On Tour with Queen Marie

CHAPTER SIX

An Overburdened Sabbath

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 24.

Cold or no cold, Queen Marie has not voyaged this far to be quiet or unseen, and this particular day bids to be as crowded as any other can be hereafter. I get tired just writing the items down!

Announcement had been made that the Queen was to attend services at Calvary Church, and every one was curious as to why she had chosen that particular place of worship from among the scores and hundreds of churches in the community. The explanation has its roots, as do so many of Her Majesty's actions, in an old friendship. While in Europe she had made the acquaintance of Dr. Frank Buchman, the well-known American church man, and had become interested in his ideas of faith. Through Dr. Buchman she met Dr. Samuel Shoemaker, the young rector of Calvary Church, and invited him to be her guest in the palace at Bucharest. It was at this time that she became interested in Dr. Shoemaker's work, promising to visit his church if ever she should go to America.

Although the Queen is a devout supporter of the Orthodox Roumanian Church, as are all the members of the Royal Family, she is nevertheless open-minded on questions of faith and is ever willing to lend a ready ear to any one who can help to throw light on problems of life and religion. Like all British royalty, Queen Marie was brought up in the Church of England, but her mother, the daughter of a czar, had received her early training in the orthodox Russian Church. This admixture of Anglican and Russian training, added to the Queen's present affiliation with the Church of Roumania, lends an unusual charm to her character and makes her generous in her sympathies. Her interest in all classes of society and in any form of religious belief is pronounced; and it was this interest that brought her, on the single Sunday of her visit to New York, to the church over which Dr. Shoemaker presides.

She appeared promptly at 10:30 dressed very simply. It was raining. The Prince who had just got back from West Point, appeared in his rain coat, and the party very quietly took their places. The rector began by welcoming the Queen in the name of his church. The Queen was much interested and later said that the hour was one of almost heavenly peace and beauty. Dr. Shoemaker went on to say that he dearly hoped this large congregation who had come to honor the Queen would feel themselves drawn closer to The King of Kings be fore they left the church.

The luncheon, which my husband and I had arranged for the women delegates of the different states to meet the Queen, called for Her Majesty's appearance at the Biltmore at l:00. I was at the door of the hotel to greet her and the Prince and Princess, and to escort them to a suite of rooms prepared for them. The Queen looked every inch queenly in a coat dress of deep red velvet, a large picture hat, and, for a high light, one great diamond cross with pear-shaped pearls pendant. I thought I had never seen her look better. She clasped both my hands and we had a few moments of quiet conversation before we descended to the ballroom where the guests were assembled and waiting. Thanks to the efficient management of Mrs. Charles D. Lowrie and Mrs. George Frederick Kunz, who assisted in the arrangements for all the entertainments of the ladies who came as delegates, I am glad to say that friends thought the luncheon a great success. The Queen surely contributed her share to that, for she had prepared a unique surprise. When she rose, welcoming the delegates, she told them her mind and heart had been occupied with them long before she had met them. On the boat coming over, she went on, in anticipation of such a meeting as we were then having, she had studied the history and geography of each state in the Union and had written down the brief impression made on her by the personality of each state as she saw it. As she called out the name of each state, she said, she would be glad to have that delegate take her description written with her own hand as a memento. The ladies were completely charmed and were quite graceful in their acceptances; but never as long as I live will I forget the prim little lady from one of the New England states who hopped up and publicly corrected the Queen's pronunciation of her native state. We must be right in the eyes of the world! Her Majesty smiled, stood corrected, and thanked her before proceeding.

That same afternoon she was present at a large reception at the Plaza, given her by the Newspaper Alliance of America, and at which I am sure she shivered and shook in her boots before "the most critical audience in the world," as she chaffingly called them in her speech. Immediately following that, in her rôle of Egeria, she put in an appearance at an exhibition of paintings by a protégé of hers, Sigismond de Nagy, a Hungarian artist. She bought one of his colorful paintings to present to her daughter Queen Mignon of Serbia. One woman and one afternoon! How she stretched herself and the hours over the events they encompassed until seven o'clock, and then by a prestidigitation appeared as promptly and as radiantly as usual at 7:30 at Mrs. Oliver Harriman's dinner, in Mrs. Harry Black's Plaza apartment, is more than I will ever know. All in white, satin, diamonds, pearls, she was if anything more animated than usual and amused us all by an account of how she finally decided to bob her hair, fearing greatly the King's displeasure, but when she appeared after the process was over he never even noticed the difference. It was too common a happening among many of us not to stir up more kindred talk and, since we were only women there, we had a delightful time talking about men in general, without a contradiction. I might add, Her Majesty finds American men not half so subjected as current talk has them. Her hair-cut came in for a good bit of feminine notice along with modes in general, and she said she would not have it long again for the world. I could not help but remember the long gold tresses over her shoulders when I saw her once sick in bed in Roumania, and I regretted them. She usually wears caps in the evening and always when traveling, and her hair is so beautifully waved and so thick one scarcely notices it is cut. Mrs. Harriman also was especially lovely that night.

The Metropolitan Opera House performance of Loie Fuller's ballet was on the tapis and we concluded our pleasant gossip hastily to arrive promptly. The wonderful old house was quite full, people arriving right and left, gorgeous women, languid and a little bored, and sober-suited men bringing up the rear. As our party entered, the national anthems of the two countries, ringing in my ears continually night and day by this time, bespoke the Queen's entrance into her special box, and the performance began. This ballet, illustrating one of the Queen's original fairy-tales, The Story of the Lily, was a vast improvement over the performance in Philadelphia, but much criticism was evidenced among the members of the entourage, who were disappointed not to have a gala performance of an opera and did not enjoy seeing the same ballet again.

At 12:30 we girded ourselves for the long journey before us and left in our evening clothes for the special train, where all the luggage and maids and valets had been sent on ahead. The station was crowded. The police and militia formed a passage way along a red carpet stretched to the train, and we boarded the private cars which were to be our homes for many weeks. I was delightfully surprised at the comfort of it all. The large brass beds in our rooms looked most inviting. Nothing was left undone for our comfort. Our car was called the "Republic." The Queen's car was most luxurious. An observation car had been attached to hers with plenty of space for the receptions she was to hold. There were manicurists, hairdressers, barbers and a trained nurse aboard. The railroads have done us so well, it seems as if we were in for a marvelous journey. All looks propitious.