Polar today receives tons of inquires as to what he has been up to since his Titanic adventure.  Did he continue to travel? Or did he hibernate most of the last century in a toy chest?  


Actually, Polar had gone on lots of adventures since his ill fated April 15th, 1912 crossing.  He has enjoyed many continental excursions in the last 97 years and has made allot of wonderful new friends along the way, of which he will happily tell you all about in his upcoming books.


Two years after the Titanic disaster, in June of 1914, Polar  and his new traveling companion Sophie Darling traveled across America by rail road.  Sophie, a neighbor of the Speddens,  was given Polar to keep her company on her fist trip away from home, a transcontinental rail road journey from New York City to San Francisco on three legendary trains, The 20th Cent. Ltd, Rock Island Line & The Overland Limited.


Traveling with Polar and Sophie, is Sophie’s older cousin, Gilbert Darling and her Governess, Miss Strout.  Polar & Sophie had terrific fun exploring the trains accommodations, seeing the magnificent country side from the train’s observation platform and meeting  various celebrities of the day, such as  the opera diva, Madame Nellie Melba, the world’s first gramophone recording star & Buffalo Bill, the famed Wild West showman and nature conservationist.


In the excerpt below, from “Polar, The Twentieth Century Bear”  we find Polar and Sophie on the first leg of their trip on the Twentieth Century Limited, the fastest and most luxuriously appointed train.  In this scene, we find Sophie and Polar find them selves unexpectedly invited to join Madam Melba for a dinner party in the dinning car of train.

Polar, The Twentieth Century Bear

An  Excerpt from  Polar, The Twentieth Century Bear


“Just as I was getting cozy in the nice velvet chair, conversation stopped as Madame Melba and her entourage swept in.  Every eye was on her as she raised her chin and nodded to the astonished crowd.  A young man with a thin mustache and lacquered hair prepared a cup of tea for her and she turned and looked right at Sophie and me as she took her first sip.


“What beautiful curls you have young lady, I see that you must brush your hair at least a hundred times a night.... and who is your charming companion?”  


Sophie stood and offered a little curtsy. “This is my new friend and travel companion Polar, he has been every where. He belongs to Douglas and has traveled almost every where.”  She held me out to Madame Melba who picked me up and smiled at me.  She smelled like Jasmine and Lavender and she held me out to look at me.  “Well, young lady, I see that he is a very charming bear.  I would be honored to have such as distinguished world traveller as a guest at my dinner party tonight.  Of course, you will have to come with him to keep him company.”


Sophie could not believe her ears! “Oh, thank you ever so much.  This will be my first real dinner party.  I'm usually at the children's table in the kitchen or in the nursery. Oh!  wait till I write Mama and Papa about this”. 


“So, you accept?” said Madame Melba as she handed me back to Sophie.  “Then be in the Dining Car by 7:30 p.m. and don't forget to bring Mr. Polar.”  With that, Madame Melba swept out of the room as grandly as she had entered it with her entourage loyally following her.  Poor Miss Strout !  She looked quite undone by all of the excitement.


Sophie hurriedly finished her tea to search out Gilbert, whom she found in the library.   She couldn't wait to tell Gilbert about her dinner invitation.  Gilbert laughed and said, “Dinner with a celebrity on the 20th Century Limited--well, I'll say!” Then we all went on the observation platform to watch the sun set.


It was nearly dusk when we returned through the corridors now filled with other passengers hurrying to change for dinner. I was rather dusty  from to the falling cinders that come out of the smoke stack. They are called “smuts” and they made parts of my white fur sooty.   Sophie was busy cleaning me off and changing my suit while she was  getting buttoned up in her new dress by the Miss Strout.  When we were finished, Gilbert popped in to see us off and said. “ Boy! Don't you both look smart!  Remember not to forget any of your manners.”   Of course, I thought, I am a very wise bear and know how to behave at the table. As we walked down the dimly lit corridor, Gilbert shouted, “Drop by, before  bed, to tell me all about your evening.”


We could hear boisterous conversation in many foreign accents as we enter the dining car. The Maitre 'D escorted us to Madame Melba's table.  Sophie could hardly speak. “Enough of this awful war talk! I won't have any more of it tonight at my dinner party!” said Madame Melba to an older gentleman on her right.  She turned towards us. “I see you have brought your charming friend, is that a new suit he has on?”  Sophie nodded and we were instructed to sit down next to Madame Melba.  She introduced us to all of her friends, who bowed and nodded and shook my paw. 


I looked for a place set for me and saw that I had my own place card and little menu.

I enjoyed sniffing the delicious aromas as the stewards brought in the courses. Usually I am quite eager to try new dishes, but my new suit jacket was a little too tight for me to eat comfortably. Poor Sophie began to look somewhat startled as the stewards uncovered a series of silver dishes.  After all the fare was was very different from what we are used to eating in the nursery.  Madame Melba noticed that Sophie was not eating and said,” When I was a young lady, I was invited to my first dinner party in Paris, hosted by a Russian Grand Duke.  Before I could utter a word, a strange dish, called Plover's Egg Muscovite was placed in front of me.  I have never seen such an odd confection before and we have no equivalent in my native Australia. When I declined it, my host felt insulted and I had no choice but to try some.  To my surprise I enjoyed it tremendously! It is now my most favorite dish. I even had it for lunch today.” 


Sophie shyly began to try her soup.  It was very unusual but very delicious and suddenly a smile spread across her face. “You must always be bold and try new things.  I am certain your friend Mr. Polar would agree with me.”  Sophie nodded and continued to sample all of the new and different dishes placed before her. 


“Now for dessert,” exclaimed Madame Melba to Sophie, whose eyes were wide with excitement. “We are having a special desert that the famous Chef Escoffier made in honor of me!”  What a treat!  Imagine having a famous desert inspired by our hostess, I thought. “Excuse me, Miss, err, um Madame.... Melba, what type of dessert is Peche Melba, an ice cream or a cake?” Inquired Sophie innocently.  “ It is simply glazed peaches with a special sauce over ice cream, Darling.”  I thought every one knew that.


After the delicious dessert,  Madame Melba said good-night to her guests and asked if we would like to see her private car.  She took Sophie's small hand and walked some distance until we came to the panelled door with etched glass.  “I'll just turn on the lamps,” said Madame Melba. There in the near darkness warmed by the orange glow of the electric lamps, we saw her sitting room. 


The compartment was very exotic, full of large pillows and draped fabric which made it look like a Sultan's Palace.  Amidst the potted orchids were photographs of important people, some with crowns and others with lots of fancy medals.  Sophie did not recognize the photograph of Queen Alexandra, The Queen Mother, but we quickly found the a picture of our former President, Theodore Roosevelt. 


“Thank you for kindly inviting us to your dinner party and for showing us your lovely rooms,” said Sophie, who offered her little hand to the great Diva in appreciation as we said good-night.  “Thank you for coming, my little friend.  And take care of Mr. Polar.  You don't find such distinguished bears everyday,” she said with a laugh as she shook my paw. 


We wearily returned to our stateroom to discover that the porters have magically transformed our sitting room into a comfortable bedroom. Before us were two welcoming berths with snowy white sheets.  After Sophie and I changed for bed we went into Gilbert's compartment to say good night.  As he put his book down, he said. “Well, Sophie, how was your fancy dinner party?”  “It was absolutely magical, I will never forget it in a million years.” Replied Sophie.  Miss Strout came in to tuck Sophie and I in to bed and soon the gentle rhythm of the train had us dreaming about tomorrows adventures.”


Copy Right 2009 Leighton H. Coleman III, All Rights Reserved