Little Albert joined the crush outside the Crystal Palace. Several nearby glanced at him, abhorring the sight and smell of the street urchin.The boy heard a few women of the upper crust comment that he belonged in a gutter and not with kind society. Another man from the bourgeois commented to a friend that he must be the by-blow of a prostitute and a drunkard.
The young boy ignored the hurtful words. He studied the faces of those whose insults stung the worse, planning to pick their pockets when he was finished admiring the exhibits.
The man selling tickets stared at Little Albert as if he was a curiosity, but he said. “Entrance into The Great Exhibition costs one shilling.”
Little Albert reached into the stolen satchel and handed the man a shilling. In return, he was given a ticket.
‘Thank ye, sir,” he said.
Albert paused mid-step when he heard a familiar voice shout, “Thief! Thief! There is the little brat that stole my coin!”
Looking over his shoulder, he spotted the fat gentleman and the constable running towards him. The ticket seller cast him a glance, putting two and two together in his mind. He tried to grab Little Albert by the collar, but the boy was too quick for him. Dodging the ticket seller, he was swallowed into the crowd.
Once inside and hidden in a corner, he was able to look at his surroundings. Little Albert’s jaw dropped, amazement seeping into him. The wonders he saw were like nothing else. The newspapers he read did not over exaggerate the magnificence of the Crystal Palace.
What he saw must have been the Indian exhibit, for he saw a throne carved from ivory, nearby was a coat embroidered with pearls, rubies, and emeralds, a howdah, and contraptions for a rajah’s elephant. Further beyond this exhibit he could see huge porcelain vases and malachite urns, sledges, furs, and Cossack armor.
Little Albert began to walk, ogling the displays and exhibitions. He wondered into the American exhibition, which was headed by a large eagle. In its talons was a banner of the Stars and Stripes. There was the reaping machine that the newspapers had mentioned and a large display of firearms. Moving on, there was a large chunk of gold from Chile and gold watches from Switzerland. Canada had displayed a treasury of furs and even a fire-engine with painted panels that portrayed scenes of Canada.
The largest exhibit, which took up easily half of the palace, was the British display. There were several carriages and saddlery, even a few contraptions called velocipedes could be seen. Folding pianos were lined against a wall. A mechanism connected to rubber tubes allowed the deaf to hear. There were examples of steam engines, agricultural machinery, and textile machines.
There were so many brilliant contraptions and mechanisms that one could not possibly list them all, but what immediately caught Little Albert’s eye was the printing machine that could make five thousand copies of the Illustrated London News in an hour. It reminded him of the days when he once was employed for a newspaper shop….
“There is the runt! Catch him!”
Whirling around, Little Albert saw the constable and the fat gentleman standing not too far from where he stood.