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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