Lillian Roy.

The Little Washingtons' Travels



скачать книгу бесплатно

"And when we finish that, we will get on a bus and ride up to Grant's Tomb and let the kiddies see the great monument raised by a grateful people to the general of the Civil War," added Mr. Parke.

"We haven't seen Washington's Arch down at Washington Square yet," reminded George, fearful of missing something.

"I know, but I thought it would be fine to get on a Fifth Avenue bus when we finish Columbia University on the Heights, and complete our college tour with the City College on 137th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, and ride all the way downtown along Riverside Park to 72nd Street, thence to Fifth Avenue. Down that famous avenue we can see many interesting buildings and sights, and at last we will jump off at Washington Square," promised Mr. Parke.

So the time flew rapidly by while the different places were visited, and finally the tired group almost rolled from the bus when it reached Washington Square. Here they took but half interest in the great arch erected to the memory of Washington, and all were thankful enough to get on another bus to ride uptown to the hotel.

"Oh, I'm glad we haven't all Europe to see like this!" sighed Martha, throwing herself on a couch the moment they entered the parlor of the suite.

"Poor John! I think I will telephone his mother and ask her to allow him to remain with us for to-night," said Mrs. Parke, when she saw the drooping eyelids of the weary boy.

"Oh do, please, and then I won't have to get up so awfully early in the morning. Why, Great-aunt Belinda makes every one in her household rise at six o'clock, and we breakfast at seven," said John, revealing the cause of his prompt arrival each morning at the hotel.

John was given permission to remain that night, and Mrs. Graham added that she would be down herself at nine in the morning to accompany her friends to Washington's Headquarters, where they proposed to visit the next day.

CHAPTER IV
THE BATTLE OF NEW YORK

Every one was hungry, and when they had gathered about the dining-room table, full justice was done the viands served in the restaurant. While waiting for dessert (the children had ice cream every time) Mr. Davis remarked:

"Any one want to go to the theatre to-night? I had some tickets reserved for a play that is said to be very good."

"Do you mean us, too, when you say 'any one'?" asked Anne.

"Goodness, no! You youngsters are too tired," laughed her father.

"Oh, no, we're not! We're never too tired for fun," replied Jack quickly.

"I think it will be very nice to see a play, Sam," said Mrs. Parke, thanking him for the suggestion.

"Well, then we must hurry and not miss the whole of the first act. Couldn't we leave the children to go to bed alone for this time?" asked Mr. Parke.

"I'll ask the chambermaid to see that they are all right and have what they want," said Mrs. Parke.

"Mother, if you all are going to have a good time, why can't we have ice cream and cake for a treat up in the parlor?" begged Anne.

"Why, you're having ice cream now!" exclaimed Mrs.

Davis.

"But this is dessert – upstairs it will be a party!" cried Jack.

The elders laughed, and promised that Maggie, the maid, should be told to give the children a party as they desired.

After the elders had gone, the five children gathered in the parlor waiting for Maggie's appearance. She was having her supper, and said she would be upstairs in a short time.

"Do you know, we haven't played war in the longest time – I've almost forgotten how!" sighed George.

"That's 'cause we had so much other stuff to do," replied Martha.

"I wish we could play Nathan Hale and the British now," ventured Jack.

"You just can't in a place full of furniture – no trees, no grass, no creek to play with," remonstrated George.

"It's 'most eight o'clock. Maggie should be finished with her supper long ago," said Martha, getting up to peep out of the door to see if there were any signs of the maid in the long hallway.

To her great delight she saw Maggie coming down the soft carpeted corridor, and soon after, she knocked at the door.

"Is you'se all right in here?" questioned Maggie.

"As right as can be without that ice cream," retorted George.

Maggie grinned. "Yer mudder said you'se were to have it sent up at eight-thirty. I th'ot like as how I'd stop to see if I wuz wanted for anything and if not, I'd run upstairs to get the clean towels for your rooms."

"Run ahead, and don't be behind time with the cream," agreed Jack, sighing, as he took up a magazine from the center table.

"This is a tiresome life when there's nothing to kill time with," also sighed George, after Maggie had gone.

"Let's have a pillow fight," suggested Martha.

"Come on, boys, that'll be better than nothing," added Anne, taking the magazine from her brother.

John was spending the night with them, so the five had quite a lively time in the fight, until the clock on the mantel chimed eight-thirty.

"Time for the cream!" shouted George, picking up the down that had escaped from the pillows while batting them back and forth.

The children waited fully five minutes for Maggie and the cream, and then Jack declared he would not stand for such neglect! He took up the telephone from the wall near the door and asked the clerk to find out where Maggie was.

The clerk ascertained that Maggie was the maid for their floor, and said she had been sent upstairs to help another maid who was ill that evening. He would let her know that she was wanted.

Five minutes more passed by, and still no Maggie. Then George had a brilliant idea.

"I'll run and scout for her. I've never been anywhere about this hotel, except down in the dining-room and entrance. I'll have a look around, and find her at the same time."

"I'll go with you," suggested Jack.

"Can't we go, too?" asked the girls.

"No, girls mustn't wander around like this, but John may come if he likes," replied George, going out into the corridor.

Not wishing to let the elevator boy know they were on a tour of inspection, the three boys walked up to the next floor. A corridor exactly the same as the one they were on, was the only thing to see. Voices were heard – seemingly from the floor above.

"That must be Maggie upstairs," said Jack.

So up another flight they went, and found a couple at the head of the stairs talking loudly to a deaf old lady. Maggie was not to be seen. The three strangers got on the elevator, and the three boys walked down the length of the corridor. Almost at the extreme length of it, a door stood open, and the boys were sure Maggie would be in that room, very probably making it ready for guests.

"My, this is an awful big house," remarked John.

"Almost like a canyon – these high, dark corridors," said Jack.

"It would be great sport trying to catch a spy running away from us down these gulleys and mountain-steps," grinned John.

By this time the boys had reached the end of the hallway, and stood looking in at the opened door of the room; but it was not a guest-room. It was a store-room of some sort. The door had been left open by mistake, most likely, for no one was about on the entire length of the corridor.

"It must be a junk room," said George.

"They keep old half-worn stuff in it, I guess," added Jack, glancing at the shelves on one side, piled up with miscellaneous items.

"Oh! Look at all the bellboys' uniforms! All colors, different from what some of them wear now," said John.

"Maybe they're here to be repaired or for extra help," suggested George.

The boys stood looking over the motley assortment of things, when suddenly Jack exclaimed:

"What do you say to playing war? Let's dress up in the old uniforms and have some sport!"

"Say!" admired John, looking at Jack with envy.

George said not a word in reply, but looked up and down the corridor to see if any one was about. It was empty and quiet.

"Let's take one each, and two for the girls," whispered George, tiptoeing into the room and selecting a green cloth suit, trimmed with gold braid and brass buttons. After holding it up against him to gauge the size, he threw it over his arm, and then selected a similar suit for Martha. John also found a uniform about his size, and Jack took two – one for himself and one for Anne.

Just as the three raiders reached the head of the stairway, they heard the elevator coming up to that floor. Quick as a flash, they slid down the first section of the stairs, to let the elevator continue past the floor before they ran down the other flights.

Into the parlor bounced the three boys, laughing and bursting with plans for a campaign. The two girls had grown tired of waiting for the boys and Maggie, and were watching the crowds on the brilliantly-lighted street many stories below.

"What do you think? A battle in New York!" cried Jack, throwing the uniforms on the floor.

"Now we can have some fun!" added George.

"Oh, where'd you find them?" asked Martha and Anne in one breath.

"Never mind where – get into them and let's go to war," retorted John, taking his uniform to one of the bedrooms.

The outer door from the parlor to the corridor was well secured against surprise, and then the children quickly dressed in the uniforms. Canes left by the two gentlemen, and umbrellas, were perfectly satisfactory guns for the soldiers. One after the other they appeared in the parlor, and laughingly admired one another.

"Now what? We're all ready," said John.

"Martha, twist up your curls! Soldiers can't have such hair when they fight!" scorned George.

So Martha ran to her mother's room and pinned up her hair, keeping it on top of her head by dragging her father's travelling cap over it.

The boys also got their caps, and then they stood in line while George drilled them.

"This room is too small for any fun," said Jack.

"Can't we parade down the hallway? If we hear any one coming we can hide," suggested Martha.

The others exchanged looks. That was a tempting idea.

"Might as well. No one is about as early as this," said Jack.

"Come on, then! George, you're general, you know, so you must go first," advised Anne.

Nothing loath, George opened the door softly and peeped out. "All's quiet on the Brandywine!" reported George, going out on tiptoes.

Once out in the hall, however, the five Yanks seemed to lose their nerve. First Anne rushed back to the parlor, then Martha followed. Finally, the three boys came tumbling in, for no other cause than that they thought they heard footsteps somewhere.

"You're a lot of cowards! If Washington ever had to fight with runaways like you two, I pity him!" sneered George.

"Well, didn't you run back, too?" exclaimed Martha.

"Only to see what you girls were after! We're going out now and march properly!" declared Jack.

"So'll we – this time!" promised Anne.

Again the army sallied forth, George telling them that they had to storm the heights of Brooklyn and Harlem to hold the forts in New York.

The general marched his army down the whole length of the corridor without meeting any one, and then they stormed the stairs at the end of the hallway. Up on the next floor they marched again, and not a soul was there to watch or applaud, although the uniformed army marched as well as a squad of bellboys – in fact, they resembled them closely.

"Now, men! Howe and his men are climbing up the ridge and we must fight on the Heights or be captured!" warned the general, waving his cane at the next flight of stairs.

Up this flight swarmed the five Continentals, and at the top they turned to shoot down any English that dared to follow; but no one was to be seen.

The general held a council of war with his army. What was there to do in this terrible extremity – the East River on one hand, the different regiments of the British on two sides, and Howe, with his main army, back of them?

"There's only one thing left for us – to cross the river in the fog and gain New York again," declared George.

"How can we cross, when there is nothing to cross?" asked Anne, with great lack of imagination.

"Oh, if our creek were only here, wouldn't it be a lark!" sighed Martha.

"Why, this hallway is our river, can't you see? The fog is so thick one can hardly tell which is land and which is water, but we can cross it all right, if you only follow me!" cried Washington courageously.

Down the whole length of the corridor he tore, eagerly followed by his four men, and reaching the stairway at the end he rushed up to the next floor.

This happened to be the top floor, and the roof, which was used in summer as a garden dining-room, and was now deserted, except for a few tubs of greens and some odd chairs standing about, was at the top of the next flight.

In marching the army from the East River to camp in New York, George found the roof and exulted in the spot.

"Just the place for an engagement! We can hide behind the palm trees and shoot at each other when one of us tries to cross the city. Two of us have to be British, though."

"John and I will be English, and the girls and you will be Yanks," said Jack, looking around to make sure no one was about.

"If we only had some of those apples for ammunition! Do you remember how soft and squashy they were when they hit you in the head?" laughed John, at the memory of that conflict on the creek.

"Well, this must be a bayonet fight. No guns or cannon on hand, you see, and the men at close quarters," said George.

So, making their fortifications of the tables and chairs waiting to be removed to the storehouse of the hotel, and then taking their places as American and British armies, the two sides opened warfare over the possession of New York City.

The battle waged furiously in the semi-light of the electric brilliancy which reflected from the dazzling advertising signs of the city. Both sides tried to capture each other and make them prisoners, which would end the war, but all five were agile and experienced warriors.

While Howe and Washington were engaged on the roof, Maggie had finished her extra tasks, and suddenly remembered the children. She hastily ordered the ice cream and cake to be sent up, and hurried to the suite to humbly apologize for her tardiness.

She knocked softly at the door, while framing excuses.

No one answered.

She knocked again – this time much louder, but still no one answered. Quickly then, she opened the door and found all quiet and no one in the parlor. Some odds and ends of clothing – such as George's shoes, and Jack's coat, lay on the floor.

"Poor little dears! They waited jest as long as they could an' then they got tired and went to bed widout that cream!" said Maggie, opening a bedroom door softly to bless the little sleeping darlings. But not a bed was disturbed.

Maggie hurried from one room to the other, to find clothes scattered about in each room, but not a sign of the children.

"Oh, oh, oh! What has happened to thim children? Here I was told to watch thim, and now there ain't nothing but clothes to watch!" cried the distressed Maggie, as she hurried for the door leading to the main corridor.

Half beside herself with fear of the unknown, Maggie flung the door open, and was about to rush out, when she collided with the waiter, who carried the tray of ice cream and cake. As can be expected from such an impact, the tray crashed to the floor, mixing cake, cream and broken dishes well together.

The waiter shouted and berated Maggie, and she pulled at her hair and rolled her eyes upward, crying: "What shall I do? What shall I do? Thim children is kidnapped er else they've run away!"

The waiter quickly ran in to inspect the premises, and came back with a fearful idea: "Black Hand again! The city's full ov thim, and these folks are rich, yo' know, an' kin pay the reward!"

Maggie and the waiter rushed down, down and down, the many flights of stairs, never stopping to take an elevator, and then ran breathlessly up to the desk to stammer hoarsely:

"Children gone! Clothes laying everywhere, and kidnappers carried them off!"

It caused a tremendous commotion. Every one within hearing crowded up to the clerk and wanted to know who was gone, where the thieves went, what floor the burglary took place on, and many other exciting questions.

The proprietor was called out to quell the disturbance, but long before he reached the lobby, dozens of guests and callers streamed up the endless flights of steps to examine the vacant suite of rooms.

Some of the guests, who had not heard distinctly on which floor the kidnappers had found the children, climbed to the top flight. Suddenly a nervous woman clutched her husband's arm.

"Oh, oh! Those wicked men are on the roof with the dears! Hear them shouting and things bumping about up there?" cried she.

Instantly the man, who had powerful lungs, leaned over the stair-rail and bawled down:

"Come up! Come up! The thieves are on the roof ready to throw the children down to the street if they don't stop crying!"

That brought the endless line of excited folks up and up the remaining flights of stairs, until all could quite plainly hear the noise on the roof overhead.

Suddenly a voice yelled: "Surrender! I got you cornered."

The words were ominous, but the voice was boyish. Maggie recognized it as the leader of the party of children, and she ran recklessly up to grapple with the fierce kidnappers, should it be necessary to help Mister George capture the rascals.

The guests followed closely after the brave maid, and as the crowd pushed out upon the roof, they beheld a stacked-up rampart of tables and chairs and five bellboys in a close struggle with each other.

"Where are the stolen children?" cried Maggie, rushing over to the boys, with whom she was quite at home, and, in fact, felt she was their superior.

At the unexpected interruption, the contending forces separated and looked about. To their consternation, scores of wondering people stood near the door of the roof, staring at the five boys. The cap and hairpins of one had slipped from his (or her) head, and yellow curls blew about her head in the breeze.

George never lost his presence of mind for an instant, although he feared this surprise meant the total collapse of both armies. He called to the four children:

"Attention!"

Instantly the four stood erect and took up their arms.

"Shoulder arms!"

The four obeyed.

"Form line!"

This was also done, to the unbelief of the audience.

"Forward – March!" cried George, taking his place at the head of the line.

They started and marched directly for the door leading to the roof, where crowds of curious guests stood gaping. As the army reached the doorway, the people fell back on both sides and the victorious general led his men down the stairs, down, down, down, followed by the throng, now laughing and gesticulating as wildly as any New Yorker can when he has been well fooled!

Along the corridor of the floor where their own suite was located, George led his army, and once safely inside that friendly door, he quickly slammed and locked it.

The five sank down on the floor, and rocked back and forth in hysterics of fun.

"Oh! That was the best fight we've ever had!" finally cried Martha.

An imperative knock at the door made them all jump, however.

"Run to your rooms and tear off these uniforms! Fire them in the closets or anywhere and jump in bed. Cover yourselves with the bedclothes before Maggie comes in with a pass-key!" ordered George quickly.

A second rap on the door found them all quickly removing the uniforms, and before Maggie could get her pass-key, the five quiet, dear little darlings were snugly tucked in five beds snoring soundly.

The proprietor stood in the parlor wonderingly, but Maggie crept to the doors and held up a warning hand for quiet.

"They is all fast asleep, sir!" whispered she.

The dazed man shook his head, and went out thinking deeply over the queer occurrence. Could five bellboys have played that joke? But no, there was one with curls, and the maid had said the five children were not in the rooms when she sought for them!

As soon as the crowd had dispersed, Maggie went to the room where the two little girls slept in twin beds.

"That ice cream will all be melted to nuthing," said wily Maggie.

Instantly the girls were out of bed. "Where is it?"

"Ha! Tell me the truth and I'll give you the cream!" said Maggie coaxingly.

The boys heard the word "cream" and they fell into their clothes and appeared at the parlor door about the same time the two girls and Maggie came from the room.

The story was told, and Maggie, finding herself as much at fault as the soldiers, promised to put the uniforms back in the closet, while the children sat down and enjoyed a double portion of ice cream.



скачать книгу бесплатно

страницы: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7