Elsie at the World's Fair by Martha Finley
It is summer again, the summer of 1893, for two years have passed away since the occurrence of the events related in our former chapter. There have been few changes among our friends at Ion, Woodburn, and the other plantations belonging to the family connection, except such as time brings to all. The elder ones seem scarcely any older, but the younger ones are growing up. Elsie's sons, Harold and Herbert, are now practising physicians, still making their home at Ion, but having an office in a neighboring village; Rosie has attained her twentieth year and entered society; but Walter is still one of Captain Raymond's pupils, as are Lulu and Grace, now blooming girls of fifteen and seventeen, their father's joy and pride and as devotedly attached to him as ever.
Max is still a cadet in the Naval Academy, pursuing his course there in a manner altogether satisfactory to his father and friends. The captain thinks no man ever had a brighter, better son than his first-born, or one more likely to do good service to his country in his chosen profession. It seems hard at times, a sad thing to have to do without his boy, yet he never really regrets that Max has made choice of the naval service as his life work. He did, however, regret that Max would not be able to go to Chicago to visit the World's Fair, in which they were all much interested.
Some of the connection had attended the dedication ceremonies of the previous autumn, and nearly all talked of going to the formal opening, appointed for the first of May; among them Grandma Elsie, her father and his wife, Captain Raymond and his wife and family. The captain's plan was to go by water--in his yacht--up along the coast to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, through that up the river of the same name, through the Welland Canal and round Michigan by the great lakes to Chicago, and he invited as many as his vessel could well accommodate--including, of course, his wife's mother and grandparents--to be his guests for the trip.
The younger gentlemen and their wives all preferred going by rail as the speedier way, but Mr. Dinsmore, having no longer any business to attend to, and both he and his wife being fond of the sea and desirous of keeping with his eldest daughter, accepted the invitation promptly and with pleasure.
Mr. Ronald Lilburn, too, having a like taste as to his mode of travel, and no business engagements to hurry him, availed himself of the opportunity to make the journey by water. The other passengers were Evelyn Leland and Rosie and Walter Travilla.
Something, however, occurred to change their plans, and it was the latter part of June when they left home for their trip to the North. They had a pleasant voyage, making few pauses by the way, and reached their destination on Monday, the second day of July.
It was early in the evening when the Dolphin neared the White City; the little ones were already in bed and sweetly sleeping, but all the others had gathered on deck to catch the first glimpse of the fairy-like scene. They had passed the mouth of the Chicago River and were steaming on down the lake.
"Oh, papa, what is that?" asked Grace, pointing to a bright light in the water.
"A lighted buoy," he replied; "a spar buoy with an incandescent lamp of one hundred candle power. It is a wrought-iron cage at the end of a spar which is held in place by a heavy cast-iron anchor. You will see another presently, for there are thirteen between the river and the White City."
"To warn vessels to keep off shoals?" she asked.
"Yes," he said, and went on to explain how the electrical current was supplied, winding up with a promise to take her, and anyone else who wished to go, to the Electrical Building to gaze upon its wonders, and also for a ride in the electric launches. "But," he added, "I think there is nothing you will enjoy more than the sight of the electric lights which you will get presently in the Peristyle and the Court of Honor."
"Oh, I am very eager to see it all, papa!" she exclaimed.
"As we all are," said Lulu.
"Well, my dears, I think we can all go there at once and spend an hour or two; all but the little ones, who can be left in the care of their nurse." He turned enquiringly toward his wife and her mother as he spoke.
"Oh, yes," said Violet; "they will not be likely to wake, and Agnes will take good care of them."
"I think we are all probably ready to accept your invitation with pleasure, captain," Elsie said. "Surely none of us are fatigued--unless with lack of exercise."
"No, surely not," remarked Mr. Dinsmore, "and I, as well as Grace, am eager to see the beauties of that much talked of Court of Honor."
"I think we will find some other objects worthy of our attention before we reach even the Peristyle," remarked Captain Raymond.
"Oh, yes!" exclaimed Lulu, "there is another of those lights."
"I am so glad you brought us in the yacht, captain," said Evelyn; "for we can start out at once to see the sights--not being in the least fatigued with our long journey."
"And we have already a beautiful view of water and sky," remarked Grandma Elsie; "those sunset clouds are certainly lovelier than any work of man's hands."
"Yes, mamma; and they are beautifully reflected in the water," said Violet.
"But such things can be seen at home," Rosie remarked in a sprightly tone, "and I propose to give my particular attention to such as are to be found only in this part of the world and at the present time."
"What will there be worth looking at before we reach the Peristyle?" asked Walter, apparently addressing his query to no one in particular.
It was Captain Raymond who replied, "I hope to be able to point out to you presently some exhibits worthy of your attention," he said.
"Oh, yes; the battleship Illinois for one, I suppose."
"Yes; she will come into sight presently and we will have an outside view of her. Some day I hope to take all of you who may desire to go on board to have a look at her internal arrangements."
"You may put my name into that list, captain," said Mr. Lilburn. "I'm a bit too auld to take part in a fight, even in a righteous cause, but not for taking an interest in the means provided for ither folk."
"And I want to see it, too, though I hardly expect to ever make one of the crew of such a vessel," said Walter.
"And we girls will want to visit her also," laughed Rosie, "though I am very sure no one of us will ever form part of such a crew."
"Well, as my father has and my brother expects to, I shall be very much interested," said Grace.
"Especially as we shall have a retired officer to explain everything to us," added Lulu with a smiling look up into her father's face.
He returned the smile, then pointing southward, "Yonder it is," he said, "still too distant for a critical survey, but a better view will be afforded us presently, as we pass it."
As he spoke all eyes turned in that direction.
"Oh, what a big vessel she is!" exclaimed Grace, as they drew near enough to obtain a good idea of her size.
"Yes," returned the captain, "she is a full sized model, above water line, of our coast line battleships Oregon, Massachusetts, Indiana."
"Not a real ship, papa?"
"No; only a model: she is built of brick, on the bottom of the lake, and merely simulates a man-of-war."
"Only a model!" repeated Walter. "And how about her guns, sir? are they real?"
"Some of them are wood; but there are enough genuine machines on board to destroy almost anything of ordinary resisting power within three miles range. But I expect to go more into particulars when we pay our contemplated visit."
"I suppose she must have cost a good deal?"
"One hundred thousand dollars."
"How much this Fair is costing!" remarked Evelyn. "Do you think it will pay, captain?"
"I hope so," he returned cheerfully. "What is worth doing at all is worth doing well."
But they were drawing near their port, and there was much on both land and water to attract their attention. Presently they were in front of the beautiful Peristyle, gazing in awed admiration upon its grand Arch of Triumph, its noble colonnade and statuary, and catching glimpses here and there between its pillars of the beauties beyond.
It was impetuous Lulu who broke the silence with an exclamation of delighted admiration and an eager request that they might land at once and get a nearer view of the fairy scenes that lay before them on the farther side.
The other members of their party, old and young, seemed scarcely less eager, and in a very few moments they were all pacing that grand colonnade to and fro, and gazing out delightedly now upon the blue waters of the lake and anon upon the fairy scene--the Court of Honor--on the inner side. And soon they hurried their steps thitherward.
"Oh, there," cried Lulu, "is the statue of our great republic! Is she not magnificent?"
"She is, indeed!" replied Grandma Elsie. "See in one hand she holds a pole bearing a liberty cap, in the other a globe, an eagle with outstretched wings resting upon it; that symbolizes protection, which she has ever been ready to extend to the oppressed of all the earth."
"She is a large woman," remarked Walter; "as she should be to adequately represent our great country. Grandpa, do you know her size?"
"I saw it stated the other day," replied Mr. Dinsmore. "Her face is fifteen feet long, her arms thirty feet, forefingers forty-five inches, and ten inches in diameter. Her cost was twenty-five thousand dollars; the gilding alone amounting to fourteen hundred dollars; quite an expensive dress for my lady."
"But we don't grudge it to her, papa," remarked Grandma Elsie pleasantly.
"No," he said; "nor anything else the liberty she represents has cost--in money or in life and limb."
"But what is her height, grandpa?" asked Rosie; "it should be very considerable to go with a face fifteen feet long."
"Sixty-five feet, and the pedestal on which she stands is thirty feet above water. There is a stairway inside which you can climb one of these days if you wish."
All were gazing with great admiration and interest upon the beautiful statue, though seeing it somewhat dimly through the gathering shades of evening, when suddenly the electric lights blazed out from all sides, causing an exclamation of surprise and delight from almost everyone in our party and from others who witnessed the wonderful and inspiring sight; words failed them to express their sense of the loveliness of the scene; that mighty statue of the Republic dominating the eastern end of the lagoon, that grandly beautiful Macmonie's Fountain at the other, its Goddess of Liberty seated aloft in her chair on the deck of her bark, erect and beautiful, with her eight maiden gondoliers plying the oars at the sides, while old Father Time steered the vessel, his scythe fastened to the tiller, Fame as a trumpet-herald stood on the prow with her trumpet in her hand, while in the gushing waters below sported the tritons with their plunging horses, the terraced fountain still lower with its clouds of spray showing all the colors of the rainbow, as did that of the smaller ones to the right and left.
And what a ravishing sight was that of the Administration Building with its corona of light, its dome, arches, and angles outlined with those brilliant lights, as were those of the Peristyle also, and of the grand structures between--Manufactures, Electricity, and Arts on the north side, Machinery and Agriculture on the south--and the beautiful fountains throwing spray of all the colors of the rainbow.
"What a magnificent sight!" "How lovely!" "How beautiful!" exclaimed one and another as they moved slowly onward, gazing from side to side.
"Let us go into the Administration Building," said Mr. Dinsmore.
All were willing, and they sauntered on toward it, still gazing delightedly as they went.
Reaching its doorway they paused for a few moments to look at the statue of Columbus, represented as landing with the Spanish flag in his hand, and to listen to the inspiring music of the bands; then passed on into the interior which they found as artistic and wondrously beautiful as the outside.
After feasting their eyes upon the lower part they took an elevator--of which there were six--and went up to the upper promenade, which they found also very beautiful, giving lovely views of the surrounding grounds. The vault of the dome was ornamented with allegorical paintings, some of them commemorating Columbus' discovery of America.
Looking out from the promenade under the dome they saw the Ferris Wheel, upon which they gazed with a good deal of interest.
"I must have a ride in that," said Walter emphatically, "and mamma, you will go with me, will you not?"
"Is it quite safe?" she asked, looking from her father to the captain.
"Oh, yes," they both replied, Mr. Dinsmore adding, "and I think we will all want to go once if not oftener."
"Go where, grandpa?" asked a familiar voice, and turning quickly about they found Harold and Herbert close at hand.
Then there was an exchange of joyous greetings, and enquiries were made concerning some others of the family connection who had come by rail.
The answer was that some of the little ones were in bed at the hotel where boarding had been taken by the party, and in charge of the faithful attendants brought from home, while the older ones were scattered about the Court of Honor and other portions of the Fair.
"We have been on the lookout for you," continued Harold, "and only a few minutes ago discovered the Dolphin lying at anchor down yonder on the lake. We had hoped you would be here sooner."
"Yes, we thought we should have been here weeks ago," replied his mother, "but as the delays were providential we did not fret over them."
"If you had fretted, mother, it would have been truly surprising, as I never knew you to do so about anything," Herbert said, smiling affectionately into her eyes.
"No, that was never one of her faults," remarked Mr. Dinsmore.
"No, indeed!" exclaimed Rosie. "But Harold, can you take us to the others? I am sure it would be pleasanter for us all to be together."
"I cannot promise certainly," he replied, "but if we walk about the Court of Honor we will come across each other finally, no doubt, as they will presently discover the Dolphin and look about here for you."
"Yes," returned his mother, "they will surely know that we could not persuade ourselves to go farther to-night than this bewitchingly beautiful Court of Honor."
Even as she spoke all were moving toward the elevator nearest them, and in a few moments they were again strolling along the shores of the lagoon, gazing with delighted eyes upon the fairylike scene--imposing buildings, playing fountains, the waters of the lagoon dancing in the moonbeams, and the pretty crafts gliding over them filled with excursionists whose merry voices and laughter mingled pleasantly with the music of the bands.
"Oh, this is just delightful, delightful!" exclaimed Lulu. "Father, dear, I hope you will let us stay a long, long while."
"I have not thought of fixing the time for departure yet," returned the captain, "and if our friends intend to go home in the Dolphin, as they came, there will be a number of voices entitled to a vote on the question. My wife for one," glancing down fondly upon the beautiful, graceful lady on his arm.
"Thank you, my dear," returned Violet. "I certainly feel no desire to start for home yet, dear and lovely as I esteem it."
"Oh, here they are!" cried a familiar voice at that instant, and the two sets of relatives had found each other. Glad greetings and kind enquiries were exchanged. Then they broke up into little groups and sauntered on through the beautiful scene till it was time to seek their resting places for the night, when, after making some arrangements for the sight-seeing of the next day, they bade good-night and hied them to their several places of temporary abode.