He wore on that occasion his orange cassock, a tincture of deep rose-red silk, and his turban of white shot with threads of gold. His feet, otherwise bare, were covered by sandals of soft brown leather.
It was at this dinner that our friendship began. Afterwards. in the drawing-room, he said to me, "Miss Gibbons, your philosophy and mine are one; and the heart of our faiths is the same."
I then lived with my mother at the Beresford Apartments at 1 East Eighty-first Street, overlooking Central Park. My mother was Southern, of the royal French blood, from Charleston, South Carolina, and a famous beauty, dark of eyes and hair. She was a witty woman and delighted in the social pleasures centering about the Church of England, to which, she maintained, all the aristocratic world belonged. Thus the Swami and I were outside the fold. I told my mother of him on my return home from Dr. Guernsey's dinner party, and what a splendid mind he had. I dwelt on the great force which had come to us. To which she replied. "What a terrible dinner party, with all those Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians, and one black Pagan in orange cloths!" But she grew to like Vivekananda, to respect his view-point, and afterwards joined one of the Vedanta Centres. She was awfully amusing to him, and I can sec him now, after all these years, laughing so gaily at her remarks about him.
On one occasion there was an all-star cast in "Faust" at the Metropolitan Opera, on a Monday night when all society appeared to sit in their boxes and show their anatomy covered with jewels: to gossip, to visit, to come in late and be observed of all observers, and to do everything but listen to the opera. There was Melba in her prime, and de Reszkes, and Bauermeister. The Swami had never been to the opera, and our subscription seats were in a conspicuous part of the orchestra. I had suggested that the Swami be invited to accompany us. Mama said to him, "But you are black. What will the world say?" To which he laughed and said. "I will sit beside my sister. She does not mind. I know." He never looked more handsome. Everyone about us was so wrapped up in him that I am sure they did not listen to the opera at all that night.
To be continued.... (Memoirs of Constance Towne)
The main theme of my life is to take the message of Sanatana Dharma to every home and pave the way for launching, in a big way, the man-making programme preached and envisaged by great seers like Swami Vivekananda. - Mananeeya Eknathji
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