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LONDON -- HYDE PARK AND WESTMINSTER ABBEY
ADELAIDE'S Visit to Oldham Manor was at an end, and Edith was to return with her to spend a week in London. You can imagine how excited she was at the thought of all she would see in the great city.
Adelaide was so much improved by her stay in the country that she seemed quite another little girl who waved good-bye to her good uncle and aunt as the train pulled out of the little railway station. Miss Green was to see them safely to the end of their journey and return again the same day.
"Does not London look smoky and dark?" exclaimed Edith, as their cab took them swiftly through the crowded streets.
"And this, too, is a very fair day for London," said Miss Green, "but here we are in Langham Gardens," as the cab turned into a square with a small park, or garden, in the centre, around which were substantial houses. Much of London is built around such little squares. Soon the cab stopped before a comfortable brick house of four stories with white stone trimmings.
In front of each window was what is called a window-garden, an ornamental box full of bright flowering plants. All the better class London dwellings have these window-gardens, which do so much toward brightening up the gloomy rows of houses. The front door was a rich green in colour and in the centre was a big brass knocker. A few hard raps brought the maid, and Adelaide was soon in her mother's arms, who was greatly pleased at seeing her looking so well.
"Take Edith to your room, my dear," said Mrs. Stamford, "and do not be long, for lunch will soon be ready."
Adelaide's room was a very nice one, but one could not see the flowers and river from its windows, as from Edith's in Surrey. They looked over endless roof-tops and smoking chimneys. Opening out of it was a sort of play-room and schoolroom combined. Here Adelaide had her lessons with her teacher, who came every day for that purpose.
"Oh, Fluff, lazy fellow, there you are," cried Adelaide, as a beautiful white Persian cat slowly uncurled himself from the depths of an armchair and came toward them with great deliberation, like the aristocratic pussy that he was. He knew his own value, and had evidently made up his mind that he would not show his little mistress how delighted he was to get her back again, for fear of compromising his dignity.
"Is not he a beauty, Edith?" said Adelaide, stroking his long, silky, white fur. Fluff, having at last given in, mounted to her shoulder, and settled there with a soft murmur of purrs.
"He comes of a fine family, I can tell you, and at the last Royal Cat Show, at the Crystal Palace, he took a gold medal; there it is hanging up in the cabinet. There is no use trying to keep it tied on Fluff, he only tries to lick it off all the time; besides, it would spoil his beautiful ruff."
The two little girls had lunch with Mrs. Stamford, for Adelaide had all her meals in the big dining-room, except tea, which she had with her teacher, Miss Winton, in the schoolroom.
Mrs. Stamford was a widow and Adelaide her only child, so she and her mother were much together and were real companions to each other.
"How would you and Edith like to go with me to Hyde Park this afternoon?" asked Mrs. Stamford. "The king is to open the new Royal Hospital, and as the procession passes through the park you will be able to see it well."
"How splendid! We will really see the king and queen, aunty? Do let's go," and Edith jumped up and down in her chair with excitement.
"Be ready, then, so that we can leave directly after lunch, for he is to pass Albert Gate at three o'clock, and we must be early to get a place."
The park looked gayer than usual this afternoon, with plenty of well-dressed people in fine carriages drawn by well-groomed horses and driven by pompous coachmen; some of the handsomest carriages had coachmen and footmen in bright-coloured liveries and powdered wigs. A carriage like this you may be sure held some grand person. All along the edge of the drives were rows of chairs; toward these Mrs. Stamford made her way and selected three in the front row.
Presently one of the men who have the seats in charge came up, and Mrs. Stamford paid him a penny for the use of each seat. The crowd grew more dense and the big policemen were now keeping the driveway clear.
Edith had noticed in the two chairs next to her a little girl, apparently but little older than herself, and a boy evidently younger. They had been talking eagerly together, and Edith could tell that everything was new and strange to them.
Presently the little girl, who had been glancing at Edith, leaned over and said, eagerly: "They will soon be here, won't they? I so much want to see a real live king and queen. You know we don't have kings and queens in our country. We are Americans. My mamma's name is Mrs. White and I am Carrie White and Henry is my youngest brother. I have two brothers at home in New York older than myself, and we are staying at the Hotel Cecil."
The little girl poured out her information rapidly, before Edith had time to say a word. "We have a 'President' in our country; he drives around in processions, too, but he does not wear a crown like your king," chimed in the little boy. "I wish he was going to have it on to-day, but I suppose he only puts it on for grand occasions."
"Yes," said Adelaide, joining in the conversation, "he wears it when he goes to open Parliament. I saw that procession once. It was a fine sight, better than this will be, because he and the queen rode in the great gilded coach that cost ever so much money. They both had on their crowns and rich red robes trimmed with ermine, and they smiled and bowed as they drove along. The coach was drawn by eight beautiful cream-coloured horses with harness of red and gold, and each horse was led by a groom dressed in a red uniform with a powdered wig and black velvet cap. Behind were two footmen, also in red and gold, and on either side of the carriage walked the 'Beefeaters,' as the Yeomen of the Guard are called."
"Oh, those are the men who take care of the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London. We saw them," broke in the little boy.
"Yes," hurriedly went on Adelaide, "and before the coach rode a detachment of the Royal Horse Guards. Oh, they are splendid! And behind rode some more Horse Guards; then followed lots of carriages."
Mrs. Stamford had been listening to the children with some amusement.
"Are you alone, my dears?" she finally asked the little American girl.
"Oh, yes, Henry and I came all by ourselves from the hotel. Poor mamma had such a bad headache she could not come, but she did not want us to be disappointed, so she got the hotel porter to put us on the right 'bus, and he told the conductor where to let us off, and all we have got to do when we want to go back is to ask the big policeman at the gate to put us on the same 'bus again."
"Oh," gasped Edith in amazement, "aren't you afraid?"
She could not imagine Adelaide and herself crossing several miles of the busiest part of London without Mrs. Stamford, the governess, or a maid accompanying them.
"Why, no, of course not," laughed Henry. "It is rather hard to find the right 'bus, because they have got so many names all over them, but a policeman will always set you right; they are right good fellows, your policemen; they take a lot of trouble for one."
"Here they come," some one called out, as cheering was heard, and the children jumped up on their chairs.
First came a number of mounted policemen, and then many carriages containing great people, and members of the Royal Family. Then the Royal Horse Guards, the finest regiment of soldiers in the kingdom, whose duty is always to escort the king. They did make a fine showing in their white trousers and red coats, their glittering breastplates and helmets, swords clanking by their sides, and sitting so straight on their black horses.
"They are fine," said Henry. "I wish Billy could see them."
"Hush, here is the king," said Adelaide. An open carriage passed swiftly. On the high box sat the coachman and footman in the royal liveries of a bright red, powdered wigs on their heads, and on the lapel of the coachman's coat was a huge rosette. At the back of the carriage stood two footmen, also in the red livery.
King Edward VII. was dressed in a field-marshal's uniform, and kept his hand in salute a greater part of the time.
Queen Alexandra was seated on his right, and looked very sweet and pretty in a violetcoloured dress and hat to match. She carried in her hand a big bouquet of flowers. In a moment they had passed, followed by more soldiers. The children had waved their handkerchiefs, and Henry and Carrie cheered with the rest.
"We are going in your direction, and I will see you safely on your 'bus, or perhaps you had better take a cab," said Adelaide's mother, to their new friends, as they walked to the big gateway of the park.
"Thank you, ma'am," said the little American children, "but we would rather go on top of the 'bus; it is more fun, and we can see more."
"Good-bye," the young Americans shouted, as they climbed on their 'bus. "You must come and see us when you come to New York," called out Carrie, as with smiles and waving hands the clumsy 'bus rolled them away.
"What would you like to show Edith today?" asked Mrs. Stamford of her little daughter, as they sat at the breakfast-table the next morning. "You will have a holiday from your lessons while Edith is here, so Miss Winton will go with you to-day."
"Of course she must see Westminster Abbey, and the Tower of London, and Madame Tussaud's, and the Zoo," said Adelaide, in one breath.
"Not all in one day," laughed her mother. "Suppose you go to the Abbey this morning and drive with me this afternoon to Kensington Palace. Then see the Tower to-morrow."
The girls were soon ready. "Let us walk, Miss Winton," said Adelaide, as they crossed the gardens into the busy street. "There is so much we can show Edith on the way to the Abbey. See, Edith, there is Buckingham Palace, where the king lives when he is in London."
It did not look as handsome as one imagines a palace ought to look; it seemed rather dark and gloomy, though it was a big building.
"You can tell that the king is there because the royal standard is flying over the roof," explained Adelaide. "That is the Royal Family's own flag. It is made of the three coat-of-arms of the three kingdoms which compose Great Britain, -- the three golden lions of England, the one rampant red lion of Scotland, and the gold harp of Ireland. It is different, you will see, from the ordinary flag of England, called the 'Union Jack,' and more elaborate and beautiful," said Miss Winton. "The design of the 'Union Jack' is made of the three crosses of the three ancient patron saints of Great Britain, -- St. George of England, St. Andrew of Scotland, and St. Patrick of Ireland."
They crossed St. James's Park, which is in front of the palace, and a few minutes' walk brought them to the beautiful church of Westminster Abbey, which is the pride of every Englishman.
Here, in front of the great altar, the English kings and queens have been crowned, and many of them lie buried in the chapels which surround the choir.
Edith saw the coronation chair, which is very old, and on which the sovereigns sit when the crown is placed on their heads by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Many monuments of good and great people, as well as of kings and queens, fill the Abbey to overflowing; for Englishmen consider it a great honour to be buried under the stone floor of the Abbey.
But perhaps the most interesting part is what is called the "Poets' Corner," where most of the great English poets are either buried, or have monuments erected to their memory.
Our little American cousins will see there a marble bust of their poet Longfellow, erected by admirers of his in England.
"Do you see that stone in the floor with the flowers on it?" said Miss Winton, "that is the grave of the great author, Charles Dickens, who wrote the touching story I read to you, Adelaide, of 'Little Nell' and her grandfather, called 'The Old Curiosity Shop.'
"'The Old Curiosity Shop' itself is still to be seen, which is the same house, it is claimed, that Dickens took for the imaginary home of 'Little Nell,' and where she took such good care of her grandfather."
As they left the Abbey, Miss Winton pointed out to Edith the great Houses of Parliament, where the laws of the kingdom are made.
"Let us stop, Miss Winton, and have a glass of milk from the cows as we go through the park," said Adelaide, as they walked on.
"Do they have cows in London?" asked Edith.
"Well, it does not seem likely, does it," smiled Miss Winton, "but these cows have very old rights to be in St. James's Park, not so very far from the Royal Palace, which you saw this morning. Many years ago, before London became the biggest city in the world, as it now is, with its millions of people, there used to be a big 'Milk Fair' at this end of the park. Here were brought many cows, and their milk was sold to the good people of London. Now all that remains of this 'Milk Fair' are the two cows you see yonder, tethered under the trees eating grass as composedly as if they were out on a country farm.
"The cows do not know how nearly they came to losing their comfortable quarters lately; for a new street is being put through to connect the park with Trafalgar Square, and those in charge of the work decided the poor cows were in the way and must go. This nearly broke the hearts of the two old sisters, who own the cows, and sell the milk. So they petitioned King Edward that they and their cows might remain undisturbed. The king kindly gave them permission, only they will have to move a few hundred yards away from their present place so as not to interfere with the new street."
Under a wooden shelter the children found the two old ladies filling glasses with milk for the boys and girls who are now about the only patrons of the " Milk Fair." Perhaps the sweetmeats and cakes that are also to be bought there attract them as well.
"Now, we must hurry home," said Miss Winton, "or we shall be late for lunch." After lunch Mrs. Stamford drove with the little girls to Kensington Palace. This is another palace belonging to the king. You see royalty had plenty of homes scattered around, so when they got tired of one they could move into another.
This palace is principally of interest because it was the first home of Queen Victoria. But what the children like to see are the toys she played with during her childhood in the old palace.
They are all kept in the queen's old nursery. Edith and Adelaide looked at them with a hushed reverence, though they were plain, simple little things, -- some dolls and dolls' house furniture, not half so fine as the toys they had themselves at home, for the queen had been brought up very simply.
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