child whom I saw on that occasion is
here with you?”

“She is not,” I responded briefly, elated that I could do so
truthfully.

“Where is she?”

“That I can not tell.”

“Can not tell!” he repeated musingly. “Surely that is a very strange
answer. Perhaps, at least, you will tell me _who_ she is?”

“I am not at liberty to tell that either,” I replied firmly.

“Mystery on mystery!” he cried, with an impatient gesture. “What in the
name of common-sense–if you will forgive my bluntness–is the purpose
of this mystification?”

“The mystification arises,” I declared, “from the fact that I am
solemnly pledged to keep both her identity and her whereabouts a
secret.”

“From whom?”

The question was a shrewd one. I hesitated how to answer it; but at last
I said:

“From all inquirers.”

“Are there likely to be many?” he asked, quizzically.

“That I can not say.”

Roderick lay back in his chair and pondered, keeping his eyes fixed upon
my face.

“Under ordinary circumstances,” he said, after a pause, “I should, of
course, respect your desire for secrecy and say no more about the
matter. But there are reasons which make the identity of this child of
vital interest to me.”

I could not answer: there was now nothing I could say without revealing
the secret I was pledged to keep.

“You will pardon me for saying further that I strongly suspect _I_ am
the person toward whom you are pledged to maintain this secrecy.”

“You!” I repeated. “Why, surely you are in a singular mood to-night,
full of fancies and suspicions!”

“For which I have good and sufficient reasons. Are yours equally so for
maintaining this secrecy?”

“I believe that they are,” I replied gravely.

He rose and paced the floor a while. Then he sat down again, and drew
his chair nearer mine, as if impelled by some sudden resolve.

“Since you will not give me your confidence–” he began.

“Since I can not,” I corrected quietly.

“Well, since you can not or will not, I shall give you mine instead, and
open for your inspection a page of my life which I fancied was closed
forever.”

He paused, and an expression so sad and troubled crossed his face that,
in my deep pity, I almost regretted my promise to Niall.

“I was brought up,” he went on, “in the neighborhood of the Dargle. That
beautiful glen and stream were alike familiar to me. I inhabited an old
family mansion, which, to say the least, stood sadly in need of repair.
I was under the guardianship of a kinsman who, though eccentric, was of
sterling worth.”

There was a touch of emotion in his voice, as he thus referred to Niall,
which pleased me.

“When I was about twenty-three we had a serious difference of opinion,
which arose in part from my marriage. For at that time I married a very
beautiful girl, who lived only a few years, and left one child–a girl.”

He hurried over this part of the story, which seemed deeply painful to
him.

“It is always unpleasant to go into family affairs, but my relations
with my wife’s family were such that I removed the child from their
influence and took her back to the old dwelling. There I placed her in
charge of an old woman who had been my nurse. I refused to accept any
of my wife’s money, even for the maintenance of the child; and, my own
circumstances being not of the best, I came to America. I had but one
object in view–to make money, that I might return, claim my child and
restore the old dwelling of my fathers to something of its former
state.”

Again there was a long, troubled pause; and I did not interrupt him by
so much as a word, nor did I give any sign that some of his story was
already familiar to me. When he resumed it was in a different tone. His
face was drawn and haggard, his voice tremulous:

“For some time I sent the half-yearly remittance faithfully to my little
Winifred, and I was happy in so doing. Then I received a letter–from
whom precisely I know not, though I believe it purported to be from a
priest. It was written in the third person and it simply informed me
that my child was dead.”

“Dead!” I exclaimed–“dead! How cruel!–how–”

I was about to say untrue, but I checked myself in time. Roderick
glanced quickly toward me but said nothing.

“It was indeed a cruel blow,” he resumed at last; “and after that I gave
up all desire to see Ireland again. I drifted on here, doing whatever
good I could and working still, but with little personal hope or
interest to cheer me in my labors.”

His weary, despondent tone went to my heart, which was beating just then
with exultation; for I was truly rejoiced to know that Winifred’s father
was worthy of her, that poor Niall’s dreams might one day come true–at
least in so far as seeing the reunion of father and child, with
Roderick’s return to the home of his youth. I resolved to write to Niall
without delay, tell him of what I had discovered and obtain his
permission to reveal all to Roderick. In the meantime, however, I must,
of course, be true to my promise and give Roderick no hint of the
knowledge I possessed.

“And you never found out from whom that letter came?” I inquired.

“Never: there was no means of finding out. Father Owen was at that time
absent in Rome. I presumed it was from the priest who had replaced him.
I wrote to him; the letter followed him to a distant parish in a remote
part of Ireland, whither he had already returned. He had never written
to me, he replied, and had no knowledge of the matter at all. I wrote to
Granny Meehan, the woman who had charge of Winifred. She never answered.
I suppose on the death of the child she had wandered away. I then sent a
letter to Niall, the eccentric kinsman to whom I before referred. He, I
suppose, was either dead or away on some of his wanderings.”

“Your story is indeed a sad one,” I put in, grieved that I could do
nothing to dispel his sorrow. I could not let him know that Granny
Meehan was still faithful to her post, that Niall was still dreaming and
planning for his welfare and for the restoration of the old place; and
that, best of all, Winifred was still living and such a child as might
delight a father’s heart–in fact, that she was the child who had so
deeply interested him already. Whether he suspected that such was the
case or merely saw in her some chance resemblance I could not yet tell.




“You may well say it is a sad story,” Roderick answered. “To me it seems
all the more so that since the receipt of that letter which dashed all
my hopes Fortune has smiled upon me. Everything I touch seems to turn to
money. The novel, rejected before, has since been accepted, and has run
through several editions; articles from my pen are in demand by leading
magazines; all my speculations have turned out well, and my insurance
business has prospered. It is the old, old story of Fortune coming too
late.”

I sat still, joyful, yet amazed; thinking within myself:

“How wonderful are the ways of Providence! Niall’s dream of restoring
the old place shall certainly be realized now. Father and child,
reunited, shall dwell amongst those lovely scenes; while the faithful
hearts of Niall and Granny Meehan shall be filled with joy. How seldom
does life work out events so happily!”

“Would you like to see the old place again?” I asked.

“What use now?” he cried. “Some day I may take the journey to see if
Niall be still amongst the living; but I shrink from that as yet.”

We sat silent after that for some moments, I afraid to break the spell
lest I should in any way betray the knowledge which so filled my heart.
But presently Roderick roused himself with the remark:

“That child whom I first saw in the carriage on Broadway, and whom I
next saw in your company, has awakened a strange train of thought in my
mind. I have even dared to hope that I have been the victim of a trick
and that my child still lives. Her voice, when she spoke in the Waldorf
parlor the other day, seemed as an echo of my vanished youth. It was the
voice of my wife; and when the child rose from the chair and confronted
me, for an instant I believed that the grave had given up its dead. It
was my wife herself as I saw her first, many years before our marriage.”

“Resemblances are very delusive,” I said lamely.

“But was _this_ resemblance delusive?” he asked, leaning forward and
looking me in the face.

“How can I answer? I never saw your wife,” I replied.

It was an evasion, and perhaps he saw it; but he only sighed deeply.

“I had expected better things of you,” he went on; “for we are old
enough friends that I might have looked to you for help in clearing up a
mystery. As it is, you will not or can not; and I must drag on in the
same weary, hapless fashion or follow out the clue for myself. Indeed, I
trust you will think it no discourtesy when I tell you that I _must_ and
_will_ find out who this child is.”

His resemblance to Niall was once more almost startling; though,
needless to observe, there was no wildness nor violence of any sort in
his manner.

“I wish I were able to give you the information you desire,” I said
formally. “But at present it is impossible.”

He rose to take his leave.

“In that case I must not intrude upon you any longer,” he answered
coldly. “I am afraid I have been thoughtless in occupying so much of
your time with my personal affairs.”

I felt at that moment that a valued friendship of many years was
endangered, but I could not be false to my trust. Niall must hear all,
and then it would be for him to act. I held out my hand. Roderick took
it but there was no warmth in the handshake; and as he disappeared down
the corridor, I stood looking after him sadly, fully realizing that for
the time being I had lost much in his estimation. Yet I hoped to be able
to repair all and explain all in good time.

I did not lose a moment in getting out my writing-desk and writing to
Niall a full account of all that I had heard. My pen moved rapidly and
joyfully over the page. I had so much to tell! Roderick still true to
his child, his kinsman, and his old home; Roderick having acquired
wealth which he would be only too happy to spend in fulfilling the old
man’s dream. I also wrote to Father Farley and begged him to let Granny
Meehan know the good news as speedily as possible. How I wished that I
could fly over the ocean and be myself the bearer of those good tidings!
I fancied the patient old face of Granny brightening, and the loving,
tender voice giving forth thanks to her Creator.

The scene rose so vividly before me that I sat back in my chair, with
pen uplifted, to ponder it over. There was the hearth in the great
kitchen, near which Granny Meehan sat. A fire was burning there–a clear
peat fire; beside it the tranquil figure of the blind woman, with the
cat, Brown Peter, purring against her dress; and Barney and Moira in the
background, hanging about to hear the great news which good Father Owen
had to tell. And I conjured up the fine face of the priest beaming with
the glad tidings; and I seemed to hear once more his genial voice
reading aloud the welcome letter from America.

I returned to my task and wrote on, while the clock on my mantel tolled
out eleven, and the din of the street below began to give place to the
silence of night. I had a curious impression that Winifred stood beside
me as I wrote, her image seemed so very vivid. I resolved to go to see
her on the morrow, which was Thursday–visiting-day at the convent. But
I knew it would be another trial to refrain from telling her of her
father and of the mystery concerning him which had just been cleared up.
My original intention of striving to kindle her affection and admiration
for the father she scarcely remembered was strengthened by the knowledge
I had gained. Knowing her father to be entirely worthy of her love and
to be devotedly attached to her, I could with a clear conscience
describe him as he really was, and clothe the phantom she remembered
with the lovable attributes of the real man.

My letters finished, I rang for a bell-boy, and had them posted at once;
for it seemed to me that they would never get over to Ireland, and that
I would never have an answer back again. Then I stood for a moment at
the window and looked out at the still brightly lighted streets, where
the passers-by were fewer; though many still hurried to and fro from the
theatres, concerts, or lectures–all intent on business or pleasure.
Carriages swept by, cars with belated passengers in them still ran, and
the hum of the great city was audible from afar even at that late hour.

Continue Reading

ANOTHER UNEXPECTED MEETING

Coming to the cathedral, where it stands on the corner of Fiftieth
Street and Fifth Avenue, we stopped to observe its proportions, at once
noble and graceful, its white marble façade and tall spires being one of
the ornaments of the Empire City. Entering the edifice, we knelt a while
in prayer before we began to examine all its beauties in detail. The
rich glow of the beautiful stained windows was a revelation to the
child, and the stories which they tell of saints and martyrs appealed to
her strongly. She watched their varied tints falling upon the marble
altars with a visible delight.

“I must write a letter about this to Father Owen,” she said as we came
out again upon the dignified bustle of Fifth Avenue, so unlike the
activity of Broadway, but still noticeable after the quiet of the great
temple. “It is all so grand in there!” she said–“grand as our own
mountains and beautiful as the Dargle. It reminded me of heaven. Perhaps
heaven is something like that.”

I smiled and did not contradict her; for the calm and repose of a great
cathedral is very far removed indeed from earth.

“Of course there are several other churches I want you to see,” I
observed; “but perhaps that one will do now. As we had breakfast late,
and are not in a particular hurry for our luncheon, I think we will take
a trip in an elevated car first.”

Winifred, of course, consented eagerly; and, having procured the child
a cup of hot bouillon at a druggist’s as a preventive against hunger, we
climbed up the great iron stairs of the elevated station at Fourteenth
Street and Sixth Avenue, and were soon seated in the car.

It seemed very wonderful to Winifred that we should be flying through
the air at such a rate of speed; but she was delighted with the swift
motion and had no thought of fear. She kept looking in with eager
curiosity at the houses or the shops as we passed by their second- or
third-story windows, and down at the pigmy-like people on the sidewalk,
making continual exclamations of wonder or interest.

We got out at the Battery; and before taking the East Side car up town I
let Winifred take a run in Battery Park, so that she might have a
glimpse of the bay and the huge ferry-boats landing their loads of
passengers, and the funnels of the steamers or the masts of tall vessels
in the offing.

“Across all that water,” she cried, stretching out her arms with a
pretty and graceful gesture, “is my home–my dear hills, the Dargle, and
the people that I love!”

She sniffed the salt air as though it were wine; and ran about in the
alleys, gazing longingly at the green grass, while I sat upon a bench
and waited. At last I reminded her that time was flying, and that she
would be a very hungry little girl by the time we made our trip up the
East Side of the city and got down again to luncheon.

We were soon seated in a Third Avenue elevated car and passed up Chatham
Square and the Bowery–that great thoroughfare, where such curious
people congregate; where the very shops have a different air, and the
oyster-saloons and other places of refreshment seem to revel in strange
sign-boards and queerly-worded advertisements. The Jews are there in
large numbers, as also Syrians, Chinese, and other Orientals, so that it
has a strange and foreign air.

It all amused and interested Winifred, and she called my attention every
now and again to some grotesque figure on the sign-boards or to some
poster on the wall. I pointed out to the child Stuyvesant Park and Union
Square Park as a rest to the eyes tired with so much sight-seeing. Then
we jogged up the uninteresting and uninviting Third Avenue till finally
we were in the vicinity of Harlem Bridge and away up in the open
country, past Harlem and Mott Haven, and well up toward High Bridge
itself.

At last I called a halt, and we alighted and began the descent again. I
resolved to take the little girl to luncheon at the Waldorf as a special
treat, so that she might see modern luxury, so far as hotels are
concerned, at its height. We sat in the Empire dining-room, with the
imperial eagle of the great Napoleon on our chair-backs and a large
bunch of fragrant pink roses on the table before us. Our soup was
brought in small silver bowls, which reminded Winifred of Niall’s
treasures. She much enjoyed the very choice and daintily served luncheon
which I ordered for her, particularly the sweet course and the dessert.
An orchestra was playing all the time of luncheon, changing briskly from
grave to gay; and its strains helped to make the whole scene dreamlike
and unreal to the child of Nature, accustomed only to the glory of the
hills.

Other wonders awaited her: the _café_, with its ever-blossoming trees,
and the goldfish swimming in its ponds; the onyx stairway, and the Louis
Quinze salon, with its inlaid cabinets, its brocaded furniture, and
above all its gilt piano. This last object seemed to cap the climax of
splendor in Winifred’s eyes. I think, indeed, that very modern hotel
seemed to her a page from the Arabian Nights–some Aladdin’s palace
which the genii had built up. She was very pleased, too, with the
private dining-room upstairs, where the turning on of the electric light
showed such a display of china of all sorts.

When we were tired of exploring, and had, in fact, seen all that was
really worth the trouble or that was open to the public, I sat down at a
table in the Turkish parlor to write a note, bidding Winifred rest a
while. She coiled herself up in one of the great armchairs, keeping so
still that I almost thought she had gone to sleep.

The rugs in that room are very soft and the draperies ample, and sound
is very much deadened, so that I did not perceive any one coming in.
Looking up suddenly from my writing, I was surprised to see Roderick
O’Byrne. I grew pale and red by turns; my heart sank within me and I
could not meet his glance. I thought of Niall, his anger, his threats,
my own promises. Yet what was I to do in such a situation? Unconscious,
of course, of the tumult he had raised in my mind, Roderick came
directly toward me, making a few indifferent remarks on the weather, the
last political event, the hotel. Finally he asked, abruptly:

“By the way, do I remember aright, that you said you were in Wicklow
during your recent trip to Ireland?”

“Yes–no!” I cried, confused. “Oh, yes, of course I was there!”

He looked at me in some surprise; then he asked again:

“Of course you saw the Sugar Loaf Mountains, as the Sassenach call them,
but which we Celts loved to name the Gilt Spurs?”

“Of course,” I assented, more uneasily than ever; for I heard a movement
in the chair.

“The Dargle goes without saying,” he continued.

Another rustle in the chair.

“But I am not going to put you through a catechism on Irish local
scenery,” Roderick said, with a laugh; “I am almost sure you told me
that you knew Father Owen Farley.”

“Oh, my dear, dear Father Owen!” cried Winifred from the depth of her
chair. The mention of that beloved name had aroused her from the spell
of shyness, or some other cause, which had hitherto kept her silent.

Roderick turned quickly, and at the same moment Winifred stood up and
faced him. There they were together, father and daughter, as any one
could see at a glance.

“Do you know Father Owen, sir?” the child asked; and at her voice
Roderick started. He did not answer her question, but, gazing at her
intently, asked instead:

“Who are you, child?”

Something in the question abashed or offended Winifred; for she drew her
little figure to its highest and replied not a word.

Roderick smiled involuntarily at the movement; and I, stepping forward,
interposed myself between the father and daughter and drew the child
away.

“Come!” I said: “we are in a hurry.” And, with a bow and a few muttered
words of farewell, I hastened out of the room; and, rushing from the
hotel as if a plague had suddenly broken out there, I almost ran with
the wondering Winifred to Broadway, where we took a cable car as the
safest and speediest means of leaving that vicinity behind us. I had
left the note which I was writing on the table; but, fortunately, I had
sealed and stamped it, intending to put it in the mail-box in the hall.
I was sure it would be posted, and gave myself no further concern about
it.




I knew Roderick would come to me sooner or later for an explanation of
that strange scene–the presence there of the child and my own singular
conduct. His impetuous nature would give him no rest till he had cleared
up that mystery. But at least the child should be safe back in the
convent before I saw him; and I could then refuse to answer any
questions, or take any course I thought proper, without fear of
interference on the part of Winifred.

“We shall go on up to the Park,” I said to the child; for I had some
fear that Roderick might come straight to my hotel.

Winifred made no answer, and we took the car to Fifty-ninth Street,
where we got out and were soon strolling through the broad alleys,
thronged with carriages; or the quieter footpaths of that splendid
Central Park, justly the pride of New Yorkers.

“Why are you afraid of that gentleman?” Winifred asked me in her abrupt
fashion as I led her by a secluded path to show her a statue of Auld
Lang Syne which had always appealed to me.

“I am not afraid of him, dear.”

“But why are you trembling, and why did you run away?” she asked again.

“Because it was time for us to go. I still have much to show you.”

“I like that gentleman,” she said.

“Do you?” I cried impulsively. “I am so glad! Go on liking him just as
much as ever you can.”

She did not seem so much surprised at this statement and at my apparent
inconsistency as a grown person would have been; but she went on:

“Only I thought it was rather rude of him to question me like that.”

“He did not mean it for rudeness.”

“No, I suppose not,” the child said slowly. “I’m sorry you took me away
so quickly. I would like to have talked to him. He reminded me of
Niall.”

“Of Niall!” I repeated in amazement.

“Yes,” she answered. “Of course he hasn’t gray hair and he doesn’t wear
the same kind of clothes that Niall does, but it’s his face.”

I remembered how the same thought had on one occasion occurred to me.

“Then I think he knew my dear Father Owen,” the child continued. “I
wonder how he knew him? Father Owen never came to America.”

“Perhaps he heard of him,” I suggested; for I was not anxious that her
curiosity in the subject should be too keenly aroused. I tried to divert
her mind by showing her various monuments and busts of celebrated people
as we went, and at last we stood before the stone group of Auld Lang
Syne. It is so natural, so easy, so lifelike that one would think it
represented three old men, boon companions, whom we had known. The very
buttons on their surtouts, the smile upon their faces, are to the life.
Winifred stood by, smiling responsively, while I recited to her the
familiar lines of that homely ballad which has found an echo in every
land.

We could not see everything in the Park that day, especially as we began
to feel tired. So, leaving the rest for a future occasion, we returned
home again and had a rest before dinner. The gaily-lighted dining-room,
the well-dressed guests, were a new source of pleasure to Winifred; but
every once in a while her thoughts reverted to the dark gentleman. I was
haunted by a fear that he would come that very evening for an
explanation, and I did not linger either in the hotel parlors or the
corridor. But the evening wore away and there was no sign of him. I took
Winifred out to show her a little of New York by gaslight, and to lay in
a stock of chocolates and other sweets for her to take back with her on
the morrow.

Next day, faithful to promise, I brought her back to school, where I
left her somewhat depressed and despondent, as the returning pupil is
apt to be for a day or two. Then I set myself to await Roderick’s visit
with what heart I might.

Continue Reading

WINIFRED GOES SIGHT-SEEING

The next morning I woke earlier than usual; and, getting up at once,
looked out of the window. Every trace of the fog had vanished, and there
was the sun leaping and dancing as merrily as if it were midsummer
instead of December. I hurried off to Mass, and got back again, to take
a hasty breakfast and sit down in my room to wait for Winifred. It was
about ten o’clock when, with my eyes glued to the window, I saw her
little face looking out of the carriage which I had sent for her. I ran
down to the ladies’ entrance to bring her in. She looked brighter and
better than I had seen her since she left Ireland. She wore her black
school costume, but her hair was no longer brushed painfully down to
comparative smoothness: it broke out into the same saucy curls I knew of
old. She darted out of the carriage and in at the open door, throwing
herself into my arms.

“Here I am!” she cried. “And so glad to see you again!”

“I began to be afraid yesterday,” I observed, “that we were both going
to be disappointed.”

“Oh, so was I!” said Winifred. “I went to the window the first thing, to
be sure that the sun was shining and the fog gone away.”

“So did I. But there couldn’t have been much sun at the time you got
up.”

“Oh, it was there! And I saw there wasn’t any fog and that it was going
to be a fine day.”

I brought her up to my room and installed her in a chair to rest while I
got on my things.

“For of course we must go out as soon as we can,” I declared. “It will
never do to miss a moment of such a perfect day, and it will be all too
short.”

A shade seemed to pass over Winifred’s sensitive face at the words. But
I called her attention to the street below; for Broadway on a sunshiny
morning is a very pleasant and cheerful sight, and to Winifred it was
all new; so that it was certain the constant panorama of human beings,
all jostling one another, eager, excited, apparently in a fearful hurry,
would keep her fully occupied while I completed my toilet. Once the
child called me to the window to see a Chinaman. She had never seen one
before, and she went off into a peal of laughter at the odd sight. This
particular John was dressed in a pale blue silk shirt over his baggy
black trousers. His pigtail was long and luxuriant, denoting rank.

“What is he?” cried Winifred. “You have such funny people in America. I
don’t think there are any like him in all Ireland.”

“Not in Wicklow, at any rate,” I answered. “Indeed, I don’t know what
they would think of him there. He looks as if he had just stepped off a
tea-caddy, straight from China.”

“Oh, he is a Chinese, then! I never saw one before except in pictures.”

The next thing that attracted her attention was one of the great vans,
drawn by enormous dray-horses.

“Look at their big legs and feet!” laughed Winifred–“as big as a tree
almost! Oh, I wish Barney and Moira could see them!”

The ladies’ dresses, too, astonished her–especially of those who drove
in the carriages; for she had never seen such costumes before.

At last I was ready, and we passed down the stairway, with its heavy
piled moquette carpet, to the street without. Just across the way was a
florist’s, and I told Winifred we should make our first visit there. We
had to wait a favorable moment for crossing Broadway. The child was
naturally fearless, but she was somewhat afraid of the multitude of
vehicles–cars, carts, and private carriages–which formed a dense mass
between the two sidewalks.

“Yet crossing the street up here is nothing,” I said. “Wait till you try
it some day down on lower Broadway–at Wall Street, for instance, or
near the City Hall Park.”

“This is bad enough!” cried Winifred. “You feel as if some of the horses
must step on you.”

However, we got safely across, with the aid of a tall policeman, who
piloted us through the crowd, putting up an authoritative hand to stop a
horse here, or signing to a driver there to give place. We entered the
florist’s shop. It was like going from winter to a lovely spring day.
The fragrance from the many flowers was exquisite but almost
overpowering. Masses of roses, of carnations, of chrysanthemums were
there in the rarest profusion; flowering plants, palms, costly exotics,
made the place seem like some tropical garden under Southern skies. The
sight of the violets brought the tears to Winifred’s eyes: they reminded
her of her home beyond the sea. But when she heard the price of them she
was amazed.

“Why, we get them for nothing in the Dargle–as many as we want–coming
on the spring,” she whispered. “Don’t give so much money for them.”

She persisted so much in the idea that it would be fearful to waste
money on flowers which might be had at home for nothing, that I bought
her roses instead. I made her select a bunch for herself from the mass.
She was charmed with their variety of color, varying from the pale
yellow of the tea-rose to the deepest crimson. We recrossed the street,
and I made her go back to the hotel with the roses, so that they might
keep fresh in water. When she came down again to where I was waiting on
the sidewalk, I said:

“Now there is going to be a circus procession on Fifth Avenue. It is
just about time for it; so we will go round the corner and see it.”

“What is a circus procession?” she inquired gravely.

“You shall see for yourself in a few minutes,” I answered briefly.

We went across Twenty-ninth Street to Fifth Avenue, and stationed
ourselves on a high brownstone stoop, which, fortunately for us, was not
yet crowded. All along the streets people were waiting in serried rows.
Small boys were mounted on trees, calling out jeering exclamations to
those below; fruit venders and venders of peanuts elbowed their way
about, or stood on corners with furnaces aglow for the roasting of
chestnuts. It was a busy, animated scene; while the cheerful laughter
and the shrill, gleeful voices of the children added to the general
mirth.

Presently the arrival of the procession was announced by the small boys
and the blowing of a bugle by a man on horseback. The first to appear
was a train of magnificent horses, some with Arab riders, some
controlled by wonderfully dexterous women. Next in order was a beautiful
lady, clad in a gorgeous, bespangled costume, seated in a gilt chariot
and driving with the utmost skill six snow-white horses.

“A gold carriage!” whispered Winifred, awestricken. “Oh, if Barney and
Moira could only see that!”

“All is not gold that glitters,” I replied promptly. “But the white
horses are certainly beautiful.”

“Oh, what are these?” she asked.

I looked. It was the camels that had attracted the child’s attention.
Their appearance so astonished and amused her that she went off into
peals of merry laughter, which caused many a responsive smile around us.

“What funny things you have in America!” she exclaimed. “Just see how
these things walk and the queer men on their backs.”

“The animals are called camels,” I said; “and their drivers are supposed
to be Arabs from the desert.”

“Oh, I have studied about the camels and the deserts!” Winifred said,
and she looked at them with new interest.

Her astonishment reached its climax when she saw the elephants.

“What are they at all?” she cried, gazing at their enormous bulk with
startled eyes, as they slowly plodded on. Her glance wandered from their
trunks to their great legs and huge sides. I told her what they were,
and I think her studies had supplied her with some information about
them and the ivory which is obtained from their tusks.

She was charmed with the monkeys.

“I’m sure they’re little old men,” she said–“just like those Niall used
to tell about, who were shut up in the hills.”

She was never tired of watching their antics, and only regretted when
they were out of sight. Two or three of them were mounted on tiny
ponies; and, to Winifred’s great glee, one tumbled ignominiously off and
had to be picked up out of the mud by an attendant.




“What’s coming now?” she cried, as one of the vans containing a lion
hove into sight. The great beast lay tranquil and unmoved, gazing at the
passers-by with that air of nobility which always belongs to his
species. His appearance seemed to fascinate my companion and she gazed
at him very earnestly.

“That is a lion,” I remarked.

“Oh, the king of the forest!” put in Winifred. “He looks like a king.”

“A very fierce one at times,” I replied. “But that next is a tiger–a
far more cruel and treacherous beast.”

“I don’t like him,” said Winifred, decisively; “although he is something
like a big, big cat, only for the stripes on his back.”

The leopards next passed by, fidgeting up and down the cage, with their
spotted coats glittering in the sun. Hyenas, wolves, foxes, jackals,
passed in quick succession, giving place at last to a giraffe. I pointed
this animal out to Winifred.

“He has a long, long neck,” she observed; “he looks as if he had
stretched it out so far that he couldn’t get it back again.”

The doings of the clown, I think, puzzled more than they amused
Winifred.

“Is he a man or another kind of animal?” she asked me gravely. She was
not at all sure what kind of being he was, or why he should be so
dressed up and act in such a manner. I told her that it was to amuse
people.

“But he isn’t half so funny as the monkeys,” she declared,
contemptuously. “Why, you never told me that there were such wonderful
things in America!”

“I’m sure I never thought of it,” I replied, laughing. “But I am glad
you have seen the circus. It is quite an education in natural history.
Now you will know an elephant from a giraffe, a lion from a tiger, a
camel from a zebra, and a monkey from a fox. But, dear, we must hurry on
and see what sight-seeing we can do. I declare it is almost noon
already.”

Presently, indeed, we heard the shrill sound of many whistles and the
ringing of more than one bell.

Winifred put her hands to her ears.

“What a noise!” she cried; and she laughed merrily as she did so, her
feet fairly dancing over the pavement in the pleasant sunlight of that
winter day. And so we pursued our way up Fifth Avenue, with its rows of
imposing brownstone houses, toward the cathedral, which was our
destination.

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