The Last Days
IT WAS EXACTLY FIVE-THIRTY when the train stopped in Jersey City. Mr. Cromwell, Mr. Tileston Wells, consul-general of Roumania in New York, the Roumanian Minister who had arrived in Washington during the Queen's absence, M. Cretziano, and other Roumanian friends met her. The Lincoln cars met us as always, and at breakneck speed the royal party and Mr. Morris and I set off for Tuxedo. Arrived there quite exhausted, we were soon cheered and heartened by the cordial reception of our host and hostess, the great leaping fire in the living-room where the tea table was set and ready, and the general air of comfort and peace. The Mitchell children were brought in and presented to the Queen; we were beautifully conscious that we were in a home again and not on a puffing train.
It was nine-thirty before we could sit down at the table. Great confusion had reigned in the Queen's quarters because the trunks had failed to arrive. The head maid went around tearing her hair and muttering, "Unmöglich!" little realizing that she was in a country of such magnificent distances that one city is as large as some states in Europe. But this, as all other disturbances, did not faze the Queen. She cleverly managed to wear a tea-gown of very handsome brocade and appeared at dinner looking as smart and majestic as ever. I had to lend two of my gowns to the Roumanian ladies, who commended my clever maid for having taken the precaution to bring these along in the automobile. No doubt, with a few more weeks of American training, some of our more practical ideas might have been adopted by these ladies.
Sunday, November 21.
The Queen has three days in which to finish up all the complicated details of her visit. The Metropolitan Museum was to be seen, which she had left unvisited previously, various business enterprises she had promised to view; and numerous social obligations had to be met.
That Sunday morning a committee from the Metropolitan waited upon her, and the Queen and I motored in together, having a good opportunity for a long talk about the many things on our minds concerning her journey, her future plans and the possible events that awaited her return to her country. The committee, headed by Mr. Cromwell and Mr. Wells, met her at the Museum's entrance and escorted her through. Later she was unstinted in her praise of the magnificent collection. She went from there to lunch with friends where she met General Pershing.
I had gone on to a luncheon given in Calvary Church Mission House for Princess Ileana, and later attended a religious meeting with them, conducted by young Dr. Shoemaker, who is their friend.
The Queen had expressed a wish to see our apartment, and at four that afternoon she arrived there, much to our delight. She was quite exhausted and asked to be taken to my room, where she threw her self across my bed, talking with me and her two ladies-in-waiting all the while. She asked to be allowed to come back to our place the night before she left to dress for the Astors' dinner and to go on from there directly to the boat. I told her that the apartment was at her disposal at any time.
I had only a few people in to tea as I knew she preferred to be alone. A bit later the Princess arrived and perched on the arm of her mother's chair while we all drank tea and chatted enjoyably. As the Queen had promised to visit the "Dug-Out" where a large committee awaited her, she had to leave. She was transported back to war times here both by her company and by the scene of her visit. Aided by General John J. Pershing, she made it a banner day for some seventy soldiers who greeted her at the "Dug-Out," 24 West 53rd Street, New York, the quarters wherein wounded soldiers gather socially. There they are busy with all sorts of woodcraft. These articles are later sold in the department stores of New York. The Princess also took away gifts made by the soldiers.
Later, I followed her to this place which has proved such a boon to our disabled men, and found the Queen having the time of her life selecting toys and furniture.
That night the Mitchells entertained at a large dinner. A Roumanian sang the exquisite wild songs of her country and there was other music to delight us. After Mr. Mitchell's toast, the Queen talked to us very intimately and tried to tell us how she had loved the trip and regretted its ending; that she loved everything about America, our generosity, our efficiency, even the indefatigable photographers; in spite of everything I said about them in Chicago, she said, she thought them delicious in their perseverance. I was glad she felt that way about it.
Monday, November 22.
Most of this day was spent visiting among friends, except when the Queen motored to Oyster Bay to pay her respects at Theodore Roosevelt's grave.
That evening she was in high spirits, in an exceedingly becoming gown of red sequins, for she had had more encouraging news from Roumania. I was so thankful that it was not news of the other kind, and all of us were encouraged and heartened. She spoke at the table again of her trip, and retold with delight the story of the struggle for supremacy on the train, saying that each one had tried to do what he could to please her. She spoke about the "lovely" Mayors and Governors, about the reporters of America, about the odd and assorted gifts handed out to her at various places, and she dwelt specially on the happy day in Denver, perhaps the happiest of all since her arrival; she spoke in detail of that day's events, of the "sympathetic" Mr. Bannister, and the mountain that had been named for her, which I knew would stick in her romantic heart forever. She recalled the school in Seattle where the red-headed girls lined up to meet her. All of it was like a dream, she said. The happy memories and the dear people she had met could never be forgotten; all had shown her so much love. Too sweet to last, it had to end, and she must go. Her face was very tender and sympathetic as she spoke, leaning dreamily on the table in the candle-light.
Tuesday, November 23.
The Queen's last day in America. For the time being only, let us hope. She sails to-morrow at ten o'clock and it has been decided that she shall go on the steamer to-night instead of returning to Tuxedo. We all motored into New York this morning, the motor-cycle police careening ahead as usual with the sounds of the demented. When we crossed the ferry at Nyack the police were changed to New York officers, as they had been at each town along the Hudson. A number of these men have been hurt owing to collisions, and the Princess had a rather unpleasant experience yesterday when the motorcycle policeman preceding her car crashed into an other car. Her thoughtful heart has been very solicitous about him all day, after she helped him herself to a hospital. I hope nothing will ever come to mar or spoil this sympathetic quality of her nature. Her relationship with her mother is so noticeably beautiful in this day of "the younger generation's" superiority of manner.
We had a thrilling race through New York after losing minutes over a fire in the brakes. All traffic stopped as we sped down Broadway to the Standard Oil Company's offices. Here we fairly flew up into the clouds to the Board Room, a masterpiece of decorating, where a number of ladies presented bunches of orchids to us all and a souvenir book to the Queen. Mr. Sargent's painting of John D. Rockefeller hangs in this room and arrests one's attention as does all the work of this great master. After fitting ceremonies, we left in a rush for the Battery, where one of the Standard Oil boats was ready at the pier to tour us around the harbor, a most fascinating trip if only the day had been milder. The heavy old-fashioned boat was decked with flags, and whistles blew gay salutes as we passed Governor's Island and the Statue of Liberty. We had a magnificent view of the great monument striding through the skies, and I exclaimed, "Oh, Liberty, how many restrictions are enforced in thy name!"
The luncheon served below in the boat was most amazing. An excellent jazz orchestra furnished music and sang some of the typical ragtime tunes which so amuse the Queen. I was at the table of the Roumanian Minister, M. Cretziano. I found him a charming man, only in this country a few weeks. He is not yet well acquainted with our customs but I am sure he will be extremely popular when he grows acclimated. Prince Nicholas Hohenlohe-Laugenburg, the Queen's nephew and a very progressive type of the young German out seeing the world, sat to my right. He was a member of the royal party on the "Leviathan" but did not accompany the Queen on her tour. He is a great-grandson of Queen Victoria, and came to America to study industrial and commercial conditions. He is twenty-three years old, the same age as Prince Nicholas. Colonel Treadwell, whom Her Majesty has designated in her impressions as one of the handsomest men she met in America, was on my left. Each lady was presented with a lovely doll as souvenir and everything was carried out in grand style. We found ourselves passing under Brooklyn Bridge when we emerged from the dining-saloon, and the view of the vast barricade of sky-scrapers so typical of American commerce and daring was surpassing. No wonder every foreigner holds his breath at a first sight of such Gargantuan proportions.
The boat landed us directly outside of Bellevue Hospital where cars met us to hurry us on to the Edison plant. The different officials from Washington, among them Mr. J. Butler Wright, Assistant-Secretary of State; Admiral Long, representing the Navy; Captain Poillon, Colonel Haskell at the head of the New York National Guard, and others, accompanied the Queen on part of to-day's tour. The sight of the vast Edison plant astonished and completely awed us. As always I am overwhelmed by the sight of great machinery. As Mme. Procopiu said while looking at those stupendous engines, "Man is a marvelous animal, is he not?" The Prince was carried away as usual at a sight which so intensely absorbs him.
The Princess that day had been allowed to go to West Point to bid her dear cadets good-by. I think there was a great deal of heart trouble at the Academy on her sweet account. Later she attended a tea-dance at Mrs. Mitchell's home in New York and spent her last American moments very happily.
Upon leaving the Edison plant, half the party got tangled up by following the car carrying Mr. Morris to our home instead of trailing the Queen. Thence the entourage went through more traffic, in which a motor-cycle policeman narrowly escaped being rammed by a car, to a seemingly unscheduled stop on Park Avenue where the Queen held a reception under the auspices of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs. Later the Queen attended a meeting of the board of directors of the Society of the Friends of Roumania. Here Mr. Cromwell played host with all his old-world charm. Future plans for the organization to sustain the part it plays in the life of Roumania were discussed and the meeting was most satisfactory. This ended a hectic day.
The Queen came on to our apartment to dress for the evening and to say good-by to Colonel Carroll and Mr. Washburn. I took her to her room where she donned a most becoming tea-gown and greeted the two gentlemen who were waiting for her. Their interview lasted an hour.
When she left for Mrs. Astor's dinner she was her most radiant self in a dress of emerald green embroidered in silver, just that evening arrived from Paris.
Her last act in the United States was to accept smilingly in the grand ballroom of the Hotel Astor a bullet-proof armored town-car which was presented to her by the Willys-Knight Company.
The Prince and the Princess dined with us very informally, together with the members of the entourage, and later we took the two young people to the theater. They said they had not seen a real play since their arrival in New York and begged for this pleasure their last evening. Mr. Morris and the Princess, accompanied by Miss Man, went to one theater while the Prince and I witnessed a most elaborate review at one of our playhouses famed for these marvelous spectacles which are so unusually well done in America. The Prince soon settled down into enjoyment of the show, which was vivid and elaborate. When I asked if he intended to return to America some day, he said that he did indeed, but it would be some years as he wanted to reënter the navy first. He is the replica of his father certainly, and has a great many of his qualities, being studious, conscientious and thorough. He would not leave a minute before the play was over, and consequently it was hard to force our way through the crowd coming out and filling the street. We were rushed into an open car by the motor-cycle corps, and with them ahead, we flew up Fifth Avenue, taking barely eight minutes to get from Forty-fourth Street to Seventy-ninth. In my evening clothes and without a hat, I was blown almost to pieces and must have looked entirely mad when we arrived at Mrs. Astor's to be told that the Queen had already left. I had to dash as fast back and down to the pier and on board the "Berengaria," where I found the Queen in her cabin alone. There was a moment for a quiet chat before she kissed me on both cheeks in parting, and I promised to return in the morning for a last sight.
Wednesday, November 24.
We found a mob when we reached the pier at nine the next morning—delegations had come from Washington and different places, Roumanians by the dozen were on hand, and each reporter sounded like five. The Queen preceded them to the upper deck where she told them in very precise and measured sentences that she was sorry to leave America; that she had been happy here; that she wanted their help in thanking everybody for all that had been done for her, the newspaper men, the officials, and especially the policemen, who had given her such excellent, untiring service. She hoped to come back some day when conditions were more favorable; the health of the King called her back. Her children, she said, joined her in grateful appreciation for all. This was her final interview, though the insatiable reporters went with the ship down the bay.
Our last view was of Her Majesty, her children on either side, waving back with that tear-and-smile of those who pass from happy scenes.