Summary: Part two of a seven-part story.
Word Count: 48,000
Refreshed by a good night’s sleep, Little Joe was all sunshine and smiles as he waited for his breakfast order to be delivered. “What are we going to do today, older brother? Go back to the Exposition?”
Adam smiled over his coffee cup. “Nice try. You know perfectly well that I said we wouldn’t be returning there ‘til Monday.”
Joe shrugged. He hadn’t expected to get his way, but it didn’t hurt to remind Adam of where his preference lay. Sometimes, though rarely, big brother could be worn down. “So, what are we doing today, then?”
“We’re going to concentrate on your education for the next couple of days,” Adam said, setting the coffee cup down to await the inevitable. Though he had anticipated an explosion of protest, Joe merely groaned aloud, so Adam promptly dropped the stern lecture he had planned. “No, it won’t be that bad,” he assured his young brother with a chuckle, “especially today. We’re going to visit some of the historic sights in Philadelphia and see if we can’t make colonial days come alive for you.”
That didn’t sound too bad to Joe. “Independence Hall?” he inquired.
“Among others,” Adam replied, lifting his coffee cup again.
“Woohoo!” Joe exclaimed, almost tipping over his water glass in his exuberance.
Seeing several of the other diners turn in their seats, Adam castigated Joe soundly for his rowdy behavior.
Chagrined, Joe murmured, “Sorry.”
Adam arched an eyebrow in mock severity. “Getting to be your favorite word, little buddy, or at least the one most frequently employed.”
Joe sighed. “Yeah, I know; I’m s-”—he put his face in his hand as the word almost slipped out again.
Adam grinned, but spared his brother further teasing when their breakfast plates arrived. The two brothers made short work of the meal and were soon walking north on Seventh Street, Adam refusing to answer Joe’s questions about where they were going first until they arrived at Market.
Looking at the three-story brick building on the southwest corner, Joe cried, “Hey! I was shopping here just yesterday.”
“And paid not a bit of attention to the historic significance, I’ll wager,” Adam snickered.
Joe studied the building again. “It’s just a clothing store, Adam. You’re not gonna tell me George Washington bought his pants here or something stupid like that, are you?”
Adam rolled his eyes. “It wasn’t always a clothing store, Joe,” he grunted, then draping an arm around his brother’s slight shoulders, he added, as he pointed to a second story window, “That, my boy, is the parlor where the Declaration of Independence was written by . . .”
“Thomas Jefferson,” Joe answered in quick response to the test question he’d perceived Adam’s tapering drawl to indicate. “Can we go up and see the room?”
“No, it’s privately owned,” Adam replied.
“We could ask,” Joe suggested.
“We could not,” Adam dictated firmly, “unless, of course, your goal is to demonstrate what uncivilized boors men of the West are.”
Joe cocked his head and gave his brother’s face close scrutiny. “You ashamed of being from Nevada?”
Shocked by the question, Adam shook his head. “No, of course not,” he affirmed, “but I would prefer to show people what we’re really like, rather than live up to the popular image.”
Sporting a saucy grin, Joe stuffed his hands in his pockets and started up Market Street, his legs as bowed as if he were riding Hoss’s big black, Chub.
Adam snared Joe’s elbow and pulled him back. “You’re headed the wrong way, pardner. Independence Hall is back the way we came.”
Joe cackled and resumed his normal gait as they walked back toward Chestnut and east to the marble-trimmed brick building, which was once the most impressive in the colonies. “Its architecture is Georgian, a style that originated in England,” Adam stated as his hand swept from one wing of the structure to its mirror on the opposite end.
“Uh-huh,” Joe muttered, clearly disinterested in a scholarly lecture. He leaned his head back to gaze up at the tall steeple over the center of the building. “Is that the Liberty Bell?” he asked, squinting to see into the bell tower.
“No, it’s been taken down,” Adam explained, “but you’ll see it inside.”
“Well, let’s go in, then!” Joe urged.
Adam laughed at the boy’s enthusiasm. “Seeing as how that’s what we came here to do . . . let’s.”
Joe grinned and led the way. Inside, he glanced around in search of the famous bell, but saw no sign of it. “Where is it, Adam?” he demanded. “You said—”
“All in good time, impatient child,” Adam said, steering the boy toward the eastern hall. They passed through a door, above which hung a medallion with the head of George III, King of England during the time of the Revolution, and began to look at the furnishings.
Little Joe touched the green tablecloth spread over one of the square tables scattered across the room. “These really the same things used back then?” he asked, recalling the information from the Philadelphia guidebook.
“The furniture, yes,” Adam said, running his hand over the smooth wood of one of the spindle-backed armchairs beside the table. “National treasures, Joe.”
“Yeah,” Joe whispered with wonderment.
“Come here,” Adam said, taking his arm. “This is really special.” He led his brother to the east end of the room, where an elaborate chair graced a dais. “This was used by John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress,” he told Joe, “but this is what I wanted you to see.” He touched with near reverence the silver inkstand, from which protruded a white quill pen. “This inkstand was used by Hancock and the other men who signed the Declaration of Independence; it was only found again last year, so not many Americans living today have ever seen it.”
Joe whistled, tentatively touching the treasure. Then, looking at the walls lined with portraits of the signers of the famous document and other Revolutionary War heroes, he murmured, “So this is where it all happened, where we became our own country.”
Adam rubbed the back of his brother’s neck. “Where we proclaimed our independence, yes. As you know, just saying it didn’t make it so. A lot of men gave their lives to make what was declared here a reality.”
Overwhelmed with pride in his country, Joe could do nothing more than nod. He followed Adam to gaze, mesmerized, at the Declaration itself, framed and raised on a stand elsewhere in the room. “Oh, wow,” Joe whispered and then fell speechless.
Adam smiled. Though he had seen the Declaration once before, during his years in the East, he, too, felt the same sense of reverent awe. For several moments they simply stood there, gazing in silent respect at the inspiring words that began, “We the people;” then Adam tapped Joe’s arm. “We should move on,” he said. “Others want to see this, too.”
Coming out of his reverie, Joe smiled at the people behind him and moved out of the way. “Now the Liberty Bell?” he queried.
“Not quite yet,” Adam chuckled. “Let’s look at the exhibits in the west wing first.”
With a sigh Joe followed where he was led, wondering why they had to do everything Adam’s way. As soon as he entered the newly opened Museum of National Relics, however, he became engrossed with all there was to see: furniture, weapons, clothing, silver, china, pictures, embroidery and parchments of the colonial period, as well as visiting cards engraved with names memorable in American history. He saw the ale mug belonging to naval hero John Paul Jones and General Anthony Wayne’s field glass, but had to laugh at the case containing the baby clothes of President John Quincy Adams. “Say, Adam,” he asked with a cheeky grin, “has Pa saved any of my baby clothes, just in case I become famous?”
Adam lightly swatted his brother’s backside. “Sorry, buddy,” he commented drolly, “but we got rid of your smelly diapers as soon as we could!”
The joke being as malodorous to him as any soiled diaper, Joe crinkled his nose in distaste and said sharply, “Now who’s acting like an uncivilized boor!”
“All right, all right,” Adam chuckled, giving the boy’s shoulder an appeasing pat. “To make up for my boorishness, I’ll let you see the Liberty Bell next.”
A bright smile lifted Joe’s countenance as the promise was made. They quickly viewed the few remaining exhibits and left the museum, walking to the ground floor of the steeple, where the giant bell hung suspended from a wooden frame. Little Joe rested his palm against the cool metal, and Adam placed his hand, in similar position, next to that of his brother. Joe slid his hand over until it was touching Adam’s, as if only through touch could he share the emotions welling up inside.
As if inadvertently, Adam brushed his fingers over the back of Joe’s hand and stepped back, folding his arms across his chest. “Let’s see how much you’ve absorbed about the history of this bell,” he began didactically. “Can you name some occasions on which it was rung.”
Joe’s brow wrinkled in thought. “Well, uh, lots more times than I know about, I’m sure. Uh, when the Declaration was signed, for sure.”
Adam arched an eyebrow. “That’s my little brother, always going for the easy answer first.”
“Okay, I’m thinking,” Joe protested. “You didn’t tell me there was gonna be a test!”
“All of life is a test of what we’ve learned before,” Adam philosophized. “Now, is there anything else you can pull out of that muddled brain of yours?”
Joe searched his memory furiously, his face lighting as another response finally flashed through his mind. “When the war started,” he related hastily, “and, and”—he fought frantically to retrieve the bit of information niggling at the edge of his thoughts—“when Washington was named Commander-in-Chief,” he finished in triumph.
“Not bad,” Adam assessed. “Among other occasions, it was also rung after the surrender of Cornwallis, at the proclamation of the Treaty of Peace and when the United States Congress assembled for the first time.”
“I didn’t know all those,” Joe admitted. “Are they gonna ring it again for the centennial Fourth?”
Disappointment flickered in Adam’s eyes and was reflected in Joe’s as the older brother answered, “No, they were planning to, but decided the old bell was just too fragile to be rung, except on very special occasions.”
“The one hundredth birthday of America isn’t special enough?” Joe demanded.
“Evidently not,” Adam said quietly.
Uncomfortable with the somber mood, Little Joe quickly pointed to the stairway ascending the steeple. “Hey, let’s climb up,” he suggested. “Bound to get a good view of the city from up there.”
Adam emitted a startled cough. “There are easier ways to see the city than climbing up that steeple,” he maintained.
“Aw, come on, Adam. You’re too young to be that old!” Joe challenged with an impish grin.
“All right,” Adam agreed reluctantly. “I’ll need to get the tickets from the superintendent before we can go up.” That necessary preparation made, he began to climb upward in his energetic brother’s wake.
Little Joe reached the top quite a bit before his more deliberate brother and was ready to point out the sights when Adam arrived. “There’s the Delaware River,” he said, excitedly gesturing one direction; then swinging his arm toward the opposite side of the city, he added, “and there’s the Schuylkill and the Exposition grounds.”
“At least, we know you don’t need your eyes checked,” Adam quipped.
“Can’t you see them?” Joe asked, eyes wide with astonishment.
“Yes, Joe, I see them,” Adam said, pulling his brother close to his side. “They are pretty small from up here, though.”
“We going back there tomorrow?” Joe pressed and when Adam shook his head, muttered, “Don’t see why we can’t.”
“Because it’s not what I have scheduled,” Adam said bluntly.
Joe started to pout, but the reproachful look in his brother’s eyes made him bite his lower lip, instead. “Well, okay, as long as there’s other fun things to see.”
Amused, Adam shook his head. “Is fun all you ever think about?”
“Don’t you ever think about it?” Joe countered swiftly.
Adam gave his brother’s jaunty straw hat a tug. “Oh, come on. Don’t tell me you’re not enjoying yourself today.”
Joe’s mood softened almost immediately. “No, Adam, I am. Where to next?”
“Carpenter’s Hall, where the first Continental Congress met in 1774,” Adam announced.
“Let’s go, then!” Joe scampered down the stairs, setting a pace Adam feared to keep.
“No wonder Pa has white hair!” the older brother mumbled to himself.
Since Carpenters’ Hall, originally a colonial guildhall, was only a couple of blocks east, the Cartwright brothers were soon standing before it. “Kind of like a little Independence Hall, isn’t it?” Joe observed.
“Hmm?” After looking puzzled for a moment, Adam understood what Joe was saying. “Oh, you mean the architecture? Yes, it’s the same style on a smaller scale.”
Joe threw his palms up. “That’s what I just said, isn’t it?”
“Well, sort of,” Adam chuckled. “And do you remember what this type of architecture is called?”
Joe moaned, raising a hand in defense against the withering look his brother gave him. “I know, I know; all of life is a test. Just wish someone would tell me what’s gonna be on it!”
Adam delivered his finest smirk. “Fine. Architecture will be on it—regularly.”
“Fine,” Joe spat back. “Georgian, like that king’s name.”
“Precisely correct,” Adam said, giving the boy’s cheek a pat of approval, from which Joe flinched away. “Very popular style in Philadelphia.”
Now that he’d passed the test, Joe relaxed. “Yeah, I was noticing that the other day. I was gonna ask you what kind of houses they were.”
Adam looked flattered. “You were?”
Joe scrunched up his nose. “I don’t lie worth a hoot, remember? Yeah, I was; I just forgot.”
Pleased to see that Joe did have a spark of intellectual curiosity, Adam smiled. Perhaps his desire of seeing the boy properly educated was not such an impossible dream, after all.
As it was shortly past noon and their hotel was nearby, the brothers returned there for dinner, where Adam was once more amazed by the amount of food his slender brother was able to pack away. When they finished eating, Adam escorted Joe to a horse car stop, once again refusing to tell him where they were going. The destination proved to be the Penn Treaty Monument on Beach Street in Kensington. Little Joe was less familiar with the earlier period of history from which this landmark derived its existence, so Adam explained how William Penn had made peace with the Indians under the branches of a spreading elm tree. “Penn did it the right way, buying his land from the Delaware Indians,” Adam commented, “and he never broke the treaty he made with them, although those who came after him were not as scrupulous in keeping it as Penn himself.”
“There’s no tree here,” Joe observed.
“No, it blew down in 1810,” Adam told him, “but this monument marks the spot. It was much revered while it stood. Even when the British occupied Philadelphia during the war, their commander, General Simcoe, stationed a guard beneath it so the soldiers wouldn’t cut it down for firewood.”
Joe looked at the simple obelisk for several minutes, and then asked, “Did Pa do it the right way? The Ponderosa, I mean.”
“In a manner of speaking, though no money changed hands,” Adam observed. “When he saved the life of Chief Winnemucca’s son, Winnemucca granted him permission to stay on the land, and you’re aware, of course, of how often Pa has sent food to the Paiutes and the Washos, as well, during hard times.”
“Tell me again,” Joe cajoled. He’d heard the stories before, from his father, as well as his oldest brother, but he rarely tired of family tales from the days before his birth and Adam told them especially well. As he listened to Adam once more recounting those early days on the Ponderosa, Joe reflected that the motto engraved on the simple monument, “Unbroken Faith,” could have been said of the Cartwrights as much as of William Penn, and his heart filled with pride in his family.
After indulging in lemon ice cream, purchased from a passing wagon labeled Breyers, the Cartwright brothers caught a horse car back to the center of town, where after resting a short time in their room, they again dined downstairs at the Washington. Over plates of veal cutlets with corn oysters and tender asparagus, dripping with drawn butter, they talked of all they’d seen that day. “Thanks for showing me all those places, Adam,” Joe said sincerely. “Like you said, it really makes the history come alive when you see where things happened.”
Adam couldn’t resist the temptation. “Just one of the benefits of coming back east for your education, Joe.”
Joe pulled a pout. “Oh, you’re not gonna start that up again, are you?”
Adam laughed. “Yes, I am, seeing as we’re paying a visit to your first college tomorrow.”
Suddenly, the expensive cut of meat seemed less appetizing to Little Joe. He had a feeling tomorrow would be one miserable day, but there was no way to get out of it. The time had come to pay the price tag for this wonderful trip. As he pushed the food around on his plate, Joe asked himself what he could possibly do to convince Adam that his mind was set against more schooling. Big brother could be mighty stubborn when he wanted something. But not as stubborn as me, Joe decided, cutting the tip from a spear of asparagus, especially when I know I’m right!
Little Joe’s demeanor, as he and his older brother toured the Gothic stone buildings of the University of Pennsylvania the next morning, was decidedly glum. To him, it had definitely not been worth the long streetcar trip to West Philadelphia, and not even the hearty chicken pie, which he and Adam had ordered for dinner, seemed likely to lift his spirits.
Adam was getting fed up with his brother’s sour attitude, but he felt compelled to create in the boy at least minimal interest in a college education. “If you were to pursue a course of study, what do you think you might prefer?” he asked.
Little Joe stabbed a large chunk of chicken. “Horse training, cattle ranching, timber management, checkers strategy,” he listed snappishly and popped the bite into his mouth.
Adam folded his arms and leaned over the table. “Could you be serious five minutes?”
“I am being serious, Adam,” Joe insisted, as he forked a bite of flaky crust, along with some of the vegetables in the pie. “There is nothing here I need; it’s all back home. I’m just not cut out for this, but you can’t accept it.” You can’t accept me.
“You promised to keep an open mind,” Adam reminded him, slicing off another piece of ham. “Now, if you’re not interested in liberal arts, how about studying the law? It would certainly benefit the Ponderosa to have legal counsel.”
Little Joe almost choked on the food in his mouth. “Me a lawyer? You gotta be kidding!”
Adam shrugged. “I suppose not. Too likely to need one yourself. Medicine, then?”
Joe shook his head in disbelief. “Oh, sure, Adam, I’d make a great doctor. Can’t hardly stand watchin’ a calf birthed or a horse foaled and you want me doctorin’ people?”
Despite his irritation with his provoking little brother, Adam had to laugh. “No, I don’t think I’d want you doctorin’ me, little buddy, and I have to admit, you’re more likely to need one than to be one.”
Joe sneered contemptuously. “Can’t you think of a new joke? Gotta keeping rehashin’ the same one? You’d think a college-educated man could find new words to say!”
“Oh, all right,” Adam conceded, pushing away his empty plate. “Time to put you out of your misery, I suppose. We need to catch an early supper, so we’ll have time to dress for this evening, so if you’re finished . . .”
“What’s happening this evening?” Joe demanded, using his spoon to scoop up the last bit of savory chicken gravy. “Don’t tell me there’s some school that meets at night!”
“Well, there are, of course, for working men who want to improve themselves,” Adam replied testily, “As education goes, however, I think you’ll find tonight’s class relatively painless. Now come on!”
Joe’s lips puckered. “I want dessert,” he demanded.
Adam exhaled gustily. “All right, fine, if that’ll improve your disposition.”
Joe quickly sported a self-satisfied grin. “Oh, that’ll sweeten me right up, big brother.”
“Well, something sure needs to,” Adam muttered with a shake of his head. “What do you want?”
Little Joe had already discerned that Madeira Cream Pudding was the most expensive dessert on the menu, so he ordered that right away, as Adam surveyed him with an appraising glance from the corner of his eye.
When his young brother’s supper choices also ran to the expensive end of the menu, Adam smiled knowingly, but said nothing. Let the kid have his petty revenge. I can always call him on it, if it gets out of hand, and maybe it’s one way of getting him to cultivate a taste for finer things. They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach; maybe it’s also the way to whet a foolish boy’s appetite for spending a few years back east.
As instructed, Joe had laid out his new formal suit, which had arrived from Wanamaker and Brown’s that afternoon, so it would be ready to change into immediately after supper. Toying with his water glass while waiting for the meal to be served, he hinted to be told what their evening’s activity actually was. “I know it’s not really night school, not with the fancy clothes we’ll be wearing.”
Adam chuckled. “No, it’s not. I know today wasn’t overly enjoyable for you, so I thought I’d make up for that with an evening at the theater.”
“Which one?” Joe asked, eyes sparkling.
“The Arch Street,” Adam replied, “and I might as well tell you now that we’ll be seeing Shakespeare.”
“Not Romeo and Juliet,” Joe pleaded. His sentimental schoolteacher, Abigail Jones, had ruined him forever on that particular work of the immortal bard.
With a throaty laugh, Adam assured him that none of Shakespeare’s tragedies were on the bill that night. “We’ll be seeing a historical drama, Henry V,” he said, “which should be to your liking.”
“Yeah,” Joe murmured with relief, for while he wasn’t as enamored of the English playwright as his older brother, he enjoyed a good play, and this one promised to have plenty of action. He glanced shyly across the table, “If you’ll help me with the history . . . ”
“I will,” Adam said warmly. Whenever he and his younger brother had attended any Shakespearean drama together in Virginia City, Sacramento or San Francisco, he had delighted in explaining the play’s background for Joe and was looking forward to doing so tonight. Those evenings at the theater had always seemed to draw the oldest and youngest Cartwright brothers closer, and Adam thought they needed just such a break from the perpetual sparring in which they’d been engaged throughout this trip.
The theater on Arch Street was only a few blocks north, so Adam and Joe walked there. “Sun’s down, and it’s still hot,” Joe grumbled, running his hand over the sweat-beaded back of his neck.
“I know,” Adam murmured in shared misery. “According to the Public Ledger, Philadelphia’s been experiencing unprecedented heat since the summer solstice—just about the time we arrived, in other words.”
“I swear I’m not to blame,” Joe pledged with upraised hand.
“Don’t swear,” Adam said in pretense of scolding; then he threw an arm around Joe’s shoulders and pulled him close. “Let me tell you a little about the play. I’m sure it will please you to know that Henry V, like all the Plantagenets, was more than half-French. In fact, his claim to the throne of France was just about as good as that of the man wearing the crown, although it came through the female line.” Throughout the remainder of the short walk, he offered comments he felt would help his brother better understand what he was about to see.
They paused a moment outside the theater for Adam to admire the stylish marble front. When he noticed, however, that Little Joe’s eyes were fixed on the draped nude figure holding a lyre above the center second-floor window, he grabbed the boy’s elbow and dragged him through one of the three arched doorways.
“Oh, this is nice, real elegant,” Joe murmured as Adam walked up to him after purchasing their tickets.
“One of the best arranged and most comfortable in the city,” Adam observed.
“You been here or is that the guidebook talking?” Joe asked impishly.
“Guidebook,” Adam admitted. “Shall we find our seats?”
Joe nodded and they entered the auditorium. He noticed that the seats Adam had purchased were quite good, definitely better, in fact, than those he was used to sitting in when he paid for his own ticket. “Thanks, Adam,” he whispered.
“We should be able to see real well from here,” Joe amplified.
“Yes, of course; that’s why I requested this location,” Adam said, still not quite following his brother’s train of thought. There was no time to inquire further, however, for the curtain rose, and an actor portraying William Shakespeare spoke the Prologue to Act I. Then the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Ely entered the scene, and the Archbishop began to describe the king:
“The course of his youth promised it not.
The breath no sooner left his father’s body,
But that his wildness, mortified in him,
Seem’d to die too; yea, at that very moment
Consideration, like an angel, came
And whipp’d the offending Adam out of him,”
Joe looked at his brother with a naughty grin, as if to say that there was another “offending Adam” he sometimes felt like whipping. Seeing Adam arch a reproving eyebrow, he straightened up at once and gave his attention to the play, as he really needed to do if he were to follow the tale told in unfamiliar language.
From time to time, Adam would lean close to his brother’s ear and whisper a quick definition of some Elizabethan word, and during the intermissions between acts, he clarified for Joe anything that required fuller explanation. As usual, though, the action itself helped Joe understand enough to follow the drama, while Adam’s additions served to take his comprehension to a deeper level.
Everything was going well until the beginning of Act III, when King Henry, dressed for battle, delivered his stirring speech to the English troops:
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.”
Suddenly, a high-pitched giggle pierced the quiet auditorium, and heads turned to stare in censure of the inappropriate response. Adam’s censure took a more physical form; drawing his foot back, he gave his tittering brother’s shin a sharp kick.
“Ow!” Joe yelped.
“Be quiet,” Adam hissed. “One of the finest monologues in the entire play, and you have to distract everyone from hearing it.”
Seeing the attention they were attracting, Joe slid down in his seat. “Sorry,” he whispered. “It’s just that I suddenly realized where you got that saying. You really can’t think of new words for yourself, can you?”
Adam tried to hold onto his irritation, but couldn’t. Joe saw the twitching lips with which his older brother shushed him and knew he was forgiven. With a grin he sat up straight again in time to enjoy the second scene.
“Wasn’t she beautiful?” Joe sighed as they exited the Arch Street Theater.
Adam chuckled as he steered the starry-eyed boy down the street. “Princess Katherine, I presume?”
“Um-hmm,” Joe murmured. Giving his brother a more focused look, he asked, “Say, Adam, you have that play at home, don’t you?”
“Of course, the complete works of Shakespeare. Surely, you’ve at least seen the covers,” Adam replied, with a trace of condescension, for which he almost immediately rebuked himself. After all, if the kid was expressing interest in classical literature, he should be encouraged. “I’m sorry, Joe,” he apologized quickly. “Would you like to read this play?”
“Well, just parts,” Joe muttered, reddening. He thought King Henry’s speech about the “sugar touch” of Katherine’s lips might work well on the girls of Virginia City, but he wasn’t about to trust big brother with a confidence that incriminating. Fishing for a safer response, he mentioned, instead, “I kind of liked what the Dauphin said about his horse.”
“Ah.” Adam began to quote the passage to which he thought Joe was referring. “‘When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk: he trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes.’”
“Yeah,” Joe said. “Made me think of—”
“Cochise!” Adam burst out laughing. “You and that horse! What’s the matter, little buddy, homesick for your pony?”
No longer were there stars in Joe’s eyes; daggers had replaced them. Trust Adam to find some excuse to twit him, no matter how hard he worked to avoid it! “Just ‘cause you don’t have any feeling for that flea-bitten nag of yours.”
Adam’s laughter only intensified. “Feeling! Well, I may not treat Sport as if he were human, the way you do Cochise, but he and I have a fine working relationship, as is proper between man and beast.”
“Oh, shut up,” Joe growled. Finally becoming aware of his surroundings, he realized they were not headed toward the hotel. “You don’t seem to have much of a working relationship with north and south tonight,” he snorted.
“I know exactly where I’m going,” Adam said, bringing his mirth under control. “It’s rather customary to take refreshment after a night at the theater, so restaurants near here stay open late for that purpose. Since we had a rather early supper, I thought we might indulge in the custom. Of course, if you’re not interested . . . ”
“I’m not starving,” Joe said, his mood improving at the mere mention of another opportunity to empty his uppity brother’s pockets, “but I could eat a bite or so.”
Certain he could read his brother’s childish motive, Adam worked his tongue inside his mouth before saying, “Whatever you want, but I would advise you to eat lightly this late at night or you will regret it in the morning.”
Knowing that was simple truth, Joe didn’t argue, and Adam was pleased to see that his brother’s selection, when they reached the restaurant, amounted only to a bowl of oyster stew, a small slice of pound cake and coffee. One battle of the budget won, with numerous others yet to be fought, Adam had little doubt.
When Little Joe stumbled, bleary-eyed, from his room the next morning, Adam folded the newspaper he’d been perusing. “Ah, Sleeping Beauty awakens,” he teased.
Joe yawned. “Well, you could’ve woke me, if we needed an earlier start.”
“I’m averse to wrestling grizzly bears before my morning coffee,” Adam said, chuckling at the scowl that met the remark. “Actually, I figured we could both use a little extra sleep after coming in so late last night.”
“Umm, good figuring,” Joe murmured, stretching his arms behind his back. As he looked more closely at his brother, his brow wrinkled at the familiar black shirt and pants that Adam customarily wore back home. “You’re not dressed,” he said in shock.
“I most certainly am!” Adam chortled.
“Not for the East,” Joe insisted, “unless you mean to hang around the room all day.”
“Are you that tired?” Adam asked with a smile.
As Adam had expected, Joe hooted at the idea. “‘Course not. What are we—”
“Having breakfast, for a start,” Adam chuckled, “unless you’ve lost your newly prodigious appetite.” At the firm shake of Joe’s head, he added, “Then hustle into your duds, little buddy.”
“Ranch clothes?” Joe asked.
“Whatever you like,” Adam said. “I just thought we were due a day with more relaxed garb, even if the easterners do think we’re western boors.”
“Thanks!” Fully awake now, Joe dashed into his room, pulled off his nightshirt for a quick wash at the basin and dressed in the comfortable gray slacks and tan shirt that he’d worn the first couple of days on the train, which had been freshly laundered since their arrival in Philadelphia.
Little Joe had learned over the past several days that Adam simply would not respond to questions about the day’s activities until breakfast was served. Being especially curious today because of the easing of older brother’s stringent wardrobe standards, Joe all but exploded with the question the minute the waitress presented his sausage and waffles. “What you got planned for today, Adam?”
Smiling to himself as he cut his slice of Smithfield ham, Adam replied, “Not a thing.”
Joe almost dropped his fork. “Huh?”
Relishing the look of total surprise on his brother’s face, Adam laughed. “Your choice today, little buddy. What would you like to do, excluding the Exhibition itself, that is?”
“Y-you’re kidding, right?” Joe stammered.
“Nope,” Adam said laconically. He put the meat in his mouth, chewing slowly to savor the distinctive flavor the pigs’ diet of peanuts gave to pork raised in Virginia.
“You mean it? I really get to choose?” Joe pressed, eyes wide with wonder.
“I mean it,” Adam said, feeling slightly chagrined when he saw how much that freedom of choice obviously meant to his young brother. Should’ve listened to Pa, I guess, when he talked to me about letting the kid have some voice. “So what’s it to be?”
Joe didn’t need to give the decision much thought. Obviously, he wanted to pick a place that Adam himself wouldn’t select, as he’d eventually see everything his big brother considered worthwhile, anyway. “Could it be the zoo?” he asked tentatively.
Feeling as if he were the one being tested today, Adam nodded. “The zoological park it is.” Joe had made exactly the choice he’d expected, that assumption the real reason behind his personal wardrobe choice that morning. Though he would not tell Joe until later, he planned to combine the trip to the zoo with a walk through one of the rustic sections of Fairmount Park, and eastern suits simply weren’t appropriate for a ramble through the woods. Lifting his coffee cup, he couldn’t resist a little teasing, however. “Unless you would prefer to tour the House of Refuge for juvenile offenders, that is. They admit visitors on Saturdays, and we could get tickets at the Public Ledger Building. Might give you extra incentive to stay out of trouble.”
For a moment Little Joe thought his brother was serious. Then his characteristic grin broke wide, and he gave Adam’s knee a playful tap under the table. “You had me going there for a minute, Adam!”
“Well, it doesn’t happen often,” Adam laughed. “Fellow has to pick his shots with you, kid.”
Joe tapped his index finger against his cheek. “Hmm. I might just have to drop a line to Pa about you taking pot shots at his favorite son.”
Eyebrow arched, Adam surveyed his brother coolly. “I could probably drop Pa a line or two he might find interesting, as well, ‘favorite son.’”
Good-naturedly conceding that round to his older brother, Joe laughed and thrust out his hand. “I won’t if you won’t. Deal?”
Adam reached across the table to close the bargain with a handshake. “Deal.”
Having finished breakfast, the two brothers again caught the horse cars out to the narrow strip on the west side of the Schuylkill River, where America’s first zoological park had opened only two years before. A number of families were standing in line at the small, peak-roofed building that served as entrance, so it was several minutes before Adam handed the gatekeeper two bits each for himself and Joe and they were able to enter.
Once inside, Adam found keeping up with his lively little brother almost impossible, for Joe dashed from one pavilion to the next, only slowing down when he spotted some exotic animal hitherto seen only in pictures in a book. Pausing to study the attractive architecture of the towered Carnivora Building, Adam suddenly realized that Joe was nowhere in sight, and he hurried in to find his young brother staring, mouth gaping, at lions, tigers and other ferocious beasts.
Leaving that exhibit, Joe pummeled toward the next building, and Adam chuckled when he saw that it was the Monkey House. Now, who says opposites attract? he mused as he watched Joe mimicking the mobile facial expressions of the chimpanzee. May have to rethink all I’ve been taught about magnetic principles after a demonstration like this. “Trying to prove Darwin’s theories?” he suggested as he sauntered up to Joe.
“Hmm?” Joe murmured, eyes fixed on the simian.
“Darwin’s theories on evolution,” Adam began, stopping at the tight frown replacing Joe’s animated smile.
“No lectures today, professor,” Joe declared. “You said it was my choice today, and listening to you spout all your supposed wisdom on every subject under the sun is not what I choose.”
“Well, it wouldn’t hurt you to learn a little in the midst of the fun, would it?” Adam demanded irritably.
“Yup, it’d be downright painful,” Joe insisted as he walked toward the cage containing a small, black-haired monkey.
With a sigh, Adam followed. Maybe a college education would be lost on a kid as determinedly ignorant as Little Joe.
After spending extensive time with the monkeys, the Cartwrights left that pavilion, and Joe tore toward an outdoor enclosure with a group of people surrounding it. Adam charged after him to see the zebra and other denizens of the African grasslands.
Whistling, Joe craned his neck back to look up at the long-necked giraffe near the fence. “Did you ever think they’d be that tall, Adam?” he asked breathlessly.
“Of course,” Adam said pedantically. “I’ve read their vital statistics and compared their height with that of buildings before.”
“Statistics!” Joe screeched in horror. “Oh, Adam, no! Look at him. What a beautiful piece of work he is!”
Smiling, Adam looked more closely at the animal, trying to see it through Joe’s exuberant eyes, and had to admit the kid had a point. An animal like this should be seen and enjoyed and analysis of his makeup left for another time. “Yes, as beautiful a piece of architecture as any building, I must admit.”
Joe clapped him on the back. “That’s better. Now, no more talk about statistics, brother. They’ll take the fun right out of anything.”
Adam chuckled. “Well, we wouldn’t want that, now, would we, Joe?” He turned to his right, where his younger brother had been moments before. “Joe? Joe!”
“Over here,” Little Joe called. “You gotta see this, Adam!”
Shaking his head, Adam walked over to see “this,” which turned out to be the rhinoceros donated to the zoological park by P. T. Barnum. “Will you quit doing that?” he scolded.
“Doing what?” Joe asked, turning back to the animal before his brother could answer. “Hey, Pete,” he called to the rhino, having read the animal’s name on the plaque outside the cage. “How you like it behind those bars? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Feel the same way myself, fellow.”
“Sure sign of addled wits,” Adam snickered, “when you start talking to the animals. Oh, but wait. You always did—to that persnickety pinto of yours, at any rate.”
“You’re just jealous,” Joe accused, knuckling his brother’s biceps, “‘cause your uppity chestnut can’t carry on a conversation.” Cackling, he careened toward the bear pits.
Adam rolled his eyes in disbelief. Sure, he talked to Sport, but he didn’t delude himself into thinking the horse talked back. When it came to Cochise, however, his little brother lost all sense of reality; he really did think that temperamental little black and white communicated with him. Adam sauntered down the path to stand next to Joe, who was leaning over the stone wall to gaze at the grizzly bear in the deep pit.
“Hey, Adam, meet Rose,” Joe said with a grin.
“On speaking terms already?” Adam twitted.
“Of course not,” Joe snorted. “She’s just a bear, big brother.”
“Ah, I see,” Adam teased. “It’s only horses that talk.”
Joe’s nose wrinkled. “Only the intelligent ones. That’s why you got no experience—nothin’ smart to listen to.”
“Why, you little”—but Joe was gone again, running across the road to see Jennie the elephant, whose pavilion was always surrounded by children. Adam couldn’t help noticing the similarity between Joe’s open delight and that of the other youngsters watching the elephant. What must it be like to let your heart take wing that way and not worry about how people perceived you? Ah, to be a child again, Adam thought; then a dark cloud passed across his thoughts. When had he ever been a child?
“That’s sad,” Joe was whispering as his brother ambled up to his side.
“Hmm?” For a moment Adam feared he might have spoken his dismal thought aloud.
“That chain around her leg. I’d hate that.”
“Joe, Joe,” Adam chided gently as he rested his folded arms on the fence between them and the elephant. “It’s a dumb beast; it doesn’t have the same feelings as a man.”
“You don’t know that,” Joe argued. “Horses like to run free. Why wouldn’t an elephant need freedom just as much?”
Adam cocked his head and gazed thoughtfully at his brother. “Maybe so, Joe, maybe so. You ready for something to eat?”
“Half starved, but I don’t want to leave ‘til we see it all, Adam.”
Adam draped an arm around his brother’s shoulder and turned him around. “You don’t have to leave; there’s a restaurant on the grounds.”
Joe grinned. “In that case, brother, lead on. I have worked up a hearty appetite out here this morning.”
Adam uttered a throaty groan. “Oh, I wouldn’t doubt that for one minute.”
The zoo restaurant had an almost picnic-like atmosphere, with its tables set beneath towering shade trees. The menu was simple, compared with that of the hotel dining room, but neither boy was likely to go away hungry. Joe ordered a large bowl of beef stew, while Adam opted for a salad of chicken and celery, dressed with mustard, vinegar, sweet oil, egg yolk, cayenne pepper and salt. Both boys indulged in a plate of sliced, ripe tomatoes and selected wedges of cool, fresh watermelon for dessert.
“Seems like a shame to pen wild animals up this way,” Joe observed, thinking of the bars and chains again.
“How else would you ever see them?” Adam pointed out. “Not everyone can make a safari to Africa or Australia.”
“Yeah, I know,” Joe admitted, “but such small cages, Adam! You’d think they’d make ‘em bigger, give the animals room to run.”
Adam smiled. “Not a bad idea, buddy. You know, with the proper education, you could develop those ideas and design—”
Joe jumped to his feet. “You’ve got the proper education. You design ‘em.” He stalked off in a huff.
Leaving the last of his watermelon, Adam chased after Joe. Catching up, he snared his brother’s elbow and pulled him to a stop. “Sorry. No more lectures on education the rest of the day, I promise.”
Easily appeased since he was enjoying himself so thoroughly, Joe smiled, and the Cartwright brothers walked into the aviary arm in arm. When they came out, Joe saw a balloon vender just outside the door and bought a bright yellow one, gazing up at it, face beaming with delight at the way it danced against the cotton-clouded sky.
“You are such a child!” Adam chuckled, secretly envying that carefree spirit.
His pleasure in the sunny shape spoiled, Joe frowned and put some distance between himself and his brother as he headed for the pavilion exhibiting mammals and birds from Australia.
“Boy, he’s touchy today,” Adam muttered, trailing behind.
Next they visited the deer and buffalo parks, and to make amends, Adam recounted the story of Pa’s first buffalo hunt on the trail west, congratulating himself on how easily he seemed to have dissipated Joe’s fit of temper. Making short work of the beaver dam and prairie dog town, both of which were familiar sights to boys from the West, they then toured the winter house for tropical animals.
Afterwards, walking toward the historic home that housed the snakes and white mice, Joe overheard a small child whimpering. Turning, he saw a little brown-haired girl, pointing at another balloon vender with one hand, while with her other she wiped her tear-stained cheeks.
“Darling, I’m sorry, but we can’t afford one,” he heard the child’s mother sadly explain.
Looking at the balloon in his hand, Joe moved quickly toward them and tipped his hat to the woman. “Ma’am, I wonder if you could help a stranger to your city,” he said.
Taken aback by the forward young man, the mother pulled her daughter close to her side. “Well, I don’t know how I could assist you, young man.”
Adam, coming up in time to hear the concern in her voice, started to apologize for his brazen brother, but Joe only raised his voice to speak over him. “It’s like this, ma’am. I’m getting awful tired of carrying this balloon around, and I was wondering, maybe, if your little girl would take over the chore for me.”
“Oh, Mama!” cried the child, eyes luminous with hope.
The mother’s view of the forward young man underwent a radical change, and she smiled warmly into his kind eyes. “Why, yes, young man, I believe she would be willing.”
Flashing his brilliant smile, Joe knelt to tie the balloon string to the little girl’s wrist. “So it won’t fly away,” he explained.
“Thank the young man, Jenny,” the mother directed, and Jenny did so by planting a kiss on Little Joe’s cheek.
When Joe stood up, he saw Adam looking at him. “I’m sorry I interfered,” Adam said and tried to express his pride by adding, “You’re quite a kid.”
Still disgruntled with his older brother, Joe glowered. “Yeah, you already told me that, remember?”
Adam’s breath caught in his throat. The offense he had thought so easily smoothed over was obviously still eating away at his brother, beneath the calm exterior. “I was trying to compliment you, Joe.”
Joe shrugged it off. “Yeah, I know, but you were right before; balloons are for kids.”
As they walked toward the exit, Adam pondered how to heal the hurt, his young brother’s slower pace continuing to hint at inner pain, but he couldn’t come up with any easy solution. Like Pa always said, it was hard to call words back, once spoken. Maybe a direct apology was the best way. “Joe, I didn’t mean anything by it,” he finally said as they were leaving the zoo.
“I know. It’s okay, Adam,” Joe replied, and though the words were the ones Adam had wanted to hear, somehow there wasn’t enough force behind them to make them convincing.
“If you’re not too tired, I have an idea,” Adam began.
Joe cut him off abruptly. “You said today was my choice!”
“It is,” Adam assured him with deliberate patience. “This is only a suggestion. If you don’t like it, you can choose something else.” At this point he would even have consented to visiting the Exhibition itself, just to bring back Joe’s child-like smile, though the change would play havoc with his meticulously outlined schedule. When Joe made no response, he asked, “Want to hear it?”
“I guess,” Joe whispered, feeling ashamed of his foul mood after what had really been an enjoyable excursion. Not quite ready to give up his affronted attitude, he added, lips pouting, “It had better not be anything educational, though.”
Adam solemnly raised his palm toward his brother. “I promised, and I do hereby reaffirm my vow. Not one elucidating word will pass these lips until the next rising of the sun.”
A soft smile flickered on Joe’s lips. “Okay, what’s the idea?”
“East Park,” Adam replied. “A few sights to see, but mostly just some pleasant scenery: rocks, trees, ravines.”
Joe’s smile grew less tentative. “That sounds real good. How do we get there?”
“Just cross the Girard Avenue Bridge over there and then follow the carriage road underneath it on the other side,” Adam said, pointing, and the brothers began to walk toward the northeastern section of Fairmount Park.
The further they went, the broader Joe’s smile became. “Oh, this is great,” he sighed in contentment as they passed beneath arching oaks and gazed up at the cliffs overhanging the curves of the river.
“If you don’t think this is being too educational,” Adam said, pointing to a structure under construction, “I’ll mention that that is the new water reservoir for the city.”
Joe chuckled. “I guess I can handle that much.” He licked his lips. “Look, I’m sorry I’ve been such a bear this afternoon, Adam.”
“Serves me right for taking you to see Rose,” Adam chuckled. He cuffed Joe’s neck and drew him close. “It’s okay, kid. I had some of it coming.”
Joe nodded in agreement, but put out his hand. “Peace treaty?”
Adam laughed and gave the slender, but strong hand a solid shake. “And may we keep it as well as William Penn did his.”
“Got my doubts about that,” Joe admitted ruefully, remembering how briefly any pact he made with Adam tended to hold, “but I’ll try.”
“And I will, too.”
Near the lower end of the reservoir, they walked up a romantic ravine and stopped to refresh themselves in the cold, clear water of a rivulet making its way to the Schuylkill. Just to the north, they came to a stone colonial mansion. “Mount Pleasant,” Adam responded to Joe’s inquiring look, “once the property of Benedict Arnold.”
“Boo!” Joe hissed noisily. “Who wants to see that traitor’s home?”
Slipping an arm around his brother’s waist, Adam amplified, “Well, he never actually lived there, though he bought it as a wedding gift for his bride. The state of Pennsylvania confiscated it because of his treason.”
“High price to pay for going your own way,” Joe murmured, thinking of how much losing the Ponderosa would mean to him.
Despite his earlier promise, Adam couldn’t resist the temptation to wax didactic. “Yes, our homes and families are always affected by our actions. Something to remember, little buddy, next time you’re tempted to ‘go your own way.’”
Joe jerked out of his brother’s grasp. “Doggone you, Adam! We’re supposed to be doing what I want today, and I dadgum sure don’t want to listen to another one of your brotherly lectures. You promised!”
Though Adam might have made a case that admonitions concerning responsible behavior did not fall under his promise to curtail educational lectures, he conceded easily. “Okay, buddy. Today is your day. No lectures ‘til tomorrow—and then maybe just from the preacher.”
“We going to church?” Joe asked.
Adam shrugged. “I figured we would. Not much open in staid old Philadelphia on a Sunday, anyway.”
“Yeah, I guess it beats sitting around the hotel all day,” Joe agreed.
Adam shook his head, amused by his brother’s need for constant activity. “Ah, the boundless energy of youth!”
“Yeah? Well, let’s see if you can keep up, old man,” Joe challenged and took off.
With a groan Adam gave chase. He knew from attempts back home that there was no catching Joe when he had a head start. For that matter, it was getting harder by the year to best the kid in a race that started even. Adam had length of limb on his side, but Joe seemed to have more native athletic talent, not to mention more practice at eluding some earnest pursuer, whether Pa, one of his brothers or the irate father of a pretty girl.
When he finally caught up, Adam discovered his brother seated beside a rippling stream, pulling off his balmorals, which he’d learned were more comfortable for long walks than his western boots. Huffing, Adam dropped beside him. “If I hadn’t made you that promise, I’d be giving you some strong words about taking off like that.”
Joe grinned. “Didn’t it feel great, though?”
Leaning back on his elbows, Adam smiled. The run had, indeed, done him good. “Planning a swim?” he queried with a glance at Joe’s bare feet.
“Just gonna wade a little. My feet are hot.”
“Be my guest,” Adam said, lying down and folding his arms behind his neck. He closed his eyes, muscles relaxing as he listened to the splashing sounds coming from the stream. His breathing slowed, and he drifted between the realms of sleep and wakefulness until a dash of cold water slapped him alert. Eyes jolting open, Adam saw his brother’s open hands, dripping wet, inches from his face. With a quick grab he imprisoned Joe’s wrists and pulled him to the ground. “You little brat,” he scolded, rolling Joe onto his back and crouching over him. “I oughta toss you bodily into that creek.”
“Go right ahead,” Joe giggled. “Won’t bother me none.”
Adam sat back, laughing. “All right. You win that round.” Looking around, he noticed that the sun was starting to drop. “About time for supper. I presume you’re hungry?”
“Oh, always, big brother,” Joe replied with a maddening grin. “You can count on that at least three times a day. Do we have to go back to the hotel?”
“Only if that’s your choice,” Adam said, preparing to spring another surprise. “Strawberry Mansion up ahead has been turned into a restaurant, so we can eat there if you like.”
Any place different sounded good to Joe, so he lifted his arm for Adam to help him up, and after putting his socks and shoes back on, he was ready to leave. The restaurant was only a short distance away, atop a hill with an excellent view of the surrounding countryside. After enjoying it a few minutes, the Cartwright went inside and ordered. While Strawberry Mansion did not serve the traditional catfish and coffee available at other restaurants near the Falls of Schuylkill, fish was prominent among the menu choices, and both Adam and Joe selected that as an entrée. Adam took his boiled with egg sauce and mashed potatoes, while Joe opted for pan-fried crappie with slices of potato, fried with onions and sweet peppers. Strawberry short cake, topped with rich, whipped cream, completed the meal, and both boys declared themselves as stuffed to the gills as if they were being bred for the table.
“Could you tolerate one more suggestion from your big brother?” Adam asked as they were leaving the restaurant.
“Oh, I guess you’ve behaved well enough to earn that,” Joe chuckled.
“Amazing what a good meal will do for your disposition,” Adam teased. “Come this way.” Pausing a few moments to admire the stone bridge of the Reading Railroad, Adam crossed it, pulling Joe along. “There, take a look,” he said.
Joe smiled at the low building, from which emerged a couple of men carrying long poles. “Hey, could we go fishing?” he asked eagerly.
“I think you have to be a member, Joe,” Adam said. “I just wanted you to know that there were places to get away from the bustle of city life, if—”
“Adam . . .” Joe drawled out in warning.
“I remember,” Adam assured him. “I’ll say no more. Anyway, it’s getting late. We should head back to the hotel.”
“Can we take a boat?” Joe asked.
Adam smiled at his brother’s newfound love of the water. “Maybe you inherited some of the salt water in Pa’s veins, after all.”
Adam grew wistful. “Yeah, some. All the stories he told when I was a kid. Sometimes I think I’d like to sail off on a sleek clipper and see the world the way he did.”
Joe bit his lip nervously, disturbed by the thought of Adam’s leaving home again. As irritated as he sometimes got with his older brother’s imperial ways, he knew the Ponderosa just wouldn’t be the same without Adam, but he said nothing, covering his emotions by running down the ramp to the steamboat waiting to take them back to Fairmount Park.
As they steamed toward their destination, Adam puzzled over his boisterous brother’s unusual quietness. Probably just tired, he decided. I know I am. It’s been a long day, a series of long days. Maybe it’s a good thing Philadelphia does shut down for the Sabbath. He draped an arm across Joe’s shoulders as they leaned over the rail and felt Joe lean close, kind of the way he had when he was a child. Smiling, Adam ruffled the boy’s wind-tangled curls and knew by the smile he received in return that all was once more at peace between the Cartwright brothers. Now, if we could just keep it!
Melodious chimes were ringing as Adam and Joseph Cartwright walked toward Christ Church that sunny Sunday morning. “It’s an eight-bell chime,” Adam observed, “supposedly the oldest in America.”
“Yeah?” an impressed Little Joe murmured. He looked up at the huge white bell tower gracing the brick building. “Is it still Georgian, even with that?”
“Yes, it’s Georgian. You’re getting to be quite an expert on that style of architecture, my boy.”
Joe chuckled. “Not too hard when almost every building in town has the same style.”
“Remind me to point out some other varieties,” Adam said, hoping to whet his brother’s interest in that field of study.
“Don’t get your hopes up,” Joe cautioned, reading his brother’s mind.
“I don’t want to argue today, Joe,” Adam said. “Shall we go in?”
The morning service had not yet begun, so the brothers took a few moments to examine the interior of the colonial church, ornate with fluted columns and sweeping arches supporting the balconies on either side. Walking down the center aisle between the enclosed pews, Little Joe fingered a brass plaque on the end of one. “Look, Adam,” he whispered in awe. “It’s George Washington’s pew.”
“He worshipped here regularly during the early years of the government,” Adam said, “as did many others whose names you would recognize from history: Patrick Henry, James Madison, Betsy Ross, even Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin on occasion.” He decided not to mention names from the opposing side of the Revolutionary conflict, such as Lord Howe and General Cornwallis and certainly not Benedict Arnold. While all of them had also worshipped in the historic church, Adam didn’t trust his impulsive younger brother’s response and judged silence to be a wise precaution.
The service began, and the Cartwright brothers relaxed in the quiet peace that pervaded the house of worship. In fact, Joe almost fell asleep, simply because he was still. Just about the only time he’s been still since we got here, Adam observed, smiling at the nodding chestnut head beside him. Better keep things light today.
As the congregation began to file out after the service, Joe noticed that a number of people were ascending a staircase and turned to give his older brother a questioning look.
“They lead to the steeple,” Adam said, stifling a moan when he saw the light flash in Joe’s eyes. “I suppose nothing will do but for you to climb them.”
“Yup, can’t pass it up, seein’ as how it’s historical and all,” Joe said, adding with a mocking grin, “but I guess you could wait down here, grandpa, if you think it’s too much for your tired old legs.”
“Not on your life do you get out of my sight, sonny,” Adam chuckled, with a grand gesture toward the stairs. “Lead on.”
Joe took the steps two at a time, so Adam felt compelled to do the same, arriving at the east window only moments after his younger brother. Looking down, they saw the Delaware River almost at their feet, and to the south its shining surface met the waters of the Schuylkill River at League Island.
“There’s the Navy Yard,” Adam said, pointing downriver a little north of the junction, “and there, across the river, that’s Camden, New Jersey.”
“How far to the Atlantic Ocean?” Joe asked.
“Too far to see,” Adam replied, chuckling. “Around sixty miles, I think.”
“Wish we could see it,” Joe murmured.
Adam rested a hand lightly on the boy’s shoulder. “You will, when we go to New Haven. Might even take a dip in it.”
Joe turned back to smile at his older brother. “That’d be nice, especially if it’s as hot there as here.”
“Yeah, I know, another scorcher,” Adam commiserated. “From what I’ve read in the papers, it’s hot everywhere this summer, but it should be a bit cooler at the seashore.”
“Still three weeks away,” Joe sighed. “I may melt by then.”
They turned their gaze inward and enjoyed the magnificent view the almost two-hundred-foot-high steeple afforded. The tall white standpipe of the Kensington Water Works stood out above the steeples of numerous churches, and seven large patches of green dotted the city, the public squares of Philadelphia. Beyond them lay the largest green spot of all, Fairmount Park itself.
“Seen enough?” Adam asked.
“Yeah, and ready to see dinner,” Joe said.
“You can wait an hour, can’t you?” Adam grunted. “You had a late breakfast.”
“Well, sure, I can wait,” Joe muttered, “but you said there wasn’t anything to do in Philadelphia on Sunday.”
“Not much,” Adam admitted, “but I thought we might walk down by the docks since it’s only a couple of blocks from here. Then I’d planned to show you a couple of other places—exteriorly only, of course.”
Joe agreed readily, and the brothers soon found themselves overlooking the Delaware River. Like the Chestnut Street Wharf that Joe had visited earlier, the one at the end of Market, which he and his brother saw today, was a passenger wharf.
Adam couldn’t resist pointing out that Joe hadn’t needed to go off on his own. “Everything worth seeing, both in Philadelphia and at the Exposition, is included in my plans, little brother,” he proclaimed, “so if you’ll just trust me, you can have it all.”
Joe sighed. “Tell me again, big brother; I’m afraid I’ll forget if I don’t hear that every other day.”
With an exasperating grin, Adam said, “So am I, little brother, so am I.” After they watched the ships glide by for a short while, he led the way up Front Street to Arch, turned west and walked to an unassuming two-story house with attic dormer at number 239.
“Am I supposed to notice different architecture or something?” Joe queried, rolling his eyes.
“No, you’re supposed to ask what happened here,” Adam replied. When Joe cocked his head with a quizzical expression, Adam said, “This is where Betsy Ross made the first American flag.”
“No kidding? The very house where the first stars and stripes was sewn?” Joe asked, looking at the simple structure with more respect.
Adam shrugged. “According to legend, at least. Just a common house, Joe, like most places where uncommon things happen.”
“Nothing common about the Ponderosa,” Joe quipped, “and uncommon things happen there all the time!”
Adam chuckled, pleased to note Joe’s pride in the home his older brother had helped to design. “Gotta agree with you there, buddy.”
Joe grinned. “Hey! Now this house has been the site of another historic event, Adam Cartwright agreeing with something his kid brother said.”
“Oh, shut up,” Adam scolded, cuffing the boy’s ear so lightly Joe knew he was only playing. “There’s another historic sight a couple of blocks north. We’ll have a quick look at that and get some dinner.”
Mimicking the gesture Adam had used at the church steeple, Joe made a sweeping movement with his hand. “Lead on, professor, lead on.”
Three blocks west, Adam stopped outside a barred enclosure. Pointing through the iron bars, he said, “Benjamin Franklin and his wife are buried here.”
Joe gazed with respect at the simple stone slabs covering the graves. “He was a great man, wasn’t he? I used to like reading about him in school, how he discovered electricity and wrote Poor Richard’s Almanac. Lots of good sayings in that book.”
“A great diplomat and statesman, as well,” Adam added.
Not wanting to be outdone, Joe contributed, “Yeah. Part of the Continental Congress, ambassador to France . . .”
Adam tipped his brother’s straw hat forward over his nose. “Ah, so you did pay attention to a few of your school lessons.”
“The ones I liked,” Joe admitted with a nonchalant shrug.
“Few and far between, no doubt,” Adam twitted. When Joe made no response, Adam chuckled. “Well, your mind must be on your empty belly, if you’re not going to rise to that bait.”
“Fish are more likely to rise to bait when they are hungry, older brother,” Joe snickered. “I’d’ve thought you’d know that much about fishing, even if you did spend your best years back here learning a bunch of useless nonsense. No wonder I always come home with the longest string!”
Adam snagged Joe’s elbow and turned their steps toward Chestnut Street. “Oh? I always thought it was because you took the fish off Hoss’s line and added them to your own.”
“Not just Hoss’s,” Joe laughed, “but I haven’t had to resort to that for years.”
As they came to the Washington Hotel, Little Joe automatically turned for the door, but Adam pulled him past the entrance. “What’s up?” Joe demanded. “I thought we were having dinner next.”
“We are,” Adam said, “but, personally, I like a change of menu occasionally. Let’s try the Girard House’s dining room.”
“Hey, thanks!” Joe bubbled. While it wasn’t the Continental, Joe knew from his perusal of the guidebook that the Girard House was considered Philadelphia’s second-best hotel. The food there was bound to be good.
The Girard House was only a few doors north of the Washington Hotel, so the Cartwright brothers were soon seated and examining the extensive menu. Feeling the heat of the day, Little Joe opted for a cold meal of lobster salad, dressed the same way Adam’s chicken salad at the zoo had been, with a side of sliced tomatoes once again and an exotic relish of pickled mango. Lobster, of course, had the added advantage of being expensive.
Adam selected hamburger steak, a dish made famous at Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York, potato pudding and English peas in mint sauce. Then, as if to point out his little brother’s greed by an extra display of generosity, he ordered a platter of oysters on the half-shell for them to share.
Little Joe picked a shell from the iced plate and let the oyster slide down his throat. “So we just relax the rest of the afternoon?” he asked after swallowing. “Nothing’s open, you said.”
“Except the libraries,” Adam amended, reaching for an oyster. “I thought we’d visit the Philadelphia.”
Food forgotten, Joe raked the ceiling with disgusted eyes. “Books? We’re gonna spend the afternoon looking at stacks of books? Professor, someone has got to teach you how to have fun!”
Adam grinned, propping his elbows on the table and leaning forward. “Oh, and you’re just the one to teach me, I suppose?”
“Yeah!” Joe shot back.
Adam reached across the table to pat his brother’s hand. “What did I tell you at the dock? Just trust me, Joe.”
Joe groaned elaborately. “I only thought saying it every other day would satisfy you. I should have known better!”
Chuckling, Adam sat back, for their food had just arrived, and conversation was suspended in the enjoyment of the exceptional cuisine of the Girard House.
The Philadelphia Library was only a couple of blocks from the restaurant, so the walk there was a brief one. Adam could not help noticing the disgruntlement plastered all over his brother’s face. “I think you’ll find a number of interesting things to see,” he said, by way of appeasement, “but we won’t stay long.”
“Well, that’s good news, at least,” Joe grunted.
“Oh, don’t be such a sour belly,” Adam scolded. “Have I led you astray yet?” He pointed at the statue of Benjamin Franklin over the entrance. “Why, look! There’s your hero, shining down on you.”
Despite himself, Joe couldn’t hang onto his determination to be bored. “Okay, that was worth seeing,” he admitted. Then he flashed a naughty grin. “So, can we go now?”
Adam pressed a palm against Joe’s back and pushed him forward. “Trust me. There’s more ‘worth seeing’ inside.”
They walked into a long room, lined floor to ceiling on four sides with shelves of books. A balcony with books arranged the same way circled the room, too. “Do you suppose anybody’s read all these?” Joe whispered.
“Oh, probably not,” Adam conceded. “The point is that you could research almost any topic of interest to you.”
“I guess so,” Joe admitted with grudging respect.
Adam directed him up the stairs to the balcony and led the way to a huge bust of a helmeted woman.
“Whoa! Look at the size of that gal!” Joe exclaimed. “She’d be a handful, even for Hoss.” With a laugh he added, “Hoss has enough trouble managing Bessie Sue, but this gal could probably throw him nine times out of nine.” Propping his elbows on the thin wooden rail surrounding the balcony, he leaned back for a better look at the bust towering over his head. Joe, in fact, barely reached her eyebrows.
Adam shushed him with twitching lips. “Try to remember you’re in a library. People come here to read, not to be entertained by some loud-mouthed kid from Nevada.”
“Just goes to show eastern folk ain’t got good sense,” Joe snorted.
“It’s a bust of Minerva,” Adam said, trying to bring Joe’s mind back to instructive purpose, “and formerly presided over the Continental Congress.”
Joe’s eyes twinkled with sass. “Okay, so she’s old, as well as big.”
Shaking his head, Adam hooked his brother’s elbow and pulled him toward the next artifact, which was a desk that had once belonged to William Penn.
“Wouldn’t Pa love something like that?” Joe tittered. “All those little cubbyholes to stash papers in?”
Adam chuckled. “Maybe in his room. Can’t afford to have something like this downstairs.”
Little Joe stepped blindly into the trap. “Oh, yeah? Why’s that?”
“Too tall for him to see over,” Adam said with a straight face, “so he’d have to face the wall.”
Adam grinned and released the verbal loop of his snare. “Can’t keep his eye off you that long, little buddy. At the very least, you’d be putting your feet up on the furniture the minute his back was turned.”
Joe groaned, finally realizing that his leg had been pulled in another of Adam’s carefully laid traps. “And you can put your big stompers all over the furniture right in front of his face and he never says a word,” the younger boy complained. “Why is that?” His nose wrinkled in perplexed thought.
Adam lifted an eyebrow in such a good imitation of Pa’s expression that Joe almost jumped. “Privilege of age, boy,” Adam proclaimed with a smirk, “just the honor due the first-born.”
“It just plain ain’t fair, Adam,” Joe declared with a petulant pout.
Adam patted his shoulder in exaggerated consolation. “Well, come on back to the hotel, little buddy, and you can put your feet on anything you like.”
Good nature easily restored, Joe grinned back, and after looking at a few more objects of interest in the library, he and Adam returned to the Washington. At Adam’s suggestion, they both spent the remainder of the afternoon writing letters home.
Joe’s letter to his father fairly sparkled with enthusiasm as he expressed appreciation for receiving permission to come and gave assurances that he and Adam were getting along fairly well and having a good time. He described the historic sights he’d seen and mentioned his enjoyment of boating on the river. He wrote with energetic flourish:
Now I’m a sailor like you, Pa! Well, maybe not quite like you, but I feel you close when we’re on a boat, even if it is just a river and not the ocean, like you sailed. Hey, maybe I’ll just ship out, long as I’m back here! (Just kidding, Pa; you know I wouldn’t leave you, not like that oldest boy of yours.) Miss you lots.
Little Joe was somewhat more honest about how things were going in his epistle to Hoss, beginning with “Adam is being his usual pain-in-the-neck old sober sides, but I’m having fun, in spite of him.” Then he recounted some of his adventures in Philadelphia, being especially descriptive of the trip to the zoo and East Park because he knew that would interest Hoss most. After supper he laid out his clothes for the next day, not wanting anything as mundane as wardrobe selection to slow him down on his first real visit to the great Centennial Exposition.
Standing in line at the Centennial Exposition’s main entrance, Joe, with typical restlessness, sent his eyes searching all directions for interesting sights with which to pass the time. Outside the grounds, to the east, he noticed a long row of buildings, some wooden, some bright red brick, but all covered with huge signboards and festooned with flags. “What’s that, Adam?” he asked.
Adam turned to see what his brother was looking at. “Oh, that’s just Shantyville,” he said with a disdainful brush of his hand. “According to the Public Ledger, there’s nothing worth seeing there, just a lot of low shows, saloons, shooting galleries, that kind of thing.”
“Hey!” Joe cried, eyes lighting with interest.
Adam took firm hold on his brother’s shoulders and pointedly swiveled him away from the enticement of Shantyville. “No, absolutely not; put all thought of that place out of your mind this minute,” he ordered brusquely.
“Aw, Adam, you’re just no fun at all,” Joe complained.
Adam surveyed his brother with narrowed gaze. “You mind what I say, boy.” He handed the tickets he had purchased earlier to the gatekeeper and moved toward the turnstile.
Joe’s irritation with the stern admonition was temporarily forgotten as he watched a dignified matron maneuver her outlandishly broad bustle through the turnstile just ahead of them. Snickering softly to himself at the absurd spectacle, Joe scampered through the gateway as soon as it was clear and aimed for Machinery Hall.
“Not yet,” Adam said, hooking his brother’s elbow and directing him, instead, to a much smaller building to their immediate left.
Joe saw, above the doorway, a huge painting of a man operating a machine to make shoes and grimaced at the building’s name in which it was centered. “The Shoe and Leather Building? Aw, come on, Adam. Ain’t we ever gonna see any of the big exhibits?”
Adam painstakingly corrected his brother’s grammar before answering his question. “Yes, of course, but we will be covering the exhibition grounds in a systematic manner.” Catching the melancholy cast of his brother’s countenance, he added, “Now, don’t worry; we won’t spend long in here.” He entered the wooden structure, and with one last, longing glance at Shantyville, which seemed all the more alluring by comparison, Joe also went in.
As the brothers made their way through the building, whose roof was draped in broad swaths of red, white and blue, they observed machines in operation at every stage of boot making and saw every conceivable item related to shoe construction, from raw leather to blacking polish. Glass cases of shoes and boots to suit every person and every need lined both sides of the central aisle and filled the galleries upstairs. Although Little Joe was reluctant to admit it, some of the exhibits were actually quite interesting. One manufacturer’s exhibit, for instance, offered five hundred different patterns for shoe construction, while another showcase showed the changing styles from 1776 to the current year.
“Everything from Ben Franklin to Ben Cartwright!” Joe tittered.
Adam raised an index finger. “Ah, but not Hoss,”
Joe laughed, too, at the reminder that shoes for Hoss’s big feet had to be special-made. “Wish I’d thought to draw off the shape of his foot. We could’ve taken him home a first class set of boots, maybe with that fancy morocco leather or alligator skin.”
Adam nodded, wishing that he had thought to do the same. “Maybe we can purchase some of the leather and have a cobbler back home make the boots to order.”
Joe looked impressed. “Say, Adam, sometimes you do some good thinking.”
Adam feigned offense. “What? Just sometimes?” He flicked his thumb hard against the back of Joe’s noggin.
At an exhibit by manufacturers of India rubber, Little Joe decided it was payback time. Tapping a rubber bathtub, portable for use on trips, he suggested that Adam should buy one, “as many baths as you seem to need!”
Adam countered by picking up a toy duck made of the same substance. “I should probably buy one of these, too, then, so I can lure you into the tub more than once a month.”
Joe scowled. Doggone, but it was tough work to get one up on Adam! He’d have to try harder.
When they reached the case enclosing the fine-tooled and highly ornamental boots made by the company of Burt and Mears, Adam could hardly drag his brother away, and it was even worse when they came to the exhibit of harness and saddles. “We have a schedule to keep,” Adam chided, “and this is all the time I’ve allotted for this building that you didn’t even want to enter.” With a sheepish grin, Joe gave a last fond look at a saddle he deemed perfect for Cochise and left in his brother’s wake.
Leaving the Shoe and Leather Building, the Cartwright brothers followed a diagonal walkway to the Bartholdi fountain. The shrubbery-edged square in which it was set was divided into eight grassy triangles by four intersecting avenues, and the iron fountain, populated with griffins and nymphs, stood at its center. The boys stopped for a drink, as the day was already warming up, and then headed for the large, light blue building just to the west.
Though much smaller than the Main Exhibition Building, Machinery Hall still covered almost fourteen acres, including the upper galleries, and was the second largest exhibit hall on the Centennial grounds. Just before entering the handsome east façade, Adam pointed out the tower on the northeast corner, which mirrored those on the other three corners. “There’s supposed to be a chime of thirteen bells in that one,” he told Joe, “one for each of the original colonies.”
Joe smiled. “I guess that’s why there’s thirteen entrances, too, huh?”
Adam shook his head. “Don’t tell me you’re just now figuring that out. Anyway, the bells weigh 21,000 pounds and were erected at a cost of $12,000.”
Joe rolled his eyes. Adam and his statistics! I hope he’s not gonna be like this all day.
They entered the hall, and Adam stopped at a stand just inside the door to purchase a catalog of the exhibits.
“There it is, Adam, the Corliss Engine!” Joe squealed.
Adam started to say that they would see it soon, but Joe took off excitedly, and Adam had no choice but to give chase as soon as he’d paid for his catalog. He caught Joe at the center of Machinery Hall and grabbed his arm. “What is the matter with you?” he scolded. “Running off like a three-year-old child.”
Joe couldn’t take his eyes off the shining red machine that towered toward the ceiling. “Sorry, Adam, but look at the size of it! Wouldn’t Hoss drool over this?”
Though feeling a strong obligation to castigate his brother soundly for reckless behavior, Adam, like every other visitor to the Centennial, stood in awe of the mighty Corliss steam engine, largest in the world. The giant machine stood on a platform fifty-six feet in diameter and rose a majestic forty feet high. Capable of producing 2,520 horsepower, it supplied the power for every machine in the hall.
Though he found the Corliss Engine fascinating, Adam forced himself to keep on schedule. “Time we were moving on,” he dictated, “and this time you stick to me like a leech, boy. Do you have any idea how easy it would be to lose each other in this crowd?”
Secretly, Little Joe thought that might be a fine idea. He felt certain he could have a better time without his own personal watchdog, especially one determined to point out all the educational aspects of the fair and few of the purely fun ones. It was a tempting prospect, but Joe reluctantly gave it up after evaluating what it might cost him later. “So, what do you want to see first?” he asked.
Adam still sounded perturbed as he responded, “Well, I planned to start where we came in and make an orderly tour, of course, but as long as we’re here, we may as well begin with the American exhibits.”
Joe smiled proudly. “Well, they’ll be the best, won’t they? That’s what that Manufacturer and Builder magazine you loaned me said.”
Adam’s mouth skewed to one side in a wry half-smile. “To be precise, it said that we didn’t need to fear comparison with other countries.” He laughed as he saw Joe’s eyes roll, a motion that had taken up habitual residence on his brother’s face since coming east. “I’m glad to see you read it to some purpose, however, and I do agree. In the machinery department, our exhibits probably will outshine the rest of the world. We’re going to see it all, though—good, bad and mediocre. Now follow me, and let’s see if we can’t be a bit more systematic than careening off whenever something catches your capricious eye.”
Only the surrounding crowds and the dignity he felt, dressed in his eastern finery, kept Little Joe from thrusting his tongue at Adam and his systematic approach. His expression much like that of a reluctantly obedient puppy, he followed his brother to the north aisle, where Adam had stopped at the first exhibit, that of a company demonstrating how their India rubber boots were made. “I believe I’ll order a pair, in case it rains,” Adam said, glancing at Joe.
Little Joe hooted. “Rain! We should get so lucky. It’s been scorching hot ever since we got here and not a cloud in sight!”
“It can’t stay sunny forever,” Adam pointed out, “and a wise man prepares for rain while the sun shines, not after the storm hits.”
“An excellent observation, sir,” the company representative said smoothly. After taking Adam’s order, the salesman turned to his companion. “How about you, young man? A wise investment for the protection of one’s footwear.”
“No, thanks,” Joe said, mostly because he didn’t want to squander his meager monies on something he thought it unlikely he would need. He did, however, enjoy watching the boots being made and tried to memorize every detail of the process, as he would with other exhibits throughout the day, so he could describe it all later for Hoss.
Moving past small mills for grinding coffee and spices, the Cartwrights next stopped at a model of an old Virginia tobacco factory, which demonstrated how the industry had functioned in the era of slave labor, so recently ended. Four black men, singing spirituals of the Old South, sat twisting the leaves into rolls and pressing the rolls into plugs for commercial use. Little Joe was entranced with the plaintive melodies, but for Adam the music and, more particularly, the singers only awakened painful memories, and he tried to hurry Joe along. Joe looked at him, puzzled, but deciding it was that infernal schedule at fault again, he left that exhibit and moved toward the next.
Passing the flourmills, the brothers paused briefly to examine a machine making bonbons. They exchanged a silent smile, words being unnecessary to convey their shared thought of how interested Hoss would be in this particular machine, as well as the one making crackers just beyond it. Feeling a bit guilty for dragging Joe from the tobacco exhibit for strictly selfish reasons, Adam purchased a small bag of the candy from Whitman and Sons’ exhibit and handed it to his brother.
Thanking Adam with a bright smile, Joe popped a chocolate in his mouth and mumbled through the creamy filling, “Oh, Hoss would love these, for sure. They melt right in your mouth.”
“We’ll see about getting him some right before we leave,” Adam promised; then with one finger he gave Joe’s chocolaty lips a corrective tap. “And don’t talk with your mouth full.”
Joe carefully swallowed the contents of his mouth and licked his lips before speaking again. “Yeah, maybe they’ll have a chance of not melting if we wait ‘til then.” He wiped his forehead, for the crowded building was even hotter than the sun-baked outdoors, and he was beginning to chafe in the frock coat Adam had insisted he wear. Noticing the boy’s discomfort, Adam offered to buy him a soda water at the first fountain they came across.
While Adam watched a machine producing paper, Joe trotted across the aisle to see the fascinating glassblowers at work. Suddenly, Adam grabbed his arm. “I thought I told you to stick close to me,” he rebuked sharply.
“I was five feet away, Adam, for mercy’s sake!” Joe protested.
Adam favored him with a sardonic smile. “That’s five feet too far, boy. Now, stay with me or I’ll get a leash!”
Joe lifted his front paws, let his tongue hang out and panted like a pup.
“Oh, behave,” Adam chided, incipient laughter draining force from his words.
Having reached the west end of the north aisle, Adam turned south for a few paces to reach the north avenue, which was half again as broad as the space for the exhibits they’d previously seen. Since there was a fountain, advertising Tuft’s Arctic soda water, at its end, he stopped and fulfilled his promise with lemon seltzers for both himself and his brother.
Refreshed, Little Joe scampered past the exhibit of steam engines and stood, enthralled, before the machinery of the National Suspender Company of New York. “Hey, Adam,” he called. “This is really something! Come look.”
Shaking his head at the hopelessness of keeping up with Joe without that threatened leash, Adam walked over to see what had grabbed the kid’s attention this time.
“See, Adam,” Joe said, pointing to the samples of the machine’s finished product on display. “They can weave your name right in the suspenders. Pretty spiffy, huh?”
“Be glad to make up a pair while you watch, young fellow,” the representative suggested.
“Hey, how about getting a set for the whole family, Adam?” Joe gurgled. “We could split the cost down the middle. Put our first names on the right suspender and Cartwright on the left. What do you think?”
“Well, it would certainly give people something to gawk at,” Adam snorted.
“Yeah!” Joe agreed, evidently considering that a good thing.
Adam, on the other hand, was appalled. “I’m quite certain we can come up with more appropriate souvenirs for Pa and Hoss than that! It’s not as if every man, woman and child in Virginia City didn’t already know our names.”
“Not all of them,” Joe argued. “There’s twenty thousand people in Virginia City, and some of them have never even heard of the Cartwrights.”
“Well, they’re not going to learn that way,” Adam declared.
“Spoilsport,” Joe pouted.
“Spoiled child,” Adam retorted with the superior air that always infuriated his little brother.
At odds, they moved on to the exhibit of John A. Roebling’s Sons, where Adam was intrigued by the company’s wire rope and suspension bridge cables. He viewed with scientific interest the section of cables and the drawings of bridges over Niagara Falls and the Ohio River.
Adam and his bridges, Joe thought as he tapped his foot impatiently. He was interested, however, in the model of a large merchant ship rigged with the wire rope and wondered if it were anything like the ones his father used to sail. When he’d examined its every detail and Adam still wasn’t ready to leave, Joe cleared his throat. “Don’t we have a schedule to keep or something?”
Adam started, as if unaware of how long he’d been looking at this particular exhibit. “I suppose so,” he admitted and left reluctantly.
The next exhibit of looms and cotton machinery held little interest for either boy, except Joe found the lady operating the corset-weaving loom quite attractive and tried to turn on the charm when Adam’s back was turned. Adam noticed almost at once, however, and quickly moved his younger brother out of temptation’s reach.
Approaching the exhibit of the Pyramid Pin Company from New Haven, Joe was shock to see a little girl about ten years old operating the machine. “It’s not right, Adam!” he protested. “She’s just a kid; she could get hurt.”
Adam nodded soberly. “Yes, there should be laws protecting young children from working with dangerous machinery. I’ve advocated that for years, ever since I lived back here and saw it going on.”
“I just never realized,” Joe sputtered. “I mean, I had chores when I was that age, but nothing that could’ve got me hurt.”
“You seemed to find plenty of ways to do that on your own, without your elders’ putting you at risk,” Adam said, trying to lighten the mood.
“Oh, Adam, don’t; I’m serious,” Joe protested.
“I know, buddy,” Adam said sympathetically, “but it’s not a problem you can solve this afternoon.” Though he was glad to see Joe’s awakening consciousness of social problems, he was freshly reminded of how sensitive the boy could be and didn’t want to see him upset. “Come on. I think you’ll really like that next company’s exhibit.”
Adam was right. The American Watch Co. of Waltham, Massachusetts, provided just the right distraction for his young brother with its fine array of timepieces. This is what I’d like to get Pa,” Joe declared animatedly. “Do you think there’s one I could afford?”
“Perhaps,” Adam said tentatively, “and these are certainly regarded as the best watches manufactured in America.” Noting the hungry look in the salesman’s eye, he hurried to add, “but why don’t you save your purchases until you’ve seen all there is to see?” The salesman’s countenance abruptly dropped.
Adam couldn’t help noticing that his generous-spirited brother wanted to buy everything he saw for those he loved, whether it was candy for Hoss, a watch for Pa or, perish the thought, gaudy suspenders for all of them. Knowing that Joe’s pockets were not well padded enough to purchase as largely as his heart might wish, Adam felt an obligation to help the younger boy manage his money. There was also a less worthy motive behind his admonition, however. Secretly, Adam hoped to buy his father a nicer watch, perhaps a Swiss one, so he wanted to steer Joe toward something else. After all, he rationalized, there is no way Joe can afford as fine a watch as I could give Pa, and it’s Pa we should be thinking about.
Being male, the Cartwright brothers gave only a cursory look at the machine that engraved patterns for embroidery and laces and the same quick appraisal to the carpet exhibits on the opposite side of the avenue. Moving into the central aisle, they again found little of interest until they reached the fire engines, and Adam feared for a moment that his little brother would climb right up one of those hook and ladder carriages. To prevent that catastrophe in the making, he moved Joe quickly into the north-south transept of the building and let him worship the Corliss Engine again for a little while before heading into the south avenue.
Here they came across another exhibit Joe thought Adam would never leave, for his older brother seemed totally absorbed in the work of students from the department of mechanical engineering at Cornell University. “I heard about this at the convention,” Adam shared by way of apology for his lengthy perusal of the drawings. “The students really do fine work, don’t you think, Joe?”
Having no real affinity for drawing of any kind, Joe just shrugged.
“I don’t suppose you . . .”
“No!” Joe almost shouted his outrage at the suggestion. “One engineer in the family is more than enough.”
“I suppose so,” Adam murmured, wanting to calm his brother, but clearly disappointed. Remembering Joe’s previously demonstrated interest in historic artifacts, he directly the boy quickly to the first steam engine brought to the United States. “Imported from England in 1753 to pump water from a copper mine near Newark,” he said, consulting the exhibit catalogue.
Peering at the plaque attached to the exhibit, Joe snickered. “Look, it was called a fire engine back then, Adam. That means something altogether different now.”
Pleased to see the improvement in his brother’s mood, Adam smiled. “Words do change their meaning sometimes. You’ve read Shakespeare.”
Joe put his head in his palm, as though in great pain. “Don’t remind me.”
Though he knew his brother was only teasing, Adam gave the boy’s skull a solid thump with the heel of his hand. “I’m only using it as an illustration of how language changes.”
Joe grinned. “Yeah, well, if that’s an example, methinks it sure doth!”
Adam laughed. “You are determined to remain ignorant, aren’t you, little buddy?”
“Only because you’re so determined to turn me into you,” Joe countered.
The accusation continued to bother Adam as they finished viewing the exhibits on the western end of building. Is that how Joe sees it? he asked himself; then he posed a more troublesome question. Is that what I’m trying to do?
“Adam, I’m starving. Aren’t we ever gonna eat?” Joe asked petulantly.
Adam didn’t need to consult his watch, for the very fact that the machines were still running indicated it wasn’t noon yet. His own belly confirmed, however, that it had been a long time since breakfast. “Sure, buddy, of course we are,” he responded soothingly. “There’s a restaurant in the central transept that is supposed to have good meals for only fifty cents. Let’s try that, shall we?”
As they were walking toward the north entrance, where the restaurant was located, they saw a crowd gathered around the Corliss Engine. “Must be about time to shut it down for the noon rest,” Adam told Joe. “Want to stick around and see that?”
“Yeah, I do,” Joe said. “Why do they shut it down, though?”
Adam chuckled. “Well, according to the catalogue, it’s because ‘machines, like men, require repose.’ If you ask me, though, it’s just plain showmanship.”
Joe grinned and prepared to watch the show. The giant flywheel slowly stopped turning, and as it did, all the shafts, pulleys, belts and machines in the huge hall came to a clattering halt. “Think we’ll finish dinner in time to see it start up again?” he asked eagerly. “We missed that this morning, ‘cause you had to see the old Shoe and Leather Building.”
Putting an arm around his brother, Adam drew him up the transept toward the dining area. “Oh, you enjoyed it; you know you did.”
“Yeah, but I didn’t want to do it first, Adam,” Joe insisted. “After dinner, let’s watch the machines start up again, okay?”
“Okay,” Adam agreed. “Youth must be served, I suppose.”
Over a hot meal Adam broached the subject of his supposed desire to turn Joe into himself. “Do you really believe that?” he asked with concern.
Joe kept his eyes on his plate of roast beef. “Isn’t that why you’re so keen on my going to college, so I’ll be more like you?”
Catching the hint of despondency in his brother’s voice, Adam quickly replied, “No, no—at least, I hope not. Maybe I do sometimes think we’d get on better if we had more in common, but, honestly, Joe, I just want you to be the best person you can be.”
“Even if it’s not as good as you,” Joe muttered bitterly.
The allegation rankled, but Adam focused on his brother’s unmistakable heartache, discounting his own. “I didn’t mean it that way. You’re a good person, Joe, with many fine qualities, one of which is a sharp mind. I just hate to see you waste that.”
Looking up cautiously, Joe asked, “Do you really think I could handle college work?”
“Of course!” Adam responded without hesitation. “You haven’t applied yourself as well as you might, but the ability is there, if you ever see the worth of using it. That’s all I’m after with these visits to schools, just, hopefully, to spark your interest in developing the abilities you have and seeing what you can do with them. You could be anything you want, Joe!”
Joe toyed absently with his potatoes and gravy. “It’s not that I’m against learning, you know. I’ve been out of school long enough—working long enough, I mean—to realize there’s things I wish I knew more about.”
“Such as?” Adam probed.
Joe shrugged as he scooped up a bit of potato. “You’d just laugh.”
“No, I wouldn’t, I promise.”
Joe set the fork full of food down. “Well, not just the practical things, although I know I could use some more arithmetic and geometry and such,” he began tentatively. “Besides that, things like, well, history and—and—well, okay, even Shakespeare and the like and what people have thought about long before we came along.” He stopped, face flushed with embarrassment.
Adam gazed at him with surprised, but supportive eyes. “Mathematics, history, literature, philosophy—Joe, don’t you understand that those are the kinds of things you’d be studying in college?”
“Of course, I understand! I’m not stupid, remember?” Joe snapped. “I’m just not sure that going away to school for four years is the best way to learn them—for me, I mean. I guess it was for you.”
Adam reached across the table to touch the slender hand fidgeting with the fork. “Look. There’s a couple more places in Philadelphia I’d like to show you, and after that I promise not to bring the subject up again. I do realize that it’s your decision and that what was right for me might not be right for you.” While he knew those were the right words to say, however, Adam wasn’t certain he really meant them, and by the uncertainty etching his face, neither was his young brother.
Just outside the restaurant stood a popcorn vender, demonstrating every stage of the preparation of what a sign proclaimed to be “I. L. Baker’s celebrated sugar popcorn,” from popping the corn in a wire basket to mixing it with sugar syrup to hand-shaping it into spheres of patriotic red, white and blue. “Buy me one?” Joe asked, pointing at the tri-colored balls as they left the restaurant.
Adam stared at him, incredulous. “You just ate! You can’t be hungry.”
“I want it for later,” Joe insisted. “It’s a big building, Adam. I’m bound to get hungry again before we finish, and you don’t want me dragging you back here later, do you?” He closed the appeal with his captivating, child-like smile, the one women and even older brothers found hard to resist.
“Oh, all right, little boy,” Adam chuckled, tossing him a silver coin. “Get a popcorn ball to have on hand.”
When Joe bounced back to his side, carrying three balls, Adam protested that Joe didn’t need to have that much popcorn within reach to fend off starvation.
“One is for you,” Joe told him with wide-eyed innocence. “You’re gonna get hungry, too, Adam.”
“Not for that, I’m not!” Adam sneered. “You can have every bite of that trashy fodder, little brother.”
“Oh, well, okay,” Joe said, looking not the least perturbed at the prospect.
After watching the Corliss Engine start up again, and all the other machines with it, Adam indicated that he wanted to finish the American department before moving on to those of other countries. He and Joe started east down the north aisle, coming first to a marine exhibit from Massachusetts. Draped with flags and streamers, the area featured models of steam and sailing vessels: fish schooner, yacht, clipper ship, man-of-war and whaler. Only when Adam pointed out that none of those represented the type of ship on which their father had sailed could he pull his younger brother away.
Once he spotted the next exhibit, however, Little Joe was just as absorbed by the new invention for putting printed words on a page. “How about getting some letters typed and sending them home?” he suggested. “I know Hoss would get a kick out of it, and probably Pa, too.”
“All right,” Adam agreed amiably. “You write one to Hoss and I’ll send one to Pa.”
The stereotyped letters were, of necessity, impersonal, mostly of the “having a great time, wish you were here” variety, but few people, the Cartwright brothers included, would really have wanted to compose a personal message amid the crowd and clamor of Machinery Hall. Adam and Joe watched, amazed, as the operator of the typewriter tapped out the words, and they willingly paid the fifty cents charged for each letter, knowing that both Pa and Hoss would treasure the memento of the Centennial.
Joe proudly held the envelopes with their neatly typed addresses. “There’s someplace here to mail them, isn’t there?”
“Yes, right here in the building,” Adam replied. “This exhibition has been well planned, and almost anything a person might need can be found, from postal boxes to telegraph stations to rolling chairs.”
Joe laughed. “At least, we won’t have need of those! They’re for ladies.”
“It’s for anyone who needs them,” Adam disagreed. “I’ve seen an older gentleman or two using them, as`well.”
“Well, if you’re feeling that old, Adam, I guess I could find the strength to push you around,” Joe tittered, the infectious sound making many a bonneted head turn his direction. He ducked quickly to dodge the playful cuff Adam aimed at his head. “You know, if you keep knocking me around like that, you’ll scramble my brains so bad I won’t be able to attend college, even if I take a notion to.”
Aiming again, Adam clipped the side of Joe’s head this time. “Actually, it will probably take a few more good licks to settle your scrambled wits back in working order,” he observed dryly.
Joe scampered out of reach, stopping before the working presses of the New York Herald. Adam picked up a gratuitous copy of the newspaper, printed in Machinery Hall every afternoon, from stereoplates sent down from New York on an early train, while Joe watched the presses, whose continual action contrasted markedly with the nearby exhibit of the hand press Benjamin Franklin had used as a journeyman printer on his first trip to London.
At the end of the aisle was another soda fountain, and while Joe deposited their letters in a nearby letterbox, Adam bought them each a refreshing drink. Joe nibbled on one of his popcorn balls between sips of spruce beer and declared it delicious. “Sure you don’t want yours, Adam?”
“I’m sure,” Adam replied, chuckling as Joe promptly bit into a second one. Where was the kid putting it all?
Next to the Tuft’s soda fountain, the Otis Elevator Company demonstrated its lifting mechanism. “I want you to examine this carefully, Joe,” Adam directed. “If you understand the safety features, maybe you’ll be less afraid.”
“I’m not afraid,” Joe insisted defensively.
Though he knew differently, Adam didn’t argue the point. He merely asked the sales representative to explain the elevator’s safety features for his brother.
Joe tried to act disinterested, but he was, in fact, listening intently, and though still unwilling to acknowledge his fear, he did feel somewhat better about rising rooms after hearing how much had been done to keep them from falling with a load of passengers.
Next down the line was the Phoenix Manufacturing Company of Paterson, New Jersey. While neither boy was much interested in seeing the Jacquard loom at work, Adam purchased Centennial silk bookmarks for Pa and Hoss, and in a burst of enthusiasm bought Centennial badges for himself and Joe.
As Adam pinned the badge to his brother’s vest, Joe asked, “Won’t this make people gawk?”
Adam guffawed. “Not as much as those suspenders you wanted! Three quarters of the people here are wearing Centennial badges. I thought you’d want to fit in.”
Joe waved his hand from side to side. “Me? Oh, no, big brother. You’re the one always worrying about fitting in with these eastern dudes!” Looking down at the red, white and blue symbol of the Centennial, though, he smiled, and that was thanks enough for his older brother.
“I’m kind of tired,” Adam said. “You want to take a rest?”
“Where?” Joe asked, not seeing any chairs in the vicinity.
“In the Hydraulic Annex,” Adam suggested. “It should be cooler in there.”
Joe closed his eyes and sighed. “If there’s a cool spot in this whole building, lead me to it, big brother.”
“Come along, then, little brother,” Adam chuckled. Taking Joe’s arm, he walked to the southern end of the transept, tugging Joe along when the younger boy’s steps slowed as they once again passed the Corliss Engine. Entering the annex, the Cartwright brothers approached a double row of benches surrounding the main attraction, known as the Cataract, the spray of whose arching jets of water cascaded into a basin ten feet deep. They were fortunate to find a seat in the front row, where a fine mist of water occasionally touched their hot faces.
Leaning back, both boys relished the refreshing coolness, and as Joe bit into his third popcorn ball, he declared the Cataract the best part of the entire building.
“Surely not better than the Corliss Engine,” Adam scoffed. “You’re just hot.”
“Aren’t you?” Joe asked with just a hint of whine.
“Sweltering,” Adam acknowledged. “I must admit, right now this is the best part of the whole building.”
Joe leaned forward, so the jets of water would be sure to mist his face. “I’m tempted to take off my shoes and soak my feet in that cool water.”
“Don’t you dare,” Adam warned in slow, emphatic syllables.
Joe grinned. “I was joking, but my feet are mighty hot and tired.”
“Yeah, mine, too,” Adam commiserated. “Only about a third of the building left to go, though. Time to see what the other countries of the world have to offer in machinery.”
Joe groaned as he stood. “Might as well get to it, then, I guess.”
As they were leaving the annex, Adam’s broad shoulders brushed against a portly man just entering. “I’m sorry,” he apologized.
“Think nothing of it, sir,” the man said and then stopped, staring up into Adam’s face. “Cartwright?” he asked, as he grabbed Adam by both arms. “It is you!”
Adam looked at the man until he grew embarrassed. “I’m sorry, sir, but I’m afraid you have the advantage of me,” he admitted reluctantly.
“I’m not surprised that you don’t recognize me,” the man said, patting his florid face with a handkerchief of white Irish linen, “but perhaps you’ll recognize the name of B. L. Morganstern?”
“Bert!” Adam exclaimed. “Of course. I’m so sorry I didn’t recognize you at once. Must be the facial hair. You were clean shaven when I knew you.” And considerably thinner, he added to himself.
Morganstern stroked the narrow tuft of hair gracing his chin, which contrasted with the broad mustache that drooped down to his jaw line. “Ah, yes, man of business needs a more distinguished look, don’t you think?”
Adam chuckled. “Where I come from, fair business practices do more to advance a man’s career than his appearance, my friend.”
“Yes, yes, of course,” the other man agreed at once. “You’re not still hiding your talents in God-forsaken Nevada, are you?”
Adam laid his hand on Bert’s shoulder. “We think of Nevada as God’s country, I’ll have you know. And you? Still working with our old firm in New York?”
“Oh, no, not at all,” Bert replied. “Moved home to Philadelphia several years ago, when my older brother and his wife died, so I could help my parents look after his children. It’s been providential for my career, I must say. Amazing opportunities for Philadelphia architects lately.”
“Did you have any part in designing the Centennial buildings?” Adam asked eagerly.
The chest of the shorter man puffed with pride. “I’ll have you know, old comrade, that I’m working under the main architect for the Centennial, Mr. H. J. Schwarzmann himself.”
Adam could barely contain his excitement and envy. “Oh, what an opportunity! Are any of the designs yours?”
Morganstern shrugged. “A couple of the minor buildings. Mostly, I acted as assistant to Mr. Schwarzmann.
“I’m very proud for you,” Adam said warmly. “I always said you had great potential in the field.”
“Yours was greater,” his old friend responded. “Have you managed to put it to any use at all out West?”
“Some. Not as much as I’d like,” Adam admitted.
“How long are you in town?” Morganstern queried.
Morganstern looked pleased. “If you’re free, come to dinner tomorrow evening, Adam, and we’ll make a night of it—at the opera, perhaps. I’ll invite Schwarzmann, as well. I know you’d enjoy meeting him and he, you.”
Adam beamed with enthusiasm. “That sounds wonderful, but I’m here with my brother.”
For the first time the architect appeared to notice the young man fidgeting beside his former co-worker. “Oh, of course. Well, bring the lad along. I presume any brother of yours must share your love of the arts.”
“That’s presuming a lot, mister,” Joe declared, rankled at being ignored throughout the lengthy conversation.
With eyes sharp as knives, Adam glared at his brother. “My brother and I would be honored to accept, and we thank you for your gracious invitation.” After exchanging addresses, Morganstern continued into the Hydraulic Annex, while Adam took fierce hold of his brother’s biceps and dragged him into an isolated corner of one of the less popular exhibits. “How dare you insult my friend that way!” he snapped.
Little Joe was momentarily cowed by the fierceness of his brother’s anger. “I wasn’t trying to insult him,” he insisted, “but he was presuming a lot, thinking you and me were just alike.”
Seething, Adam unconsciously tightened his grip on Joe’s arm. “Oh, and you’re bound and determined that everyone in Philadelphia knows the difference, aren’t you?”
Joe jerked his arm, but couldn’t break free. “What do you mean, lecturing me on my manners?” he demanded indignantly. “What about your own? You didn’t even introduce me!”
Adam released Joe’s arm and took a step back. “All right, I was remiss in that. I apologize, but it scarcely excuses your behavior.”
“And that apology comes too late to excuse yours,” Joe sputtered. “How could you tell him I’d come without even asking me?”
Adam folded his arms across his chest and stared his brother down. “Because I am in charge of your activities for the duration of this trip east, boy—a charge given me by Pa, and you had best remember that. You will go where I say and do what I say, and that’s all there is to it. Now, is that clear?”
Remembering his promise to Pa to accept Adam’s authority, Joe bit back the hot words ready to spew from his mouth. “Yes, that’s clear,” he grunted through gritted teeth.
“Fine, let’s try to enjoy the remainder of our tour through this building, then,” Adam said. “We’ll begin with the exhibits from Great Britain.”
A white-lettered, red banner, suspended from the roof marked the area devoted to machinery from Great Britain, whose exhibits amounted to one-third of those sent by foreign countries to the United States’ Centennial. In sullen silence the Cartwright brothers made their way down one aisle and up the next, coming to the most interesting exhibit near the spot where the central aisle met the north-south transept. Here a model of a railway junction illustrated the English system of managing railway switches. To understand it fully, Adam intently studied the photos and drawings provided.
Joe, on the other hand, grew bored as soon as he’d given the miniature railway a good look and inched over to the next exhibit, that of the London Times. A working press was set up, but not being able to readily receive news from London, the British newspaper had formed a temporary partnership with the New York Times and was printing that for free distribution to exhibition goers each day. While he was waiting for Adam to finish with his eternal examination of the railway drawings, Joe picked up a copy of the paper and scanned the front page.
Passing steam engines and cranes, spool-winding machines and looms, the boys finally came to the world’s largest sewing machine. Ordinarily, a sewing machine would have held no appeal for men, but this one was used to make sails for the ships of Glasgow, and both Adam and Joe were reminded of their father’s sailing days as they watched the machine in operation.
The German exhibits, butted up against the English department, were dominated by the huge Krupp guns, twelve-hundred-pound breech-loaders. “I understand one’s already been sold to Turkey, for use in their current war,” Adam commented, finally deigning to speak to his brother.
Joe wasn’t as ready to bury the hatchet. “Do tell,” he muttered sarcastically.
Adam shrugged and moved on. Why bother? Little Joe was obviously still too much a child to understand the massive destruction such a gun could inflict, while Adam’s own memory of what cannons could do to men was still far too vivid. Privately, he was glad that his little brother had no such point of reference. The kid might irritate the life out of him on an almost daily basis, but Adam’s first instinct remained to protect that youthful innocence, as he’d done all his life.
Joe’s attitude perked up considerably when they entered the French section. Stopping at the exhibit of Beyer Brothers of Paris, he hinted for a taste test, alleging that they only wanted to take the best home to Hoss.
Adam shook his head, but bought a few bonbons, hoping to appease the infant he’d been saddled with—by my own choice, he was forced to admit.
Little Joe bit into a cherry cordial and declared forcefully that French chocolates were vastly superior to those of the Philadelphia confectioner they’d sampled earlier. “And Hoss would bear me out in this,” he added for emphasis.
Adam gave him a sour smile. “Are you sure it isn’t just that they cost more, little buddy? Don’t think I haven’t noticed that your taste runs to the most expensive item on any menu!”
Joe’s gaze dropped to the floor. That was exactly what he had been doing, of course, to make Adam pay for not wanting him along on the trip. He refused to acknowledge his fault, however, because he was still mad about the high-handed way Adam had treated him earlier. He’s the reason some folks call us Cartwrights high and mighty. Just plain full of himself!
The boys worked their way through the final two aisles of Machinery Hall, quickly viewing the exhibits of Belgium, Sweden, Russia and Brazil. The machines, though somewhat different, were beginning to run together, especially for Joe, who told himself that even Hoss, the Cartwright most likely to be drawn to any new invention, would have had enough by now. “Is that it for today?” Joe asked when they’d seen the final exhibit.
“It can be,” Adam replied, noting the weary tone of Joe’s voice, “or if you prefer, we could have refreshments at the Turkish Café. It’s not far.” Little Joe brightened immediately, seeming to draw extra energy from the opportunity to see and taste something new and exotic. Or, maybe, Adam thought with a sardonic smile, from a fresh opportunity to pilfer my pockets!
Leaving by the north door, the Cartwright brothers walked a short way down the Avenue of the Republic to an octagonal pavilion with a dome roof, surmounted by a crescent and star. In the center of the building was a large room with a luxurious divan running all around the sides. Round tables and chairs were scattered around the room, as well, but Joe aimed at once for the comfortable blue and straw-colored cushions of the divan. Having no objection to that choice, Adam joined him. “Now, I have no intention of buying you a complete meal both here and at the hotel tonight,” he stated firmly. “You can sample the Turkish coffee and have a dish of sherbet, if you like, but that’s all.”
“Sure, that’s fine.” Joe responded quickly.
A native Turk, wearing a traditional red fez and dressed in a crimson jacket, tied with a yellow sash, and baggy blue silk trousers over white stockings, arrived to take their orders. Both boys requested Turkish coffee and tamarind sherbet, the specialty of the house. Pulling back the heavy blue embroidered curtain, Joe looked through the long, pointed window behind him. “You can see the lake from here,” he told his brother.
Adam took a brief look. “Nice view,” he agreed, “but if you’ll look in that corner, you can watch your coffee being made. They have quite a distinctive method of preparation, according to what I’ve read.”
Joe felt his suspicious nature rising up, but even though his brother’s suggestion had an educational ring to it, he turned to watch with interest the coffee being heated over a charcoal brazier. First the man who had taken their order put a spoonful of coffee into a silver dipper and added hot water. Holding it over the brazier, he brought the liquid to a boil, and then poured it into a porcelain cup in a silver holder and brought it to the Cartwright’s table. An assistant brought two dishes of sherbet about the same time.
Grinning in anticipation, Joe took a sip and almost choked. “It’s sweet,” he gasped between coughs.
“And strong as brandy,” Adam added, struggling to keep his face from discourteously revealing his distaste for the foreign brew. “Not quite what you were expecting, eh?”
“I was expecting coffee,” Joe sputtered.
“I expected it to be different,” Adam chuckled, “but not quite this different.” He took a second sip. “I suppose one could acquire a taste for it.”
“I don’t think so,” Joe said, but he forced himself to finish the drink, intending to use the sherbet to void his mouth of the cloying flavor. The first bite crushed that hope. While the sherbet was cool and refreshing, tamarind was not a flavor that Joe found entirely enjoyable.
“Sorry, kid,” Adam said. “I guess this wasn’t such a good idea.”
“Oh, no, it’s fine,” Joe assured him quickly. “That’s part of the fun of this trip, trying new things, and I guess we can’t expect them all to be winners. At least, it cooled me off.”
“That’s the spirit,” Adam commended, “and such a cooperative attitude merits a reward, so go ahead and look around the bazaars.”
All past grievances forgotten, Joe flashed a dazzling smile. “Thanks.” He bounced up from the table to visit the four small bazaars on the open porches of the building, which held a collection of pipes, carpets, knives, daggers, dresses and jewelry. Joe couldn’t resist buying himself an ornate dagger that reminded him of stories from the Arabian Nights and thought seriously about getting a Turkish pipe for his father.
Adam stroked his chin between his thumb and index finger. “A little exotic for Pa, don’t you think?”
“Maybe,” Joe conceded. “More something to look at than to use, I guess. I-I should probably look around more before I decide.”
Recognizing the restatement of advice he had himself given the boy, Adam smiled. “I’d say that’s good thinking.”
“Oh, quit braggin’ on yourself,” Joe snickered. “Hey, how about those other bazaars over there? They look like they might have different stuff.”
“Maybe,” Adam conceded. “Go ahead, but we need to leave soon. The gates close at six, remember?”
“Of course, I remember,” Joe said, failing to mention that he hadn’t looked at his watch once all day and had no idea what time it was. He trotted over to the kiosk, labeled “Jerusalem Bazaar” and looked inside. Something caught his eye, and as he held it in his hand, he knew he had to have the cross of olive wood and mother of pearl.
“Is that for Pa or Hoss?” Adam teased. The dagger hadn’t surprised him, but he had no idea what Joe wanted with a cross.
“Don’t be stupid,” Joe snorted. “It’s for Aunt Nelly—and don’t say I should look around more, either. I couldn’t find anything more perfect for her, Adam, and it’ll be extra special to her ‘cause it came from the Holy Land.”
“Yes, it will,” Adam said softly, surprised by his younger brother’s thoughtfulness. Adam had known Nelly Thomas long before Joe was born, practically from the first day their families had started west together, but he hadn’t thought to buy her a gift. It was another demonstration of Joe’s generous nature, a quality that had always been there, Adam supposed, but one to which he had not given particular notice before. He smiled ruefully, wondering how a kid so thoughtful on some occasions could at other times be so exasperating and rude.
They took the streetcar back to the hotel. After a light supper Little Joe started a letter to Hoss, telling him all about the things he’d seen in Machinery Hall “before I forget ‘em,” he explained to Adam.
Adam opted, instead, for relaxing with a good book after a long soak in a hot tub down the hall. Neither he nor Joe stayed up late, however, for they were weary and tomorrow was another full day.
When Adam came out of his bedroom the next morning, he was surprised to see Little Joe, who had arisen later than he, already dressed, sitting in their parlor, so lost in the newspaper that he didn’t even look up when his older brother walked in. “What do you have there?” Adam asked.
Joe hastily folded the copy of the Philadelphia Public Ledger, delivered to their door every morning, and laid it aside. “Oh, nothing,” he said. “Just passing the time.”
Looking back later, Adam realized that he should have known at that moment that his little brother was up to mischief, but not fully awake, he had overlooked Joe’s unaccustomed attention to the newspaper, as well as his, on retrospect, obvious attempt to hide what he was reading.
Over breakfast, Adam outlined the agenda he had planned for the day, visits to two institutions of higher education. There was one other place on his list, but choosing to save that as a surprise for his little brother, he merely concluded by saying, “We’ll return early so we can bathe and dress for dinner and the opera.”
Already disgruntled at the prospect of a boring day, Little Joe grimaced in apparent agony over an evening that promised to be even worse. “Aw, Adam, do I have to go?” he whined. “Your friend doesn’t really care anything about having me around, and I don’t care anything about the opera.”
“I thought you said you were interested in learning about cultural things, not just practical ones,” Adam reminded him, lifting an eyebrow for emphasis.
Joe groaned as his own words were thrown back at him. “I never said opera. I hate that caterwauling, Adam.”
Adam’s smile was totally devoid of sympathy. “Well, let’s just see if a little more exposure will teach you the difference between caterwauling and artistry, shall we?”
Joe’s nostrils flared with resentment. “I guess we shall, like it or not.”
“You straighten up right now,” Adam warned with a glare, “and, so help me, if you dare to embarrass me in front of my friend again, I will thrash you within an inch of your life.”
Joe put his hands before his face, cowering back as if in dread of retribution from the mighty Adam Cartwright. Then, with an impish smirk, he said, “Don’t worry, big brother; I have no intention of embarrassing you in front of any of your stuffed-shirt friends.” If things worked out the way he planned, in fact, he wouldn’t even have an opportunity to embarrass his big brother.
Though the Philadelphia Collegiate School was only around half a mile from their hotel, to save time Adam suggested that they take the horse cars to Broad and Walnut. When the public transportation dropped them at the corner, he pointed out the school building to Little Joe. “This would be a very good place for you to begin to further your education, Joe.”
Not finding the building impressive, Joe asked, “Why here? I figured you’d want me to go to Yale, like you did.”
Adam erupted with a shocked laugh. “You’re not Yale material, Joe!”
Joe’s emerald eyes glinted along hard facets, and his voice had an edge equally sharp. “And just yesterday you said I was smart enough to be anything I wanted. Oh, yeah, you really meant that, didn’t you, brother?”
Sensing that his inadvertent burst of humor had wounded the boy, Adam laid a consoling hand on Joe’s shoulder. “I did mean it, of course. You certainly have the native intelligence to succeed at any college of your choice, Joe, but you have some deficiencies to make up before you could pass the entrance exams of a major university, like Yale or Harvard. You have to be able to read and write in both Greek and Latin, and that’s why you would need to attend a preparatory school like this first, buddy. I’m sorry for laughing, but that’s all I meant.”
“What are we talking about now—five, six years?” Joe ended the query with a high-pitched, horrified screech.
“Well, about that, yes,” Adam admitted.
Incredulous, Little Joe stared at his older brother. “Adam, you are plumb crazy. This hot sun has addled your brains if you think I’m gonna spend six more years in a classroom!”
Adam nodded, beginning to understand that his dream for his brother was destined for failure. “Don’t make a final decision until you’ve seen Yale, all right? Perhaps it will inspire you to make the effort.”
Joe sighed. “I’ll try, Adam, but I gotta tell you it’s getting harder by the day.”
Entering the building, Adam located the office and introduced himself to the principal, R. H. Chase, who gladly agreed to escort a potential student on a tour of the school. “The term is almost over,” he told the Cartwright brothers. “We keep roughly the same terms as the universities for which we prepare our students, another way of easing their transition into academic life.” They visited several classrooms briefly, and as they walked from room to room, Principal Chase outlined the course of study, which consisted primarily of elementary and advanced English courses, as well as work in the classics and mathematics.
As they toured the preparatory school, Joe reluctantly admitted to himself that he probably would fit in here better than at a school like the University of Pennsylvania, which they had visited a few days before, and if Yale were even more demanding, attending there was beyond consideration. He did not, of course, share that revelation with Adam, who would probably have countered with another mind-numbing lecture on the importance of scholastic discipline or some such folderol.
Finally returning to the office, Mr. Chase asked Little Joe his impression of the collegiate school.
“It’s a fine school, sir, and I appreciate your showing us around,” Little Joe replied, “but I honestly can’t see myself spending several more years cooped up in the four walls of any school.”
“Higher education isn’t for everyone,” the principal said kindly. He had discerned early on that the younger man was there under coercion from the elder and felt sympathy for both. He extended his hand. “Thank you for the opportunity to show the school to a distant visitor. We don’t get many such callers, especially with the Centennial in full swing. I hope you’ll give us consideration, young man.”
Warmed by the principal’s congeniality, Joe smiled as he took the man’s hand. “Well, my brother says this would be a good place for me to start if I do decide to go that way, so if I do, then I will.”
Adam moaned at this further demonstration of how much work Joe needed in basic sentence construction, but the principal just smiled at the circuitous route the young man had taken to say what he meant and told Joe that he understood.
Outside, Adam steered his brother south on Broad Street. “I’m glad to see you can mind your manners when you choose to,” he offered by way of commendation.
“Yeah?” Joe snorted. “Well, I’d like to see you mind yours for a change—with me!”
“I guess it was sort of a backhanded compliment,” Adam admitted. “Well, perhaps our next stop will put me back in your good graces.”
“Another school? I don’t think so, Adam,” Joe groused.
Adam pointed to a circular building with a tiered tower jutting skyward from its center. “That is not a school, youngster.”
Joe grinned. “Not like any I ever saw! What is it, Adam?”
“You can read, can’t you?” Adam grunted.
“Of course, I can read,” Joe muttered back, looking at the banner floating from a flagpole at the very top of the tower, “but ‘Colosseum’ doesn’t tell me much, unless it’s a hint that they throw folks to lions inside.”
Adam laughed, partly in surprised pleasure that Joe even recognized the historical reference. “No, no lions, I promise. Just a treat to make up for the things I knew you’d merely endure today.”
“Oh.” Joe looked down with chagrin, knowing his attitude hadn’t merited such consideration.
Before entering, Adam pointed out the Academy of Music, just across the street. “That’s where I’d intended to take you this evening.”
“Can’t we do that, instead of going to that stupid old opera?” Joe pleaded.
Adam frowned sternly. “We’ll do whatever the man who invited us wishes, of course. Where are those manners you put to such fine use a bit earlier?”
Joe shrugged, disinclined to listen to another dressing-down, even one he felt he deserved.
Not wanting to spoil his surprise, Adam let the issue slide. “The building itself is unusual, not only in shape, but material,” he observed as they walked toward the narrow front façade of ornamental galvanized iron, frescoed in bright colors. “Though it has a foundation of masonry, capped with granite, the walls have a wrought iron framework, covered with corrugated iron.
“Fascinating,” Joe commented, mouth puckered as if he’d just sucked a lemon.
Chuckling, Adam flipped off Joe’s straw hat and tousled his brother’s chestnut curls. “Come on, let’s go inside. You shouldn’t have to fake interest in what you’ll find there.”
Catching his hat before it hit the ground, Joe smiled in anticipation and went through the arched doorway with his brother. Inside, the tower stretched upward from the center of a broad promenade supported by decorative columns and pilasters. Fifteen alcoves dotted the circumference, each displaying objects of interest and beauty, but Adam said that they really didn’t have time to look at those and drew Joe toward the tower itself.
Joe looked up and saw a balcony one hundred feet above his head and a second one, twenty to thirty feet above the first. “We going up there?”
“That’s right,” Adam said and moved toward the Otis elevator that carried forty visitors at a time to the upper balcony.
“Adam, there’s a perfectly good staircase here,” Joe insisted.
Adam pinched the bridge of his nose, but gave in to his brother’s whim. The kid was hopeless, he decided. Even after his showing Joe the safety features of this type of steam elevator, the boy seemed addicted to climbing stairs. Well, maybe, like a temperamental horse kept in the barn too long, the kid needed exercise, although Adam personally found all the walking they’d been doing more than ample.
The steps up the inside of the tower were seven feet wide, so the two brothers took them side by side. Reaching the central platform, Adam first directed his brother’s attention out the windows for a bird’s-eye view of the city, something else to which Little Joe seemed addicted. Joe leaned on the windowsill, gazing out, for a long while. Then Adam circled his waist and turned him back to the interior of the tower. “This is what I brought you here to see.”
Joe looked down and gasped, for spread below him, circling the building was a vast canvas panorama of a city. “That’s not Philadelphia,” he murmured.
“No, it’s called ‘Paris at Night,’” Adam said softly, smiling at the possessive light that instantly flamed in his young brother’s eyes. “Isn’t it beautiful?”
Joe nodded, too impressed for words. The cyclorama showed every street and building of the city, and above it, a painted moon and twinkling stars against a black sky represented the heavens. While he watched, suddenly a cloud obscured the moon and a pummeling rainstorm, simulated by mechanical means, dimmed the stars. “Oh, wow,” Joe whispered, awed by the spectacle. He smiled across at his brother. “Oh, Adam, thanks. This is great!”
Adam draped a long arm over Joe’s slender shoulders. “Quite a city, isn’t it?”
Joe’s lips curved in a dreamy smile. “Oh, yeah!”
Adam looked fondly down at the canvas of the city. “It’s one of the places I’ve most wanted to see.”
Joe turned abruptly to face his brother. “No!”
Adam’s brow immediately furrowed with concern. “What’s wrong, Joe?”
“I don’t want you to go away, not again!” It was the voice of a child, desperate in its pleading.
Adam was puzzled by the intensity of his brother’s reaction. “Again?”
“School, the war—never again, okay, Adam?” Joe begged, voice breaking.
Adam stared, amazed that his younger brother could still feel so disturbed by something that had happened years before. He remembered the tear-streaked face of a four-year-old, seen through the window of the departing stagecoach, and saw that child reflected in the eyes of the young man standing before him. Has he carried that pain all these years? There’d been a hint of it earlier, outside the New York State House, but this anguish seemed deeper, coupled, as it was, with dread. “Joe, buddy, I-I don’t know what to say.”
“Say you won’t leave,” Joe entreated. “Promise, Adam! I know we rub each other the wrong way, but I don’t want you leavin’ home again.”
Adam kept his voice gentle, as if he were still dealing with the child of four, rather than the youth who normally demanded recognition for his budding manhood. “Joe, I hesitate to make promises for the future. Life is too unpredictable for that, but I don’t have any real plans. It’s just something I think about from time to time—all the places I’ve read about in books and never seen. Wouldn’t you like to see Paris sometime?”
“Yeah, sure,” Joe answered, for anything that brought him closer to his mother’s heritage held a natural attraction, “but I wouldn’t stay. I’d want to come home.”
“And I probably would, too.” Adam slapped his younger brother on the back. “Hey, maybe I’ll just take you with me, huh?”
The dreamy smile reappeared on Little Joe’s face. “Would you, Adam? I’d like that. I’d like seeing Paris with you.”
Adam scoured the back of the boy’s neck with his hand. “Even if I made you do some things you didn’t want, like here in Philadelphia, like the opera tonight?”
Joe moaned. “Don’t remind me.” The visit to the Colosseum and the warm conversation he’d shared with his brother made him feel worse about what he was planning to do later. He almost reconsidered, but the thought of wasting an entire evening at the opera with Adam’s pretentious friend served to re-ignite his flickering intent.
The Cartwrights walked a few blocks to the southwest corner of Fifteenth and Chestnut streets for dinner in the first-class dining hall of the seven-story marble Colonnade Hotel. Glancing down the long menu, Little Joe’s eyes were drawn by habit to the choices listed next to the highest prices. He knew in his heart that it was time to let Adam off the hook, especially now that he had caught on to what his younger brother was doing, but Joe couldn’t stop himself. Besides, overeating overly rich food was part of his plan, so he chose as unwisely as he could. Beginning with succotash, a thick combination of corn, lima beans and pork, he worked his way through roast pork with haslet sauce; greasy, fried potato cakes and buttery creamed peas to the grand finale, a sinfully sumptuous slice of Washington cake, flavored with brandy, wine, nutmeg, cinnamon and currants.
Adam stared in utter disbelief. While Joe had always had a healthy appetite unless he were ill or upset, Adam had never seen him pack away food the way he had here in Philadelphia, and today’s meal was topping even that record. “You know, I thought one of the benefits of bringing you, instead of Hoss, would be a smaller food bill,” he muttered with a shake of his head. “Boy, was I wrong!”
“I’m a growing boy,” Joe said sharply. With granite gaze, he continued to eat, the reminder that Adam would have preferred Hoss’s company to his being all it took to release him from any feelings of guilt over his planned insurrection of the evening.
“Boy, if you keep this up, you’re going to grow right out of those new suits you bought,” Adam chuckled and turned his attention back to his own, much lighter meal.
After dinner the Cartwrights walked about three blocks to the Polytechnic College at Seventeenth and Market. “Now, I know you already said that one engineer in the family was enough,” Adam reasoned, “but I just wanted you to realize that there are schools for practical vocations, as well as the more classical education available at Yale or Harvard or the University of Pennsylvania. Just another path you could take, and I’m not pushing one direction or the other.” He went on to explain that the Polytechnic College was divided into five schools: mines, practical chemistry, civil engineering, mechanical engineering and architecture.
Joe listened politely, but shook his head. “Honestly, Adam, I can’t see myself doing any of those.”
“What do you see yourself doing ten years from now, Joe?” Adam asked as they entered the school’s main building.
Joe shrugged. “Not something I think about much, Adam. Living and working on the Ponderosa, of course, or maybe having a place of my own if . . . if . . .”
Adam smiled. “If the right girl comes along?”
Joe grinned, at first with a touch of embarrassment, which changed before Adam’s eyes to cocky bravado. “Yeah, but not anytime soon, big brother. I got a lot of wild oats to sow first.”
Adam chuckled, setting his brother’s hat straight as they reached the door to the administrative office. “And it’s my job to make sure the crop is a small one, little brother. Seriously, though, you should be setting some goals for yourself, for your future . . . something to work toward.”
“Yeah, maybe,” Joe said with a nervous look at the door before him.
“Well, give it some thought,” Adam urged as he lifted his knuckles. He knocked on the door, and soon he and his brother were being escorted around the school. The man showing them around was crisply courteous, but not particularly cordial, so neither brother felt inclined to extend their visit. Being some distance from the Washington Hotel by now, they caught the horse car back.
Adam was surprised when his younger brother immediately opted for a nap in his room, though not as surprised as Joe when the pretense became reality and he actually fell asleep. “That’s enough beauty rest,” Adam teased when he woke Joe later that afternoon with a shake of his shoulder. “Time to roust out and dress for dinner.”
Joe’s groan was real as he was roughly roused from slumber, but the way he dragged through his grooming and drooped into the parlor afterward was careful enactment of a well-scripted plot.
“Oh, cheer up. It won’t be that bad,” Adam cajoled playfully, assuming that Joe’s flagging spirit was due to his disenchantment with the plans for the evening.
Joe sighed deeply. “It’s not that, Adam. I’m just not feelin’ so good.”
Adam surveyed him with a skeptical eye. “Rather a convenient illness, isn’t it? Like the ones that used to assault you when Abigail Jones scheduled a big test you hadn’t prepared for properly?”
Joe managed to look offended, but too lethargic to strike back. “Fine, don’t believe me,” he muttered weakly. “Just don’t blame me if I retch all over your friend’s fancy damask tablecloth.”
Adam instantly looked more concerned. “Is your stomach bothering you?”
Joe plastered a look of pure misery on his countenance. “Yeah, I think maybe you were right about all the junk I’ve been packing into my stomach. I ate way too heavy a dinner.”
“Well, I tried to warn you,” Adam said, his face reflecting both satisfaction at having his admonition verified and regret for the consequences his imprudent little brother had brought upon himself.
Adam’s supercilious attitude, as Joe viewed it, chafed like a pair of woolen underdrawers on a midsummer afternoon, but Joe was not above working that authoritative stance to his own advantage. Sighing as though with newly awakened remorse over his failure to heed his older brother’s wisdom, he murmured, “Yeah, I should have listened, I guess.” Oh, how big brother always loved to hear those words!
Swallowing the bait, Adam was warm with solicitude. “I’ll go down to the drugstore and get you some bicarbonate. Maybe that’ll settle your stomach enough to enjoy the evening.”
A still deeper sigh met this suggestion. “I guess I could try, Adam, if it means that much to you, but I sure feel like just crawling back into bed.”
Little Joe really looked pathetic, and Adam was beginning to feel selfish for insisting the boy attend a function in which he had no interest when he was so obviously ill. What way was that to introduce the little barbarian to culture? More likely, it would intensify his antipathy. Poor kid, he must have been feeling poorly all afternoon, but he had gamely toured the Polytechnic College without a word of complaint. Though disappointed, Adam felt there was only one way he could respond, by putting his brother’s need above his personal pleasure. “Well, I’ll send word that we can’t make it. I’m sure Bert will understand.”
Panic flared Joe’s eyes wide. Having Adam hover solicitously over him all evening was not part of his plan at all! Quickly turning away so his brother wouldn’t see his agitation, he said, “Aw, no, Adam. I don’t wanna spoil your evening. Go ahead and go.”
Adam ran a tender hand through his brother’s tousled curls. “Don’t be ridiculous. I won’t leave you alone if you’re ill.”
Facial expression under control once more, Joe turned to gaze earnestly at his brother. “I’m not sick, not really, just ate something that didn’t agree with me, that’s all . . . or, more likely, just ate more than agreed with me, like you tried to warn me.” It couldn’t hurt, Joe concluded, to give big brother’s ego an extra feeding.
Adam pressed his palm against Joe’s forehead, checking for fever. Find none, he asked, “You’re sure that’s all it is?”
Joe curved his lips into a soft, sacrificial smile. “Yeah, I’m sure. Don’t worry about me, Adam,” he urged, conscience getting in gear again, at least enough to spare his brother needless concern.
Adam really hated to give up the evening among cultured people and, especially, the opportunity to meet the principal architect of the great Centennial buildings, so he fell easy prey to his little brother’s stratagem. “Well, all right, I’ll go, as planned, but don’t hesitate to use the hotel’s messenger service to get word to me if you start feeling worse.”
“I won’t,” Joe assured him, “but I’m sure a little rest is all I need. You just go on and have a good time, and don’t waste a minute worrying about me, okay?”
“I’ll try,” Adam said and hurried to finish dressing. Just before leaving, he looked into Joe’s room, where his brother once again lay stretched on the bed, hand resting on his stomach as if touch might settle its distress. “Why don’t you have a little soup?” he suggested. “You’ll probably sleep better with something on your stomach, and you can even have it delivered to the room.”
Conscience really was twisting a knot in Joe’s stomach by this time, so he answered briefly and quietly, thereby sounding all the more ill. “Yeah, I’ll do that.” He rolled over and looked up, biting his lower lip. “Thanks for understanding, Adam.”
“Sure, kid,” Adam said. “Take it easy, and, hopefully, you’ll feel up to visiting the Exposition again tomorrow.”
“I hope so,” Joe whispered, knowing full well that he would make a complete recovery by morning, in fact, by about two seconds after Adam left the room. He lay still for several minutes after his brother’s departure, however, on the chance that Adam might have forgotten something and pop back in unexpectedly. Then he got up and dressed in his comfortable gray pants and tan shirt, smiling in anticipation of an evening of his own style of fun.
Wanting to give Adam time to get well away before starting his adventure, Joe picked up that morning’s copy of the Public Ledger and read once more the article by Mark Twain, describing the most alluring attraction of the unofficial midway across from the Centennial grounds. The way Twain, who had gotten his start as a writer back in Virginia City, described the Can-Can made it sound like an experience not to be missed by any red-blooded American man. “I placed my hands before my face for very shame,” Twain had written. “But I looked through my fingers. . . . A handsome girl . . . grasped her dresses vigorously on both sides with her hands, raised them pretty high, danced an extraordinary jig that had more activity and exposure about it than any jig I ever saw before, and then, drawing her clothes still higher, she advanced gaily to the center and launched a vicious kick.” While Joe entertained doubts about old Adam, he knew exactly what flowed in his own veins, and since he was as red-blooded, American and manly as anyone on the continent, it was obviously imperative that he see the show.
Leaving the room, Joe’s first stop was the hotel dining hall, where he ordered a light, but solid meal, figuring he might as well let Adam pay for that much of the night’s fun, since everything else would be coming out of his own pocket. By this time he knew his way around the city well enough to catch the appropriate streetcar, and he was soon headed for that forbidden, but enticing area near the Centennial grounds known as Shantyville. Getting off opposite the Exposition’s main entrance at Elm and Belmont avenues, he noticed that everything was shut up tight across the street. The attractions of Shantyville, however, did not close at night, so Joe turned right and within a block found himself in the midst of the ramshackle collection of buildings.
Snaring a bag of hot roasted peanuts, he decided to tour the sideshows first, but found them less interesting than he had hoped. The menagerie seemed meager after the diverse collection of animals at the zoological park, and the freak shows not much different from what he might have seen attached to a circus back home. Trying to convince himself that he was having fun, Joe viewed the Man-eating Feegee, Wild Man of Borneo and the Wild Children from Australia, but he flatly refused to view the deformed animals, like the two-headed calf or the five-legged cow. He had visited such gruesome sideshows when he was a kid and had discovered that seeing the unfortunate beasts only made him sick. That thought stung his conscience, as it reminded him of how he had deceived Adam, but he silenced the pangs by stopping at a nearby booth to buy a bologna sausage.
Nibbling as he walked, Joe stopped to watch the fat lady, advertised at six hundred and two pounds, break a chair by sitting on it. Again, instead of enjoying the spectacle, he found himself feeling sorry for the lady and angry with the people laughing at her. It reminded him of all the times people had laughed at Hoss because of his size, and he was glad Hoss wasn’t here to see this show. His big-hearted brother, who couldn’t stand to see any living being hurt, might have taken on the whole crowd of guffawing gawkers.
Concluding that this was no fun at all and feeling thirsty after finishing the sausage, Joe decided to seek refreshment in the first saloon he came across. He passed a huge soda fountain, proclaiming itself to be the world’s largest, and listened briefly to the blaring music of its calliope, but he didn’t buy anything. While he liked soda water, he really wanted something stronger tonight. After all, he hadn’t had anything more potent than an occasional glass of wine with his meals since arriving in Philadelphia, and he decided it was time to reacquaint his tongue with the taste of a cold, foaming beer.
Spotting a flimsy, wooden building, whose oversized signboard advertised liquor of all varieties, Little Joe went inside and, beer in hand, passed the time until the Can-Can was scheduled to start with a pretty barmaid. Giving more attention to her deep cleavage than to the amount he was drinking, Joe lost track of how many beers he’d had, and when the lady twitted him for partaking of a mere “schoolboy’s beverage,” he began ordering whiskey to impress her with his maturity and manhood. As usual, it didn’t sit well on his stomach, especially on top of the peanuts, bologna and beer.
The exit of a number of the saloon’s other patrons made Joe consult his watch and he stood quickly. “Gotta go,” he slurred in apology to his companion of the last hour. “Time to see the show.”
The barmaid pouted. “And just when we were starting to have a good time.” She twirled her index finger on his Adam’s apple and let it slip down his throat. “Sure you wouldn’t rather just stay here with me, hmm?”
Joe felt his resolve weakening under her provocative touch. She was so pretty, but, then, so were the girls who danced the Can-Can, according to Mark Twain, and they showed their legs, too, and maybe more. “No, no, gotta go,” he drawled.
“Well, you come back later, sweetie,” the girl urged. “I’ll be waiting.”
Little Joe staggered out of the saloon and somehow managed to find the building where the Can-Can was being performed. The house was packed, with an all-male audience, and Joe was lucky to find a seat. When the dance started and the girls began to swish their skirts, he knew it had all been worth it, though—all the scheming to get free of Adam and all the elbowing to make his way through the crowd. And when the dancers trotted to the edge of the stage, kicking their legs high to reveal more than he’d ever seen of the female figure, Joe was in absolute heaven.
Suddenly, a whistle pierced through the music, and there were shouts all around of “Police!” and “It’s a raid!” The audience scattered in all directions, and Joe, too, began to run for the exit, ducking under arms, dodging grasping hands and shoving other fleeing audience members out of his way. It was every man for himself, and fearing what his staid older brother would do if he landed in jail, Joe wrestled furiously to get away. Breaking through the crowd, he ran blindly, exhilarated by having successfully evaded the law, but unable to stop his mad dash down the street. Which street? He had no idea. He only knew that he had to keep running, had to get away, had to stay free, for there would be hell to pay if Adam found out.
He finally stopped in a dark alley, where the combination of exercise, liquor and unusual food made him empty the contents of his stomach into the street. Wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, Joe decided the sudden sickness was his just punishment for lying to Adam about being ill before. He backed up against the wall of a building and, eyes closed, leaned into it for support. But when the fetid odor of his own bile wafted up to him from the street, he again bent double, expelling yet more of the peanuts and bologna, along with what appeared to be the remains of succotash and roast pork. Realizing that it would only happen again if he stayed where the nauseating smell could reach his nostrils, he stumbled aimlessly down the alley. When he reached its end, he discovered that he had no idea which way to go, but turning around, he saw bright lights at the other end of the alley. Covering his nose and mouth, he weaved back down the passageway toward the light and eventually found himself again in Shantyville.
The clamor of the venders, stridently hawking their wares, set his head ringing, but he stopped at one of the unpainted wooden stalls to buy a glass of lemonade to wash the foul taste from his mouth. It didn’t help; in fact, the acidic beverage burned his raw throat. Maybe a little hair of the dog would be better, he concluded, so he wandered into another saloon. After several shots of whiskey, he still felt wretched and decided it was time to go home, especially if he hoped to get there before Adam returned. “Won’t have to play sick now,” Joe giggled as he stumbled outside. “Now, where’d that streetcar go? Know I left it somewhere ‘round here.” He hiccupped and, finding the sound terribly amusing, did it again for the entertainment of the patrons of Shantyville.
Finally sighting a streetcar, Joe stumbled aboard, paid his fare and sat down to await his arrival back at Chestnut Street. He’d been riding a long time before his head cleared enough for him to notice that he wasn’t headed downtown, but was far out in a residential area. Seeking the conductor’s help, he finally managed to transfer to the correct streetcar, but it was now long past the time he had intended to be back at the hotel. “Adam’s gonna have a fit,” he twittered with a nervous giggle as he tripped over the step getting off the streetcar and staggered toward the Washington Hotel.
The windows were all dark and the lobby empty when Joe lurched through it. He felt barely able to crawl, but, his distaste for elevators accentuated by an already-reeling stomach, he pulled himself hand over hand up the stair rail. When he came to the Cartwright suite and saw no light beneath the door, Joe tittered with sappy hilarity. He was safe; Adam wasn’t home yet. Fumbling with the key, he got the door open and tottered inside the room, which was illuminated only by the light from the window.
Then, as he closed the door behind him, from the darkness a furious bellow issued forth. “Where have you been?”
Leaning his aching head back against the door, Joe groaned. “A-Adam, I—I can explain.”
Silhouetted against the rectangle of light from the window, Adam stood with folded arms, glaring at his prodigal brother. “Don’t bother. It’s all too obvious what you’ve been up to, you . . . you . . . I can’t even think of a word adequate to express what I think of you at this moment, boy!”
Joe winced. Adam was never at a loss for words, so this unaccustomed verbal inadequacy could only be an indication that he was too furious to think straight, not a favorable sign. “I’m sorry, Adam, he whispered, “but can’t we talk about this in the morning? I feel wretched.”
“You expect me to fall for that again!” Adam roared.
“But it’s the truth this time,” Joe wailed piteously. “I-I’ve had too much to drink and—”
“That’s more than apparent!” Adam shouted. “Now I want to know where!”
“Sh-Shantyville,” Joe stammered, adding with a smile hopeful of mercy, “It’s—it’s not as bad a place as you think, Adam.”
Suddenly, Adam was towering over his brother, a glowering personification of righteous wrath. “After I strictly forbade it? How dare you?”
Joe staggered a step back from the forbidding shadow. Had he been thinking clearly, he would have realized that attack was the worst strategy he could have employed at that moment, but still numbed by alcohol, he began to sputter, “Aw, doggone it, Adam. You promised I could have some fun on this trip. That’s all I was doing, keeping that promise for you when you wouldn’t.”
With cold fury Adam asked tersely, “And what about your promise, boy?”
“Huh?” Joe mumbled, still muddled.
“Your promise to Pa to obey my authority,” Adam reminded him frostily.
Chagrined, but still defensive, Joe continued to spew out ill-considered words. “I didn’t know what a tyrant you planned to be!”
“Well, if you’re not willing to stick to your word, I can put you on a train for home first thing in the morning, little boy!” Adam yelled.
Finally getting a grip on his erratic brain, Joe muttered snidely, “What, and admit to Pa that you can’t handle me any better than he can?” He smiled smugly, knowing he’d hit big brother where he was most vulnerable, smack in the center of his insufferable pride. Joe yelped as sharp talons gripped both shoulders.
Adam shook his brother ‘til his teeth chattered. “I oughta tan your hide!”
Joe almost lost his balance when Adam let go, but grabbed onto a chair to keep himself upright. “You wouldn’t dare,” he muttered darkly.
Adam, who had walked away to avoid an almost overwhelming urge to strangle his aggravating brother, spun around at the cloaked threat. “Wouldn’t I?” he asked with sardonic smile. “It’s always been my opinion that you should be treated in strict accordance with the level of maturity you’re showing. Tonight’s little escapade was worthy of a kid of about fifteen, and if you’ll recall, Pa certainly didn’t consider you too old to have your britches warmed at that age!”
Joe backed away, fearful his furious brother might actually carry out the implied threat, since he had clearly been pushed past the brink of reason. Stumbling over his own feet, Joe fell, bottom first, to the floor.
“I give up,” Adam said with a look of disgust. “There is no point in trying to talk to you while you’re so besotted with alcohol that you can’t stand up. Go sleep it off; I’ll let you know in the morning what I intend to do with you.” He stalked into his room, slamming the door.
Rising to his hands and knees, Joe crawled to his room, clambered up onto the bed, and despite his fear of the retribution Adam was planning, soon fell asleep. For Adam, however, sleep remained a distant goal. He leaned against his bedroom door, fingertips massaging his temple. Well, I guess we hit those breakers you warned me about, Pa, but I don’t see how I could have navigated around them. Why didn’t I see them coming? After all the times I’ve watched him manipulate Hoss, I let the little conniver pull the wool right over my eyes. Oh, he’s getting good at it! Well, I’ll be on my guard from now on, but what do I do about this little mutiny he’s staged?
He paced the hardwood floor, debating the alternatives. The one thing he determined was that Little Joe would not get off lightly, with the kind of slap on the wrist he might expect from Pa. The harshest penalty, of course, would be to send him home, as threatened, but pride wouldn’t let Adam swallow the boast he’d made to his father that he could “handle that boy.” The kid had measured him correctly with that barb, he acknowledged ruefully. It was equally obvious that he couldn’t really take a nineteen-year-old across his knee, however much he might think the little wretch deserved it. Pa would be furious, rightfully so, and if Adam were to resort to any punishment that humiliating, in lieu of sending the kid home, there would be no living with Joe the rest of the trip.
How, then, could he discipline the brat? Keep him away from the Exposition? Adam shook his head. That would mean either depriving himself, as well, or leaving Joe in town alone. Not likely! Adam snorted at the idea. He’s already proven what mischief he’s capable of getting into, left to his own devices. No, he’ll have to stay with me, but how do I penalize him without making myself miserable? That question kept Adam awake, long into the night, until he thought he’d finally developed a course of action calculated to chafe his brother raw without curtailing any of his own plans.
Wanting some time to compose his disciplinary lecture, Adam had risen early. Shaved, dressed and speech prepared, he still deemed it too early to wake Joe, who clearly needed to “sleep it off,” so he picked up the newspaper, and as he read the article on page one, his visage darkened. Something else he would need to discuss with his imprudent little brother, and now that he thought of it, the little wretch didn’t deserve extra sleep. Tossing the paper aside, he headed for his brother’s room.
As he had suspected, Little Joe was sprawled on his stomach, still dressed in his street clothes and dead to the world. Raising his palm, Adam brought it down hard on the upturned buttocks of the sleeping boy, the closest thing to a well-deserved spanking he dared mete out.
Jolted from sleep, Joe cracked a blurry eye.
“Get up,” Adam ordered, voice strident.
“Let me sleep,” Joe groaned, hand groping up to shield his eyes from the painful light of day.
Resisting the temptation to give his brother’s butt one more satisfying smack, Adam rolled him over and grasped his jaw between iron fingers. “Listen, boy, I have no intention of changing my plans because you didn’t have the sense to watch your alcohol consumption last night. Get up and get dressed. I have a few words to say to you.” He turned and stalked from the room.
Moaning, Joe sat up, certain Adam’s words would be far from few. He rested his splitting head in his hands for a few moments, then grimly stood up and staggered to the washbasin to splash cold water on his face. He briefly considered asking Adam what he should wear, but decided there was no point. In Adam’s current mood, he would want his brother to be as uncomfortable as possible, so Joe laid out his nutmeg suit, along with a broad moss-green cravat to cinch around his neck. As soon as he was dressed, he gathered his courage and walked into the parlor to face the music. “Adam, before you start in on me—”
“Be quiet,” Adam ordered. “Stand up straight, keep your eyes on me and your mouth shut.”
Quickly assuming an erect posture and focusing on his brother’s face, Joe took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. This was going to be bad, very bad.
“First things first,” Adam said, picking up the newspaper and pointing to one specific article. “You wouldn’t, by any chance, have first-hand knowledge of this little incident, would you?”
Mindful of his brother’s edict to keep his mouth shut, Joe merely nodded as he read the headline.
“Answer me!” Adam shouted.
Joe jumped. “Y-yes, sir. I-I was there.”
Adam flung the paper to the floor. “You were there. Not only did you lie about your physical condition, not only did you go to a section of town you were expressly forbidden to enter, not only did you drink yourself into a stupor, but you attended a performance so indecent it became the subject of a police raid. I suppose we have only your fleet feet to thank for the fact that you got home at all last night, instead of ending up in a jail cell!”
Joe lowered his eyes and nibbled on his lower lip. “Yes, sir,” he whispered.
“Speak up,” Adam growled, “and get your eyes back on me.”
Joe raised his head and forced himself to meet Adam’s stern gaze. “Yes, sir, it’s all true, except . . .”
“Yes?” Adam probed, irritation keeping an edge on his voice.
“Except it wasn’t an indecent show,” Joe said with a wistful smile. “It—it was a very fine show.”
Adam snorted. “You’ll understand if I don’t accept that as an entirely unbiased evaluation. Somehow, I feel more inclined to trust the judgment of law enforcement officers than that of a green kid who has already proven that he has no judgment whatsoever.”
Joe bristled at being called a green kid, but fought to keep his temper under control. He’d done wrong the night before and was willing to acknowledge his transgression—if Adam would just stop raking him over the coals long enough to let him apologize.
“When I invited you on this trip, I told you that there were certain conditions, did I not?” Adam demanded. “And these conditions were reaffirmed by Pa, as well, were they not?”
Joe nodded and when Adam appeared to be waiting for a verbal response, said wearily, “Yes, sir.”
“And have you met those conditions?” Adam pressed.
Deciding it was time he said something in his own defense, Joe squared his shoulders. “All but once. I’m sorry about last night, Adam, especially about lying to you, but I still don’t see why I had to go out with you and your friends. All I wanted was one night of fun of my own choosing.”
Adam pursed his lips and nodded slowly. “Well, you’ve had your night of fun. I hope it was worth it because it is the last you will see, boy. If I agree to let you stay, you will have to adhere to my dictates to the letter. Step over the line once and you will be packing your bags so fast, you’ll be dizzy from the pace.” He narrowed his gaze. “Furthermore, if I agree to let you stay, the emphasis will be on your education, not ‘fun.’ So you decide now, boy. Do you accept these conditions or do I put you on that train for home?”
Joe’s face was grim, but he answered meekly, looking at the floor. “I’d like to stay, Adam. Please.” He had hopes that after a day or two to work out his spite, Adam would ease up on him. However, even if the rest of the trip were pure misery, staying with his older brother, angry as he was, would be still be preferable to being sent back to his father like a naughty child. Joe didn’t even want to think about what Pa would say or do in that event.
Adam stood, with his feet planted shoulder-width apart and his arms folded, liking what he saw. Now that he had the kid subdued, it was time to tighten the reins. “In addition, there will, of course, be a little discipline today to atone for your misbehavior.”
Joe’s head snapped up. “Now wait a minute!”
“Dietary discipline,” Adam announced, the crisp staccato of his words intended to imply that there would be no discussion of the prescribed punishment.
Joe’s lip curled with sarcasm. “Oh, what? Bread and water?”
Adam thrust his index finger directly at his brother’s nose. “Keep up the smart mouth, kid, and that’s exactly what it will be!” He took a step back and folded his arms across his chest again, to control a strong urge to slap Joe’s impudent face. “What I intend is to make certain you put proper food in your stomach today, instead of the most expensive item on the menu and every snack food in sight. You will eat what I say today or go hungry. Is that clear?”
Realizing that it could have been much worse, Joe quickly murmured, “Yes, sir.”
“And you will go where I say and nowhere else—today and every day we remain in the East. Is that clear?”
With a sigh Joe again whispered, “Yes, sir.”
The glow of triumph in Adam’s eyes made his smooth smile, as he issued the next edict, an ugly thing. “Furthermore, after we return from the Exposition, you will spend the evening writing a report on what you have learned about the exhibits we visit.”
Joe groaned. “In five hundred words or less?” he scoffed, that being Abigail Jones’ favorite length of essay assignment.
“In as many words as are required to make a full and detailed report,” Adam demanded. “Is that agreed?”
Feeling he had no choice, Joe nodded and once again muttered a perfunctory, “Yes, sir.”
“One more thing,” Adam began.
“Just one?” Joe grunted bitterly.
“You watch your tone, boy,” Adam ordered sharply as he extended his hand, palm up, “and hand me your room key. You won’t need it, as you’ll be spending every waking moment under my supervision, and just maybe it will discourage you from sneaking out at night if you don’t have a way to get back in.”
Joe reached into his pocket, withdrew the key and angrily slammed it into his brother’s hand, thinking that Adam had now gone too far in the role of stern parent. Given the degree of self-satisfaction Adam was displaying, though, nothing would stop him from playing the part to the hilt. As they headed downstairs for breakfast, Joe tried to calculate just how long it would take to work the martinet out of Adam’s system and, of lesser importance, just how punitive his “dietary discipline” was to be.
A partial answer to the latter was revealed when Adam placed their breakfast orders. “I’ll have bacon and eggs, with fried potatoes and hot cakes, please,” he told the waitress, and when she turned, by habit, to take Joe’s order, he cleared his throat. “The boy will have milk toast, easy on the butter, and beef tea.”
At first surprised, the waitress smiled in sympathy when she noticed the green cast to Joe’s countenance. “Very good, sir,” she told Adam and left to turn in the order.
Little Joe gave his brother a sour smile. Milk toast and beef tea, food for an invalid, only marginally better, in Joe’s opinion, than bread and water. He had to admit, though, that Adam’s choices sat easier on his touchy stomach than bacon and eggs would have. In fact, even the sight of Adam’s greasy plate was enough to send waves of nausea rippling through his abused digestive system.
As he was dragged down Elm Avenue to the eastern entrance to the Centennial grounds, Joe decided he would never understand the way his older brother’s mind worked. The horse car had let them off right in front of the southern entrance to the Main Exhibition Building. But, no, Adam had to insist on going in the east door to the huge hall, and he, of course, offered no explanation to his brother, who was still, obviously, in disgrace and, therefore, not deserving of enlightenment. Spotting a huge circular building of corrugated iron, just outside the Exhibition grounds, however, Joe was glad they had come this way. “Hey, Adam, it’s the ‘Siege of Paris,’” he cried, stepping toward the Panorama. “Let’s”—his face fell as Adam’s grip on his arm tightened.
“Some other time, perhaps,” Adam said.
“But, Adam, it’s educational,” Joe pointed out as he was pulled away.
“Try to get this through your thick head,” Adam growled. “Nothing today is being arranged for your pleasure, and I will decide what area of your education requires attention. I don’t feel a further exploration of your French background quite fills the bill today, boy.”
While Adam was purchasing a catalog of exhibits just inside the east entrance, Joe saw a sign announcing that most of the exhibits upstairs pertained to the Education Department of the State of Massachusetts. He felt sure he now knew why Adam had chosen this as their starting place; evidently, part of his punishment was to avoid anything of interest in favor of whatever would bore him to distraction. When they climbed the stairs to the gallery and entered one room of the educational exhibits, Joe found it every bit as dull as he’d expected, with its dreary display of school furniture, tiresome textbooks and exam papers bound in volumes, like a regular book. “Don’t guess anyone would want to bind my test papers in a book!” he joked, trying to clear the atmosphere.
But Adam was in no mood for humor, especially regarding his brother’s educational inadequacies. “No, most of yours were best used as tinder for the fire,” he observed with a cynical half-smile.
With a scowl, Joe turned away, feigning sudden interest in a table of mathematics texts.
Once the torment of that room had been endured, the Cartwright brothers exited to the gallery again. They passed the huge instrument by Boston organ-builders Hook and Hastings, the bellows for its 2,704 pipes blown by a hydraulic engine on the ground floor beneath it. Since a concert was in progress, they stopped to listen for a few minutes, Joe keeping a careful distance between himself and his older brother and taking the opportunity to peer over the rail at the intriguing scene below.
A dazzling display met his eyes, the exhibits themselves forming a crazy quilt of varied shapes and colors, while the crowds in the aisles declared the multinational appeal of the Centennial Exhibition. Ornamental silks of Oriental visitors brushed past baggy brown trousers and red jackets, similar to those Joe had seen on their visit to the Turkish café. Crimson caps atop the heads of swarthy men declared them to be Egyptian, just as the buckskins indicated the presence of Native Americans in the crowd. Other costumes were unfamiliar to the boy from Nevada, and he would, under other circumstances, have asked his older brother to identify them for him. Not a good idea today, he decided, with a cautious look at Adam. Nope, still mad; best leave him alone. Pot’s only simmering now, but it wouldn’t take much to set it boiling again. Besides, any questions he asked would only add that much more information to put in his report that evening, and one look at the ground floor assured Joe that he would be at it for hours, without requesting more details to include.
Joe was quite willing to stay for the entire concert, on the assumption that nothing more enjoyable would be permitted that day, but Adam was soon ready to move on. Probably that infernal schedule again, Joe mused. Gotta keep on track if he’s gonna make his little brother as miserable as possible.
Sure enough, Adam’s next destination was the second room of the Massachusetts educational exhibits, a room the older brother found even more absorbing than the first, with its architectural plans and models of principal schools in the state, including Boston High and Evening Schools. Adam frowned with disapproval when he heard Joe yawn loudly beside him.
Reading the message in his brother’s severe countenance, Joe attempted to simulate some interest, an effort he soon gave up as completely futile. Adam might be able to envision what a building would look like, just by reading a set of diagrams, but to Joe, they were just meaningless lines on paper. Looking around the room, in hopes of spying something that wasn’t unutterably boring, he noticed a crowd of people huddled around a table in the corner and decided that anything that drew that much attention merited investigation. Besides, no matter what it was, it had to be more interesting than architectural plans. Seeing that Adam was still engrossed in those boring schematics, Joe sidestepped to the right and, when Adam didn’t even look up, took one step backward.
Step by step, he inched away from his brother, until he was back in the corner drawing so much interested attention. Joe peered between shoulders and saw some kind of mechanism on the table. A lady holding a dark cylinder to her ear suddenly gasped and set the apparatus down. “What is it?” Joe asked a tall man standing just in front of him.
“Professor Bell calls it an Electric Telephone and Multiple Telegraph,” the man replied, turning sideways so Joe could see more clearly.
Joe squinted at the twisted wires running from the cylinder to another part of the mechanism. “New kind of telegraph, huh? Don’t see a key to click out the dots and dashes. How’s it work?”
“Why not see for yourself, young man?” From behind the table a man with dark wavy hair, bushy sideburns and a congenial smile gestured toward the cylinder.
Joe picked it up and held it tentatively to his ear as the man lifted the device at the other end of the wires to his mouth. “Hey, it talks!” Joe screeched, almost dropping the cylinder, as the words came tickling into his ear. The surrounding crowd responded with a loud burst of laughter.
Across the room, Adam, surprised to hear such a hullabaloo in an educational room, looked up and immediately noticed that his younger brother was no longer at his side. With discernment cultivated over nearly two decades’ service as older sibling to Little Joe, he swiveled toward the sound, instinctively knowing that he would find his young brother at the center of the commotion. Fire in his eyes, he moved toward the corner and took firm hold on Joe’s arm to pull him back where he belonged.
“Adam, you gotta see this!” Joe exclaimed.
“What I want to see is you, doing what you’re told,” Adam hissed through gritted teeth.
“But, Adam, it talks!”
“Talks?” Adam turned a skeptical eye toward the table, but the minute he saw the invention, his curiosity overcame his ire, and he stepped closer to view the mechanism. Soon he was posing technical questions to the man behind the table, who introduced himself as Alexander Graham Bell and willingly explained the principles of electro-magnetic transmission of sound.
“It is, of course, in a rudimentary stage,” the inventor explained. “That is why I am only able to transmit the human voice in one direction at present, but I expect to soon solve that problem, and then distant speakers will be able to carry on conversations as readily as though they were in the same parlor.”
“How far?” Joe asked eagerly. “All the way to Nevada?”
Bell laughed lightly. “That is a considerable distance, young man, but perhaps in time it would be possible. After all, telegraph wires stretch that far, so it should be possible for telephone wires, I would think.”
“A most fascinating demonstration, Professor Bell,” Adam said by way of farewell, for he felt that he and Joe had taken up enough of the man’s time. “I’ll be expecting to hear more of you and your invention.”
Joe seemed reluctant to leave, especially in light of the only other exhibits on offer in this room, but Adam hauled him away with a firm hand. “That was very interesting, but you are not setting the itinerary today. Do not leave my side again,” he ordered crisply as he dragged his brother toward a display of photographs of several colleges in Massachusetts. “I want you to pay special attention to these, Joe,” he said firmly.
“Do I need to list them in my essay?” Joe sneered. Seeing Adam flare with anger, he quickly wiped the sarcasm from his face. “Sorry. Any here from Yale?”
Adam sighed as though weighed down by his brother’s colossal ignorance. “Yale’s in Connecticut, Joe; this is the Massachusetts exhibit.”
“Oh, yeah, I knew that,” Joe stammered, chagrined.
Noticing his brother’s embarrassment over the simple mistake, Adam added with a less acerbic tongue, “Maybe they’ll have some photos in Connecticut’s educational department, as well. According to the catalog, it’s in the southern gallery.”
“Let’s go look,” Joe suggested, brightening with real interest this time and moving toward the exit.
Adam laid a restraining palm on his brother’s chest. “All in good time. Now, here are some interesting shots of the Harvard campus.”
Oh, great, Joe thought, another place I’m not smart enough to go. What’s the point in even looking? He dutifully examined the photographs, however, certain Adam would expect to see them mentioned in his evening’s homework.
Finally escaping from the educational exhibits, Joe eagerly trotted down the stairs, an action his stomach protested, but he recovered quickly and headed toward the main aisle. A familiar grip tightened on his biceps and pulled him back.
“Just where do you think you’re going?” Adam demanded tersely.
Little Joe pointed down the aisle. “See that sign, ‘Great Britain and Ireland’? Wouldn’t it be better to start down there—you know, save the best for last?”
Adam laughed. “We are, you little egotist. The United States may have excelled in machinery, but it will be a different story in this building.”
“Adam, that’s downright unpatriotic,” Joe declared.
“And downright truthful, too,” Adam grunted. “Now, come with me, little boy, and I don’t want to hear so much as a suggestion from you the rest of the day.” He began walking south down the easternmost aisle. “I assume you’re taking note of the architecture and the interior décor,” he observed with a cutting glance over his shoulder.
“Oh, you bet,” Joe tossed back. Architecture, huh? He had no idea what style of architecture this building sported, and he wasn’t about to ask. The interior décor was easier to appraise: light blue and cream walls, tiled pavement in the vestibule and, circling the walls near the top, small, round stained-glass windows, designating the arms of the United States, as well as of individual states, territories and other nations represented at the Centennial. It was pleasing to the eye and would be easy to remember when it came time to write down the description.
“Joseph,” Adam called sharply.
Joe scurried to catch up. “Coming, Pa,” he mocked.
Adam flushed, momentarily aware that he was overdoing the authoritarian stance. To compensate, he pointed out a shining display of cutlery and asked, “Do you think Hop Sing would appreciate some new knives?”
Since Adam sounded almost normal with that question, Joe decided to test the waters to see if his big brother had regained a particle of his sense of humor. “Like these?” he asked, pointing at the huge Centennial knife and fork suspended above the cutlery department.
“No one but Hoss would have a chance of handling those,” Adam chuckled, amused despite his determination to stay severe with Joe today.
“Not even him, big brother, not even him.”
The brothers smiled at each other, as if the very mention of Hoss had pulled them together the way their middle brother so often did back home. It was only a small step forward, but Joe began to breathe a little easier. Only a little, though, as it was too early in the day to assume that he was out of the woods yet.
Pausing briefly to look at an exhibit of carpet manufacturers, Adam raised a quizzical eyebrow in his brother’s direction.
“Maybe,” Joe said, though he sounded uncertain. “They’re not bad. Maybe in Pa’s bedroom. His is getting kind of thin.”
Adam nodded. “I’ll think about it.”
Joe’s nose scrunched up. Yeah, it’ll have to be you, ‘cause I sure don’t have the money for that—or anything else Pa would really like.
The next showcase presented a new product for the consideration of American consumers. Manufactured out of cork and linseed oil, linoleum was proclaimed by the trade card being passed out to all in sight to be softer and more durable than oilcloth. “Hop Sing might find this practical,” Adam observed, running his hand over the smooth surface.
“Ugh! Don’t even think about it,” Joe declared with a vigorous shake of his head. “You’d cover up those great old wood floors with this ugly stuff? All that book learning has addled your brains, Adam.”
“Maybe just in the kitchen?” Adam suggested. “Think how it would expedite mopping the floor.”
“Hop Sing would hate it,” Joe stated emphatically. “It’ll never last, I tell you.”
Adam shrugged and moved on, pocketing the trade card to show later to their household factotum. Secretly, he thought that Joe’s opposition probably guaranteed the success of the new product with people of good sense. Hoss, for instance, would have seen the value in time saved right away.
Odd that it’s the youngster in the family that’s so hidebound against change, Adam mused. The kid hasn’t had nearly as much to deal with in his life as I have in mine, but he doesn’t handle change half as well. Lack of practice, maybe? Is there such a thing as too much stability in a boy’s life? It was an almost unthinkable thought when he considered the upheaval of his own growing-up years. Which of us is really better off? Adam wondered. Which will, ultimately, make the better man? It was a moment of rare self-examination for the oldest Cartwright brother, and uncomfortable with the questions pounding in his head, he pushed them aside to look at the next exhibit.
In the southeast corner of the gigantic hall rose the two-story black walnut pavilions of the publishing industry, divided according to publisher. From the moment they entered, Adam seemed lost in a world of his own, so Joe sat on one of the padded benches surrounding the Lippincott Publishing Company’s exhibit and thumbed through an illustrated edition of the works of Sir Walter Scott, whose swashbuckling tales were old favorites with the youngest Cartwright.
Finally dragging himself away from row after row of tempting volumes, Adam noticed the title of the book in his brother’s hand. “I’m glad to see your taste in literature occasionally rises above dime-novel drivel,” he commented airily.
Joe slammed the book shut. “I’ve always liked Scott, Adam. Don’t you ever pay attention to what I’m really like, or are you just so busy looking for something to criticize that you ignore everything else?”
Adam yanked Joe up from the bench, his nails digging painfully into the boy’s biceps. “You keep a civil tongue in your mouth today, boy,” he growled testily. “You’re in a deep enough vat of hot water without heating things up with that notoriously fiery tongue of yours.”
Embarrassed by the heads that turned to look their direction, Joe said nothing as he was dragged from that pavilion into the next, an exhibit by the American Bible Society. Yeah, Adam could do with some time spent in the Good Book, all right. Something about doing unto others or . . .
“Joseph, are you paying attention?” Adam demanded.
“Quit calling me that,” Joe muttered under his breath.
Adam spun around. “Why?” he demanded. “Hoss calls you that all the time, and you never object.”
“Hoss don’t say it like he thinks he’s my pa,” Joe sputtered.
“Fine,” Adam snapped. “Maybe I’ll just call you ‘brat’ for the rest of the day.” He gave Joe a supercilious smile. “Yes, I think that would be the most appropriate appellation for a smart-mouthed kid. So, brat, I want you to give diligent attention to the contents of this case.”
Bristling with the knowledge that he’d come out on the short end of that exchange, Joe leaned both hands on the polished oak showcase and peered at the Bibles inside. Though they lay open, he couldn’t read most of them, for this display represented all the languages of the world in which the Holy Book had been printed, twenty-nine in all. Joe filed the number away for repetition, if quizzed, and moved on to a case of rare and valuable Bibles, before which his older brother stood enthralled.
“This one belonged to John Milton,” Adam whispered, clearly in awe at the sight of something that one of his literary idols had touched.
“Do tell,” Joe grunted. He’s got some gall, calling me a brat one minute, then expecting me to share his excitement the next.
Adam glowered at him. “Behave, brat.”
Joe rolled his eyes. “Yes, sir,” he said, with an impudent expression that made it evident the respectful words were spoken under duress. Turning his gaze on the first Bible printed in America, a sudden blush of shame crossed Joe’s face, for it occurred to him that his behavior flew in the face of what the Good Book taught. Respect for God and respect for his elders had been drilled into him at an early age, and Joe knew his father would be disappointed in the attitude he’d shown today. Maybe Pa’d be disappointed in Adam, too, but that was for Adam to deal with. You weren’t responsible for what the other man did, Pa always said, just for your own behavior. The words came hard, but Joe knew he had to say them, if he were not to reflect poorly on the man who had reared him. “I-I’m sorry, Adam,” he stammered.
Adam looked up, surprised by the swift change of emotion. “What?”
Joe’s lower lip trembled. “I said ‘I’m sorry.’ I have been acting like a brat, and I-I want to stop that right now.”
Knowing that his little brother wasn’t the only one at fault, Adam swallowed hard. “Well, I might have been a bit harsh myself,” he conceded, somewhat reluctantly, for he still felt a need to maintain authority over the impulsive boy under his charge. Then he laid a conciliatory hand on his brother’s shoulder. “I’m sorry, too, Joe. The discipline stands, but I will try to be less nasty about it.”
Joe smiled and extended his hand, which Adam took and gave a warm squeeze.
“Have you finished here?” Adam asked. At Joe’s nod, he led the way downstairs to the main floor again, where he was soon absorbed in a model of the bridge over New Jersey’s Raritan Bay, declared by the sign to be the longest swing bridge in the world.
The painting behind the model helped Little Joe understand how the bridge operated, but his interest waned after a quick look. Finally feeling less queasy, he was getting hungry after such a light breakfast, but he knew without question that the day’s discipline did not include feedings on demand. He shifted impatiently from foot to foot, until, deciding he couldn’t look at that bridge one second longer, he asked permission to move to next exhibit. “I’ll keep in sight,” he promised Adam.
Adam glanced across the aisle. “All right, but no further,” he directed.
Joe flashed a relieved smile. “Thanks!” Skipping across the aisle, he eyed with longing the handsome timepieces displayed in glass-enclosed cases by the American Watch and Elgin companies and listened to representatives of both touting their product as the best. When Adam joined him, he pointed to one with a scrolled silver case. “You think Pa would like this?” he asked eagerly.
“Well, maybe,” Adam said tentatively, still hoping to buy something finer for their father.
Reading his brother’s hesitance as disapproval, Joe moved further down the line. “A clock, maybe?” He felt hurt that he couldn’t afford anything Pa would really like and even a little resentful that his rich older brother never had to make such tough choices. It had been that way every Christmas and birthday that Joe could remember his father celebrating, Adam giving wonderful gifts that thrilled Pa, while the best he could afford looked like a child’s trinket by comparison, though Pa had always acted just as pleased with Joe’s simple offerings as with either of his older brothers’ better ones.
“Maybe,” Adam said, again with that note of uncertainty in his voice. Catching sight of his brother’s crestfallen face, he suggested gently, “Why don’t you quit trying so hard, Joe? I’m sure just the right idea will come to you in time.”
“I want something extra fine, Adam,” Joe explained urgently, “something worthy of our pa.”
Adam rewarded the generous words with the warmest smile he’d bestowed that morning. “That’s commendable, Joe, but do we have to find it today?”
Joe shrugged sheepishly. “Guess not,” he muttered.
The boys made their way back to the main aisle, skirting past a plethora of less interesting exhibits. Ore they had seen regularly on the Comstock, and neither contemplated the purchase of a granite monument, while even Adam found the maps and charts of the Geological Survey of New Jersey utterly boring. Surprisingly, though, Little Joe spent considerable time looking at the pottery exhibit. For his report tonight, I suppose, Adam assumed and let the kid take his time.
He was about to turn west, toward the Centennial Safe, where guests might check valuables during their visit, when Joe looked across the aisle and saw the big guns near the east entrance. “Can’t we go see those now, Adam?” he begged, child-like whimper in his voice. “Most of this stuff would bore anybody but you.”
“Have you forgotten last night?” Adam queried with severe aspect. “We are not here for your amusement today, naughty boy, and if you’re bored, it’s only an indication that you need to broaden your horizons.”
“I’m trying, Adam, honest I am,” Joe replied with a deep sigh and then looked up again with sad, pleading eyes. “We’re gonna see it all anyway, aren’t we? What difference does it make if we mix in some interesting stuff along the way?”
“Well, if you’re going to pout like a spoiled child, come on!” Adam said sharply and crisscrossed the aisle to the Parrott cannons and Gatling guns. He chided himself almost immediately for once again evincing a nasty attitude. He didn’t really want to see the guns himself, and it was easier to ridicule his brother’s interest than to reveal the reasons he couldn’t share it.
Employing the distraction technique that had so often worked with his little brother when he was a child, Adam insisted that Joe look first at the trophy of twenty-five flags suspended from the ceiling over the doorway, illustrating the history of the American flag. “Notice, please, that our flag is a descendant of those that flew over the mother country of England,” he lectured. “There, for instance, is the flag of St. George, used by Henry the Eighth, and that’s the St. Andrew standard of James the Sixth’s time.”
“Adam,” Joe whined with a yearning glance at the cannons, just to his left.
“Pay attention!” Adam scolded. “This is much more important than those iron monsters, and I will expect your report to include a full description of the evolution of our flag. Now, as I was saying, you see that both British flags display stripes of the same basic colors as our own, although the arrangement differs from the design used in the American flag.”
With a sigh, Joe focused diligently on his brother as Adam rumbled on about the various colonial flags. Beginning with the Liberty Tree flag, he progressed through those using the popular device of a snake, with its ominous message, “Don’t Tread on Me,” to end with the current flag of thirteen alternating red and white stripes and thirty-eight white stars on a blue background.
It was interesting, and if Joe hadn’t been so tired, hungry and still suffering from a splitting headache, he might have enjoyed listening to Professor Cartwright’s vast array of knowledge. The origin of the flag did not, however, as Adam had hoped, distract Joe from his main purpose. “Now can we see the guns?” he pressed when Adam appeared to have wound down.
“Oh, all right.” Adam sighed and prepared to face the inevitable.
Almost before Adam got the words out of his mouth, Joe bolted away and was soon running his hands all over the long, cold barrels of the military hardware. Looking for his brother, he noticed that Adam had his back to the exhibit and, moving toward him, Joe asked, almost in a whisper, “Don’t you think they’re interesting, Adam?”
“No,” Adam said, the word staccato-sharp. “Nothing that can wreak that much destruction is interesting.”
Joe bit his lip. “Did they use this kind during the war?” he asked hesitantly.
Adam swung a hand toward the cannon without looking at it. “The Parrott, yes, and I believe the Gatling gun was tested late in the war, but didn’t see much actual combat.” Keep to the facts, he cautioned himself. Don’t think about the fields strewn with bodies; don’t remember the maggots crawling on the gaping wounds after days of bloating in the sun.
“You ever fire one?” Joe asked, his voice pulling Adam back to the present.
“No, I was in the infantry, not the artillery,” Adam said, rolling his shoulders to ease the tightening muscles. “That’s enough questions about the war, Joe.”
Offense flared quickly in Joe’s expressive eyes. “Why? Why do you always cut me short if I ask anything about what it was like back there? I want to know, Adam!”
Adam licked his suddenly dry lips. “You just wouldn’t understand, kid.”
“Quit calling me that!” Joe protested. “That’s the whole problem, Adam. You still think of me as a little kid, too young to understand anything.”
“This isn’t the time or the place,” Adam said, looking away.
“It never will be, will it, Adam?” Joe muttered bitterly.
Adam reached out to touch his brother’s shoulder. “Joe, I—we need to move on to the next exhibit now.”
“Oh, by all means, let’s keep on schedule,” Joe snorted, shifting out from under his brother’s hand.
The military uniforms in the next case, however, did nothing but keep the divisive subject in their minds, so Adam hurried Joe past it, pointing out a display of mechanical toys nearby. “I’m not a kid, Adam!” Joe snapped. “How many times do I have to tell you?”
“How many times do I have to tell you to watch your tongue?” Adam retorted.
At odds with one another yet again, the brothers viewed in silence the exhibits on the north side of the main aisle, including clothes from Wanamaker’s, terra cotta and ropes and cordage of all sizes, from delicate thread to thick cable. Reaching the western end of the American department, they crossed the aisle to stay within the country. Joe looked longingly at the soda fountain, but Adam hardened his heart against the unspoken plea. I told him no snacks, and I can’t back down. He needs to learn I mean what I say!
With the clocks by Seth Thomas, they finally reached an exhibit that Joe, at least, found interesting again. Even he didn’t give them a long appraisal, however, for his heart’s desire, however impossible it might eventually prove, was to buy his father a pocket watch he could wear with pride.
Passing the telegraph department, Little Joe pondered sending a wire home, begging his father to intervene with Adam, and then immediately dismissed the idea as foolish. No, worse than foolish—downright crazed, considering what else he’d have to confess. Yeah, Joe, bright idea. Tell Pa that you gave Adam the slip, got yourself stinkin’ drunk and looked up girls’ skirts. Uh-huh, that’ll really make Pa want to dress Adam down for being so rough on me! More likely, I’d end up being the one raked over the coals.
Just beyond, a display of beautiful pianos was arrayed, and the brothers stopped briefly to listen to a demonstration by a skilled player. Since no one in the family played the instrument, they had little need of a piano, but Adam mused for a few moments about how nice it would be to have one available for parties. He even indulged, briefly, in dreams of concerts at the Ponderosa, but then he returned to reality with a soft sigh. No matter how much he missed cultural opportunities, a piano simply wouldn’t get enough use back home to justify the expense.
Next to the pianos, the furniture dealers showed their wares, the most tasteful arrangement being that of Smith and Campion of Philadelphia, who had set up a four-room suite—parlor, dining room, library and chamber—completely furnished. Another Philadelphia dealer displayed a maple chamber suit, carved from a two-hundred-year-old tree that had once stood in Independence Square. “Seems like a shame to cut down a tree that old, just to make beds and such,” Joe commented to the air.
Adam chuckled. “I’m sure that wasn’t the main consideration for cutting it down.”
Joe threw a sideways glance at his brother and relaxed a bit when he saw a pleasant smile. Looks like older brother may have decided to forgive me for—well, for whatever set him off this time—asking about the war, I guess. He still felt he had to walk on eggshells, however, because Adam, today, seemed as moody as—well, as me most days, Joe conceded with an honest smile to himself.
Quickly passing an exhibit of scientific instruments, the Cartwrights again reached the main aisle, where they gave the model of a Pullman hotel car a cursory look. “There’s a full-size one in the Carriage Annex. You can see that another day,” Adam said.
Joe sighed. Trust Adam to drag him away from anything he really wanted to see. He had to admit, though, that he’d enjoy seeing the bigger one more; maybe he could even climb aboard it and take a good look around.
Feeling a surge of sympathy for that drooping face, Adam said, “What do you say we look at lunch, instead? You hungry?”
The transformation of Joe’s countenance was like a swift sunrise. “Am I! I could eat”—the sun abruptly plunged, and he finished with a sigh, “whatever you say I can.”
“I scarcely think you’ll starve,” Adam drawled dryly.
There were two restaurants in the building, at opposite ends of the central transept, which crossed the Main Exhibition Building north to south. Adam chose the one at the north end and scanned the short menu, while Joe waited in silence to learn his fate. Cost wasn’t a factor, since each meal was a standard fifty cents. No, the only factor—or, at least, the paramount one, in Joe’s view—was the degree to which older brother wished to punish younger. It had been an up-and-down morning, and Joe wasn’t sure which way Adam would lean.
Adam selected for his brother a plate of plain meat and vegetables, without rich sauces or gravy, but they were all foods that Joe liked. Flashing a smile of gratitude, Joe dug in as soon as the food was served. He was famished and ate with relish, the effects of the alcohol having worn off, except for that persistent headache. The only really punitive part of the meal was watching Adam tuck away a slice of apple pie, topped with vanilla ice cream, while denying any dessert to his younger brother. Oh, well, guess I’ve got that much meanness coming, Joe admitted, though it still bothered him. Apple pie was his favorite, and he had a nagging suspicion that Adam really was eating it in front of him just to rub his face in the “dietary discipline.”
A band was playing at the music stand in the very center of the hall as the Cartwright brothers left the restaurant, and Adam guided Joe to one of the benches in the main aisle, which intersected the transept. “Let’s listen to the music awhile, to let our meals settle,” he suggested, examining Joe solicitously for any signs of malaise.
Joe nodded and sat down at once. His food was setting just fine, but he was tired and, realizing that they had covered little more than a quarter of the building, quite content to rest awhile longer. All too soon for his tired feet, Adam declared that it was time to begin again.
Before they returned to finish the American section of the Main Exhibition Hall, Adam directed Joe’s attention to the paintings on the four sides of the central transept, which ran north to south through the building. Each was forty feet wide and fifty feet high and represented the four major continents exhibiting at the Exposition. On the east, America was depicted by Columbia, holding a staff and wearing a Liberty cap. On the right of the gracefully draped lady was a bust of George Washington, and one of Benjamin Franklin was painted on her other side. The national colors were displayed in the background, while flags of the original thirteen colonies flanked either side.
Pivoting to the south, the boys viewed the painting of the Asian group, represented by a female figure seated between busts of Confucius and Mohammed. Chinese and Japanese symbols were scattered across the canvas, and flags of the Asiatic nations were pleasingly grouped. A female figure also graced the painting that symbolized Europe. Beneath her, on the right, was a bust of Shakespeare and on the left one of Charlemagne. A horse and lion were conspicuous in the foreground, while behind them were the flags of the major European nations. The final painting was hung at the north end of the transept to signify the African continent. Similar in style to the other paintings, this one featured an Egyptian woman, flanked by busts of Rameses and Sesostris with characteristic scenes of the continent and flags of the African states in the background.
Moaning, Joe tried to memorize every detail. Should’ve brought paper to take notes, he mourned. How am I ever gonna remember all this long enough to get it down on paper for picky old Adam? The paintings were attractive, but having to be so meticulous in viewing them spoiled what would otherwise have been an enjoyable experience.
Though the Cartwright brothers had almost completed the American exhibits, some of the most beautiful still remained. The gas fittings, of course, did not fall in that category, but the glassware and fine jewelry near them did, although Adam insisted both would suffer by comparison with European craftsmanship, in particular that of Great Britain. The crescent-shaped Moorish pavilion housing the fine workmanship of Tiffany, Gorham and others, however, was the most beautiful in the building. Its warm, luxuriant colors provided the perfect backdrop for the jewelry and other works of art, including some of the most opulent and costly articles in the entire Exhibition. Though Little Joe was feeling increasingly glum about the task set before him, he found it impossible not to be impressed with these beautiful pieces.
Seeing the awe on his young brother’s face, Adam couldn’t resist teasing. “Don’t even think about buying any of these, little brother.”
“Are you kidding?” Joe squeaked. “Look at the prices!”
Embarrassed by Joe’s loud forthrightness, Adam shushed him. “Just enjoy the workmanship, boy; they’re marvelous works of art.”
“Yeah, they are,” Joe agreed. “Look at this one.” He pointed to a solid-silver vase produced by Gorham Manufacturing Company, which stood over four feet tall, measured more than five feet long and was embellished with symbolic figures. At the lower front a pioneer and an Indian sat, surrounded by the fruits, flowers and cereal grains of America, while thirty-eight stars, one for each state of the Union, circled the base. On the left, above these figures, the Genius of War stood, with a torch in his right hand, while his left grasped a chain holding back the “dogs of war.” On the opposite side, figures represented the antithesis of war as little children led a lion through a field of musical instruments and flowers. The cover of the vase supported figures signifying Asia, Europe and Africa, while the central figure of America welcomed them all to the celebration of her centennial year. The Centennial Vase was an exquisite piece that carried a price tag of seven thousand dollars.
By contrast, the display of chemicals and paints of John Lucas and Company of Philadelphia seemed to epitomize the mundanity and humdrum of everyday life. The next exhibit, a black marble fountain that sprayed jets of cologne, was much more to Joe’s liking, and he bathed his aching temples in the cool fragrances, sampling first one and then another. He would have liked to stay longer, but Adam reminded him that there was still much more to see. “You won’t be buying anything today anyway,” he added, “so there’s no need to try each and every one.”
“More punishment, big brother?” Joe asked with a sulky pout.
Adam shrugged a single shoulder. “Just protecting you from yourself, kid. I promise you can buy anything your greedy little heart desires before we leave for home—‘til your money runs out.”
“Well, okay, then. I guess it is better to wait,” Joe granted, though he didn’t appreciate being reminded of his meager resources.
“Of course,” Adam said, with an attitude that clearly communicated a message that everything big brother said was, “of course,” better.
“Ugh,” Joe grunted as he headed across the central transept toward the German exhibits. Having seen all of the American department, or so he thought, Joe was anxious to view what the rest of the world had to offer.
Adam caught him by the arm. “No, we need to finish up the American educational exhibits first.” Joe groaned audibly, which so irritated Adam that he snapped his fingers beneath the nose of his younger brother. “Upstairs now, brat,” he ordered, and then bit his tongue. He hadn’t meant that ugly word to slip out again, but it was too late to call it back. His aggrieved little brother was already bounding up the stairs to the south gallery, racing to its end—to get away from me, no doubt, Adam sighed, and small wonder.
Though he hadn’t intended to start there, Adam followed and stood beside his brother as they viewed the display devoted to schools for black children. Spurning the exam papers of the students, Little Joe was gazing, instead, at an oil painting of the Jubilee singers from Fiske University in Nashville, Tennessee. “They look happy,” he murmured, sounding so miserable himself that Adam felt all the worse.
“Singing lightens the heart,” Adam stated and, feeling guilty for having needlessly hurt his little brother, he forced himself to open up a little. “I remember hearing the plantation slaves sing while my regiment marched through Virginia,” he said softly. “They had little to be happy about, but they sang their sorrows away with the most beautiful, plaintive melodies I’d ever heard.” Darker memories of things he’d seen down South came rushing toward him, though, and Adam felt an instinctive need to protect his baby brother from the shadows that still hovered over his own soul. “They’re famous, too,” he said, nodding at the picture in a noticeably abrupt change of subject, “here and in Great Britain—great singers from what I’ve heard.”
“Like the ones you heard when—”
“Drop it, Joe,” Adam ordered sharply.
Joe’s gaze fell to the floor. He wanted Adam to continue, to let him into the closed closet of that part of his life, but after the way Adam had acted about the artillery guns, he didn’t dare ask. He just began making his way through the unbelievably boring educational exhibits of various states. “Hey, Adam, here’s Connecticut,” he called, feeling this a safer subject than the one Adam clearly wanted to avoid.
Adam moved toward him, smiling. “Let’s see if they have some pictures of Yale,” he suggested. There proved to be an album of photos of the university Adam had attended, and thumbing through the pages brought back warm memories for him, though he didn’t think to share them with his brother. For Joe, he simply listed the names of the buildings until one caught warmer notice. “Why, there’s old North Middle, my junior dorm,” he said and pointed out the third-story window of the room he had shared with his childhood friend, Jamie Edwards.
Wanting to keep Adam in a good mood, Joe forced a saucy grin. “So that’s where greatness was born, huh?” he quipped.
Adam coughed out a chuckle. “Oh, behave yourself.”
He was obviously warming up to Joe again, and sensing the subtle change, Joe returned a tentative smile.
Finishing the other educational exhibits, Adam and Joe made their way back to the ground floor, where Joe halted, unwilling to risk the uneasy peace by any suggestion of his own interests.
Seeing his usually animated younger brother standing so quietly and soberly, so obviously afraid of expressing himself, pierced through Adam like a scalding poker. I’m ruining this for him. What a fool I’ve been! Instead of opening his eyes to the joys of learning, I’ve only reinforced his opinion that education is painful. His touch was gentle against Joe’s back and his voice kind as he asked, “Would you like to start with Germany, as you suggested before, or”—he made a wide sweep of his right arm toward the opposite side of the hall—“walk ‘all the way’ to France?”
Joe’s head came up, and there was fresh sparkle in his eyes. “You mean it?”
“I mean it, buddy.” The words, again, were kind and just a touch apologetic.
Buddy, he called me buddy, Joe noted with amazement. First time since—since what I did. Now, if he’d just make it ‘little buddy,’ I’d know we were okay again. He waited for a moment, hoping, but Adam only cocked his head and gazed quizzically back. Feeling his eyes start to mist, Joe blinked back the betraying droplets and said with vigor, “Let’s go to France, then!”
The French exhibits were located just east of the central transept, running from the main aisle to the north wall. Each exhibitor showed his wares in simple black cases with ornamental lines of gilt and identified them with his name in gilt letters at the top of the display. Those in the front line, as the Cartwright brothers approached, were also festooned with dark, scalloped drapes at both top and bottom, and a gilt sign on either side proclaimed “Bronze D’Art” with the name of L. Marchand between them. A rope across what looked like an arched doorway prevented entrance from the front, so Adam and Joe walked around the side.
The smaller bronzes in the first case were exquisite, but both boys were drawn, as if by magnet, to the black marble mantelpiece at the center of the exhibit. Standing fifteen feet high, it was decorated with statues and high reliefs in gilt and verd antique. “I’ve read that it’s the finest piece in the entire Exhibition,” Adam commented, “and I’d have to agree. The French do have artistic flair.”
When Joe beamed triumphantly, as if the compliment were personal, Adam chuckled, amused, as always, by the high level of identification his little brother felt with his mother’s heritage. Then he recognized, in a sudden burst of self-realization, that it was no different for him; only the heritage was different, French for Joe and that of New England for him. His love of that culture most likely came from a desire to identify with his mother’s roots, for neither of his brothers shared it, although, of course, their father also came from that part of the country. Probably could find no finer Christmas gift for the kid than something French, Adam noted, and began viewing the remaining exhibits with that pursuit in mind, watching closely to see what caught his brother’s eye. Finding it impossible to stay angry with Joe while thinking about presents for him, Adam soon discovered that they were both enjoying the afternoon more than they had their morning together.
In back of the front line, the brothers came to a display of antique furniture and cabinets and close by that, one of porcelain and pottery, the finest specimens any country had sent to the Exposition. Adam thought one of the faience vases with a realistic depiction of a hunting dog might appeal to his young brother. When he glanced at Joe, though, he found the boy engrossed in a more delicate vase with the figure of a woman, fully nude, her arms raised enticingly over her head. Clearing his throat, Adam gestured with his head toward the next exhibit, only to learn that the French had such appreciation for the female form that there was no keeping it from the bedazzled gaze of his baby brother.
They finally came across a safer display of porcelain tableware, beautiful pieces with flower-shaped handles and floral decorations. “What do you think of these, Joe?” Adam asked. “One of the things I thought we could use was some new serving dishes, for entertaining prominent business associates and other special guests.”
Joe licked his lower lip. “Umm, well . . . ”
“Speak up,” Adam said, concerned to see that his brother still felt nervous around him. “I’d value your opinion.”
“Okay,” Joe said, though still with hesitance, “if you really want it.”
“I really do,” Adam said sincerely. “Your mother used to select beautiful things for our table, and I suspect you might have inherited her French flair.”
Joe took a deep breath and plunged in. “Well, they’re nice, Adam, real nice, but I like these better.” He pointed to a similar surtout de table with sculpted peacocks perched on the lids.
“Yes, I see what you mean,” Adam said, nodding in consideration. “A unique design with more graceful lines. I’m not ready to make a decision yet, but I will certainly keep this in mind. Thanks, buddy.”
“Sure,” Joe said, still half in disbelief that his older brother had respected his evaluation.
After a brief inspection of wax figures in court dress—anything with a female form, Adam noted with an amused smile—the Cartwright brothers came to an exhibit of Aubusson tapestries, most of which were hung around the outer walls of the French booksellers. Using as many as three thousand shades of wool, the hangings at a distance resembled fine paintings. Even so, Adam was surprised by the degree of attention his younger brother gave the beautiful objects. Sadly, they were too costly to consider as a gift, but Joe’s interest indicated that his older brother was on the right track.
Adam had intended to enter the booksellers’ exhibit next, but seeing Joe eye the plaster religious statues nearby, he took the boy’s arm and led him over for a closer look. The centerpiece was the “Adoration of the Infant Savior by the Shepherds and Wise Men,” three-quarters-life-size figures displayed in a stable of boards with real straw on the floor. Little Joe, however, seemed more caught up in a statue of the mother Mary, holding the slain Christ in her arms after his removal from the Cross. With good reason, Adam decided. It’s done so well you can see His pain, and her love is poignantly portrayed in the way her delicate hands caress his lifeless flesh.
With a soft smile on his lips, Little Joe looked up at his brother. “Mama would have liked these.”
Adam nodded. “Yes, she would; her religion was very important to her.”
“I remember,” Joe whispered, wistful look in his eyes.
“Oh, how could you?” Adam objected gently. “You were a baby.”
Joe bristled a bit. “No, I wasn’t, Adam—not then and not now.”
Adam rested a comforting hand on his brother’s shoulder. “Okay, little buddy.” Knowing how sensitive Joe could be about anything relating to his mother, he let his fingers communicate the tenderness he felt, but found difficult to express verbally.
There it was, the affectionate term Joe had waited all day to hear, the pet name that told him all was well again. The minute he heard it, Joe determined to make a greater effort to be congenial, even in the face of the everlasting educational exhibits with which Adam was, in his opinion, punishing him. “Would you like to see the booksellers now?” he asked. “I didn’t mean to pull you away from what you had planned.”
With a warm smile, Adam accepted the generous offer. “Yes, I would, but I promise not to stay long.”
The pavilion of the book publishers of Paris displayed some beautiful, illustrated books, including Bida’s etchings of the four gospels, and the architectural books from Ducher and Company quickly absorbed Adam’s attention. Joe cast an appraising eye over the volumes, even though he had already bought Adam one book on the subject. Just as well, too, Joe realized as he gulped at the price tag on the book in French. “You read French pretty good, huh, Adam?”
“I read French quite well, Joe,” Adam said.
As usual, Little Joe ignored the grammatical correction. “Wish I did,” he murmured.
“You remember some, don’t you?” Adam asked, catching the longing in Joe’s voice.
Joe shrugged. “Some. Bits and pieces, mostly. I couldn’t string enough together to read a page, though.”
It was a golden opportunity, and Adam couldn’t resist it. “One of the things you could learn in college, Joe. I learned my first French from your mother, but I took courses in it, too, first at the Sacramento academy and later at Yale. If you’ll recall, it forms part of the course of study at the Philadelphia Collegiate School.”
Not wanting to argue, Joe turned away to look at the reproduction of an oil painting in colored lithography at the center of the pavilion. He fought down the irritation threatening to rise again. Did Adam have to turn everything into an opportunity to sell him on college?
Silently, the brothers worked their way through exhibits of cutlery, chemistry and glassware before Little Joe again found his tongue at the display of perfumes. Though not as lavishly dispensed as at the American exhibit, one particular fragrance had Joe almost bubbling with the excitement of discovery. “Mama used to wear this one, Adam!” he cried.
Mindful always to be gentle regarding references to Joe’s mother, Adam suggested softly, “Are you sure, buddy? That’s an old, old memory.”
“Yeah, but it’s a strong one,” Joe insisted, still keen with enthusiasm. “I—I could smell it whenever she held me.” Embarrassed by the quaver in his voice, he walked quickly away.
Adam, however, made a mental note to purchase some of that fragrance for Joe when he wasn’t around. A small bottle wouldn’t cost a great deal, and the kid would appreciate it, for memory’s sake, even if all he could do with a ladies’ perfume was open the bottle and sniff once in awhile. Lucky kid, Adam sighed, wishing he had any memory of his mother’s favorite cologne . . . or even knew its name.
He caught up with his brother at the department of engineering and architecture, and, for once, Joe was as involved as Adam in viewing the drawings and photographs. That French influence again, Adam laughed to himself. Now, if it were just possible to construct an entire college course around things French, why then Joe would beg to go! Adam found the maps and plans for the Suez Canal of particular interest and tried to explain to his younger brother what the project might mean for the shipping industries of the world.
Passing the case of scientific apparatus, the Cartwright brothers next looked at one filled with musical instruments of various types, and then a display of music boxes caught Adam’s eye. He picked several up, listening to the tune each played, closing his eyes in reverie at the sound of a familiar melody. It was the same tune as the music box his father had given to his mother before their marriage and which Pa had handed down to Adam for a remembrance. Closing the lid, he quietly told the sales representative he would like to purchase it, much to Joe’s mystification. “It’s for Pa,” was all Adam would offer as explanation.
“After all the advice you’ve given me about waiting ‘til we’d seen it all before buying anything,” Joe scoffed. “Why would Pa want a music box, anyway?”
Irritated and preferring to keep his memories to himself, Adam muttered sharply, “You wouldn’t understand.”
Joe just rolled his eyes. Back to that again, are we? Fine, let him keep his old secrets.
Having finished the French department, the boys moved east to the next one, presented by the country of Switzerland. The unenclosed area was one of the plainest in the hall, but it housed a wide array of intriguing novelties, beginning with the very front line. An attendant held in his hand a gilt and enamel jewel box, only three inches long and half that wide. When he opened the lid, however, a showy little mechanical bird sprang out to warble a happy song, flapping its multi-colored wings and opening and shutting its beak as it swung from side to side. The effect was so natural the boys almost expected the little bird, only an inch long from beak to tail, to take flight, but after singing for two or three minutes, it popped back into the box.
Joe’s face was alight with joy. “Wouldn’t Hoss love seeing things like this!”
“He would,” Adam agreed with a smile, “but you seem pretty impressed yourself.”
Joe shrugged, in a manner he hoped would appear nonchalant. He felt a little embarrassed by what he viewed (and felt certain Adam also viewed) as childish behavior. It was one thing for Hoss to be child-like, for no one ever doubted his manliness, no matter how gentle and ingenuous he might show himself. Joe, however, always felt like he had to fight for acceptance of his manhood, to overcome the disadvantage, as he saw it, of a baby face and a boyish body.
Watches, of course, formed the most important part of the Swiss exhibits. Little Joe was soon absorbed in surveying the well built and unique timepieces, from a stem-winder set in a finger ring only one-third inch in diameter to an elegant watch in a case studded with diamonds and pearls. The prices overwhelmed the boy, though, especially one tiny watch that was tagged at eleven hundred dollars. “They’re really something, aren’t they?” he said to Adam.
Adam agreed quickly. “Oh, yes, the Swiss are renowned for their craftsmanship.”
Joe nodded glumly. “Guess Pa’d probably like one of these better than a Waltham or Elgin, huh?”
“These are definitely of superior workmanship,” Adam said, watching his brother closely.
Joe sighed, obviously disappointed. “Yeah, that’s what I thought.”
“Does it have to be a watch—your gift, I mean?” Adam asked sympathetically.
“It’s what I wanted,” a crestfallen Joe admitted. “He’d like one of these, I know, but they’re out of my range. Even if I bought nothing for anybody else—which isn’t right, either—I still wouldn’t have enough.”
“That’s what I figured,” Adam said.
For a moment hope lighted Joe’s eyes. “Maybe if we went together?” The light vanished as quickly as it had appeared, for he could tell by look on Adam’s face that his older brother didn’t care for the idea at all. “Never mind,” he said quickly. “I’ll just find something else.”
“Yes, I think that would be best,” Adam said cautiously, trying not to hurt Joe’s feelings.
“Yeah, well, I’ve seen enough watches, then, I guess,” Joe sputtered. “What’s next?”
“The educational exhibits,” Adam said, quirking a half-smile. “They’re in that large pavilion near the north wall.”
Joe groaned and resigned himself to the inevitable. Evidently, every country in the whole world was in cahoots with Adam on this subject. When he and Adam entered the pavilion through its arched doorway, however, Joe was relieved to discover that it contained more than the usual textbooks, drawings and specimens of pupils’ work. They were there, of course, but the first thing that caught Joe’s eye was a two-sided map. The first side drew Adam’s immediate attention with its geological survey of the country, while Little Joe found the other side, showing the geography of Switzerland much more to his liking.
The Swiss publishers also showed their wares inside the pavilion, and while Adam looked at the volumes on display, Joe scanned scenic photos of the country, wondering what it would be like to sail across the ocean and see them in person. Just the day before Adam had mentioned taking him on such a trip one day, but Joe figured he’d lost that opportunity, if it had ever been real, by his misbehavior the previous night.
The final exhibit was, in Joe’s opinion, the best, except for those wonderful watches. The woodcarvers’ table presented a parade of subjects: churches and cuckoo clocks, birds and beasts, tables and ornamental brackets. Pointing to a miniature Swiss cottage, carved in intricate detail, with small drawers below and on the sides, Joe informed his brother that he wanted to buy it.
“I told you, no spending today,” Adam replied sternly.
“You don’t follow your own advice, so why should I?” Joe demanded. “I want this, Adam, and I’m not going to change my mind, so I don’t see why I can’t buy it now—except you’re still mad.”
Adam took a deep breath. “Is it for you or someone else?”
Joe almost spat out that it was none of Adam’s business, but thought better of it before the inflammatory words spewed forth. “It’s for Uncle Clyde,” he answered. “He’ll like it, Adam.”
“Yes, he will,” Adam agreed, with fond memories of the toys and other gifts Clyde Thomas had carved for him and his brothers over the years, “and it’s not too expensive, so you might as well get it now, I suppose.” At first, he chided himself for giving in to Joe’s whining and wheedling. One of the principles his father had emphasized in child-rearing was the importance of carrying through any discipline assessed, and here he’d let the little scamp charm him out of it with his generosity. Then Adam reminded himself that the restriction against spending had been intended as protection, not punishment, so yielding a single time would not actually undermine his authority. So long as I don’t let him talk me out of any of the other restrictions I’ve laid down.
Joe made his purchase and smiled as he clutched the wrapped chalet. “Belgium next?” he asked, nodding at the elegant showcases just to the east. At Adam’s nod he scampered ahead.
“Joe, come back here,” Adam called from a bench next to a cross, mounted on a base of rough-hewn stones, and Joe dutifully came to sit beside him.
“What did you want me to see, Adam?” Joe asked.
Adam grinned. “The bench. Maybe you’re still brimming with vitality, kid, but I am tired.”
Joe sprawled back against the wooden bench. “Naw, I can do with a rest, too, even if I’m not an old man like you.”
Adam ignored the jibe. “Good place to view that, anyway,” he said, pointing with his chin to an enormous pulpit directly in front of them, which towered almost to the ceiling. Its wood was carved with scenes from the life of Christ and figures of the saints, and a canopy at the top was ornamented with angels blowing trumpets.
“A little fancy for the church back home,” Joe suggested.
Adam chuckled and agreed. “Quite a work of art, though.”
“So, you rested enough, old man?” Joe asked, stretching like a cat.
“You’d better lay off the ‘old man’ jokes, youngster,” Adam warned in jest as he stood up, “or I may have to teach you some much-needed respect for your elders.”
“My much elder,” Joe teased and took off for the cases of plate and colored glass. After they had looked at those and then a grouping of oval and rectangular mirrors, stretching up to the ceiling, Adam pointed out a set of glass boxes, filled with rags and waste papers. He pointed to the Latin motto on one box, Colligite fragmenta ne pereant, and asked Joe to transcribe it.
Joe groaned audibly. He had taken a smattering of Latin in his final year at school, but having hated every minute of it, he’d forgotten most of what had been forced upon him. “Well, that means fragment,” he said, pointing to the word “fragmenta.”
“How astute of you,” Adam stated dryly, “and the rest?”
Joe scrambled to remember something, anything, that would help decipher the puzzle his brother had set. “Okay, ‘ne’ is a negative, so, um, ‘no fragments wanted’?”
Adam shook his head in disgust. “Pathetic. Did you pay any attention while you were in school?”
Joe sneered. “As little as possible to stupid stuff like this!”
Still shaking his head, Adam translated. “It means ‘Gather up the fragments, that nothing may be lost,’ a message I’m sure our conservationist father would approve. See why I said you couldn’t possibly pass the entrance exam for Yale?”
“I don’t want to pass the entrance exam for Yale, Adam!” Joe almost shouted the angry words. “Why can’t you get that through your thick head?”
Adam grabbed his brother’s upper arm with an iron grip and hissed through gritted teeth, “Lower your voice, and I do mean now.”
Seeing the attention they were attracting, Joe nodded brusquely and pulled away. He stalked to the next exhibit, only to discover that it was Belgium’s version of the universal educational torment. Adam, of course, insisted on entering the twenty-foot-high model schoolhouse, built of native pine, and while Joe found the textbooks and school papers as boring as always, he did think the presentation more effective than he’d seen elsewhere. They had entered through a small hall with a row of pegs for hats and coats and a shelf set up with basins and towels, where little scholars could wash up before beginning their day of learning. Joe smiled, with fond memories of jostling his friends in a similar anteroom to his childhood school.
Walking through the door at the end of the hall, he again viewed a familiar scene, with its rows of small desks and a platform at the end with one large desk for the teacher, the tall stove in the center of the room and blackboards surrounding the sides. A door at the opposite end led to a gymnasium. Now, that’s something we could have used back home, Joe approved, recalling cold winter days when recess had to be held indoors. Even with all this to hold his attention, however, the young man still was ready to leave considerably before his older brother.
Adam finally responded to the impatient tapping of a foot beside him and moved on to an exhibit of marble mantels, both white and colored, some with landscapes and figures etched in aqua-fortis. “Nitric acid, that is,” Adam added when Joe’s brow wrinkled at the caretaker’s description of the process.
After the mantels came a quick perusal of a case of Brussels lace, which left Joe pondering whether he should purchase some for his special girl back home. If I could just decide which one that is, he admitted with a saucy grin. Susan, maybe, who’d caught him working without his shirt on one day and had been trying to get it off him ever since, or possibly Lindy, who loved to run her fingers through his chestnut curls or Josephine, who shared his name and had made it clear she’d like to share a lot more. Joe sighed. So many lovelies, and all of them wanted a piece of Joe Cartwright. No, he decided, no need to bribe those ladies with expensive lace, especially since he couldn’t afford to do it for all. I’ve got them in the palm of my hand, anyway.
Adam cleared his throat. “Do you have some particular interest in lace, little brother?”
Joe gazed dreamily at his brother and then snapped to attention, as if fearful that older brother could read his thoughts. “Uh, no, not really, Adam. I mean, well, they’re nice, of course, but . . .”
“Uh-huh,” Adam drawled, with a smirk that convinced Joe that his older brother really did have to the power to read minds. He didn’t, of course, but Joe’s mannerisms and the crimson flush creeping up his face told Adam that his little brother’s thoughts had strayed somewhere they shouldn’t. Unfortunately, leading the boy past exhibits of books, scientific and musical instruments and iron doors wrought in vines and flowers wasn’t likely to keep him from daydreaming about . . . oh, of course . . . girls . . . what else? Should’ve guessed sooner.
Not ‘til they reached the tapestries from Malines did Joe again show interest in the exhibits, though not quite as much as he had given the Aubusson tapestries of France. These were fine pieces, however, particularly the portrait of Rubens and the eight-paneled depiction of the gods of Olympus and their attributes.
“How many more countries we gonna see today?” Joe asked as they came away from the Belgian area back to the main aisle.
“Getting tired?” Adam asked.
“Yeah,” Joe admitted.
“Well, there are three more countries exhibiting at this end of the building,” Adam explained. “I’d like to finish those up today, if possible.”
“Okay,” Joe agreed. “It’s all kind of starting to run together, though, especially those educational displays you’re so fond of.”
“And which you will peruse with undivided attention,” Adam dictated with a raised eyebrow. “In fact, perhaps we should skip everything else in those three countries and just concentrate on”—interrupted by a loud groan, he chuckled. “I’m teasing. The catalog doesn’t even list educational exhibits in Brazil.”
“Now, that is my kind of country!” Joe exclaimed. “Let’s go to Brazil!”
Adam grinned, proving that he could, on occasion, sport an expression as impish as that so often seen on his little brother’s face. “As it’s next in line, we’ll do just that.”
Unlike the exhibits of the countries viewed thus far, the Brazilian ones were enclosed in a specially constructed court of Moorish design. A colonnade of wooden pillars with capitals and scalloped keyhole arches supported the pavilion, which was painted in the bright national colors of red, yellow, green and blue. At the top a fanciful cornice pointed toward the ceiling, which the central portion of the pavilion almost touched. The plate glass showcases inside were embellished with ivory and gold and lined with dark maroon cloth.
The largest showcase stood directly inside the entrance, and dodging around a railed parking area filled with rolling chairs, Little Joe made straight for it. Behind the glass artificial flowers, made from the feathers of birds, were displayed. Almost entirely the work of the nuns of Brazil, some of the sprays reached nearly two yards in length, and one flower in a vase was as large and white as a calla lily, with long, fern-like leaves of vibrant green. Since the plumage came from tropical birds, all the colors of the rainbow were represented, and their fibers were so fine they were all but invisible.
Next to the flowers was a collection of butterflies and insects, and Little Joe again found himself thinking of Hoss, who would have dearly loved to see so many different types and varieties. One showcase also displayed jewelry, as lustrous as real gems, made from the vividly colored tropical insects. Some of them were as small as a pea and changed from emerald to azure, depending on how the light struck them. Others, large as hazelnuts, were a blaze of red, while still others were speckled and veined like pebbles in colors of the earth. “Unique, aren’t they?” Adam observed.
“Yeah, but I can’t see any girl I know wearing blue bugs on her ears,” Joe tittered. He pointed to a brooch and earring set that shone as if coated with a film of silver.
“Why not?” Adam asked. “They’re beautiful.”
Joe shook his head in pity for his big brother’s ignorance. “You just don’t know women, Adam.”
“Oh, and you do?” Adam almost doubled over, trying to contain his urge to laugh out loud at the supposed sophistication of this child of nineteen.
Joe pursed his lips in annoyance, for he could read that mocking expression as easily as Adam had earlier read Joe’s emotions. “Enough to know how they feel about bugs!” Joe snorted. “Go ahead, older brother, buy your lady fair a set like this. Just don’t come whining to me when she throws them back in your face.”
“I’ll bear it in mind,” Adam promised, holding back the chuckles. The kid might have a point, he admitted, though he did not for one moment consider inflating Joe’s ego by acknowledging that concession.
Many of the remaining Brazilian exhibits reflected the natural products of the country, coffee being its major export. “There’s a café serving Brazilian coffee elsewhere on the grounds,” Adam told Joe. “We’ll have to sample a cup when we’re in the area.”
“Sounds good,” Joe said. He would have enjoyed a cup right then, in fact, but even though Adam’s attitude toward him had improved markedly, Joe was still aware of the fact that he was under discipline and likely to win few concessions to his comfort from older brother today.
He and Adam passed displays of rice, cocoa, ginger and yams before coming to one that both boys of the high timber country found intriguing with its samples of Brazil’s native woods. The Cartwrights had furniture in their home of rosewood and mahogany, although they had not before seen the wood in its raw state, and they were, of course, familiar with cedar, from the forests of the Sierra Nevadas. Other trees were more exotic, like the castor tree, logwood and caoutchouc, from which came milk for rubber. “Here’s the tree that gave the country its name,” Adam said, tapping the deep red grain of a sample of brazilwood. Joe didn’t ask, but seemed engrossed as Adam went on to explain, “The dye made from this tree was the color of burning coals, which the early Portuguese traders called ‘bresil’ or ‘brasil,’ and they gave the color’s name to the land that grew its source in such quantities. The valuable wood was a favorite target for buccaneers on the high seas.”
If he had failed to attract Joe’s interest before, there was no mistaking the fascination with which the boy pictured pirate ships sailing the Atlantic. “You suppose Pa ever had to fight off pirates?” he asked, eyes ablaze with the fires of imagination.
“I was speaking of the sixteenth century,” Adam chuckled, “but I do seem to remember a few tales of Pa’s run-ins with brigands in the Caribbean.”
“Tell me one,” Joe urged.
“Well, maybe for your bedtime story, little buddy,” Adam teased. “No, better not. That kind of excitement would only keep a little boy awake, and I don’t care to deal with one of your nightmares tonight.”
“Oh, shut up,” Joe muttered, though he wasn’t really irked. This was the kind of teasing he was used to at home, and while it bothered him, he didn’t mind being twitted about his youth nearly as much as when Adam was serious in calling him a child.
After viewing the Indian artifacts on display, Adam and Joe were ready to leave Brazil for the short journey to the Netherlands, just next-door here in Philadelphia, though thousands of miles apart on the globe. Like its neighbor, the Netherlands had enclosed its court, although in a cream and gold-colored framework so light and airy one could see many of the exhibits from outside the enclosure. Little Joe was tempted to do just that when he noticed that the western portion of the pavilion, which was divided into three sections, housed an exhibit of public works, primarily schematic drawings, pictures and models of docks, railroads and bridges. However, he dutifully walked through the arched entrance draped in heavy maroon velvet curtains ornamented with gold braid and tassels. After giving the drawings as diligent a perusal as he could tolerate without dying of boredom, Joe slipped outside to rest on the benches attached to the front of the pavilion. Meanwhile, Adam continued to pore over renderings designed to enthrall the heart of any engineer and exhaust the brain of any mere mortal.
When Adam finally came out, wearing a smile that could only be described as sheepish, Joe stood up and with a pat of forgiveness on his brother’s back walked beside him to the center entrance, passing through a larger, but otherwise identical archway with the same luxurious velvet curtains. Here Little Joe found curiosities much more to his liking, such as the paneled screens, decorated in papier-mâché with scenes of an encounter between a man and a devil. “They’re from Faust,” Adam explained. “I don’t suppose you’ve read that.”
“No,” Joe replied, “and I’m not sure I want to read about the devil, Adam.”
“You really should; it’s a classic,” Adam urged.
“Yeah, well, so’s the Good Book, and I figure it tells all Pa would want me to know about the devil,” Joe said, with a twinkle in his eye.
Suspecting that his father might agree, Adam chuckled under his breath.
Moving past exhibits of lacquered ware and Delft carpets, the brothers came to a display of blankets both agreed would make an excellent contribution to the Ponderosa on cold winter nights. Nearly an inch thick, the coverlets were soft as down and generously padded for extra warmth. With Joe’s complete approval, Adam placed an order, to be delivered by freight shipment to Nevada.
The aisles were lined with a multitude of products, one of the most interesting being the models of Dutch houses with thatched roofs and the miniature farm with plaster casts of cattle with the plague. Though these, too, might have pleased Clyde Thomas, Little Joe was satisfied that he had not done wrong to purchase the Swiss cottage earlier. The Swiss workmanship was clearly more detailed, and Uncle Clyde, so talented in woodcarving himself, would appreciate the delicate lines.
The pavilion of the Dutch publishers showed some fine illustrated volumes and rare etchings, and then came the all-too-predictable school exhibit almost every country felt compelled to inflict on the viewing public. Adam laughed at his brother’s woebegone face. “I think it’s the last one of the day, kid,” he consoled. “None listed for Mexico.”
Joe smiled with relief. Leaving the central area, he and Adam went into the eastern third of the pavilion to see the exhibits from the colonies of the Netherlands. Mostly, these were displays of the colonies’ natural resources, but they also included an exhibit of weapons and clothing of the native tribes, which Joe enjoyed as much as Adam had those drawings of bridges. The primary colonial exhibit came from Java and mainly consisted of coffee, although cinchona, the bark from which quinine was derived, was also on display.
“One country to go,” Joe chirped as he stepped toward the Mexican pavilion, which was housed in a cream-colored enclosure whose architecture reflected the country’s Aztec roots. He and Adam entered through a wide arch, topped by the gilt arms of the Republic, centered in a trophy of banners in the national colors of red, green and white.
As they gazed at historical remains of the Aztec civilization, Adam began to tell Joe what he knew about these early inhabitants of Mexico. Joe listened, absorbed in his brother’s ability to weave a story, despite knowing that he’d have to regurgitate it all in a report he fully expected would take the entire night to write.
The Mexican mineral display was also fascinating to boys from an area whose economy was based on mining, especially because of the large size of some of the specimens. One of quartz and bromide of silver weighed thirteen hundred pounds, and there were also large lumps of lead ore, iron ore, coal and native marble. In addition, the boys saw a new mineral called libinstone and volcanic matter from the recent eruption of Ceboruco on the west coast of the country.
Near samples of native woods, they came across a table of wooden platters, painted with bright flowers. “Do you think Nelly would like something like this?” Adam queried, not wanting to be outdone in his generosity to friends by his baby brother.
“Sure she would,” Joe replied, then added with a naughty grin, “but you should look around more before you decide. Someone older and wiser, in his own opinion at least, told me that.”
Adam laughed. “Follow my own advice, huh?”
Joe arched his eyebrow in deliberate imitation of his older brother. “Shouldn’t you, if it’s good enough advice to be throwing around?” His tone was a trifle sharp, for he still felt miffed that Adam had bought that music box for Pa, going against what he preached to his little brother, without explaining why.
Adam heard the note of discontent and threw a conciliatory arm across Joe’s shoulder. “Indeed, I should, little brother; indeed, I should.”
Joe glanced up, all smiles again. “Want some more good advice?” he offered cheekily.
“Oh, I don’t know,” Adam replied with a rumple of the curls trailing down the back of his brother’s neck. “Considering the source, that might be dangerous.” Seeing Joe’s lips pucker into a playful pout, Adam gave the boy’s neck a slight shake and said, “Well, I guess I’ll chance it. What further advice do you have, little one?”
Joe’s nose crinkled in distaste. “Two things,” he said. “First, don’t call me little one ‘cause I’m not, and second”—his voice took on a childish whine—“take me home. I’ve walked through half the world today and I’m tired.”
“The second, at least, is good advice,” Adam agreed with a grin, “and I’m going to act on it.”
They returned to the hotel for supper, where, instead of selecting his brother’s meal, Adam merely told Joe he could have what he pleased, with the exception of dessert, within a specified price limit. Little Joe was thrilled to regain a measure of his independence, and since his appetite was now fully restored, he ate with relish all he could afford on the somewhat restricted sum Adam had allotted.
Entering their hotel room afterwards, Joe flopped onto the settee and stretched out.
“Don’t get too comfortable,” Adam advised. “You have homework to do.”
Joe moaned. He had hoped Adam’s pleasanter demeanor throughout the afternoon and his easing of the dietary discipline meant that he could get out of the essay, too. “Aw, Adam,” he whined.
“Don’t even start,” Adam warned, taking a sheaf of hotel stationery from the drawer of the desk in the corner. He laid the paper on the top, along with an ink pen, and pulled out the chair.
Taking the hint, Joe walked over and sat down.
“I will be checking for grammar and accuracy, so do your best,” Adam said as he lighted the lamp sitting on the desk.
Joe frowned. “And if you don’t think it’s good enough?”
“You’ll rewrite it until it is,” Adam said with a smug smile. “Unless you wish to be up ‘til time for breakfast, I would suggest you do it right the first time.”
“Yes, sir,” Joe muttered and started writing, nibbling on his lower lip. Three hours later he was still hard at work.
Adam finally took pity on the obviously exhausted boy and, walking to the desk, took the pen from Joe’s hand. “That’ll be enough,” he said.
“I doubt it’s as complete as you’ll think it should be,” Joe said nervously, “and I tried hard with the grammar and spelling and such, but I’m not sure it’s right.”
“I’m sure it’s fine,” Adam said with a light caress of his brother’s neck. “You’re quite capable of producing good work when you try, and it’s clear to me you have made a sincere effort with this. Now, off to bed with you.”
Joe stood, eager to obey that order, but something needed to be said first. “Adam, I want to apologize for going against your orders last night,” he said, fidgeting with his belt buckle. “ I was wrong and, well, I’m sorry.”
“I hope you mean that,” Adam said, “because I would prefer not to go through another day like this has been.”
“No, sir, me, either,” Joe said softly. Clearing his throat to ease its tightness, he asked, “Can we start fresh tomorrow?”
“Of course. Isn’t that the way it’s always been at home?” Adam replied matter of factly.
“With Pa, yes, but . . .”
Slightly offended by the implication, Adam responded more coolly than he might have otherwise. “Well, it’s not different with me, regardless of what you think. Tomorrow we start fresh.”
Shuffling his feet, Joe stared at the floor. “Yeah, well, thanks.”
The boy’s apparent edginess again touched Adam’s heart, and his voice was gentler as he said, “You’re welcome. Sleep well, Joe, and you can even sleep in, if you like. We don’t really need an early start tomorrow.”
With more effusive thanks than he’d expressed before, Joe headed for bed and fell into a deep sleep minutes after his head touched the pillow.
Adam sat down at the desk to read through his brother’s essay, marking errors as he went. Predictably, there were several, but the overall content was so complete, Adam didn’t have the heart to make the boy do it over. He sighed as he set the papers aside. It was a shame Joe was so set against going to college; if he would only make this kind of effort consistently, he’d stand high in his class.
Adam stood, yawning and stretching, and headed for bed. Lying there beneath the sheet, arms folded behind his neck, he smiled. Well, we did get tossed into some choppy water, just like you warned, Pa, but I think I navigated the breakers rather well. I didn’t like taking such a hard tack with the kid, but I feel confident he won’t jump ship that way again.
Had Ben Cartwright been there, he might have pointed out that the Good Book said, “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” But Ben wasn’t there, and Adam fell asleep, his belief that he could “handle that boy” reconfirmed. In one sense he was right. Little Joe would not “jump ship” again, but he and his older brother would soon be thrown into waters more turbulent than either had ever seen, a storm so violent neither could be assured of weathering it.
Adam leaned against the doorjamb of his bedroom and stared at the boy sitting at the desk in his gray nightshirt, bare feet wound around the chair legs. “Aren’t you dressed yet?” he scolded. “I know I said we didn’t need an early start, but that doesn’t mean you should dawdle half the morning.”
Little Joe lifted a woebegone face. “What difference does it make? I’m not going anywhere.” With a sigh he shoved the papers on the desk aside. “I did lousy, so I gotta do it over.”
Adam squatted down at Joe’s side and laid a hand on his knee. “Wrong on both counts.”
Adam gave the knee a couple of pats. “You didn’t do lousy—terrible word choice, incidentally—and you don’t ‘gotta do it over.’”
“But it’s all marked up, and you said . . .”
“I know, I know,” Adam said, standing up. “Maybe I’ve succumbed to your boyish charms, but I think you’ve done well enough—quite well, in fact. I’d like you to look at the mistakes I’ve marked, so you can learn from them, but you don’t have to rewrite the paper.”
Joe smiled, relieved. “Hey, thanks, Adam.” He gathered up the papers. “I did good, huh? Can I keep it?”
“You did well,” Adam said, emphasizing the adverb over the adjective that Joe had incorrectly chosen, “and certainly you may keep it. It will make a nice remembrance of your visit.”
Joe nodded. “Yeah. What I was thinking, though, was maybe I’d fix it up and copy it out to send to Pa. You think it’s good enough for that?”
Adam rumpled his brother’s uncombed curls. “Of course, it is, and Pa will be pleased and proud. But not now, little buddy. Jump into your clothes—your suit from home would be best—and let’s get down to breakfast.”
“Don’t have to tell me twice!” Joe exclaimed, jumping up from the chair and hurrying to his room. He dressed quickly and soon he and Adam were perusing menus downstairs in the dining hall. Joe noted with satisfaction that nothing was said about what he could or could not order. Just as Adam had promised, they were starting fresh today, as though nothing had happened between them, and Joe intended to do his best to see that he did nothing to remind his older brother of the earlier unpleasantness. In that vein, he ignored his first urge to order the most expensive thing on the menu in retaliation for yesterday’s deprivations. After all, Adam really hadn’t done badly by him, and even to Joe, draining his brother’s wallet was beginning to seem like an act of childish spite.
“So, big brother, what’s the plan today?” Joe chirped after placing his order for ham, eggs and hotcakes.
Adam lifted his cup of black coffee. “I think we can both use a lighter day after seeing the Main Building at the Exhibition yesterday.” He took a sip, savoring the rich flavor.
“That’s for sure,” Joe agreed, adding a generous stream of cream to his cup, “and we only saw half of it!”
Adam nodded. “We’ll try to finish it up tomorrow, but I planned to visit a couple of places here in the city today. First, Girard College.”
The sugar Joe was aiming toward his coffee cup scattered across the linen cloth as he slammed the spoon to the table. “You promised me we were through visiting colleges, except for Yale!” he blurted out, face flaming. “You just added another one because you’re still mad about me going off to Shantyville without you.”
“I am not!” Adam declared. “You get hold of yourself, boy. If you’ll just listen for one minute—”
“Go ahead!” Joe snorted, leaning back and folding his arms. “This should be good, you trying to explain how a broken promise isn’t a broken promise.”
Adam took a long, deep breath, trying to get his own temper under control before dealing with the unreasonable child across from him. “We’re not going to this school for your benefit; we’re going because I would like to see it,” he explained tersely. “Girard College exhibits one of the more excellent examples of Greek architecture in the country. And since the students there are all orphans between the ages of six and ten, I am scarcely suggesting it to you as a place to further your education—although you’re not acting much more mature than the boys there!”
Joe slid down in his seat, muttering sheepishly, “Oh. Sorry.”
Adam shook his head, gazing at Joe with patronizing eyes. “Trust, little brother, a quality you obviously need to develop.”
The words hurt, but as Joe believed himself to be clearly in the wrong this time, he said nothing. Fortunately, their food arrived just then and the uncomfortable silence was broken with routine comments on how tasty it was and when, if ever, the unprecedented heat would let up.
After breakfast the Cartwright brothers went first to the Public Ledger Building, where Adam obtained tickets to visit Girard College. Then they caught the Ridge Street horse car and rode it about a mile beyond that street’s junction with Vine.
Hopping off the car, Joe noticed first the high stone wall, capped with marble slabs, surrounding the property. Poor little orphans, all fenced in, he sympathized. Walking through the lodge that served as the south entrance, though, he revised his opinion on seeing the forty-five-acre grounds themselves. The wide sweeping lawn offered all the room a kid could crave to run around, and there were tall trees with beckoning limbs to climb. Not a bad place, after all, Joe decided, ‘cept it’s still a school, any way you look at it.
Adam pointed out the main building, a three-story white marble replica of a Greek temple, surrounded by Corinthian columns, eight on each end and eleven on either side. “The lecture and recitation rooms are housed there,” he explained, “with those other buildings used for the college officers’ residences and dormitories for the orphans.”
Joe nodded, straining to share his brother’s enthusiasm. “They’re real graceful buildings, Adam, and they look kind of like a college, but I sure never thought of that as a word for a school for kids.”
Adam laughed. “A bit ostentatious, you think?”
Joe broke into a wide grin. “And downright misleading!”
“Only to those who yelp before they give a person time to explain,” Adam observed dryly.
Joe’s mouth skewed awry. “I said I was sorry.”
Chuckling, Adam cupped his hand behind his brother’s neck. “Shall we go inside?”
Entering via the south porch, the Cartwrights paused before the statue of Stephen Girard, the founder of the school, and then went inside. After a brief tour through schoolrooms, dining room, bathing rooms and the school’s hospital, they came out again. “Hey, look at that!” Joe cried, pointing to an area of the lawn where boys in military-style uniforms stood in ranks. As he and Adam watched, the cadets began to wheel and turn in response to the crisp orders of a young man facing the assembled units. “Pretty impressive, huh?” Joe commented.
“They’re too young for that,” Adam muttered morosely. Suddenly, he saw himself walking across an indistinguishable battlefield, trying, in vain, to avoid stepping on the outstretched hand, foot or bloated belly of some motionless fellow soldier. Soldiers—some of them had been boys, scarcely older than these children marching on a quiet, grassy lawn—but they had lain there, staring blank-eyed into the sun, with limbs that should have been running and playing in some schoolyard frozen, instead, in the grotesque shapes of rigor mortis.
Looking up, Joe was surprised to see the hard set of Adam’s jaw and the faraway, bitter look in his eye. “What’s wrong, Adam?” he asked.
“What?” Shaking off the shadows, Adam forced a careworn smile. “Oh, nothing, Joe; it’s nothing.”
The war, Joe thought. It’s got to be that; it’s always that when he gets this way. But what set him off this time? They’re just kids playing soldier . . . playing . . . yeah, maybe that’s it. The war wasn’t a game to Adam, and he can’t stand seein’ anyone take it that way. Joe would have loved to ask Adam if his guesses were correct, but he preferred not to upset his brother and risk having Adam jump down his throat the way he had the day before. “So, is this the kind of building you dream about putting up, Adam?” Joe asked, trying to connect with his brother again. He pointed back to the white marble building behind them.
Adam again had a faraway look in his eye, but this time he was smiling dreamily. “Oh, I don’t know. I’d be proud to claim this work as my own, but I suppose if I were to serve as master architect for any project, I’d want to do something more original, like Schwarzmann has at the Centennial Exhibition. There are some beautiful and creative designs there.”
Joe smiled, too, pleased to have pulled his brother’s thoughts from whatever dark corner in which they had been lurking. “Yeah, I can tell you really like them, just by the way you look at them,” he said, adding almost shyly, “You—you could do just as good, I bet, Adam.”
“Just as well,” Adam said, ignoring the careless shrug with which Joe dismissed the correction, “and I hope I could, but I’ve never really been tested in that field.”
“You sorry about that?” Joe asked, swallowing the lump in his throat. “About coming back to the Ponderosa, instead of staying here?”
Adam smiled and shook his head. “I think about it sometimes, but, no, I made my choice, and I think it was the right one. It’s just at times like this, seeing buildings as beautifully designed as these . . .”
“Then let’s leave now, brother,” Joe suggested firmly, “‘cause I don’t want you getting any crazy ideas.”
Adam laughed. “Okay, kid. It is time we made our way to the next stop, anyway.”
“Dinner,” Joe pleaded. “I sure hope it’s dinner.”
Adam cuffed his neck and pulled him toward the street. “Dinner first, then a surprise.”
“Hope it’s something fun for a change,” Joe mumbled under his breath.
Adam just grinned, choosing to keep his secret to himself as he pushed Joe onto the streetcar, then transferred them to another and finally debarked near Seventh and Arch for dinner at the St. Cloud Hotel. Joe looked all directions just before entering, but he couldn’t figure out what Adam’s surprise might be. There was a theater about a block to the east, but it was too early in the day for anything to be playing. The nearby photography studio was a possibility. Yeah, that must be it, Joe decided. We’re gonna get our pictures made to send home to Pa. Good idea, but I wish he’d told me, so I could dress nicer.
He had to revise his thinking when, after dinner, Adam walked right past the photography studio without stopping. They continued west for two more blocks, stopping in front of an attraction known as Colonel Woods’ Museum.
“You mean it?” Joe asked, eyes lighting with pleasure. “But I thought you said it wasn’t any good.”
“I haven’t changed that opinion,” Adam admitted, “but I decided to let you see for yourself.”
Joe interpreted those words as reflecting an I-told-you-so attitude, although Adam hadn’t meant it that way, so even when it became obvious that his older brother’s evaluation was correct, Joe couldn’t bring himself to admit it.
“Well, did you enjoy it?” Adam asked as they left the museum. “You’ve been awfully quiet.”
Joe bit his lower lip and looked away. “Uh, yeah, I did. Thanks, Adam.”
Adam planted a hand on each of Joe’s shoulders and turned the boy to face him. “Okay, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” Joe started to say, but one glance at Adam’s face told him his older brother wouldn’t buy that lie. “It’s just—just—well, you were right. It’s not as good as the Exhibition.”
Adam gave both shoulders a clap and released his brother. “Well, it was better than I expected and made for a lighter day, which we needed. It wasn’t a bad idea at all on that basis, little buddy, so let’s just say we were both right.”
Not accustomed to such a magnanimous attitude from his older brother, Joe warmed to it immediately. “Hey, it’s still early. You got something else planned?”
Adam shook his head, amazed anew at the boundless energy of youth. “Maybe you’re not tired, kid, but I am! I’m for heading back to the hotel and relaxing awhile, maybe writing some letters home. Then I thought we could take in a concert tonight.”
Joe immediately looked edgy. “Concert?”
“At the Academy of Music,” Adam explained. “You said you’d prefer that to the opera.”
“Oh, yeah, anything’s better than that—”
“Caterwauling,” Adam interrupted. “Yes, little brother, I remember your opinion on that quite clearly, and I would prefer not to hear it expressed again.”
Chagrined by the reminder of his misbehavior, Joe looked down and nodded.
Arriving by streetcar at the Washington Hotel, both brothers stretched out for a while, and then both spent the remainder of the afternoon writing letters home. Little Joe carefully copied out a corrected version of his essay and put it in an envelope for his father, without, of course, any explanation of why he’d written such an unusually lengthy and well-constructed report of his activities. As far as Joe was concerned, Pa was welcome to believe that it was simply time spent in the presence of so much culture that had produced the marked improvement in his composition skills. See, Pa, you’re getting your money’s worth, helping send me on this trip.
Adam, who had finished his briefer letters long before Joe, closed the book he’d been reading while reclining on the settee. “Joe,” he called. “It’s time to dress for the theater. Your best suit, please.”
Joe spun around in the desk chair. “Aren’t we waiting ‘til after supper to dress, so we don’t spill gravy on our fancy cravats? That’s what we did before.”
Adam sat up, stretching out the kinks in his back. “Nope, not possible, as we’re not eating downstairs.”
Joe immediately perked up at the prospect of a new dining experience. While the food at the Washington was tasty, he got tired of looking at the same selections night after night. “Yeah, where?” he asked.
Adam smiled, knowing he was about to give his young brother a thrill. “The Continental. It’s close to the theater; besides, I wanted to give our guests a better repayment of their hospitality than the Washington affords.”
Joe’s face scrunched with sudden uneasiness. “Guests? Repayment?” He groaned. Not Adam’s stuffed-shirt architect friend!
Adam fired an indignant finger at his younger brother. “I don’t want to hear any complaint from you, boy! It is quite enough that you spurned Mr. Morganstern’s generous offer without adding rudeness tonight to your previous offenses.”
“Yes, sir,” Joe said at once. “I mean no, sir—that is, I’ll be on my best behavior, I promise.”
“You had better be,” Adam ordered sternly, “or, I assure you, yesterday’s consequences will seem like a slap on the wrist by comparison to what you’ll earn if I see the slightest hint of discourtesy to Bert or the smallest gesture of impropriety to his niece.”
The light of hope sprang back into Joe’s eyes. “Niece?” Then he eyed his brother with narrowed gaze. “How old? Is she pretty?”
It was all Adam could do to refrain from laughing aloud at the look of skeptical distrust that passed over his young brother’s handsome face. “Well, she’s about your age, possibly a year younger,” he replied, drawing the words out slowly as Joe sat forward, eagerly, “and as for looks . . .”
Joe perched on the edge of his seat. “Yes?”
“Well, you know you shouldn’t judge a person by mere physical appearance, Joe,” Adam began, voice tapering off as though he were reluctant to continue.
Joe slumped against the back of his chair. “That bad, huh?”
“No, no.” Adam appeared to be searching his vast vocabulary for words to describe the lady with both justice and mercy. Finally, he sighed dramatically and surrendered to defeat. “She looks well enough, I suppose . . . except for that wart on the tip of her chin.”
“Oh,” Joe said, face deflating as quickly as an uncinched balloon.
Adam schooled himself to adopt once more a stern expression. “The smallest gesture of impropriety, Joe,” he warned.
Looking miserable, Joe nodded. “Yes, sir. I’ll be polite to the . . . lady.”
“See that you are,” Adam stated firmly before turning away to hide the sudden twitch of his lips.
Decked out in their finest, the Cartwright boys walked the two blocks between the Washington and Continental hotels. They both wore black broadcloth suits with fancy, frilled white linen shirts under brocade vests, Adam’s embossed black and Joe’s deep maroon and gray paisley. Joe proudly sported the gray silk cravat that Hop Sing had given him, and he was content with his decision to go bareheaded, rather than spend money on a hat for infrequent evening wear. The straw one he’d purchased was cooler than felt during the hot days, but the young man saw no need to cover his curls inside a theater and, frankly, thought Adam looked rather foppish in his black top hat. Adam, of course, would have disagreed vehemently had Little Joe been so foolish as to voice that uncultured opinion.
They entered the lobby of the Continental Hotel, its interior opulent by comparison with the Washington. Registry and courtesy desks of rich mahogany flanked the room on either side, while the center was tastefully arranged with intimate groupings of brocade settees and Queen Anne side chairs. Running his eyes over the room, Adam spotted his friend. “Over there,” he told Joe, nodding toward a settee to their left.
Joe gathered his strength to face the warty one . . . and saw, instead, a vision straight from heaven: a heart-shaped face framed by a thick wreath of brown ringlets with a warm touch of copper, eyes as blue as a fairyland lagoon and a rose-ivory complexion unmarred by a single blemish. After planting a sharp, but discrete elbow in Adam’s ribs, Joe put on his most charming smile and, ignoring his older brother’s low, throaty chuckle, walked forward to make the pleasure of Miss Morganstern’s acquaintance.
The young lady bounced up from her seat, eyes shining in appreciation of what she saw. “Oh, how splendid!” she cried. “I was so hoping your brother would be able to accompany you this time, Mr. Cartwright.” She turned, smiling, to the handsome boy standing beside Mr. Cartwright and thrust out her hand. “Hello. I’m Penny and so happy to meet you.
Bertram Morganstern hefted his considerable weight from the settee. “Honestly, Penelope, you have the most atrociously unladylike manners. You haven’t even been introduced to the lad.”
“Oh, pooh, of course I have,” Penny contradicted. “I just introduced myself, didn’t I?”
“And very graciously,” Little Joe said, lifting her hand to his lips for a continental kiss. He frowned at Adam when he felt a hard thumb flick against the small of his back.
“I’m afraid ‘the lad’ is being rather forward himself,” Adam said, “but by way of formal introduction, Joe, let me present Miss Penelope Morganstern. Miss Morganstern, my brother, Joseph Cartwright.”
Penelope curtsied, spreading her azure silk skirt with a mischievous twinkle in her dark blue eyes. “Pleased to make your acquaintance, Mr. Cartwright.”
Little Joe clicked his heels together and made a smart bow from the waist, one arm folded across his midriff, the other behind his back. “The pleasure is mine, Miss Morganstern.” Then he flashed the famous grin that charmed the girls back home. “I really am pleased to meet you, Penelope. Please call me Joe.”
“It’s Penny,” the girl said brightly. “I insist,” she added with a determined jut of her chin toward her uncle.
Bert sighed as if controlling his unconventional niece were an all-too-familiar and all-too-hopeless struggle. “Shall we go in now?” he suggested. “We don’t wish to incur indigestion by rushing the meal or to be late to the theater.”
Joe quickly stepped forward and offered Penny his arm. With a smile she took it, and the two young people led the way into the dining room, their elders following, shaking their heads in dismay at the social ignorance of modern youth.
The Continental’s dining room was even more ornate than its lobby. Crystal chandeliers hung overhead, lighting the room full of round tables, covered in dazzlingly white damask tablecloths. The chairs at each table were gracefully scrolled rosewood with cushions and oval inserts on their backs of royal blue velvet. “They’ve decorated the room to enhance your beauty,” Joe whispered in Penny’s ear as he eased her chair under the table.
“Monsieur est très galant,” she murmured in response.
Joe wasn’t completely sure he’d understood the French phrase, but the words sounded enough like their English equivalents that he thought he’d interpreted her compliment correctly. “Thanks,” he said as he slid into the chair next to Penny. He opened the menu, only to discover that large portions of its contents were also in French. He knew a few words, from having dined with his father in French restaurants in Virginia City and San Francisco, but soon realized that he had no idea what most of the entrees were.
“So many choices,” Penny sighed, looking at the menu. “What are you having, Joe?”
“Umm, I’m not sure yet,” Joe mumbled, his red face a dead giveaway to his dilemma.
Penny touched his arm with cool fingers. “Shall I tell you what is particularly good? It’s so hard to know what to order in a new restaurant, isn’t it?”
“I hadn’t noticed that being much of a hindrance heretofore,” Adam observed dryly.
Joe’s eyes threw daggers at his brother; then he turned a completely different countenance to the young woman seated on his other side. “Miss Penny, I would appreciate that. In fact, I trust your judgment so much that I’ll just have whatever you’re having.”
“Oh, what fun!” Penny cried. “We must make it an adventure for you, so I’ll try to pick foods you wouldn’t normally have at home. Please correct me if I select something commonplace. I’m not familiar with Nevada cuisine.”
“Is there such a thing?” her uncle chuckled.
Penny gave his arm a light slap. “And this is the man who lectures me on manners! Honestly, Uncle Bert, you are worse than Papa, God rest his soul, ever was. I’m sure the Cartwrights are accustomed to excellent food, simply different from ours.”
“Not so different,” Adam said, feeling compelled to defend his home territory. “The International House in Virginia City boasts cuisine comparable to Delmonico’s, especially now that the railroad brings in supplies more easily than in the old days of freighting everything over the mountains.”
“Oh, dear, that will make it more difficult to fashion a novel eating experience for you, Joe,” Penny said, lips pouting prettily, “but I’m determined to try.” She decided, eventually, on mock turtle soup with sherry, escargot in garlic butter, ham with champagne sauce, baked potato, peas with mushrooms, and Brussels sprouts. “Now please tell me you haven’t tasted any of those before,” she entreated.
A mischievous twinkle sprang into Joe’s emerald eyes. “Well, I think I’ve had potatoes a time or two.”
“Oh, you naughty boy,” Penny scolded with a playful wag of her finger. “Of course, you have, and peas, too, I’m sure.”
Joe laughed. “Yeah, but not with mushrooms. I’ll bet they’re good that way. The only other thing I’ve had before is the escargot, but I’m glad you picked that ‘cause it’s an especial favorite of mine.” Just like Mama. She loved escargot, Pa says. Joe always felt close to his mother when eating those little “slugs,” as he’d called them the first time his father insisted that he try the French delicacy.
After all the orders had been placed, Penny turned once more to Little Joe. “I was so disappointed when you couldn’t join us the other night. Uncle Bert told me how handsome you were, and so, of course—”
“Penelope, please,” Bert protested feebly.
Penny waved the admonition aside. “I trust you’ve fully recovered from your malaise,” she said to Joe.
Crimson creeping up his neck, Joe fumbled with the napkin in his lap, not sure what to say about his counterfeit illness. “Well, I—uh . . .”
Surprisingly, Adam came to his rescue. “He was feeling quite rocky that night, especially after I returned to the hotel, but you’re much better now, aren’t you, Joe?”
“Um, yes. Yes, I am,” Joe said, barely above a whisper, shooting Adam a glance of gratitude for not revealing the precise nature of his “malaise.”
A waiter, dressed in a white coat, served the soup: mock turtle for Joe and Penny, consommé for Adam and rich, buttery oyster stew for Bert Morganstern. “So, how are you enjoying your visit to the Centennial, gentlemen?” Penny asked, and the wonders of the Exposition consumed the conversation throughout the remaining courses.
After dinner the Morgansterns’ private carriage took the quartet to the Academy of Music. The Italian Byzantine exterior of pressed brick with brownstone trim gave little indication of the magnificence inside. The front doors led to a large lobby with retiring rooms and cloakrooms to the side. Bert and Adam checked their hats in the room to the right, and making their way past one of the grand stairways sweeping up to the balcony on either side, the party entered the main auditorium.
Drawn by the light from a crystal chandelier that made the one at the Continental Hotel seem like a coal oil lantern by comparison, Joe looked up and stood for a moment, entranced by the frescoed dome that simulated a starlit sky.
Penny squeezed his hand. “Beautiful, isn’t it?”
Joe smiled down into eyes that seemed brighter to him than any star. “Not as beautiful as you,” he whispered.
“Children, please,” Bert remonstrated. “Not in a public aisle. Try to remember proper comportment for a young lady of society, Penelope.”
“Yes, Uncle Bert. I do try,” Penny replied demurely, but it was obvious to her young companion that she had to purse her lips to keep from laughing.
The proscenium held lavishly appointed boxes between six Corinthian pillars, three on each side, and Joe was thrilled to learn that Adam had purchased seats in one on the left. They would have a marvelous view of the stage from its velvet seats, upholstered in the house colors of gold and crimson.
“The acoustics of the hall are outstanding,” Bert informed the visitors from Nevada as they took their seats, “and the musicians always excel.”
“So I’ve heard,” Adam replied. “I’m looking forward to an enjoyable evening. I’m pleased we could obtain such fine seats on short notice.”
Joe and Penny, heads touching, examined the program together, and Joe was pleased to see that the performance would contain both classical and popular songs. He winced, however, as the first singer began to yodel an aria from Aida.
Adam couldn’t resist sending a smirk Joe’s direction when he noticed his younger brother’s taut, suffering face. Despite his well-planned mutiny, the kid had had to listen to grand opera, after all!
Joe started to scowl back, but the grimace froze on his face when his pretty companion asked if he liked opera. Though tempted to lie, to impress her, Joe’s inherent honesty took over. “Well, no. I can’t say that I care for songs when I don’t understand the words.”
Penny giggled and leaned close to whisper conspiratorially, “Me, either. I know a little Italian, but I can’t sort it out quickly enough to keep up with songs. And those piercing arias are just . . . just . . .”
“Caterwauling?” Joe suggested helpfully.
“Exactly,” Penny said with a decisive nod of her chin. “Isn’t it just the most boring stuff you’ve ever heard?”
Joe grinned, happy to find a kindred spirit in the blue-eyed beauty. “No, the most boring would be my brother Adam talking about how wonderful it is.”
Ringlets bouncing on her shoulders, Penny shook her head. “Oh, no. I’m sure my uncle could far surpass him in ability to bore.”
“What were you children chattering about?” Bert chided as the aria ended. “You should give attention to the singer. Must I again speak to you about your manners, Penelope?”
“Why, no, Uncle Bertie, I do wish you would not,” Penny answered. Then she exchanged a puckish smile with Joe, and they both faced forward, hoping the next singer would be one who had the good sense to sing in English.
“Have you seen Aida?” Bert asked, turning to Adam.
“No, I haven’t had the pleasure,” Adam admitted, “although I do admire Verdi.”
“I thought not,” Bert observed, a slightly superior glow on his florid face. “It only made its American debut three years ago, so it’s quite understandable that it hasn’t made its way west yet.”
Adam took a long breath to gather control, his opinion of his old friend growing closer to Joe’s by the minute. “It’s possible the opera may have played in San Francisco.” He spoke with the kind of measured precision anyone who knew him would have recognized as a danger signal. “Most of the major productions do, although Aida hasn’t been on the bill when I’ve been in town.”
Loud applause indicated that the singer making his entrance was a popular one, and Adam pointedly turned to face the stage.
For the most part, the remaining musical numbers were in English and were entertaining for the entire audience, even to those as opposed to culture as Joe and Penny. Afterwards, Bert insisted that they return to the Continental for coffee and coconut steeples, an incredibly rich cookie. Then he drove the Cartwrights back to their hotel.
Joe and Penny gazed fondly at each other until the carriage was out of sight; then Joe walked inside the Washington Hotel with his brother. “You know, Adam, maybe it wouldn’t be so horrible if we went to the opera with your friends. It would give me a chance to make up for bailing out on you the other night.”
Adam gave the boy a supercilious smile. “It would give you another chance to make calf-eyes at Penelope, you mean. Oh, no, little brother, you are quite difficult enough to handle without my providing extra opportunities for you to chase skirts. The emphasis now is on education, remember?”
Joe groaned. “Don’t remind me! But you should realize, Adam, that when a fellow’s got a bitter pill like education to swallow, it helps to have a pretty nurse hold his hand.”
Rolling his eyes, Adam shoved his brother across the lobby toward the elevator. “You are incorrigible!” he exclaimed. Well, that was stating the obvious, he reminded himself. If I didn’t know that the word had been around since the fourteenth century, I’d be certain it had been coined with Joe specifically in mind!
***End of Part 2***