“M’ri-arrr! M’ri-arrr!” he heard Anna cry in sheer amazement. “M’ri-arrr!”
“Mine Gott im himmel! It is M’ria-arrr!” he heard Kreutzer say.
Bartholdi’s mighty Liberty loomed high above the vessel as she grandly swept her way among the crowded shipping of the Upper Bay. On the huddled steerage-deck Moresco, quickly and mysteriously free from durance and not at all abashed by what had happened to him, led a little cheering, in which his countrymen joined somewhat faintly. On the promenade-deck Vanderlyn was acting as the leader of enthusiastic rooters for his native land.
With his mother, whose interest in the old German and his daughter he now fostered very eagerly, he stood close by the rail across which he had vaulted when Moresco had assaulted the old man. Not even the enthusiasm of partings from new friends, ship made, could draw him from this point as the vessel neared her dock. From it he watched the workings of the health-and customs-officers among the steerage-passengers, while he tried to definitely decide upon what means he might employ to keep from losing sight of the two people in whom his interest had grown to be so great, after they were diverted by the formalities of immigration laws from the line of travel he would naturally follow when the ship tied up.
“The immigrants are sent to Ellis Island,” he explained to Mrs. Vanderlyn. “A case of sheep and goats, all right, according to the tenets of this land of liberty and lucre. If you’ve got money you’re a sheep. Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean, has wide-open arms for you. No one tries to stop your entrance. If you’ve none, why you’re the goat and everybody butts you.”
“Your English is as hard to understand as any of the foreign languages!” his mother chided. “Every other word is slang. I haven’t an idea what you mean.” Down upon the steerage-deck Moresco, after the faint cheering, was declaiming loudly, now, about the towering statue and the liberty she symbolizes.
Towards the mighty effigy the old flute-player’s eyes were also turned, but the emotions it aroused in him were very different from those which the Italian laid his claim to. To him she did not stand for license, but for a freedom from that mysterious worry, which, in London, had been so horridly persistent, which had reached an intolerable climax in Hyde Park, that day when he had run across the German with the turned-up moustache, and from which the journey to America was a veritable flight. The Giant Woman of the Bay would prove to be to him, the old musician fondly hoped, what her designer had intended her to be to all the worried, fleeing people of all the balance of the earth—a great torch-bearer who would light the way to peace and plenty, free from the social and political turmoil and oppression of the worn-out lands across the sea. He drew a breath of crisp air into his lungs, held his daughter closer to his side, took off his hat and stood agaze while the brisk wind, strengthening for the moment, blew the folk around him free of steerage odors, waved his long grey hair about his forehead and flapped his long grey coat about his legs until its tails snapped.