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that said when anything untoward happened, 'All this could have been avoided if I had stayed at home.'
Finally, after doing up my wife's back, 'hooking them in the lace,' I finished my own unsatisfactory toilet, feeling, and doubtless looking, very much as Joe Gargery did when he went to see Miss Havisham. But at last we were ready, and we descended to the lobby of our hotel, having in the confusion quite overlooked the fact that we should require a taxi. It was still raining, and not a taxi or other conveyance was to be had! I was quite nonplussed for the moment, and felt deeply grieved when my wife remarked that it was hardly worth while now to leave the hotel — we were so late that we should miss the overture anyway; to which I replied — but never mind specifically what I said: it was to the effect that we would go to the opera or bust.
But how? Standing at the door of the hotel, I waited my chance, and finally a taxi arrived; but quite unexpectedly a man appeared from nowhere and was about to enter it, saying as he did so, in a fine rolling English voice,'I wish to go to the opera house.' There was no time to lose; quickly brushing the man aside, I called to my wife and passed her into the taxi; and then.turning to the stranger, I explained to him that we, too, were going to the opera, and that he was to be our guest, pushed the astonished man into the machine, told the
driver to go like h (to drive rapidly),
and, entering myself, pulled the door to and heaved a sigh of relief. We were off.
For a moment nothing was said. We were all more or less surprised to find ourselves together. I think I may say that my newly discovered friend was astonished. Something had to be said, and it was up to me. 'My name is Newton,' I said; and gently waving toward Mrs. Newton a white-kid-gloved hand,
which in the darkness looked like a small ham, I explained that Mrs. Newton was very musical and was particularly anxious to hear the overture of the opera and I was unavoidably late. I added that I hoped he would forgive my rudeness; then, remembering that I was speaking to an English gentleman, who probably thought me mad, I inquired if he was not a stranger in Philadelphia.
'Yes,' he replied, 'I only arrived in the city this evening.'
'And have you friends here?' I asked.
His reply almost disconcerted me, 'Present company excepted, none.'
'Oh, come now,' I said; 'I took you for an Englishman, but no Englishman could possibly make so graceful a speech on such short notice. You must either be Scotch or Irish; whenever one meets a particularly charming Englishman, he invariably turns out to be Scotch — or Irish.'
'Well, the fact is, I'm Scotch,' my friend replied; 'my name is Craig, Frank Craig; I'm an artist.'
'Don't apologize,' I said. 'You are probably not a very great artist. I 'm a business man, and not a very great business man either, and as we are the only friends you have in the city, you shall have supper with us after the opera. Don't decline; I'm very much at home in our hotel, as perhaps you noticed. Ask for me at the door of the supperroom. Don't forget my name. Here we are at the opera house, in good time for the overture after all.'
And I passed my friend out of the taxi, and he, assuring me that he would join us at supper, went his way and we ours.
During the performance, which was miserable, I chuckled gently to myself and wondered what my Scotch friend thought of the affair and whether he would keep his appointment. The opera was late, there was the usual delay in getting away, and it was almost midnight when the head waiter conducted my new-found guest to our table. Then for the first time we had a good look at each other, and told each other how funny it all was and how unexpected and delightful. After an excellent supper and a bottle of champagne, followed by a fine brandy, and cigars, — for I determined to do the thing well, — we grew confidential. We talked of life and of travel, and finally, of course, about books and authors.
'Have you ever met Booth Tarkington?'my friend inquired. I had. Did I know him? I did not. Craig had been staying with him in Indianapolis. Had I ever heard of Arnold Bennett? I had. Did I care for his books? I did. He also had been staying with Booth TarkinL-i on in Indianapolis: in fact, Bennett and he were traveling together at the present time.
'Bennett is doing a book for the Harpers to be called Your United States,' Craig explained; and he, Craig, was doing the illustrations for it.
'And where is Arnold Bennett now?' I asked.
'Upstairs, in bed and asleep, I hope.'
'And what are you doing to-morrow?'
'Well, Bennett is lunching with the literati of the city, and I'm going to take photographs and make sketches for our book. We are each on our own, you know.'
'But the literati of the city,' I repeated doubtfully. 'That would be Agnes Repplier, of course, and Dr. Furness, and Weir Mitchell, and who else?' We were rather shy of literati at the moment, as we still are, and I hoped these would not fail him.
Craig did n't know; he had not been invited.
'And after the luncheon, what next?' I inquired.
'Well, I believe that we are to go to
the picture-gallery of a Mr. Weednaar, with a friend who has secured cards for us. I'm not invited to the luncheon, but I 'm keen to see the pictures.'
'Very well,' I said, 'let me make plans for you. I tell you what we'll do: I'll make it a holiday; I shall get my motor in from the country, and go around with you and show you the sights. You want to see "Georgian" Philadelphia, you say — we call it "Colonial"; I know it well; I'll be your guide, you shall take your photographs and make your sketches, and in the afternoon we, too, will go out and see Mr. Widener's pictures, — his name, by the way, is Widener, not Weednaar, — and if I can find Harry Widener, a scion of that house and a friend of mine, I 'll get him to ask us out for lunch, and we will be there to welcome Bennett and his friend with their cards on their arrival. What, by the way, is the name of your friend to whom you owe your introduction to Mr. Widener?'
'A Mr. Hellman of New York; a bookseller, I believe; perhaps you know him too.'
'Perfectly,' I said; 'I probably owe him money at this very minute.'
With this understanding, and much pleased with each other, we parted for the night.
The next morning, at half-past nine, we met in the lobby of the hotel and I was presented to Arnold Bennett. I do not remember that at that time I had ever seen a photograph of him, and I was rather disillusioned by seeing a person quite lacking in distinction, dressed in ill-fitting clothes, and with two very prominent upper teeth, which would have been invaluable had he taken to whistling, professionally.
'So you are the man,' he said, 'who has so captivated my friend Craig. He told me all about your escapade last night, over the breakfast-table, and in the excitement of narration he ate my eggs.'
'No matter,' said I; 'you are going to lunch with the literati of the city; you ought not to worry over the loss of your eggs. But what is quite as important, who is giving the luncheon?'
'George Horace Lorimer,' he replied. ''Then,' said I,' you certainly need not worry over the loss of a pair of eggs. In an hour or two you 'll be glad you did not eat them, for Lorimer understands ordering a luncheon, no man better. I'm sorry for Craig, for he's lunching with me; but we shall join you during the afternoon at Mr. Widener's.'
This seemed to upset Bennett completely. 'But we are going to Mr. Weednaar's by appointment — we have cards —'
'I know, from George Hellman,' I interrupted; 'I don't need any cards. If Harry Widener is at home, we will lunch with him; if not, we will join you some time during the afternoon.'
Bennett looked at me with astonishment. He had doubtless been warned of bunco-steerers, card-sharks, and confidence men generally: I appeared to him a very finished specimen, probably all the more dangerous on that account. We left him bewildered; he evidently thought that his friend would be the victim of some very real experiences before he saw him again. As we parted, he looked as if he wanted to say to Craig, 'If you play poker with that man, you are lost'; but he did n't.
We Philadelphians do not boast of the climate of our city. During the summer 'months we usually tie with some town in Texas — Waco, I believe — for the honor of being the hottest place in the country: but in November it is delightful, and we have the finest
suburbs in the world. If it were not for its outlying districts, Philadelphia would be intolerable. But the day was fine, we were in high spirits, like boys out for a lark, which indeed we were, and I determined that our sightseeing should begin at the 'Old Swedes,' or, to give it its proper name, 'Gloria Dei,' Church, and work our way north from the southern part of the city, stopping at such old landmarks as would seem to afford material for Craig's pencil.
What a wonderful day it was! Agreeable at the time, and in retrospect delightful, if somewhat tinged with melancholy, for I chanced to read in an English newspaper not long ago of the death of my friend Craig, in some way a victim of the war. But looking back upon that day, everything seemed as joyous as the two quaintly carved and colored angels' heads, a bit of old Swedish decoration, which peered down upon us from the organ-loft of the old church about which Craig went into ecstasies of delight — as well he might, for it is a quaint little church almost lost in the shipping and commerce that surrounds it. Built by the Swedes in 1700, it stands on the bank of the Delaware, on the site of a block-house in which religious services had been held more than half a century before its erection.
Too few Philadelphians know this tiny church or attend its services: it is out of the beaten track of the tourist; but some of us, not entirely forgetful of old Philadelphia, love to visit it occasionally, and if the sermon gets wearisome, as sermons sometimes do, we can creep out stealthily and spend a few minutes prowling around the graveyard, — where interments are still made occasionally, — looking at the tombstones, on which are curiously cut the now almost illegible names of devout men and women who departed this life in faith and fear more than two centuries ago.
'But come now,' I at last had to say, 'this is our first, but by no means our best church; wait until you see St. Peter's.'
The ride from Old Swedes Church to St. Peter's has nothing to recommend it; but it is short, and we were soon standing in one of the finest bits of Colonial church architecture in America.
'Why,' exclaimed Craig, 'we have nothing more beautiful in London, and there is certainly nothing in New York or Boston that can touch it.'
'Certainly, there is n't,' I said: 'and if you were a Philadelphian and had an ancestor buried in this church or within its shadow, you would not have to have brains, money, morals, or anything else. Of course, these accessories would do you no harm, and in a way might be useful, but the lack of them would not be ruinous, as it would be with ordinary folk.' Then I spoke glibly the names of the dead whom, had they been living, I should scarcely have dared to mention, so interwoven are they in the fabric of the social, or as some might say, the unsocial, life of Philadelphia.
'And these people,' said Craig, 'do they look like other people — do you know them?'
It was a delicate question. It was not for me to tell him that a collateral ancestor was a founder of the Philadelphia Assembly, or to boast of a bowing acquaintance with that charming woman, Mrs. John Markoe, whose family pew we were reverently approaching. Craig could, of course, know nothing of what a blessed thing it is to be a member, not of St. Peter's, but of 'St. Peter's set,' which is a very different matter; but he fully appreciated its architectural charm, and as we strolled about, he observed with the keenest interest the curious arrangement of the organ and altar at one end of the church, and the glorious old pulpit and readingdesk at the other, with a quite un
necessary sounding-board surmounting them like a benediction.
'How dignified and exclusive the square pews are!' said Craig.'They look for all the world like the lord of the manor's, at home.'
'Yes,' said I, 'and not half so exclusive as the people who occupy them. You could have made a very pretty picture of this church crowded with wealth and fashion and beauty a hundred and fifty years ago, if you had been lucky enough to live when there was color in the world; now we all look alike.'
'I know,' said Craig; 'it's too bad.'
I could have told him a good deal of the history of Christ Church, which we next visited. It is only a short distance from St. Peter's; indeed, in the early days, Christ Church and St. Peter's formed one parish. The present structure was built in 1727, of bricks brought over from England. Architecturally, it is the finest church in Philadelphia; and so expensive was it for the congregation of two hundred years ago that, in order to finish its steeple and provide it with its fine chime of bells, recourse was had to a lottery! Indeed, two lotteries were held before the work was completed. Philadelphians all felt that they had a stake in the enterprise, and for a long time the bells were rung on every possible occasion. Queen Anne sent over a solid-silver communion service, which is still in use, and its rector, Dr. William White, after the Revolution, became the first Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America, having finally been consecrated at Lambeth after years Of discussion as to how the episcopacy was to be carried on. So 'Old Christ,' as it is affectionately called, may properly be regarded as the Mother Church in this country. When Philadelphia was the national capital, Washington attended it, as did John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin, occasionally — perhaps not often enough.
But our time was limited and there was much to see: Carpenter's Hall, and the State House with its beautiful windows, which Craig called Palladian, and its splendid Colonial staircase, from which I was powerless to draw his attention to the far-famed Liberty Bell.
'I know all about that,' said Craig; 'I've been reading it up; but if you can tell me in what single respect an Englishman has n't just as much liberty as an American, I shall be glad to listen.'
Having forgotten to point out the grave of our greatest citizen, Benjamin Franklin, who, we love to tell Bostonians, was born in Philadelphia at seventeen years of age, we retraced our steps — if one can be said to retrace one's steps in a motor—to the Christ Church burying-ground at Fifth and Arch Streets. There, peering through the iron railing, we read the simple inscription carved according to his wish on the flat tomb: 'Benjamin and Deborah Franklin, 1790.' I have always regretted that I had not availed myself of the opportunity once offered me of buying the manuscript in Franklin's hand of the famous epitaph which he composed in a rather flippant moment in 1728 for his tombstone. The original is, I believe, among the Franklin papers in the State Department at Washington, but he made at least one copy, and possibly several. The one I saw reads: —
(Like the cover of an old book
Its contents torn out
And stript of its lettering and gilding)
Lies here, food for worms.
But the work shall not be lost
For it will (as he believed) appear once more
In a new and more elegant edition
Revised and corrected
No doubt the plain marble slab, with the simple name and date (for Franklin needs no epitaph in Philadelphia), is more dignified, but I have always wished that his first idea had been carried out.
As we were only a stone's throw from the Quaker Meeting-House, we paid it a hasty visit, and I confessed, in reply to the question, that, often as I had passed the austere old brick building, I had never entered it before, although I had always intended to'.
At last I looked at my watch — unnecessarily, for something told me it was lunch-time. We had had a busy morning; Craig had made sketches with incredible rapidity while I bought photographs and picture-postals by the score. We had not been idle for a moment, but there was more to be seen, Fairmount — not the Park; there was no time for that, and all parks are more or less alike, although ours is most beautiful; but the old-time 'water-works,' beautifully situated on the hillside, terraced and turreted, with its three Greek temples, so faultlessly proportioned and placed as to form what Joe Pennell says is one of the loveliest spots in America, and which, he characteristically adds, we in Philadelphia do not appreciate.
But Craig did. It was a glorious day in mid-November, the trees were in their full autumn regalia of red and gold, the Schuylkill glistened like silver in the sun, and in the distance tumbled, with a gentle murmur of protest at being disturbed, over its dam into the lower level, where it becomes a river of use if not of beauty. I thought how seldom do we business men pause in the middle of the day to look at anything so free from complications as a 'view.' My factory was within ten-minutes' walk; there, penned up amid dirt and noise, I spend most of my waking hours, discussing ways and means by which I