Elsie at the World's Fair by Martha Finley
Sight-seeing was resumed again the next day, much time being spent in the Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building, the marvel of the Exposition, covering more than forty acres of ground, and filled with curious and beautiful things from almost every quarter of the globe. Hours were spent there, then a ride in an electric boat on the lagoon was taken as a restful form of recreation.
The greater part of the afternoon was spent in the ever-fascinating Midway Plaisance, then they returned to the yacht for their evening meal and an hour or two of restful chat in the easy-chairs on its deck, and with the setting of the sun the older ones returned to the Court of Honor, leaving the children in bed and under the ever-watchful care of their nurse.
Much the same sort of life continued for a week or more; then many of the friends found it necessary to return to their homes. The cousins from Pleasant Plains were among that number, and the day before leaving young Percy seized a rare opportunity for a word in private with Captain Raymond.
"I have been coveting such a chance as this, sir," he said, coloring with embarrassment, "but--but couldn't find it till now. I--I--want----"
"Speak out, my young friend," said the captain kindly, "I am ready to listen to whatever you may have to say, and if in my power to assist you in any way, shall feel it a pleasure to do so; particularly as you are a relative of my wife."
Percy had had but little opportunity for showing his penchant for Lucilla, and the young girl's father was not thinking of her, but imagined there might be some business venture in which the young man desired his assistance.
"You have perhaps something to tell me of your plans and prospects for the future," he said enquiringly, "and if so, possibly I may be able to exert influence, or render assistance, in some way; it will give me pleasure, I assure you, to do anything in my power; so do not be afraid to speak out."
"You are very kind, captain, very kind indeed," stammered Percy, flushing more hotly than before, "but that--that is not it exactly. I hope you won't be angry, but I have been trying to screw up my courage to ask for--something far more valuable than money, influence, or anything else that could be thought of. I--I love your daughter, sir,--Miss Lucilla--and--and I hope you won't forbid me to tell her so."
He drew a sigh of relief that at last the Rubicon was crossed--his desire and purpose made known; but a glance at the captain's grave and troubled face dashed his hopes to the ground.
A moment of silence followed, then Captain Raymond spoke in gentle, sympathetic tones.
"I am sorry, very sorry to disappoint you, my young friend; but I cannot grant your request. Lucilla is but a child yet--a mere school-girl; and such I intend to keep her for some six years or more to come. I have no objection to you more than to any other man, but cannot consent to allowing her to be approached on that subject until she reaches much more mature years."
"And in the meantime somebody else will in all probability get ahead of me," sighed Percy. "Oh, sir, can I not persuade you to revoke that decision and let me at least learn from her own lips whether or not she cares for me?"
"I think I can furnish all the information you wish in that line," returned the captain, laying a kindly hand on the young man's shoulder, "for hardly an hour ago she told me--as she has many times before--that she loved no one else in the wide world half so dearly as her father."
"Well, sir, I am glad of it, since you won't let me speak yet," said Percy with a rueful sort of smile. "But--please don't blame me for it--but I can't feel satisfied to be forbidden to speak a word, considering how very far apart our homes are, and that we may not meet again for years--if ever--and that--Chester Dinsmore, who is, I can see plainly enough, over head and ears in love with her--will be near her all the time and have every chance to cut me out."
"No," said the captain, "I shall give him no chance either. I fully intend keeping my little girl to myself--as I have already told you--for at least six or eight years to come."
"And you have no objection to me personally, sir?"
"None whatever; in fact, from all I have seen and heard I am inclined to think you a fine fellow; almost equal to my own boy, Max," Captain Raymond said with a smile: "and if my daughter were of the right age, and quite ready and willing to leave her father, I should have but one objection to your suit--that you would take her so far away from me."
"Possibly I might not, sir, should there be an opening for me near where you reside. I think the Bible says it is the man who is to leave father and mother and cleave to his wife."
"True, my young friend," returned the captain; "but the time I have set is too far away to make it worth our while to consider that question at present."
With that the interview closed, and the two parted, the captain to be confronted a few minutes later by Chester Dinsmore, with a like request to that just denied to Percy.
"No, no, Chester," he said, "it is not to be thought of; Lucilla is entirely too young to leave her father's fostering care and take up the duties and trials of married life. I cannot consent to your saying a word to her on the subject for years to come."
"You have no objection to me personally, I trust, sir?" returned the young man, looking chagrined and mortified.
"None whatever," Captain Raymond hastened to say. "I have just given the same answer to another suitor, and there is one consideration which inclines me to prefer you to him; namely, that you are a near neighbor to us at Woodburn; so that in giving up my daughter to you I should feel the parting much less than if she were about to make her home so far North as this."
"Well, sir, that's a crumb of comfort, though to be often in her company--seeing her lovely face and watching her pretty ways--will make it all the more difficult to refrain from showing my esteem, admiration, love. In fact, I don't know how to stand it. Excuse me, captain, but what harm could there be in telling her my story and trying to win my way to her heart, provided--I spoke of marriage only as something to be looked for in the far-off future?"
"No, I cannot consent to that," returned the captain with decision. "It would only put mischief into her head and rob her of her child-like simplicity. She is still too young to know her own mind on that subject and might fancy that she had given her heart to one who would, a few years later, be entirely distasteful to her. But I trust you, Chester, not to breathe a word to her of your--what shall I call it?--admiration until you have my consent."
"It is more than admiration, sir!" exclaimed Chester. "I love her as I never loved anything before in my life, and it would just about kill me to see her in the possession of another."
"Then comfort yourself that for years to come no one's suit will be listened to any more favorably than yours," returned the father of the girl he so coveted, and with that the interview came to an end.
Their conversation had been held at one end of the deck while the rest of the party sat chatting together at the other. The captain and Chester joined them now and entered into the talk, which ran principally upon the fact that all the relatives from Pleasant Plains must leave for home the next day.
"How would you all like to go by water?" asked Captain Raymond, as if the thought of such a possibility had just struck him.
"I do not believe the idea has occurred to any of us," replied Annis, "and since the building of the railroad so few make the journey by water that the boats running on our river are few, small, and I presume not remarkably comfortable."
"How would this one answer?" he asked. "It is but thirty-eight miles across the lake; I think we would find your river navigable nearly or quite up to your town, and to reach it from here would not take more than six or eight hours."
"Then they could all go, as they need not all spend the night, or any part of it, on board," exclaimed Violet in tones of delight. "Oh, Cousin Annis, and all of you, do agree to it, and we will have a charming little trip!"
"Indeed, so far as I am concerned nothing could be pleasanter, I am sure," said Annis, looking highly pleased; "but--I fear it would be giving you a great deal of trouble, captain."
"Not at all," he returned, "but on the contrary it will, I think, be a very enjoyable little trip to me and my wife and children."
"Oh, I should like it very much!" exclaimed Lucilla; "there would be such a nice large party of us all the way to Pleasant Plains--supposing your river is navigable so far for a vessel of this size--and then the trip up the lake, a little visit to Mackinaw, and the sail back again, would be a restful and enjoyable break in the visit here to the Fair."
"What do you say to the plan, Grandpa and Grandma Dinsmore, and mother?" asked the captain, turning toward them. "And you, Cousin Ronald?"
All expressed themselves as well pleased with the idea, and it was decided to carry it out.
"We will be happy to have you accompany us also, Chester and Frank, should you care to do so," said the captain cordially, "though I fear it will rob you of some of the time you had planned to spend at the Fair."
"Thank you, captain," said Frank, "I, for one, accept your very kind invitation with great pleasure. It will give me a glimpse of a part of our big country that I have never seen--in the pleasantest of company, too; and as to our visit to the Fair, we can prolong it by another week, if we choose."
"So we can," said his brother, "and I, too, accept your kind invitation, captain, with cordial thanks."
"Then let me advise you of Pleasant Plains to be on board here, bag and baggage, by eight, or at the latest nine, o'clock to-morrow morning," said Captain Raymond. "We will be happy to have you take breakfast here with us, and we may as well be on our way across the lake while eating. Then I hope to have you at your destination by seven or eight in the evening, and, leaving you there, steam on down the river and up the lake, the rest of my passengers resting in their berths as usual."
"Then it will take about all of the next day to get to Mackinaw, won't it, papa?" asked Grace.
"And how long will we stay there?"
"I suppose that will depend upon how we enjoy ourselves. I think it likely you will all be satisfied with a day or two, as there is so much that will interest you here which you have not yet seen."
"Cousin Annis," said Violet, "would you not be willing to make one of our party? I am sure that with a little crowding we could accommodate you very easily."
"Thank you very much, cousin," replied Annis, "but I fear my company would not repay you for the necessary crowding."
At that several voices exclaimed that it certainly would; the young girls adding that they could crowd a little closer together without feeling it any inconvenience, and the captain saying laughingly that impromptu beds would have to be provided in the saloon for Chester and Frank, and he would join them there, so leaving a vacant place for her with his wife; and with a little more persuasion Annis accepted the invitation, knowing that she could be well spared for a time from the large circle of brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces: the dear old father and mother having been taken, some years before, to their heavenly home.
"I wish we could take Cousin Arthur, Marian, and Hugh with us," said Violet; "though they are not here to-night, they must still be in the city, I think."
"Yes," said her husband, "and I think we might manage to accommodate them also, should they care to go; but probably they will prefer having that much more time to spend at the Fair."
It was a beautiful moonlight evening, and after a little more chat in regard to the arrangements to be made for the morrow's journey, all except the children, who were already in bed, went together to the Court of Honor: from there to the Midway Plaisance, then to the Ferris Wheel, in which everyone was desirous to take a ride by moonlight; nor were they by any means disappointed in it.
On leaving the Wheel they bade each other good-night and scattered to their several resting places--the cousins to their boarding-house, the others to the yacht.
A little before eight o'clock the next morning there was a cheerful bustle on board the Dolphin. The extra passengers arrived safely and in good season, with their luggage, and found everything on the boat in good trim, and an excellent breakfast awaiting them and the others.
The weather was all that could be desired; they were congenial spirits, and the day passed most delightfully. But though the young people were very sociable, no one seeming to be under any restraint, neither Chester nor Percy found an opportunity for any private chat with Lucilla. The fact was that the captain had had a bit of private talk with his wife and her mother, in which he gave them an inkling into the state of affairs as concerned the two young men and his eldest daughter, and requested their assistance in preventing either one from so far monopolizing the young girl as to be tempted into letting her into the secret of his feelings toward her.
They reached Pleasant Plains early in the evening, landed the cousins belonging there, with the single exception of Miss Annis Keith, then turned immediately and went down the river again, reaching the lake about the usual time for retiring to their berths.
The rest of their voyage was as delightful as that of the first day had been, and spent in a similar manner. As they sat together on the deck, toward evening, Grace asked her father if Mackinaw had not been the scene of something interesting in history.
"There was a dreadful massacre there many years ago," he replied; "it was in 1763, by the Indians under Pontiac, an Indian chief. It was at the time of his attack on Detroit. There is a cave shown on the island in which the whites took refuge, but the Indians kindled a fire at its mouth and smoked them--men, women, and children--to death."
"Oh, how dreadful, papa! how very dreadful!" she exclaimed.
"Yes," he said, "those were dreadful times; but often the poor Indians were really less to blame than the whites, who urged them on--the French against the English and the English against the Americans.
"Pontiac was the son of an Ojibway woman, and chief of that tribe, also of the Ottawas and the Pottawattamies, who were in alliance with the Ojibways. In 1746 he and his warriors defended the French at Detroit against an attack by some of the northern tribes, and in 1755 he took part in their fight with Braddock, acting as the leader of the Ottawas."
"I wonder," said Grace, as her father paused for a moment in his narrative, "if he was the Indian who, in that fight, aimed so many times at Washington, yet failed to hit him, and at last gave up the attempt to kill him, concluding that he must be under the special protection of the Great Spirit."
"That I cannot tell," her father said. "But whoever that Indian may have been I think he was right in his conclusion--that God protected and preserved our Washington that he might play the important part he did in securing his country's freedom.
"But to return to my story. Pontiac hated the English, though after the surrender of Quebec, some years after Braddock's defeat--finding that the French had been driven from Canada, he acquiesced in the surrender of Detroit to the English, and persuaded four hundred Detroit Indians, who were lying in ambush, intending to cut off the English there, to relinquish their design.
"But he hated the English, and in 1762 he sent messengers to every tribe between the Ottawa and the Mississippi to engage them all in a war of extermination against the English."
"Americans too, papa?" asked little Elsie, who, sitting upon his knee, was listening very attentively to his narrative.
"Yes," he replied, "our States were English colonies then, for the War of the Revolution did not begin until about thirteen years later. The messengers of Pontiac carried with them the red-stained tomahawk and a wampum war-belt, the Indian fashion of indicating that war was purposed, and those to whom the articles were sent were invited to take part in the conflict.
"All the tribes to whom they were sent joined in the conspiracy, and the end of May was decided upon as the time when their bloody purpose should be carried out, each tribe disposing of the garrison of the nearest fort; then all were to act together in an attack upon the settlements.
"On the 27th of April, 1763, a great council was held near Detroit, at which Pontiac made an oration detailing the wrongs and indignities the Indians had suffered at the hands of the English, and prophesying their extermination.
"He told also of a tradition that a Delaware Indian had been admitted into the presence of the Great Spirit, who told him that his race must return to the customs and weapons of their ancestors, throw away those they had gotten from the white men, abjure whiskey, and take up the hatchet against the English. 'These dogs dressed in red,' he called them, 'who have come to rob you of your hunting-grounds and drive away the game.'
"Pontiac's own particular task was the taking of Detroit. The attack was to be made on the 7th of May. But the commander of the fort was warned of their intentions by an Indian girl, and in consequence when Pontiac and his warriors arrived on the scene they found the garrison prepared to receive them. Yet on the 12th he surrounded the fort with his Indians, but was not able to keep a close siege, and the garrison was provided with food by the Canadian settlers."
"They supplied the Indians also, did they not, my dear?" asked Violet.
"Yes," replied the captain, "receiving in return promissory notes drawn on birch bark and signed with the figure of an otter, and it is said that all of them were afterward redeemed by Pontiac, who had issued them."
"That speaks well for the honesty of the Indians if they were savage and cruel," remarked Walter; "and in fact they were hardly more cruel than some of the whites have been to them, and to other whites with whom they were at war."
"Quite true," said the captain.
"But didn't the rest of the English try to help those folks in that fort at Detroit, papa?" asked Elsie.
"Yes; supplies and reinforcements were sent in schooners, by way of Lake Erie, but they were captured by the Indians, who then compelled their prisoners to row them to Detroit, concealed in the bottom of the boat, hoping in that way to take the fort by stratagem; but, fortunately for the besieged, they were discovered before they could land.
"Afterward another schooner, filled with supplies and ammunition, succeeded in reaching the fort, though the Indians repeatedly tried to destroy it by fire-rafts.
"Now the English thought themselves strong enough to attack the Indians, and in the night of July 31 two hundred and fifty men set out for that purpose.
"But the Canadians had learned their intention and told the Indians; so Pontiac was ready and waiting to make an attack, which he did as soon as the English were far enough from their fort for him to do so with advantage, firing upon them from all sides and killing and wounding fifty-nine of them. That fight is known as the fight of 'Bloody Bridge.'
"On the 12th of the next October the siege was raised, and the chiefs of the hostile tribes, with the exception of Pontiac, sued for pardon and peace. Pontiac was not conquered and retired to the country of the Illinois. In 1769 he was murdered in Cahokia, a village on the Mississippi, near St. Louis. The deed was done by an Indian, who had been bribed to do it by an English trader."
"Papa, you have not told us yet what happened at Mackinaw," said Lucilla.
"It, as well as many other forts, was taken by Pontiac's Indians and all the inhabitants of the island were massacred," replied the captain. "There is a cave shown in a hill-side some little distance out from the village in which the French sought refuge, and where they were smoked to death, the Indians kindling fires at its mouth."
"Oh," exclaimed Grace, "I am glad I didn't live in those dreadful days!"
"Yes," said her father, "we have great reason for gratitude that the lines have fallen to us in such pleasant places, and times of peace."