And On Your Left

The Vagabond

Vag leafed aimlessly through the list of sightseeing tours. Through the window of his fifth-floor room he could hear a passing sound truck blare a ragged "God rest ye Merrie Gentlemen." It was Christmas in Boston, and Vag was above with nothing to do. And them, as if in answer to his prayers, an advertisement caught his eye. "Tour number 2, educational, Harvard, M.I.T., Radcliffe, Boston University, Simmons . . ." This is it, Vag murmured, enthused already. He could join in the Boston Christmas spirit and get educated to boot.

Looking over his fellow sightseers, Vag knew they were a good lot. There was a small boy with his father, and a small executive with his secretary, and the nattily uniformed bus driver who collected the money-"no half fares." Vag chose a seat near his companions and settled back, his heart pounding at the prospect of the trip ahead. Smiling, he mused wistfully over the great educational centers and historical points of interest he was about to see.

The bus driver announced that they were now passing M.I.T., but Vag did not see much of it, because the driver accelerated to make a green light three blocks away. Before he knew it, Vag was at the Ware collection of glass flowers, which he understood was part of Harvard. The little boy bolted from the bus, and ran into the building intent on picking some of the flowers. Cute kid, Vag thought to himself. But his father shouldn't cuff him around like that.

Much as Vag liked the flowers, he was dismayed because he couldn't keep up with the rest of the party. The executive and his secretary kept disappearing around corners looking for new exhibits, and the father was over near the door with the little boy, boxing the child's ears. Although he was afraid to ask, Vag wondered just what the glass flowers had to do with education at Harvard. But the tour people had said this was an educational trip, and that was enough for him.

Back in the bus, Vag stopped trying to see all the points of interest that the driver yelled out because the bus whizzed by them so fast. He did not even know they had passed Boston University and Simmons, when the driver called, "All out for Longfellow House, extra admission." The executive made some little joke to his companion about the name of the poet, and she giggled.

Moving speedily past Symphony Hall, museums and medical centers, Vab began to hum an off-key Christmas carol softly to himself. Around him, cheerful Christmas displays glowed brightly in red and green. Vag was contented. You can really see a lot of Boston on a tour like this, he thought. He had been close to all the education in Boston, seen lots of really neat places. Soon Vag would hear the blaring street noises again, but now they would sound different because he knew the city, and its history, and its people.