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The Palace of Manufactures
We went across the Court of Flowers, stopping to admire the darling pansies, to the Palace of Manufactures.
This, again, is in Spanish Renaissance style, and has a figure of Victory on the gables, another reminder that we have been victorious with the Canal.
One of the interesting things we saw here was rope-making. A large Colonial mansion has been made of rope, the big cable kind, with pillars and all. It was clean-looking and very ingenious. The rope is made from the wild banana plant which grows in the Philippine Islands and does not look as though it were good for anything. They also make rope of a plant called "sisal," which is a cactus plant, and grows wild in Mexico.
At this place a variety of small tools had been made into a wonderful waterfall, something like Niagara, only not so large, and a ship was running on the river above the falls which did not look very safe to us; it might be drawn over, we thought, but nothing happened. A very life-like snake made of steel ran across the bank every few moments. The boys seemed to enjoy it very much.
There was also a fountain made of wire, playing in the yard, and it looked very much like water if you wanted to help out by some pretend.
A little Japanese girl in this palace is making hats all the time, but she does not get tired because she is just a little statue, or figure, in a glass case, but she shows how the work is done as well as though she were alive, but you miss her smile.
Broom-making is also interesting, and we watched it until we could almost make a broom. First the man takes a handful of broom straw, and puts it in a machine, which does something to it, and gives it back. Then he passes it on to another man, and he puts it in another machine, and before you know it there is a regular broom, like your mother sends you to the grocery for.
I have always thought it would be better to take the seeds out of the broom and plant them and raise one's own brooms, but I know better now. The straw is put in hot water first, and so, of course, the seeds would not grow. Besides, one would have to buy a machine.
A wonderful machine from Switzerland was making hand-made embroidery, or some that looked just as well, and we wished that you might see it.
It appealed to us, because to stay in the house and embroider has never seemed to us to be worth while, although we do like pretty things. Men do the work with this machine, and they have a pattern of the flower they are putting on the work pinned on the wall in front of them. I am quite sure brother would let us go without embroidery before he would stay in and do it.
We wouldn't mind a bit cutting and making doll clothes from the darling paper patterns that we saw, if they would lend us a sewing-machine.
But we didn't ask to do it.
Your loving cousins,
Jane and Ellen.