Mahmud: April 20 — en route to Washington DC
In the early morning after prayers, meditations, morning tea and receiving some of the believers, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá left the Hotel Ansonia for the railway station [Grand Central Station]. A large group of friends and well-wishers were there to bid Him farewell. One by one they came to Him and in their own ways expressed their respect, attraction and humility.
When He arrived at the station, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá walked around the building, praising its beauty and construction. We were informed that it is one of the finest in the world, its construction costing about six million dollars. The train began its journey and for the first few miles it traveled by the great river. As well as His usual companions, two American Bahá’ís traveled with the Master. One was Mr John Bosch from California, who had come to New York specifically to see Him. He had asked for a Persian name and was given the name Nurani [‘the Luminous’] by the Master. The other American was Dr Edward Getsinger, who begged ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that he be allowed to be a part of His entourage. As most American trains have but one class of travel, except for sleeping compartments, we were all accommodated in one cabin.
After a journey of about five hours the train reached Washington DC. Before the journey the Master had sent a telegram to the friends in Washington requesting that a house be rented for Him. Mrs [Agnes] Parsons had invited the Master to stay at her home but He did not at first accept her invitation. However, after He was told by the friends that her home had been especially prepared for His visit, for which she had been anxiously waiting, He agreed to her request; for had her invitation not been accepted, she would have been heartbroken and deeply saddened. The Master and a translator went to Mrs Parsons’s home and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá instructed the other members of His entourage to stay at the house rented for Him. Thus Mrs Parsons’s house was the first home in America in which the Master resided; He stayed there for several days.
That evening ‘Abdu’l-Bahá attended the annual meeting of the Orient-Occident Unity Conference at the public library. It was a vast gathering and the hall was filled to capacity. As the Master entered the hall, the audience was awe-struck. All stood and remained standing until He bade them be seated. It was amazing to witness how spontaneously these people paid Him their respect, even though most were not Bahá’ís. He spoke on the importance of the relationship between the East and the West, the unity of people and about the Revelation of the Greatest Name. His talk was so moving and inspiring that afterwards everyone wanted to meet Him but because He was too tired to greet everyone, He decided to return home.