Great Nebraska

Naturalists and Scientists

Edith Schwartz Clements

Letters, 1911

Sept. 10, 1911



On board R.M.S.”Teutonic”
Sept. 10, 191​1

American excursion in two years from now. Let her “R.I.P.” and to “return to our mutton,”
the estate was beautiful, stretching for six miles in one direction & three in another.
I am a socialist, however, in feeling the injustice of one man’s owning all this &
reserving it from agriculture & the use of the many. We had afternoon tea on the lawn
under the beechwoods & then were taken by auto to the station, after warm farewells
& expressions of mutual pleasure.

Wednesday was our last evening together. I cut dinner, as I begin to find it necessary
to do & utilized the hour saved, in packing. I joined the party, later, as they had
finished dinner & were amusing each other by doing a “stunt” of a speech or poem or
song. It was very jolly. I made quite a hit with my speech: it was one I had been
conning over during most of the trip, as one was apt to be called on at any time.
Fritz was delighted with my success. It is not often that I am asked to bring



my light out from under the bushel & let it shine. It did not please my jealous friend,
however, for she made a cattish remark about it on a later occasion; she does not
love me any better than I do her, I suspect.

Thursday morning, the faithful remnant took train for London. We had lost a few by this time, who had had to return earlier, but we had two compartments
full. The Tansleys & the Cowles had planned to be in Zürich & the Italian lakes together. (Imagine Mrs. Cowles & the Italian lakes!) So we asked the Tansleys to lunch with us, as their train for the sea-side cottage did not leave until five.
They told the Cowles they were to lunch us & Mrs. C. suggested that we all lunch together! I was so vexed — as I had had enough of her.
Fortunately, Mr. Tansley forgot to go to their hotel to get them in time, after our plans had changed, because
Mrs. T’s father had invited us to lunch with him. The Cowles had gone to their rooming-house, which was next to the hotel we had picked out. Instead
of going to our hotel, however, where we had planned to lunch, we went to Mrs. T’s father’s office, where the



change of plan was made. When Mr. T. remembered his agreement with Mrs. C. he dashed off to try to get them, but failed. Mrs. T’s father (Mr. Chick) is a lace merchant & has dealt in rare old laces for forty-eight years, in a tiny
shop. He showed us some beautiful & valuable specimens: one worth twenty-five hundred
dollards, & one a collar worn by Queen Victoria when a child! He is a type — whistles his sibilants thru his teeth when he talks & says “hey”? to every
remark one makes. He gave us a good lunch at a café & then Mrs. & Mr. Tansley took us for a walk thru​ the shopping district, showing us various places of interest besides. Mrs. T. & I stopped so often to look into the fascinating shop windows, that Mr. T. lost patience. So we obediently trotted on ahead. When we looked back to see if the
men were coming, we caught them in the act of stopping to look into a window! Mr. T. acted like a naughty boy caught with the jam! I took occasion to rub it in a little.
It was very fortunate that I had done practically all my shopping, for the half-day
I had planned for it in London, dwindled to two hours



by the time we had finished our sight-seeing walk. After we saw the Tansleys off in
the taxicab, I scooted for the shops & revelled in piles of gloves, at 50 cents to
a dollar a pair for long, white kid! Then I picked Fritz up at Mr. Chick’s office where I had left him reading, & got him excited over gloves. He finished by
getting seven pairs at half & less than he pays at home. We got them in an Irish linen
store & the clerk tempted me into buying some fine handkerchiefs & tried to get me
to look at table linens. Those, however, are dutiable, so I resisted the temptation.
It was exceedingly hard to leave all the fascinating shops, but they will doubtless
be there next time.

Friday, we spent with the Cowles & Professor Schrüter at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. These are beautiful, despite the honed-up grass & most interesting. We were delighted
to find Dr. & Mrs. Britton there. I felt just a little hurt when Mrs. B. greeted me, with the rest of the party, by a hand-shake but she quite made up for
it later, in the privacy of her own room at



On board R.M.S.”Teutonic”
Sept. 10, 191

the hotel where we were invited for dinner, by throwing her arms about me & giving
me a warm hug & kisses, in her cordial way. She also hugged & kissed me good-bye,
after shaking hands with Mrs. Cowles. This later, however, made a jealous remark at this & must perforce receive the same
treatment! We had lunch at the Gardens with the assistant director, tea with a young
English botanist & dinner with the Brittons. The “tea” was the best ever, as there was no tea only ice-cream & lemonade, which
suited us exactly, it being an extremely warm day!

The next morning, good-byes were said to the Cowles, who travel until December & dear Professor Schrüter. He is certainly a lovable man, & he quite overwhelmed me by saying I talked German
as well as I did English, but not quite as well as American? Professor Glück of Heidelberg, a shy, forlorn-looking sort with whom I had been friendly insisted that two or three
weeks in Germany



would enable me to speak the language perfectly! All of which is quite encouraging.

We took the special train Saturday morning, boarded the boat, amid the usual confusion
& were seen off by the botanist (Mr. Yapp) who had entertained us at tea the day before, & his sister. They also gave me some
scarlet carnations. We are well supplied with candy & fruit & the journey promises
to be pleasant — Sunday evening it rained & the wind increased to such a gale, we
were blown across the deck when taking a walk! The sea, in consequence is very rough
& we are pitching & tossing at a great rate. Half or more of the passengers are sick.
We too, felt a little uncertain on rising this morning (Monday) & considered discretion
the better part of valor. A dose a piece of Mothersills put us in fine shape. It certainly
a great comfort to have that on hand.

Wednesday Evening:- Such a nasty day — all day — fog, rain & cold — quite a choppy
sea too, & the boat rolls a good deal. We both felt pretty good, however, by dint
of eating little yesterday. Oh, we are so hun-



gry for home food, & just about loathe the things we have to eat. It’s a great joy
to realize that land will be in sight to-morrow​ & then only two days more on the river. If it were ten instead of two!! Our cabin
has proved quite comfortable, but a sea-journey is full of discomforts at best, so
I hope future ones can be taken in outside cabins on a better deck. There are plenty
of nice people aboard & hundreds of books. We chat a little, but spend most of the
day on deck, wrapped in many layers, reading. To-day​, I wore winter underwear, tights, a corduroy gown, a sweater, a winter coat, & a
steamer rug; a toboggan cap, veil & fur-lined gloves & was quite cosy & warm.

Thursday a.m. Thanks be! We are in the river at last! I must confess to a feeling
of nervousness last night when the ship “smelt” an iceberg. It was pitch dark outside,
what with the heavy fog & and the night. The near presence of the berg made the air
bitterly cold, & the ship moved continously along. The prospect of bumping a mountain
of ice in the dark & the cold was not exactly cheering & I slept lightly. I woke at
twelve to find the engines quiet & a peculiar



roaring going on. It was too much for me, so I got up, put on coat & shoes & crept
up to the deck. To my relief the moon shone brightly & the sea was smooth. I saw nothing,
but learned this morning that we were holding back to let an immense berg pass! How
I should have liked to see it! To-day​ is bright & sunny but cold. Sometimes the ships have to thread their way between
a hundred or more bergs! Pretty ticklish business on a foggy night? We like the northern
route, otherwise, extremely well & the Teutonic very much. Four days of ocean is an
immense improvement over twelve or fourteen! We are now coming​ over timetables & trains to get the best & quickest route for home.


My uneasiness in the fog last night apparently was well-founded, as we are just told
that at that time the captain had lost his bearings — had no idea where we were &
when the fog lifted actually found that the ship was completely turned about! just
at the most dangerous coast too!