A little reassured by these well-remembered names, John and Betty clambered up after Mrs. Pitt to the top of a motor bus, and such a bewildering city as they looked down upon!
Betty shook her head in half dismay, half delight. ” I can hardly recognize even Trafalgar Square,” she said; ” but I like London better than ever ! ”
Sure enough, many familiar landmarks had entirely vanished behind rows and rows of wooden seats put up to enable the thousands of visitors to see the great royal processions of Coronation week; and those that remained were so changed by the unaccustomed gayety of flags, crimson and blue hangings, portraits of the King and Queen painted in extravagant tints, crowns, roses, thistles, and shamrocks outlined in colored electric bulbs, that the effect produced was merely one of dazzling bewilderment. Philip, after living all his life in London, had actually disgraced himself the day before by riding directly past his destination. No one could really blame him when he made his apologies and explained that he could not see that it was Bond Street for the ropes of laurel hanging across the way, the tall white pillars, and the great swinging signs proclaiming the names of some of England’s famous literary men.
Well,” said John, ” you know how it was Saturday, when we fellows started out to see the ` changing of the guard ‘ there at St. James’s Palace. When we got to the street leading down to it, it was such sport on top of the bus, watching everything down below, that we just went right past, ‘way up Piccadilly; and the first thing we knew we were out at Albert Hall. I was sorry, Mrs. Pitt, because you were waiting for us, but honestly we couldn’t help it.”
” Oh, I forgave you willingly,” Mrs. Pitt had answered. ” I’ve missed any number of appointments myself, for this strange, wonderful London has fairly taken my breath away. I could ride happily on the top of a bus all day long, just watching the crowds.”
The ” fellows ” to whom John had referred were the members of a company of Boy Scouts with whom he had fallen in on this second voyage of Betty’s and his across the Atlantic.
Captivated by the khaki suits and dashing yellow silk neckties of this band, John’s first errand in England had been to purchase such a yellow necktie for himself. Having been in London before, he had proudly offered to show his new friends ” the sights “; and the young professor who was the leader of the party had indulgently accepted John’s guidance on several occasions, only going along to prevent his charges from giving their warwhoop too frequently. John’s one regret had been that he could not have Mrs. Pitt’s permission to go to camp with these boys in Scotland, after the Coronation festivities were at an end. But then, he and his sister and Philip and Barbara were themselves going right there with Mrs. Pitt. It was on purpose to see Scotland that Mrs. Pitt had invited John and Betty for a second summer’s travel with her and her son and daughter; but when she had met the Oceanic at Southampton, she had promptly confessed having delayed the journey north for one week in order that they might all be in London for Coronation. “London is amazing just now,” said she. “We really shouldn’t miss it. The chances are that even you young people may never have the opportunity to see another Coronation.”
The Boy Scouts were not the only visitors in London, they found. The buses, motor cars, taxicabs, and hansoms, which were so numerous as almost to block all traffic in the Strand, were carrying dapper little Japanese and stout Indians, with head-dresses of brilliant reds and greens; one had glimpses of dark foreign faces behind the windows of closed broughams, driven by coachmen in scarlet and the royal cockade; the streets literally swarmed with military men of all complexions and uniforms and degrees, from the United States private in khaki, to the pompous officer of some Eastern regiment in all his Oriental splendor. There were Australians, Canadians, and people from all of England’s other colonies ; there were Italians, Frenchmen, and Germans; and, of course, there were more Americans than ever. Now and then a company of Horse Guards would clatter along, adding their touch of black and scarlet to the scene. Never before can there have been more amazing contrasts seen in London, even in its normal state a city made up of all sorts and conditions of men.
I say ! ” interrupted John ; ” we are in luck to have such bully seats for Thursday. Your cousin’s a brick to get them for us, Mrs. Pitt! Whenever I meet people from home I talk to them about our places on a ` government stand ‘ in Whitehall, and I can just tell you they all act as if they think we’re about it! And we got them so cheap, too; most people have to pay two or three guineas.”
” By Jove, here are seats for the Coronation! ” shouted Philip; and looking where he pointed, the others saw in a tailor’s shop a pair of trousers of showy brown check, to which was pinned the notice, ” Seats for the Royal Progress.”
There was no shop so tiny, no window so lofty, along the route, either of the Coronation processions or of the grand Royal Progress of the day following the Coronation, but that the owner was preparing to make his fortune by renting seats in it. Such a hammering; such confusion ! Such carrying on of regular trade, and endeavoring to capture holiday-makers at the same time ! Such bustling about of carpenters and decorators ! It was as much as one could do to make one’s way along the street for the ladders and the chairs and the rolls of bunting which overflowed upon the sidewalk.
That afternoon they took a taxicab and started for a drive through Hyde and Regent Parks. It took them two or three times longer than usual to go the length of Piccadilly. John grew impatient, for it was very warm, and the smell of the petrol from the motor cars was most disagreeable; but the placid English-men sat upon the tops of their buses in the broiling sun, contentedly reading their newspapers.
In New York they’d all get off and walk,” John remarked.
After a while they did reach Hyde Park Corner, however, and could turn in through the big arch into Rotten Row. The many wide avenues of Hyde Park were thronged with smart turn-outs of every description, and the only difficulty was that one could not look at the people in all of them at the same moment. Betty grew almost dizzy trying to puzzle out the crests on the beautifully polished doors of carriages and motor cars; and John shouted excitedly,
There’s John Hays Hammond ! Hurrah for the U. S. A.! ”
” John ! Look out ! He’ll hear ! ” reproved Betty anxiously.
” Don’t care if he does ! You needn’t think I don’t know Hammond, all right ! Haven’t I seen him loads of times down at Gloucester? ”
They found Regent’s Park still more exciting, for here the soldiers were encamped. They drove between rows and rows of tents which had been pitched on all the green lawns ; they caught glimpses of men in Highland kilts hurrying about on various errands; they saw the big tent used for the mess, and others where the horses were kept.
” You see, regiments have come from Scotland and Ireland, from many provincial towns, and from all of England’s colonies, to play their part in the great processions, a few of them in that of Coronation Day and the rest in the Royal Progress. Sixty thousand troops are quartered in the parks of London. The Indian regiments are at Bushey Park, near Hampton Court.”
” Oh, can’t we go out there, Mrs. Pitt! I’d like to talk to those big fellows in the turbans ! ”
” I’m afraid they wouldn’t let you in, John, unless you had urgent business,” and Mrs. Pitt smiled at the boy’s eagerness. ” The other day they stopped Barbara and me when we tried to walk from old Chelsea Hospital down to the Embankment. There are soldiers in the old Vauxhall woods, too.”
And so the days flew by until the much anticipated Thursday, the twenty-second day of June, arrived. Betty was up at dawn to study the heavens, and soon after Mrs. Pitt heard her knock at the door and anxiously ex-claim, ‘ It truly looks like showers, and what shall we do? ”
” Don’t worry about those little clouds, dear,” counseled Mrs. Pitt, who was not to be daunted by English weather. ” It will undoubtedly be fine.”
They breakfasted at six-thirty, and by a quarter after seven were on their way to the nearest ” Tube ” station. Few people were on the streets, and when their train came along, it was practically empty. The two Americans of the party, having had some experience with crowds on days of big processions at home, were much astonished. ” Where is every-body? ” gasped Betty. ” Are we early, or are we very late? ”
A short ride brought them to the Charing Cross station, from which they walked along the Thames Embankment. Here a subdued excitement prevailed; now and then companies of big policemen marched down the wide street, and here and there were a few Horse Guards, just about to mount. Most astonishing of all was the sight of a lady in white gown and vivid green carriage wrap, whose dress, from her dainty gold slippers to the three nodding plumes in her hair, suggested that a place might be awaiting her in the old Abbey.
Is she walking to the Coronation? ” came from startled Betty.
” Well,” said Mrs. Pitt, ” it would certainly look as though she were. Perhaps she was not able to engage a carriage, or even preferred walking to paying the price demanded for one. I heard of a gentleman, yesterday, who hired an ordinary cab to take him to the Abbeyfor the modest sum of seven guineas ! Fancy ! ”
Mrs. Pitt led the way through a little gate in a high wall, showing their big blue tickets as they entered. Crossing the garden at the rear of this government building at No. 8 Richmond Terrace, Whitehall, they went into the cellar, up some narrow stairs, along tiny improvised passages, and finally stepped out a window to the stand on which were their seats.
” Oh! ” Betty cried, as she dropped into her seat; and then again, ” Oh! ”
But her mild exclamation was drowned in John’s excited ” See that carriage, will you ! Where’s a programme? Whose is it? Look at the wigs and cocked hats and the gold lace! And the crowds ! Say, this is great ! ”
From their seats they could see Trafalgar Square in one direction, and, in the other, the east end of Westminster Abbey, all but hidden by a giant stand black with people. Whitehall was lined on each side by a double row of soldiers, some of them in scarlet coats and some in hunter’s green with black hats, while down toward the Abbey some kilts of Gordon plaid were visible. Behind the soldiers, the sidewalks were solid with people, many of whom had been there a great many hours, patiently waiting to show their allegiance to their King and Queen. Almost every available place on the stands, on balconies, ledges, roofs, or in windows, even to the upper stories, was already filled by eager lookers.-on. Everywhere were waving flags and hangings of scarlet or royal blue or purple. Tall white pillars, on each of which was a shield with the name and date of one of England’s monarchs, swaying ropes of laurel, and an occasional great white archway, rendered White-hall indeed fit for the passage of a king.
Between these rows of soldiers, and under the arches, rolled a long succession of motor cars and carriages, carrying the guests to the Abbey. At first there Were mainly neat broughams, modest limousines, or even shabby four-wheelers; but when the peers began to pass, Betty cried, ” That one’s exactly like Cinderella’s coach !
My lord and lady, whoever they might be, were in magnificent array. The shining coach, with its coat of arms, was swung high, and its steps were haughtily drawn up as if to emphasize the distance of the fine people it carried from the ” common herd.” There were four horses in heavy harness with elaborate silver mountings and pale-blue hangings, and the pompous coachman in his powdered wig and the two footmen up behind wore gorgeous liveries of blue and silver.
As these coaches passed, John exclaimed, ” Well, I didn’t suppose there were such fool things except on the stage ! ” but he really was impressed by the splendor, all the same.
And now many such coaches came in view;
one or more was in sight all the time. Some had gay yellow wheels; some had three foot-men on the perch behind; some liveries were plum-color and some black, with much gold fringe; a few coachmen wore lavender stockings, which were in startling contrast with their scarlet coats. And from behind the little windows of all the coaches one caught glimpses of silks, velvets, and ermine, of pretty faces, the flash of jewels, or of uniforms with lines of jeweled decorations across the breast. And while these grand coaches and more common-place carriages were rolling by, the soldiers occasionally moved about, one company relieving another; officers galloped past, giving orders; and some one in court dress, or a bishop in his flowing robes, proceeded on foot towards the Abbey.
Then, all of a sudden, it rained; and for, perhaps, a quarter of an hour the huge stands, the balconies, ledges, roofs, and sidewalks were transformed into a mass of innumerable black umbrellas, with an occasional bedraggled silk parasol in their midst. However, when the first procession began to pass, at about ten o’clock, there were very few umbrellas to be seen. This procession was composed of state carriages, some open and some closed, carrying the representatives from foreign countries. Each was in his state uniform, varying from the Eastern princes in their vivid colors and dazzling jewels, to the United States special ambassador in his severe black frock coat. In the next procession, arriving half an hour later, were members of the English royal family, the coach bearing the royal children bringing up the rear.
Loud were the cheers and many the smiles and cries of ” God bless him ! ” which greeted the Prince of Wales ; pretty Princess Mary and the three little princes, in their sailor-suits and close caps, had their share of the cheering, too. Dignified, though shy, the eldest prince and his sister bowed stiffly; but the little princes only looked out upon the crowds with big, round, astonished eyes.
” What a bore for them ! ” was John’s verdict of the situation ; but Philip and Barbara, loyal British subjects, were talking most familiarly about the children.
” They were all there except little Prince John,” remarked Barbara. ” Where do you suppose he is? Perhaps they left him at Windsor, he’s so little.”
” It must be ripping to be a prince,” said Philip. ” I wouldn’t miss the Coronation, by Jove, if I were the youngest.”
Both in advance of and in the rear of those two processions, the Horse Guards, on their glistening black horses, all of the same size, the Yeomen of the Guard in their scarlet, slashed uniforms, numbers of officers of Indian regiments, in the brightest of colors, English generals, among whom Lord Roberts and Lord Kitchener received almost as hearty cheers as royalty itself, made a wondrous pageant. More Yeomen of the Guard came in the third pro-cession, walking on each side of the gilded coach in which rode King George and Queen Mary.
As this picturesque coach, with its eight cream-colored horses, each led by a groom in livery, its gorgeous trappings, and its outriders, came slowly down Whitehall, even John and Betty felt a thrill. John focused his camera and Betty stood on tiptoe. Every one cheered, but there was no wild demonstration. The British public seldom allows its really great devotion to its sovereign to be seen, and it was only now and then that a man forgot himself. As the gold coach passed, carrying the King, almost lost in his huge cape, a stolid Briton sitting beside Betty (he had been reading the morning Times during the greater part of the day) suddenly arose, tossed up his cap, and shouted boisterously : ” There goes the greatest man in the world, by Jove! ”
After the coach had passed, lurching on its way to the Abbey, there was a general stir. Soldiers broke ranks, exhausted people sat down upon the curb, occupants of the stands left their places, and every one took advantage of the two hours which must elapse before royalty would again pass that way.
” O dear, I do wish it wasn’t over! ” Betty sighed.
” But we’re going to see them again, and they’ll have on their crowns,” said Barbara comfortingly.
” The very crowns we saw at the Tower! ” exclaimed Philip.
John’s remark was practical. ” Can’t we have something to eat now? ” said he.
An attack was accordingly made upon the refreshment booth in the garden, but so great were the crowds that it was impossible to buy much there. Fortunately they had brought with them a box of crackers and a bag of raisins as emergency rations.
” No matter,” said Mrs. Pitt; we’ll be home by three o’clock, and can have tea.”
But the ceremony inside the dark old Abbey took longer than the authorities had expected, and it was after two o’clock when the soldiers formed in line, the people took their places, and the King and Queen passed, crowned, and carrying in their hands jeweled scepters.
” Why, I didn’t know that the Prince of Wales and Princess Mary would have crowns, too! ” cried Barbara, as the royal children came in sight.
Back trooped the mounted officers and the Indians, the ” Beefeaters,” and all the foreign royalties and ambassadors, in splendid array; back came the Lord Mayor, in his magnificence, which almost rivals that of Their Majesties; back came all the coaches of the peers, the motor cars and the four-wheelers. People were beginning to leave their seats, and Mrs. Pitt finally persuaded her party to start, also. The
Tube ” carried them close to the Pitts’ home in Cavendish Square, where all was as quiet as on a summer Sunday afternoon.
Taking off her raincoat and her hat, and putting down her field-glass and her crumpled programme of the day’s festivities, Betty sighed: ” Did we really see it? It seems like a dream ! ”
It is much to be able to persuade a London official to change his mind, but John did it two days later. It was at noon of the warm Saturday following the Coronation, and, happening to pass St. James’s, John and Betty heard some one say that the Duke of Connaught was soon to review the Yeomen of the Guard on the lawn behind the Palace.
” Oh, John, we can’t get in unless we have cards of admission ! The sentry says so! ”
Whenever John saw that disappointed look upon his sister’s face, he knew that the time had come for him to exert himself.
” Wait till I tackle him,” said he, thrusting his hands deep in his pockets, and striding toward the tall man in uniform who barred their way.
” You see, sir, we didn’t know about the cards to get in ; we didn’t even know about the review till we were just walking by the Palace. We’re from America, and my sister’s just crazy about those ` Beefeaters.’ Couldn’t you let us in, ”
First there came a half-smile and a glance of amusement; then a whispered consultation with a superior officer; and, at last, the welcome words : ” Get your sister and go straight along in. Follow that party, and you’ll be all right.”
” We won’t be able to see a thing unless we can be near the front,” said Betty anxiously, feeling a little timid to be alone with John among so many fashionably-dressed people; but just then a gentleman in a silk hat made room for them to step in front of him.
The Yeomen of the Guard were drawn up in two long lines in the center of the green grass. They carried tall staves with tassels and shining points, and wore queer wide-brimmed hats with square crowns, and big red rosettes on their heavy shoes; on their scarlet breasts were the crown with the letter G and the Roman numeral V on either side, and the rose of England below; on their backs were displayed the thistle and the shamrock in elaborate embroideries. The various badges and decorations of each man added to the brilliant effect of the scarlet cloth and gold braid.
” Bully ! ” cried John. ” They look great when you see so many of them together. Betty, who do you think those other soldiers are, the ones with the flying white and yellow feathers in their hats? ”
Those are officers who are in charge this morning, officers of the Duke’s staff,” explained their friend.
” Oh, are they l The Duke of Connaught, do you mean l He isn’t here yet, is he l ” Having found somebody willing to answer questions, John meant to learn all he could.
And would you please tell me who the Duke of Connaught is, sir? ” put in Betty. ” I can’t exactly remember.”
Quite so! Quite so ! ” said the kind gentleman. ” The Duke is the King’s uncle, you see, and the late King Edward’s brother. You will like him. No, he isn’t here yet, but very soon you will see him come out that door, over there.”
A band was playing now under some trees, more people were arriving all the time, and the gay crowd, strolling about this green inclosure so near the dingy brick walls of old St. James’s Palace, made a lovely picture. John and Betty were feeling very happy to think that they were there.
All at once every one stopped talking, the musicians played ” God Save the King,” and down the steps of Clarence House, the residence of the Duke of Connaught, which adjoins St. James’s Palace, came the Duke, followed by his son, Prince Arthur, a royal visitor from Spain, and some members of the Duke’s household.
” Well, he looks more like a king than anybody I’ve ever seen ! cried Betty, grasping John’s arm in her enthusiasm.
Wonderfully erect and soldierly is the Duke, in spite of his white hair and his years. He was genuinely gracious as he shook hands and spoke a few words with several of the officers. Then, advancing to a point exactly in front of the lines of Yeomen of the Guard, he raised his hand to his forehead, and instantly they gave their answering salute. Afterwards, while the band played softly, the party walked the length of each row of the Guards, the Duke in the lead. To each old man he made some pleasant remark, sometimes bringing a quick smile to a face, as he touched a gold medal ; on the breast of one of the oldest he pinned a new badge, probably for long service.
” So that’s how they review soldiers,” said Betty; ” I’ve always wanted to know.” The Duke had now disappeared, having stopped a moment to speak with his two little grandsons, children of the Crown Prince and Princess of Sweden, who had watched the re-view from a low balcony of Clarence House.
But you never thought you’d come here and see the Duke of Connaught do the stunt, did you, Betty? ” Then John added, ” Thank you, sir, for helping us to see,” and touched his cap as the tall gentleman moved away. Betty and he lingered a few moments in order to watch the people and to get a nearer view of the gorgeous ” Beefeaters,” who were then mingling with the crowd; then they hastened away to meet Mrs. Pitt, Philip, and Barbara, impatient to tell of their adventure.
Another very nice thing happened that after-noon. As Mrs. Pitt knew one of the clergy connected with Westminster Abbey, she had been invited by him to bring the young people to see the Abbey. John had pronounced this privilege ” corking,” and Philip and Barbara had been radiant with anticipation; but Betty looked very sober, much to the surprise of them all.
” I know it is perfectly horrid of me,” she said; ” but I’m so afraid I sha’n't like it. I’ll hate to see the dear Abbey with the monuments all covered up, and I just know they will put purple velvet, or red, everywhere. But he’s lovely to ask us, and I’ll go, of course,” she added resignedly.
” Fancy feeling so about it, Betty ! It’s really a chance which very few will be fortunate enough to have before Monday, when the Abbey will be thrown open to the public.” But then, Betty was very often heard expressing strange little ideas, which sometimes even Mrs. Pitt did not understand.
As it proved, even Betty came away with only the most beautiful impression of what she saw. It was true that every one of the hundreds of monuments and statues had quite vanished; Westminster Abbey had banished its dead and given itself over to the splendors of the living. Rows and rows of seats had been built in every possible place, even as high up as the clerestory windows; these were all covered with cloth of an old blue color, and the hangings near the altar were of a kind of cut velvet in two tones of the same soft blue.
The clergyman was most considerate. He took them up into the organ-loft to view the Abbey from there; he explained about the positions of the different seats, this one for the Prince of Wales, this for the Duke of Con-naught, and another to which the Queen came to be crowned ; he showed them the magnificent gold plate on the altar, and two rugs of very great value which had been loaned for the covering of the floor of the chancel.
Is it all just as it was on Coronation day? ” Betty asked.
” Quite the same,” nodded their friend, as he opened the door for them; ” quite the same, except for the velvets and ermines, the uniforms, the jewels, and the beautiful women.”
The party planned to take the train for Scot-land on Wednesday of the week following Coronation, and on the night before came what John considered ” the bulliest stunt of all.” Mrs. Pitt had tickets for the Gala Performance at His Majesty’s Theater, the performance which King George and Queen Mary, with all their foreign visitors, were to attend.
I’ve never felt quite so big in all my life ! ” Betty announced solemnly, as she drew over her white silk frock the dainty pink cape bought at fascinating Liberty’s shop on purpose for this grand occasion.
” Mother ! They’re peering in at us as if they think we are lords and ladies, or some royalties ! ” chattered Barbara as their taxicab hurried towards Haymarket.
Do they do this whenever King George goes to the theater? ” put in John. ” Why ! the streets are jammed with people, just as if there was going to be a parade ! My ! look, Philip ! There are soldiers opposite the theater, and a band’s coming up from Pall Mall there, a band with black muffs on their heads ! This is great ! ”
There were so many attractions outside that Mrs. Pitt could hardly induce the young people to go to their seats. A carpet was stretched luxuriously over the sidewalk; there were flowers and blazing lights. Carriages were driving up, and so many ladies and gentlemen were alighting that the entrances were crowded.
” Our tickets are orange, and we go in at this door with the orange sign,” said John. ” Come on! ”
The way of the holders of the big, square, orange tickets lay up several flights of stairs to the second balcony.
Bother! ” John burst out thoughtlessly. ” We can see the stage all right, but mighty few of the people ! Where are King George and Queen Mary? ”
” Hush, John ! Mrs. Pitt’ll think you’re so rude ! Probably the King and Queen aren’t here yet. These are our seats,” and Betty sat down and began to look eagerly about her.
Such beautiful women in magnificent costumes; such jewels on their gowns, about their necks, in their hair ; such grand gentlemen in uniforms of scarlet or blue, with gold braid. ” I can’t see one man in a plain dress-suit,” said John ; “if they couldn’t scrape up any uniform, they wear black velvet and three-cornered hats. There’s a Jap over there. See him, Betty? ”
Yes, that black velvet is the court costume,” remarked Mrs. Pitt absently, trying to loosen a bit of fringe on her gown which had caught on the gold buckle of an officer who occupied the seat in front of hers.
” Mother, isn’t that the Lord Mayor with the gold chain around his neck, there in that box at the left? I can just see him by standing up.”
” Yes, Philip, that’s he,” said Mrs. Pitt, as she turned and beckoned to an usher. ” May I have another programme, please G?”
The neat woman in a black dress and a white cap with long streamers, muttered a ” Thank you, madam,” as she obeyed the request.
” We have some women ushers at home now,” Betty remarked, ” but I never saw them carry little trays with’ ices to sell and candy and Oh, are they coming’! ” stopping
short as the musicians played ” God Save the King,” and people rose to their feet.
” It’s queer to know they’re here, and not be able to see them,” said Barbara to Betty. ” They don’t sit in a box, but in the center of the first balcony, right under where we are.”
Then the curtains parted, Forbes-Robertson stepped out, and read the lines of welcome to Their Majesties. There followed the ” Letter Scene ” from Shakespeare’s ” Merry Wives of Windsor,” played by Miss Terry and Mrs. Kendal.
” Ellen Terry! ” whispered Betty, with a little thrill of excitement. ” I’ve always wanted to see her ! She’s the tall, graceful one in rose-color, isn’t she? Now I know why people say she’ll never grow old ! Isn’t she beautiful? ”
Then there was a scene from ” David Gar-rick,” and the ” Forum Scene ” from ” Julius Caesar,” the latter particularly delighting John.
“That mob was great ! ” he declared. ” I thought they’d tear down the theater.”
“No wonder,” said Mrs. Pitt; ” the people in that mob were all actors of note, instead of mere ` supers ‘ picked up for a few nights’ run. That’s one stage mob in a thousand ! ”
When the curtain went down on ” Julius Caesar,” Mrs. Pitt hurriedly left her seat, followed by the others. Quickly they went to a door on the extreme left of their balcony, close to the boxes, from which they could have a splendid view of royalty. The first balcony and the floor of the theater were ablaze with color and the flash of jewels. The orchestra seats were occupied by members of the nobility and diplomats, while in the center of the balcony sat Their Majesties, surrounded by their foreign guests and the special ambassadors.
” That must be the Duchess of Marlborough ! It looks just like her pictures ! Do you see her? There, in the fourth row! ”
Is that the German Crown Princess on the King’s left, the one in pale blue with all the diamonds? She’s sweet ! ”
” Just look at all the Indians ! They’re as gorgeous as they were the other day in the procession ! ”
” Queen Mary looks ripping in corn color and emeralds ! ”
” Oh, I’ve found the dear Duke of Con-naught ! Is that his daughter, Princess Patricia, do you suppose? ”
There was much more to see, many more celebrated actors and actresses to admire, but, as Betty admitted afterwards, she was ” too dazed to take it in.” Vaguely she remembered the charming effect of light and color in a masque by Ben Jonson, and she stood up in order to get one last glimpse of Ellen Terry, when all who had taken part appeared on the stage, but she was too sleepy to pay much attention to the final singing of ” God Save the King.”
Slowly they descended the stairs and found a taxicab to take them home. When Barbara woke her, in time to catch the Glasgow express the next morning, Betty was dreaming that she was one of Queen Mary’s ladies-in-waiting, and was being severely scolded because she yawned at the Gala Performance.