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The Lady Higher Up
by [?]

New York City, they said, was deserted; and that accounted, doubtless, for the sounds carrying so far in the tranquil summer air. The breeze was south-by-southwest; the hour was midnight; the theme was a bit of feminine gossip by wireless mythology. Three hundred and sixty-five feet above the heated asphalt the tiptoeing symbolic deity on Manhattan pointed her vacillating arrow straight, for the time, in the direction of her exalted sister on Liberty Island. The lights of the great Garden were out; the b enches in the Square were filled with sleepers in postures so strange that beside them the writhing figures in Dore’s illustrations of the Inferno would have straightened into tailor’s dummies. The statue of Diana on the tower of the Garden — its constancy shown by its weathercock ways, its innocence by the coating of gold that it has acquired, its devotion to style by its single, graceful flying scarf, its candour and artlessness by its habit of ever drawing the long bow, its metropolitanism by its posture of swift flight to catch a Harlem train — remained poised with its arrow pointed across the upper bay. Had that arrow sped truly and horizontally it would have passed fifty feet above the head of the heroic matron whose duty it is to offer a cast-ironical welcome to the oppressed of other lands.

Seaward this lady gazed, and the furrows between steamship lines began to cut steerage rates. The translators, too, have put an extra burden upon her. “Liberty Lighting the World” (as her creator christened her) would have had a no more responsible duty, except for the size of it, than that of an electrician or a Standard Oil magnate. But to “enlighten” the world (as our learned civic guardians “Englished” it) requires abler qualities. And so poor Liberty, instead of having a sinecure as a mere illuminator, must be converted into a Chautauqua schoolma’am, with the oceans for her field instead of the placid, classic lake. With a fireless torch and an empty head must she dispel the shadows of the world and teach it its A, B, C’s.

“Ah, there, Mrs. Liberty!” called a clear, rollicking soprano voice through the still, midnight air.

“Is that you, Miss Diana? Excuse my not turning my head. I’m not as flighty and whirly-whirly as some. And ’tis so hoarse I am I can hardly talk on account of the peanut-hulls left on the stairs in me throat by that last boatload of tourists from Marietta, Ohio. ‘Tis after being a fine evening, miss.”

“If you don’t mind my asking,” came the bell-like tones of the golden statue, “I’d like to know where you got that City Hall brogue. I didn’t know that Liberty was necessarily Irish.”

“If ye’d studied the history of art in its foreign complications ye’d not need to ask,” replied the offshore statue. “If ye wasn’t so light-headed and giddy ye’d know that I was made by a Dago and presented to the American people on behalf of the French Government for the purpose of welcomin’ Irish immigrants into the Dutch city of New York. ‘Tis that I’ve been doing night and day since I was erected. Ye must know, Miss Diana, that ’tis with statues the same as with people — ’tis not their makers nor the purposes for which they were created that influence the operations of their tongues at all — it’s the associations with which they become associated, I’m telling ye.”

“You’re dead right,” agreed Diana. “I notice it on myself. If any of the old guys from Olympus were to come along and hand me any hot air in the ancient Greek I couldn’t tell it from a conversation between a Coney Island car conductor and a five-cent fare.”