Read CHAPTER XVI of Ethel Morton's Enterprise, free online book, by Mabell S.C. Smith, on


All day long the train pulled its length across across the state of Pennsylvania, climbing mountains and bridging streams and piercing tunnels. All day long Mr. Emerson’s party was on the alert, dashing from one side to the other of the car to see some beautiful vista or to look down on a brook brawling a hundred feet below the trestle that supported them or waving their hands to groups of children staring open-mouthed at the passing train.

“Pennsylvania is a beautiful state,” decided Ethel Brown as they penetrated the splendid hills of the Allegheny range.

“Nature made it one of the most lovely states of the Union,” returned her grandfather. “Man has played havoc with it in spots. Some of the villages among the coal mines are hideous from the waste that has been thrown out for years upon a pile never taken away, always increasing. No grass grows on it, no children play on it, the hens won’t scratch on it. The houses of the miners turn one face to this ugliness and it is only because they turn toward the mountains on another side that the people are preserved from the death of the spirit that comes to those who look forever on the unlovely.”

“Is there any early history about here?” asked Helen, whose interest was unfailing in the story of her country.

“The French and Indian Wars were fought in part through this land,” answered Mr. Emerson. “You remember the chief struggle for the continent lay between the English and the French. There were many reasons why the Indians sided with the French in Canada, and the result of the friendship was that; the natives were supplied with arms by the Europeans and the struggle was prolonged for about seventy-five years.”

“Wasn’t the attack on Deerfield during the French and Indian War?” asked Ethel Blue.

“Yes, and there were many other such attacks.”

“The French insisted that all the country west of the Alleghenies belonged to them and they disputed the English possession at every point. When Washington was only twenty-one years old he was sent to beg the French not to interfere with the English, but he had a hard journey with no fortunate results. It was on this journey that he picked out a good position for a fort and started to build it. It was where Pittsburg now stands.”

“That was a good position for a fort, where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers join to make the Ohio,” commended Roger.

“It was such a good position that the French drove off the English workmen and finished the work themselves. They called it Fort Duquesne and it became one of a string of sixty French forts extending from Quebec to New Orleans.”

“Some builders!” commended Roger.

“Fort Duquesne was so valuable that the English sent one of their generals, Braddock, to capture it. Washington went with him on his staff, to show him the way.”

“It must have been a long trip from the coast through all this hilly country.”

“It was. They had to build roads and they were many weeks on the way.”

“It was a different matter from the twentieth century transportation of soldiers by train and motor trucks and stages,” reminded Mrs. Morton.

“When the British were very near Fort Duquesne,” continued Mr. Emerson, “the French sent out a small band, mainly Indians, to meet them. The English general didn’t understand Indian fighting and kept his men massed in the road where they were shot down in great numbers and he lost his own life. There’s a town named after him, on the site of the battle.”

“Here it is,” and Helen pointed it out on the map in the railway folder. “It’s about ten miles from Pittsburg.”

“Washington took command after the death of Braddock, and this was his first real military experience. However, his heart was in the taking of Fort Duquesne and when General Forbes was sent out to make another attempt at capturing it Washington commanded one of the regiments of Virginia troops.”

“Isn’t there any poetry about it?” demanded Ethel Brown, who knew her grandfather’s habit of collecting historical ballads.

“Certainly there is. There are some verses on ‘Fort Duquesne’ by Florus Plimpton written for the hundredth anniversary of the capture.”

“Did they have a great old fight to take the fort?” asked Roger.

“No fight at all. Here’s what Plimpton says:

“So said: and each to sleep addressed his wearied limbs and mind,
And all was hushed i’ the forest, save the sobbing of the wind,
And the tramp, tramp, tramp of the sentinel, who started oft in fright
At the shadows wrought ’mid the giant trees by the fitful camp-fire

“Good Lord! what sudden glare is that that reddens all the sky,
As though hell’s legions rode the air and tossed their torches high!
Up, men! the alarm drum beats to arms! and the solid ground seems riven
By the shock of warring thunderbolts in the lurid depth of heaven!

“O, there was clattering of steel and mustering in array,
And shouts and wild huzzas of men, impatient of delay,
As came the scouts swift-footed in ’They fly! the foe! they fly!
They’ve fired the powder magazine and blown it to the sky.’

“All the English had to do was to walk in, put out the fire, repair the fort and re-name it.”

“What did they call it?”

“After the great statesman Fort Pitt.”

“That’s where ‘Pittsburg’ got its name, then! I never thought about its being in honor of Pitt!” exclaimed Helen.

“It is ‘Pitt’s City,’” rejoined her grandfather. “And this street,” he added somewhat later when they were speeding in a motor bus to a hotel near the park, “this street is Forbes Street, named after the British general. Somewhere there is a Bouquet Street, to commemorate another hero of the war.”

“I saw ‘Duquesne Way’ marked on the map,” announced Ethel Blue.

On the following morning they awakened to find themselves opposite a large and beautiful park with a mass of handsome buildings rising impressively at the entrance.

“It is Schenley Park and the buildings house the Carnegie Institute. We’ll go over them by and bye.”

“It’s a library,” guessed Dicky, who was not too young to have the steelmaker’s name associated with libraries in his youthful mind.

“It is a library and a fine one. There’s also a Music Hall and an art museum and a natural history museum. You’ll see more fossil ferns there, and the skeleton of a diplodocus

“A dip-what?” demanded Roger.

“Diplodocus, with the accent on the plod; one of the hugest animals that ever walked the earth. They found the bones of this monster almost complete in Colorado and wired them together so you can get an idea of what really ‘big game’ was like in the early geological days.”

“How long is he?”

“If all the ten members of the U.S.C. were to take hold of hands and stretch along his length there would be space for four or five more to join the string.”

“Where’s my hat?” demanded Roger. “I want to go over and make that fellow’s acquaintance instanter.”

“When you go, notice the wall paintings,” said his mother. “They show the manufacture and uses of steel and they are considered among the finest things of their kind in America. Alexander, the artist, did them. You’ve seen some of his work at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.”

“Pittsburg has the good sense to have a city organist,” Mr. Emerson continued. “Every Sunday afternoon he plays on the great organ in the auditorium and the audience drifts in from the park and drifts out to walk farther, and in all several thousand people hear some good music in the course of the afternoon.”

“There seem to be some separate buildings behind the Institute.”

“The Technical Schools, and beyond them is the Margaret Morrison School where girls may learn crafts and domestic science and so on.”

“It’s too bad it isn’t a clear day,” sighed Ethel Blue, as she rose from the table.

“This is a bright day, Miss,” volunteered the waiter who handed her her unnecessary sunshade.

“You call this clear?” Mrs. Morton asked him.

“Yes, madam, this is a bright day for Pittsburg.”

When they set forth they shook their heads over the townsman’s idea of a clear day, for the sky was overcast and clouds of dense black smoke rolled together from the two sides of the city and met over their heads.

“It’s from the steel mills,” Mr. Emerson explained as he advised Ethel Brown to wipe off a smudge of soot that had settled on her cheek and warned his daughter that if she wanted to preserve the whiteness of her gloves she had better replace them by colored ones until she returned to a cleaner place.

They were to take the afternoon train up the Monongahela River to the town from which Stanley Clark had sent his wire telling his uncle that “Emily Leonard married a man named Smith,” but there were several hours to devote to sightseeing before train time, and the party went over Schenley Park with thoroughness, investigated several of the “inclines” which carried passengers from the river level to the top of the heights above, motored among the handsome residences and ended, on the way to the station, with a flying visit to the old blockhouse which is all that is left of Port Pitt.

“So this is really a blockhouse,” Helen said slowly as she looked at the little two story building with its heavy beams.

“There are the musket holes,” Ethel Brown pointed out.

“This is really where soldiers fought before the Revolution!”

“It really is,” her mother assured her. “It is in the care of one of the historical societies now; that’s why it is in such good condition.”

Roger had secured the tickets and had telephoned to the hotel at Brownsville for rooms so they took their places in the train with no misgivings as to possible discomfort at night. Their excitement was beginning to rise, however, for two reasons. In the first place they had been quite as disturbed as Dorothy and her mother over the difficulties attending the purchase of the field and the Fitz-James Woods, and the later developments in connection with the man, Hapgood. Now that they were approaching the place where they knew Stanley Clark was working out the clue they began to feel the thrill that comes over explorers on the eve of discovery.

The other reason for excitement lay in the fact that Mr. Emerson had promised them some wonderful sights before they reached their destination. He had not told them what they were, although he had mentioned something about fairyland that had started an abundant flow of questions from Dicky. Naturally they were all alert to find out what novelty their eyes were to see.

“I saw one novelty this afternoon,” said Roger. “When I stepped into that little stationery shop to get a newspaper I noticed in the rear a queer tin thing with what looked like cotton wool sticking against its back wall. I asked the woman who sold the papers what it was.”

“Trust Roger for not letting anything pass him,” smiled Ethel Brown.

“That’s why I’m such a cyclopedia of accurate information, ma’am,” Roger retorted. “She said it was a stove.”

“With cotton wool for fuel?” laughed Ethel Blue.

“It seems they use natural gas here for heating as well as cooking, and the woolly stuff was asbestos. The gas is turned on at the foot of the back wall and the asbestos becomes heated and gives off warmth but doesn’t burn.”

“I stayed in Pittsburg once in a boarding house where the rooms were heated with natural gas,” said Mr. Emerson. “It made a sufficient heat, but you had to be careful not to turn the burner low just before all the methodical Pittsburgers cooked dinner, for if you made it too low the flame might go out when the pressure was light.”

“Did the opposite happen at night?”

“It did. In the short time I was there the newspapers noted several cases of fires caused by people leaving their stoves turned up high at night and the flames bursting into the room and setting fire to some inflammable thing near at hand when the pressure grew strong after the good Pittsburgers went to bed.”

“It certainly is useful,” commended Mrs. Morton. “A turn of the key and that’s all.”

“No coal to be shovelled think of it!” exclaimed Roger, who took care of several furnaces in winter. “No ashes to be sifted and carried away! The thought causes me to burst into song,” and he chanted ridicuously:

“Given a tight tin stove, asbestos fluff,
A match of wood, an iron key, and, puff,
Thou, Natural Gas, wilt warm the Arctic wastes,
And Arctic wastes are Paradise enough.”

As the train drew out of the city the young people’s expectations of fairyland were not fulfilled.

“I don’t see anything but dirt and horridness, Grandfather,” complained Ethel Brown.

Mr. Emerson looked out of the window thoughtfully for a moment.

“True,” he answered, “it’s not yet dark enough for the magic to work.”

“No wonder everything is sooty and grimy with those chimneys all around us throwing out tons and tons of soft coal smoke to settle over everything. Don’t they ever stop?”

“They’re at it twenty-four hours a day,” returned her grandfather. “But night will take all the ugliness into its arms and hide it; the sordidness and griminess will disappear and fairyland will come forth for a playground. The ugly smoke will turn into a thing of beauty. The queer point of it all is,” he continued, shaking his head sadly, “fairyland is there all the time and always beautiful, only you can’t see it.”

Dicky’s eyes opened wide and he gazed out of the window intent on peering into this mysterious invisible playground.

“Lots of things are like that,” agreed Roger. “Don’t you remember how those snowflakes we looked at under the magnifying glass on Ethel Blue’s birthday burst into magnificent crystals? You wouldn’t think a handful of earth just plain dirt was pretty, would you? But it is. Look at it through a microscope and see what happens.”

“But, Grandfather, if the beauty is there right now why can’t we see it?” insisted Ethel Brown.

Mr. Emerson stared out of the window for a moment.

“That was a pretty necklace of beads you strung for Ayleesabet.”

“We all thought they were beauty beads.”

“And that was a lovely string of pearls that Mrs. Schermerhorn wore at the reception for which you girls decorated her house.”

There could be no disagreement from that opinion.

“Since Ayleesabet is provided with such beauties we shan’t have to fret about getting her anything else when she goes to her coming-out party, shall we?”

“What are you saying, Grandfather!” exclaimed Helen. “Of course Ayleesabet’s little string of beads can’t be compared with a pearl necklace!”

“There you are!” retorted Mr. Emerson; “Helen has explained it. This fairyland we are going to see can’t be compared with the glory of the sun any more than Ayleesabet’s beads can be compared with Mrs. Schermerhorn’s pearls. We don’t even see the fairyland when the sun is shining but when the sun has set the other beauties become clear.”

“O-o-o!” shouted Dicky, whose nose had been glued to the window in an effort to prove his grandfather’s statement; “look at that funny umbrella!”

Everybody jumped to one window or another, and they saw in the gathering darkness a sudden blast of flame and white hot particles shooting into the air and spreading out like an umbrella of vast size.

“Look at it!” exclaimed the two Ethels, in a breath; “isn’t that beautiful! What makes it?”

“The grimy steel mills of the daytime make the fairyland of night,” announced Mr. Emerson.

Across the river they noticed suddenly that the smoke pouring from a chimney had turned blood red with tongues of vivid flame shooting through it like pulsing veins. There was no longer any black smoke. It had changed to heavy masses of living fire of shifting shades. Great ingots of steel sent the observers a white hot greeting or glowed more coolly as the train shot by them. Huge piles of smoking slag that had gleamed dully behind the mills now were veined with vivid red, looking like miniature volcanoes streaked with lava.

It was sometimes too beautiful for words to describe it suitably, and sometimes too terrible for an exclamation to do it justice. It created an excitement that was wearying, and when the train pulled into Brownsville it was a tired party that found its way to the hotel.

As the children went off to bed Mr. Emerson called out “To-morrow all will be grime and dirt again; fairyland has gone.”

“Never mind, Grandfather,” cried Ethel Brown, “we won’t forget that it is there just the same if only we could see it.”

“And we’ll think a little about the splendiferousness of the sun, too,” called Helen from the elevator. “I never thought much about it before.”