COLONEL HARRIS RETURNS TO HARRISVILLE
The strong will of Reuben Harris was to meet its match, in fact its defeat. His plans for a well rounded life were nearing a climax when the telegram from his manager Wilson changed all his plans, and standing on the pier, as his family steamed away, he experienced the horrors of a terrible nightmare.
Mechanically he shook his white handkerchief, saw his family carried far out to sea as if to another world, and he longed for some yawning earthquake to engulf him. He stood transfixed to the dock; the perspiration of excitement, now checked, was chilling him when Gertrude caught his arm and said, “Father, what is the matter?”
Colonel Harris’s strong frame trembled like a ship that had struck a hidden rock, and then he rallied as if from a stupor, and taking Mr. Searles’s arm was helped to a carriage.
He said, “You must pardon me, Mr. Searles, if for a moment I seemed unmanned. It is a terrible ordeal to be thus suddenly separated from my family.”
“Yes, Colonel Harris, I had a similar experience recently on the docks in Liverpool when my family bade me adieu, and I came alone to America. Separation for a time even from those we love is trying.”
The heroic in Colonel Harris soon enabled him to plan well for the afternoon. He telegraphed Mr. Wilson of his decision to return, and then said, “We will leave New York at 6 o’clock this evening for Harrisville. Mr. Searles, we will try to use the afternoon for your pleasure. Driver, please take us to the Windsor Hotel, via the Produce Exchange.” The colonel having left the Waldorf did not wish, under the circumstances, again to enter his name on its register.
The ride down West Street, New York, at midday, is anything but enjoyable, as few thoroughfares are more crowded with every kind of vehicle conveying merchandise from ship to warehouse, and from warehouse to ship and cars. However, the ride impressed Searles with the immensity of the trade of the metropolis. West Street leads to Battery Park, the Produce, and Stock Exchanges, which Colonel Harris desired Mr. Searles and his daughter Gertrude to see in the busy part of the day.
Colonel Harris explained that here in Battery Park terminated the Metropolitan Elevated Railway. A railway in the air with steam-engines and coaches crowded with people interested Mr. Searles greatly.
“In London,” he said, “we are hurried about under ground, in foul air, and darkness often.”
“Here at Battery Park, Mr. Searles, November 25, 1783, Sir Guy Carleton’s British army embarked. Our New Yorkers still celebrate the date as Evacuation Day. Near by at an earlier date Hendrick Christianson, agent of a Dutch fur trading company, built four small houses and a redoubt, the foundation of America’s metropolis. In 1626 Peter Minuit, first governor of the New Netherlands, bought for twenty-six dollars all Manhattan Island.”