I have just returned from the procession of the Hungarian Nobles. It was even more beautiful and more interesting than the Czar's entry than which I would not have believed anything could have been more impressive-- But the first was military, except for the carriages, which were like something out of fairyland--to-day, the costumes were all different and mediaeval, some nine hundred years old and none nearer than the 15th Century. The mis en scene was also much better. Buda is a clean, old burgh, with yellow houses rising on a steep green hill, red roofs and towers and domes, showing out of the trees-- It is very high but very steep and the procession wound in and out like a fairy picture-- I sat on the top of the hill, looking down it to the Danube, which separates Buda from Pest-- The Emperor sat across the square about 75 yards from our tribune in the balcony of his palace. We sat in the Palace yard and the procession passed and turned in front of us-- There were about 1,500 nobles, each dressed to suit himself, in costumes that had descended for generations--of brocade, silk, fur, and gold and silver cloth-- Each costume averaged, with the trappings of the horse, 5,000 dollars. Some cost $1,000, some $15,000. Some wore complete suits of chain armor, with bearskins and great black eagle feathers on their spears just as they were when they invaded Rome-- Others wore gold chain armor and leopard or wolf skins and their horses were studded with turquoises and trappings of gold and silver and smothered in silver coins-- It would have been ridiculous if they had not been the real thing in every detail and if you had not known how terribly in earnest the men were. There is no other country in the world where men change from the most blase and correct of beings, to fairy princes in tights and feathers and jewelled belts and satin coats-- They were an hour in passing and each one seemed more beautiful than the others-- I am very glad I came although I was disappointed at missing the accident at Moscow. It must have been more terrible than Johnstown. I found the ----s quite converted into the most awful snobs but the people they worship are as simple and well bred as all gentle people are and I have had the most delightful time with them. It is so small and quiet after Moscow, and instead of being lost in an avalanche of embassies and suites and missions, I have a distinct personality, as "the American," which I share with "the" Frenchman and four Englishmen. We are the only six strangers and they give us the run of all that is going on-- At night we dine at the most remarkable club in the world, on the border of the Park, where the best of all the Gypsey musicians plays for us-- The music is alone worth having come to hear, and the dear souls who play it, having been told that I like it follow me all around the terrace and sit down three feet away and fix their eyes on you, and then proceed to pull your nerves and heart out of you for an hour at a time-- One night a man here dipped a ten thousand franc note in his champagne and pasted it on the leader's violin and bowed his thanks, and the leader bowed in return and the next morning sent him the note back in an envelope, saying that the compliment was worth more than the money-- The leader's name is Berchey and the Hungarians have never allowed him to leave the country for fear he would not be allowed to come back-- He is a fat, half drunken looking man, with his eyes full of tears half the time he plays. He looks just like a setter dog and he is so terribly in earnest that when he fixes me with his eyes and plays at me, the court ladies all get up and move their chairs out of his way just as though he were a somnambulist--
I leave here Wednesday and reach Paris Friday MORNING the eleventh-- You must try to meet me at the Cafe de la Paix at half past nine-- Wait in the corner room if you don't wish to sit outside and as soon as I get washed I will join you for coffee. It will be fine to see you again and to be done with jumping about from hotel to hotel and to be able to read the signs and to know how to ask for food. Russian, German and Hungarian have made French seem like my mother tongue--
In December, 1896, Richard and Frederic Remington, the artist, were commissioned by the New York Journal to visit Cuba which was then at war with Spain. It was their intention to go from Key West in the Vamoose, a very fast but frail steam-launch, and to make a landing at some uninhabited point on the Cuban coast. After this their plans seem to have been to trust to luck and the kindliness of the revolutionists. After waiting for some time at Key West for favorable weather, they at last started out on a dark night to make the crossing. A few hours after the Vamoose had left Key West a heavy storm arose--apparently much too violent for the slightly built launch. The crew struck and the captain finally refused to go on to Cuba and put back to Key West. Shortly after this Remington and my brother reached Havana by a more simple and ostentatious route. This was my brother's first effort as a war correspondent, and I presume it was this fact and the very indefiniteness of the original plan that caused his mother and father so much uneasiness. And, indeed, it did prove eventually a hazardous exploit.
way to Key West. December 19, 1896. DEAR MOTHER:
I hope you won't be cross with me for going off and not letting you know, but I thought it was better to do it that way as there was such delay in our getting started. I am going to Cuba by way of Key West with Frederic Remington and Michaelson, a correspondent who has been there for six months. We are to be taken by the Vamoose the fastest steam yacht made to Santa Clara province where the Cubans will meet us and take us to Gomez. We will stay a month with him, the yacht calling for copy and sketches once a week, and finally for us in a month. I get all my expenses and The Journal pays me $3,000 for the month's work. The Harper's Magazine also takes a story at six hundred dollars and Russell will reprint Remington's sketches and my story in book form, so I shall probably clear $4,000 in the next month or six weeks. I was a week in getting information on the subject so I know all about it from the men who have just been there and I want you to pay attention to what I tell you they told me and not to listen to any stray visitor who comes in for tea and talks without any tact or knowledge. There is no danger in the trip except the problem of getting there and getting away again, and that is now removed by The Journal's yacht. I would have gone earlier had any of the periodicals that asked me to go shown me any way to get there-- THERE IS NO FEVER THIS TIME OF YEAR and as you know fever never touches me. It got all the others in Central America and never worried me at all. There is no danger of getting shot, as the province into which we go, the Santa Clara province, is owned and populated and patrolled by the Cubans. It is no more Spanish than New Jersey and the Spaniards cannot get in there. We have the strongest possible letters from the Junta, and I have from Lamont, Bayard and Olney and credentials in every language. We will sit around the Gomez camp and send messengers back to the coast. It is a three days trip and as Gomez may be moving from place to place you may not hear from us for a month and we may not hear from you but remember it was a much longer time than that before you heard from me when I went to Honduras. Also keep in mind that I am going as a correspondent only and must keep out of the way of fighting and that I mean to do so, as Chamberlain says we want descriptive stories not brave deeds-- Major Flint who has arranged the trip for us was down there with Maceo as a correspondent. He saw six fights and never shot off his gun once because as he said it was not his business to kill people and he has persuaded me that he is right, so I won't do anything but look on-- I have bought at The Journal's expense a fifty dollar field glass which is a new invention and the best made. I have marked it so that you can see a man five miles off and as soon as I see him I mean to begin to ride or run the other way--no one loves himself more than I do so you leave me to take care of myself. I wish I could give you any idea of the contempt the four returned correspondents who talked to me, have for the Spaniards. They have seen them shoot 2,500 rounds without hitting men at 200 yards and they run away if the enemy begins on them first. However, you trust to Richard-- We have a fine escort arranged for us and Michaelson speaks Spanish perfectly and has been six months scouting over the country.
KEY West, December 26, 1896. DEAR FAMILY:
I got your letters late last night and they made me pretty solemn. It is an awfully solemn thing to have people care for you like that and to care for them as I do. I can't tell you how much I love you. You don't know how much the pain of worrying you for a month has meant to me, but I have talked it all out with myself, and left it to God and I am sure I am doing right. As Mrs. Crown said, "There's a whole churchful up here praying for you," and I guess that will pull me through. Of course, dear, dear Mother thought she was cross with me. She could not be cross with me, and her letter told me how much she cared, that was all, and made me be extra careful. But I need not promise you to be careful. You have an idea I am a wild, filibustering, hot-headed young man. I am not. I gave the guides to understand their duty was to keep us out of danger if we had to walk miles to avoid it. We are men of peace, going in, as real estate agents and coffee-planters and drummers are going in on every steamer, to attend to our especial work and get out again quick. I have just as strong a prejudice against killing a man as I have against his killing me.
Lots and lots of love. Don't get scared if you don't hear for a month, although we will try to get our stories back once a week, but you know we are at the convenience of the Cubans who will pocket our despatches and money and not take the long trip back. Thank dear Dad for his letter full of good advice. It was excellent. Remington and Michelson are good men and I like them immensely. Already we are firm friends.