ROSY POSY'S CHOICE
It was time to decide the momentous question of where the next Ourday should be spent.
Already it was Wednesday, and on Saturday the Maynards would have their November Ourday. It was Rosy Posy's turn to choose, but as her selections were usually either vague or impossible, the other children were not backward in offering suggestions to help the little one out.
This time, however, Rosamond was quite positive in her opinion.
When her father asked her where she wanted to go for a day's outing, she at once responded, "To Bongzoo."
"To Bongzoo!" exclaimed Mr. Maynard. "Where in the world is that? Or what is it? It sounds as though it might be either French or Choctaw."
"Ess," said Rosy Posy, "we'll all go to Bongzoo; me an' muvver, an' all of us, an' Daddy, too."
"And how do we get there, Baby? Walk, ride, or swim?"
"I don' know," said Rosy Posy. "But Marjorie knows. She told me to say 'Go to Bongzoo,' so I said it."
Then the laugh was on Marjorie.
"Oho!" said Mr. Maynard. "So Mopsy's been electioneering all right. Out with it, Midge. What does Baby mean by Bongzoo?"
"She means the Bronx Zoo," said Marjorie. "I thought we'd all like to see the animals there. But it isn't my turn to choose, so I told Rosy Posy to choose that."
"An' I do!" declared the child, stoutly. "I choose Bongzoo, an' I wants to go there."
"I think it's a fine place to go," said Mr. Maynard. "What made you think of it, Midge?"
"One of the girls at school went there some time ago, and she told us all about it; and, oh, Father, it's beautiful! All lions and tigers and waterlilies and Florida trees!"
"I doubt if the waterlilies are in bloom just now, but I'm sure the tigers are flourishing. Well, I'm for the Zoo. Will you go, Mother?"
"Yes, indeed," said Mrs. Maynard; "I don't want to miss such a fine-sounding Ourday as that."
"I think it's great!" declared King. "Bob Carson says the birds are wonderful, and the alligators walk around on the grass."
"Oh!" cried Kitty, "then I don't want to go. I wouldn't meet an alligator for anything!"
"They have their own grass plat, Kitsie," said her father. "They don't trespass on the grass reserved for visitors."
So the Ourday was unanimously settled, and, as that sort of a trip involved little preparation, there was nothing to do but hope for pleasant weather.
"Though if it rains," said Marjorie, comfortably, "Father will fix up something nice for us in the house."
But Saturday turned out to be a lovely day, and the Maynard family took an early train for New York City, in order to make their stay at the Zoo as long as possible.
They did not invite any other guests, as Mr. and Mrs. Maynard thought their own four children responsibility enough.
The young people greatly enjoyed the journey in the train, and across the ferry, and then Rosy Posy asked that they might go in what she called the "Cellarway." She meant the Subway, and, as this was a quick way to reach Bronx Park, Mr. Maynard consented. The children were of enthusiastic natures, and inclined to be conversational, but the noise of the Subway trains drowned their voices, and, for once, they were obliged to be silent. But when they reached their destination, and entered the beautiful park, their tongues were loosed again, and they kept up a running fire of chatter.
Rosy Posy trotted along by her mother's side, King and Kitty walked together, and Midget pretended to walk by her father's side, but really danced back and forth from one to another. They visited the Botanical Park first, and as the early November day was clear and cold, they were not sorry to step into the warm greenhouses.
Marjorie specially liked the great jungles of Florida and other southern vegetation. The banyan trees and giant palms reached up to the high ceiling, and the luxuriant foliage and brilliant blossoms made northern plants seem dwarfed beside them. It was an instructive experience, as well as an entertaining one, for Mr. Maynard called the children's attention to the printed names on the plants, and, though they could not remember all of them, they learned a great many.
"It's fun to study botany this way," said Marjorie, as her father showed her the strange Mexican cacti, and told her about the deserts where they grow.
King nearly scared Kitty out of her wits by pretending there was a great snake writhing among the dark-leaved reeds, but almost immediately she discovered it was only a rubber hose, and she laughed with the rest.
There were many greenhouses, but after they had been through most of them, Mr. Maynard proposed that they have an early luncheon, and then go to see the animals.
So they went to the picturesque restaurant, and the six travellers suddenly discovered they were both tired and hungry.
"But an hour's rest and some good food will make us all over anew," said Mr. Maynard, "and then we'll be quite ready to call on the lions and the tigers."
"Is this Bongzoo?" asked Rosy Posy, after she had been comfortably placed in a high chair almost like her own at home.
"Well, this is the place where they feed the animals," said her father, "and as you're a little kitten, I suppose you'll have some milk?"
"Milk, an' meat, an' 'tatoes, an' pie, an' evvyfing," announced Rosy Posy, folding her chubby hands to await contentedly the filling of her comprehensive order.
Being an Ourday the children were allowed to select whatever they chose from the menu, their parents, however, reserving the right of veto.
"I want roast beef," said Kitty, after scanning the more elaborate, but unfamiliar, names.
"Oh, pshaw, Kit," said her brother, "you can have that at home! Why don't you take something different? It's more of a treat. I choose Supreme of Chicken."
"I don't like soup," said Kitty, innocently, and then they all laughed.
"I think I'll have lobster salad," announced Marjorie, after long study.
"I think you won't," said her father, promptly. "Nobody's to be ill this afternoon, and that's a risky dish for little folks. Try again, sister."
Marjorie cheerfully made another perusal of the bill of fare, and at last declared in favor of chicken hash.
This was willingly allowed, and when Kitty decided on an omelette with jelly, her choice was also commended. Mrs. Maynard added a few wise selections, which were for the good of all concerned, and each chose a favorite ice-cream.
"Oh, what a good time we're having!" said Marjorie. "I do love to eat at a restaurant."
"It is pleasant once in a while," said her father. "But for daily food, give me my own family table."
"Yes, indeed," agreed Marjorie; "I wouldn't like to live in a restaurant."
After luncheon they visited the great "rocking-stone." The immense rock, weighing many tons, was poised on a tiny base, and it almost seemed as if Rosy Posy might push it over, so unstable did it look.
But indeed she couldn't, nor any of the others, though it was said that a pressure of fifty pounds could make the great stone rock on its base.
"And now," said Mr. Maynard, "we're really getting into the Zoo part of our day. This, Rosy Posy, is your Bongzoo, and first of all here are the bears."
Delightedly all the children viewed the bears. The great creatures seemed so mild and gentle, and played with one another in such kittenish fashion, that even Rosy Posy felt no fear of them. There were various species, from the big grizzlies to the little brown cinnamon bears, and all waddled about in a state of comfortable fatness, or lay in the sun and slept peacefully.
The lions and tigers were far less placid. They stalked up and down their small cages, and now and then growled or roared as if very weary of their long and solitary confinement.
"He wants to come out," said Rosy Posy, of a particularly big and ferocious-looking lion. "Let him out, Father, he wants to play wiv us."
"Oh! I think I'd better not, Baby. He might run away and forget to come back."
"No," insisted the child; "I'll put my arms round him, an' make him stay wiv me."
"We won't have time now, Rosy Posy," said King. "We're going on now to see the panthers and wolves. Come along with brother."
So the child slipped her little hand in King's, and they led the family procession for a while.
The monkeys were a great source of amusement, and Rosy Posy thought some of the chimpanzees were little old men, they chattered so glibly.
But the birds proved a delight to all.
"Oh!" cried Marjorie. "Will you look at those red and blue parrots!"
"Parrakeets," corrected Mr. Maynard. "And fine ones, too. And how beautiful are the white ones with yellow topknots."
They studied, with some care, the names and homes of the birds, and learned to distinguish the toucans and orioles and other beautiful, bright-colored species.
Then on to the big, wise-eyed owls, who blinked and winked at them in a sleepy sort of a way.
The eagles came next, and all were proud of the National bird, as they viewed the fine specimens on exhibition. The bald eagle and the white eagle were favorites, and the vultures and condors were disliked by all.
An interesting structure was an immense cage, which was larger than any house, and entirely open to view. They walked round all four sides of it, and were enchanted with its beautiful occupants. Storks and flamingoes stood about, on one leg, motionless, as if absorbed in deep contemplation. Pelicans, with their strange bills, and ducks of most brilliant plumage waddled around and seemed to be entirely interested in their eager audience.
In another enclosure, cranes and adjutant birds flapped their great wings, and made long, hopping jumps, and then stood still, as if posing for their pictures.
Marjorie proved herself specially quick in picking out each bird, from its descriptive placard, and she learned the names, both English and Latin, of many of them.
"You don't mind going to school this way, do you. Midget?" asked her father.
"Not a bit! I love it. If I could learn all my lessons out of doors, and with you to help teach me, I'd be willing to study all the time."
"Well, we must come here again someday," said Mr. Maynard, "and see if you remember all these jawbreaker names. Now, let's visit the beavers."
The beaver pond was a strange sight, indeed. Originally there had been many tall trees standing in the swampy enclosure, but now nearly all of them lay flat in the water. The little busy beavers had gnawed around and into the trunks, near the ground, until the tree toppled and fell over.
"Why do they do it, Father?" asked King, greatly interested.
"They want to make bridges across the water," answered Mr. Maynard. "It shows a wonderful sagacity, for they gnaw the trunk of the tree, at first such a place, and in just such a way, that the tree will fall exactly in the direction they want it to."
"They must scamper to get out of the way when a tree is about to fall," observed Mrs. Maynard.
"Indeed, they do," said her husband. "They are very clever, and most patient and untiring workers. See, the trunks they have gnawed have been protected by wire netting that visitors may see them. And some of the standing trees are protected near the ground by wire netting that they may not be upset at present."
"Now I know my beaver lesson," said Marjorie; "let's go on. Father, I think I'll change that piece I spoke in school to 'How doth the busy little beaver,' instead of bee!"
"They're equally busy creatures, my dear. You may take a lesson from either or both."
"No, thank you. I don't want to work all the time. I'll be a butterfly sometimes, 'specially on Ourdays."
Marjorie jumped and fluttered about more like a grasshopper than anything else, and, swinging by her father's hand, they passed on to the deer ranges.
Here were all sorts of deer, and the gentle, timid-eyed creatures came tamely to the railings or nettings and made friends with the visitors.
"It would be fun to feed them," said Mr. Maynard, "but it's strictly forbidden, so we can only talk to them, and hope that they understand. And now, my infants, the sun is travelling homeward, and I think we'll take our next lesson from him. Would you rather have some sandwiches and ice-cream now, or wait until you get home, to refresh yourselves?"
"Now, now, now!" chorused the whole party.
"Do you know, I thought you'd say that," said Mr. Maynard. "So suppose we go into this pleasant-looking tea-room, and have a social hour."
"This makes twice for ice-cream, today," observed Kitty, as she lovingly ate her favorite dainty. "And do we have it tonight for dinner, Mother?"
"Of course. Always on an Ourday night."
"Oh, how lovely! Three times in one day."
"Kitty," said her mother, smiling, "I believe your highest ambition is ice-cream."
"Yes, it is," said Kitty, complacently; "or else huckleberry pie."
After the ice-cream, there was the trip home. But the children were not tired, and enjoyed thoroughly the ride, which was more of a treat to them than to their parents.
The Subway was fun, the ferryboat ride a delight, and after they were in the train on the New Jersey side, they coaxed the conductor to turn two seats to face each other. Then the quartette occupied these, and chattered gaily over the events of the day.
"Isn't it lovely," said Marjorie, as they at last entered their own front door, "to think we've had such a good time, and yet Ourday isn't over yet?"
"I know it," said Kitty. "And 'tis specially lovely for me, 'cause I can stay up to dinner, and dress up, and everything."
Ourdays always wound up with an extra good dinner, and a touch of gala costume in honor of the occasion. Then after dinner the evening was devoted to games or stories or fun of some sort, in which Mr. Maynard was the ringleader. Other evenings he was not to be disturbed, unless he chose, but Ourday evenings he belonged to the children, and willingly did whatever they asked him to.
But at nine o'clock the Ourday was over, and the children trooped off to bed, invariably repeating the same old story, "Now this has really been the very best Ourday we ever had!"