Lillian Roy.

The Little Washingtons' Travels



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CHAPTER I
NEW YORK THE GREAT MECCA

"My parlor chair swings around every way!" exclaimed Martha Parke, thoroughly enjoying the novelty of whirling on a Pullman parlor chair.

"They all do, but folks are supposed to sit quiet and only swing when they want to see who's sitting on the other side of the car, or perhaps if a friend sits next to them and talks – then you have to turn and answer, of course," explained George Parke.

Jack Davis, the Philadelphia cousin of the two Parke children, had the vast experience of travelling from his native city to the country home of the Parkes just outside of Washington, D. C., a few weeks prior to the opening of this story. So, of course, he knew all about the Pullman parlor chairs.

"That isn't why they whirl at all! It's so you can turn to look out of the opposite windows, 'cause both sides of a railroad track have scenery, you know," glancing at the elders of the party to make sure they had overheard him.

"Why, Jack Davis! That isn't the reason at all! It's for the convenience of the conductor to take up tickets, so he won't have to lean away over or knock off the passenger's hat. Then, too, when the buffet waiter serves luncheon on those folding tables, he has to have room to move the chair around and place the stand right over the passenger's lap. Don't you remember?" explained Anne Davis to her brother.

"I'll ask mother – shall I?" ventured John Graham, a member of the travelling party from the South.

"No, no! We don't want to know anything! Let's see who can find the first church along the line," quickly said George, to divert attention.

For some time thereafter the young travellers were quiet, until Jack shouted: "I see one! It's old and tumble-down, but it has a steeple just the same!"

While the children were playing this game, the elders sat planning about the New York trip. They had started from the country estate that morning without mishap, which was remarkable, considering the many ways the "Little Washingtons" had of getting into trouble. But now that all were en route for the great city of the north, they wondered whether it had been wise to bring five lively children on such a trip.

"If John doesn't behave when you take him to visit the historical places, just let me know, and I will keep him at his great-aunt's. She hasn't a thing he can do mischief to!" said Mrs. Graham.

Mr. Parke laughed. "That would be a severe punishment for John. But I feel quite sure he will be the least troublesome of the party. George generally takes the lead in all escapades, you know."

"Not when Jack is around to suggest mischief!" added Mrs. Davis from Philadelphia.

"Well, there will be two of us, anyway, to keep them in order. And little Jim won't be here for them to use as a scapegoat, you know," laughed Mrs. Parke, thinking of the happy little face of the pickaninny who was last seen on the steps holding a book and a box of candy presented him by the Davis children.

"Did Sam wire you he would meet us?" asked Mrs.

Davis of Mr. Parke.

"Yes, when I telegraphed him from home, he replied to my office in Washington. He will arrive in New York a train before us, and meet us at the Pennsylvania Terminal at Thirty-third Street. Then we will go to some large hotel until we see what we wish to do for the week."

"George sat looking over the newspaper this morning while we were waiting at the station in Washington for this train, and I leaned over to see what was engrossing his attention. What do you think he was reading?" asked Mrs. Parke.

"Goodness only knows what George reads – anything from the last drive of the Italians on the Alps to the present quotations on Wall Street!" laughed Mr. Parke, the father.

"Neither! He was poring over the list of hotels and restaurants in New York City. Finding I was watching, he said: 'I just found the place for us to stop.'

"'Yes?' said I. 'Where is it?'

"'The Martha Washington Hotel. We wouldn't think of boarding anywhere else, would we, when we are related to Martha?'"

The others laughed at this, and Mrs. Graham added: "Did you explain that that hotel was a ladies' hotel, and neither he nor his father nor his uncle would be allowed to stay there?"

"No, because he forgot all about the hotel when he saw Jack and the girls leading John over to the candy booth. That was enough for George!" laughed Mrs. Parke.

"I suppose you ladies have planned a campaign for going about to show the 'patriots' the historical points of interest in the city – that is why you came up here, you know," teased Mr. Parke.

"You came for business purposes, you said, so we will not trouble you with our plans," retorted Mrs. Davis.

But further conversation was interrupted by the children. "Mother, didn't you bring the copy of our Washington history with you?"

"I have it in the trunk. – Why?" said Mrs. Parke.

"Because Jack says Washington was in Boston in the spring of 1776, and I say he was in New York, where he thought General Howe was going after being driven from Boston," explained George.

"You are both right, son. Washington remained in Boston for a time to see just what Howe would do, and then fearing the weakness of defence of and about New York, he started for that city. It was while he was at New York that the letter from Congress was given him, in which he was so highly commended for the bravery and conduct of himself and his men at the siege," said Mrs. Parke.

Both boys had been so sure that each was right, that this information caused a sudden spell of humility, which gave the girls an opportunity to speak.

"Mother, didn't you read one day that the American army was vanquished on Long Island, and Washington had to hide up in the hills of Harlem until he got some more soldiers together?" asked Martha earnestly.

"Oh, oh! Is this the way my historical readings are interpreted?" sighed Mrs. Parke, in mock despair, while the other elders of the party laughed at Martha's presentation of the battle on Long Island.

"I think it best not to describe any more history now. When you are all on the spot of the battle scenes, the children will feel the actual spirit of the thing more than by listening to a tale," said Mr. Parke.

"I will follow your suggestion later, but just now I am not going to allow this misunderstanding to rest. Come here, children, and let me explain."

As there was nothing more exciting offered them, the five children turned their chairs about and listened to the story.

"You see, when General Howe sailed from Boston with his fleet, it was circulated that he proposed going to Halifax. But Washington was too wise a general to believe everything he heard, especially when it came from such a wily man as General Howe. So he figured out just about what Howe might do now that he was out of such nice, comfortable quarters like Boston.

"New York was another fine city, with every comfort to be had, so Washington thought that the British would prefer that life to one of privation and discomfort elsewhere.

"With the seized boats that had sailed into Boston harbor, ignorant of the fact that the British had left there, Washington was able to supply his men with guns, ammunition and goods greatly needed by them. Then, when Campbell of the British navy sailed serenely into the net of the enemy, a large quantity of military stores was captured, besides the fine vessel that carried over two hundred and seventy men. The latter were made prisoners, and the ships were turned into privateers, to act as sea-scouts in place of a regular naval force, which the colonists had not been able to raise as yet.

"Anxious for the safety of New York, Washington started an army from Boston, leaving five regiments under General Ward to defend the city. Passing through Providence, Norwich, and New London, he and the army arrived in New York on the 13th of April, where he found, as he feared, that city ill-prepared for defence against Howe.

"It was soon ascertained, however, that Howe had really sailed for Halifax, where he went to secure the cooperation of the forces of Canada.

"So you see, boys, Washington was in both cities that spring, but he spent the late spring and summer in New York, fortifying and preparing that city for the battle which he knew was sure to come."

"Tell us some more, mother," said Martha.

"Is it time for the luncheon?" asked George anxiously, as the porter passed through the car.

"No, sah; not yet!" replied the grinning colored man.

"Then go on, mother!" sighed George resignedly.

"Well, when Washington found how valuable the Hudson River was for crossings, and for transmitting supplies to the northern army under the command of Schuyler, he immediately began to fortify the passes bordering on that river.

"So, while Howe was in Halifax, the American army was engaged in defending its river front, and the City of New York.

"Meantime, a large fleet was fitted out by the British under the command of Sir Peter Parker. In June, this fleet came to anchor in Charleston harbor, where it was joined by General Clinton's forces.

"Fortunately, an intercepted letter warned the Americans of the destination of this armament, and this gave the colonists time to prepare defence against the English. Lee had been sent by Washington to command the forces in the southern country, and his popularity soon amassed over five thousand men. Under him were Gadsden, Moultrie, and Thompson. At the entrance of the Charleston harbor a fort had been constructed of the palmetto tree, which resembles cork in its looks and action.

"When Clinton landed some of his troops, he found Colonel Gadsden commanding a regiment on the northern extremity of James Island, and two regiments under Moultrie and Thompson, stationed at opposite extremities of Sullivan's Island.

"The attack on the fort began in the morning, while the ships threw their broadsides upon it, but the little fort returned the fire with so much skill and spirit that the ships suffered severely. One ran aground and was burned, while others were temporarily disabled. The British finally abandoned the enterprise, having lost over two hundred men, while the Americans only lost twenty.

"The failure of the attack was of great importance to the American cause, for it not only contributed much to the permanent formation of their independent government, but it had an effect on the half-hearted people who feared the power of England.

"The abrupt departure of General Howe from Boston had upset his plans, for all of his supplies had been sent to that city, and consequently fell into the hands of the American army. After waiting at Halifax for the appearance of the reinforcements he expected, but which did not arrive, he set sail for New York with his original army, where he landed on Staten Island the third of July, the same day that the Declaration of Independence was reported to the members of Congress at Philadelphia."

Mrs. Parke reached this point in her story when a waiter entered the car, making announcement of an interesting fact.

"Dinnah now served in th' dinin' car – foh cars ahead! Dinnah now served in th' dinin' car – foh cars ahead!"

"Oh, oh! they're going to have a dinner in the cars! We won't have to eat on the little tables brought in here," cried Jack, looking eagerly at Mr. Parke.

"Why, I don't think we'll need any dinner, do you? We will be in New York in an hour's time, and can have something at a quick lunch restaurant," replied Mr. Parke very seriously.

The children stared at him in such surprise that he was compelled to laugh outright. At that, they knew he was only fooling about dinner. Meantime, the ladies began to gather their various wraps and bags and arrange them in order back of the parlor chairs.

When all were ready to go forward, Mr. Parke beckoned the children to gather close about him, and gave them warning.

"Now look over the bill of fare carefully, and order the cheapest dishes there. I haven't much money with me, and it would be dreadful to have the bill come to more than I would be able to pay."

The three ladies had passed on before Mr. Parke whispered the embarrassing news, and George, making sure his father was not joking again, said:

"I've got fifty cents in my pocket; I'll eat that up!"

"It may not digest, George, because silver is not considered healthy for the human stomach, you know," replied Mr. Parke.

"Oh, you know what I mean! I'll order that much," said George, laughing.

"Will you have enough to pay for a dish of ice cream and a sandwich?" asked Martha anxiously.

"We'll have to see what they charge for ice cream. You see the prices have gone so high since the war," returned Mr. Parke.

They were passing through into the forward car as they conversed, and now the children had all they could do to balance themselves as the car swayed from side to side in its rapid flight on the tracks.

At last they were safely seated in the dining-car, but the ladies and Mr. Parke occupied one table for four, while the children occupied another across the aisle.

Every one studied the menu card diligently, but to the horror of the children the ice cream was forty cents per plate. Sandwiches were twenty cents each, and tea or coffee, or cocoa, was twenty cents per cup.

"Humph! We won't eat much at this rate!" grumbled George.

"I think it is much cheaper to have luncheon served on a table in the parlor car. We had a nice lunch, and I'm sure it wasn't as much as this," remarked Jack.

"Shall we whisper to father and ask him what he can afford to pay for?" suggested Martha.

But the waiter stood right at Mr. Parke's elbow writing down some words on a pad, so the children politely waited. When he finished and hurried away, George and Martha excused themselves to the other children, and crossed the aisle.

"What shall we order?" asked George.

"How much can you pay for?" added Martha.

Mrs. Parke looked in amazement, while aunty and Mrs. Graham laughed. Mr. Parke drew both children down so they could hear him whisper.

"I think you had better sit still and not order a thing. If the waiter comes up for your order send him to me. You see, Mrs. Davis and Mrs. Graham ordered so much that I shall have to pay for, that we will have to go hungry."

George sent an angry glance at the ladies who thus deprived him of necessary food for the rest of the journey, but Martha heaved a tremendous sigh, as she relinquished her hopes of a deep dish of ice cream.

Before the two food ambassadors were settled in their chairs again, a waiter hurried over and began arranging silver, bread and butter, and relishes before them.

The children exchanged glances, and as the man went away again, George said: "We won't say anything yet – not until he asks us to order."

But he failed to ask. When he next appeared, he carried cups of broth and placed them before the children. This done, he stooped and said to George, in a voice distinctly heard by those fearfully listening:

"Ah'm goin' to pile dat cream up high when yo' all is ready for dessert!"

Then winking understandingly at the doubtful faces, he went back to the kitchen.

George looked in the cup of broth and turned to glance at his father for instructions, but the elders were busy with their own broth. Then George decided upon a courageous measure.

"We need something and we didn't order this soup. If we take it now the ladies who ordered more than they should will have to cancel some of their dinner. Come on and drink the broth before we are told not to."

Thereupon, a great sipping and swallowing of hot liquid ensued, and soup, that despised item at home, was quickly enjoyed, for there was a dearth of more to follow – so thought the travellers about that table.

Before they were quite finished, however, fish was brought on and the waiter said: "Ah'm tol' to bring turkey wid cranberry sauce and candied sweets. Is dat all right foh de whole party?"

Then George suspected a hoax. He jumped up and caught his father trying to hide a smile back of his dinner napkin.

"Is this one of your practical jokes again?" demanded George.

But an answer was unnecessary when he laughed so heartily that the ladies joined in. George was disgusted as he turned and remarked:

"Well, you made us drink the soup, all right, and I s'pose we all want turkey, but just you wait till dessert comes along – we're each going to eat ten plates of ice cream and make you pay for it, too!"

With that threat ringing in his ears, it was a wonder Mr. Parke enjoyed his dinner, but he did, and when dessert was ordered he watched the children eat two great dishes each of ice cream, and never blinked at the bill presented to him for it.

CHAPTER II
THE JOYS OF NEW YORK LIFE

"Oh, oh, but this is a bee-autiful station!" gasped George, when the tourists came from the train and entered the great domed concourse.

"Isn't it lovely? Look at the ceiling – all painted and lighted so fine!" sighed Martha, with satisfaction at art thus expressed.

"I should think everybody would get lost in this great place. Do you know where you are going, uncle?" said Jack, gazing first at the hurrying mobs going every way across the main hall to reach the numerous outlets.

"No, I am lost already! I shall have to ask a policeman to take us to the station-house for the night, so we can find ourselves again," replied Mr. Parke with a worried air, as he went over to speak to a man in uniform.

"Did he mean it?" whispered John to his mother.

She smiled and shook her head, as she replied: "He is going to order taxicabs to convey us to the hotel."

"What hotel are we going to?" wondered Martha.

"Well, seeing there are scores of fine hotels in New York, it is difficult to tell which one Mr. Parke will select," said Mrs. Parke.

Shortly after this the party was snugly seated in cabs and whirled away. There was no signboard over the door of the hotel so the children could not tell the name of it. At home, the hotel in the village where the store was, had a swinging sign to say that it was "The Washington Arms Hotel." But the uniformed men standing ready to open the doors, and the crowds of people sitting about reading or chatting were very interesting to the children. Palms, great easy chairs, clusters of electric lights – lights everywhere – made the scene one to be remembered.

"Must be something like the fine balls given Washington after the war," whispered Martha to her companions.

"If they only had on silk dresses and powdered wigs," returned John.

It was late in the afternoon when the party arrived at the hotel. Mr. Parke decided it would be useless to try and see any of the sights that day. Besides, they expected Mr. Davis every moment, as he said he would be waiting for them. But the train had been late, and he probably had become tired of waiting in the hotel lobby.

"I don't see how any one could tire of sitting down there and watching the fine folks," said Martha.

"If you saw things like that every day you'd soon weary of them," remarked Mrs. Davis.

And Martha wondered if Philadelphia were anything like New York, to make aunty speak of seeing such sights every day.

Before she had time to question about this interesting information, however, a cheery voice sounded outside of the large parlor they had with the suite of six rooms, and in came Mr. Davis.

After greetings were all over, Jack began: "Daddy, are we going to do anything to-day? We must not lose time, you know."

"Indeed no! Time is one of the things we can never find if it is once lost!" laughed Mr. Davis, patting Jack on the head.

"Well – then – " ventured Anne eagerly.

"I procured tickets for the 'Blue Bird' at the opera house to-night," replied Mr. Davis, showing the tickets to prove the wonderful news.

"Oo-oh! I've never been in a real live theatre before! We've gone to movies in the village – that's all!" cried John eagerly.

"Well, this is a real live one all right!" bragged Jack.

And so it was. It was an entrancing play, and the gowns of the audience, and the wonderful velvet curtains, and the gold boxes and trimmings of the opera house, all presented a dazzling sight. The visiting party had a large box quite near the stage, so that everything could be seen and heard.

The next morning Mrs. Graham left the others and started for her visit to her aunt, leaving John with his friends to accompany them on their historical tour of the city.

"The first thing I have on my program is a visit to the Statue of Liberty. As we will be near Governor's Island, we can have a look at the old fort there, and then on our way back to Battery Park, visit the Aquarium," said Mrs. Parke.

So they left the hotel to walk to a car.

"Is anything going on in New York to-day?" asked John.

"Not unusual. – Why?" wondered Mrs. Davis.

"Why, I see such a lot of people all running as if they were afraid of missing some big event," explained John.

The elders laughed. "That is the way New Yorkers always rush about. One would think their very lives depended upon the saving of a moment's time. And then they stand and stare at a silly advertisement, or listen to a street-corner peddler trying to sell his wares, and not only lose ten times the moments saved, but block the way for other sensible pedestrians, so that every one loses time," said Mr. Parke, who was escorting the ladies to the car.



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