Trapped in 1867
Chapter 8: Dominion
Gauri goes through a rough spell during the harsh winter: Sickness, depression, death in the house. However, Thomas’s mother sends Gauri and Ben to school and they finally get to visit the Parliament buildings—but the mysterious girl appears again.
To do list:
1. Research Odawa First Nations
people 2. Find out what’s bothering Ben 3. Find out if or when shampoo has been invented yet (if not, find out what to use to wash my stinky hair).
April 17th, 1867 Afternoon
“Who are you?” I ask the girl. I step up onto the bench beside Thomas. The horse is patiently waiting for its order to return to the McGregor house.
The girl’s black hair is in one long braid which dangles down her back. She smiles at me—what a beautiful smile—she hands over a small beaded bracelet. Her hands clasp mine for a moment before she steps away again. She wears a long brown dress, with some sort of fur around her neck, like a scarf.
“She’s an Odawa girl,” Thomas says to me. “She lives in a reserve nearby.”
“Hello,” I say to her, placing the bracelet around my wrist. It’s of a bird—the same bird she wears on her dress. “This is very pretty.”
The Odawa girl nods her head and replies. “You’re welcome. Remember, Pin-di-gayo.”
“What does that mean?” I ask, but she just smiles and slips away into the trees.
June 21st, 1867 Morning
I haven’t seen the Odawa girl since that day in town. I hear her voice in my head from time to time, saying the same words, Pin-digayo, pin-di-gayo, pin-di-gayo.
I learned from Thomas that Pin-di-gayo means ‘come in’, but why would she say that to me? Does it have something to do with the symbol of the bird? I also didn’t expect her to speak English so well. What is her name? Why was she there?
I play with the bracelet on my wrist. It’s filled with colourful beads, weaved into a rainbow-like pattern.
Why did she give me this gift?
July 1st, 1867 Early Morning
I barely slept last night. The bells of all the churches everywhere rang out all night and day.
I spent most of the evening staring at the rug on the floor with the strange bird-like patterns. It kind of looks like the symbol on my bracelet I received from that Odawa girl.
It’s a beautiful sunny day. I love summer.
Mrs. McGregor allowed our entire class to take the day off of school and travel up to Parliament hill. It is only a twenty minute walk, if you move really fast. But, with all the little kiddies with us, it took an hour. But who cares, we’re here.
The first thing I notice is the flag on the top of the Parliament building. It’s not red and white with a maple-leaf like I was expecting. It’s hard to see from where I stand but it looks like there is a union jack with a shield in the centre, surrounded by a wreath.
“The shield bears the arms of each of the four provinces,” Mrs. McGregor announces as we shift through the crowd of people.
Wow, I mean, like, wow. This place is packed with people. Everyone is waving ribbons around and cheering. There is bunting all over the houses and buildings. The church bells keep ringing out all over the place. There are even gunshots and cannons blasting out into the air, but it’s all for celebration.
Even the horses are decorated with ribbons, and the carriages are polished and shiny.
“I don’t hate you,” Ben says to me suddenly as we weave through a crowd of formally dressed men in top hats and black suits.
“What?” I reply as a white bearded elderly man bumps past me. “What did you say?”
Ben looks at me, like really looks at me. He grabs my arm and pulls himself forward. “I don’t hate you.”
He grips my arm hard before easing off—like he doesn’t know his own strength. His eyes are welling up—a glimmer from the sun reflects off his tears.
“Then why are you so mean to me?” I ask.
Ben chokes up a bit and wipes the salty drips from his cheeks. “I don’t know why I’m so mean to you. I can’t help it.”
I pull away and shake my head. “Whatever Ben. I thought for a second you were gonna apologize.” “I’m trying,” he says. “You’re not doing a good job,” I say.
An acrobatic girl does cartwheels beside us as a trumpeter proudly blurts out some powernotes. A band starts playing to our left, blasting out ‘God Save the Queen.’
I guess ‘Oh Canada’ hasn’t been written yet.
I follow Mrs. McGregor and the rest of the kids onto a sidewalk leading up to the Parliament building. From where I’m standing, I’m positive I see that man from our ten dollar bill.
It’s gotta be him. I wonder if he’s been sworn in yet.
“I’m sorry.” Ben hustles up and steps in front of me. “I’m sorry for being mean to you.”
I don’t know what to say to the guy. I feel like it’s an empty apology and his timing is horrible. Today is the reason why we’re here. Today is the reason why we travelled through time and all he can think about is apologizing to me?
We need to embrace this moment. We need to take in everything. Our project is going to be more than just a historical account of the birth of Canada, our project is going to be about how it felt to be here, what we see, what we hear, what we smell—I mean come on, we can even describe how this day tastes.
“Potato?” A little boy dressed in a grey suit and jacket tugs on my arm. “Excuse me, Miss, would you like to buy a potato?” I smile and shake my head. “No thanks.” He nods and smiles back. “Happy Dominion day,” he says.
“Happy Dominion day to you too.”
Apparently the guy from the ten dollar bill was made a Knight Commander of Bath by order of Queen Victoria (she’s the great-great grandmother of Queen Elizabeth the second—our current Queen— Cool eh?)
Anyway, the celebrations went on all evening. Ben got thrown up onto a stage and was asked to dance with the acrobats. His face was bright red for hours.
I’m finally back at the McGregor house and I have the biggest headache ever! What a day.
OMG. There are fireworks blasting out over the horizon right now. All sorts of colours exploding into the night sky. I can still hear the music and drums and we’re a few kilometres away too.
Across the landscape, between the rows of houses and buildings, I see bonfires scattered about as people cheer on the light show.
I’m just about to doze off when Ben taps on my door and pushes it open slightly.
“Good night,” he says. He shyly smiles and closes the door again, disappearing into the adjoining room.
“Good night,” I whisper back, but I don’t think he hears me.
I close my eyes again only to be startled by an explosion outside. At first I think it’s just the fireworks from Parliament hill. But when I see the flames shoot up in front of my window, I realize something is wrong.
Something is seriously wrong. To be continued Wednesday. Next Time: Fire