On Tour with Queen Marie

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

Denver

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 9.

When I awoke I found we were passing through Wind River Canyon, some of the wildest scenery in the wildest section of our land. The train stopped in the midst of the canyon for us to get out and walk a bit and observe this glory of nature, over which the Roumanians were in ecstasies, and also to get a good view of the train. The Queen climbed up on the locomotive, and of course the photographers did not miss their opportunity. It was a brisk, sunshiny day and everybody was gay and alight someway, in harmony with the fine day and the sublimity of nature. After the many nights of riding on the train one feels anew the pleasure of any exercise, which is the only thing we don't get enough of on this venture.

One becomes very well acquainted on a trip of this kind. I had a pleasant chat this afternoon with Colonel Athanasesco, the Roumanian aide-de-camp, who has always been charming and thoughtful in his attentions. I must say the Roumanians on the train have exhibited the most perfect manners, and have minded their own business.

We stopped at Casper where we saw the oil wells of the Standard Oil Company. Here the Governor of Wyoming, a woman of very attractive appearance, boarded the train. Unfortunately she was defeated in the last elections. The women for the moment are getting the worst of it out West. Colonel Carroll gave a dinner in her honor to-night with the entourage present in full quota, the newspaper people and the "official" group. There were speeches, and the Colonel said he wanted everybody to know that no individual had spent a penny on this journey; that the railroads had combined, and that he had been given charge of the train. (As we all have known for some time!) M. Laptew grew very defiant as it was certainly not pleasant to have this information served up to them morning, noon and night, but Mr. Morris's speech following was a chef d'œuvre. He said that he believed the entourage and the guests on board fully appreciated their advantages. He thought that we should all try to look out of the windows more and enjoy the wonderful scenery through which we were passing, and, taking an example from this, look at things in a big broad way and have more unity and peace.

Wednesday, November 10.

This has been one of the unforgettable days. I am writing while all is fresh in my mind, propped up in bed at 11:00 P.M. We have just left Denver at "the end of a perfect day." From morning till evening we would not have changed a single note.

Everybody was up early as we were to descend from the train at ten o'clock. Accompanied by the officials, the Queen began her journey through the town to the auditorium where thirteen thousand people, difficult as it may be to believe it, awaited her. The Queen was introduced to the multitude by Mr. L. Ward Bannister, chairman of the Committee, and after other short addresses, the Queen, radiant in ruby colored velvet and pearls, rose and expressed her joy in being among them. She dwelt more that day on her special interest in the Roumanians who had met her in the different places, and for whom she said she had especially come. A great number of them were in the front seats before her. Their intent dark gaze was concentrated on her as if to catch every word she said, and while she was speaking she advanced to the edge of the platform and, leaning over, addressed them personally, speaking very intensely, telling them they should not forget their fatherland; that they could be good American citizens and still remain loyal to the country of their birth. They seemed greatly heartened, and afterward children in Roumanian costume brought her baskets of flowers and she kissed them. There was an extraordinary and touching instance when a shriveled ancient woman climbed up on the platform and clung to her childishly until they drew her away. This incident is recorded in the local Denver paper to-day as follows:

"To be presented at court in any European country is a much sought for honor among Americans, but to have a Queen keep thirteen thousand people waiting while she chats amiably with one is an honor that no one in Denver can boast of to-day but little Mrs. Mary Clegg, ninety-five years old, who interrupted the reception at the Municipal Auditorium this morning and, tottering to the side of the Queen, insisted upon an audience. Putting her arm around the waist of the little old lady, the Queen said, 'How old are you?' 'Ninety-five,' she answered, 'and I remember the day you were born, and the day when the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, your father, was born. I saw you and King Ferdinand come out of the church after the marriage ceremony while in London on a visit January 10, 1893. The sun broke through the clouds although the rain was falling. We call it queen's weather.'"

The house was crowded to the ceiling with the throng and overflow of excited people, but all was orderly, as was everything done in Denver that day.

I take my hat off to the municipal government of that city. All day long there was not a hitch in their plans. We drove on through the beautifully laid out city to the top of Lookout Mountain, along a winding road with glorious glimpses of the valley below. A house, massively granite but hospitably spreading, on the top of this mountain is the home of Mr. and Mrs. Beechener, and here luncheon awaited us. From the terrace we had a breath-taking view of the mountain range and two enormous windows in the main hall left this view unobstructed. This hall was a picture of cheer with great open fireplace wreathed in holly and evergreens like an old-fashioned Christmas. Great rafters of oak reached to the roof. Tables decorated in red roses and holly added to the colorful gayety. The luncheon was perfect in every detail—just enough food, not too much. My partners on either side of me were most attractive—as I say, every detail seemed right. Immediately after the luncheon, our host announced that a pageant had been prepared which might give some idea of the history of Colorado to our visitors, and that the actors would pass before our eyes outside the windows so that we might sit where we were and enjoy the "passing show." It was extremely well done, picturing first the early Spanish explorers, then the beaver hunters, the pioneers, the gold miners, down to the present day; and while the pageant was passing a gentleman with a pleasing voice recited the episodes in the history of Colorado. After that a dignified gentleman rose and said that the citizens of Denver had decided to honor Queen Marie in a unique way; that the people of old brought gold and frankincense and myrrh to rulers, but that the people of Denver brought true friendship and loyalty; that the matter was now before the State Legislature to name a mountain (and he pointed to the great range out the window) after Queen Marie so that future generations would remember her. I could see by the Queen's face, even if I had not known her so well, that nothing could have enchanted her more. We lingered in this pleasant home as long as we dared, but the schedule had to be observed and we were awaited in the valley below.

We motored down to all the scenes of interest. At four we reached the Military Hospital dealing especially with tuberculosis. The boys lying on couches out-of-doors, some of them in their last stages, wrung the heart. Poor boys! Wrecks of war! The Queen spoke to a number of the patients stretched on their narrow couches in the sun, and one young man in particular, who had been in Roumania during the War and had been decorated, seemed to arrest her attention. The tour ended in the officers' quarters where tea was served by the officers' wives. On the way back to Denver, the Colonel of the hospital rode in our car. He seemed a typical American, full of energy, alive to the emergency of the moment, brisk and business-like. Yet they told me later that he had sacrificed his life to the work of helping these unfortunate lads.

We followed in the Queen's procession which stopped first at a beautiful Greek pavilion erected on the top of an elevation overlooking the town, as a playground for children. Hundreds of them were collected there. The sun was going down behind the hills, a glorious glow of it filled the sky, and as the Queen approached, these children lined the way and, preceding her up the stairs of the pavilion, scattered flowers and welcomed her with song. She looked quite transfigured as she stood there against the rosy glow with all the youth of Denver around her.

Her car next stopped at the top of the hill on which the Capitol stands, where a procession of young boys in military uniform passed before her. Denver is very proud of these reserve regiments of boys who are beautifully trained and equipped. But they were mere children, some of them tiny tots, and I cannot understand why this militaristic spirit is being fostered in such young boys—they have time enough for it later on. However, it was a pretty sight, like a Lilliputian regiment trained to keep perfect time with the brass bands preceding.

I had arranged for a friend of mine, Dr. Gerard Webb of Colorado Springs, to dine with us that night, and I met him in the hall of the Brown Palace Hotel just before dinner with his pretty young daughter who sat at my table later. We were seated at small tables excepting the Queen who was at the speaker's table overlooking the room. The dinner was given by the Mile High Club and the President, Henry Walcott Toll, a charming man whom they called Henry, devoted himself assiduously to the Queen. It had been arranged that the seat to the right of Her Majesty was to be occupied by various gentlemen during the evening, but Henry's monopoly hardly gave these gentlemen a chance. Henry was evidently very fascinating. The gentlemen at my table were much amused at his tactics. It was a happy event all around, and when the chairman proposed a toast to the Queen in which he said all manner of lovely things about her and quoted freely from one of her books which he had evidently much enjoyed, the Queen was thoroughly pleased. She was radiant about her reception in Denver. She said she felt that the people here were real friends, that wherever she had traveled she had always been treated as a queen, but she longed to be treated as a woman and get close to the lives of others. She knew that her journey was most unusual and that people might not understand the purpose of her coming. She had come "to put Roumania on the map." She said she believed in patriotism; it was one of the noble sentiments of human beings for which men were willing to give up their lives and women their sons, but that patriotism should not mean exclusion of others. Our country had a right to its patriotism. She had learned much from us, she admired our progress and enthusiasm and efficiency. But we had much to learn from her country too. Both countries are comparatively young. Only seventy years, she said, since Roumania had been freed from the Turk; they were just beginning to grow when the War dealt them its hard blow. But with it all the Roumanian had beauties of poetry and sentiment, of faithfulness and frugality, in his nature which she wanted Americans to know better. She felt that we lack one thing, we need to live more quietly. She had only one request to make when she left Denver, when she left America, that people should think kindly of her and not give ear to idle gossip which might try to belittle the purpose of her visit.

There was the greatest enthusiasm over her speech. The chairman then rose to say gallantly that the Queen had once written a fairy-tale about an apple woman who maintained a queen was no longer a queen if she mingled with common people, but he did not agree with her. This was a pleasant hit.

We left the banquet rather hastily to attend an entertainment in the auditorium where we had been first received that morning, but it was an entirely different gathering. This time there was a ball by the debutantes of the town for the Queen and the Princess, which included a ballet of lovely young girls. It was a fitting end in grace and beauty to a day which proved that "in small measure life may perfect be."

When we returned to the train that night we were informed that Miss Fuller had left that afternoon for New York, as she had told us all yesterday that she intended doing. She had appeared at none of the functions during her visit on the train but remained quietly in her room, only occasionally seeing the Queen and receiving visitors from time to time.