“Oh, no, not quite, I think,” he returned, “for I noticed that even those who must have been in the secret were occasionally taken by surprise.”
“Yes,” she admitted with a laugh, “I did think for a moment that there was a man calling to us from a boat down there on the lake, and that there was a mouse in my reticule.”
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.