On Tour with Queen Marie




While we were still in peaceful slumber, through the hush of the quieted train we dimly heard the first grinding rumble of the wheels as our train snorted and gathered strength to pull a queen across the land of the free. But no more free, let it be added, than any other group or nation since Adam's absolute monarchy, to the charm of a woman with the talismanic combination of beauty and brains.

We opened our eyes to a rainy, dismal day falling over the passing hills and at 9:15, when we reached West Point, there was a perfect downpour. In spite of it, we descended from the car and were welcomed by General Merck B. Stewart, Commander of the Academy of West Point, and his staff and ushered into waiting cars to be ferried across the Hudson, whose beauty could not be dimmed by rain. On arriving at the other side where West Point loomed up gray and forbidding, we were escorted up the side of the steep hill by a regiment of colored cavalry, who led the way around the academy. We visited the chapel first and went on to the General's house, where hot bouillon and sandwiches were most gratefully received from the hands of the officers' wives. Then the General asked the Queen if she would mind reviewing the cadets on the parade-ground. She said she had no intention of doing anything else, and I thought it exceedingly sporting of her to walk about in the pouring rain before the lines of splendid young chaps who were greatly pleased. The cadets of West Point are surely worth her attention, as I think I never saw a finer or a handsomer set of boys. The rest of us saw the review from the porch of the General's house and admired her energy. The colored escort saw us back down the hill and at eleven o'clock we said good-by to the General and his staff and were on rolling wheels again.


At Albany, Utica and Syracuse, stops were made for the Queen either to come out and receive informally, or to take the admiring plaudits of greeting from her observation car. At Syracuse where the train runs directly through the main street of the town, the Queen was very much amused that from the platform of her car she could greet the people in their homes. Jokes flew hither and thither. Here a red Indian climbed up in the Queen's car and greeted her.

Buffalo was reached at 8 P.M., and after dressing in evening clothes on the train, we got off onto the customary red carpet and were welcomed by a committee at the station. The Queen was regal in black velvet and an ermine coat, and looked happy and rested. This business of traveling has something in it after all, for one must rest while a certain distance is to be covered, and simply cannot be pulled from pillar to post by this, that and the other. It was a wet night for Buffalo also, but nevertheless crowds of people had assembled. Motor-cycle police escorted us through the streets to the Statler Hotel and we went in at once to the banquet prepared for the Queen, where she was awaited by a crowd of guests. Buffalo certainly did its best to honor her, the effort they made was quite touching. After the anthems, a musical program commenced. An ode to Her Majesty had been composed and was sung by a rather shrill soprano; the organ did its utmost to furnish music with our meal. The Mayor of the city was ill and was represented by another official. Across the table, I would watch the scene of this portly gentleman talking into her ear and I caught the fact that she was being highly amused. Later she said she had never had such a conversation. He discussed, it seemed, all his ailments, and they recommended remedies to one another with the greatest friendliness in the world. The Queen thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The dinner over, her friend rose and in his speech said that Buffalo had never been honored by a queen's visit before and that they wanted to make sure she never would forget them. With that he proffered the city's gift, a bracelet to which there hung a tiny jade buffalo with diamond eyes. The Queen rose delightedly and responded that never would she forget them with the jade Buffalo before her. After a brief reception, where offerings and flowers by the dozens of baskets were presented and sent on to the train, we took our leave of Buffalo. The kind heart of the American had been exhibited in its quintessence.

Tuesday, October 26.

A roar broke on our waking ears this morning that proved to be the mighty cataract of Niagara. It had been planned that we should breakfast at the hotel on the American side, and we were whisked off in great excitement as we were booked to leave at ten o'clock and Colonel Carroll was determined that the train schedule should not be interfered with even by so stupendous a manifestation as Niagara Falls. It was 8:30 when we arrived at the hotel, and were seated at one of those forbidding tables with a hollow square in the center. A most elaborate meal had been prepared, beginning with grapefruit and following, course after course, till coffee was reached; but, owing to lack of time, it was announced that breakfast would be cut down; so we hurried away, leaving the poor Committee aghast and the breakfast untouched, as the Queen agreed with "our Host" that Niagara was the important event of the day.

I had seen the glorious sight of that watery treadmill in my youth, but it now came upon me with a force I had not remembered; it is too vast a thing to be held intact in the mind; it needs the eye and the ear and the biting touch of spray to convince of its actuality. The Queen and all her people could not suppress their exclamations. I could tell by their heightened color, the sparkling eye and stirred lips just how vast an impression this supreme work of nature was making. The only marring of the scene comes from man's handiwork in the careless lines of hotels and power stations on the American side which are such eyesores to the English. The royal party adored the drench of spray and looked back with regretful eyes when we had to leave the Canadian side after a greeting by the Governor of the Province of Ontario and his aides. The first stop after leaving Niagara was Hamilton, in Canada, where the Queen spoke from the rear of the train to the crowd which seemed to me to be under some kind of spell, they were so orderly compared to our people. We lunched aboard and had a delightful time exchanging visits in the diners attached to the various cars. In Niagara, I had bought a perfect prima donna of a canary, all coloratura trills and roulades which became the pet of the cars and was later on, perhaps, the one being aboard that kept its perfect disposition!

Toronto was reached at last after great expectations. The Queen had often said to me how dearly she wished to see the great sprawling country of Canada, the famed Northwest, and I had loved it all life. At two o'clock, we were there. A splendid platform had been erected on a level with the observation car so that the Queen could proceed directly from the rear of the car to this landing, which was handsomely draped in the Roumanian flag and the British, instead of the American ones I had become accustomed to seeing with it in the last few days. There the Governor and his staff in high silk hats welcomed her with great pomp and precision. The famed Canadian police in their red coats and hats, in our cowboy effect with chin straps, made a marvelous escort through the station to where a chorus of singers in Welsh costume welcomed the royal visitor with songs. We drove directly to Government House, which, as is customary in all English colonies, is the official residence of the Governor. This particular one is like a great English country house set in the smooth formality of sheared lawns. Such a house is built with the idea of entertaining on a great scale, as one can see by the enormous hall and the three surrounding galleries that look down upon it. In spite of its size, it has a homelike air, the reception-rooms opening off from it filled with that charming English country house style of informality, photographs in silver frames and quantities of flowers everywhere in vases. There was an expression of perfect satisfaction on the Queen's face such as one wears when one comes into one's own country again. The Lieutenant-Governor, Henry Cockshutt, and his wife and two daughters and the intimate entourage of the family received the Queen and us all in their private drawing-room. I felt transported to dear old England again at the quiet tea served us there and in the later moments in the garden, filled with blooming roses in spite of the late season, where we strolled about contentedly far from crowds and photographers, a little haven of rest. The Queen wore a gold coat trimmed in some rich fur and looked especially handsome and contented.

Such a peaceful hour could not last long. The Queen took up her duties again and we set out for the Town Hall where she received her usual delegations with an additional feature of interest toward the last when a committee of Jews appeared before her, and their Rabbi, unrolling a long scroll embossed in Hebrew characters, read her a speech of welcome. From there we proceeded to the University. In a great hall the Queen was throned in a high chair where stately ladies presented resolutions to her, also embossed on rolls of parchment. The audience here bid fair to be stiff and formal until Her Majesty rose, took her place at the reading desk and gave a short but clever speech. How that wonderful woman knows just what to say! She told them of her childhood's dream to come to Canada, since the early days when she had listened to stories of their great country from her grandmother, Queen Victoria. That name was all that was necessary among these loyal subjects. The icy crust of things was broken. She emphasized the fine work done by the Canadians during the War, the enthusiasm she felt for such men as theirs who came to the assistance of the mother country no matter the distance or the danger. The audience seemed genuinely affected by her address.

The Ladies' Club was next on the program. They own a most beautiful country house in the midst of a charming garden, to hold their meetings in. English, English, all was English. It was hard to believe we were on another continent from that old one grown up in dignity and simplicity. I suppose the reason a colony seems more characteristic of the mother land than that land itself, is because the homesick exiles try to reproduce the very essence of the old life to assuage nostalgia. Here the Queen met the brother of one of her dearest friends, Joe Boyle, who had been a great help to her in the War and who is now dead.

The Queen went on from there to more official duties, but I slipped away, being happily only a plain personage, and took this opportunity to do some necessary shopping with one of the ladies I had met at the club and who cleverly gave me some ideas of Toronto life which must, from the description, be most pleasant.

I arrived at Government House just in time to dress for dinner, found my bath awaiting me in the true English fashion, the open fire burning high and bright, and my canary having a musical fit.

The huge dining-hall presented a perfect picture that night. Every one tried to do homage to the Queen by being, as nearly as possible, in the picture. Uniforms were conspicuous for color and gold braid and ribboned decorations, the gowns filled in the medley of shades with a perfect accompaniment. On one side, I had a Canadian General, spruce and hearty, on the other Captain Eric Holdenby, a young aide-de-camp who told me that he belonged to a Highland Regiment and was dressed in the kilt and plaid of his company. The dinner proceeded with such style it rather overwhelmed the culinary art which is usually not the point of an English banquet. At the reception following, Her Majesty, radiant in white with a pearl and diamond tiara, bestowed a decoration upon Colonel Noel Marshall, who had done her a great service during the War. She then watched the dancing in the huge ballroom.

The Governor has two very attractive daughters who are much displeased that their father is soon to leave Government House to return to his country seat, which he told me confidentially he much preferred to the strenuous official duties he has performed for several years in Toronto.

At 11:30 we arrived at our train where we found some handsome souvenirs awaiting us, which were presented by the Railroad as a memento of our visit to Canada. Every member of the royal party was given a handsome brochure, bound in gray suede and bearing the Roumanian crest in gold, descriptive of the territories through which the royal party is to pass. This presentation was made by officials of the Canadian National Railways in Toronto. Then we tumbled into bed half asleep already, after a most strenuous and happy day.