The long Pullman train, that left Denver behind and carried Polly Brewster away on her first venture from the ranch-home, was fitted up as luxuriously as capital could do it. Eleanor Maynard, Polly’s bosom friend, enjoyed her companion’s awe and wonderment – that a mere car should be so furnished.
“Nolla,” whispered Polly, furtively glancing about, “how different are these cars from the ones that come in and go out at Oak Creek!”
Eleanor, whose pet name was Nolla, laughed. “I should think they would be, Polly. Why, those ‘ancients’ that rock back and forth between Denver and Oak Creek, are the ‘only originals’ now in existence. They’ll be in Barnum’s Show next Season as curios.”
Polly seemed to fully appreciate the comfort of her traveling carriage, and remarked, “One would hardly believe these cars are going at all! They run so smoothly and without any awful screeching of the joints.”
Anne Stewart, the teacher to whose charge these two girls had been committed, had been studying the time-table, but she smiled at Polly’s words. Then she turned to her mother, a sweet-faced woman who was enjoying the trip almost as much as the young girls were, and said: “Mother, we’ll have at least seven hours in Chicago before we have to take the New York train. We can visit Paul all that time.”
“Goody! Then Poll can visit John and I can see Daddy,” exclaimed Eleanor, eagerly. “But we must first charter the wash-room to turn ourselves from dusty travelers into respectable citizens.”
“There isn’t a fleck of dust to be seen, Anne,” objected Polly, glancing around the tidy interior, then at herself and friends.
“Wait till after we have crossed the plains and passed through all kinds of towns – we won’t look like the same people.”
To Polly, that journey was a source of great interest and fun. The dining-car, the folding tables for games or work, the sleeping arrangements – all were so strangely different from the vast open-air life of the ranch.
Then the express train reached Chicago and the recess hours were filled with greetings, visits and then good-bys, before the little party of four was on its last lap of the journey.
After leaving Chicago, Eleanor asked curiously: “What did you think of our city, Polly?”
“I never saw such crowds of troubled people! Everyone looked as if the worries of the universe rested upon his mind. And not one soul walked or acted as if there was a moment to spare before the end of the world would throw everything into chaos!”
Polly’s graphic description caused her companions to laugh, and Eleanor added: “If that is what you think of Chicago, just wait until you reach New York. The folks, there, are simply wild! Now Chicago is considered quite slow, in comparison.”
Polly stared unbelievingly at Eleanor, and Anne Stewart laughed. But Mrs. Stewart placed a calm hand over the amazed girl’s throbbing wrist, and said sweetly: “Nolla is joking as usual.”
The four members which composed this little group of travelers arrived at Grand Central just before noon. Polly gazed in consternation at the vast station where the constant going and coming of trains and people made a most interesting sight for her.
“We’ll stop at the Commodore for a few days, girls, as it is so convenient for us,” remarked Anne, telling a porter to conduct them to the hotel mentioned.
Placed in a comfortable suite, Anne remarked: “I think we will call up the Evans or the Latimers, next. You remember, we were told to let them know the moment we arrived.”
The others agreed to this suggestion, so Anne telephoned the two families. Mrs. Latimer was out, but Mrs. Evans said she would come right down town to meet the new-comers.
“Well, we can unpack our bags while we are waiting for her,” suggested Anne. “But we must manage to get to a store this afternoon, and do some shopping for Polly.”
“Dear me! I was hoping you would show us all the sky-scrapers I’ve read about,” said Polly, eagerly.
“I planned to let the sight-seeing wait for a few days, as we must secure a place to live in, first of all. Here it is the middle of September, and I have to start school work the first of October, you know. In a great city like New York, the desirable apartments are generally taken as early as July and August. So we are up against it, in beginning to seek so late in the season.”
“But we can’t hunt at night, Anne, and you might take us out to show us the Great White Way – as the boys call it,” urged Eleanor.
Mrs. Evans came down in time to have luncheon with the Westerners, and in the hour she visited with them, it was learned that Mrs. Latimer and she had scoured the uptown west-side for suitable apartments for Mrs. Stewart, but everything had been leased long before. She concluded with:
“So I really do not see what you are going to do, unless you just happen to stumble over a place which has recently been resigned. There is absolutely no use in doing any place above Ninety-sixth street, as we sought diligently from that street up as far as One Hundred and Sixty-eighth street, and not a decent thing to be seen or had!”
“But Ninety-sixth street is awfully far uptown, isn’t it?” asked Anne, to whom the city was as yet a small middle-west town.
“Oh, dear, no! It is about the center of the city, between North and South, these days.”
“I’m sure we will find just what we want, dear Mrs. Evans, but we are grateful to you for being so kind to us,” said Polly.
“My dear child, I feel that I have done nothing in comparison to all you have done for me and mine. To know that my dear brother had friends during the last days of his life, means so much to me. I always had a horrible feeling that he died in the Klondike without money or friends;” and Mrs. Evans hurriedly dried the tears welling up in her eyes.
Of course, that launched the conversation about Old Man Montresor, and so interested were all concerned, that Mrs. Evans started when she heard the mantel clock chime the hour.
“Merciful goodness! Here am I – my first call, and staying all day!” she laughed.
“It’s not late, Mrs. Evans. We were only going to look up a first-class shop where Polly can buy a few things,” replied Anne.
“Perhaps I can be of service in recommending a place?”
Several shops of quality were spoken of, and as these were located on Fifth avenue, not far from Forty-second street, everyone felt relieved. It would not take much time to do this necessary shopping, but Mrs. Stewart preferred to remain at the hotel.
Mrs. Evans said good-by and the three young folks walked to Fifth avenue. It was about four o’clock and the avenue presented an endless stream of automobiles – one line going down, and the other line going uptown. The crowds of people hurrying to and fro made Polly tremble.
“For goodness’ sake, Anne, where do all these folks come from, and where are they rushing to?”
Anne and Eleanor laughed.
“Well! If this is your wonderful Fifth avenue, I don’t think much of it,” declared Polly, a few moments later.
“Why – it’s simply great!” exclaimed Eleanor, having a far different view-point of the city.
“Great! Why, just look how narrow the street is? Main street, in Oak Creek, is twice as wide. And Denver has nicer streets than this famous alley you hear so much about,” scorned Polly.
Again her companions laughed merrily. At this moment a traffic policeman sounded a shrill whistle. Instantly the mass of pedestrians, backed up on the curbs, started to cross. Or to use Polly’s own description in the letter she wrote home that night: “Really, dearies, they catapulted back and forth like rockets! We had to rush with them, or be trampled upon. It is just awful!
“And such freaks, mother! Nolla says it is style. Well, all I can say is, spare me from such outrageous styles! Most every woman and girl I met had faces covered thick with layers of white chalk, with a daub of red on each cheek, and lips as scarlet as a clown’s. In fact, I had to stand stock-still and look at one queer creature – she looked exactly as if she was made up for a circus. Anne and Nolla laugh at me, all the time. But I don’t care, so! These horrid painted things are not nice!
“If I hadn’t set my heart on being an interior decorator, I’d take up lecturing, and teach these crazy New Yorkers how to look and enjoy a simple life.”
From the above account you can see how one day’s experience in New York impressed the girl of the Mountain Ranges in the West.
Polly, accustomed as she was to the overstocked store in Oak Creek, where shelves were stacked high with all sorts of merchandise, opened her eyes as Anne led her into a quiet parlor-like room that opened directly from Fifth avenue. She stared around for a glimpse of the gowns she expected to see; but nothing like one was to be seen. The dignified lady who met Anne, and a few other well-dressed women who conversed in low tones with each other, did not look like Polly’s idea of shop-girls.
Anne’s lady conducted them to a lift, and they shot up two stories. Again they came out into a lovely lounging-room, but still no sign of dresses. The lady pushed a button, and another woman hurried in.
“Measurements of this young lady. She will need several gowns for afternoon and street wear; possibly, an evening dress.”
Then Polly was scientifically measured, and in a short time a number of models were brought for her inspection and approval. These were placed upon forms, and every desirable detail of the gowns was pointed out to Anne and the girls.
“Oh, I just love that one, Poll!” cried Eleanor, gazing with rapt eyes at an imported model.
“Isn’t it clumsy at the back? And see how narrow the bottom of the skirt is. Maybe they didn’t have enough goods to make it any wider?” commented Polly.
Eleanor giggled but Anne explained to Polly. The saleslady seemed not to have heard the western girl’s objection to the gown.
Then it was tried on Polly, and she saw how very becoming it was. But when she endeavored to walk over to the full-length mirror, she almost fell down upon the rug.
“Mercy, Anne! I never can amble about in this binder! Get me something sensible,” complained Polly.
But Eleanor liked the dress and as it fitted her, also, she said she would take it as long as Polly didn’t.
“Take it and welcome, Nolla! but I pity you if you try to scoot over the crossings of Fifth avenue in that skirt,” laughed Polly.
Other gowns were brought and Polly finally found several that she liked, with wide enough skirts to suit her comfort. Then Anne asked for the bills. The list was added up and when the total was mentioned Polly almost fainted. If she had not been seated, she might have crumpled to the floor.
“We’ll take that gown with us, the others you may send,” said Anne, taking up the one to be wrapped. Then she gave the name and address where the other dresses were to be sent. A fat roll of yellow bills now came from Anne’s hand-bag, and she paid the enormous sum – or, at least, Polly thought it was enormous for so few dresses.
Safely out of hearing of the fashionable sales-ladies, Polly whispered: “Anne, you paid hundreds of dollars for those things!”
Anne nodded, smilingly. Eleanor said: “Why, that wasn’t much for what we got, Poll. The dress I bought is imported! And a model, at that. It was a bargain at that price.”
Polly sighed. Would she ever be able to accommodate herself to such a changed life as this one now seemed to be? Her friends laughed at the sigh and expression of doubt on her face.
As Anne led her protegées past the hotel desk, a very polite clerk said: “A ’phone call for you, Miss Stewart, at five-ten P. M.”
Anne was handed the slip and read: “Mr. Latimer called up. Said he would call again at six-thirty.”
“Maybe he wants us to go somewhere, to-night!” suggested Eleanor, eagerly.
“Well, you won’t go to-night, if he does ask you. It’s bed at nine, for everyone of us, because we have a hard day of house-hunting before us, to-morrow,” decreed Anne, courageously.
But Eleanor was given no cause to argue that evening, for Mr. Latimer called up to invite them all to go to the Mardi Gras at Coney Island the following evening. He said the Evans and Latimers would call at the hotel, in two cars, about six o’clock and take them to supper at the Island.
“Oh, goody! I never saw Coney Island but I’ve heard so much about it!” cried Eleanor, dancing about the room.
“I have read how dreadful a place it is,” ventured Polly.
“That’s another point of view, Polly. If you go down there to enjoy the fun and games, and see the ocean, then you will have nothing but frolic and sea. But if one is in quest of crime, then it can be found festering there, just as it is in every other section of a large city,” explained Anne.
“But we are only going for a frolic,” added Eleanor.
“I should hope so!” Polly said, so fervently, that Anne had to laugh heartily.
After dinner that night, Anne said: “I think Polly ought to see a sight that no other city can offer – that is the wondrous advertising signs on Broadway about Times Square, at night.”
“I am too weary to go out, daughter, but you take the girls,” Mrs. Stewart remarked, so they hurriedly donned their hats and gloves.
When they reached the famous corner of Forty-second street and Broadway, and stood at the uptown side of Times Square Triangle to look at the lights, Polly was speechless.
“Why, it’s as bright as day, everywhere,” whispered she.
“And just see the moving ads. up on the roofs!” cried Eleanor, delighting in the scene.
“I thought there were hordes of mad folks on the streets this afternoon, but this beats everything!” exclaimed Polly, watching both sides of Broadway from her vantage ground. “Honestly, Anne, do they not act obsessed, jostling and rushing as if Death drove them? They never seem to mind trolleys, autos, or policemen. They swirl and fly every which way, regardless of everyone and everything.”
“I just love this excitement!” sighed Eleanor, smiling.
“Well, I hope to goodness we will live far enough away from all this to let me forget it once in a while,” said Polly.
“Oh, you’ll love it, too, pretty soon,” Eleanor said, confidently.
“Never! This is Bedlam to me. When I write home about it, I shall tell father that it reminds me of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah when fire and brimstone fell and destroyed those cities. I bet the folks never acted any wilder, there, than these New Yorkers do, here.”
Anne laughed at Polly’s vivid disgust, and suggested that they return to the hotel.
“Oh, no, Anne! It is only eight-thirty. And for New York that only begins an evening, you know. Let’s get up on top of one of the buses on Fifth avenue and take the round trip. That ride will show Polly lots of sights: the Flat Iron Building, Riverside Drive and the Hudson, and heaps of things.”
Eleanor prevailed, and after a delightful drive of an hour, the little party was glad to get to the hotel and drop into bed.
На этой странице вы можете прочитать онлайн книгу «Polly in New York», автора Lillian Roy. Данная книга имеет возрастное ограничение 12+, относится к жанрам: «Зарубежные детские книги», «Зарубежная классика».. Книга «Polly in New York» была издана в 2017 году. Приятного чтения!