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moss gray and venerable, reaching to rested it on an upturned plank for a the water, which gave it such a strange, steady aim; and yet, why should he sit even weird appearance, that it reminded so stupidly still ? flashed through my me almost unpleasantly of an aged mind as I hesitated. “Pooh," said the woman, her reverend locks sweeping in Lieutenant-and he laid his hand on the breeze.
my shoulder—“It's the princess, can't Shadows already began to darken
Of course I could. A among the trees, when we thought of dozen bounds brought us to the boat. departing. The sentinel in the block- “ What are you here for ?" said I, bouse was about to be removed, and angrily, as the men pushed off. Either the lookout recalled from the woods, she could not or would not understand when the man himself appeared and There was little time to be lost, reported that he had heard a sound as and we could hardly throw her overof the neighing of horses; and hardly board. A few vigorous strokes sent us were the words out of his mouth, when quickly into the stream, and long bethe sentinel in the blockhouse, a very fore the disappointed rebels appeared intelligent and prudent man, was ob- upon the wharf, we were out of gunserved making signals to attract our shot, and heading rapidly for Punta attention. We immediately went up, Rasa. “Foiled that time,” said I gleeand saw enough to convince us that fully, as one or two straggling shots the rebels were upon us.
For & con- sent through the darkness in our supsiderable distance around the fort the posed direction whistled wide of the wood and underbrush had been cleared mark, and I even looked at the young so as to allow full sweep for artillery. Indian with less of wrath than I had This space they could not cross without before exhibited. “ But what can she exposing themselves, and we could see want in the boat? Can it be possible a considerable group, all mounted, and that she betrayed us, and brought the evidently clustered for consultation. enemy down on us ?” and my anger beThese Florida rebels had a strong pas- gan to rekindle. sion for riding horses, and would never “I'll answer for her with my life,” go afoot if they could help it. They said the Lieutenant enthusiastically; evidently knew our strength, and cared “besides, why should she come with us little for concealment. Finally they and share our danger if she were guilty? broke up, a body largely exceeding our Now, I won't answer for that old own riding directly for the fort, and a squaw,” he added, with less gallantry; smaller party separating from the rest she may have betrayed us." moved rapidly to the left down the “ It is not to be thought of,” said I, bank of the river. No time was to be decisively. “So soft a voice as hers lost. We could have held the block- never spoke deceitfully.” But I was house against them for a while, but not satisfied, nevertheless, and looked without food or water, and having no round fiercely on the young woman. special object to gain, it would be folly. “If I were in command of the boat, I'd We made hastily for the boat, and as put her ashore. Innocent or not, the we approached, I saw a dark object in princess should tramp." Whether she the gathering gloom, sitting bolt up understood me or not, I cannot say, but right on one of the seats. Trapped! at that moment the girl rose and stood was my first thought, as the blood upon the seat; with head erect and rushed to my heart; and motioning hand placed to her ear, as if to catch hastily to the men to be quiet, I the faintest sound, she peered steadily glanced over the number to see that into the darkness, towards the shore on none were missing. All were present,
A faint, crackling sound and we were trapped. That one, at least, seemed at times to be audible, and then shall
pay the penalty for his impudence, died entirely away. The girl raised her thought I, and drawing my revolver, arm, pointed in the direction of the
sound, and then, without a word, re- teeth were clenched, and his eyes
fixed sumed her seat, as erect, immovable, and and rigid. I laid my hand upon his listless as before. " What can she arm, and the muscles were knotted and mean?" said we both in a breath. The drawn like steel, while the shirt was sound became clearer. “Boys,” said dripping with perspiration. What the Lieutenant in a moment, as the would I not have given for a little of thought flashed upon him, “ do you the whiskey which my friend of the hear that sound ? It's the rebels mak- dulcet voice had drunk? Thank God, it ing for the point below us. If they couldn't last long. At length a long, dark reach it before we do, there will be row of trees began to be dimly visible bloody work before us. Give way live against the sky. “Yonder is the point," ly, it's a row for life.”
And give way
said the Lieutenant, “ cease rowing and they did, for we all saw the peril. A draw in your oars," he added in a whisfew miles below us was a point running per; and at the command each oar was out into the stream, under which the lifted from the water and drawn in so channel swept, and where the passage that the handle rested against the of the river could, in daylight, be easily opposite side of the boat, but in almost commanded. By the shore the dis- instantaneous readiness for use. With tance was further than by the river, the rapid beadway and in almost perfect trail sometimes approaching the bank, stillness we neared the point, where all and again making large detours to was silent as the grave, keeping as near avoid swamps and morasses impassable the opposite shore as the depth of water for horses. This was in our favor, be- would allow. We had already reached sides the darkness of the night. The it, and were about abreast, when with men knew their work, and settled to it
a sudden shock the boat struck a snag splendidly; the tough ash oars spring- or stone, and, swinging half-way round ing at every stroke, and the barge, none with the current, remained fast; we of the lightest, almost at times lifted were too near the right bank. First one from the water. I watched them ner- our was put out, and then another, but vously, their broad backs bending to we did not move. Two of the men the very seats, yet moving perfectly in jumped over into the shallow water, time, and without a single false stroke. and lifting the boat clear sprang lightly It was a fearful race-human muscles back. We were again afloat, but disagainst horse-flesh; but what men could covered. Whirr, whirr, came the rifledo to win, they would. Occasionally, balls all about us, with a sound like as time passed, we could hear the party tearing cloth, while tlie shore lighted on shore as the trail led them to the up with the fire. bank of the river, and even at times “Who's hit ?" said the Lieutenant into the very water, and then we would hastily; and as no one answered, he lose the sound altogether. Some words added, "give it to 'em boys, and then from an old German ballad, little else pull for your lives.” The answering of which I remembered, kept running fire from the boat was a little ragged, in my head :
but given with a will, and even we
joined with our revolvers. “It was " Tramp, tramp, along the land they rodo,
imprudent,” said he a moment after, as Splash, splash, along the sea."
the powerful strokes of the oars drew It never was a favorite with me, being us gradually out of fire, “but I couldn't always a ghostly thing and gloomy; resist the temptation to have one shot and now less than ever. The minutes at the rascals. Any one hit ?” said he passed slowly away. Not a man of the again, anxiously. Several balls had crew could bear a cap upon his woolly been heard to strike the boat. “My head, and though not a word was spo- oar is splintered,” said one of the men, ken, I knew that the pace was killing. “and a sliver driven into my arm.” It I looked at the one in front of me; his was a flesh-wound, however, and on
being bound up with a handkerchief, ly. “Of course not,” said I, "she's got gave little immediate pain.
no feeling; the ball might have gone “What do you think of the princess through her heart, and she would never now?" said the Lieutenant, pointing to have shown it." the girl, who, during the exciting scene As we were about embarking, with through which we had passed, had sat much surprise I thought that I could as irnmovable as a statue.
hear the sound of a drum beaten in our “I don't know what to think of her," immediate vicinity. “ Can it be that said I, musingly. “I wonder if Indian we are pursued again ? and how strange nature is different from human nature ?” that they should beat a drum !” The and sundry hard problems in regard to Lieutenant smiled. He was more familthat mystery ever new-woman's heart iar with the country than I was. "It's --gave me food for reflection.
a drum-fish,” said he. And yet with Pursuit was over, and we knew it startling distinctness it was repeated, and now that the excitement had passed, though, now that my attention was. the men, without sleep for many hours, called to it, apparently from the depths pulled languidly. So we tied up to the of the river. It's the mermaid's reveille, right bank, and camped for the remain- thought I, and almost involuntarily I der of the night, ail except the princess, glanced at the princess, half expecting who preferred to reign mistress of the her to obey the mysterious call, which boat. It was daylight when I awoke, seemed plainly intended for her, and and the first thing I did was to peer plunge beneath the water. It sounded over the bank to see if she was still for sealed ears, however; there she sat there; for between waking and dream- unmoved and silent, and seemingly ining, I had come to have an odd feeling different to all that went on about her. in regard to the girl, and should hardly I puffed away nervously at the rejected have been surprised if she had turned pipe, blowing whiffs of white smoke out to have a few drops of elfish or out into the air, and quite covering the mermaid blood in her veins, if, indeed, head of the girl with a cloud. “Do such mysterious creatures have blood you think,” said I at length, “that she'd at all. Breakfast being prepared, the feel it if I were to thrust a pin into Lieutenant placed some before her, her ?” which, rather to my surprise, she ac- The Lieutenant shrugged his shoulcepted; being the first common-sense ders with a truly Italian grimace. thing I had seen her do. I have been “ Chi diavolo l'avrebbe mai creduto? told it is an Indian custom never to Of course she would;
9 and I saw at refuse food when offered them, as it is once how hopeless it was to make him not always sure when they may again understand my feelings in the matter, have it. I was a second time surprised, even if I did not realize at the time however, to see her reject, with the how foolish they were in themselves. slightest possible motion of the hand, So I took an oar and pulled lustily for the dainty meerschaum of the Lieuten
an hour. ant, which with Italian grace he offered It was not long before we heard a her.
heavy gun in the direction of Punta The old squaw would not have done Rasa, and while we listened in surprise, it. Neither tobacco nor whiskey! De- another and another, but at regular · pend upon it, she's more mermaid than intervals. Indian, after all, thought I. We now “Not an attack, but a salute; what noticed that the girl had been wound- can it be?" ed, though not badly, the ball cutting “Richmond is taken,” said the Lieuthe folds of a blanket, which she did tenant. not have with her when she went up, “It's too good news to be true, and and grazing the flesh. “She doesn't yet I hardly know what else it can be.” mind it,” said the Lieutenant admiring. The prolonged echoes had hardly ceased
to reverberate from wood and shore, doctor's bottles and the kegs of the when we came in sight of the wharf. commissary were unceremoniously bunBoth our own yacht and the sutler's dled out under canvas.
I was away schooner were gayly dressed in their during the afternoon, and did not recolors; the whole camp was astir, turn until night. The Parker House drums were beating, banners flying, was a blaze of glory. Out of the broad and there was every appearance of a open doorway came a flood of light, gala-day. Our hopes were raised by the brightening the wharf, and shining far sight of a group of naval officers on out on the river, where mast and rope the wharf, and they were confirmed as were distinctly visible in the unusual we landed. The officers had just come illumination. Merry music was borne up from the fleet. Richmond had falls through the open windows, while dancen, and the back of the rebellion was ing shadows on the wall came and went broken. Hurrah! hurrah! and up in the flickering light, long before we went our caps into the air. But who reached the building. Wonderful was have you here ? " said one, as the prin- the metamorphosis as we entered. The cess, cold and dignified as a statue, stalk- bare and dingy walls were hung with ed up the wharf, perfectly unmoved and evergreens and festooned with flags. self-possessed in the general excitement. From the beams overhead depended Her appearance was too striking, and glittering chandeliers of burnished bayoeven noble, not to attract attention. nets, each with a tallow-candle inserted
Hang me if I know," said I; "a at the butt. Stacks of glistening musqueen of some sort; of the mermaids, kets reflected the light, and a number perhaps."
of the drum-corps of the 19th, glorious The good news delighted every one, in their brilliant uniforms, furnished but none more than the loyal Floridians acceptable music of violin, banjo, and who were congregated at Punta Rasa. bones. For us of Northern birth it was the tri- Dancing was progressiug vigorously umph of the nation, and a glorious re- as we entered, while perspiring belles ward for long years of weary anxicties, and sweltering beaux lined the sides of watching, and sacrifice. For them it the room, resting from their labors, or was all this, and more. It meant, poor engaged in animated conversation. The souls, as they then saw it, a return to ladies were gay with many colors, mainhouse and home, if indeed there were ly in brilliant calicoes which-believe any left; not with trembling footsteps, it who can-were many of them that watched and dogged from swamp to morning lying unmade in the sutler's swamp, and from one wretched hiding- schooner. By what magic they had in place to another, but in the open day, this brief space been transformed by and with honor. It removed the halter needle and pin and button into passfrom their necks and the stigma from able robes for the occasion, the light of their names. Henceforth loyalty to the the glittering chandeliers did not reveal, country was no longer treason, and and perhaps it were hardly prudent to rebels no longer their judges. The son
inquire. could look the father in the eye, and It must be confessed that by daythe father the son, and know that they light, and to a fastidious taste, the were no longer despised, even if they ladies of the loyal Floridians might were henceforth to be feared. It was a seem somewhat obnoxious to criticism proud satisfaction, and they felt it. on the score of habits and manners.
A ball was arranged by the female They certainly were unsophisticated and part of the community, and the officers primitive in these respects. The chivall invited. Great were the prepara- alry, as we know, did not cleave to us. tions made for the occasion. The com- That it was genteel to be a rebel carried manding officer kindly consented to off more thousands than the doctrines the use of the Parker House, and the of Calhoun or the seductions of the persuasive Yancey. These ladies were with the man he had wronged, and loyal, however, and to-night they were knew that my mission was to bring happy. Yet it was an odd collection, such as he to justice ? Several times, Tow-headed urchins, long since con- as if by accident, he met my earnest signed to theoretical slumbers, peeped gaze with the full fair look of innofurtively through the chinks, or gath- cence, and turned lightly away. What ered timidly beyond the sentry at the passes in his mind is a mystery. Under open door, and all agog at the unaccus- that careless exterior is he calculating tomed splendor. Heads of wool and how many bounds will take him to the eyes white gleaming in the light, looked shore, and where the boats are lying in by dozens at the open windows. this dark night; or perchance how cold Mothers, unable to stay away, stood, I it will be down among the fishes, drifthad almost said danced, with their in- ing helplessly with a bullet-hole through fants in their arms. Boys and gray- one's body? Hardly! He'll sleep quihaired men, soldiers, civilians, and sail- etly to-night, though with one wary ors, all joined in the dance. Near me eye open. Peace and quiet times never stood a man of dignified presence, and produce such men as he. They are of mild and venerable aspect. His exotics of villany, the forced and danlocks were white, and his eye blue and gerous productions of days of peril. gentle, yet undimmed. A large nose Under the chandeliers a dropping and a firm, well-shut mouth gave char fire of melting fat would bave been the acter to his face. He was a gentleman terror of other ball-goers; here it had from northern Georgia, originally of little effect. A merry laugh and a wealth, and of a judicial education and dexterous movement when under the position. For his outspoken loyalty he chandeliers, but generally ineffectual to had been driven from county to county, dodge the infliction, was all the notice and from State to State, until he finally it excited. Richmond had fallen, and reached our lines at Fort Myers, penni. they knew it; and a few drops of fat less, and, of a large family, alone. I could hardly counterbalance the mowill not say there was no exultation in mentous fact to them. The dancing his eye as he looked upon the scene, was different from any thing I had ever though there certainly was sadness, yet seen before. Rows were formed as in a wholly unmixed with anger. Strange, contra-dance, but there the resemblance too, before him danced a young man, ceased. Each couple danced violently lithe, active, and graceful in his move- and ridiculously upon one spot, unments and bearing. Of a pleasing til apparently exhausted, when they excountenance, with eyes black and fear- changed sides and recommenced, as if less, which nothing escaped while they they had received accessions of vigor. overflowed with merriment and joy, he It was exercise for gymnasts. One or moved before us happy and light-heart two attempts on the part of some of ed as the gayest. Yet that young man the officers present to introduce more but a few weeks before was one of a customary modes of saltation failed party of rebels who had six different ignominiously, and they withdrew chatimes hung the venerable loyalist from grined. Refreshments were at last a limb, and he himself had climbed the served, and candor compels me to add, tree with the rope in his hand. Not more than one of the fair belles reshadow betrayed the emotion which the moved from her dimpled cheek a capaold man felt. Strangely enough, the cious quid of tobacco, from which she handsome rascal bore my name in full, had been industriously withdrawing the and I watched him with the keener juice, in total unconsciousness of any interest. If he had a soul he did not violation of etiquette or propriety. The show it. Did his own neck itch for the hall was warm, and I had placed myhalter, or did his conscience misgive self near an open window for the air, him at all, as he saw me in conversation absorbed in the novelty of the occasion,