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قراءة كتاب Vistas of New York

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‏اللغة: English
Vistas of New York

Vistas of New York

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
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where there’s a fine library and a big reading-room with all sorts of papers and magazines—I never knew there were so many before. It’s going to be a great convenience to me, that reading-room is, and I shall try to improve myself with the advantages I can get there. But whenever I’ve read anything in a magazine that’s at all good, then I want to talk it over with you as we used to do. You know so much more about books and history than I do, and you always make me see the fine side of things. I’m afraid my appreciation of the ideal needs to be cultivated. But you are a good-enough ideal for me; I found that out ages ago, and it didn’t take me so very long, either. You weren’t meant to teach school every winter; and it won’t be so very many winters before you will be down here in New York keeping house for a junior partner in Fassiter, Smith & Kiddle—or some firm just as big.

I can write that way to you, Miriam, but I couldn’t say anything like that down at the store. It isn’t that they’d jeer at me, though they would, of course—because most of them haven’t any ambition and just spend their money on their backs, or on the races, or anyhow. No, I haven’t the confidence these New-Yorkers have. Why, I whisper to the car conductors to let me off at the corner, and I do it as quietly as I can, for I don’t want them all looking at me. But a man who was brought up in the city, he just glances up from his paper and says “Twenty-third!” And probably nobody takes any notice of him, except the conductor. I wonder if I’ll ever be so at home here as they are.

Even the children are different here. They have the same easy confidence, as though they’d seen everything there was to see long before they were born. But they look worn, too, and restless, for all they take things so easy.

You ask if I’ve joined a church yet. Well, I haven’t. I can’t seem to make up my mind. I’ve been going twice every Sunday to hear different preachers. There’s none of them with the force of your father—none of them as powerful as he is, either in prayer or in preaching. I’m going to Dr. Thurston’s next Sunday; he’s got some of the richest men in town in his congregation.

There must be rich men in all the churches I’ve been to, for they’ve got stained-glass windows, and singers from the opera, they say, at some of them. I haven’t heard anybody sing yet whose voice is as sweet as a little girl’s I know—a little bit of a girl who plays the organ and teaches in Sunday-school—and who doesn’t know how much I love her.

JACK.

V

NEW YORK, Oct. 14, 1894.

DEAR MIRIAM,—Yes, it is a great comfort to me always to get your bright letters, so full of hope and love and strength. You are grit, clear through, and I’m not half good enough for you. Your last letter came Saturday night; and that’s when I like to get them, for Sunday is the only day I have time to be lonely.

I go to church in the forenoon and in the evening again; in the afternoon I’ve been going up to Central Park. There’s a piece of woods there they call the Ramble, and I’ve found a seat on a cobble up over the pond. The trees are not very thrifty, but they help me to make believe I am back in Auburnvale. Sometimes I go into the big Museum there is in the Park, not a museum of curiosities, but full of pictures and statuary, ever so old some of it, and very peculiar. Then I wish for you more than ever, for that’s the sort of thing you’d be interested in and know all about.

Last Sunday night I went to Dr. Thurston’s church, and I thought of you as soon as the music began. I remember you said you did wish you were an organist in a Gothic church where they had a pipe-organ. Well, the organ at Dr. Thurston’s would just suit you, it’s so big and deep and fine. And you’d like the singing, too; it’s a quartet, and the tenor is a German who came from the Berlin opera; they say he gets three thousand dollars a year just for singing on Sunday.

But I suppose it pays them to have good voices like his, for the church was crowded; and even if some of the congregation came for the music, they had to listen to Dr. Thurston’s sermon afterward. And it was a very good sermon, indeed—almost as good as one of your father’s, practical and chockful of common sense. And Dr. Thurston isn’t afraid of talking right out in meeting, either. He was speaking of wealth and he said it had to be paid for just like anything else, and that many a man buys his fortune at too high a price, especially if he sacrifices for it either health or character. And just in front of him sat old Ezra Pierce, one of the richest men in the city—and one of the most unscrupulous, so they say. He’s worth ten or twenty millions at least; I was up in the gallery and he was in the pew just under me, so I had a good look at him. I wonder how it must feel to be as rich as all that.

And who do you suppose was in the pew just across the aisle from old Pierce? Nobody but the Gilt-Edged Girl, as you call her, that Miss Stanwood. So you see it’s a small world even in a big city, and we keep meeting the same people over and over again.

I rather think I shall go to Dr. Thurston’s regularly now. I like to belong to a church and not feel like a tramp every Sunday morning. Dr. Thurston is the most attractive preacher I’ve heard yet, and the music there is beautiful.

I don’t suppose I shall ever be as rich as old Ezra Pierce, although I don’t see why not, but if ever I am really rich I’ll have a big house, with a great big Gothic music-room, with a pipe-organ built in one end of it. I guess I could get Some One to play on it for me when I come home evenings tired out with making money down-town. I wonder if she guesses how much I love her?

JACK.

VI

NEW YORK, Oct. 28, 1894.

DEAR MIRIAM,—Your account of your rehearsal of the choir was very amusing. I’m glad you are having such a good time. But then you always could make a good story out of anything. You must have had a hard job managing the choir, and smoothing them down, and making them swallow their little jealousies. I wish I had half your tact. I can sell a man a bill of goods now about as well as any of the clerks in the store; but if I could rub them down gently as you handle the soprano and the contralto, I’d be taken into the firm inside of two years.

And I never wished for your tact and your skill in handling children more than I did last Sunday. I wrote you I’d made up my mind to go to Dr. Thurston’s, and last Sunday he called for teachers for the Sunday-school. So I went up and they gave me a class of street boys, Italians, some of them, and Swedes. They’re a tough lot, and I guess that some of them are going to drop by the wayside after the Christmas tree. I had hard work to keep order, but I made them understand who was the master before I got through. All the English they know they pick up from the gutter, I should say; and yet they want books to take home. So I told them if they behaved themselves all through the hour I’d go to the library with them to pick out a book for each of them. They don’t call it a book, either—they say, “Give me a good library, please.”

And what do you suppose happened when I took them all up to the library desk? Well, I found that the librarian was the tall girl you call the Gilt-Edged. It is funny how I keep meeting her, isn’t it? I was quite confused at first; but of course she didn’t know me and she couldn’t guess that you used to make fun of her. So she was just businesslike and helped me pick out the books for the boys.

Considering the hard times,

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