Elsie at the World's Fair by Martha Finley
"Papa, I wish we might go back to the Fair directly after supper and spend the evening there," Lucilla said, as again they stood on the Dolphin's deck. "I want so much to see the lighting up of the Court of Honor, then go to the wooded island to see it with the lamps lighted; after that to the Ferris Wheel again, to have the view from it by moonlight."
"Anything more, my child?" returned the captain, with his pleasant smile.
"I think it likely that may do for one evening, sir," she replied; "unless my father wants to take me somewhere else."
"I think we will then come back through the Court of Honor and go to our beds," he said; "that is, should we make the visits proposed, which will depend at least somewhat upon the wishes of others. Violet, my dear, how does that programme suit you?"
"I really do not know of any way of spending the evening that I should enjoy more," answered Violet. "Indeed Lu and I were talking together of our desire to see those sights, not longer ago than yesterday. And you, mother, would like it, would you not?" she asked, turning to Grandma Elsie.
"Very much!" was the reply. "The tired little ones will be left in their bed of course?"
"Yes, indeed! they will be ready for that as soon as they have had their supper," Violet replied, with a loving look into each weary little face. "Come, dears, we will go to our state-room, wash hands and faces, and smooth your hair, and by that time supper will be on the table."
Every one of the company approved of Lucilla's plan for the spending of the evening, and before the sun had quite set they were again in the Court of Honor. They were in season to secure seats from which they could get a good view of the lighting up.
They found there were thousands of people who seemed as anxious as themselves to witness the sudden change from deepening twilight to the grand illumination that made fairyland of the Court of Honor. But they were there for some minutes, sitting silently in the growing darkness, finding the buildings taking on a new beauty by the dim, uncertain light, and feeling it pleasant just to rest, listen to the subdued hum of the thousands of voices of the multitude thronging about the white railing guarding the fountains, the doorways, the stone steps leading down to the water, and every place where a human creature could find room to sit down and rest while waiting for a sight of the expected lighting up.
There seemed no ill-humor among the great throng, no loud, angry talk, but a subdued buzz like many telephone messages coming over the wire at the same time.
Our friends sat where they could see both the Administration Dome and the Golden Statue at the other end of the lagoon. They had sat in silence there for some minutes, the darkness deepening, when suddenly there was a blare of music, the fountains threw up a few thin columns of spray, the front of a dark building was instantly illumined with a thousand jewel-like lights, then another and another blazed out in the same manner till all were alight with tiny jets of flame; three rows, the first or highest following the cornices all round the court: these were of a golden hue; while some distance lower down was a second silver-colored row, then the last, ranged just under the parapet of the lagoon, were golden like the first. The mingled light of all three shone on the dark waters of the lagoon, the gondolas skimming silently to and fro, and the electric launches gliding swiftly onward.
And the great dome of the Administration Building looked grandly beautiful with its line of flaming torches about its base, its triumphal arches of glittering fire above, and the golden crown sparkling on its summit. Great search-lights were flaming out from the ends of the Main Building, making visible the lovely seated Liberty in the MacMonnie's fountain which was foaming and rustling; and suddenly the two electric fountains sent up tall columns of water which changed from white to yellow, from that to purple, then to crimson, and from that to emerald green.
"Oh, it is just too beautiful!" exclaimed Rosie, "too lovely for anything. I feel as if I could never weary of gazing upon it."
"No, nor I," murmured Evelyn in low, moved tones. "I never imagined anything so grandly beautiful!"
"No, nor did I; and yet it cannot be anything to compare to heaven," said Grandma Elsie; "'for eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love him!'"
They sat for some time gazing upon the enchanting scene, then rose, and still keeping together, wandered on till they reached the wooded island.
The scene there was lovelier than in the daylight. Little glass cups of various colors held tiny lights of wick in oil, giving a charming appearance to the scene, and there were thousands of visitors moving here and there among them.
So did our party from the Dolphin, for a half hour or more; then they returned to Midway Plaisance, and finding that the moon had risen, sought the Ferris Wheel, and ascending in it had a beautiful view of the White City, the lake beyond, and the surrounding country. They made the circuit several times, then leaving the wheel, wandered slowly through the fairylike scene that lay between them and the Peristyle, where the young men who lodged on shore bade good-night and the others entered their waiting boat and returned for the night to their floating home. All were weary with the day's sight-seeing and soon retired to their state-rooms; but Lucilla, noticing that her father had remained on deck, hastened back again for the bit of private chat with him of which she was so fond, yet in these days could so seldom get. He welcomed her with a smile, and drawing her into his arms added a tender caress.
"And what has my little girl, my dear eldest daughter, to say to her father to-night?" he asked.
"Oh, not very much of anything, papa," she replied, "but I'm hungry for a little petting and a chance to hug and kiss my dear father; without anybody by to criticise," she concluded, with a low, happy laugh.
"Very well, my darling, you have my full permission to do all you care to in that line," he said, patting her cheek and pressing his lips to it again and again. "I haven't lost the first place in my little girl's heart yet?"
"No, indeed, papa; and you need not have the least bit of fear that you ever will."
"That is good news; if something I have heard so many times can be properly called news."
"Are you tired hearing it, father, dear?" she asked half entreatingly, half incredulously.
"Indeed no, my darling," he returned, holding her close. "I can hardly bear to think there will ever be a time when I shall have to relinquish the very first place in your heart; though I do not believe the time will ever come when your love for me will fail entirely or even be very small."
"I can't believe there is the very least danger of that, my own dear, dear father," she returned earnestly, "and oh, it would break my heart to think that you would ever love me any less than you do now."
"It would take a great deal to lessen my love for you, dear one," he replied, repeating his caresses. "Has this been a happy and enjoyable day to you, daughter?"
"Oh, very, papa! what a delightful time we are having!"
"You will be almost sorry when the time comes for returning home?"
"Oh, no, indeed, sir! we have such a sweet home that I am always glad to be back to it when we have been away for a few weeks."
"But then playtime will be over and studies must be renewed."
"And that, with such a cross, cross teacher whom nobody loves," she returned sportively, and laying her head on his shoulder, for he had sat down, drawing her to his side and putting an arm about her waist.
"Ah, indeed! I had thought it was your father who was to teach you."
"And you didn't know how cross and tyrannical he was?" she laughed.
"So cross and tyrannical that he says now that it is time his eldest daughter was in her bed."
"Oh, please don't say I must go just yet, papa!" she begged. "There are so many of us here that I can hardly ever get a word with you in private, and it is so--so pleasant to get you all to myself for a few minutes."
"Well," he said, taking out his watch, "you may have five----"
"Oh, papa," she interrupted eagerly, "say ten, please do! and I'll try to be ever so good to-morrow," she concluded, with a merry look and smile.
"Ten then, but not another one unless you want me to say you must stay here and rest all day to-morrow."
"Oh, no, sir, please don't! That would be worse than being sent to bed immediately. I'll go without a word of objection, whenever you tell me to. But oh, papa, wasn't it lovely to see the Court of Honor light up to-night? and what could have been more beautiful than the view from the Ferris Wheel?"
"They were fine sights, and I am glad you enjoyed them," he returned. "To-morrow we will, I think, go into the Manufactures Building, and perhaps make some purchases. Would you like to do so?"
"Oh, yes, sir! yes, indeed! I want to get some gifts for Christine and Alma, and the servants at home."
"I highly approve of that," he said, "and have no doubt we will be able to find something for each which will be acceptable. Now the ten minutes are up, daughter; so bid me good-night and go to your room and get to bed as quickly as you can."
"Good-night and pleasant dreams to you, my own dear, dear father," she returned, hugging him tightly for an instant, then hastened to do his bidding.
"I presume you will all be ready to start out early, as usual?" the captain said at the breakfast table the next morning, adding with a quick glance about from one to another, "I am happy to see that everyone is looking well and bright."
"As we are feeling," said Mr. Dinsmore, "and it is certainly a cause for gratitude to the Giver of all good. What have you to propose in regard to our movements for the day, captain?"
"It makes but little difference to me where we go, so that all are content," replied Captain Raymond; "but if no one else cares to decide the question, I propose that our first visit be to the Manufactures Building. We have been there before, but there are thousands of things well worth our attention which we have not yet looked at."
"Oh, yes; let us go there first," responded several voices, and so it was decided.
They set out, as usual, shortly after leaving the table; found their young gentlemen friends waiting for them in the Peristyle, and all proceeded at once to the Manufactures Building.
It was easy to spend a long time there, and they did; visiting one section after another, admiring all that was worthy of admiration in the architecture and exhibits--the German pavilion with its towers, domes, and arches, its Ionic pillars upholding golden eagles, the fountains at the base, the Germania group in hammered copper surmounting the highest pedestal, and, most beautiful and impressive of all, the great wrought-iron gates that form its main entrance, and were considered the finest and most remarkable specimens of that kind of work ever yet seen in our country.
The pavilion of France next challenged their attention, being close at hand. In front of its arched entrance stood two blue and green vases which they learned were from the national porcelain factories of Sevres, both very handsome. That factory had sent about two thousand pieces of its beautiful and costly china. Most of them had been already sold, but the captain and his party secured a few.
Germany, France, and Great Britain occupied three great squares grouped around the central circle of the immense building. On the fourth square were the exhibits of the United States. Three New York firms had accepted the task of making for their country's section such a pavilion as should maintain her dignity and reputation, and had succeeded in so doing. It was of the Doric order of architecture and enriched with a pale color and a profusion of gold, while from the centre of the facade rose a column to a height of one hundred feet, having a ball and eagle on the top.
"Oh, let us go in and look at the exhibits here! those of our own country," exclaimed Lucilla, after some moments had been spent by their party in an admiring examination of the outside.
Such seemed to be the inclination of the others also, and they passed quietly in and about.
The exhibit of jewelry there was the one which seemed to have the greatest attraction for the young girls of the party, Lucilla especially; and her father presented her with a pin and ring which gave her great delight; nor was he less liberal to his wife or Grace.
"Ah, ha! um, hum! ah, ha! I see, captain, that you believe in encouraging home industries," laughed Mr. Lilburn.
"Yes, sir; especially when they are the best," returned the captain good-humoredly. "I have been examining jewelry in the various foreign exhibits and find none to excel, few to compare with, those of these United States."
"Yes," said Harold; "some of our country-men excel in those things, as they do in the art of the silversmith. Look at those translucent enamels worked on silver fret-work--there in the Gorham exhibit; and those fine pitchers and vases made of silver worked into open engraved designs, having pieces of colored glass blown into it; and those of Rockwood pottery and silver."
"And yonder is Tiffany's exhibit," said Evelyn. "He is one of our finest jewelers, so let us go and look at it."
There was no objection raised, but all followed her as she led the way to the pavilion of which she had spoken. They found it well worth examination, for none of them had ever seen a finer display, or greater variety of precious stones in costly and beautiful settings.
Our friends lingered some time longer in what the young people called "our section." There were other fine collections from other cities and countries, too numerous to mention, and far too many to be seen and examined in one day, or even in several.
After a time, however the little ones grew very weary and indeed all were ready to enjoy a rest. So an electric boat on the lagoon was entered, and quite a while spent upon the water.
After that they had luncheon at a restaurant, then went to see the Spanish caravels.
"What are caravels, papa?" asked Elsie, as they went on their way.
"You'll see presently," he replied. "You have heard the story of the discovery of America. These little vessels which we are going to see are made as nearly as possible like those he came over in; the men who built them looking up old pictures and descriptions and making these vessels as exact copies of the old ones as they could."
"Was it in Spain they made them, papa?"
"Yes; they sailed from Palos in Spain, about a year ago, and exactly four hundred years from the time when Columbus sailed from there to look for the land he felt sure was here, on this side of the ocean. They took, as nearly as they could, just the course he did, and finally came on to New York, where they had a part in the international review of April, 1893."
"That's the name of this year isn't it, papa?"
"Yes; that review took place last April; and after it they sailed for the St. Lawrence River, came round the lakes as we did, and here into this harbor."
"How many are there, papa?"
"Three: the Santa Maria--in which Columbus himself sailed--the Nina, and the Pinta. There they are, daughter," as at that moment they came in sight of the three small vessels.
"Why, how little they are!" she exclaimed; "not nearly so big as the Illinois that we see all the time from our deck."
"You are quite right about that," her father said, with a smile.
"But what does anybody want with such little bits of ships?" she asked.
"Only to show people with what little vessels Columbus accomplished his great work of discovering America."
"I'm glad he discovered it," Elsie said, with satisfaction; "because, if he hadn't, we couldn't have been here living in it."
"Unless somebody else had discovered it between that time and this, Elsie," laughed her uncle Walter, overhearing her last remark.
All were interested in looking at the little vessels, but their curiosity was soon satisfied and they returned to the Court of Honor for a time, then to the Dolphin.