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Hugh Lilburn was very urgent with his betrothed for a speedy marriage, pleading that as her brother had robbed him and his father of their expected housekeeper—his cousin Marian—he could not long do without the wife who was to supply her place. Her sisters, Isadore and Virginia, who had come up from the far South to be present at the ceremony, joined with him in his plea for haste. They wanted to see her in her own home, they said, and that without remaining too long away from theirs. Ella finally yielded to their wishes so far as to complete her preparations within a month after their homecoming from the North.
The wedding was a really brilliant affair and was followed up by parties given by the different members of the family connection. No bridal trip was taken, neither bride nor groom caring for it, and Hugh's business requiring his presence at home.
A few weeks later Calhoun Conly went north for his bride. Some festivities followed his return. Then all settled down for the winter, Harold and Herbert Travilla taking up their medical studies with Dr. Conly, and Captain Raymond's pupils resuming such of their lessons as had been dropped for the time, though the wedding festivities had not been allowed to interfere with them, as—with the exception of Marian, now Mrs. Conly—they were considered too young to attend most of the parties. A matter of regret to none of them except Rosie Travilla and Lucilla Raymond, and even they, though they would have been glad to be permitted to go, made no remonstrance or complaint but submitted cheerfully to the decision of their elders.
A busy, happy winter and spring followed, bringing no unusual event to any branch of the family.
Max was frequently heard from, and his father continued to send him daily letters, several of which would be replied to together by one from the lad—always frank, candid, and affectionate, sometimes expressing great longing for a sight of home and the dear ones there.
After receiving such a letter, the captain was very apt to pay a flying visit to the Academy in the case there was no special reasons for remaining closely at home. Sometimes he went alone, at others taking one or more members of the family with him—either his wife, if she could make it convenient to go, or one or more of his daughters, by whom the little trip and the sight of their brother were esteemed a great reward for good conduct and perfect recitations.
Both they and the lad himself looked forward with ardent desire and joyous anticipation to the June commencement, after which would begin the one long holiday Max would have during the six years of his course at the Academy.
The holidays for the home pupils began a day or two earlier, and a merry party, including, besides the captain and his immediate family, the rest of his pupils, Grandma Elsie, and her father and his wife, boarded the Dolphin and set sail for Annapolis to attend the commencement at the Naval Academy.
The weather was delightful, and all greatly enjoyed the little trip. On their arrival they found Max well and in fine spirits. The reports of both his studies and conduct were all that could be desired, and the home friends—his father especially—regarded him with both pride and affection, and all expressed much pleasure in the fact that he was to accompany them on the return trip.
Max dearly loved his home, and during the nearly two years of his absence from Woodburn, he had had occasional fits of excessive homesickness. He longed more, however, for the dear ones dwelling there than for the place. So, he was full of joy on learning that everyone of the family was on board the Dolphin.
No one cared to tarry long at Annapolis, and they set out on the return trip as soon as Max was free to go with them.
The lovely weather continued. There was nothing to mar the pleasure of the short voyage, or the drive and ride that succeeded it. The carriages and Max's pony, Rex, which he hailed with almost a shout of delight and hastened to mount, were found awaiting them at the wharf to take them to their respective homes, Ion and Woodburn, which each seemed to the young cadet to be looking even more beautiful than ever before.
"Oh, was there ever a lovelier place?" was his delighted exclamation as the carriage, closely followed by Rex, turned in at the great gates giving admission to the Woodburn driveway. "I thought that of it before I left, but it is vastly improved—almost an earthly paradise."
"So I think," said Violet. "It does credit to your father's taste."
"And yours," added her husband with a pleased smile. "Have I not always consulted with my wife before making any alteration or adding what I thought would be an improvement? And has not the first suggestion come from her on more than one occasion?"
"Quite true," she returned, giving him a look of loving appreciation. "In fact, my dear, you are so ready to humor and indulge me in every possible way that I am half afraid to make a suggestion."
"Lest I should have too much pleasure in carrying it out?" he queried with playful look and tone.
"Oh, certainly!" she replied with a musical laugh. "It would be a sad pity to spoil so good a husband."
"Father, may I ride over the grounds before alighting?" asked Max's voice in eager tones, just at that moment.
"If you wish, my son," the captain answered pleasantly. "But suppose you delay a little and let some of us accompany you?"
"Yes, sir. That will be better," was the prompt, cheerful rejoinder, and in another minute Max had dismounted at the door of the mansion and stood ready to assist the occupants of the carriage to alight from it.
"Ah, I see you have been making some changes and improvements here, father," he said, glancing about as he entered the hall door.
"Yes, and in other parts of the house," said Violet. "Perhaps you might as well go over it before visiting the grounds."
"I am at liberty to go everywhere, as of old?" he returned, half in assertion, half inquiringly, turning from her to his father.
"Certainly, my son. It is as truly your father's house, therefore open in every part to you, as it was before you left its shelter for Uncle Sam's Naval Academy," replied the captain, regarding the lad with mingled fatherly affection, pride, and amusement.
"Thank you, sir," returned Max heartily. "Ah, Christine!" as the housekeeper, whom something had detained in another part of the house at the moment of their arrival, now appeared among them, "I'm pleased to see you again. You are looking so well, too. I really don't think you have changed in the least in all the time I have been away," shaking her hand warmly as he spoke.
"Ah, Master Max, sir, I can't say the same of you," she returned with a pleasant smile into the bright, young face. "You are growing up fast and looking more than ever like your father."
"Thank you," laughed Max, his eyes shining. "You could not ever possibly give me a higher compliment than that, Christine."
"Ah, who can say that I am not the complimented one, Max?" laughed the captain.
"I, papa," cried Lulu. "Oh, Maxie, come upstairs and see the improvements there. You can look at the downstairs rooms and grounds afterward."
"Yes, run along, children," said their father. "And make yourselves ready for the tea table before you come down again."
"Yes, sir," they answered in cheerful tones, Max catching up little Ned as he spoke and setting him on his shoulder. "Hold on tight, laddie, and your big brother will carry you up," he said. One chubby arm instantly went round his neck and a gleeful laugh accompanying it as Max began the ascent, his sisters following, Violet and the captain presently bringing up the rear.
"Into our rooms first, Max," said Violet. "You, too, Lulu and Gracie, that you may hear what he has to say about things there."
"Thank you, Mamma Vi," returned Max. "I want to visit every room in the house and have all the family go with me if they like."
"You will find a few additions here and there to the furnishings, but no great changes anywhere, Max," said his father.
"I should hope not, sir, as things seemed to me pretty nearly perfect before I went away," returned Max in a lively tone. "I only wish everyone of my mates had as sweet a home to spend his long vacation in and as kind a father and friends to help him enjoy it."
"Ah, we may well pity the lad who lacks the blessings of a good home and affectionate parents," said the captain. "I can never forget how much they were to me in my boyhood."
"I think you must have forgotten how long I have been away, papa," laughed Max as they finished the circuit of the rooms on that floor. "I have come upon a good many new things."
"Ah, well, they have been added so gradually that I did not realize how numerous they were," returned his father. "Now you may as well go on to the upper rooms and tarry long enough in your own to make yourself neat for the tea table."
"Yes, sir," and the lad hurried up the stairs, the captain, Lulu, and Gracie following.
"Hurrah!" he cried joyously as he reached the open door of his own room. "Why, this is lovely! Prettier than ever, and it is like a room in a palace compared to the sparsely decorated one I share with Hunt at the Academy."
"Suppose you walk in and take a nearer view," said his father, and Max obeyed with alacrity, the others following.
"Mamma said there was nothing too good for you, and so we all thought, Maxie," said Gracie.
Lulu added, "Indeed we do all think so."
"Indeed, I'm afraid it is," returned Max, gazing admiringly at the beautiful carpet, the lace curtains looped back with wreaths of flowers, the fine engravings on the walls, the easy chairs, tasteful mantel ornaments, and the various articles of adornment and convenience.
"Your mamma and I have made some changes—improvements, as we thought," the captain said in gratified and affectionate tones. "I'm hoping you will be pleased with them, and as I look at you, I rather think you are."
"Pleased, papa? I'm delighted!" cried Max. "The only drawback to my pleasure is the thought of the very short time I can stay to enjoy all this beauty and luxury."
"I am sure my boy does not want to settle down here to a life of ignoble ease," remarked the captain in a tone of mingled assertion and inquiry. "I rejoice in the firm conviction that his great desire is to serve God and his country to the best of his ability."
"Yes, father, it is," said Max earnestly. "But," he added with a smile, "if you don't want me to love to be with you in this sweet home you should not make it so attractive and be so very kind and affectionate to me."
"My boy," the captain said with emotion, laying a hand affectionately on his son's shoulder, "there is never a day when I do not thank my heavenly Father for His precious gift to me of so good and dutiful a son."
"I don't know how any fellow could help being dutiful and affectionate to such a father as mine, sir," returned Max, his eyes shining.
By his own desire, Max's vacation was spent at home and in its vicinity with the occasional variety of a short voyage in his father's yacht, the Dolphin, which gave the lad opportunities for the display of the seafaring knowledge gained in the past two years, and he added to it from his father's store of the same under that father's instruction.
They were generally accompanied by the whole Woodburn family, always by Lulu and Gracie, Grandma Elsie, Rosie, Walter, and Evelyn Leland.
Thus the weeks flew by very enjoyably and on swift wings, and the time came for Max's return to Annapolis. So the Dolphin was headed for that port and presently steamed away again, leaving the lad behind with a rather sad heart at the thought that years must pass before he could again spend even a brief season under his father's roof.CHAPTER 2
It is summer again, the summer of 1893, for two years have passed by for Elsie and her family. 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 practicing 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 Gracie, now blooming girls of seventeen and fifteen, both their father's joy and pride. They, in turn, are as devotedly attached to him as ever.
Max is still a cadet at 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 firstborn, or one more likely to do good service to his country in his chosen profession. It seems hard to him at times—a sad thing to have to do without his boy—yet, he never really regrets that Max made his 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 family connection had attended the dedication ceremonies of the previous autumn, and nearly all talked of going to the formal opening that was appointed for the first of May—among them Grandma Elsie, her father and his wife, and 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 Welland Canal and around Michigan by the Great Lakes to Chicago. 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 long trip.
Most of the younger gentlemen and their wives 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 evident 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 had steamed on down the lake.
"Oh, papa, what is that?" asked Gracie, 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 that 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 the shoals, papa?" 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 the wonders and 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 that you will get presently in the Peristyle and the Court of Honor."
"Oh, I am very, 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 inquiringly 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."
Excerpted from Elsie at the World's Fair by Martha Finley. Copyright © 1894 Hendrickson Publishers Marketing, LLC. Excerpted by permission of Hendrickson Publishers Marketing, LLC.
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