Indianapolis — Change of Plans
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 17.
As the Queen had specially requested that she have her last morning free, no engagements were made before we were due to leave Chicago at 2:00 P.M. to-day. But evidently there is no such thing as peace on earth for a queen. When I went up to her seventh-floor suite, dozens of people were standing in line to see her. Her maids were trying to help her dress, bombarding her with questions as to what to pack and what she cared to t wear. There were newspaper people, shop people, aides with cables, people with photographs to be signed, and a thousand other details waiting for her attention. It looked like a week's work before she could get outside the door. The Prince and Princess had started off, each in a separate automobile, to motor to Indianapolis where we were to meet them later. Someway Her Majesty did manage to get down to the railway station in time to bid the Committee good-by, and to let the photographers take their last shot of her on the rear of the train.
Mrs. Washburn and I received invitations to lunch with the Queen in her car that day. After discussing different aspects of our Chicago visit, she said that she had had rather discouraging news of the King's health and hoped to be reassured by a cable when we got into Indianapolis. She seemed to be looking forward to the remainder of the journey which had all been so carefully mapped out, but at the same time a feeling came over me that we were approaching the end, for she said, "I am expecting a telegram from Roumania which may cut short my trip." This was my first intimation that the remainder of the journey might be eliminated, and my heart sank. She spoke very intimately about her anxieties in connection with her family in Roumania, and I could tell her heart was there. Turning to Mrs. Washburn, she said that she would never forget the services her husband had rendered her in the War, and that she would always remain his friend. All of her remarks were ominous, as though we were approaching the end.
That evening at five-thirty we rolled into Indianapolis where everything was done to honor the Queen. We took the long ride over the impressive city to a magnificent monument in the central square where the Queen mounted the steps, flanked on either side by soldiers and sailors, was greeted by the Governor and the Mayor and was given the freedom of the city. We visited the Capitol and also the library, a stately building, where she was presented with a volume of Hoosier poetry, since its literary wares are the greatest pride of this unique American City. The people have every right to be proud of the fact that they not only encourage literature but also offer literature a fitting remuneration. James Whitcomb Riley and Booth Tarkington are among the Indianapolis celebrities.
In the glimmering lights that had sprung up against the dusk the Queen looked very beautiful in a gold-cloth coat and hat banded with dark furs, as we sped along for her pilgrimage to the city's Roumanian church, A vast multitude of her countrymen were awaiting her there, the choir bursting forth into the glorious Halleluiah Chorus as the procession entered. One forgot the dinginess and poverty of the setting, in music so divine; the flicker of hanging lamps and far-off candles at the shrine gave an air of cathedral sanctity. The priests in brocaded vestments, the chantings, the choir responding in antiphony from the other side of the screen which so mysteriously hides but does not obscure the holy of holies in these churches, held us spellbound and touched. Children in native costume gathered round the Queen to be kissed and greeted, women drew near her; in that moment she looked maternal, beautifully benign, an expression of suffering and pity was soft on her face. Just as we were turning from the shrine she tripped and fell. Every one rushed to her and she was lifted up at once, but it was quite a shock to us all. She had been rather nervous all day, due partly to bad news of the King and partly because the two young people were out on the bad roads.
She had inquired at once for them on our arrival in Indianapolis and was rather anxious when she was told they had not been heard from. The roads were slippery after the rains, and she knew how reckless a driver the Prince was, and how the Princess always made a desperate effort to keep up with him. We learned later that both had had mishaps. Something happened to the Prince's car, machinery out of gear, but fortunately the car following him came up at the right moment. The Princess had tried to follow her brother around a sharp curve and, skidding on the wet road, she had a collision which thoroughly upset her nerves. Just as we were leaving the Roumanian church the Prince appeared, looking very fatigued and excited. The expression of relief on the Queen's face was touching as she embraced him. It is a marvel how she studies her children to the sacrifice of her own peace of mind, in order to build up their characters. No doubt she feels as did the former Crown Princess of Sweden, who also was endowed with this gift for studying her children for their benefit, that no sacrifice was too much for her to make to instill in her children courage and responsibility. As that wonderful woman, the Crown Princess, used to tell me, "They must be trained to be useful citizens."
The Prince stopped after we had gone and spoke intimately to the priests. I am told by the chamber lain that he is a Roumanian to the heart and has a profound devotion to his country and church.
From the church we went to the Columbia Club where we were the guests of the evening. We found our quarters most comfortable and well ordered, as is everything in Indianapolis. The banquet awaiting us in the hall had evidently been prepared with much thought and ceremony. It was the great event in Indianapolis. The elaborate engraved programs, the colored waiters in their stiffly starched white coats, the long list of speeches, the massive decorations, all indicated the work of many committees. In spite of her lovely rose-colored dress the Queen looked extremely tired that night and depressed.
I was amused by the character of the banquet and the lengthy bill of fare including every variety of hot bread ever invented. In the precise waiters coming in file down the aisles, carrying their trays high up over their heads, one saw the exact counterpart of the ceremonial processions on the ancient Egyptian monuments. A clergyman who sat next to me seemed somewhat disturbed, and I asked him what was on his mind. He had a prayer to make, he said, and, in order for all to be discreet, he had typed it. He asked me to look it over and pass judgment on it. I saw nothing omitted but the King's health, and I also advised him to speak extemporaneously to the Lord, adding that I thought the Queen would like it much better. But in spite of all this stew the prayer had to be offered in silence as the Queen sent for the Chairman and requested that the ceremonies be terminated as soon as possible. By this time it was nearly eleven o'clock and no speeches had yet been made. All were omitted except the Chairman's. When the time came for the Queen to speak, she rose reluctantly, it seemed to me, and said, "It is with a heavy heart I speak to you to-night. I have just received news that the King is not well, and I am extremely anxious. Duty often points to a different direction than pleasure, and I have duties that compel me to leave for Roumania at once." Her voice broke. "It is difficult for me to say good-by, but I only hope that you will have kind and affectionate remembrances of me in America when I have gone from your shores." She was weeping when she took her seat. Naturally this speech put a damper on the whole affair, as depressing as one can imagine. To add to the discomfort, the Princess felt ill as the result of the nervous strain of her accident, and left the table very abruptly. My friend, the clergyman, was determined that his prayer should reach its destination and, asking me to present him to the Queen, he put the typewritten document in her hands.
We hurried from the Club to the train and the entourage spent the remainder of the night in our car discussing what was best under the circumstances. It was decided to give up the rest of our program after Louisville, where we were to arrive the next morning. Telegrams were sent right and left. Mr. Morris, after a talk with Her Majesty, was delegated to procure accommodations on the next suitable steamer sailing for Europe. The sun was already up when our weary heads touched the pillow.
Thursday, November 18.
From early morning until we descended from the car at Louisville the train was like a beehive, people rushing about madly. Conversations going on in every corner. Old plans had to be abandoned as tactfully as possible and a new schedule arranged, not an easy matter with a special train of fifteen cars. Mr. Morris was out early and physically commandeered the railway station as his headquarters. Maneuvers on this occasion reminded one of strategies for a campaign. I must say that all who were informed of the sudden change and the unfortunate circumstances that were calling the Queen back, were most kind and understanding. There were only two places among the cities booked for her first itinerary who did not take the matter very graciously, and that was because of the elaborate and costly preparations already made. Naturally one could not blame them, nor could one help it. Cincinnati, Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Washington were informed by telephone immediately that the Queen's tour was at an end. We could well imagine their consternation at such news from a clear sky. There had been rumors of it at the very first, it is true, but they had been so emphatically denied by the entourage that no one doubted but that the trip would be continued. All manner of suppositions and innuendoes filled the newspapers, naturally; the American public, often as credulous as a child, sometimes surrounds the most simple thing with all sorts of suppositions. This was especially so in the East where the worldly atmosphere of New York precludes the more perfect faith one is apt to find farther West. They had to wait and see that later developments proved the truth.
The Queen was determined to get to New York as quickly as possible. She was extremely worried over the new turn of her husband's illness and the political intricacies involved in the event that some thing serious should happen to the King. She denied to interviewers that her decision to shorten her tour was the result of political rather than personal pleading. After a long married life it is difficult to imagine being separated by any cause from the person who has been so close a companion. It was most important that she be in her country at this moment for many reasons, and we all realized and sympathized with her in her anxieties.