“And what is to be the hook, darling, this time?” said I.
“I have been thinking of it all day. I hope you will not hate it,—I know you will not like it exactly; but why not write down just the whole story of what it is to be ‘Children of the Public’; how we came to live here, you know; how we built the house, and—all about it?”
“How Felix knew Fausta,” said I; “and how Fausta first met Felix, perhaps; and when they first kissed each other; and what she said to him when they did so.”
“Tell that, if you dare,” said Fausta; “but perhaps—the oracle says we must not be proud—perhaps you might tell just a little. You know—really almost everybody is named Carter now; and I do not believe the neighbors will notice,—perhaps they won’t read the paper. And if they do notice it, I don’t care! There!”
“It will not be so bad as—”
But I never finished the sentence. An imperative gesture closed my lips physically as well as metaphorically, and I was glad to turn the subject enough to sit down to tea with the children. After the bread and butter we agreed what we might and what we might not tell, and then I wrote what the reader is now to see.
MY LIFE TO ITS CRISIS.
New-Yorkers of to-day see so many processions, and live through so many sensations, and hurrah for so many heroes in every year, that it is only the oldest of fogies who tells you of the triumphant procession of steamboats which, in the year 1824, welcomed General Lafayette on his arrival from his tour through the country he had so nobly served.
But, if the reader wishes to lengthen out this story he may button the next silver-gray friend he meets, and ask him to tell of the broken English and broken French of the Marquis, of Levasseur, and the rest of them; of the enthusiasm of the people and the readiness of the visitors, and he will please bear in mind that of all that am I.
For it so happened that on the morning when, for want of better lions to show, the mayor and governor and the rest of them took the Marquis and his secretary, and the rest of them, to see the orphan asylum in Deering Street,—as they passed into the first ward, after having had “a little refreshment” in the managers’ room, Sally Eaton, the head nurse, dropped the first courtesy to them, and Sally Eaton, as it happened, held me screaming in her arms. I had been sent to the asylum that morning with a paper pinned to my bib, which said my name was Felix Carter.
“Eet ees verra fine,” said the Marquis, smiling blandly.
“Ravissant!” said Levasseur, and he dropped a five-franc piece into Sally Eaton’s hand. And so the procession of exhibiting managers talking bad French, and of exhibited Frenchmen talking bad English, passed on; all but good old Elkanah Ogden—God bless him!—who happened to have come there with the governor’s party, and who loitered a minute to talk with Sally Eaton about me.