A JOLLY FELLOWSHIP.
FRANK R. STOCKTON'S WRITINGS
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New Uniform Edition
RUDDER GRANGE $1.25 THE LATE MRS. NULL 1.25 ARDIS CLAVERDEN 1.50 THE WATCHMAKER'S WIFE 1.25 THE RUDDER GRANGERS ABROAD 1.25 THE BEE-MAN OF ORN 1.25 THE LADY, OR THE TIGER? 1.25 THE CHRISTMAS WRECK 1.25 AMOS KILBRIGHT 1.25 THE HOUSE OF MARTHA 1.25
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AFIELD AND AFLOAT. Illustrated. 12mo $1.50 THE GIRL AT COBHURST. 12mo 1.50 A STORY-TELLER'S PACK. Illustrated. 12mo 1.50 MRS. CLIFF'S YACHT. Illustrated. 12mo 1.50 THE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN HORN. 12mo 1.50 A CHOSEN FEW. SHORT STORIES. Cameo Edition 1.25 RUDDER GRANGE. With over 100 Illustrations by A. B. Frost. 12mo 1.50 POMONA'S TRAVELS. Illustrated by A. B. Frost. 12mo 1.50
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BOOKS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE
A JOLLY FELLOWSHIP. Illustrated. 12mo $1.50 THE STORY OF VITEAU. Illustrated. 12mo 1.50 THE TING-A-LING TALES. Illustrated. 12mo 1.00 THE FLOATING PRINCE, and Other Fairy Tales. Illustrated. 4to 1.50 ROUNDABOUT RAMBLES IN LANDS OF FACT AND FANCY. Illustrated. 4to 1.50 TALES OUT OF SCHOOL. Illustrated. 4to 1.50 PERSONALLY CONDUCTED. Illustrated, square 8vo 2.00 THE CLOCKS OF RONDAINE, and Other Stories, Illustrated, square 8vo 1.50
A JOLLY FELLOWSHIP
FRANK R. STOCKTON
AUTHOR OF "RUDDER GRANGE," ETC.
NEW-YORK CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 1901
Copyright, 1880, by CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS.
TROW'S PRINTING AND BOOKBINDING COMPANY, NEW YORK.
This story is told by Will Gordon, a young fellow about sixteen years old, who saw for himself everything worth seeing in the course of the events he relates, and so knows much more about them than any one who would have to depend upon hearsay. Will is a good-looking boy, with brown hair and gray eyes, rather large for his age, and very fond of being a leader among his young companions. Whether or not he is good at that sort of thing, you can judge from the story he tells.
I. WE MAKE A START 1
II. GOING BACK WITH THE PILOT 16
III. RECTUS OPENS HIS EYES 29
IV. TO THE RESCUE 43
V. STORMING SAN MARCO 56
VI. THE GIRL ON THE BEACH 69
VII. MR. CHIPPERTON 88
VIII. THE STEAM-BOAT IN THE FOREST 100
IX. THE THREE GRAY BEANS 116
X. THE QUEEN ON THE DOOR-STEP 128
XI. REGAL PROJECTS 140
XII. RECTUS LOSES RANK 154
XIII. THE CORONATION 166
XIV. A HOT CHASE 178
XV. A STRANGE THING HAPPENS TO ME 191
XVI. MR. CHIPPERTON KEEPS PERFECTLY COOL 204
XVII. WHAT BOY HAS DONE, BOY MAY DO 217
XVIII. I WAKE UP MR. CHIPPERTON 229
XIX. THE LIFE-RAFT 241
XX. THE RUSSIAN BARK 252
XXI. THE TRIP OF THE TUG 263
XXII. LOOKING AHEAD 274
XXIII. UNCLE CHIPPERTON'S DINNER 285
XXIV. THE STORY ENDS 296
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
Page. "BANG! BANG! BANG!—SEVEN TIMES." (Frontispiece.)
"SHE SEIZED ME BY BOTH HANDS" 10
THE VESSEL IS OFF 17
SCOTT AND THE CAPTAIN 19
RECTUS AND THE LEMONS 27
"'HOLD YOUR TONGUE!' ROARED MR. RANDALL" 32
"RECTUS SHOWED ME THE MAP" 35
"ANOTHER BEAN" 64
"THE GENTLEMAN WAVED HIS HAT TO US" 80
"WHY, HOW DO YOU DO?" 88
"VOY-EZZ VOWS CETT HOMMY ETT SES DUCKS FEMMYS SEELAH?" 110
"WE SAW HER SLOWLY RISING BENEATH US" 119
"'ALL RIGHT,' SAID GOLIAH, WITH A SMILE" 157
A SMALL DIVE 170
"I WOULDN'T LIKE IT MYSELF" 197
"WE STRUCK OUT TOGETHER FOR THE BOAT" 224
"'KEEP PERFECTLY COOL,' SAID MR. CHIPPERTON" 239
"RECTUS HELPED ME TO FASTEN THE LIFE-PRESERVER" 243
"YOU'RE A REGULAR YOUNG TRUMP" 277
A JOLLY FELLOWSHIP.
WE MAKE A START.
I was sitting on the deck of a Savannah steam-ship, which was lying at a dock in the East River, New York. I was waiting for young Rectus, and had already waited some time; which surprised me, because Rectus was, as a general thing, a very prompt fellow, who seldom kept people waiting. But it was probably impossible for him to regulate his own movements this time, for his father and mother were coming with him, to see him off.
I had no one there to see me off, but I did not care for that. I was sixteen years old, and felt quite like a man; whereas Rectus was only fourteen, and couldn't possibly feel like a man—unless his looks very much belied his feelings. My father and mother and sister lived in a small town some thirty miles from New York, and that was a very good reason for their not coming to the city just to see me sail away in a steam-ship. They took a good leave of me, though, before I left home.
I shall never forget how I first became acquainted with Rectus. About a couple of years before, he was a new boy in the academy at Willisville. One Saturday, a lot of us went down to the river to swim. Our favorite place was near an old wharf, which ran out into deep water, and a fellow could take a good dive there, when the tide was high. There were some of the smaller boys along that day, but they didn't dive any, and if they even swam, it was in shallow water near the shore, by the side of the wharf. But I think most of them spent their time wading about.
I was a good swimmer, and could dive very well. I was learning to swim under water, but had not done very much in that line at the time I speak of. We were nearly ready to come out, when I took a dive from a post on the end of the wharf, and then turned, under water, to swim in shore. I intended to try to keep under until I got into water shallow enough for me to touch bottom, and walk ashore. After half a dozen strokes, I felt for the bottom and my feet touched it. Then I raised my head, but I didn't raise it out of the water. It struck something hard.
In an instant I knew what had happened. There was a big mud-scow lying by the side of the wharf, and I had got under that! It was a great flat thing, ever so long and very wide. I knew I must get from under it as quickly as I could. Indeed, I could hardly hold my breath now. I waded along with my head bent down, but I didn't reach the side of it. Then I turned the other way, but my hands, which I held up, still touched nothing but the hard, slimy bottom of the scow. I must have been wading up and down the length of the thing. I was bewildered. I couldn't think which way to turn. I could only think of one thing. I would be drowned in less than a minute. Scott would be head of the class. My mother, and little Helen—but I can't tell what my thoughts were then. They were dreadful. But just as I was thinking of Helen and mother, I saw through the water some white things, not far from me. I knew by their looks that they were a boy's legs.
I staggered toward them, and in a moment my hands went out of water, just at the side of the scow. I stood up, and my head with half my body came up into the air.
What a breath I drew! But I felt so weak and shaky that I had to take hold of the side of the scow, and stand there for a while before I waded ashore. The boy who was standing by me was Rectus. He did not have that name then, and I didn't know him.
"It must be pretty hard to stay under water so long," he said.
"Hard!" I answered, as soon as I could get my breath; "I should think so. Why, I came near being drowned!"
"Is that so?" said he; "I didn't know that. I saw you go down, and have been watching for you to come up. But I didn't expect you to come from under the scow."
How glad I was that he had been standing there watching for me to come up! If he had not been there, or if his legs had been green or the color of water, I believe I should have drowned.
I always liked the boy after that, though, of course, there was no particular reason for it. He was a boarder. His parents lived in New York. Samuel Colbert was his real name, and the title of Rectus he obtained at school by being so good. He scarcely ever did anything wrong, which was rather surprising to the rest of us, because he was not sickly or anything of that kind. After a while, we got into the way of calling him Rectus, and as he didn't seem to mind it, the name stuck to him. The boys generally liked him, and he got on quite well in the school,—in every way except in his studies. He was not a smart boy, and did not pretend to be.
I went right through the academy, from the lowest to the highest class, and when I left, the professor, as we called our principal, said that I was ready to go to college, and urged me very much to do so. But I was not in any hurry, and my parents agreed with me that, after four years of school-life, I had better wait a while before beginning a new course. All this disturbed the professor very much, but he insisted on my keeping up my studies, so as not to get rusty, and he came up to our house very often, for the purpose of seeing what I was doing in the study line, and how I was doing it.
I thought over things a good deal for myself, and a few months after I left the academy I made up my mind to travel a little. I talked about it at home, and it was generally thought to be a good idea, although my sister was in favor of it only in case I took her with me. Otherwise she opposed it. But there were a great many reasons why I could not take her. She was only eleven.
I had some money of my own, which I thought I would rather spend in travel than in any other way, and, as it was not a large sum, and as my father could not afford to add anything to it, my journey could not be very extensive. Indeed, I only contemplated going to Florida and perhaps a few other Southern States, and then—if it could be done—a visit to some of the West India islands, and, as it was winter-time, that would be a very good trip. My father did not seem to be afraid to trust me to go alone. He and the professor talked it over, and they thought that I would take good enough care of myself. The professor would have much preferred to see me go to college, but, as I was not to do that, he thought travelling much better for me than staying at home, although I made no promise about taking my books along. But it was pretty well settled that I was to go to college in the fall, and this consoled him a little.
The person who first suggested this travelling plan was our old physician, Dr. Mathews. I don't know exactly what he said about it, but I knew he thought I had been studying too hard, and needed to "let up" for a while. And I'm sure, too, that he was quite positive that I would have no let up as long as I staid in the same town with the professor.
Nearly a year before this time, Rectus had left the academy. He had never reached the higher classes,—in fact, he didn't seem to get on well at all. He studied well enough, but he didn't take hold of things properly, and I believe he really did not care to go through the school. But he was such a quiet fellow that we could not make much out of him. His father was very rich, and we all thought that Rectus was taken away to be brought up as a partner in the firm. But we really knew nothing about it: for, as I found out afterward, Rectus spent all his time, after he left school, in studying music.
Soon after my trip was all agreed upon and settled, father had to go to New York, and there he saw Mr. Colbert, and of course told him of my plans. That afternoon, old Colbert came to my father's hotel, and proposed to him that I should take his son with me. He had always heard, he said, that I was a sensible fellow, and fit to be trusted, and he would be very glad to have his boy travel with me. And he furthermore said that if I had the care of Samuel—for of course he didn't call his son Rectus—he would pay me a salary. He had evidently read about young English fellows travelling on the continent with their tutors, and I suppose he wanted me to be his son's tutor, or something like it.
When father told me what Mr. Colbert had proposed, I agreed instantly. I liked Rectus, and the salary would help immensely. I wrote to New York that very night, accepting the proposition.
When my friends in the town, and those at the school, heard that Rectus and I were going off together, they thought it an uncommonly good joke, and they crowded up to our house to see me about it.
"Two such good young men as you and Rectus travelling together ought to have a beneficial influence upon whole communities," said Harry Alden; and Scott remarked that if there should be a bad storm at sea, he would advise us two to throw everybody else overboard to the whales, for the other people would be sure to be the wicked ones. I am happy to say that I got a twist on Scott's ear that made him howl, and then mother came in and invited them all to come and take supper with me, the Tuesday before I started. We invited Rectus to come up from the city, but he did not make his appearance. However, we got on first-rate without him, and had a splendid time. There was never a woman who knew just how to make boys have a good time, like my mother.
I had been a long while on the steamer waiting for Rectus. She was to sail at three o'clock, and it was then after two. The day was clear and fine, but so much sitting and standing about had made me cold, so that I was very glad to see a carriage drive up with Rectus and his father and mother. I went down to them. I was anxious to see Rectus, for it had been nearly a year since we had met. He seemed about the same as he used to be, and had certainly not grown much. He just shook hands with me and said, "How d' ye do, Gordon?" Mr. and Mrs. Colbert seemed ever so much more pleased to see me, and when we went on the upper deck, the old gentleman took me into the captain's room, the door of which stood open. The captain was not there, but I don't believe Mr. Colbert would have cared if he had been. All he seemed to want was to find a place where we could get away from the people on deck. When he had partly closed the door, he said:
"Have you got your ticket?"
"Oh, yes!" I answered; "I bought that ten days ago. I wrote for it."
"That's right," said he, "and here is Sammy's ticket. I was glad to see that you had spoken about the other berth in your state-room being reserved for Sammy."
I thought he needn't have asked me if I had my ticket when he knew that I had bought it. But perhaps he thought I had lost it by this time. He was a very particular little man.
"Where do you keep your money?" he asked me, and I told him that the greater part of it—all but some pocket-money—was stowed away in an inside pocket of my vest.
"Very good," said he; "that's better than a pocket-book or belt: but you must pin it in. Now, here is Sammy's money—for his travelling expenses and his other necessities; I have calculated that that will be enough for a four months' trip, and you wont want to stay longer than that. But if this runs out, you can write to me. If you were going to Europe, now, I'd get you a letter of credit, but for your sort of travelling, you'd better have the money with you. I did think of giving you a draft on Savannah, but you'd have to draw the money there—and you might as well have it here. You're big enough to know how to take care of it." And with this he handed me a lot of banknotes.
"And now, what about your salary? Would you like to have it now, or wait until you come back?"
This question made my heart jump, for I had thought a great deal about how I was to draw that salary. So, quick enough, I said that I'd like to have it now.
"I expected so," said he, "and here's the amount for four months. I brought a receipt. You can sign it with a lead-pencil. That will do. Now put all this money in your inside pockets. Some in your vest, and some in your under-coat. Don't bundle it up too much, and be sure and pin it in. Pin it from the inside, right through the money, if you can. Put your clothes under your pillow at night. Good-bye! I expect they'll be sounding the gong directly, for us to get ashore."
And so he hurried out. I followed him, very much surprised. He had spoken only of money, and had said nothing about his son,—what he wished me to do for him, what plans of travel or instruction he had decided upon, or anything, indeed, about the duties for which I was to be paid. I had expected that he would come down early to the steamer and have a long talk about these matters. There was no time to ask him any questions now, for he was with his wife, trying to get her to hurry ashore. He was dreadfully afraid that they would stay on board too long, and be carried to sea.
Mrs. Colbert, however, did not leave me in any doubt as to what she wanted me to do. She rushed up to me, and seized me by both hands.
"Now you will take the greatest and the best care of my boy, wont you? You'll cherish him as the apple of your eye? You'll keep him out of every kind of danger? Now do take good care of him,—especially in storms."
I tried to assure Rectus's mother—she was a wide, good-humored lady—that I would do as much of all this as I could, and what I said seemed to satisfy her, for she wiped her eyes in a very comfortable sort of a way.
Mr. Colbert got his wife ashore as soon as he could, and Rectus and I stood on the upper deck and watched them get into the carriage and drive away. Rectus did not look as happy as I thought a fellow ought to look, when starting out on such a jolly trip as we expected this to be.
I proposed that we should go and look at our state-room, which was number twenty-two, and so we went below. The state-room hadn't much state about it. It was very small, with two shelves for us to sleep on. I let Rectus choose his shelf, and he took the lower one. This suited me very well, for I'd much rather climb over a boy than have one climb over me.
There wasn't anything else in the room to divide, and we were just about to come out and call the thing settled, when I heard a shout at the door. I turned around, and there stood Harry Alden, and Scott, and Tom Myers and his brother George!
I tell you, I was glad to see them. In spite of all my reasoning that it made no difference about anybody coming to see me off, it did make a good deal of difference. It was a lonely sort of business starting off in that way—especially after seeing Rectus's father and mother come down to the boat with him.
"We didn't think of this until this morning," cried Scott. "And then we voted it was too mean to let you go off without anybody to see you safely on board——"
"Oh, yes!" said I.
"And so our class appointed a committee," Scott went on, "to come down and attend to you, and we're the committee. It ought to have been fellows that had gone through the school, but there were none of them there."
"Irish!" said Harry.
"So we came," said Scott. "We raised all the spare cash there was in the class, and there was only enough to send four of us. We drew lots. If it hadn't been you, I don't believe the professor would have let us off. Any way, we missed the noon train, and were afraid, all the way here, that we'd be too late. Do you two fellows have to sleep in those 'cubby-holes'?"
"Certainly," said I; "they're big enough."
"Don't believe it," said Harry Alden; "they're too short."
"That's so," said Scott, who was rather tall for his age. "Let's try 'em."
This was agreed to on the spot, and all four of the boys took off their boots and got into the berths, while Rectus and I sat down on the little bench at the side of the room and laughed at them. Tom Myers and his brother George both climbed into the top berth at once, and as they found it was a pretty tight squeeze, they both tried to get out at once, and down they came on Scott, who was just turning out of the lower berth,—which was too long for him, in spite of all his talk,—and then there was a much bigger tussle, all around, than any six boys could make with comfort in a little room like that.
I hustled Tom Myers and his brother George out into the dining-room, and the other fellows followed.
"Is this where you eat?" asked Scott, looking up and down at the long tables, with the swinging shelves above them.
"No, this isn't where they eat," said Harry; "this is where they come to look at victuals, and get sick at the sight of them."
"Sick!" said I; "not much of it."
But the committee laughed, and didn't seem to agree with me.
"You'll be sick ten minutes after the boat starts," said Scott.
"We wont get into sea-sick water until we're out of the lower bay," I said. "And this isn't a boat—it's a ship. You fellows know lots!"
Tom Myers and his brother George were trying to find out why the tumblers and glasses were all stuck into holes in the shelves over the tables, when Harry Alden sung out:
"What's that swishing?"
"That what?" said I.
"There it goes again!" Harry cried. "Splashing!"
"It's the wheels!" exclaimed Rectus.
"That's so!" cried Scott. "The old thing's off! Rush up! Here! The hind-stairs! Quick!"
And upstairs to the deck we all went, one on top of another. The wheels were going around, and the steamer was off!
Already she was quite a distance from the wharf. I suppose the tide carried her out, as soon as the lines were cast off, for I'm sure the wheels had not been in motion half a minute before we heard them. But all that made no difference. We were off.
I never saw four such blank faces as the committee wore, when they saw the wide space of water between them and the wharf.
"Stop her!" cried Scott to me, as if I could do anything, and then he made a dive toward a party of men on the deck.
"They're passengers!" I cried. "We must find the captain."
"No, no!" said Harry. "Go for the steersman. Tell him to steer back! We mustn't be carried off!"
Tom Myers and his brother George had already started for the pilot-house, when Rectus shouted to them that he'd run down to the engineer and tell him to stop the engine. So they stopped, and Rectus was just going below when Scott called to him to hold up.
"You needn't be scared!" he said. (He had been just as much scared as anybody.) "That man over there says it will be all right. We can go back with the pilot. People often do that. It will be all the more fun. Don't bother the engineer. There's nothing I'd like better than a trip back with a pilot!"
"That's so," said Harry; "I never thought of the pilot."
"But are you sure he'll take you back?" asked Rectus, while Tom Myers and his brother George looked very pale and anxious.
"Take us? Of course he will," said Scott. "That's one of the things a pilot's for,—to take back passengers,—I mean people who are only going part way. Do you suppose the captain will want to take us all the way to Savannah for nothing?"
Rectus didn't suppose that, and neither did any of the rest of us, but I thought we ought to look up the captain and tell him.
"But, you see," said Scott, "it's just possible he might put back."
"Well, don't you want to go back?" I asked.
"Yes, of course, but I would like a sail back in a pilot-boat," said Scott, and Harry Alden agreed with him. Tom Myers and his brother George wanted to go back right away.
We talked the matter over a good deal. I didn't wish to appear as if I wanted to get rid of the fellows who had been kind enough to come all the way from Willisville to see me off, but I couldn't help thinking that it didn't look exactly fair and straightforward not to say that these boys were not passengers until the pilot was ready to go back. I determined to go and see about the matter, but I would wait a little while.
It was cool on deck, especially now that the vessel was moving along, but we all buttoned up our coats and walked up and down. The sun shone brightly, and the scene was so busy and lively with the tug-boats puffing about, and the vessels at anchor, and the ferry-boats, and a whole bay-full of sights curious to us country boys, that we all enjoyed ourselves very much—except Tom Myers and his brother George. They didn't look happy.
GOING BACK WITH THE PILOT.
We were pretty near the Narrows when I thought it was about time to let the captain, or one of the officers, know that there were some people on board who didn't intend to take the whole trip. I had read in the newspapers that committees and friends who went part way with distinguished people generally left them in the lower bay.
But I was saved the trouble of looking for an officer, for one of them, the purser, came along, collecting tickets. I didn't give him a chance to ask Scott or any of the other fellows for something that they didn't have, but went right up to him and told him how the matter stood.
"I must see the captain about this," he said, and off he went.
"He didn't look very friendly," said Scott, and I had to admit that he didn't.
In a few moments the captain came walking rapidly up to us. He was a tall man, dressed in blue, with side-whiskers, and an oil-cloth cap. The purser came up behind him.
"What's all this?" said the captain. "Are you not passengers, you boys?" He did not look very friendly, either, as he asked this question.
"Two of us are," I said, "but four of us were carried off accidentally."
"Accident? Fiddlesticks!" exclaimed the captain. "Didn't you know the vessel was starting? Hadn't you time to get off? Didn't you hear the gong? Everybody else heard it. Are you all deaf?"
This was a good deal to answer at once, so I just said that I didn't remember hearing any gong. Tom Myers and his brother George, however, spoke up, and said that they had heard a gong, they thought, but did not know what it was for.
"Why didn't you ask, then?" said the captain, who was getting worse in his humor. I had a good mind to tell him that it would take up a good deal of the crew's time if Tom Myers and his brother George asked about everything they didn't understand on board this ship, but I thought I had better not. I have no doubt the gong sounded when we were having our row in the state-room, and were not likely to pay attention to it even if we did hear it.
"And why, in the name of common sense," the captain went on, "didn't you come and report, the instant you found the vessel had started? Did you think we were fast to the pier all this time?"
Then Scott thought he might as well come out square with the truth; and he told how they made up their minds, after they found that the steamer had really started, with them on board, not to make any fuss about it, nor give anybody any trouble to stop the ship, or to put back, but just to stay quietly on board, and go back with the pilot. They thought that would be most convenient, all around.
"Go back with the pilot!" the captain cried. "Why, you young idiot, there is no pilot! Coastwise steamers don't carry pilots. I am my own pilot. There is no pilot going back!"
You ought to have seen Scott's face!
Nobody said anything. We all just stood and looked at the captain. Tears began to come into the eyes of Tom Myers and his brother George.
"What are they to do?" asked the purser of the captain. "Buy tickets for Savannah?"
"We can't do that," said Scott, quickly. "We haven't any money."
"I don't know what they're to do," replied the captain. "I'd like to chuck 'em overboard." And with this agreeable little speech he walked away.
The purser now took the two tickets for Rectus and myself, and saying: "We'll see what's to be done with the rest of you fellows," he walked away, too.
Then we all looked at one another. We were a pretty pale lot, and I believe that Rectus and I, who were all right, felt almost as badly as the four other boys, who were all wrong.
"We can't go to Savannah!" said Harry Alden. "What right have they to take us to Savannah?"
"Well, then, you'd better get out and go home," said Scott. "I don't so much mind their taking us to Savannah, for they can't make us pay if we haven't any money. But how are we going to get back? That's the question. And what'll the professor think? He'll write home that we've run away. And what'll we do in Savannah without any money?"
"You'd better have thought of some of these things before you got us into waiting to go back with the pilot," said Harry.
As for Tom Myers and his brother George, they just sat down and put their arms on the railing, and clapped their faces down on their arms. They cried all over their coat-sleeves, but kept as quiet as they could about it. Whenever these two boys had to cry before any of the rest of the school-fellows, they had learned to keep very quiet about it.
While the rest of us were talking away, and Scott and Harry finding fault with each other, the captain came back. He looked in a little better humor.
"The only thing that can be done with you boys," he said, "is to put you on some tug or small craft that's going back to New York. If we meet one, I'll lie to and let you off. But it will put me to a great deal of trouble, and we may meet with nothing that will take you aboard. You have acted very badly. If you had come right to me, or to any of the officers, the moment you found we had started, I could have easily put you on shore. There are lots of small boats about the piers that would have come out after you, or I might even have put back. But I can do nothing now but look out for some craft bound for New York that will take you aboard. If we don't meet one, you'll have to go on to Savannah."
This made us feel a little better. We were now in the lower bay, and there would certainly be some sort of a vessel that would stop for the boys. We all went to the forward deck and looked out. It was pretty cold there, and we soon began to shiver in the wind, but still we stuck it out.
There were a good many vessels, but most of them were big ones. We could hardly have the impudence to ask a great three-masted ship, under full sail, to stop and give us a lift to New York. At any rate, we had nothing to do with the asking. The captain would attend to that. But every time we came near a vessel going the other way, we looked about to see if we could see anything of an officer with a trumpet, standing all ready to sing out, "Sail ho!"
But, after a while, we felt so cold that we couldn't stand it any longer, and we went below. We might have gone and stood by the smoke-stack and warmed ourselves, but we didn't know enough about ships to think of this.
We hadn't been standing around the stove in the dining-room more than ten minutes, before the purser came hurrying toward us.
"Come, now," he said, "tumble forward! The captain's hailed a pilot-boat."
"Hurrah!" said Scott; "we're going back in a pilot-boat, after all!" and we all ran after the purser to the lower forward deck. Our engines had stopped, and not far from us was a rough-looking little schooner with a big "17" painted in black on her mainsail. She was "putting about," the purser said, and her sails were flapping in the wind.
There was a great change in the countenances of Tom Myers and his brother George. They looked like a couple of new boys.
"Isn't this capital?" said Scott. "Everything's turned out all right."
But all of a sudden he changed his tune.
"Look here!" said he to me, pulling me on one side; "wont that pilot want to be paid something? He wont stop his vessel and take us back for nothing, will he?"
I couldn't say anything about this, but I asked the purser, who still stood by us.
"I don't suppose he'll make any regular charge," said he; "but he'll expect you to give him something,—whatever you please."
"But we haven't anything," said Scott to me. "We have our return tickets to Willisville, and that's about all."
"Perhaps we can't go back, after all," said Harry, glumly, while Tom Myers and his brother George began to drop their lower jaws again.
I did not believe that the pilot-boat people would ask to see the boys' money before they took them on board; but I couldn't help feeling that it would be pretty hard for them to go ashore at the city and give nothing for their passages but promises, and so I called Rectus on one side, and proposed to lend the fellows some money. He agreed, and I unpinned a banknote and gave it to Scott. He was mightily tickled to get it, and vowed he'd send it back to me in the first letter he wrote (and he did it, too).
The pilot-schooner did not come very near us, but she lowered a boat with two men in it, and they rowed up to the steamer. Some of our sailors let down a pair of stairs, and one of the men in the boat came up to see what was wanted. The purser was telling him, when the captain, who was standing on the upper deck, by the pilot-house, sung out:
"Hurry up there, now, and don't keep this vessel here any longer. Get 'em out as quick as you can, Mr. Brown."
The boys didn't stop to have this kind invitation repeated, and Scott scuffled down the stairs into the boat as fast as he could, followed closely by Harry Alden. Tom Myers and his brother George stopped long enough to bid each of us good-bye, and shake hands with us, and then they went down the stairs. They had to climb over the railing to the platform in front of the wheel-house to get to the stairs, and as the steamer rolled a little, and the stairs shook, they went down very slowly, backward, and when they got to the bottom were afraid to step into the boat, which looked pretty unsteady as it wobbled about under them.
"Come, there! Be lively!" shouted the captain.
Just then, Rectus made a step forward. He had been looking very anxiously at the boys as they got into the boat, but he hadn't said anything.
"Where are you going?" said I; for, as quick as a flash, the thought came into my mind that Rectus's heart had failed him, and that he would like to back out.
"I think I'll go back with the boys," he said, making another step toward the top of the stairs, down which the man from the pilot-boat was hurrying.
"Just you try it!" said I, and I put out my arm in front of him.
He didn't try it, and I'm glad he didn't, for I should have been sorry enough to have had the boys go back and say that when they last saw Rectus and I we were having a big fight on the deck of the steamer.
The vessel now started off, and Rectus and I went to the upper deck and stood and watched the little boat, as it slowly approached the schooner. We were rapidly leaving them, but we saw the boys climb on board, and one of them—it must have been Scott—waved his handkerchief to us. I waved mine in return, but Rectus kept his in his pocket. I don't think he felt in a wavy mood.
While we were standing looking at the distant pilot-boat, I began to consider a few matters; and the principal thing was this: How were Rectus and I to stand toward each other? Should we travel like a couple of school-friends, or should I make him understand that he was under my charge and control, and must behave himself accordingly? I had no idea what he thought of the matter, and by the way he addressed me when we met, I supposed that it was possible that he looked upon me very much as he used to when we went to school together. If he had said Mr. Gordon, it would have been more appropriate, I thought, and would have encouraged me, too, in taking position as his supervisor. As far as my own feelings were concerned, I think I would have preferred to travel about on a level with Rectus, and to have a good time with him, as two old school-fellows might easily have, even if one did happen to be two years older than the other. But that would not be earning my salary. After a good deal of thought, I came to the conclusion that I would let things go on as they would, for a while, giving Rectus a good deal of rope; but the moment he began to show signs of insubordination, I would march right on him, and quell him with an iron hand. After that, all would be plain sailing, and we could have as much fun as we pleased, for Rectus would know exactly how far he could go.
There were but few passengers on deck, for it was quite cold, and it now began to grow dark, and we went below. Pretty soon the dinner-bell rang, and I was glad to hear it, for I had the appetite of a horse. There was a first-rate dinner, ever so many different kinds of dishes, all up and down the table, which had ridges running lengthwise, under the table-cloth, to keep the plates from sliding off, if a storm should come up. Before we were done with dinner the shelves above the table began to swing a good deal,—or rather the vessel rolled and the shelves kept their places,—so I knew we must be pretty well out to sea, but I had not expected it would be so rough, for the day had been fine and clear. When we left the table, it was about as much as we could do to keep our feet, and in less than a quarter of an hour I began to feel dreadfully. I stuck it out as long as I could, and then I went to bed. The old ship rolled, and she pitched, and she heaved, and she butted, right and left, against the waves, and made herself just as uncomfortable for human beings as she could, but, for all that, I went to sleep after a while.
I don't know how long I slept, but when I woke up, there was Rectus, sitting on a little bench by the state-room wall, with his feet braced against the berth. He was hard at work sucking a lemon. I turned over and looked down at him. He didn't look a bit sick. I hated to see him eating lemons.
"Don't you feel badly, Rectus?" said I.
"Oh no!" said he; "I'm all right. You ought to suck a lemon. Have one?"
I declined his offer. The idea of eating or drinking anything was intensely disagreeable to me. I wished that Rectus would put down that lemon. He did throw it away after a while, but he immediately began to cut another one.
"Rectus," said I, "you'll make yourself sick. You'd better go to bed."
"It's just the thing to stop me from being sick," said he, and at that minute the vessel gave her stern a great toss over sideways, which sent Rectus off his seat, head foremost into the wash-stand. I was glad to see it. I would have been glad of almost anything that stopped that lemon business.
But it didn't stop it; and he only picked himself up, and sat down again, his lemon at his mouth.
"Rectus!" I cried, leaning out of my berth. "Put down that lemon and go to bed!"
He put down the lemon without a word, and went to bed. I turned over with a sense of relief. Rectus was subordinate!
RECTUS OPENS HIS EYES.
I was all right the next day, and we staid on deck most of the time, standing around the smoke-stack when our noses got a little blue with the cold. There were not many other people on deck. I was expecting young Rectus to have his turn at sea-sickness, but he disappointed me. He spent a good deal of his time calculating our position on a little folding-map he had. He inquired how fast we were going, and then he worked the whole thing out, from Sandy Hook to Savannah, marking on the map the hours at which he ought to be at such and such a place. He tried his best to get his map of the course all right, and made a good many alterations, so that we were off Cape Charles several times in the course of the day. Rectus had never been very good at calculations, and I was glad to see that he was beginning to take an interest in such things.
The next morning, just after day-break, we were awakened by a good deal of tramping about on deck, over our heads, and we turned out, sharp, to see what the matter was. Rectus wanted me to wait, after we were dressed, until he could get out his map and calculate where we were, but I couldn't stop for such nonsense, for I knew that his kind of navigation didn't amount to much, and so we scrambled up on deck. The ship was pitching and tossing worse than she had done yet. We had been practising the "sea-leg" business the day before, and managed to walk along pretty well; but this morning our sea-legs didn't work at all, and we couldn't take a step without hanging on to something. When we got on deck, we found that the first officer, or mate,—his name was Randall,—with three or four sailors, was throwing the lead to see how deep the water was. We hung on to a couple of stays and watched them. It was a rousing big lead, a foot long, and the line ran out over a pulley at the stern. A sailor took the lead a good way forward before he threw it, so as to give it a chance to get to the bottom before the steamer passed over it and began to tow it. When they pulled it in, we were surprised to see that it took three men to do it. Then Mr. Randall scooped out a piece of tallow that was in a hollow in the bottom of the lead, and took it to show to the captain, whose room was on deck. I knew this was one way they had of finding out where they were, for they examined the sand or mud on the tallow, and so knew what sort of a bottom they were going over; and all the different kinds of bottom were marked out on their charts.
As Mr. Randall passed us, Rectus sung out to him, and asked him where we were now.
"Off Hatteras," said he, quite shortly.
I didn't think Rectus should have bothered Mr. Randall with questions when he was so busy; but after he went into the captain's room, the men did not seem to have much to do, and I asked one of them how deep it was.
"About seventeen fathoms," said he.
"Can we see Cape Hatteras?" I said, trying to get a good look landward as the vessel rolled over that way.
"No," said the man. "We could see the light just before day-break, but the weather's gettin' thick now, and we're keepin' out."
It was pretty thick to the west, that was true. All that I could see in the distance was a very mixed-up picture of wave-tops and mist. I knew that Cape Hatteras was one of the most dangerous points on the coast, and that sailors were always glad when they had safely rounded it, and so I began to take a good deal of interest in what was going on. There was a pretty strong wind from the south-east, and we had no sail set at all. Every now and then the steamer would get herself up on top of a big wave, and then drop down, sideways, as if she were sliding off the top of a house. The mate and the captain soon came out on deck together, and the captain went forward to the pilot-house, while Mr. Randall came over to his men, and they got ready to throw the lead again. It didn't seem to me that the line ran out as far as it did the last time, and I think I heard Mr. Randall say, "Fourteen." At any rate, a man was sent forward to the pilot-house, and directly we heard the rudder-chains creaking, and the big iron arms of the rudder, which were on deck, moved over toward the landward side of the vessel, and I knew by that that the captain was putting her head out to sea. Mr. Randall took out the tallow from the lead and laid it in an empty bucket that was lashed to the deck. He seemed to be more anxious now about the depth of water than about the kind of bottom we were passing over. The lead was just about to be thrown again, when Rectus, who had taken the tallow out of the bucket, which stood near us, and had examined it pretty closely, started off to speak to Mr. Randall, with the tallow in his hand.
"Look here!" said Rectus, holding on to the railing. "I'll tell you what would be a sight better than tallow for your leads. Just you get some fine, white Castile-soap, and——"
"Confound you!" roared Mr. Randall, turning savagely on him. "Hold your tongue! For three cents I'd tie you to this line and drag the bottom with you!"
Rectus made no answer. He didn't offer him the three cents, but came away promptly, and put the piece of tallow back in the bucket. He didn't get any comfort from me.
"Haven't you got any better sense," I said to him, "than to go, with your nonsense, to the first officer at such a time as this? I never saw such a boy!"
"But the soap is better than the tallow," said Rectus. "It's finer and whiter, and would take up the sand better."
"No, it wouldn't," I growled at him; "the water would wash it out in half a minute. You needn't be trying to tell anybody on this ship what they ought to do."
"But supposing——" said he.
"No," I exclaimed, in a way that made him jump, "there's no supposing about it. If you know their business better than they do, why, just let it stand that way. It wont hurt you."
I was pretty mad, I must say, for I didn't want to see a fellow like Rectus trying to run the ship. But you couldn't stay mad with Rectus long. He didn't mean any wrong, and he gave no words back, and so, as you might expect, we were all right again by breakfast-time.
The next morning we were surprised to feel how warm it was on deck. We didn't need our overcoats. The sea was ever so much smoother, too. There were two or three ladies on deck, who could walk pretty well.
About noon, I was standing on the upper deck, when I saw Rectus coming toward me, looking very pale. He was generally a dark sort of a boy, and it made a good deal of difference in him to look pale. I was sure he was going to be sick, at last,—although it was rather queer for him to knock under when the voyage was pretty nearly over,—and I began to laugh, when he said to me, in a nervous sort of way:
"I tell you what it is, I believe that we've gone past the mouth of the Savannah River. According to my calculations," said he, pointing to a spot on his map, which he held in his hand, "we must be down about here, off the Georgia coast."
I have said that I began to laugh, and now I kept on. I just sat down and roared, so that the people looked at me.
"You needn't laugh," said Rectus. "I believe it's so."
"All right, my boy," said I; "but we wont tell the captain. Just let's wait and have the fun of seeing him turn around and go back."
Rectus didn't say anything to this, but walked off with his map.
Now, that boy was no fool. I believe that he was beginning to feel like doing something, and, as he had never done anything before, he didn't know how.
About twelve o'clock we reached the mouth of the Savannah (without turning back), and sailed twenty miles up the river to the city.
We were the first two persons off that vessel, and we took a hack to the hotel that the purser had recommended to us, and had the satisfaction of reaching it about ten minutes ahead of the people who came in the omnibus; although I don't know that that was of much use to us, as the clerk gave us top rooms, any way.
We went pretty nearly all over Savannah that afternoon and the next day. It's a beautiful city. There is a little public square at nearly every corner, and one of the wide streets has a double row of big trees running right down the middle of it, with grass under them, and, what seemed stranger yet, the trees were all in leaf, little children were playing on the grass, and the weather was warm and splendid. The gardens in front of the houses were full of roses and all sorts of flowers in blossom, and Rectus wanted to buy a straw hat and get his linen trousers out of his trunk.
"No, sir," said I; "I'm not going around with a fellow wearing a straw hat and linen breeches in January. You don't see anybody else wearing them."
"No," said he; "but it's warm enough."
"You may think so," I answered; "but I guess they know their own business best. This is their coldest season, and if they wore straw hats and linen clothes now, what would they put on when the scorching hot weather comes?"
Rectus didn't know, and that matter was dropped. There is a pretty park at the back of the town, and we walked about it, and sat under the trees, and looked at the flowers, and the fountain playing, and enjoyed it ever so much. If it had been summer, and we had been at home, we shouldn't have cared so much for these things; but sitting under trees, and lounging about over the green grass, while our folks at home were up to their eyes, or thereabouts, in snow and ice, delighted both of us, especially Rectus. I never heard him talk so much.
We reached Savannah on Tuesday, and were to leave in the steamer for St. Augustine Thursday afternoon. Thursday morning we went out to the cemetery of Bonaventure, one of the loveliest places in the whole world, where there are long avenues of live-oaks that stretch from one side of the road to the other, like great covered arbors, and from every limb of every tree hang great streamers of gray moss, four and five feet long. It was just wonderful to look at. The whole place seemed dripping with waving fringe. Rectus said it looked to him as if this was a graveyard for old men, and that every old fellow had had to hang his beard on a tree before he went down into his grave.
This was a curious idea for Rectus to have, and the colored man who was driving us—we went out in style, in a barouche, but I wouldn't do that kind of thing again without making a bargain beforehand—turned around to look at him as if he thought he was a little crazy. Rectus was certainly in high spirits. There was a sort of change coming over him. His eyes had a sparkle in them that I never saw before. No one could say that he didn't take interest in things now. I think the warm weather had something to do with it.
"I tell you what it is, Gordon," said he,—he still called me Gordon, and I didn't insist on "Mr.," because I thought that, on the whole, perhaps it wouldn't do,—"I'm waking up. I feel as if I had been asleep all my life, and was just beginning to open my eyes."
A graveyard seemed a queer place to start out fresh in this way, but it wasn't long before I found that, if Rectus hadn't really wakened up, he could kick pretty hard in his sleep.
Nothing much happened on the trip down to St. Augustine, for we travelled nearly all the way by night. Early the next morning we were lying off that old half Spanish town, wishing the tide would rise so that we could go in. There is a bar between two islands that lie in front of the town, and you have to go over that to get into the harbor. We were on the "Tigris," the Bahama steamer that touched at St. Augustine on her way to Nassau, and she couldn't get over that bar until high tide. We were dreadfully impatient, for we could see the old town, with its trees, all green and bright, and its low, wide houses, and a great light-house, marked like a barber's pole or a stick of old-fashioned mint-candy, and, what was best of all, a splendid old castle, or fort, built by the Spaniards three hundred years ago! We declared we would go there the moment we set foot on shore. In fact, we soon had about a dozen plans for seeing the town.
If we had been the pilots, we would have bumped that old steamer over the bar, somehow or other, long before the real pilot started her in; but we had to wait. When we did go in, and steamed along in front of the old fort, we could see that it was gray and crumbling, and moss-covered in places, and it was just like an oil-painting. The whole town, in fact, was like an oil-painting to us.
The moment the stairs were put down, we scuffled ashore, and left the steamer to go on to the Bahamas whenever she felt like it. We gave our valises and trunk-checks to a negro man with a wagon, and told him to take the baggage to a hotel that we could see from the wharf, and then we started off for the fort. But on my way along the wharf I made up my mind that, as the fort had been there for three hundred years, it would probably stand a while longer, and that we had better go along with our baggage, and see about getting a place to live in, for we were not going to be in any hurry to leave St. Augustine.
We didn't go to any hotel at all. I had a letter of introduction to a Mr. Cholott, and on our way up from the wharf, I heard some one call out that name to a gentleman. So I remembered my letter, and went up and gave it to him. He was a first-rate man, and when we told him where we were going, we had quite a talk, and he said he would advise us to go to a boarding-house. It would be cheaper, and if we were like most boys that he knew, we'd like it better. He said that board could be had with several families that he knew, and that some of the Minorcans took boarders in the winter.
Of course, Rectus wanted to know, right away, what a Minorcan was. I didn't think it was exactly the place to ask questions which probably had long answers, but Mr. Cholott didn't seem to be in a hurry, and he just started off and told us about the Minorcans. A chap called Turnbull, more than a hundred years ago, brought over to Florida a lot of the natives of the island of Minorca, in the Mediterranean, and began a colony. But he was a mean sort of chap; he didn't care for anything but making money out of the Minorcans, and it wasn't long before they found it out, for he was really making slaves of them. So they just rose up and rebelled, and left old Turnbull to run his colony by himself. Served him right, too. They started off on their own accounts, and most of them came to this town, where they settled, and have had a good time ever since. There are a great many of them here now, descendants of the original Minorcans, and they keep pretty much together and keep their old name, too. They look a good deal like Spaniards, Mr. Cholott said, and many of them are very excellent people.
Rectus took the greatest interest in these Minorcans, but we didn't take board with any of them. We went to the house of a lady who was a friend of Mr. Cholott, and she gave us a splendid room, that looked right out over the harbor. We could see the islands, and the light-house, and the bar with the surf outside, and even get a glimpse of the ocean. We saw the "Tigris" going out over the bar. The captain wanted to get out on the same tide he came in on, and he did not lose any time. As soon as she got fairly out to sea, we hurried down, to go to the fort. But first, Rectus said, we ought to go and buy straw hats. There were lots of men with straw hats in St. Augustine. This was true, for it was just as warm here as we have it in June, and we started off to look for a straw-hat store.
We found that we were in one of the queerest towns in the world. Rectus said it was all back-streets, and it looked something that way. The streets were very narrow, and none of them had any pavement but sand and powdered shell, and very few had any sidewalks. But they didn't seem to be needed. Many of the houses had balconies on the second story, which reached toward each other from both sides of the street, and this gave the town a sociable appearance. There were lots of shops, and most of them sold sea-beans. There were other things, like alligators' teeth, and shells, and curiosities, but the great trade of the town seemed to be in sea-beans.[A] Rectus and I each bought one for our watch-chains.
I think we tried on every straw hat in town, and we bought a couple in a little house, where two or three young women were making them. Rectus asked me, in a low voice, if I didn't think one of the young women was a Mohican. I hushed him up, for it was none of his business if she was. I had a good deal of trouble in making Rectus say "Minorcan." Whenever we had met a dark-haired person, he had said to me: "Do you think that is a Mohican?" It was a part of his old school disposition to get things wrong in this way. But he never got angry when I corrected him. His temper was perfect.
I bought a common-sized hat, but Rectus bought one that spread out far and wide. It made him look like a Japanese umbrella. We stuffed our felt hats into our pockets, and started for the fort. But I looked at my watch and found it was supper-time. I had suspected it when I came out of the hat-shop. The sea-trip and fine air here had given us tremendous appetites, which our walk had sharpened.
So we turned back at once and hurried home, agreeing to begin square on the fort the next day.
[A] Sea-beans are seeds of a West Indian tree. They are of different colors, very hard, and capable of being handsomely polished. They are called "sea-beans" because great numbers of them drift up on the Florida and adjacent coasts.
TO THE RESCUE.
The next morning, I was awakened by Rectus coming into the room.
"Hello!" said I; "where have you been? I didn't hear you get up."
"I called you once or twice," said Rectus, "but you were sleeping so soundly I thought I'd let you alone. I knew you'd lost some sleep by being sick on the steamer."
"That was only the first night," I exclaimed. "I've made up that long ago. But what got you up so early?"
"I went out to take a warm salt-water bath before breakfast," answered Rectus. "There's an eight-cornered bath-house right out here, almost under the window, where you can have your sea-water warm if you like it."
"Do they pump it from the tropics?" I asked, as I got up and began to dress.
"No; they heat it in the bath-house. I had a first-rate bath, and I saw a Minorcan."
"You don't say so!" I cried. "What was he like? Had he horns? And how did you know what he was?"
"I asked him," said Rectus.
"Asked him!" I exclaimed. "You don't mean to say that you got up early and went around asking people if they were Mohicans!"
"Minorcans, I said."
"Well, it's bad enough, even if you got the name right. Did you ask the man plump to his face?"
"Yes. But he first asked me what I was. He was an oldish man, and I met him just as I was coming out of the bath-house. He had a basket of clams on his arm, and I asked him where he caught them. That made him laugh, and he said he dug them out of the sand under the wharf. Then he asked me if my name was Cisneros, and when I told him it was not, he said that I looked like a Spaniard, and he thought that that might be my name. And so, as he had asked me about myself, I asked him if he was a Minorcan, and he said 'yes.'"
"And what then?" I asked.
"Nothing," said Rectus. "He went on with his clams, and I came home."
"You didn't seem to make much out of him, after all," said I. "I don't wonder he thought you were a Spaniard, with that hat. I told you you'd make a show of yourself. But what are you going to do with your Minorcans, Rectus, when you catch them?"
He laughed, but didn't mention his plans.
"I didn't know how you got clams," he said. "I thought you caught them some way. It would never have entered my head to dig for them."
"There's lots to learn in this town about fish, and ever so many other things besides; and I tell you what it is, Rectus, as soon as we get through with the fort,—and I don't know how long that will take us, for I heard on the steamer that it had underground dungeons,—we'll go off on a first-class exploring expedition."
That suited Rectus exactly.
After breakfast we started for the fort. It is just outside of the town, and you can walk all the way on the sea-wall, which is about a yard wide on top,—just a little too wide for one fellow, but not quite wide enough for two.
The United States government holds the fort now, of course, and calls it Fort Marion, but the old Spanish name was San Marco, and we disdained to call it anything else. When we went over the drawbridge, and across the moat, we saw the arms of Spain on a shield over the great gate of the fort. We walked right in, into a wide hall, with dark door-ways on each side, and then out into a great inclosed space, like a parade-ground, in the centre of the fort, and here we saw a whole crowd of Indians. We didn't expect to find Indians here, and we were very much surprised. They did not wear Indian clothes, but were dressed in United States military uniform. They didn't look like anything but Indians, though, for all that. I asked one of them if he belonged here, and he smiled and said "How?" and held out his hand. We both shook it, but could make nothing out of him. A good many of them now came up and said "How?" to us, and shook hands, and we soon found that this meant "How d' ye do?" and was about all they knew of English.
We were lucky enough, before we got through shaking hands with our new friends, to see Mr. Cholott coming toward us, and he immediately took us in charge, and seemed to be glad to have a job of the kind. There was nothing about the fort that he didn't know. He told us that the Indians were prisoners, taken in the far West by United States troops, and that some of them were the worst Indians in the whole country. They were safe enough now, though, and were held here as hostages. Some were chiefs, and they were all noted men,—some as murderers, and others in less important ways. They had been here for some years, and a few of them could speak a little English.
He then took us all over the fort,—up an inclined plane to the top of the ramparts, and into the Indian barracks on one of the wide walls, where we saw a lot of Cheyennes and Kiowas, and Indians from other tribes, sitting around and making bows and arrows, and polishing sea-beans to sell to visitors. At each corner of the fort was a "lookout tower,"—a little box of a place, stuck out from the top of the wall, with loopholes and a long, narrow passage leading to it, with a high wall on each side to protect from bullets and arrows the man who went to look out. One of the towers had been knocked off, probably by a cannon-ball. These towers and slim little passages took our fancy greatly. Then Mr. Cholott took us downstairs to see the dungeons. He got the key and gave it to a big old Indian, named Red Horse, who went ahead with a lighted kerosene-lamp.
We first saw the dungeon where the Indian chief, Osceola, was shut up during the Seminole war. It was a dreary place. There was another chief, Wild Cat, who was imprisoned with Osceola, and one night Osceola "boosted" him to a high window, where he squeezed through the bars and got away. If Osceola had had any one to give him a lift, I suppose he would have been off, too. Rectus and I wondered how the two Indians managed this little question of who should be hoisted. Perhaps they tossed up, or perhaps Wild Cat was the lighter of the two. The worst dungeon, though, was a place that was discovered by accident about thirty years ago. There was nothing there when we went in; but, when it was first found, a chained skeleton was lying on the floor. Through a hole in the wall we crept into another dungeon, worse yet, in which two iron cages were found hung to the wall, with skeletons in them. It seemed like being in some other country to stand in this dark little dungeon, and hear these dreadful stories, while a big Indian stood grinning by, holding a kerosene-lamp.
Mr. Cholott told us that one of the cages and the bones could now be seen in Washington.
After Mr. Cholott went home, we tramped all over the fort again by ourselves, and that afternoon we sat on the outer wall that runs along the harbor-front of the fort, and watched the sail-boats and the fishermen in their "dug-outs." There were a couple of sharks swimming up and down in front of the town, and every now and then they would come up and show themselves. They were the first sharks we had ever seen.
Rectus was worked up about the Indians. We had been told that, while a great many of the chiefs and braves imprisoned here were men known to have committed crimes, still there were others who had done nothing wrong, and had been captured and brought here as prisoners, simply because, in this way, the government would have a good hold on their tribes.
Rectus thought this was the worst kind of injustice, and I agreed with him, although I didn't see what we were going to do about it.
On our way home we met Rectus's Minorcan; he was a queer old fellow.
"Hello!" said he, when he saw Rectus. "Have you been out catching clams?"
We stopped and talked a little while about the sharks, and then the old man asked Rectus why he wanted to know, that morning, whether he was a Minorcan or not.
"I just wanted to see one," said Rectus, as if he had been talking of kangaroos or giraffes. "I've been thinking a good deal about them, and their bold escape from slavery, and their——"
"Slavery!" sung out the old man. "We were never slaves! What do you mean by that? Do you take us for niggers?"
He was pretty mad, and I don't wonder, if that was the way he understood Rectus, for he was just as much a white man as either of us.
"Oh no!" said Rectus. "But I've heard all about you, and that tyrant Turnbull, and the way you cast off his yoke. I mean your fathers, of course."
"I reckon you've heard a little too much, young man," said the Minorcan. "Somebody's been stuffin' you. You'd better get a hook and line, and go out to catch clams."
"Why, you don't understand me!" cried Rectus. "I honor you for it."
The old man looked at him and then at me, and then he laughed. "All right, bub," said he. "If ever you want to hire a boat, I've got one. My name is Menendez. Just ask for my boat at the club-house wharf." And then he went on.
"That's all you get for your sympathy with oppressed people," said Rectus. "They call you bub."
"Well, that old fellow isn't oppressed," I said; "and if any of his ancestors were, I don't suppose he cares about remembering it. We ought to hire his boat some time."
That evening we took a walk along the sea-wall. It was a beautiful starlight night, and a great many people were walking about. When we got down near the fort,—which looked bigger and grayer than ever by the starlight,—Rectus said he would like to get inside of it by night, and I agreed that it would be a good thing to do. So we went over the drawbridge (this place has a drawbridge, and portcullises, and barbicans, and demi-lunes, and a moat, just as if it were a castle or a fort of some old country in Europe),—but the big gate was shut. We didn't care to knock, for all was dark, and we came away. Rectus proposed that we should reconnoitre the place, and I agreed, although, in reality, there wasn't anything to reconnoitre. We went down into the moat, which was perfectly dry, and very wide, and walked all around the fort.
We examined the walls, which were pretty jagged and rough in some places, and we both agreed that if we had to do it, we believed we could climb to the top.
As we walked home, Rectus proposed that we should try to climb in some night.
"What's the good?" I asked.
"Why, it would be a splendid thing," said he, "to scale the walls of an old Middle-Age fort, like that. Let's try it, anyway."
I couldn't help thinking that it would be rather a fine thing to do, but it did seem rather foolish to risk our necks to get over the walls at night, when we could walk in, whenever we pleased, all day.
But it was of no use to say anything like that to Rectus. He was full of the idea of scaling the walls, and I found that, when the boy did get worked up to anything, he could talk first-rate, and before we went to sleep I got the notion of it, too, and we made up our minds that we would try it.
The next day we walked around the walls two or three times, and found a place where we thought we could get up, if we had a rope fastened to the top of the wall. When General Oglethorpe bombarded the fort,—at the time the Spaniards held it,—he made a good many dents in the wall, and these would help us. I did climb up a few feet, but we saw that it would never do to try to get all the way up without a rope.
How to fasten the rope on the top of the wall was the next question. We went in the fort, and found that if we could get a stout grapnel over the wall, it would probably catch on the inside of the coping, and give us a good enough hold. There is a wide walk on top, with a low wall on the outside, just high enough to shelter cannon, and to enable the garrison to dodge musketry and arrows.
We had a good deal of trouble finding a rope, but we bought one, at last, which was stout enough,—the man asked us if we were going to fish for sharks, and didn't seem to believe us when we said no,—and we took it to our room, and made knots in it about a foot apart. The fort walls are about twenty feet high, and we made the rope plenty long enough, with something to spare. We didn't have much trouble to find a grapnel. We bought a small one, but it was strong enough. We talked the matter over a great deal, and went to the fort several times, making examinations, and measuring the height of the wall, from the top, with a spool of cotton.
It was two or three days before we got everything ready, and in our trips to the fort we saw a good deal of the Indians. We often met them in the town, too, for they were frequently allowed to go out and walk about by themselves. There was no danger, I suppose, of their trying to run away, for they were several thousand miles from their homes, and they probably would not care to run to any other place with no larger stock of the English language than one word, "How?" Some of them, however, could talk a little English. There was one big fellow—he was probably the largest of them all—who was called "Maiden's Heart." I couldn't see how his name fitted, for he looked like an out-and-out savage, and generally wore a grin that seemed wicked enough to frighten settlers out of his part of the country. But he may have had a tender spot, somewhere, which entitled him to his name, and he was certainly very willing to talk to us, to the extent of his ability, which was not very great. We managed, however, to have some interesting, though rather choppy, conversations.
There was another fellow, a young chief, called Crowded Owl, that we liked better than any of the others, although we couldn't talk to him at all. He was not much older than I was, and so seemed to take to us. He would walk all around with us, and point out things. We had bought some sea-beans of him, and it may be that he hoped to sell us some more. At any rate, he was very friendly.
We met Mr. Cholott several times, and he told us of some good places to go to, and said he'd take us out fishing before long. But we were in no hurry for any expedition until we had carried out our little plan of surprising the fort. I gave the greater part of our money, however, to Mr. Cholott to lock up in his safe. I didn't like old Mr. Colbert's plan of going about with your capital pinned to your pockets. It might do while we were travelling, but I would rather have had it in drafts or something else not easily lost.
We had a good many discussions about our grapnel. We did not know whether there was a sentinel on duty in the fort at night or not, but supposed there was, and, if so, he would be likely to hear the grapnel when we threw it up and it hit the stones. We thought we could get over this difficulty by wrapping the grapnel in cotton wool. This would deaden the sound when it struck, but would not prevent the points of the hooks from holding to the inner edge of the wall. Everything now seemed all right, except that we had no object in view after we got over the wall. I always like to have some reason for doing a thing, especially when it's pretty hard to do. I said this to Rectus, and he agreed with me.
"What I would like to do," said he, "would be to benefit the innocent Indian prisoners."
"I don't know what we can do for them," said I. "We can't let them out, and they'd all go back again if we did."
"No, we can't do that," said he; "but we ought to do something. I've been around looking at them all carefully, and I feel sure that there are at least forty men among those Indians who haven't done a thing to warrant shutting them up."
"Why, how do you know?" I exclaimed.
"I judge from their faces," said Rectus.
Of course this made me laugh, but he didn't care.
"I'll tell you what we could do," said he; "we could enter a protest that might be heard of, and do some good. We could take a pot of black paint and a brush with us, and paint on one of the doors that open into the inner square,—where everybody could see it,—something like this: 'Let the righteous Indian go free.' That would create talk, and something might be done."
"Who'd do it?" said I. "The captain in command couldn't. He has no power to let any of them go free."
"Well, we might address the notice to the President of the United States—in big black letters. They could not conceal such a thing."
"Well, now, look here, Rectus," said I; "this thing is going to cost too much money. That rope was expensive, and the grapnel cost a good deal more than we thought it would; and now you want a big pot of black paint. We mustn't spend our money too fast, and if we've got to economize, let's begin on black paint. You can write your proclamation on paper, and stick it on the door with tacks. They could send that easier to the President than they could send a whole door."
"You may make as much fun as you please," said Rectus, "but I'm going to write it out now."
And so he did, in big letters, on half a sheet of foolscap.
STORMING SAN MARCO.
We started out on our storming expedition on a Tuesday night, about nine o'clock; we had a latch-key, so we could come home when we pleased. Rectus carried the rope, and I had the grapnel, wrapped in its cotton wool. We put newspapers around these things, and made pretty respectable packages of them. We did not go down the sea-wall, but walked around through some of the inner streets. It seemed to us like a curious expedition. We were not going to do anything wrong, but we had no idea what the United States government would think about it. We came down to the fort on its landward side, but our attack was to be made upon the waterfront, and so we went around that way, on the side farthest from the town. There were several people about yet, and we had to wait. We dropped our packages into the moat, and walked about on the water-battery, which is between the harbor and the moat, and is used as a sort of pleasure-ground by the people of the town. It was a pretty dark night, although the stars were out, and the last of the promenaders soon went home; and then, after giving them about ten minutes to get entirely out of sight and hearing, we jumped down into the moat, which is only five or six feet below the water-battery, and, taking our packages, went over to that part of the wall which we had fixed upon for our assault.
We fastened the rope to the grapnel, and then Rectus stood back while I made ready for the throw. It was a pretty big throw, almost straight up in the air, but I was strong, and was used to pitching, and all that sort of thing. I coiled the rope on the ground, took the loose end of it firmly in my left hand, and then, letting the grapnel hang from my right hand until it nearly touched the ground, I swung it round and round, perpendicularly, and when it had gone round three or four times, I gave it a tremendous hurl upward.
It rose beautifully, like a rocket, and fell inside of the ramparts, making only a little thud of a sound.
"First-rate!" said Rectus, softly; and I felt pretty proud myself.
I pulled on the rope, and found the grapnel had caught. I hung with my whole weight on it, but it held splendidly.
"Now, then," said I to Rectus, "you can climb up. Go slowly, and be very careful. There's no hurry. And mind you take a good hold when you get to the top."
We had arranged that Rectus was to go first. This did not look very brave on my part, but I felt that I wanted to be under him, while he was climbing, so that I could break his fall if he should slip down. It would not be exactly a perpendicular fall, for the wall slanted a little, but it would be bad enough. However, I had climbed up worse places than that, and Rectus was very nimble; so I felt there was no great danger.
Up he went, hand over hand, and putting his toes into nicks every now and then, thereby helping himself very much. He took it slowly and easily, and I felt sure he would be all right. As I looked at him, climbing up there in the darkness, while I was standing below, holding the rope so that it should not swing, I could not help thinking that I was a pretty curious kind of a tutor for a boy. However, I was taking all the care of him that I could, and if he came down he'd probably hurt me worse than he would hurt himself. Besides, I had no reason to suppose that old Mr. Colbert objected to a little fun. Then I began to think of Mrs. Colbert, and while I was thinking of her, and looking up at Rectus, I was amazed to see him going up quite rapidly, while the end of the rope slipped through my fingers. Up he went, and when I ran back, I could see a dark figure on the wall, above him. Somebody was pulling him up.
In a very few moments he disappeared over the top, rope and all!
Now, I was truly frightened. What might happen to the boy?
I was about to shout, but, on second thoughts, decided to keep quiet; yet I instantly made up my mind that, if I didn't see or hear from him pretty soon, I would run around to the gate and bang up the people inside. However, it was not necessary for me to trouble myself, for, in a minute, the rope came down again, and I took hold of it. I pulled on it and found it all firm, and then I went up. I climbed up pretty fast, and two or three times I felt a tug, as if somebody above was trying to pull me up. But it was of no use, for I was a great deal stouter and heavier than Rectus, who was a light, slim boy. But as I neared the top, a hand came down and clutched me by the collar, and some one, with a powerful arm and grip, helped me over the top of the wall. There stood Rectus, all right, and the fellow who had helped us up was the big Indian, "Maiden's Heart."
I looked at Rectus, and he whispered:
"He says there's a sentinel down there in the square."
At this, Maiden's Heart bobbed his head two or three times, and, motioning to us to crouch down, he crept quietly over to the inner wall of the ramparts and looked down.
"What shall we say we came for?" I whispered, quickly.
"I don't know," said Rectus.
"Well, we must think of something," I said, "or we shall look like fools."
But before he had time to think, Maiden's Heart crept back. He put his finger on his lips, and, beckoning us to follow him, he led the way to a corner of the fort near one of the lookout towers. We followed as quietly as we could, and then we all three slipped into the narrow entrance to the tower, the Indian motioning us to go first. When we two stood inside of the little round tower, old Maiden's Heart planted himself before us in the passage, and waited to hear what we had to say.
But we couldn't think of anything to say. Directly, however, I thought I must do something, so I whispered to the Indian:
"Does the sentry ever come up here?"
He seemed to catch my meaning.
"I go watch," he said. "Come back. Tell you." And off he stole, making no more noise than a cat.
"Bother on him!" said Rectus. "If I'd known he was up here, I would never have come."
"I reckon not," said I. "But now that we have come, what are we going to do or say? That fellow evidently thinks we have some big project on hand, and he's ready to help us; we must be careful, or he'll rush down and murder the sentinel."
"I'm sure I don't know what to say to him," said Rectus. "We ought to have thought of this before. I suppose it would be of no use to mention my poster to him."
"No, indeed," said I; "he'd never understand that. And, besides, there's a man down there. Let's peep out and see what he's doing."
So we crept to the entrance of the passage, and saw Maiden's Heart, crouched near the top of the inclined plane which serves as a stairway from the square to the ramparts, and looking over the low wall, evidently watching the sentry.
"I'll tell you what let's do," said Rectus. "Let's make a rush for our rope, and get out of this."
"No, sir!" said I. "We'd break our necks if we tried to hurry down that rope. Don't think of anything of that kind. And, besides, we couldn't both get down before he'd see us."
In a few minutes, Maiden's Heart crept quickly back to us, and seemed surprised that we had left our hiding-place. He motioned us farther back into the passage, and slipped in himself.
We did not have time to ask any questions before we heard the sentry coming up the stairway, which was near our corner. When he reached the top, he walked away from us over toward the Indian barracks, which were on the ramparts, at the other end of the fort. As soon as he reached the barracks, Maiden's Heart took me by the arm and Rectus by the collar, and hurried us to the stairway, and then down as fast as we could go. He made no noise himself, but Rectus and I clumped a good deal. We had to wear our shoes, for the place was paved with rough concrete and oyster-shells.
The sentry evidently heard the clumping, for he came running down after us, and caught up to us almost as soon as we reached the square.
"Eugh!" said he, for he was an Indian; and he ran in front of us, and held his musket horizontally before us. Of course we stopped. And then, as there was nothing else that seemed proper to do, we held out our hands and said "How?" The sentinel took his gun in his left hand, and shook hands with us. Then Maiden's Heart, who probably remembered that he had omitted this ceremony, also shook hands with us and said "How?"
The two Indians now began to jabber to each other, in a low voice; but we could not, of course, make out what they said, and I don't think they were able to imagine what we intended to do. We were standing near the inner door of the great entrance-way, and into this they now marched us. There was a lamp burning on a table.
Said Rectus: "I guess they're going to put us out of the front door;" but he was mistaken. They walked us into a dark room, on one side of the hall, and Maiden's Heart said to us: "Stay here. Him mad. I come back. Keep still," and then he went out, probably to discuss with the sentinel the nature of our conspiracy. It was very dark in this room, and, at first, we couldn't see anything at all; but we soon found, from the smell of the bread, that we were in the kitchen or bakery. We had been here before, and had seen the head-cook, a ferocious Indian squaw, who had been taken in the act of butchering a poor emigrant woman on the plains. She always seemed sullen and savage, and never said a word to anybody. We hoped she wasn't in here now.
"I didn't know they had Indian sentinels," said Rectus. "That seems a little curious to me. I suppose they set the innocent ones to watch the guilty."
"I don't believe that would work," said I, "for the innocent chaps would want to get away, just as much as the others. I guess they make 'em take turns to stand guard. There has to be a sentinel in a fort, you know, and I suppose these fellows are learning the business."
We didn't settle this question, nor the more important one of our reason for this visit; for, at this moment, Maiden's Heart came back, carrying the lamp. He looked at us in a curious way, and then he said:
"What you want?"
I couldn't think of any good answer to this question, but Rectus whispered to me:
"Got any money with you?"
"Yes," said I.
"Let's buy some sea-beans," said Rectus.
"All right," I answered.
"Sea-beans?" said Maiden's Heart, who had caught the word; "you want sea-beans?"
"Yes," said Rectus, "if you have any good ones."
At this, the Indian conducted us into the hall, put the lamp on the table, and took three or four sea-beans from his pocket. They were very nice ones, and beautifully polished.
"Good," said I; "we'll take these. How much, Maiden's Heart?"
"Fifty cents," said the Indian.
"For all?" I asked.
"No. No. For one. Four bean two dollar."
We both exclaimed at this, for it was double the regular price of the beans.
"All right," said Maiden's Heart. "Twenty-five cents, daytime. Fifty cents, night."
We looked at each other, and concluded to pay the price and depart. I gave him two dollars, and asked him to open the gate and let us out.
"No. No. We got no key. Captain got key. Come up wall. Go down wall."
At this, we walked out into the square, and were about to ascend the inclined plane when the sentinel came up and stopped us. Thereupon a low conversation ensued between him and Maiden's Heart, at the end of which the sentry put his hand into his pocket and pulled out three beans, which he held out to us. I did not hesitate, but gave him a dollar and a half for them. He took the money and let us pass on,—Maiden's Heart at my side.
"You want more bean?" said he.
"Oh, no!" I answered. "No, indeed," said Rectus.
When we reached the place where we had left our apparatus, I swung the rope over the wall, and, hooking the grapnel firmly on the inside, prepared to go down, for, as before, I wished to be under Rectus, if he should slip. But Maiden's Heart put his hand on my shoulder.
"Hold up!" he said. "I got 'nother bean. Buy this."
"Don't want it," said I.
"Yes. Yes," said Maiden's Heart, and he coolly unhooked the grapnel from the wall.
I saw that it was of no use to contend with a big fellow like that, as strong as two common men, and I bought the bean.
I took the grapnel from Maiden's Heart, who seemed to give it up reluctantly, and as I hooked it on the wall, I felt a hand upon my shoulder. I looked around, and saw the sentinel. He held out to me another bean. It was too dark to see the quality of it, but I thought it was very small. However, I bought it. One of these fellows must be treated as well as the other.
Maiden's Heart and the sentry were now feeling nervously in their pockets.
I shook my head vigorously, and saying, "No more! no more!" threw myself over the wall, and seized the rope, Rectus holding the grapnel in its place as I did so. As I let myself down from knot to knot, a thought crossed my mind: "How are we going to get that grapnel after we both are down?"
It was a frightening thought. If the two Indians should choose, they could keep the rope and grapnel, and, before morning, the whole posse of red-skins might be off and away! I did not think about their being so far from home, and all that. I only thought that they'd be glad to get out, and that they would all come down our rope.
These reflections, which ran through my mind in no time at all, were interrupted by Rectus, who called down from the top of the wall, in a voice that was a little too loud to be prudent:
"Hurry! I think he's found another bean!"
I was on the ground in a few moments, and then Rectus came down. I called to him to come slowly and be very careful, but I can't tell how relieved I was when I saw him fairly over the wall and on his way down.
When we both stood on the ground, I took hold of the rope and shook it. I am not generally nervous, but I was a little nervous then. I did not shake the grapnel loose. Then I let the rope go slack, for a foot or two, and gave it a big sweep to one side. To my great delight, over came the grapnel, nearly falling on our heads. I think I saw Maiden's Heart make a grab at it as it came over, but I am not sure. However, he poked his head over the wall and said:
"Good-bye! Come again."
We answered, "Good-bye," but didn't say anything about coming again.
As we hurried along homeward, Rectus said:
"If one of those Indians had kept us up there, while the other one ran into the barracks and got a fresh stock of sea-beans, they would have just bankrupted us."
"No, they wouldn't," I said. "For I hadn't much more change with me. And if I had had it, I wouldn't have given them any more. I'd have called up the captain first. The thing was getting too expensive."
"Well, I'm glad I'm out of it," said Rectus. "And I don't believe much in any of those Indians being very innocent. I thought Maiden's Heart was one of the best of them, but he's a regular rascal. He knew we wanted to back out of that affair, and he just fleeced us."
"I believe he would rather have had our scalps than our money, if he had had us out in his country," I said.
"That's so," said Rectus. "A funny kind of a maiden's heart he's got."
We were both out of conceit with the noble red man. Rectus took his proclamation out of his pocket as we walked along the sea-wall, and, tearing it into little pieces, threw it into the water. When we reached the steam-ship wharf, we walked out to the end of it, to get rid of the rope and grapnel. I whirled the grapnel round and round, and let the whole thing fly far out into the harbor. It was a sheer waste of a good strong rope, but we should have had a dreary time getting the knots out of it.
After we got home I settled up our accounts, and charged half the sea-beans to Rectus, and half to myself.
THE GIRL ON THE BEACH.
I was not very well satisfied with our trip over the walls of San Marco. In the first place, when the sea-beans, the rope and the grapnel were all considered, it was a little too costly. In the second place, I was not sure that I had been carrying out my contract with Mr. Colbert in exactly the right spirit; for although he had said nothing about my duties, I knew that he expected me to take care of his son, and paid me for that. And I felt pretty sure that helping a fellow climb up a knotted rope into an old fort by night was not the best way of taking care of him. The third thing that troubled me in regard to this matter was the feeling I had that Rectus had led me into it; that he had been the leader and not I. Now, I did not intend that anything of that kind should happen again. I did not come out on this expedition to follow Rectus around; indeed, it was to be quite the other way. But, to tell the truth, I had not imagined that he would ever try to make people follow him. He never showed at school that such a thing was in him. So, for these three reasons, I determined that there were to be no more scrapes of that sort, which generally came to nothing, after all.
For the next two or three days we roved around the old town, and into two or three orange-groves, and went out sailing with Mr. Cholott, who owned a nice little yacht, or sail-boat, as we should call it up north.
The sailing here is just splendid, and, one morning, we thought we'd hire a boat for ourselves and go out fishing somewhere. So we went down to the yacht-club wharf to see about the boat that belonged to old Menendez—Rectus's Minorcan. There were lots of sail-boats there as well as row-boats, but we hunted up the craft we were after, and, by good luck, found Menendez in her, bailing her out.
So we engaged her, and he said he'd take us over to the North Beach to fish for bass. That suited us,—any beach and any kind of fish,—provided he'd hurry up and get his boat ready. While he was scooping away, and we were standing on the wharf watching him, along came Crowded Owl, the young Indian we had always liked—that is, ever since we had known any of them. He came up, said "How?" and shook hands, and then pulled out some sea-beans. The sight of these things seemed to make me sick, and as for Rectus, he sung out:
"Do' wan' 'em!" so suddenly that it seemed like one word, and a pretty savage one at that.
Crowded Owl looked at me, but I shook my head, and said, "No, no, no!" Then he drew himself up and just stood there. He seemed struck dumb; but that didn't matter, as he couldn't talk to us, anyway. But he didn't go away. When we walked farther up the wharf, he followed us, and again offered us some beans. I began to get angry, and said "No!" pretty violently. At this, he left us, but as we turned at the end of the wharf, we saw him near the club-house, standing and talking with Maiden's Heart.
"I think it's a shame to let those Indians wander about here in that way," said Rectus. "They ought to be kept within bounds."
I couldn't help laughing at this change of tune, but said that I supposed only a few of them got leave of absence at a time.
"Well," said Rectus, "there are some of them that ought never to come out."
"Hello!" said old Menendez, sticking his head up above the edge of the wharf. "We're ready now. Git aboard."
And so we scrambled down into the sail-boat, and Menendez pushed off, while the two Indians stood and watched us as we slowly moved away.
When we got fairly out, our sail filled, and we went scudding away on a good wind. Then said old Menendez, as he sat at the tiller:
"What were you hollerin' at them Injuns about?"
"I didn't know that we were hollerin'," said I, "but they were bothering us to buy their sea-beans."
"That's curious," he said. "They aint much given to that sort of thing. But there's no tellin' nothin' about an Injun. If I had my way, I'd hang every one of 'em."
"Rather a blood-thirsty sentiment," said I. "Perhaps some of them don't deserve hanging."
"Well, I've never seen one o' that kind," said he, "and I've seen lots of Injuns. I was in the Seminole war, in this State, and was fightin' Injuns from the beginnin' to the end of it. And I know all about how to treat the rascals. You must hang 'em, or shoot 'em, as soon as you get hold of 'em."
This aroused all the old sympathy for the oppressed red man that dwelt in the heart of young Rectus, and he exclaimed:
"That would be murder! There are always two kinds of every sort of people—all are not bad. It is wrong to condemn a whole division of the human race that way."
"You're right about there bein' two kinds of Injuns," said the old fellow. "There's bad ones and there's wuss ones. I know what I've seen for myself. I'd hang 'em all."
We debated this matter some time longer, but we could make no impression on the old Minorcan. For some reason or other, probably on account of his sufferings or hardships in the war, he was extremely bitter against all Indians. "You can't tell me," he replied to all of our arguments, and I think he completely destroyed all the sympathy which Rectus had had for the once down-trodden and deceived Minorcans, by this animosity toward members of another race who were yet in captivity and bondage. To be sure, there was a good deal of difference in the two cases, but Rectus wasn't in the habit of turning up every question to look at the bottom of it.
The North Beach is the seaward side of one of the islands that enclose the harbor, or the Matanzas River, as it is called. We landed on the inland side, and then walked over to the beach, which is very wide and smooth. Here we set to work to fish. Old Menendez baited our lines, and told us what to do. It was new sport to us.
First, we took off our shoes and stockings, and rolled up our trousers, so as to wade out in the shallow water. We each had a long line, one end of which we tied around our waists. Menendez had his tied to a button-hole of his coat, but he thought he had better make our lines very safe, as they belonged to him. There was a big hook and a heavy lead to the other end of the line, with a piece of fish for bait, and we swung the lead around our heads, and threw it out into the surf as far as we could. I thought I was pretty good on the throw, but I couldn't begin to send my line out as far as Menendez threw his. As for Rectus, he didn't pretend to do much in the throwing business. He whirled his line around in such a curious way that I was very much afraid he would hook himself in the ear. But Menendez put his line out for him. He didn't want me to do it.