Elsie at the World's Fair by Martha Finley
"I think the little folks are getting tired," said Harold. "and yonder on the lagoon is a gondola waiting for passengers. Shall we take it?"
Everybody seemed pleased with the suggestion, and presently they were in the gondola gliding over the water. They found it both restful and enjoyable.
It was past noon when they stepped ashore again, and Ned announced that he was hungry and wanted something to eat.
"You shall have it, my son," said his father.
"And suppose we go to the New England Cabin for it," suggested Grandma Elsie.
They did so and were served with an excellent repast, handsome young Puritan ladies in colonial costumes acting as waitresses.
After satisfying their appetites they visited the other room of the cabin, which was fitted up as the living room of a family of the olden time. It had log walls, bare rafters overhead, a tall old-fashioned clock in a corner, a canoe cradle, a great spinning-wheel on which the ladies, dressed like the women of the olden times, spun yarn, and gourds used for drinking vessels. Some of the ladies were knitting socks, some carding wool, while they talked together, after the fashion of the good, industrious dames of the olden time they represented.
Our friends, especially the young girls, were greatly interested and amused.
"Suppose we visit some of the State buildings now," said Mrs. Dinsmore, as they left the cabin.
"Pennsylvania's in particular, my dear?" returned her husband. "Well, it is a grand old State; we could hardly do better than to show to these little great-grandchildren the famous old bell that proclaimed liberty to this land and all its inhabitants."
"So I think," she said. "Do not you agree with us, captain?"
"I do, indeed," he replied; "my older ones have seen the bell, but I want to show it to Elsie and Ned."
"It won't hurt any of us to look again at that old relic of the Revolution," remarked Walter, "and of course we want to see the building."
So the whole party at once turned their steps in that direction.
Arrived in front of the building they paused there and scanned the outside. All pronounced it very handsome.
"Its front seems to be a reproduction of Independence Hall," remarked Mr. Dinsmore; "it has its entrances and tower."
"Yes," said his wife, "I like that and the quarter-circling in of those front corners; those balconies, too."
"Is that the State coat-of-arms above the pediment over the front doors, papa?" asked Grace.
"Yes," was the reply; "and the statues on the sides are those of Penn and Franklin."
Just at that moment two women, evidently from the country, came sauntering along and halted near our party.
"What building 's that?" asked one of the other. "It's right nice-lookin', isn't it?"
"Yes; and don't you see the name there up over the door?"
"Oh, yes, to be sure! Pennsylvany! Goin' in, Elmiry?"
"Of course; that's the thing to do. Do you see? There's the old bell, at the door there, that they talk so much about. What they make such a fuss over it fur I don't know; it's ugly as can be and has a great crack in it; but it's quite the thing to talk about it and say you've seen it; so we must do like the rest."
"Yes, I suppose we must, though I don't see why anybody should, any more than you do," returned her companion. "It's ugly enough and certainly wouldn't bring first price if 'twas put up for sale. But just see what handsome fellows those policemen are that's got charge of it! Enough sight better-lookin' than it is."
With that the two went nearer, looked the old bell carefully over, then walked on into the building. While they talked merry, mischievous glances had been exchanged among the young people of our party.
"I wonder where they have lived all their days," laughed Walter, looking after them as they disappeared through the doorway.
"I hope they are not Americans! I'm ashamed of them if they are!" exclaimed Lulu. "The very idea of such ignorance!"
"Descendants of Tories, perhaps," said Rosie, laughing. "Do you know its story, Elsie? that of the old bell, I mean."
"Yes, indeed, Aunt Rosie! We've got a picture of it at home, and papa and mamma, and Lu and Gracie have all told me the story about it--how when those brave men had signed their names to that paper, it proclaimed liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof; for it rang out to let the people know they had done it. Oh, papa, please show me those words on it."
"Yes," the captain said, "come nearer and you can see and read them for yourself."
The little girl obeyed with alacrity, and when she had read the inscription, "Wasn't it very strange, papa," she said, "that those words were put on it when nobody knew that it was going to proclaim liberty?"
"Yes, very strange indeed; and that proclamation has made it a very famous old bell."
"Is that the reason why they brought it here, papa?"
"Yes, for many people will see it here who will never get to Philadelphia to look at it."
"I'm glad for them that they can see it," she said with satisfaction. "Do they ring it when it's at its home in Philadelphia, papa?"
"No, my child; that great crack you see there has spoiled it for ringing, but it is highly valued and cherished for what it did in those days when our fathers had to risk everything to secure freedom for themselves and their children."
"They were good and brave men to do it; weren't they, papa?"
"They were, indeed, and deserve to be kept in loving remembrance because of their brave deed."
The rest of the party were standing near listening to the talk between the captain and his little girl; also regarding the old bell with interest, though nearly all of them had seen it before. But it was time for them to move on, for others were coming to view the old relic of Revolutionary days, and Mr. Dinsmore led the way into the interior of the building, the rest closely following.
They went all over it, finding much to admire, and Mrs. Dinsmore expressed herself as entirely satisfied with the building of her native State.
From there they went to the Woman's Building, hoping to find in it some, if not all the relatives who had come with Harold and Herbert to the Fair. And they were not disappointed, for Zoe and Edward hastened to meet them immediately on their entrance and led them into the nursery, saying they had their little ones there with their nurse, and intended leaving them in that pleasant place for a time while they themselves should be going about from one building to another.
"Uncle Horace is here with his wife and children; the Lelands also with theirs," added Zoe, as she led the way to where were gathered the group of little folks from Ion and its vicinity.
Pleasant greetings were quickly exchanged; the children were full of delight at sight of their relatives, whom they had not seen on the previous day--Grandma Elsie in especial, for they all loved her dearly.
But time pressed--there was so much to see--and after viewing with approval and admiration the arrangements for the comfort of its young occupants the older people left that apartment for others in the building; reconciling the little ones to a temporary separation by the promise that on their return all should go aboard the Dolphin and have their supper there; for the captain and Violet had given them all a cordial invitation to do so.
Taking with them those who were old enough to appreciate and enjoy the sight, they went into the Gymnasium, which they found furnished with every kind of machine and mechanical means for developing the muscles and increasing the strength of both boys and girls.
There were many children of both sexes engaged in the various exercises, and with evident enjoyment. Our friends, both older and younger, watched them for some time with interest.
Leaving there they visited in turn the court of the Woman's Building, the main hall, the east vestibule, the library, the Cincinnati parlor, the invention room, the nursing section, the scientific department, and the ethnological room.
All this took a good while, there was so much to see, examine, and admire.
The ladies showed a deep interest in the various exhibits of needlework, the embroideries from Siam, table covers and rugs from Norway, and the dolls dressed as brides; the fine lace-work and wood-carving from Sweden. There was needlework from France too, and there were large and very pretty vases from the same country.
Zoe was much interested in the dainty needlework for infant's clothes, the beautiful laces and ribbon flowers; and famous paintings reproduced in silk.
They found the Italian exhibits also, especially the laces of the queen,--valued at one hundred thousand dollars,--worthy of particular attention. Yet perhaps not more so than some from Mexico, including a lace-edged handkerchief crocheted out of pineapple fibre; and the very delicately beautiful wood-carving, so delicate as to be called etching.
There were embroideries and laces from other countries also--Austria, Spain, Belgium, Ceylon.
As they came near the exhibit from Germany Lulu exclaimed in an undertone.
"Oh, papa, what is that woman doing?"
"We will go nearer and see if we can find out," replied the captain. The woman sat at a table and they found that she was making bent iron-work into candle-holders, inkstands, hanging lamps, etc., and it was very interesting to watch her as she did so.
There was a good deal of leather work also in Germany's exhibit, shown in screens and tables.
But when they had all looked their fill they found it was nearly tea time, so they hurried back to the nursery, where they had left their little ones, and soon they were all on the Dolphin, where an excellent supper was awaiting them.
They were hungry enough to enjoy it greatly. Everyone was weary with the day's excitement and exertion, poor Grace--still far from strong, though perfectly healthy--so much so that by her father's advice she went directly from the table to her bed.
The others sat for an hour or more upon the deck enjoying a friendly chat and a view of some of the beauties of both the lake and the Fair; then were about to bid good-night and return with their little folks and nurses to their hotel.
"Wait a little," said the captain. "I am sorry I cannot furnish comfortable lodgings for the night for so many, but I can take you to the city, and so shorten your journey by land to your hotel. I have ordered steam gotten up and we can start in another half hour."
His offer was received with hearty thanks and the plan carried out to the great contentment of all concerned. The Dolphin then returned to her old anchorage.
Violet had gone down into the cabin to put her little ones in bed and Lulu promptly seized the opportunity to take possession of the vacated seat by her father's side. He smiled and stroked her hair with caressing hand. "I fear my little girl must be very tired with all the standing, walking, and sight-seeing of the day," he said.
"Pretty tired, papa, yet I should like to go back to that lovely Peristyle for an hour or two if you would let me."
"Not to-night, daughter; as soon as we have had prayers you must go immediately to bed."
"Your father is wise, Lulu; I think we are all weary enough to obey such an order as that," remarked Mrs. Dinsmore.
"And I found out years ago that papa always knows what is best for me," returned Lulu cheerfully. "Besides he's so dear and kind that it is just a pleasure to be controlled by him," she added, laying her head against his shoulder and lifting to his, eyes full of ardent affection.
"I agree with you, Lu," said Evelyn, "for in all the years that he has been my teacher I have always found that he knew what was best for me."
"Take care, girls, that you don't make my biggest and oldest brother conceited," laughed Rosie.
"There's not the least bit of danger. Nothing could make papa that!" exclaimed Lulu rather indignantly.
"Hush, hush!" her father said, laying a finger on her lips. "Rosie does but jest, and your father is by no means sure to be proof against the evil effects of flattery."
"I think he is," said Rosie, "and I was only jesting, Lu; so don't take my nonsense to heart."
"No, I will not, Rosie; I ought to have known you were but jesting, and I beg your pardon," Lulu said, and her father smiled approvingly upon her.
"Cousin Ronald," said Walter, "can't you make some fun for us to-morrow with your ventriloquism?"
"Oh, do, Cousin Ronald, do!" cried the girls in eager chorus.
"Well, well, bairns," returned the old gentleman good-humoredly, "I'll be on the lookout for an opportunity for so doing without harming or frightening anyone--unless there might be some rascal deserving of a fright," he added with a low chuckle, as if enjoying the thought of discomfiting such an one.
"Which I don't believe there will be," said Walter, "for everybody I saw to-day looked the picture of good nature."
"Yes," said his mother, "and no wonder; the thought has come to me again and again, when gazing upon the beauties of that wonderful Court of Honor, especially at night when we have the added charm of the electric lights and the fountains in full play, if earthly scenes can be made so lovely what must the glories of heaven be! Ah, it makes one long for the sight of them."
"Oh, mamma, don't, don't say that," murmured Rosie in low, tremulous tones; taking her mother's hand in a tender clasp, for they were sitting side by side, "we can't spare you yet."
"The longing is not likely to hasten my departure, dear," replied the sweet voice of her mother, "and I am well content to stay a while longer with my dear ones here if the will of God be so."
"Oh!" exclaimed Lulu, suddenly breaking the momentary silence, "to-morrow is the Fourth, the glorious Fourth! I wonder what is going to be done here to celebrate it?"
"I presume it will be celebrated in much the usual way," replied Mr. Dinsmore. "To-day's papers say there have been great preparations on the part of Exposition officials and exhibitors, and that there are to be a number of patriotic addresses delivered in different parts of the grounds. Also there will be, without doubt, a great display of bunting, abundance of fire crackers, the thunder of cannon and so forth."
"And we, I suppose, will pass the day on shore doing our part in the business of celebrating our nation's birthday," remarked Rosie.
"Why, of course," said Walter. "Such patriotic Americans as we are would never think of neglecting our duty in that line."
"No, certainly not," replied his mother, with a smile; "we are all too patriotic not to do our full share to show our many foreign guests how we love this free land of ours, and how highly we value her liberties."
"I propose," said the captain, "that we spend the day on shore, first consulting the morning papers as to where we will be likely to find the smallest crowd or the best speaker, and after hearing the oration we will doubtless find abundance of amusement in the Court of Honor and Midway Plaisance."
"And perhaps Cousin Ronald can and will make some fun for us," remarked Walter, giving the old gentleman a laughing, persuasive look.
"Ah, laddie, you must not expect or ask too much of your auld kinsman," returned Mr. Lilburn with a slight smile and a dubious shake of the head.
At that moment Violet rejoined them, the short evening service was held, and then all retired to rest, leaving further discussion of the morrow's doings to be carried on in the morning.