Trapped in 1867

Chap­ter 8: Do­min­ion

The Hamilton Spectator - - LIFENEWS.CA - WRIT­TEN AND IL­LUS­TRATED BY CHRIS FRAN­CIS

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.

10:30 AM

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.

12:45 PM

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.”

10:45 PM

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.

11:00 PM

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.

Mid­night.

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

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