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Title: Down South - or, Yacht Adventure in Florida
Author: Optic, Oliver, 1822-1897
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Down South - or, Yacht Adventure in Florida" ***

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produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive)



THE GREAT WESTERN SERIES.


                                 I.
GOING WEST; or, The Perils of a Poor Boy.

                                 II.
OUT WEST; or, Roughing it on the Great Lakes.

                                 III.
LAKE BREEZES; or, The Cruise of the Sylvania.

                                 IV.
GOING SOUTH; or, Yachting on the Atlantic Coast.

                                 V.
DOWN SOUTH; or, Yacht Adventures in Florida.

                                 VI.
UP THE RIVER; or, Yachting on the Mississippi.

                                (_In Press._)



_THE GREAT WESTERN SERIES_


DOWN SOUTH
OR
YACHT ADVENTURES IN FLORIDA



By

OLIVER OPTIC

AUTHOR OF YOUNG AMERICA ABROAD, THE ARMY AND NAVY SERIES,
THE WOODVILLE SERIES, THE STARRY FLAG SERIES, THE BOAT
CLUB STORIES, THE LAKE SHORE SERIES, THE UPWARD
AND ONWARD SERIES, THE YACHT CLUB SERIES,
THE RIVERDALE STORIES, ETC.


_WITH EIGHT ILLUSTRATIONS_



BOSTON
LEE AND SHEPARD PUBLISHERS
NEW YORK CHARLES T. DILLINGHAM
1881

COPYRIGHT,
1880,
By WILLIAM T. ADAMS.

Electrotyped at the Boston Stereotype Foundry
No. 4 Pearl Street.



TO MY YOUNG FRIEND,
WILFORD L. WRIGHT,
_OF CAIRO, ILL._,

EX-PRESIDENT OF THE NATIONAL AMATEUR PRESS ASSOCIATION,
WHO HAD THE COURAGE AND THE SELF-DENIAL TO
RESIGN HIS OFFICE IN ORDER TO PROMOTE
HIS OWN AND OTHERS' WELFARE,

This Book
IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED.



PREFACE.


"Down South" is the fifth and last volume but one of the "Great Western
Series." The action of the story is confined entirely to Florida; and
this fact may seem to belie the title of the Series. But the young
yachtman still maintains his hold upon the scenes of his earlier life
in Michigan, and his letters come regularly from that State. If he were
old enough to vote, he could do so only in Michigan; and therefore he
has not lost his right to claim a residence there during his temporary
sojourn in the South. Besides, half his ship's company are Western
boys, who carry with them from "The Great Western" family of States
whatever influence they possess in their wanderings through other
sections of the grand American Union.

The same characters who have figured in other volumes of the Series
are again presented, though others are introduced. The hero is as
straightforward, resolute, and self-reliant as ever. His yacht
adventures consist of various excursions on the St. Johns River, from
its mouth to a point above the head of ordinary navigation, with a run
across to Indian River, on the sea-coast, a trip up the Ocklawaha, to
the Lake Country of Florida, and shorter runs up the smaller streams.
The yachtmen and his passengers try their hand at shooting alligators
as well as more valuable game in the "sportsman's paradise" of the
South, and find excellent fishing in both fresh and salt water.

Apart from the adventures incident to the cruise of the yacht in so
interesting a region as Florida, the volume, like its predecessors in
the Series, has its own story, relating to the life-history of the
hero. But his career mingles with the events peculiar to the region in
which he journeys, and many of his associates are men of the "sunny
South." In any clime, he is the same young man of high aims and noble
purposes. The remaining volume will follow him in his cruise on the
Gulf of Mexico, and up the Mississippi.

DORCHESTER, MASS., August 25, 1880.



CONTENTS.


                                                           PAGE

CHAPTER I.
    MAKING A FLORIDA PORT                                    13

CHAPTER II.
    OUR LIBERAL PASSENGERS                                    23

CHAPTER III.
    A NATIVE FLORIDIAN                                        33

CHAPTER IV.
    A TRIP UP THE SAN SEBASTIAN                               43

CHAPTER V.
    SAVED FROM THE BURNING HOUSE                              53

CHAPTER VI.
    MOONLIGHT AND MUSIC ON BOARD                              63

CHAPTER VII.
    THE ENEMY IN A NEW BUSINESS                               73

CHAPTER VIII.
    A DISAGREEABLE ROOM-MATE                                  83

CHAPTER IX.
    A BATTLE WITH THE SERPENT                                 93

CHAPTER X.
    THE FELLOW IN THE LOCK-UP                                103

CHAPTER XI.
    THE HON. PARDON TIFFANY'S WARNING                        113

CHAPTER XII.
    SUGGESTIONS OF ANOTHER CONSPIRACY                        123

CHAPTER XIII.
    MR. COBBINGTON AND HIS PET RATTLESNAKE                   133

CHAPTER XIV.
    THE EXCURSION TO FORT GEORGE ISLAND                      143

CHAPTER XV.
    A WAR OF WORDS                                           153

CHAPTER XVI.
    GRIFFIN LEEDS AT A DISCOUNT                              163

CHAPTER XVII.
    POOR GRIFF AND HIS COUNSEL                               173

CHAPTER XVIII.
    THE EXCURSION TO MANDARIN                                183

CHAPTER XIX.
    THE ADVENTURES OF AN INVALID                             193

CHAPTER XX.
    DIFFICULTIES IN THE WAY OF DEPARTURE                     203

CHAPTER XXI.
    A VISIT TO ORANGE PARK                                   213

CHAPTER XXII.
    FISHING IN DOCTOR'S LAKE                                 223

CHAPTER XXIII.
    TROLLING FOR BLACK BASS                                  233

CHAPTER XXIV.
    GREEN COVE SPRINGS AND GOVERNOR'S CREEK                  243

CHAPTER XXV.
    ALLIGATOR-SHOOTING ON BLACK CREEK                        253

CHAPTER XXVI.
    ON BOARD OF THE WETUMPKA                                 263

CHAPTER XXVII.
    UP THE OCKLAWAHA TO LAKE GRIFFIN                         273

CHAPTER XXVIII.
    AN EXPEDITION TO INDIAN RIVER                            283

CHAPTER XXIX.
    A MYSTERIOUS SHOT                                        293

CHAPTER XXX.
    SHOOTING IN THE FOREST AND BEING SHOT                    303



DOWN SOUTH;
OR,
_YACHT ADVENTURES IN FLORIDA._



CHAPTER I.

MAKING A FLORIDA PORT.


"That's it, as true as you live, Captain Alick!" exclaimed Bob
Washburn, the mate of the Sylvania, as he dropped the spy-glass from
his right eye. "Your dead-reckoning was correct every time."

"I have no doubt you are right, Washburn," I replied, referring to an
open volume that lay on the shelf under the forward windows of the
pilot-house. "'A square tower, painted white, sixty-eight feet above
the sea,'" I continued, reading from the _Coast Pilot_. "But there
is another tower, more than twice that height. Ah, here is a note in
pencil I made: 'The government has built a new tower, one hundred and
sixty feet high.'"

"That must be St. Augustine Light: there can be no possible doubt of
it. It fits the description; and that is exactly where we ought to find
it," added the mate.

The Sylvania had been on a ten weeks' cruise to Nassau, Havana, and the
Bermuda Islands. In Havana we had been startled by the report of a few
cases of yellow fever, and we had hastily departed for the Bermudas,
where we had cruised by sea and journeyed by land for a month. The
steam-yacht was now on her return to Florida. The weather had been
thick and rainy, and for the last two days I had failed to obtain an
observation. But we had heaved the log every two hours, though there
was rarely a variation of half a knot from our regular speed. We had
made careful calculations and allowances for the current of the Gulf
Stream, and the result was that we came out right when we made the
Florida coast.

We had two sets of instruments on board; and Washburn and myself had
each made an independent observation, when the sky was clear enough to
permit us to do so, and had ciphered out the latitude and longitude. We
had also figured up the dead-reckoning separately, as much for practice
as to avoid mistakes. We had varied a little on the dead-reckoning, and
it proved that I was the nearer right, as the position of St. Augustine
Light proved.

The steam-yacht was under charter for a year to my cousin, Owen
Garningham, a young Englishman, who was spending the winter in the
South. The after cabin was occupied by four other persons, who were his
guests,--Colonel Shepard, his wife, son, and daughter. Miss Edith, the
daughter, was Owen's "bright particular star," and she was one of the
most beautiful young ladies I ever saw. I may add that she was as
gentle and amiable as she was pretty. All the Shepard family were very
pleasant people, invariably kind to the ship's company; and though the
Colonel was a very wealthy man, none of them ever "put on airs" in
their relations with the crew.

Though I did not pride myself on the fact that some of my ship's
company had "blue blood" in their veins, I certainly believed that no
vessel was ever manned by a more intelligent, gentlemanly, and skilful
crew. Robert C. Washburn, the mate, was a college student, who would
return to his studies at the end of the voyage. He was one of the best
fellows I had ever met, and was competent to command any vessel, on any
voyage, so far at least as its navigation and management were
concerned. We were devoted friends; but he received his wages and did
his duty as though he and I had had no other relations than those of
captain and mate.

Moses Brickland, the chief engineer, was the son of my guardian; and
though he was still in his teens, he was competent to build an engine,
or to run it after it was built. Bentley F. Bowman, the assistant
engineer, was a full-grown man, and had a certificate, besides being
one of the best seamen I ever sailed with. Our steward, who was our
only waiter until we sailed from Jacksonville in December, had been
chief steward of a large Western steamer, and fully understood all
branches of his business. He was on the present voyage for the benefit
of his health. Buck Lingley and Hop Tossford, the deck-hands, were
young Englishmen, belonging to the "first families," and were friends
of my cousin Owen; but two more daring, resolute, and skilful young
seamen never trod a deck. The two firemen were young machinists I had
shipped at Montreal when they were out of work. They were brothers, and
the sons of a Vermont farmer. Washington Gopher, an excellent cook, was
a gray-haired colored man, who had rendered the best of service on
board.

The Sylvania had come all the way from Lake St. Clair, and it was
expected that she would return there. The steam-yacht was my property,
so far as a minor could hold property. She had been presented to me by
the head of a wealthy Western family for a valuable service I had
rendered. I had cruised in the Great Lakes in her, and had had some
exciting adventures on board.

I had spent my earliest days in the poor-house of a Maine town, from
which a down-east skipper had taken me for the work I could do. But I
was afterwards found near Lake St. Clair by my father, after a long and
diligent search. But he had been obliged to leave me in charge of Mr.
Brickland, my ever faithful friend and guardian, while he went to
England to attend to some family affairs. He left property enough to
make me independent for life, but it had all been lost by a fire, and I
had nothing but the Sylvania.

The steam-yacht afforded me an abundant support while she was under
charter to my cousin. Owen was the next heir to me of my father's title
of baronet and his large estate. One Pike Carrington, my father's
solicitor, had persuaded my cousin to enter into some vague conspiracy
to "get rid of me in some manner." But, with the aid of Washburn, I had
discovered the plot; and having the good fortune to save Owen's life in
a storm, before he was fairly committed to the conspiracy, he had
become my fast friend.

My cousin's mother was very rich, and it appeared that she gave him
money without stint or limit. Carrington had bought the sister yacht of
the Sylvania, the Islander, which was to take part in the conspiracy
against me, and in which the solicitor had followed the Sylvania to
Florida. He had employed Captain Parker Boomsby, the down-east skipper,
then settled in Michigan, to command her, and to assist in carrying out
his plan. One feature of the scheme was to make me believe that my
father was dead; and for months I did believe it. Captain Boomsby
claimed that I had been "bound out" to him till I was twenty-one; and
he insisted upon the possession of my person and my property as much as
though I had been his slave. My father had made an arrangement with him
by which he had abandoned all his interest in me, but at the reported
death of my father, Carrington had induced him to assert his claim
again.

Captain Boomsby had followed me to Florida in the Islander, with the
solicitor as his passenger. The former had evidently undertaken "to get
rid of me;" but, instead of doing this, he had sacrificed the
solicitor. Both he and the lawyer had become hard drinkers, and in the
Captain's attempt to wreck me, he had sunk the Islander and drowned his
employer. I judged that this would be the end of the conspiracy; and so
it was, so far as my cousin Owen and the solicitor were concerned, but
not on the part of Captain Boomsby.

I had left my "ancient enemy," as I had a right to regard Captain
Boomsby, at Jacksonville when we sailed for the West Indies. I knew
that his experiment of making money in Michigan had been a failure, and
that he was looking for a more hopeful field of operations in some
other section of the country. One of his men told me that he intended
to run the Sylvania on the St. Johns River as a passenger boat, and
that he felt sure of obtaining possession of her, because, he asserted,
he was the rightful owner of her. The paper he had signed was destroyed
with the rest of my valuables.

As the steam-yacht approached the coast of Florida I did not even think
of my ancient enemy. I had left him in Jacksonville, where he was
drinking all he could carry, every day. He was terribly bitter and
revengeful towards me; for though my father had paid him a considerable
sum of money to appease him, rather than to satisfy any just claim he
had upon me, he could never be content until he obtained all that could
be had, either by fair means or by foul. There was no more principle in
him than there was in a paving-stone.

"That is St. Augustine Light," I continued. "There can be no mistake
about it, for there is not another light within thirty-five miles of
it; and we could not have gone so wide of the mark as that."

"You are right, Captain Alick, as you always are," laughed the mate.

"None of that, Bob! You know as well as the next fellow that I am not
always right; I wish I were. How was it about going into St. George?" I
replied.

"The exception always proves the rule. I was right by accident that
time. But you never go ahead till you are sure where you are going."

"I shall not this time," I added, turning to the _Coast Pilot_ again.
"'Vessels coming from the northward will run down till the light-house
bears west by north, keeping in three fathoms of water,'" I continued,
reading from the book.

We kept the Sylvania moving at about half-speed until the tower bore in
the required direction; then the mate directed Buck Lingley, who was on
watch forward, to heave the lead.

"Mark under water three," reported the deck-hand.

"That's all right," I added. "Now how is the tide?"

We could cross the bar only when the water was above half-tide; and
this was an important question. We found from our nautical almanac that
it would be half-tide at nine o'clock in the forenoon; and it was not
yet seven in the morning by the corrected time. We were as near the
coast as I cared to go. We could just make out the square tower of the
light-house in the fog, and I was not willing to trust myself in
unknown waters near the shore without a pilot. I directed Washburn to
stop the engine, and keep a sharp lookout for the drift of the steamer.

Leaving the pilot-house, I went forward, and presently discovered a
pilot-boat coming out of the inlet. One of her crew was waving a flag
to the port side from her bow. This meant that we were to bear to
starboard. I told the mate to go ahead, bearing to the northward. In a
few minutes more we had a pilot on board, whose first question was as
to our draft of water. I gave it as nine feet, though it was
considerably less when we had nearly emptied our coal-bunkers. The
pilot decided that we must wait a couple of hours.

The sun rose at 6.26 on the first day of March, which was just ten
minutes earlier than at Detroit. It soon burned off the fog inshore, so
that we could see the ancient city of St. Augustine. Our passengers,
who had become so accustomed to sea-life that they did not turn out
before eight in the morning, soon began to appear. With the pilot at
the wheel we went over the bar before nine, and a run of two miles more
brought us to our anchorage off the sea-wall.



CHAPTER II.

OUR LIBERAL PASSENGERS.


"Where are we now, Alick, my boy?" asked my cousin Owen Garningham, as
he came on deck after we had anchored off the pier.

"We are at St. Augustine, the oldest city in the United States, founded
by the Spaniards in 1565----"

"Cut it short, if you please, my affectionate cousin," interposed Owen,
with an affected yawn. "I haven't been to breakfast yet; and surely you
don't expect me to learn history so early in the morning. I simply
asked you where we were, and you go back over three hundred years to
answer the question."

"I thought you might want to know something about the place," I
replied.

"Exactly so. Where are we?"

"We are here."

Owen bit his lip, smiled, and then looked about him at the various
objects in sight.

"If you will tell me exactly what you want to know, I will answer your
questions; at least, I will tell you all I know," I added.

"Don't do that: it would take too long," he replied, yawning again.

"Thank you."

"I wouldn't listen to all a fool knew before breakfast; and it would
take you two years to tell all you know, sweet cousin."

"Not so long as that. We made the land about six this morning, in a
fog----"

"You made the land! Well, you didn't have a very bad job of it, for it
is nothing but house sand. Of course I know we are somewhere on the
coast of Florida, for when we left the Bermudas we were bound to St.
Augustine. We have got there, you say; and I thank you for telling me.
After breakfast, when I have a cigar, I will, with your leave, read the
history of the place."

"You have my permission; and I will furnish the book from which you may
read it."

"Thanks. Now, could you, Alick, without straining yourself too much,
tell me something about what we may see by looking about us in just
this place--never mind the other parts of the State," continued Owen,
looking around him.

"I will tell you all I know about it," I replied.

"I wish everybody would tell only that."

"The opening you see on the other side of the bay, and through which we
came in from sea, is between Anastasia Island on the south, and the
main land on the north. The water to the north and south of us, inside
the land, is Matanzas River. The works you see to the north is Fort
Marion. The sea-wall extends from that to the point, south of us, a
mile: it is built of coquina, a kind of rock quarried on Anastasia
Island, formed of sand and shells----"

"Spare me, cousin!"

"From the point to the south of us, you see an opening in the land:
that is the mouth of the San Sebastian River. The city of St. Augustine
is built on the tongue of land between the two rivers. The buildings
near the point are the United States Barracks. The structure extending
out into the river from the sea-wall is a wharf or pier, built for the
convenience of vessels landing freight or passengers."

"But what does a vessel do that has both freight and passengers?" asked
Owen, gravely. "I dare say she has to go to Jacksonville, where they
have more than one wharf."

"I stand corrected: a vessel landing passengers _and_ freight," I
added. "But I can't say, of my own knowledge, that the same vessel
lands both here, for I never saw the place before in my life."

"It is well to be sure," said Owen, as the breakfast-bell rang.

Before we left Jacksonville in December, I had taken an additional
person on board, who did duty in the cabin as a waiter. Though Peeks,
the steward, never complained, I saw that he had too much to do. The
distance from the cook's galley to the companion-way of the after cabin
made it hard work to serve the table in the latter. The distance to the
forward cabin, where the ship's company messed, was hardly less. I
found that the officers and crew sometimes had to wait for their meals,
and that the discipline of the vessel was thus broken in upon. The
steward and the waiter had about all they could do to take care of the
five passengers in the after cabin, who were very uncertain in their
hours in the morning.

I had decided to have another waiter for the forward cabin, and thus
allow Peeks to do the proper work of a chief steward in looking out for
the whole of his department. We had been in port so much during the
winter that I found I could well afford the additional expense, for my
payments had been less than the estimate. Though we were to cruise on
the St. Johns River and other streams during the month, there would be
a great deal of boat-work for the deck-hands and firemen, for the
latter did not complain if called to other duty than that of the
fire-room, and by this time were good sailors.

I went to my breakfast, which had been waiting an hour for me on the
galley, for I never left the deck till the anchor was overboard. There
was no one to bring my meal, and the mate's watch had taken theirs
while I was talking to Owen. It was half an hour before the steward or
the waiter could attend to my wants; and the dignity of the commander
of the Sylvania did not permit him to carry his own breakfast from the
galley, while there were passengers on board. I hoped I should be able
to find another waiter at St. Augustine, though I supposed they would
all be in demand at the hotels. At last I heard the voices of the
passengers on deck. I did not ring the call-bell on the table until I
was sure they had finished their morning meal, for all on board made it
a point to give up everything for them.

"I haven't had my breakfast yet," I said, as Peeks came down into the
cabin. "I have been waiting here half an hour for it."

"I am very sorry, but it happens so sometimes, even when I do my best,"
replied Peeks, evidently much disturbed by the situation. "It is all I
can do, with the waiter, to get what the passengers want when they all
come to the table at once. We have to cook everything after they order
it, or it would not be fit to eat."

"I don't blame you, and I have no fault to find," I added, soothingly.
"I shall give you another waiter as soon as one can be found."

"I think we need another. If the meals could be served at fixed hours,
we could get along very well; but the passengers take their breakfast
anywhere from eight to eleven."

"I understand it perfectly; but they have a right to do just as they
please, and I shall not interfere with their habits," I replied; and
the steward went for my breakfast.

It was fifteen minutes before he returned, for Gopher insisted on using
me as well as those that sat at the cabin-table when I was late to my
meals, and cooked me a fresh dish of ham and eggs. I was blessed with a
good appetite, and still liked country fare best, though Gopher made
hotel dishes, with French names, for the after cabin. When I went on
deck, I found Owen smoking his cigar in the pilot-house. He was reading
one of a pile of Florida guide-books I had procured in Jacksonville,
which I had placed by the binnacle for his use.

"I have been waiting for you, Captain Alick," said he.

"And I have been waiting for my breakfast. I shall get another waiter,
so that no one will have to wait," I answered.

"Well, I was in no hurry, my dear fellow: if I had been, I should have
sent for you. This is the first day of March. Have you the accounts?"

I had them all ready, and went to my desk in my room, just abaft the
pilot-house, for them. I gave them to him, but he hardly condescended
to look at anything except the total. Throwing away his cigar, he went
into my room, where he wrote all his letters, and seated himself at his
desk. I followed him, in order to give him a receipt.

"Don't leave, Robsy," said Owen to Washburn, as the mate began to move
out of the room.

Washburn resumed his toilet, for he had just donned the new uniform,
with which all hands had provided themselves at St. George. Owen handed
me a draft, which I saw was for just three hundred dollars more than
the amount of the bill I had rendered. I was astonished that he should
make such a mistake.

"This is not correct," I began, as soon as I had looked at the amount
of the draft.

"Quite correct; but I see you have got to make a quarrel with me; and I
want Robsy to stand by me in this fight," replied Owen.

"Of course I won't take three hundred dollars more than is my due," I
protested.

"Cut it short!" exclaimed my cousin. "I told Colonel Shepard I never
could get out of it in the world, and he was putting a load on me I
could never carry. Where is that bloody contract? Will you do me the
favor to burn it?"

"Certainly not," I replied. "I intend to keep my copy, and to abide by
its provisions."

"Provisions means grub, don't it?"

"Sometimes it does; but it don't now," I replied, tossing the draft on
the desk, at which he was still seated. "I will take only what is due
me."

"But I have had a row with Colonel Shepard," protested Owen. "He said
he should insist on paying his share of the expenses of this cruise
before we left Jacksonville; but I kept him quiet till yesterday. In
the first place, as we have put you to extra expense, Alick, we
insisted on adding one hundred dollars a month to the amount I was to
pay."

I objected, and explained that I had been obliged to pay only the
expense of a waiter, as he paid all the coal and provision bills, but
he persisted, and finally appealed to Washburn, who decided in his
favor. As I agreed to the decision of the umpire beforehand, I had to
submit.

"I made it up with the Colonel by letting him pay half of the bills,
though he would pay four-fifths of them at first," chuckled Owen, as
though he had won a victory over his fellow-passenger.

I had paid every one of the ship's company his wages when they were
due; I had painted the steamer at St. George, while the passengers were
travelling on shore; I had taken in a large supply of engine stores;
and still had about eleven hundred dollars on hand. I felt that I was
getting rich very fast, though a season of idleness might scatter all
my wealth.

By this time our passengers had seen all there was to be seen from the
hurricane-deck of the steamer. Though the sun had come out, it was
rather a cool day to our party, who had spent a portion of the winter
in the tropics. Owen informed me that his friends desired to go on
shore. I had hardly sent them off in both boats, before a well-dressed
gentleman came on deck, and desired to see the captain.



CHAPTER III.

A NATIVE FLORIDIAN.


The gentleman who wished to see the captain came off in a small boat,
pulled by a man who might have been a mulatto, a Cuban, or a Spaniard.
I noticed that he was a fine-looking fellow, lightly but handsomely
built. If he had been brown, instead of slightly yellow, I should have
taken him for a white man. He had a fine eye, and both his form and his
face attracted my attention.

I invited the gentleman in the stern sheets, who wished to see me, to
come on board, and then conducted him to my state-room. He was not more
than thirty-five, and was dressed rather jauntily in a suit of
light-colored clothes. He looked and acted like a gentleman, and his
speech indicated that he was a person of refinement. I gave him a
chair, and took one myself. Washburn had gone ashore in one of the
boats, and I had the room to myself. Before he seated himself he handed
me a card, on which was engraved "Kirby Cornwood." There was nothing
more to indicate his business.

"Take a seat, Mr. Cornwood," I said, when I had read his name.

"Thank you, Captain Garningham," he replied: and I wondered where he
had learned my name, for I had not yet been ashore to report at the
custom-house.

"You will excuse me for calling upon you so soon after your arrival;
but business is business, and sometimes if it is not attended to in
season, it can't be done at all."

"Quite true, sir; and I was going ashore as soon as the boats returned
to report at the custom-house," I replied, for the want of something
sensible to say. "I do not remember to have met you before, Mr.
Cornwood."

"I dare say you do not remember it; but I have met you none the less."

"Indeed! Where was that?" I asked, looking the stranger over again,
though I could not recall his form or features.

"In Jacksonville, last December. I was at the funeral of Mr.
Carrington, and I saw you several times. I was on the point of offering
my services to you then, as I shall now, when I learned that you were
soon to sail for the West Indies," answered Mr. Cornwood, with a very
pleasant smile, which might have captured any young man of less
experience in the ways of the world than myself.

In spite of his explanation I did not remember him. I had met a great
many people at the time of the exciting events attending the arrival of
the Sylvania at Jacksonville. I concluded that he was some dealer in
provisions, ice, or coal, who wished to furnish the steamer with his
wares; and I began to lose all interest in the interview. I had a great
many people call upon me who wished to sell something, and I was used
to such calls.

"I am willing to admit that it is my fault, but I do not remember you,
Mr. Cornwood," I replied, rather coldly, for the chief engineer bought
the coal, and the steward the provisions and ice.

"I can well understand why you should not remember me, Captain
Garningham, for you met a great many people about the time I saw you,
and your mind was occupied with some peculiar matters, such as the
sinking of the other steamer."

"Exactly so," I answered, looking out the window, as though I was ready
to terminate the interview.

"As I said, I was about to offer my services to you then; and I shall
take the liberty to do so now," he continued, not at all disturbed by
anything I said or did.

"I don't think we need the services of any gentleman like yourself."

To my astonishment, he broke into a laugh; and it was some time before
he could proceed with his business. I was not aware that I had said
anything that was funny: if I had, I should have been highly
complimented by the manner in which my joke was received.

"This is not the first time I have been taken for a gentleman," said
he, as soon as he was in condition to speak.

"Then you think I made a mistake, do you?" I asked.

"By no means: I have not sunk so low as that yet; and I still believe I
am a gentleman, whatever anybody else may think."

He paused, and I waited for him to proceed with his business, instead
of asking him what he meant, as he evidently expected me to do.

"Yes, captain: I claim to be a gentleman," he continued, when I showed
no inclination to ask any questions. "I belong to the legal profession,
though I don't work at it now."

"I am sure we don't need any law on board of this vessel at the present
time," I added.

"I do not offer my services in that capacity. I am a native Floridian,
a regular corn-cracker," he continued, laughing. "I was born and raised
here in St. Augustine. There is not a river, lake, harbor or inlet in
all Florida, and hardly a square mile of territory, that I have not
explored."

"As a lawyer?" I asked; and his plump statement rather attracted my
attention.

"Certainly not. When I was seventeen I began to study for the bar; but
my health broke down, and for the next ten years I roamed over the
state, now at my own expense, and then as a member of the state
surveying party, or the government coast-survey. I am a pilot for any
waters in Florida."

"Have you a branch or a warrant?"

"Nothing of the sort: I am only an amateur pilot. I am a hunter and a
fisherman, and I know the flora and the fauna of the State. Seven years
ago I resumed my studies, and have been admitted to the bar. But my
health would not allow me to spend my days in an office or a
court-room. Captain Garningham, I offer my services to you as a guide
for Florida."

Mr. Kirby Cornwood folded his arms in his chair, and looked as
complacent as though he had just informed me that he was the governor
of the State. He evidently believed it was no use to say anything more,
and he was silent.

"I am exceedingly obliged to you, Mr. Cornwood, for your offer of
service," I replied. "As you are a guide for Florida, could you inform
me where the custom-house is?"

"Can I inform you where the custom-house is!" exclaimed the guide for
Florida. "How could I have been born and raised in St. Augustine
without knowing where the custom-house is?"

"I don't know."

He looked at me as though he thought I was a young man to be pitied.
Was there anything relating to Florida that he did not know, was the
expression on his face. He could take me to any custom-house in the
State by land or water. He could tell me the depth of any lake, stream,
or puddle from the Atlantic to the Gulf.

"Having accomplished all that I came on board for, permit me to take my
leave, with the hope that you will consider my offer," said Mr.
Cornwood, rising from his chair. "I shall be happy to conduct you to
the custom-house when you go on shore, or to take your party to all the
points of interest in the city."

"Thank you, Mr. Cornwood," I replied.

I had no idea that he intended to leave me, for one does not get rid of
such applicants so easily. He bowed gracefully, and much to my
astonishment, left my room, walked to the gangway, and went down into
his boat. A moment later, I saw the boatman pulling him towards the
landing-place. I could not help thinking of his offer after he had
gone. It would be exceedingly convenient to have a man on board all the
time who could guide us to any object of interest. He was a pilot for
any waters of the State.

But I felt that I could not believe more than one-tenth of what he had
said. I sat down, and thought over the matter. An extra hundred had
just been added to my monthly stipend. I had not thought of having such
a person on board before he suggested the idea. I had expected to
depend on local guides for information and direction.

If only one-half of Mr. Kirby Cornwood's story was true, and he could
perform only one-half of what he promised, he would be a valuable
person to our party. He was airy in his manner; but I could not say
that this was not the worst part of him. If he had spent ten years of
his life with state and national surveys and exploring parties, he
ought to be very familiar with the travelled localities of Florida. I
was rather sorry I had not detained him a little longer, and learned
something more of his ability to do what he said he could do. But I
could find him again; or I had no doubt he would soon find me. If he
had not left me with so much dignity, and without pressing his offer of
service, I should not probably have given a second thought to him.

Washburn's boat was the first to return, and I went on shore in it. I
wanted the mate to see Mr. Cornwood; but I did not mention him, for I
wanted my friend to make up his mind in regard to the Floridian without
any suggestion from me, and without his knowing that he was doing duty
as a judge. I asked Washburn to take a stroll with me. He told his crew
he should not want them for a couple of hours, and we walked up the
pier.

When we reached the head of it, I saw Mr. Cornwood rushing across the
intersecting street as if he meant business, though he was not headed
towards me. He did not even seem to see me at first; but as he was
about to cross my path, he could not well help doing so. He raised his
Panama hat, and bowed politely to me. He evidently did not mean to stop
to speak to me; but I hailed him, and asked where the custom-house was.
He described the building, and indicated in what direction I was to go.

"If you will excuse me for a few moments, Captain Garningham, I will
join you," said he, hurrying along towards the St. Augustine Hotel,
which faces the harbor.

The Floridian certainly did not seem to be very anxious to make an
engagement with me; and this fact improved his chances with me. I went
to the custom-house, and transacted my business there. As I came out
with the mate, I met Mr. Cornwood at the door. I introduced Washburn to
him; and the Floridian was as polite to him as to me.

"I am at your service, gentlemen; and, pardon me, captain, without
regard to any future engagement," said Mr. Cornwood, with an extra
flourish, as he turned to me.

"Thanks. I think you said you were born in Florida," I added.

"Not only in Florida, but here in St. Augustine. If you doubt my
statement, I will show you the house in which I first drew the breath
of life," he replied, with a deprecatory smile.

Showing the house would prove it; but I thought more of the fact that
he seemed to have an inkling of my trouble in regard to his statements.
I told him I was willing to accept his statement without seeing the
house.

"My father and mother both died of consumption," he continued. "They
came down here from Virginia, and lived twenty years longer than they
would in the Old Dominion. My father left me twelve thousand dollars,
every cent of which I spent in travelling in this state. But here is
your party, captain."

Our passengers were strolling along St. George Street when we met them.



CHAPTER IV.

A TRIP UP THE SAN SEBASTIAN.


Strange as it may seem, the Shepards, though they had resided two
winters in Jacksonville, had never been to St. Augustine, or even up
the St. Johns River. The state of Mrs. Shepard's health had not
permitted her to travel for several years, until the preceding summer.
They had simply left the ancient city and the up-river glories of "The
Land of Flowers" to a more propitious season in the future.

"How do you like the looks of St. Augustine, Miss Edith?" I asked,
after we had passed the civilities of the moment, though I did not
venture to present Mr. Kirby Cornwood to the party.

"I like it well enough," replied the pretty young lady, with something
like a yawn. "But I am getting tired of it so soon; for we have seen so
many old Spanish cities in Spain and in the West Indies, that St.
Augustine reads like an old story."

The face of the native Floridian wore an expression of horror as he
listened to the remark of Miss Edith. Possibly he might have abated his
astonishment at this partially unfavorable opinion of his native city
if he had known that she and Owen spent most of their time in thinking
of other matters than an old city.

"I am delighted with the place," added Mrs. Shepard. "But we pass
various objects of interest without knowing what they are. We have not
even a guide-book to help us out."

Mr. Cornwood smiled, but he said nothing. I wondered that he did not
offer his services to the lady; but he manifested what seemed to be a
very strange modesty for him, standing a little apart from the rest of
us, and not even looking at the pretty face of Miss Edith. I took the
liberty to introduce the Floridian. He removed his Panama, and bowed
low when I mentioned his name; but he did not even speak, much less
indulge in any of his pretentious speeches. The walk was resumed, and
in the course of the forenoon we had explored the city, from Fort San
Marco, on the north, to the point at the south of the city.

Mr. Cornwood proved that he knew all about St. Augustine. I had studied
the history of the place and the state very carefully during the
leisure hours of the voyage from the Bermudas, and I was able to
confirm the truth of all he said, so far as my knowledge extended,
though he went far beyond me. In a little while he was the very centre
of the party. It is true that Owen several times requested him to "cut
it short," at which the Floridian did not seem to be at all offended;
but he soon found that the rest of the company did not wish to have
even the historical portions of the guide's discourse abbreviated.

I do not intend to give the history or describe the objects of interest
we saw in Florida, except incidentally, for it would take all my space
to do these, and I do not pretend to do much more than tell my story. I
must say that I was very much interested in the history and
descriptions of Mr. Cornwood; and I have no doubt my readers would be
equally interested, if I had pages enough at my disposal to include
them.

The Floridian did his duty modestly, though he had become the most
important person of the party for the time being. There was not a
particle of the "brag" and pretension which had caused me to distrust
everything he said. As we walked from place to place he kept at a
respectful distance from the passengers, and never intruded himself
upon them, though he was always ready to answer any questions. After a
three-hours' run we returned to the pier.

I had expected that the party would prefer to go on shore, after their
sea-voyage, and take up their residence for our stay at the principal
hotel; but they manifested no such intention. As they had taken nothing
on shore with them, I had told the steward to have dinner ready for
them at the usual hour. The port quarter-boat, which was mine, had come
to the landing-place, and the party embarked. I invited Mr. Cornwood to
go on board with me, and he accepted the invitation. He took his place
in the fore-sheets of the boat, apparently for the purpose of
maintaining his respectful distance from the passengers.

In a few minutes we were on the deck of the Sylvania. The passengers
retired to the cabin, and Cornwood followed me to my state-room. As
soon as we entered the apartment his manner underwent a sudden change.
He was as free and familiar as he had been at our interview on board in
the morning. As I interpreted his conduct, he considered himself on an
entire equality with me, while he intended to treat my passengers with
the utmost deference and respect. I did not object to his view of the
relations to be maintained to my passengers and myself; on the
contrary, his view was precisely my own.

"What is your price for the service you propose to render, Mr.
Cornwood?" I asked, when we were seated.

"Five dollars a day, including Sundays," he replied, without any
hesitation. "Of course this salary is besides my board and all
expenses."

"That is only three times my own wages," I added with a smile.

"If you will engage me for a year, I will call it fifty dollars a
month, and be glad to make this slight reduction of two-thirds," he
answered promptly, and with the most easy assurance. "I can make hay
only when the sun shines, captain; and I could make more at your wages
twice over than I can at my own. The year is not often more than four
months long for my business. I attend upon first-class parties only,
and I charge eight dollars a day when I am engaged for only a single
week. Your party want to go up the St. Johns for at least a month.
However, if you object to the price, there is a party at the St.
Augustine Hotel who want me for a week to go to Indian River with them.
They are willing to give me ten dollars a day; but I prefer to go with
your party at the price I named."

"I am very much obliged to you for this mark of consideration on your
part," I replied. "Though you are a perfect stranger to me, I suppose
it would not be regarded as an insult for me to ask for any
testimonials."

"Not at all. Though I could procure a bushel or two of them, I do not
happen to have any with me; but I will refer you to the landlords, and
to any resident of St. Augustine."

He seemed to be ready to answer anything I could ask him, and he named
a dozen persons of whom I might inquire in regard to him. While the
passengers were on shore in the forenoon, I had directed the hands to
spread the awnings on the quarter-deck and forecastle. When dinner was
over the party seemed to be very well satisfied to remain on board
after their walk, for after the sea-voyage the exertion tired them.
Owen told me they should not go on shore again, and I decided to
inquire into the character and antecedents of Mr. Cornwood.

When we came up from dinner I found Owen smoking his cigar on the
forecastle. My passenger asked Cornwood a question, and they were soon
engaged in conversation in regard to Florida. Taking the port boat,
with Ben Bowman and Hop Tossford, I left the steamer. I did not even
take the trouble to tell the Floridian where I was going. If my
inquiries were satisfactorily answered, I intended to engage him for
the time we remained in Florida. He had mentioned the name of a family
that boarded on the west side of the city, near the San Sebastian
River, and I decided to make the first inquiries there.

I steered the boat around the point into the river, and soon passed the
more thickly settled portion of the town. Orange groves lined the
shore, and the fragrant jasmine scented the air. If I had not been all
winter in the tropics, I should have gone into ecstasies over the scene
that was spread out before me. But orange groves were nothing new to me
now, and I was familiar with banana and palm trees.

I could not be insensible to the beauties of the region, and in that
mild atmosphere I could not help enjoying it. On the shore were the
dwellings of wealthy men who spent their winters in this delightful
locality. Soon we came to a house, on the very bank of the river, with
a kind of pier built out into the river, at which several sail and row
boats were moored. This was the large boarding-house to which I had
been directed by the Floridian.

I identified it from his description some time before we reached it. As
the boat approached the house, and I ran in towards the pier, I noticed
there was a great commotion in the vicinity. The inmates were rushing
out of the house, negroes were running here and there, apparently
without any settled purpose, and not a few women were screaming.

"I wonder what the matter is at that house," I said to the oarsmen, who
were back to the scene, and could see nothing of it.

"Matter enough, I should say," replied Ben Bowman, who pulled the
bow-oar, as he looked behind him. "The house is on fire!"

The immense live-oaks that half concealed the house from my view had
prevented me from seeing the volume of smoke and flame that was rising
from one corner of the mansion. The fire had already made considerable
progress.

"Give way, lively, my men!" I called to the rowers. "We shall be needed
there."

Ben and Hop pulled a strong stroke, and they exerted themselves until
the oars bent before their vigorous muscles. I headed the boat for some
steps I saw on the pier, and in a few moments more we were within
hailing distance of the wharf.

"Way enough!" I called to the oarsmen. They ceased rowing, and brought
their oars to a perpendicular, man-of-war fashion, as required by our
boat-drill.

Ben Bowman went to the bow, fended off, and then jumped ashore with the
painter in his hand. Hop Tossford and I followed him in good order, as
all were instructed to move when in the boats; and in a moment we were
on the pier. My men broke into a run for the scene of the fire; but I
moved more slowly, and studied the situation as I walked up the wharf.

The inmates of the house and the neighbors who had gathered appeared to
be in utter confusion, and incapable of doing anything, if there was
anything that could be done. It seemed to me that the fire had
progressed too far to be checked, and that the entire destruction of
the house was inevitable. But certainly some portion of the property in
the building could be saved, and the people seemed to have no power
even to attend to this duty. Our boat's crew could set a good example
in this way, if in no other; and I hurried my steps as soon as I could
decide what to do.

As soon as I reached the garden in the rear of the house, I found there
was something more important to be done than saving furniture. A
gentleman whom I judged to be about forty years of age was on the point
of rushing into the burning house when he was held back by others. They
said the stairs were already in flames, and the second story could be
reached only from the outside.

"My daughter is asleep in the corner-room!" gasped the gentleman,
pointing to the window of the chamber.

The next instant Hop Tossford was running up the posts of the veranda.



CHAPTER V.

SAVED FROM THE BURNING HOUSE.


By this time the flames, which had been confined to half a dozen
windows, were breaking out through the roof of the house. Ben Bowman
and I followed Hop Tossford to the roof of the veranda, which
surrounded the building, though, as we had waited to hear more of the
situation, we were considerably behind him. We all attempted the ascent
by different posts. That which Ben took slipped out, and tumbled over;
and the fire was so hot where I was that I had some difficulty in
getting a foothold on the roof.

[Illustration: SAVED FROM THE BURNING HOUSE. Page 53.]

I had hardly accomplished my purpose when I heard a scream. The next
instant I saw Hop leap from the window near the corner with a lady in
his arms. She was still screaming; but it appeared that she had been
alarmed only at finding herself in the arms of a stranger. She had not
been aroused from her sleep till Hop lifted her from the bed.

The deck-hand set her on her feet as soon as he reached the roof of the
veranda. She looked about her, and she could not help seeing and
hearing the devouring flames. She comprehended the situation, and
ceased to scream. By this time a ladder was raised to the roof of the
veranda, and as soon as Hop saw the top of it, he assisted the lady to
descend, which she accomplished in safety. I saw her in the arms of her
father, and both of them were weeping.

As soon as I saw that the young lady was safe, I led the way into the
rooms on the side of the house which was not yet on fire, though the
flames were now breaking into them, and proceeded to throw out the
baggage and other articles we found. Hop took the chamber from which he
had just saved the occupant, and removed a trunk and all the drawers of
a bureau. These articles were carried down the ladder by the guests and
others. We worked until we were driven from the veranda by the flames.

When I reached the ground, I found the lady who had been saved out on
the pier with her father, with their trunks which had been removed
there by the latter. She had transferred from the drawers of the bureau
brought out by Hop, all her clothing. She had quite recovered from her
fright. She was not more than sixteen, and with the exception of Edith
Shepard, I never saw a prettier girl.

"We are under very great obligations to you, gentlemen," said the
father of the fair young lady. "I am sure my daughter would have
perished without the assistance of one of your number."

"This is the young man that brought your daughter out of the house," I
replied, pointing to Hop.

"I thank you with all my heart and soul for what you have done," said
the stranger, taking Hop's hand. "It seems that my daughter was asleep
when you entered her chamber, and she would surely have been burned to
death without your bold effort."

"And I thank you with all my heart and soul!" exclaimed the young lady,
blushing as she took the hand of her gallant deliverer. "I was fast
asleep when you lifted me from the bed, and I only screamed because I
thought some man was carrying me off. At first, I thought it was a
dream."

"I was very clumsy about it; and I beg your pardon for frightening you
so. I might have spoken before I took you from the bed. But I have had
no experience in such business," pleaded Hop. "I shall know better how
to do it next time."

"You did it exceedingly well," said the lady, with emphasis.

"It matters little how it was done, so it was done," said the father.

"That is just what I think, papa. I can't express anything at all that
I feel towards this gentleman for the great service he has done me. I
wish I could say just what is in my heart!" exclaimed the fair young
lady.

"I am very glad you can not," added Hop, who seemed to be embarrassed
by the gratitude of the young lady and her father.

"We shall never forget the service of this young gentleman. Everybody
else was paralyzed, and unable to do anything," continued the stranger.
"I had been to walk; and on my return I saw the smoke long before I
reached the house. I did not think of my daughter being in her room at
first, but it occurred to me that she has been in the habit of taking a
nap after dinner lately. As I did not see her among the other people of
the house, I was paralyzed by the thought that she might be asleep."

"I owe my life to your coming; and I never shall forget this service,
any more than my father," added the young lady, as she bestowed a
grateful look upon Hop.

"We shall see more of you, gentlemen; and I hope I shall be able to
prove to you that I properly value the service you have rendered. But,
Margie, we are turned out of house and home by the fire."

"But we have saved all our luggage, thanks to these gentlemen! We are
not so badly off as some of the people in the house, who must have lost
everything."

"There are some others here who will have occasion to be thankful for
your arrival; for I don't think anything would have been saved if you
had not taken the lead. But, Margie, we haven't even a carriage to
convey us to a hotel."

"I think I can manage that for you, sir," I interposed. "We can take
you and your trunks into our boat, and convey you to the other side of
the town."

"Thanks; you are very kind. But we are not willing to take up any more
of your time," protested the stranger. "Besides, I don't know where to
go, unless we take the next train for Jacksonville; for yesterday, and
when we arrived a week ago, the hotels and boarding-houses were all
full to overflowing. I only got in where I was by the landlord and his
daughter giving us their rooms, while they went to a cottage of a
friend. Perhaps we had better leave the place at once, for I am sure we
can't find lodgings. I looked the place all over for accommodations."

"But we are too late to leave the place to-night, papa," replied Miss
Margie, and both she and her father seemed to be very anxious about the
situation.

"We shall find some kind of accommodations at the hotels, though it be
nothing better than the servants' rooms. They won't let us sleep in the
streets," added the father, more cheerfully.

"I think I can take care of you for a few days," I interposed; "at any
rate, until you find better quarters."

"Pardon me, sir; but you look like sailors; and you all went up the
posts under the veranda as though you were sailors," added the
gentleman.

"We are sailors, and we belong to a steam-yacht lying at anchor on the
other side of the city," I replied. "We will take you and your daughter
around to her, with your baggage; and then you can make such
arrangements for the future as you desire."

"We thank you; you are very kind, and we accept your offer," said the
gentleman. "The place is so crowded with visitors that it is very
difficult to get anything done for you; and we might have to stay here
a long time before we could get a carriage to convey us and our luggage
to another place. Besides, this fire will turn forty or fifty people
out of their house, and there will be an increased demand for rooms."

"I can take care of you for a few days, at any rate," I replied. "Put
those trunks into the fore sheets of the boat, Ben."

The trunks and the other baggage were stowed in the forward part of the
boat, and I assisted the fair stranger and her father to the cushioned
seats in the stern sheets. When we were all in, the boat was pretty
well loaded down. Ben shoved her well off into the stream, and I took
the tiller-lines, seated between my two passengers.

"Up oars! Let fall! Give way!" I continued, giving the usual orders.
Ben and Hop bent to their oars, while all of us took a parting view of
the scene of the fire. The house was burned to the ground; and it
seemed to me that nearly the whole population of the city was gathered
in the vicinity. A fire was not a common thing, and people went to see
it as a curiosity.

The month of March is one of the most trying in the whole year in the
North, and vast numbers of people had come down to Florida to escape
its rigors. All the watering-places in the State were crowded with
visitors, and in St. Augustine, the most popular resort, there was not
a vacant room to be had. While my new passengers were gazing at the
remains of the fire and the crowd that surrounded them, I began to
think how I should dispose of my guests on board of the Sylvania. I was
not quite willing to intrude upon Owen's party by putting them in the
after cabin; but I could easily make two rooms of the captain's large
apartment, while Washburn and I found quarters in the forward cabin.

The vigorous strokes of Ben and Hop soon brought us to the steamer. The
passengers were still seated under the awning of the quarter-deck; and
Owen had finished his cigar and joined Miss Edith, whose shadow he was
when his cigar did not need attention. They all rose from their seats
when they saw that I had company, for of course their curiosity was
excited. We pulled around the stern, and came up to the port gangway,
where the steps were rigged out.

Hop Tossford handed Miss Margie up the steps to the deck, while I
assisted the gentleman, whose name I did not yet know, though I had
read "P. T." on the ends of the trunks. I conducted the new passengers
to the captain's room. I wanted Washburn, in order to have him remove
his clothes and other articles into the forward cabin. When I looked
for him, he was with the party on the quarter-deck. I went to him. In a
few words I explained the situation to him. He was very willing to
change his quarters, and declared that he would sleep on the fore-yard,
if necessary.

"I beg your pardon, Captain Alick, but what had you in the boat?" asked
Owen, as Washburn went forward.

"I had a gentleman and his daughter, with their luggage, as we say in
England," I replied.

"I beg your pardon again; but who are the gentleman and his daughter?"

"I haven't the least idea. They were in a house over the other side of
the city, and some way up, which has just been burned to the ground.
Very likely that young lady would have been burned to death if Hop had
not brought her out of her room, where she was asleep. Every hotel and
boarding-house in the place is full, and they had no place to go: so I
brought them on board till they can find a hotel."

"Very good of you; but what were you just saying to Robsy?" demanded
Owen.

"I told him to move his traps out of our room; and I shall do the same
with mine," I replied.

"You will do nothing of the sort," protested my cousin.

"What's the reason I won't?"

"Because the lady shall have my state room; and her father and I will
just take berths in the cabin."

Before I could say anything more, Owen rushed down into the cabin, and
I followed him.



CHAPTER VI.

MOONLIGHT AND MUSIC ON BOARD.


Owen called the steward and the waiter, and directed them to move all
his luggage from the state-room. He assisted himself in the work, and
seemed to be very much in earnest.

"I don't ask you to do this, Owen; and I didn't expect you to do it," I
protested.

"Did you expect me to be a swine?" demanded he indignantly.

"No, certainly not; but I have no right to do anything to deprive you
of the comfort you pay for," I replied.

"But who are these people, Alick?"

"They haven't even given me their names; I know nothing whatever in
regard to them. Rather than have them stay out in the street, I was
ready to give up my room."

"It's all right, Alick. Give the lady my state-room, and I will take a
berth. The curtains draw out in such a way as to make a little room in
front of each bunk, and I shall be just as well off as in my room."

"I don't like to have you do this. Won't you take my room? I will have
it fitted up for you in as good style as this cabin; and it is twice as
large as this room."

"No, I thank you, Alick. I shall be very comfortable in one of these
berths. Let me hear no more objections. Now bring the gentleman and his
daughter down into the cabin, and assure them they are as welcome as
they would be in their own house."

It was useless to say anything more to Owen; for when he insisted on
having his own way, he had it. I went forward and invited the strangers
below. Ben brought their trunks and other baggage after them, and they
were soon installed in their new quarters.

"What a lovely little room!" exclaimed Miss Margie, as I showed the
state-room. "It is ever so much nicer than the one I had in the steamer
I came across the ocean in!"

"I am sorry I have not another state-room for you, sir," I said to her
father, as I came out of the daughter's room. "But we will do the best
we can for you."

I pulled out the slide to which the curtains were attached, in front of
one of the berths.

"Nothing could be better than that," replied the gentleman, with
enthusiasm. "We are better lodged than we were in that boarding-house.
The only fear is that we are intruding."

"Not at all, sir. The gentleman that charters the yacht wished me to
say to you that you are as welcome as you could be in your own house."

"I will soon pay my respects to him. I dare say he is the owner of this
delightful little craft."

"No, sir; he only charters her."

"And who is the owner of her?"

"I am the owner, sir."

"Bless me! You are quite a young man to be the owner of such a fine
little vessel," said the new passenger. "Will you favor me with your
name?"

"Alexander Garningham," I replied, not supposing my name could be of
any particular consequence to him.

"Garningham! I half suspected it!" ejaculated the gentleman. "I have a
letter for you."

"A letter for me, sir!" I exclaimed, wondering who could have given him
such a missive.

"It is very strange that I should stumble on you in this manner, when I
have been looking for you all over the country," continued the
gentleman, fumbling his pockets for the letter.

I almost came to the conclusion that he was a "fraud," trying to play
some trick upon me, in the interest of Captain Boomsby, or some other
designing person, when he produced the letter. He handed it to me. I
instantly recognized the peculiar handwriting of my father. It thrilled
me to my very soul. I glanced at the superscription. It was my name in
the familiar writing. Under it was, "By the hand of the Hon. Pardon
Tiffany."

"Mr. Tiffany, I am very happy to meet you," I said, when I had read
what was on the outside of the letter.

"Captain Alick Garningham, I am more than happy to see you," he
replied, grasping my hand. "I know all about you from your father."

I excused myself, and opened the letter; but it was only an
introduction, written just before my father started for India. He spoke
of Mr. Tiffany as his best and truest friend in England, who was to
travel a year or more in America.

"How long have you been in this country, Mr. Tiffany?" I asked,
thinking it very strange, from the date of the letter, that I had not
seen him before.

"Less than four months. I was ill after your father started for India,
and was unable to leave home till six months later than I had
intended," he replied. "I suppose you hear from your father
occasionally?"

"I have not heard from him since he left for India," I replied.

I saw that he knew nothing of the events which had occurred since I
left Lake St. Clair. It took me an hour to tell the story in full. He
seemed to be greatly astonished when I told him that the person who
chartered the steam-yacht was my cousin, Owen Garningham. He knew most
of the family, though he had never met Owen, who had been away at
school, or on his travels on the Continent, when he visited my father.

Miss Margie had come out of her state-room some time before I finished
my story; but she busied herself with a book till we had concluded our
conference. I asked them both to go on deck with me, and I introduced
them to my passengers. Owen did not appear to know Mr. Tiffany, or to
know of him when his name was mentioned. I thought it was best not to
say anything at present. Both of the guests were treated with the
utmost consideration and kindness by Owen and the Shepards. The story
of the fire was rehearsed, and Miss Margie was the heroine of the hour.

The afternoon was wearing away, and I had yet made no inquiries in
regard to Cornwood. I knew not where to find the person to whom he had
referred me at the house which had been burned. I ordered the boat
again, and went on shore. I found a party at one of the hotels who had
employed the Floridian, and they spoke in the highest terms of him. The
natives of St. Augustine usually smiled when I asked about Cornwood;
but no one said anything against him that I did not know--that he was
"airy" and given to "brag." It was about dark when I returned, but the
Floridian was still on board.

"I am sorry to hear that Colonel Estwell's house has been burned," said
Cornwood, as I came on deck. "It was doing a good business, and the
fire will be a heavy blow to the Colonel. I suppose you heard nothing
bad about me."

"Nothing very bad. I engage you at the terms you named for the time the
steam-yacht remains in Florida," I added. "You will have a berth in the
forward cabin, and mess with the officers."

"You will have no occasion to regret what you have done," said the
Floridian, confidently.

"I hope not. Now, can you find a waiter for me?" I continued,
explaining the need of additional help in the steward's department.

"A waiter! Fifty more than there are in the city could find places in
one hour," said he, laughing at the apparent absurdity of the question.
"However, as you have applied to me, I have no doubt I can find one for
you."

"Do you think you can?" I asked, rather anxiously. "I have added two
more persons to the company to be cared for at the cabin-table, and we
shall get nothing to eat in the forward cabin if we don't have more
help."

"You shall have a waiter if I have to take him out of the dining-room
of the St. Augustine Hotel," replied Mr. Cornwood, with as much
assurance as though all the waiters in the city were under his charge.

I sent him ashore in the starboard boat; and Buck and Landy, the crew,
were glad to spend an hour in the city. In less than that time the
Floridian returned, and with him was the waiter. When the new man came
into my room to see me, I was not a little surprised to find he was the
same "yellow man" I had seen in the boat that brought off the guide the
first time he boarded the Sylvania.

He was a remarkably good-looking fellow, and I soon ascertained that he
was as intelligent as he was handsome. His name was Griffin Leeds. He
was neither a Spaniard nor an Italian, but an octoroon.

Both the guide and the waiter brought off their baggage in the boat.
Among the effects of Griffin Leeds I noticed a violin-case. Tom Sands,
the cabin-waiter, whom I had obtained at Jacksonville, played the banjo
in the most artistic manner. Neither of the waiters were any common
sort of colored men; and I soon found that race distinctions were
vastly more insisted on by these men than by any white man on board,
unless it was the Floridian.

We had a full table in the forward cabin at supper that night, and
Griffin Leeds showed that he thoroughly understood his business, and
that he was active and zealous besides. I was very well pleased with
him, and so were all the other officers of the steamer.

It was a bright moonlight evening, and the air was soft and balmy. I
sat with the passengers under the awning on the quarter-deck. By this
time Edith and Margie had got along far enough to sit with their arms
around each other's waists. One would think they had known each other
for years, they were so affectionate. We were talking about the voyage
down from the Great Lakes, when the attention of the whole party was
attracted by the music of a violin on the hurricane-deck. The
instrument was well played. Presently the volume of the music was
increased by the addition of a banjo.

"That's good," said Owen. "I think music, even if it isn't first-class,
is delightful on the water."

"It is perfectly charming!" exclaimed Edith.

"It seems almost like fairy-land!" added Margie.

I saw that all hands were in the gangway; then a violoncello, of whose
existence on board I was not aware, was passed up to the
hurricane-deck. Landy Perkins played on this instrument, which had been
purchased at St. George. I knew that Ben Bowman had formerly played in
the Montomercy Brass Band, and I saw him mount the ladder with his
cornet. In a few minutes our band was playing "There's music in the
air," though the first attempts were evidently not entirely
satisfactory to the musicians. After an hour's practice together the
music improved.

We sat on deck till a late hour. The next day, under the guidance of
Mr. Cornwood, the party visited the coquina quarries on Anastasia
Island, and wandered over the city again. In the evening the band
played again, reinforced by the Floridian, who played the cornet. He
told me confidentially that he was not in the habit of playing with
"niggers," but he was willing to do anything to contribute to the
pleasure of the party. I thought it was very condescending in him.

After three days at St. Augustine we sailed for Jacksonville.



CHAPTER VII.

THE ENEMY IN A NEW BUSINESS.


We had three ladies on board; but Tom Sands was the bedroom steward as
well as waiter, and I thought this was not just the thing. I came to
the conclusion, before we left St. Augustine, that we ought to have a
stewardess to wait upon the ladies. I spoke to Mr. Cornwood, and in a
few hours more we had Chloe, the wife of Griffin Leeds, duly installed
in that position.

She had no children, and did not appear to be more than twenty years
old. She was very neat and lively, and the ladies were much pleased
with her. She had had experience on a Charleston and a St. Johns
steamer. The forecastle of the Sylvania had not been used on the cruise
except as a store-room, and I had this prepared for the use of Leeds
and his wife. Peeks and Sands slept in the cabin; and if the stewardess
was wanted in the night, she could be called.

It was only a six or seven hours' run to Jacksonville, especially as we
had a strong south-westerly breeze, and carried all sail in addition to
our steam. We started at an early hour in the morning, so as to have
the tide right to cross the bar at the mouth of the river.

"You needn't put that flag in the fore-rigging," said Mr. Cornwood,
when he discovered the signal for a pilot flying, as we approached the
bar.

"Why not?" I asked, forgetting some of the wonderful things he had told
me he could do.

"I am a pilot for any waters of Florida, and I can take the steamer
across the bar as well as any man you will pay for this service," he
added, apparently hurt by the appearance of the ensign on the foremast.

"But you have neither branch nor warrant; and if anything should happen
to the Sylvania while she has not a regular pilot on board, my
passengers would never forgive me."

"But I know that bar as well as I knew the rooms in my father's house,"
protested the Floridian.

"But you are not an authorized pilot," I insisted.

I could not see why he was so strenuous about the matter, unless it was
because he thought I distrusted his ability. The steamer was not
insured, so that nothing depended upon that matter; but I could not
trust a pilot whose ability had not been proved. Cornwood was quite
sulky about the matter for some time, and declared that, if he was to
be of no use on board he did not care to remain. He had some
self-respect, and he could not take his salary if he did not earn it.

When the pilot came on board it proved to be the same one who had taken
us over in December. He had a great deal to say about the exciting
events of that day; and as he stood at the wheel he asked many
questions about the steamer and the man who had attempted to wreck her.

"I took an ice schooner up to Jacksonville about three weeks ago, and I
stopped a day in the city," said the pilot. "You see, I live on Fort
George Island, and when I go up to the city I always come down again as
soon as I can; but this time I stopped over for a day, for I had a
chance to bring a vessel down. I went into a saloon on Bay Street, and
who should I see behind the bar but the man that ran the other
steam-yacht into this one, or tried to do so, and got the boot on
t'other leg."

"What, Captain Boomsby?" I asked, astonished at the information.

"Yes, that's the name. I had forgotten what it was; and he hadn't got
his sign out then."

"Do you mean to say that he is in business in Jacksonville?" I asked.

"He keeps a saloon there."

"What sort of a saloon?"

"Why, a bar-room," replied the pilot, laughing. "He told me he had been
up north since I saw him, and had brought his family down. He lives
overhead the saloon; and he seemed to be doing a lively business."

"I am afraid he will be his own best customer," I added.

"I reckon he is, for he was getting rather full when I saw him."

"He talked about coming to Florida when I saw him in Michigan; but he
said he was going into the business of raising early vegetables and
oranges."

"He has got a place up the river, and means to raise truck for the
market besides. He must have some money."

"I think he has considerable property. He did not find farming in
Michigan as profitable as he expected. He is one of those men who want
to coin money all at once."

Shortly after noon we came to anchor off the city. The pilot leaped
into his canoe, and boarded a steamer going down the river. Colonel
Shepard was in a hurry to go on shore, and I landed him at once. The
steward went off to the market for ice and fresh provisions in the
other boat. I did not expect all my passengers to remain on board while
we were at Jacksonville. The Colonel had a house which had been badly
damaged by fire while we were here in December, and I had no doubt he
would occupy it, with his family, while we remained here.

He was not absent more than an hour, for his house was on St. James
Park, a short distance from the shore. Everything about it had been put
in complete repair, and it was ready for occupancy. In the afternoon we
landed the family, and the Hon. Mr. Tiffany and his daughter were
invited to go with them. The Sylvania seemed to be deserted when they
were gone; but in a few days we were to begin the trip up the river,
and in the meantime take the party on such excursions as they desired
to make. Of course Owen went with the Shepards.

Chloe had made herself so agreeable to the ladies that they desired her
to accompany them on shore. The steamer was in first-rate condition,
and there was nothing for anybody to do but eat and sleep. Mr. Kirby
Cornwood was still sulky because he had not been permitted to pilot the
vessel up from the ocean; but I was not disposed to comfort him. About
four o'clock, it was so quiet on board, I thought I would go on shore
for a while. Washburn was asleep in our room, and I did not disturb
him, for we had all been up till after midnight the night before,
listening to the music, and enjoying the moonlight.

I landed at the boat wharf opposite the Grand National Hotel, on Bay
Street. This is the principal street of the city, and both sides of it
are lined with stores, warehouses, and the principal public buildings.
It extends parallel with the river. At one end of it is the railroad
station and the Grand National; near the other end are the Carlton
Hotel and the Yacht Club house. Nearly all the business of the city is
done on this street.

When the stranger leaves Bay Street he seems to enter another country
in passing the distance of a single square. About all the other streets
are bordered with live-oaks or water-oaks, and every house has a
flower-garden and an orange grove, on a small scale. The balconies and
verandas are loaded with vines, which are in full flower in March. The
air is scented with the fragrance of the jasmine. The sidewalks are of
wood, and the roads are the original soil, which looks like the blue
house-sand of the North.

St. James Park is two squares from Bay Street. All of one side of it is
occupied by the St. James Hotel. In the centre of the park is a small
kiosk, from which one may take in the surroundings. Like all the rest
of Florida, even the fertile orange groves, the soil looks like blue
sand. There are plenty of semi-tropical plants, and the scene is as
unlike anything in the North as possible. In every lot there are
orange-trees, with oranges on them; but they are not the eatable fruit.
They are bitter or sour oranges, which remain on the trees all winter.

The orange-trees blossom in March; and then the air is densely loaded
with their perfume. The leaves remain green all winter; but in the
early spring they begin to put forth new shoots and leaves. The old
leaves are dark green, and the new ones light. On the same tree may be
seen the old and the new leaves, the ripe fruit, and the richly-scented
blossoms. Coming from the frozen North in March, the traveller seems to
be hurled into "eternal summer," more like fairy-land than anything
else, as the wheels whirl him into Jacksonville.

I had seen the place in December, coming from the summer of a more
northern latitude. I had spent the winter in more tropical regions, and
the flowers and the oranges were nothing new to me. When I landed I was
thinking of the post-office, which was my first objective point. We had
been moving about so much that I had not received a single letter since
I left Jacksonville in December. The post-office is on Bay Street,
nearer the northern than the southern end of the street. I walked in
that direction; but I had not gone ten rods before I saw Captain
Boomsby standing at the door of one of the numerous saloons on that
street.

I halted to look at him. His face was very red, and he had grown quite
stout since he sailed the Great West, in which I had had the roughest
experience of my lifetime with him. He wore no coat, for his fat and
the fires of the whiskey he drank kept him in a fever-heat all the
time. I kept back behind a pile of goods on the sidewalk while I
surveyed him, and I hoped he would not see me. He seemed to be waiting
for customers; and though I desired him to have none, I wished him to
retire within his shop, and allow me to pass without being seen.

I was dressed in the full uniform of the steam-yacht, with a white
canvas cap. He had seen me in this rig enough to know it, and my
chances of passing him without being seen were very small. But I was
not afraid of him, and I was rather ashamed of the idea of dodging him.
Taking the outside of the sidewalk, and looking intently at the other
side of the street, where the retail dry-goods and curiosity shops were
located, I attempted to get by the saloon without being seen by its
proprietor.

"Why, Sandy, how are you?" demanded Captain Boomsby, rushing out to me
and seizing me by the hand.

In spite of my hanging back, he dragged me to the door of the saloon.

"How do you do, Captain Boomsby?" I replied coldly.

"Come in and take sunthin', Sandy," he persisted, dragging me into the
saloon in spite of my resistance. "You are about man-grown now, and I
cal'late you can take a drop of whiskey, on a pinch."

"No, I thank you; I never take any," I replied, disgusted with his
manner and his invitation.

"You hain't been to sea all this time without learnin' to take your
grog?" he continued, with a coarse laugh.

"I never drank a drop in my life, and I don't mean to do so," I
answered.

"You'll learn in good time. Set down, Sandy, and tell me where you've
been."

I told him in as few words as possible where I had been, and answered
all his questions about my passengers. Then he told me he lived over
the saloon, and insisted that I should go up and see the "old woman." I
was a little curious to see Mrs. Boomsby, and I followed him up-stairs.



CHAPTER VIII.

A DISAGREEABLE ROOM-MATE.


I had not seen Mrs. Boomsby for several years; and though I had no
reason to expect anything but abuse from her, my curiosity induced me
to see her. If anything, she was more of a tyrant than her brutal
husband, and I had no occasion to thank her for anything she had done
for me. She was the more plucky of the pair, and it had surprised me,
years before, to learn that she "ruled the roost." At that time the
captain was actually afraid of her.

"You have got pretty well up in the world, Captain Boomsby," I said
when we had gone up two flights of stairs and were about to ascend a
third.

"Well, you see, I let all these lower rooms; and the folks is jest as
well off up three pair of stairs as up one," he replied, almost out of
breath, for the stairs told more heavily on him than on me. "Besides, I
like to have the old woman as far as I can from the business; she don't
interfere so much then."

The old reprobate chuckled then as though he had said something smart;
but I would have given a quarter to have had his wife overhear the
remark, for the fun of the scene that would have ensued.

"Parker Boomsby! where on earth air you goin'?" shouted a shrill, but
very familiar voice on the floor below us.

"All right," replied the captain, evidently much disturbed by the call.
"I thought she was up here; but she always turns up just where you
don't want her. But come up, Sandy; I want to show you a room I've
fixed up."

"No, I thank you; as Mrs. Boomsby is not up here, I think I will go
down," I replied, beginning to retrace my steps.

"What are you doin' with strangers up gerret, Parker Boomsby?" demanded
the lady on the floor below.

"I've got sunthin' up here that belongs to you, Sandy; I want to give
it to you," pleaded the captain. "I fetched you up here to give it to
you afore I took you in to see the old woman."

I concluded that he had some reason for taking me to the attic of the
house, and I was curious to know what it was. It is true he had led me
to believe that his wife was in this part of the house; but that might
have been one of his huge jokes. I followed him up the last flight of
stairs. I was then on the fourth floor of the house. There were two
large and two small chambers in this attic, none of which appeared to
be furnished.

"It is in this room," said Captain Boomsby, leading me into the rear
hall chamber. "It's a little grain dark in here."

I saw that the window that looked out on the river-side of the house
had been boarded up. He led the way into the room, and I followed him.

"I've got a picter of you when you wasn't more'n four year old. It was
taken when you was in the poor-house, by a feller that come along
taking picters, to show what he could do. It hangs on the wall over
here," continued the captain, passing between me and the door. "You can
look at it all the rest of the day, if you like."

Suddenly he dodged out of the door, and I heard the bolt spring as he
locked the door behind him. I had not expected that he would resort to
any trick to get possession of me; and I had been as unsuspicious as
though I were on board of the Sylvania. In fact, I was amazed at the
hardihood of the man in attempting to make a prisoner of me in this
manner. For some reason or other, I was not at all alarmed at my
situation. I did not consider the door absolutely invulnerable; and I
was confident that I had strength enough to remove the boards that had
been nailed up before the window.

When I had been in the room a few minutes, there was light enough which
came through the cracks in the boards before the window to enable me to
see where I was. There was not an article of furniture of any kind in
the apartment. The boards appeared to be securely fastened, not with
nails, as I had supposed, but with screws. The boards were of hard
pine, and about as strong as oak. My prison was stronger than it seemed
at first.

I came to the conclusion before I had been in the room ten minutes,
that this apartment had been prepared for my reception. Captain Boomsby
knew that the Sylvania was to return to Jacksonville, as others did. It
was plain that he had not yet given up the idea of possessing the
steamer. He claimed to be my guardian, and to have the legal right to
possess whatever belonged to me. Carrington had told him my father was
dead, and he believed he could carry his point. I had certainly been
bound out to him until I was of age; but he had surrendered all his
claims to me in writing to my father, though this document had been
destroyed in the fire.

The fact that I had a father, rendered his claim upon me of no value. I
was satisfied that no lawyer would undertake the case he proposed to
make out against me. I learned that he had tried in Charleston to
employ a legal gentleman to assist him in his work of getting
possession of the steamer; but no one could furnish any warrant of law
for the proceeding. I was not disposed to bother my head with the legal
aspect of the case, for my ancient enemy certainly had no legal right
to kidnap me, and make me a prisoner in his own house. I was a
prisoner; and when I came to a realizing sense of the fact, I was ready
for business.

"What on airth are you doin' up here, Parker Boomsby?" snarled the wife
of that worthy; and as I stood at the door of my prison, I could hear
her pant from the violence of her exertions in ascending the stairs,
for, like her liege lord, she had greatly increased her avoirdupois
since I lived with the family at Glossenbury. Possibly she drank too
much whiskey, like the companion of her joys and sorrows, though I had
no information on this point. I only knew that she used to take a
little when she was too hot or too cold, when she was wet or when she
was dry.

"Hush, Nancy! Don't cut up now!" pleaded the master of the house, as
perhaps he supposed he was.

"Don't talk to me, Parker Boomsby! What are you a-doin' up here? What
sort of a con-spy-racy be you gittin' up at this blessed moment? Don't
talk to me about cuttin' up! It is you that is allus cuttin' up, and
never tellin' your peaceful, sufferin' wife what you are doin',"
replied Mrs. Boomsby; and I was confident she had been drinking to some
extent, from her maudlin tones.

"Hush, Nancy! I've got Sandy Duddleton, with all his fine sodjer's
clothes on, in that room," said the captain, in a tone of triumph. "I
shall make him give up that steam-yachet; and I shall run her as a
reg'lar line up to Green Cove Springs, stoppin' at our orange farm both
ways," replied Captain Boomsby, using his best efforts to appease the
anger of his spouse.

"Hev you got him in there?" demanded the lady, evidently entirely
mollified by the announcement of her husband. "I want to see him. I
hain't sot eyes on him sence I see him in Michigan."

"It won't do to open the door: he'll git away if I do. Wait till he
gits tamed down a little, and then you shall see him. Good gracious! I
forgot all about the bar! Jest as like as not some nigger will come in
and help hisself to the best liquor behind the counter. Run down,
Nancy, and tell Nicholas to tend to the bar," said the captain.

"Run down yourself, you old fool!" replied the amiable lady. "Do you
think I come clear up here for nothin'? I want to see Sandy Duddleton
in his sodjer's clothes."

"It won't do to open that door: he will git out if you do. But I must
go down and look out for the bar. I shouldn't wonder if I had lost ten
cents by this time," replied Captain Boomsby; and I heard his heavy
step on the stairs as he went down.

A moment later I heard a hand applied to the handle of the door, and I
had no doubt it was Mrs. Boomsby trying to open it in order to obtain a
view of "Sandy Duddleton," which was the name by which I was known when
an inmate of the poor-house. But the door was locked, and the key was
in the pocket of the proprietor of the saloon. The lady seemed to be
angry because she could not get into the room where I was; and I must
add that I was also sorry she could not, for if she could get in, I
could get out.

She tried the door several times, but she could not get in. She said
nothing to me; and as I expected no assistance from her, I said
nothing. Presently I heard her step on the stairs, hardly less heavy
than that of her husband. I concluded that it must be five o'clock by
this time; and looking at my watch, I found it was half an hour later.
I wanted to get out before dark; and so far, I had not matured any plan
to accomplish this purpose. I went to the window, and examined the
boards which had been screwed up before it.

I had a large jack-knife in my pocket, which I had carried for several
years. It had a kind of scimitar-shaped blade I had used when at work
on rigging. But I had little hope of being able to remove the screws
from the hard pine, which was as hard to work as oak. I struck a match
I had in my pocket, and by the light of it made a careful examination
of the screw-heads in the boards. I saw that holes had been bored in
the wood to admit the screws: indeed, it would have been impossible to
get them through without boring. Of course this would make it easier to
remove the screws.

But what was the use of taking down the boards in front of the window?
I could not jump down from the attic floor of the building. Yet I could
go to the next window, come into the house again, and then go
down-stairs, the same as anybody would. I noticed that the lowest board
was not more than two inches wide: it had been cut to fit what remained
uncovered of the window. I applied my knife to the screws in this
narrow strip. Though they were hard to move, I succeeded in getting
them out. But the labor of taking down the rest of the boards, or
enough of them to enable me to pass out, was so great that I was
discouraged in the attempt to accomplish it. The end of the knife-blade
did not fit the slit of the screw.

The removal of the narrow board admitted light enough to enable me to
see all about the room. Next to the door which opened into the hall was
another, which I concluded led into a closet. There was no picture of
me when I was a small child; and I wondered if Captain Boomsby had
invented that fable on the spot. I was not willing to believe it. It
would have required too great an exercise of imaginative power for him;
and it was not unlikely that he had spent weeks in evolving the
brilliant fiction.

I did not expect to be left alone and unguarded for any great length of
time. My persecutor knew that I had some enterprise about me, and that
I would not tamely submit to my imprisonment. Perhaps he noticed that I
wore light shoes, and should not be likely to kick the door down with
them, as I might if I had on thick cowhide boots. I picked up the
narrow strip of board I had removed from the window; it was very heavy
for its size. If I had got a purchase on the door of the room, I could
have pried it down; but there was no chance to get hold of it.

Possibly there was something in the closet that would aid me. I opened
the door. As I did so, an ugly-looking snake darted out into the room.
He coiled himself up in one corner of the room and showed fight, while
I fled to the opposite corner.



CHAPTER IX.

A BATTLE WITH THE SERPENT.


I had no idea what the snake was, for I had never seen one of that kind
before. I am not particularly afraid of snakes, though they are very
disagreeable to me. When I was at work in the field as a farmer, I
suppose I never lost an opportunity to kill one that came in my way.
But all these were harmless reptiles, and of late years I have not been
disposed to meddle with them.

The snake that introduced himself to me so unexpectedly was not more
than three feet long. He was of a greenish-brown color, with some
yellow on the sides. I had the strip of board I had taken from the
window in my hand when the reptile darted out of the closet. I don't
think he had any particular intentions, at first, except to get out of
his prison, as I had to get out of mine. I could not blame him for
anything he had done so far. Like myself, he was a prisoner, and we
ought to have been in full sympathy with each other.

I had released his snakeship from one prison, and placed him so much
nearer to entire freedom. To this extent I was entitled to his
gratitude, though I did not expect much of him. As he darted out of the
closet, I sprang from his path into the corner of the room, behind the
hall-door. The next instant he was coiled into a round heap. Then he
raised his head from the middle of the coil about a foot, as it seemed
to me, though it could hardly have been so high.

So far from feeling anything like gratitude for the favor I had done
him, the villain made war upon me. Suddenly he made a spring at me; but
I had both eyes wide open, and was watching him with the most intense
anxiety. As he leaped, I hit him with the stick in my hand; and he
fetched up against the wall, on the inside of the closet. I have no
doubt his striking against the partition caused some confusion in his
ideas: at any rate, he dropped on the floor, and began to wriggle about
in such a manner as no decent snake would, unless his ideas were
confused.

[Illustration: A BATTLE WITH THE SERPENT. Page 94.]

My curiosity in regard to that identical snake was entirely satisfied,
and I made haste to close the closet-door. I felt that I had no further
business with that snake. It has taken me some time to tell about this
reptile; but I think the villain was not out of the closet more than
three seconds; at any rate, it was a very few seconds. He did business
with great rapidity. He had lost no time in coming out of his prison,
and none in making his attack on me. He had wasted no time in
conducting operations; and if I had not had the bit of board in my
hand, I am afraid the snake would have got the better of me.

At the time I had no acquaintance with this snake, though he never
waits for a formal introduction when he means business. I know now that
he was a moccasin. I saw many of them in the woods of Florida. They are
as venomous as the rattlesnake, and are even more dreaded by many
people, for they give no notice of their intention to strike. In the
English books of natural history this snake is called the water viper.
The copperhead is one of the same sort.

I felt as happy as the patron saint of Ireland must have felt after he
had boxed up the old serpent, and sunk him at the bottom of the lake. I
had the enemy where he could not harm me, for it was not possible for
him to make his way through the door. I took the precaution to see that
there were no holes or cracks through which the snake could again force
himself into my unwilling company. I could find no opening of any kind.
For the present I felt entirely safe.

Though I did not know anything about the kind of snake I was shut up
with, I felt from the beginning that he was poisonous, and that his
bite would make an end of me. I had closeted him; and now I had time to
consider the situation. I came promptly to the conclusion that he was
put into that closet for my benefit. The conspiracy seemed to be almost
too crafty for Captain Boomsby; though I knew that he was capable of
doing such a thing.

When I had considered this subject for a few minutes, I found my blood
boiling with indignation. Before I saw the snake, I was more inclined
to regard the whole trick in the light of a practical joke, rather than
as a serious matter. It seemed to me just then that my ancient enemy,
in his bargain with Carrington, intended to resort to some such device
to get rid of me.

I did not intend to spend the night in that attic chamber; and when my
blood began to boil, I aimed a blow at one of the panels of the door
with the heavy stick in my hand. The thin board that formed this part
of the door split under the blow. I followed it up as though I had been
chopping wood. The panel shivered under the vigorous assault I made
upon it. In a minute, I had a hole through. Inserting my stick in the
opening, I pried out the rest of the panel. But the hole was not big
enough to admit the passage of my body.

I had hardly succeeded in making a breach in the door, before I heard
the most lusty screams in the lower part of the house. I had no
difficulty in recognizing the voice of Mrs. Boomsby. She heard the
noise of my bombardment, and was calling her husband in her usual
affectionate manner. But I was not at all disturbed by the outcry. I
was even willing they should bring the police to their assistance. But
I did not expect any outside aid would be called in, for that would do
the Boomsbys more harm than it would me. In a word, I did not care who
came: I intended to break my way out of my prison, all the same.

Placing my stick edgeways in the opening I had made, I had a good
leverage, the end of the bar being outside of the stile of the door,
and the face of it against the middle piece. I pushed against the end
of the lever with all the power I had. The middle stile snapped in the
mortise, for the whole door was not more than an inch and a quarter
thick. I had broken out the mortise, and the lever went "home." I could
no longer apply the implement with effect, and I expected every minute
to see the portly form of Captain Boomsby on the stairs, hurrying up to
save his prisoner. But I had no fear of him: if he attempted to prevent
my departure, I should use the stick as an argument with him, as I had
done with the door.

Finding I could no longer use the lever to advantage, I grasped the
middle piece of the door with both hands, and gave a desperate pull at
it. There were no nails or pins to resist me, and the parts of the door
snapped like pipe-stems. I wrenched out the middle piece, and then the
other panel. Then I had an opening in the door eighteen inches wide,
which was almost enough to permit the passage of my fat foe.

The middle piece and both panels of the upper part of the door lay in
many pieces on the floor, in the room, and in the hall. I used all
reasonable haste in making my way through the opening I had forced.
When I was in the hall, I began to feel good-natured again; for I will
not deny that I was mad when I realized my relations with that snake. I
did not care a straw for Captain Boomsby. If it came to the worst, I
believed I could "handle" him, to use his own choice phrase, with the
aid of the stick in my hand. I was determined not to let the piece of
hard pine go out of my hands while I remained in the house.

Mrs. Boomsby was still shouting for "Parker Boomsby," for she always
called him by his full name when she was excited. I was willing she
should shout. I felt quite cool, composed, and pleasant. I was ready to
make an orderly retreat from the house. But I had not lost all interest
in that snake, which I believed was intended for my executioner. I put
my head into the opening I had made in the door. I found I could reach
the door of the closet; and with a very hasty movement I threw it wide
open.

I wondered whether or not I had killed his snakeship when I poked him
back into his prison. The last I had seen of him he was wriggling on
the floor, stirring himself up in the most lively manner. But the
reptile immediately proved that I had not killed him by darting out
into the room as lively as he had done the same thing before. I did not
believe it was possible for him to get out through the opening by which
I had escaped from my prison; but I was not quite willing to wait to
test the question. The villain could crawl like most other snakes with
which I was familiar, but he also had a talent for leaping. I
considered it wise and prudent to begin my retreat without any delay.

I took a last look at the snake. He had retreated to the corner of the
room opposite the closet-door and coiled himself up, with his head in
the centre. He kept his eyes fixed on me, or I fancied he did. He
looked as ugly as sin itself. He seemed to me to be as near like
Captain Boomsby as one pin is like another. They both did business on
the same principle. Mentally I bade him an affectionate adieu. So far
as I was concerned, he seemed to have none of the serpent's power of
fascination, for I had not the slightest inclination to continue gazing
at him after I had gratified my curiosity. I descended the upper flight
of stairs. The doors of the rooms on this floor were all open, and I
saw that the two rear chambers were furnished as bedrooms.

I went into one of these rooms, and seated myself in a chair. Mrs.
Boomsby was on the floor below, standing at the head of the stairs,
calling for her husband. It has taken me a long time to record the
incidents of my escape so far, and my reflections upon them; but when I
looked at my watch I found that only eight minutes had elapsed since I
consulted it before, at half past five. Probably it was not five
minutes from the time I first saw the snake till I was seated in the
chair in the room below. The lady of the house had not, therefore,
stood a great while in her present position. Her husband had had time
enough to come up-stairs since he was first called, but he probably had
a customer in the saloon.

As I sat in the chair, I suddenly began to wonder whether snakes had a
talent for coming down-stairs. The idea was just a little bit
appalling, for I had no desire to meet his snakeship again. Neither the
stairs nor the halls were carpeted. If he came down in the usual way, I
should be likely to hear him tumbling down the steps. But I rejected
this idea; for on further reflection I concluded that a snake would not
come down like a man, when there was a better way for one of his habits
to accomplish the purpose. Whatever the villain was, if he came down at
all, he would take to the stair-rail. I felt sure of this, for it
seemed to be the most natural thing for a snake to do.

I could not see how the snake was to get out of the room. I did not
think he could crawl up to the opening I had made, for there was
nothing for him to fasten to in his ascent. It did not seem to me that
he could get out unless he made a flying leap through the opening. I
was by no means sure he could not do this; and I did not care to wait
for him to experiment on the matter. Just then it occurred to me that I
was not the only person liable to be bitten by that snake. As I thought
of it, I walked down the stairs. I knew that Mrs. Boomsby had a mortal
terror of snakes when I lived with the family.

She confronted me in the hall of the second story.



CHAPTER X.

THE FELLOW IN THE LOCK-UP.


"You abominable wretch!" exclaimed Mrs. Boomsby, placing her arms
akimbo, and looking at me with the utmost ferocity, so that between her
and the snake I found there was little choice. "What are you a-doin' in
my house?"

"Getting out of it, Mrs. Boomsby," I replied, with the good-nature I
had been nursing up-stairs for several minutes.

I wondered whether she knew anything about the snake. The bare thought
was enough to assure me that she did not. She would no more have
permitted the captain, or any other person, to bring the most harmless
reptile into the house, than she would have opened her sleeping
apartment for the reception of the sea-serpent, in which both she and
her husband believed as in the ocean itself.

"What are you a-doin' here? Can't you let us be here no more'n you
could in Michigan? Must you pursue us wherever we go?" demanded the
lady, putting the matter in an entirely new light to me, for I believed
I had always been able and willing to keep away from the Boomsbys.

"I was invited up-stairs to see you," I began.

"Don't tell me that! Do you think I live in the garret?"

"I thought we were going rather high up; but I supposed Captain Boomsby
knew where to find you," I replied, smiling as sweetly as though there
were no snakes in the Land of Flowers. "But it seems that your husband
lured me up there to make a prisoner of me. He locked me into the
little room in the rear attic, which he had fitted up for me by
screwing boards over the window."

"Don't tell me such a ry-dicerlous story! I don't believe a word on't.
Nobody ever could believe a word you say, Sandy Duddleton!"

"You know very well that I was up there; for I heard your husband tell
you so. You talked with him about it, and insisted upon seeing me. But
I don't wish to dispute about this matter with you, for I don't think
you understand all his plans," I replied, moving towards the head of
the stairs, while she planted herself before me so as to prevent my
going down.

"Don't talk to me, Sandy Duddleton!"

"I won't talk to you if you will get out of my way, and let me out of
the house," I replied, trying to get by her.

"What be you go'n' to do with that stick?" she asked, as she placed
herself in front of me.

But I saw that she had a reasonable respect for the stick, and she was
milder than I had seen her twenty times before. I looked about me to
see if there was any other flight of stairs which would take me to the
street, or to the back yard, which opened into a lane by the shore of
the river. From the lower hall a door opened into the saloon; and this
was the way by which I had come up. I stood in the hall with my back to
a door, which I concluded must lead to the rear of the house. Without
turning around, I opened this door.

"What be you a-doin'?" demanded Mrs. Boomsby, when she saw that she was
flanked; for a glance behind me revealed the back stairs. "Parker
Boomsby, come right up here, this minute!" she called down the front
stairs.

"I won't trouble the captain," I interposed. "I have a word to say to
you before I go, Mrs. Boomsby. I don't think you knew there was a snake
about three feet long in the room where your husband made me a
prisoner."

"A snake!" gasped the lady of the house, starting back with alarm. "I
don't believe a word on't!"

But she did believe it, whatever she said.

"Yes, a snake; and I have no doubt he is a poisonous one, put there to
bite me, and make an end of me, so that the captain could get
possession of the steam-yacht!" I continued, rather vigorously, for I
was afraid I should be interrupted by the coming of the captain.

"A snake in this house! a pizen one, too!" groaned Mrs. Boomsby.

"He was put in the closet; and when I opened the door he came out and
made a spring at me. I left him in that room."

"Didn't you kill him, Sandy Duddleton? You used to kill snakes."

"I didn't kill this one, though I struck at him. I broke through the
door, and, for aught I know, the snake is following me down-stairs," I
replied deliberately. "I think you will see him coming down on the
stair-rail."

She did not wait to hear any more, but, with a tremendous scream,
rushed by me, bolted into the front room, and closed and locked the
door behind her. I certainly did not wish the reptile to bite her or
her children; but I did not think there was much danger of the villain
getting out of the room through the opening I had made in the door.

The scream of the stout lady did not appear to move her husband, who
was probably used to this sort of thing. I had put her on her guard in
case the snake did work his way out of the room and down the stairs. I
had done my duty, and I walked leisurely down to the hall. The door
leading into the saloon was still wide open. The uses of this door were
many and various. I had been not a little surprised in some of the
Southern cities to notice that the drinking-saloons were all closed on
Sunday. In some of them not even a cigar could be bought at the hotel
on that day.

Doubtless the law was as strict in Jacksonville as elsewhere; but I had
noticed that every saloon had a side door for Sunday use. The front
door of the house was closed on other days; on Sunday it was left open,
as an intimation that the saloon could be reached in that way. I
thought of this Sunday rum-selling as I noticed the arrangement of the
doors. Of course the police understood it.

I approached the door opening into the saloon, for I heard the voice of
my former tyrant. I wanted to assure him that I was happy still, and
that he had better look out for the snake before he bit any of his
family.

"He never could get out of there in this world!" exclaimed Captain
Boomsby, as I was about to enter the saloon.

"Do you think so, Captain Boomsby?" I coolly asked, as I walked into
the room.

To my astonishment, the person to whom the Captain's remark appeared to
be addressed was Mr. Kirby Cornwood, whom I had left on board of the
Sylvania, asleep under the awning. The Floridian was evidently as much
astonished to see me as I was to see him.

"We were speaking of a fellow who was arrested last night," said
Cornwood, with one of his blandest smiles. "I think he will get out of
the lock-up in less than three days; but the keeper of this place
remarked that he would never get out in this world. Only a slight
difference of opinion."

"I tell you the fellow will never get out; he isn't smart enough in the
first place, and the lock-up is stronger than you think for, Mr.--I
don't know's I know your name, though I cal'late I have seen you
somewhere afore," added Captain Boomsby.

"I reckon you have seen me here before," replied Cornwood, taking his
card from his pocket and presenting it to the captain.

"I can't read it without my glasses," said the saloon-keeper, holding
the card off at arm's length.

"My name is Kirby Cornwood," added the Floridian.

"Well, Mr. Corngood, do you----"

"My name is Cornwood," interposed the guide.

"I beg your parding, Mr. Cornwool."

"Cornwood," repeated the owner of that name, rather indignantly.

"All right, Mr. Cornwood. Do you want to bet sunthin' that man won't
git out within three days?" continued Captain Boomsby.

"I don't care to bet on it; in fact I never bet," replied Mr. Cornwood,
glancing at me, as though he expected me to approve this position,
which I certainly did, though I said nothing.

"I will bet five dollars agin three the feller gits out in less than
three days, Mr. Woodcorn," persisted Captain Boomsby.

I could not see what the captain was driving at, unless it was to vex
the Floridian by miscalling his name. I had known him to do the same
thing before. If my old tyrant had manifested some surprise at first at
seeing me, he seemed to have got over it very quickly. I was very glad
indeed to be satisfied that Cornwood had no knowledge of my
imprisonment in the attic, as I supposed he had when I entered the
saloon. I had employed him, and was then paying him five dollars a day
for doing nothing. I did not wish to believe that he was a friend of my
ancient enemy.

"Captain Boomsby, I had to break a hole through the door of the room in
which you locked me, in order to get out," I said, as soon as I had an
opportunity to get in a word.

"Then you must pay for it, for the landlord will charge it to me," said
he, promptly.

"I think not; and if it were not for the time it would take, I would
complain of you at the police office. I don't know what kind of a snake
it was you put into the closet for my benefit; but I think you will
find him running about your house by this time," I replied. "I gave
Mrs. Boomsby warning of the danger, and she has locked herself into her
room."

"What snake, Sandy Duddleton? What you talking about?" demanded the
captain. But I could see that he was not a little disturbed by the
information.

"You put a poisonous snake into the closet of that room where you
locked me in. You expected me to open the door of the closet, and let
him out. I did open the closet-door and let him out; but I did not give
him a chance to bite me," I continued, rehearsing the facts for the
benefit of Cornwood rather than my tyrant.

"What on airth are you talking about, Sandy? I don't know nothin' about
no snake," protested Captain Boomsby.

"I think you know all about the snake, and that you put him there for
my benefit. I have nothing further to say about the matter, except that
the creature is still in your house, and that he will bite one of your
children as readily as he would me. I advise you to attend to the
matter, and have him killed," I continued, moving toward the door.

"Stop a minute, Sandy," called my persecutor. "What sort of a snake was
it?"

"I don't know; I never saw one like it before."

"I guess I know sunthin' about it, arter all," said Captain Boomsby,
with a troubled look. "I had a lodger in the house, and he had an attic
room. He had a lot of young alligators, rattlesnakes, lizards, and
other critters; and I let him put 'em in that room. He screwed the
boards over the winder so they couldn't git out. I cal'late this was
one of his snakes."

I had no doubt this story was all an invention, but I had no means of
showing to the contrary. He begged me to go up-stairs, and help him
kill the "varmint;" but I declined to do this, for I was not willing
again to make myself the victim of his treachery. The captain called
his son Nicholas from the front shop, which was a cigar store, and told
him to look out for the bar.

Before he could go up-stairs two black policemen entered the saloon,
armed with sticks. Mrs. Boomsby had told them what the matter was, and
they had come in to kill the reptile. I left the premises, followed by
Cornwood.



CHAPTER XI.

THE HON. PARDON TIFFANY'S WARNING.


I learned the next day, from one of the negro policemen who had been
called in, that the snake had got out of the room where I left him, and
that he had been found on the stair-rail, a floor below where I had
confronted him. My informant told me he had killed him as he was
crawling along the rail, on his way down another flight.

"He was only tryin' to git away, sah," added the policeman. "Dey allus
run away when dey can, dem moccasins do; but dey spring at folks, and
bite when dey git cornered. Awful bad snake, sah. Wuss'n a rattlesnake.
Bite kill a man, suah."

When I left the saloon, I walked with Cornwood to the post-office. When
we were in the street, he volunteered the opinion that Captain Boomsby
was the greatest scoundrel in Jacksonville; and without going into the
comparative merits of the question, I was not disposed to dispute the
point. Cornwood seemed to feel relieved after he had expressed this
opinion, and the subject was dropped.

I had told a colored clerk in the post-office to keep all letters for
me until my return, for when we left Jacksonville I could not tell
where we were going, and I expected to be back a month sooner. He
greeted me very politely when I presented myself at the window, and
handed me a large package of letters, secured with a rubber band. I
thanked him for his kindness; and I must add that this one and another
colored clerk I saw in Charleston, were more polite and gentlemanly
than many a white clerk I have encountered in more northern cities.

Though I had received no letters for over two months, I had not failed
to write them regularly to Mr. Brickland, and to my father since I had
been assured that he was still living. I looked over the package that
had been handed to me. There were two from my father. My heart thrilled
with emotion when I recognized the handwriting. I thought no more of
Captain Boomsby and his snake.

"Will there be anything I can do for you to-day or to-night, Captain
Garningham?" asked Cornwood, as I stood looking at the outside of my
letters.

"Nothing," I replied.

"Then I think I will sleep on shore, if you have no objection," he
added.

"None whatever," I answered; and with the bundle of letters in my hand,
I was glad to get rid of him, for he was rather officious, and often
interrupted me in my state-room when there was not the least need of
it.

Cornwood raised his Panama hat, bowed politely to me, and then hastened
out of the building. He had hardly disappeared before the Hon. Mr.
Tiffany came into the office. He dropped some letters into the box, and
then approached me with a smiling face. All I had seen of this
gentleman pleased me very much. My father called him his best friend in
the letter of introduction brought to me. For this reason, if for no
other, I should have respected and esteemed him; but I was not glad to
see him at this moment. I wanted to be alone with my letters.

"Good evening, Captain Alick," said he. "I see you have a large packet
of letters, and I won't interrupt you but for a moment. Are you going
on board of the steamer now?"

"Yes, sir; I thought I would go on board and read my letters. Two of
them are from my father--the first I have received from him for many
months," I replied, wishing to have him understand my situation fully.

"I will not keep you from them a moment," he added, considerately. "But
I suppose you will not attempt to read them till you go on board?"

"No, sir," I answered, putting the two letters from my father into my
breast-pocket, with my most valuable papers, and dropping the others
into a side-pocket. "I can't read them very well in the street."

"Then I will walk with you to your boat," continued Mr. Tiffany.

"I shall go to the wharf on which the market is located, and hail the
steamer. I have found that is the best place to land."

We left the office, and walked up the street. My companion evidently
had something to say to me, and had possibly started to go on board for
the purpose of seeing me. I did not feel much interest in anything he
might have to say under the circumstances.

"Just before I joined you in the post-office, I saw you with Mr.
Cornwood. Pray don't think I wish to meddle impertinently with your
affairs, Captain Alick," said Mr. Tiffany; and he seemed to be somewhat
embarrassed about saying what he wished to say.

"By no means, sir," I replied, beginning to feel an interest in the
conversation; but rather on account of the manner than the matter of
what he said.

"Then if you won't take offence, I wish to say that I desire to warn
you in regard to this man Cornwood," continued the friend of my father.

"You desire to warn me in regard to Mr. Cornwood!" I exclaimed,
stopping short on the sidewalk, so great was my surprise at his words,
as well as his manner.

"I beg you will not take any offence at what I say, Captain Alick, for
I assure you I have nothing but the best of motives towards you,"
protested Mr. Tiffany, as we resumed our walk.

"I shall not take offence at anything you say, sir," I answered.

"After the very great service you have rendered me, you must think I am
inhuman to be ungrateful to you so soon," continued Mr. Tiffany. "I
assure you there is nothing like ingratitude in my heart; and I would
wrong myself a thousand times before I would wrong you once."

"I believe every word you say, sir: and it has not even occurred to me
to suspect your motives," I replied with energy. "The letter you
brought me from my father would cause me to put entire confidence in
you; but without that, I should not for an instant suspect you of
anything unworthy towards me, or anybody else. When you warned me
against Mr. Cornwood, I was surprised on account of something which
occurred this afternoon."

"I shall not even ask you what occurred this afternoon; and you may
keep your own counsel in regard to Mr. Cornwood. I repeat that I have
not the least desire to meddle with your affairs."

"As the best friend of my father, I am sure I should value your advice
and counsel very highly."

"I do not often counsel or advise anybody out of my own family, unless
I am asked to do so. Here is the market wharf; and I have said all I
have to say in regard to Mr. Cornwood. I only desire to warn you to
keep your eyes wide open in dealing with him, for I learned from Owen
that you have engaged the Florida person for your journey up the
river."

"Do you know anything about him, Mr. Tiffany?" I asked, as much
surprised to hear that he had nothing more to say as I had been, in the
first place, to learn that he had anything to say in regard to the
guide.

"I can't say that I do," he replied, with a rather vacant look.

"Why do you warn me against him, then?"

"That is certainly a very pertinent question, Captain Alick. I have no
right to say anything against this person, for I know nothing against
him. While I will not harm him, I warn you to look out for him."

"I suppose you must have some reason for what you say," I added, as I
waved my handkerchief in the direction of the Sylvania, as a signal for
a boat.

"Undoubtedly I have some reason for what I say. It may be enough to
cause me to suspect him. I have only asked you to look out for him, for
I do not feel at liberty to utter a word to his disparagement until I
know it is true."

Mr. Tiffany seemed to be very earnest in what he said; but I was
disappointed because he did not say more. He had been in Jacksonville a
week before he went to St. Augustine; and it was possible that he had
seen something of the guide during his stay.

"I see that you are not quite satisfied with what I have said. I cannot
blame you for feeling so; but I should blame myself if I said anything
more about this man," continued my father's friend. "I make no charge
against Cornwood; I only say, as I might if we were facing a strange
snake, he may do us harm, and we must look out for ourselves. Really,
that is all I can say about the matter."

By this time the port boat had come up to the wharf. Mr. Tiffany bade
me good night, and hastened up the pier. I was not satisfied, as he had
suggested. He suspected Cornwood of something, but he did not even say
what, much less give me the grounds for his suspicion. But I could
obtain no more, and went into the boat. In a few minutes I was on the
deck of the steamer. My supper was all ready, and I was obliged to
attend to it before I looked at my letters.

My state-room was lighted, and I was by myself. At last I was alone
with my letters. Washburn was on the forward deck, discussing the
condition of the South with Griffin Leeds. I took out the two letters
from my father. Both of them were mailed in London, though my father's
home was in Shalford, Essex, about fifty miles from the great city. One
was postmarked December 15th, and the other January 2d. I opened the
one of the earliest date.

It was written immediately after his return to England from India. He
had received no letters or intelligence of any kind from me for many
months. He had been so worried about me that he could hardly stay to
complete his business in India. He found nothing from me on his arrival
at his home, nothing at the office of his solicitor, to whom all my
letters had been forwarded, in London. He wrote that he found Mr.
Carrington had gone to America, and his office was in charge of his
confidential clerk.

I understood it all. This clerk must have destroyed all my letters to
my father as soon as they reached the office, as he had been instructed
to do by his employer. I felt sick at heart when I realized the
distress of my father at getting no tidings from me. But since I sailed
on this cruise from Detroit, six months before, I had supposed he was
dead, and of course I wrote no letters to him.

I took up the second letter, expecting to read more of my father's
despair on account of my long silence. I opened it: it was bright and
cheerful as the first was gloomy and despondent. He had received my
"welcome letter of December 4th," which I had written at Jacksonville,
after the discovery of all the details of the conspiracy against me. I
had written a full account of the matter, with the history of the
voyage up to that date. It was after Colonel Shepard's house had been
damaged by fire, and the West India trip had been arranged. I had asked
him to write me at Jacksonville, but not to be alarmed if he did not
hear from me for some time, for I hardly knew where we were going. He
had been amazed at the contents of my letter. The clerk had confessed
all to him. I was entirely satisfied with the conclusion of the matter.
The rest of the letters were from my friends at the North.



CHAPTER XII.

SUGGESTIONS OF ANOTHER CONSPIRACY.


I felt like a beleaguered general who had just opened communication
with his reinforcements, when I again found myself holding intercourse,
even by letter, with my father. It seemed as though a new life had
begun for me. My father was happy, and so was I. He declared that he
should join me as soon as his business would allow him to leave
England; and that when he found me, as he should wherever I wandered,
he never would leave me again.

My father alluded at considerable length to "his best and truest
friend," Mr. Tiffany. He had written to him, and desired him to take an
interest in my affairs if he thought I needed any assistance, either
with money or counsel. This was a partial explanation of the conduct of
Mr. Tiffany; but he was a very strange man because he said nothing to
me about his instructions from my father.

Before I had finished reading the rest of my letters, Washburn came
into the room; but when he saw I was engaged, he began to retire. I
asked him to remain. He was my ever-faithful friend. He had fathomed
the conspiracy against me, and I valued his counsel more than that of
any other person. He had my fullest confidence, though he never sought
to know my business.

I related to him all the incidents of my visit to the city, including a
full account of my adventures with the Boomsbys and the other snake. I
need not say that he was intensely interested.

"That Boomsby ought to be hung!" he exclaimed, as soon as I had
finished my story.

"Perhaps not," I replied, giving the captain's explanation of the
presence of the snake in the closet.

"I should like to follow that lodger's history, if Captain Boomsby had
any such person in his house, which I do not believe," added the mate.
"When I go on shore I will try to find out whether or not he had any
lodger, and I think I can get at it."

"It is hardly worth the trouble," I replied.

"I think it is. For months we have been satisfied that this villain
means you harm; but we have never been able to prove anything," said
Washburn, with energy. "It is time to quit fooling with such matters.
If he did not mean to sink the Sylvania for your benefit, he never
meant anything in his life; but he explained it away, and everybody
that knows anything about it, except you and I, believes that the
accident was simply the result of his drunken condition on that
morning. It is time to prove some of these things."

"I have no objection to having them proved."

"I will spend all the time I have on shore in this business; and I
am--What was that?"

The mate suddenly jumped from his chair, and rushed out of the room by
the new door on the port side. I followed him.

"What are you doing at that window?" demanded Washburn, to a man he had
collared near the door of the engine-room, for he had pluck enough to
pick up a water moccasin, if the occasion required.

I could not make out the man in the darkness; and I did not quite
comprehend the reason for his sudden assault on him. All the windows of
our state-room were open, for the evening was warm.

"I wasn't doing anything, Mr. Washburn," pleaded the culprit, in whose
voice I recognized that of Griffin Leeds.

"You were standing under the open window of the captain's room!"
continued the mate, releasing his hold on the waiter when he found he
offered no resistance.

"No, sir; I wasn't standing there," replied Griffin, in a meeching
tone. "I got asleep on the fo'castle after you went in; and I just
waked up. I was just going below to turn in when you came out and got
hold of me. That's the whole of it, sir."

"If I ever catch you under an open window again, I will throw you
overboard. We don't have anything of that kind on board of this
steamer," said the mate, in a very decided tone.

Griffin went below to his quarters under the forecastle, and Washburn
followed me into the room. I thought he was a little rough on the new
waiter, who had given excellent satisfaction in the forward cabin. I
said as much as this to the mate.

"The rascal was listening under that window to the talk between you and
me," replied Washburn. "If you agree to have that thing done on board,
you are the captain, and I have nothing more to say about it."

"If you are satisfied that he was listening to us, you did just right.
But I move to amend by substituting his discharge for throwing him
overboard," I replied, laughing. "Do you think the fellow heard what we
were saying?"

"I have no doubt of it: he had been there for some time, for I heard a
slight noise at that window soon after I came in; and I am confident he
had been there ever since. I confess that I do not like the fellow very
much, for I have seen him skulking about the deck with a hang-dog look
which I don't admire. I have suspected him of something, though I don't
know what, since the first day he came on board. While I am in for it,
Alick, I might as well add that Cornwood is just such another fellow."

"Cornwood?" I asked, very much surprised, for I had not noticed
anything in either the Floridian or the waiter to attract my attention.

"I don't know anything about Cornwood; and I suppose you looked up his
record before you engaged him. At any rate, he acts like a snake, in my
way of thinking," added the mate, whom none could accuse of covering up
anything he believed or thought.

"I did inquire about him in St. Augustine: people thought well of his
knowledge and ability, though they agree that he is a brag and a
boaster."

"If there were nothing worse than that about him, I should only laugh.
But I think he is a snake."

"What makes you think so?"

"I don't know; I only know that I do think so."

"But you are not a fellow to think ill of anybody without some reason
for it."

"I have no reason, except his looks and actions," replied the mate. "I
make no charges against him, and I can prove nothing; but Cornwood is a
fellow that will bear watching."

"That is just what the Hon. Pardon Tiffany took the trouble to tell me
this afternoon," I added, relating the particulars of my interview with
that gentleman.

"I am glad there is some one besides myself who has an opinion on the
subject," said Washburn.

"Cornwood was in Captain Boomsby's rumhole when I came down stairs
after the row in the attic," I added, watching the face of my friend to
notice the effect of this announcement.

"That's the best place for him; only this fellow will do a piece of
treachery better than Boomsby can. Cornwood will not get drunk when he
has a heavy job of iniquity on his hands. Boomsby is a wolf: this
fellow is a snake. Cornwood reminds me of a kind of reptile they have
in these parts, called the small rattlesnake. He is a little fellow,
and you can't hear his rattle; but his bite will kill you as quick as
that of a five-footer. You can't see or hear him, and the first thing
you know you are a dead man. That's Cornwood's style, as I understand
him."

"You are rough on him. What you say of him, and what you have done to
Griffin, remind me that the two men seemed to have some connection
before we engaged either of them," I continued, thinking of the events
of that first day in St. Augustine. "Griffin brought off Cornwood in a
boat."

"And when you apply to Cornwood for a stewardess, Griffin's wife
appears to take the place. But I am bound to say I believe she is a
lady," added the mate.

"Then you think we are marching into hot water, do you, Washburn?" I
asked with interest.

"I don't say you are: I don't know that you are: only that we had
better keep our eyes wide open, as Mr. Tiffany suggests. But it does
look to me as though some sort of a storm is brewing."

"But where can the storm possibly come from?"

"From that rumhole in Bay Street which you visited this afternoon. I
have heard that Boomsby threatened a dozen times to be the destruction
of you. He says you have been the plague of his life; that you have
crossed and defeated him so many times that he will be the 'ruination'
of you yet. This is out of pure revenge. Besides this, he believes your
father is dead, and that, if he can get you out of the way, or bring
you into subjection to what he calls his authority, this steamer will
come into his possession. I know he is a fool; but he believes all this
nonsense."

"Then you mean to suggest--without being able to prove it--that
Cornwood is an agent of Captain Boomsby; and that Griffin Leeds is a
tool of Cornwood, sent on board to watch me, as well as to wait on the
fore-cabin table," I added, putting the various hints into words.

"I don't say it means anything; but that is what it means, if
anything," replied Washburn after some hesitation. "Nothing can be
proved; and we should not be justified in doing anything on mere
suspicion. All we have to do is to keep a close watch on Cornwood and
Griffin Leeds."

We agreed to do this, but in such a manner as not to alarm the
conspirators, if they were such. I told Washburn then that I had
letters from my father, and gave him both of them to read. While he was
thus engaged, I began a letter to my father.

"The last one is written in good spirits," said the mate, as he laid
the letters on my table. "But isn't it a little strange that you have
no letter of later date than last January from your father? I should
have supposed there would have been three or four more letters awaiting
you; I mean those he must have written in January."

"I think there is nothing strange about that," I replied; but my heart
sank within me at the very thought of any more doubts and
uncertainties. "I wrote him that the Sylvania was bound to the Bahamas;
but I had no idea where we should go next, or how long we should remain
at any place to which we might go. I said we expected to return to
Jacksonville in February."

"That explains the matter. You did not show me your letter to him,"
replied the mate. "But we are several days into March, and you ought to
hear from your father again very soon."

"I shall expect a letter from him every day until I get one. I don't
believe anything more can happen to him or me, for we have had our full
share of mishaps."

The mate was turning in for the night, when Buck Lingley brought me a
note from Owen, which had just been sent off by a boatman. My cousin
had arranged for an excursion to Fort George Island, near the mouth of
the St. Johns River, for the next day at ten, if the weather was
favorable. He expected about thirty people, and wanted dinner for them.
I told Buck to carry the letter to the steward, that he might make his
purchases of provisions early in the morning. It was one o'clock when I
turned in, after finishing a twelve-page letter to my father.



CHAPTER XIII.

MR. COBBINGTON AND HIS PET RATTLESNAKE.


I turned out the next morning, or rather the same morning, only in
season for breakfast. I had put my letter in the mail-box, and it had
gone ashore in the first boat at four o'clock. I kept an anchor watch
all night in port, which was divided up amongst all hands in the
sailing and engineer's department, except myself. Word had been passed
from watch to watch to call the steward and a boat's crew at half past
three. The boats were hoisted up to the davits at night, and it
required some time to get one into the water.

When I went in to breakfast, I found that Washburn had gone ashore in
the steward's boat, and had not yet returned. He was the only person on
board, besides myself, who had liberty to leave the vessel without my
permission, or his, if I was not on board. But the steamer had been put
in perfect order the day before, and she never was in better condition
than when I looked her over after breakfast. The day was bright and
clear, as nearly all the days were in Florida. Every officer and seaman
had put on his best uniform, and we were in "show" order, above and
below decks.

The American flag was flying at the peak, and, in honor of the English
guests who were to come on board, I had hoisted the British flag at the
fore. Both boats' crews were in readiness to bring off the party as
soon as they appeared on the Market Wharf. About nine o'clock we got a
signal from that locality, but there was no party there, and the signal
came from the mate.

"You went off early, Washburn," I said, as he came up the gangway
steps.

"I was afraid the matter would get cold if I waited," replied the mate,
who seemed to be in excellent humor.

"What matter is that?" I inquired.

"I went ashore to look up that snaky lodger of Captain Boomsby's,"
answered Washburn. "There was certainly a lodger there, who furnished
his own room, and stayed about two weeks."

"Did he furnish his room for a stay of only two weeks?" I inquired.

"I have not been able to find the person yet. He had his furniture
carried to an auction-room, where it was sold."

"How did you learn all this?"

"I found Boomsby's saloon first. About five o'clock the porter of the
store next to it began to sweep off the sidewalk. I saw that my uniform
took his eye, and he was as polite to me as though I had been an
admiral in the United States Navy. I talked with him awhile, asking him
questions about the city. Finally I brought the matter of the
conversation down to the subject of saloons. I thought there were
plenty of them. He told me some of them had a separate bar for colored
people, where they sold the cheapest corn whiskey and apple brandy for
ten cents a glass, and made nine cents on every glass they sold."

"That's just the business for Captain Boomsby: it is just mean enough
for him," I added.

"The porter spoke of the Boomsby saloon as a new one opened a few weeks
before. The keeper had a bar for colored customers in a back room, with
an entrance from the lane in the rear. When he said this, I began to
pump him in regard to Boomsby. I finally asked if the captain took
boarders or lodgers. He had one; but this one had had a quarrel with
the saloonist's wife, and had left. He did not know his name, or where
he went to. He said the cartman that stood at the next corner had
carted off his furniture."

"Then you went for the cartman," I suggested.

"I went for him; but I could not find him for some time, and that is
what made me so late," continued Washburn. "The porter told me he was
hauling baggage from the Charleston steamer, which had just got in, to
the Carlton Hotel. His name was Jackman, and it was on his wagon. I
found the cartman, but he was so busy I had no chance to speak to him
until half past eight. I took my breakfast at the Carlton, which is
kept by Maine people. I introduced myself to one of the proprietors;
and of course they knew my father. I told him I had been waiting a long
time to speak to Jackman. He immediately called him into the office.

"Thus introduced to Jackman, he was willing to tell me all he knew on
any subject. He said he had carried the furniture of the lodger to an
auction-room, and his trunks and other things to the St. Johns House.
The lodger's name was Cobbington; and Jackman thought he was poor."

"He must have been, to take a room at Captain Boomsby's house."

"I asked Jackman what things besides the trunks he had carried to the
St. Johns Hotel. He replied that Cobbington had a pet rattlesnake and a
box of alligators."

"All this goes to confirm Captain Boomsby's explanation," I added.

"I think it has a tendency that way. I asked Jackman if the lodger had
any other snakes; but he knew of no others, and had seen none in the
attic rooms from which he took his load. I went next to the St. Johns
House, which is kept by a lady. She gave me all the information she
could. Mr. Cobbington's rattlesnake had got out of his box, and had
been killed by one of the boarders. He was so angry at the loss of the
reptile that he left the house at once. The landlady did not know where
he had gone. Under the circumstances, she had not taken the pains to
inquire. She did not want any gentleman in her house who kept a
rattlesnake in his chamber; and I was of just her way of thinking. She
did not remember what cartman had conveyed his baggage from the house.
If I had had an hour more, I think I could have found the man; for the
landlady gave me the day on which he left."

"I don't think it will be of much use to follow the matter any
further," I suggested. "This story makes it probable that Cobbington
had other snakes."

"It may make it possible, but not probable. It is only a matter of
fact, and I am going to get to the bottom of it if I can," persisted
the mate.

"I beg pardon, Mr. Washburn, but your breakfast is waiting for you,"
said Griffin Leeds, stepping up to the mate at this moment.

I started when I heard the silky voice of the octoroon. I had heard no
step to indicate his approach, and I feared that he had listened to
something one of us had said.

"I have been to breakfast," replied the mate, rather savagely for him;
and I saw that he had the same fear.

The waiter hastened back to the forward cabin, where he belonged.
Washburn called to Ben Bowman, who was standing at the door of the
engine-room, and asked him how long Griffin had stood behind us. The
assistant engineer thought he had been there two or three minutes, at
least, waiting for a chance to speak to one of us. I was vexed at the
circumstance. If Cornwood was the agent of Captain Boomsby, and Griffin
Leeds was the tool of the Floridian, our conversation would all be
reported to the principal in the conspiracy, always granting there was
any truth in our surmises.

"I suppose we shall get back from this excursion some time to-night,"
said Washburn, thoughtfully.

"I think we shall get back before dark," I replied.

"I don't say there is anything in what we were talking about last
night, but there may be. If there is anything in it, Cornwood will tell
Boomsby, after we return, what we have been talking about," replied the
mate.

"Griffin will find a chance to tell Cornwood that you have been looking
up the lodger, and Cornwood will carry it to Boomsby," I repeated.

"Just so. Now, we must fix things a little. Don't let Cornwood go on
shore to-night."

"How can I keep him? He is hardly like the other members of the ship's
company."

"You can need him for some purpose or other," suggested the mate, with
a smile. "We must fight them with their own weapons."

"I was thinking to-day that I wanted to lay out the trip up the river
with him. I bought a large pocket-map of Florida to-day, so that I
could do it understandingly, though where we go will depend largely on
the will and pleasure of our passengers. I can keep him for this
purpose," I said.

"All right; and I will go ashore as soon as the mudhook touches the
sand on our return," added Washburn. "There are several carriages
coming down Market Wharf."

Both boats were sent to the wharf, and Washburn went off in one of them
to superintend the seating of the party in them. All our extra stools
and chairs had been arranged on the quarter-deck, forecastle, and
hurricane-deck. There were enough of them for twice the number of
persons expected, but no one could tell where the party would choose to
sit, and there were enough to accommodate them in any one place they
might select. Gopher was hard at work getting ready for the dinner, and
Ben was expected to help him as soon as the party were on board.

I stood at the gangway, ready to receive the guests. Suddenly a band on
the wharf struck up a lively air, and I found we were not to depend
upon our own people for the music. The port boat came up first; and our
boatmen were so much accustomed to this kind of duty, that they put the
passengers on board without delay or inconvenience to them. There were
six boat-loads, including the band of twelve pieces. The boats were
hoisted up, and the anchor weighed by our steam windlass.

I had been introduced to all the excursionists as they came on board,
and I had directed the waiters to show them to such parts of the vessel
as they might select. When I went to the pilot-house, I found the seats
all occupied by Owen and certain ladies he had invited there. As usual
they were all the youngest and prettiest of the party. Cornwood stood
at the wheel, as though he had chosen the duty he intended to perform.
I had not procured a pilot, for I had been up and down the river five
times, and I thought I knew enough about it to pilot the vessel myself.
But I wished to test Cornwood's ability, and I told him to go ahead,
giving him no further instructions.

He rang the bells correctly, and handled the wheel like an old salt. I
was rather disappointed to find that he understood his business
perfectly. His brag was not all brag. I had become considerably
prejudiced against him by all that had been said; but I felt that I
could do him justice. The scenery below the city is very pleasant, to
say the least. The orange groves, and the dwellings, many of them
occupied by people from the North, either as settlers or as winter
residents, made a picturesque view from the river. Cornwood did not
seem to be wholly occupied with the wheel, for he explained the nature
of the country when he found that the party in the pilot-house were
willing to listen to him. The herons, cranes, and many other birds were
new to us.

"Mayport on the starboard hand," said the guide, when we had reached
the mouth of the river. "The houses in that village are mostly occupied
by fishermen, who catch shad and other fish in the winter and spring,
and a good many southern people spend the summer here in cottages."

Cornwood directed the head of the steamer towards the other shore, and
soon brought her to a pier at Pilot Town.



CHAPTER XIV.

THE EXCURSION TO FORT GEORGE ISLAND.


Fort George Island is certainly a beautiful place for a summer or a
winter residence, or for both. It is three and a half miles long, not
including the sand-bar at the end, and a mile wide. On one side is the
ocean, and on the other the Sisters' Channel, one of the inside
passages by which steamers reach Savannah and Fernandina.

Owen told me the party would sail for Jacksonville at four o'clock, and
dine as soon as the steamer was under way. All the excursionists
landed, and leaving Washburn in charge, I went with them. Cornwood
began to discharge his duties as guide as soon as we were on shore; but
a considerable portion of the party were familiar with the island, and
he did not have a large audience.

"This shell road," said he, as we left the wharf, "is the beginning of
Edgewood Avenue, which is two miles and a half long. At the farther end
of it is the hotel."

He continued his explanations to those who desired to hear them during
the entire walk. I shall not repeat them. I found that he could give
the name of every tree, plant, and flower we saw on the way. He had a
name for every bird, bug, and worm; and I am ready to acknowledge that
the extent, variety, and minuteness of his knowledge astonished me,
partly because my prejudice led me to expect nothing of him. That those
who brag most know least, did not appear to prove true in his case; for
he did not have to "give it up" on any question asked him by the
tourists of our party. He related the history of the island, and there
was not a single particular concerning it on which he was not fully
informed.

After crossing the beach on the shell road, we came to the forest of
live-oaks, magnolias, palmettos, bay-trees, and others that one never
sees in Maine or Michigan. I walked with Mr. Tiffany, and we agreed
that this was one of the most delightful places we had visited. Pretty
soon we were joined by Miss Margie and Miss Edith, who had become
inseparable friends and companions. I learned that the Tiffanys had
already accepted the invitation of Owen and Colonel Shepard to join the
party for the up-river trip.

"Are there no snakes on this island, Captain Garningham?" asked Miss
Margie, soon after we entered the wood.

"I dare say there are; but I don't know anything about it," I replied.

"Undoubtedly there are snakes on the island," interposed Mr. Cornwood;
and I saw that he glanced at me, with a smile, as if in allusion to my
experience on the evening before.

"I am very much afraid of snakes," said Miss Margie, looking timidly
about her.

"But the snakes are more afraid of you than you are of them, Miss
Tiffany," replied Cornwood. "Even the rattlesnake will keep out of your
way, if he can."

"And I should surely keep out of his way. Are there rattlesnakes on
this island?" asked the timid English maiden.

"I am sorry to say there are; but you might live on the island ten
years and never see one. When you walk, you will naturally keep in the
paths cut through the woods. Rattlesnakes will not visit these
localities. But the rattlesnake is a very gentlemanly fellow; and if by
any chance one should stray into a path, he would give you abundant
warning before he did you any harm."

"I don't wish to see one," replied Miss Margie, with a shudder.

"You may be sure you will not meet any in the paths we take to-day,"
added the guide in a comforting tone. "But I would rather meet a dozen
of them than step upon a copperhead or a water-moccasin. These will run
away when they see you, if they can. The water-moccasin will not
trouble you if you let him alone. The only danger from any Florida
snake is in coming upon him when you don't see him."

"That is just what I am afraid of," said Miss Margie.

"This island has been settled so long that there can be but few snakes
of the harmful kind left on it; for whites and blacks always kill them
at sight."

After a very pleasant walk we reached the hotel, where a lunch was
ready for us. To me the principal feature of this lunch was the broiled
shad, the fish just taken from the water. It was the freshest and best
I had ever eaten. The oysters in the chowder were small, but had been
taken from the water that morning.

After the lunch the excursionists broke up into little parties, and
each went where they were best pleased to go. I felt rather inclined to
go where Miss Margie went, for I had found she was as agreeable as she
was pretty. Owen and the Shepards went to the Palmetto Avenue, which
leads to an ancient homestead, affording a fair specimen of the
planter's home in days gone by. Mr. Tiffany and his daughter wished to
ascend Mount Cornelia, to which there was a carriage-road all the way
from the hotel to the summit. This hill has an elevation of ninety-five
feet, the highest point on the coast from Navesink and Cuba. Mr.
Cornwood accompanied us, for, in spite of the warning Mr. Tiffany had
given me, he was the guide's most attentive listener.

On the summit of the hill we found an observatory, which we occupied
for a full hour. It commanded a fine view of the ocean, the inland
channels, and the country beyond them. Before we left, Owen and the
Shepards joined us.

"Have you seen any snakes, Margie?" asked Edith, when they were seated
at the top of the observatory.

"I have not seen one; indeed, I have not thought of the snakes since
Mr. Cornwood assured me we should see none," replied Miss Margie.

"I rather like snakes, and I hoped I should see some," added Miss
Edith, very bravely.

"I think I could find some for you, Miss Edith," interposed Cornwood.

"No, I thank you. I don't care to go snaking. When I see one I wish to
have it without any effort on my part," replied the beautiful girl.

"That is a nice way to get out of it," added Miss Margie. "I believe I
should faint away if I came upon one, without any effort on my part."

"You will be likely to see some on your trip up the river, if you go on
shore. The largest moccasin I ever saw I killed within the limits of
the city of Jacksonville. It was on the way to Moncrief's Spring. Are
you fond of alligators?" asked Mr. Cornwood, who also seemed to regard
the English girl with much favor.

"I never saw one in my life," answered Miss Margie. "We don't have any
such creatures in England. But I have seen pictures of the crocodile,
which I dare say is the same thing."

"They are certainly the same sort of reptile, though a crocodile is not
an alligator any more than an alligator is a crocodile. They differ in
the shape of the head; the lower canine teeth of the crocodile fit into
notches between the teeth of the upper jaw, while the alligator's lower
teeth fit into cavities in the upper jaw. The alligator has a broader
and shorter head than the crocodile. The cayman, found in the East
Indies and in tropical South America, is different in some respects
from either. But we have both crocodiles and alligators in the more
southern of the United States."

"I am sure I don't care whether they are crocodiles or alligators; they
are ugly-looking beasts, and I don't want to see any of them," replied
Miss Margie.

Mr. Cornwood had evidently "studied up" on alligators; and I was quite
interested in his comparison of the different reptiles, for I had
supposed they were all alike.

"You can't very well help seeing them when you go up the river, for
some of the streams we shall doubtless explore are full of them," added
the Floridian.

"Are you not afraid of them?"

"I don't think I ever saw anybody who was afraid of an alligator; they
are too common here to alarm any person. But I am surprised that you
did not see any alligators in Jacksonville, for thousands of little
ones are kept for sale at the curiosity stores, and larger ones are
kept for exhibition."

"I didn't happen to see any of them. Are they not dangerous?"

"We do not consider them so. In the earlier days of the State, when
alligators eighteen feet in length were occasionally found, they may
have attacked men when they caught them in the water. On land they are
rather sluggish; but they are right smart in the water. The largest
ones we are likely to see will not be over twelve feet long; and you
will find ten little ones to one of this size. None of them will meddle
even with a child; though if you should lie on the edge of a boat, with
a hand or foot in the water, and went to sleep, they might snap at it."

"Ugh!" gasped the pretty maiden, with a shudder.

"You will be so much accustomed to them in a week after we start up the
river, that you will not mind them more than you do the flies, and not
half so much as you do the mosquitoes," added Mr. Cornwood.

"Are there many mosquitoes where we are going, Mr. Cornwood?" asked Mr.
Tiffany.

"Not many at this season of the year, though we may fall into
localities where they are very plenty. I shall take the liberty to
suggest to Captain Garningham to have a quantity of mosquito netting on
board, to provide against these pests," replied the Floridian, glancing
from the Englishman to me.

"I will tell the steward to see that the beds and berths are properly
protected," I added, glad to have the suggestion in season to save the
passengers from annoyance.

Owen and Miss Edith had not paid any attention to Mr. Cornwood's
lessons in natural history. Both of them had evidently voted the
Floridian a bore. My cousin thought it was time to return to the hotel,
where the band was playing for the benefit of the people.

All the party had collected there, and we soon started for the steamer.
The band went ahead and played a march, and we kept step to the music.
I found that Mr. Cornwood had again attached himself to Miss Margie, to
the plain annoyance of that lady's father. I called him away, and
dropping to the rear of the procession, I questioned him in regard to
the trip up the river. He clearly understood my object in asking these
questions at this time, and his answers were crusty, and his manner
sulky. I persisted in torturing him till we reached the steamer, though
I sacrificed my own pleasure in doing it for Miss Margie's benefit.

It was just four by the clock in the pilot-house when the Sylvania
sailed on her return. The dinner was served in the cabin, and Gopher
had done his best, as usual. At six Cornwood made a very good landing
at the Market Wharf, and our guests departed immediately. I had to
thank Washburn for doing one-half of the hand-shaking when they stepped
ashore. Cornwood thought he would remain in the city, but I told him I
wanted him on board. The mate did not go to the anchorage in the
steamer, but stayed ashore.



CHAPTER XV.

A WAR OF WORDS.


Washburn had reported to me that, while I was dining with the
passengers in the cabin, Griffin Leeds had gone into the pilot-house
and had a short interview with Cornwood. Of course we used the octoroon
as a waiter; and even Gopher took a hand at the same occupation, for he
liked to hear what the party said about the dinner. Griffin must have
taken the time while the waiters were clearing the tables for the last
course, or while the gentlemen were amusing themselves with the
American custom of making speeches. In either case, it was almost a sin
for a waiter to leave his post.

Cornwood was sulky when I said I wanted him. Doubtless he had business
on shore, as I had for him on board. I paid him five dollars a day and
expenses; and I thought I had the best right to his services.

"Mr. Cornwood, I desire to have you map out a practicable trip up the
river for a steamer that draws nine feet of water, with her bunkers
full of coal," I began, as I seated myself in my room.

The words were hardly out of my mouth when Hop Tossford came in with a
message written on an old envelope, from Owen.

    "Come to the Colonel's house at once.

                                  OWEN."

"At once" meant immediately; and I was not a little annoyed by the
summons, since it prevented me from carrying out my part of Washburn's
little plan.

"I have the cruise all mapped out, Captain Garningham," replied
Cornwood, while I was reading the message from my cousin.

He took from his breast-pocket a document, which he handed to me with a
stiff bow. On opening it, I found it was a carefully prepared outline
of the proposed cruise up the river, with detours in various bays and
smaller streams.

"I will examine this at my leisure; for I am called to the house of
Colonel Shepard by Mr. Garningham," I continued. "Very likely he
desires to give me instructions in regard to the up-river trip. If he
does, I wish to see you as soon as I return; and I may not be gone more
than an hour."

Cornwood made no reply; but I saw that he was biting his lip. My
request was equivalent to an order to remain on board, and he was not
exactly in position to set my wishes at defiance. I went ashore as soon
as a boat could be dropped into the water, and hastened to the house of
the Colonel. Owen said he was very glad to see me; and from the
excitement of his manner, I judged that something was in the wind.

"To-morrow will be Saturday," said he, walking up and down the parlor
where I had seated myself. "The same party we had to-day, including the
Silver Cornet Band, will make a little run up the river, and stop for a
while at Mrs. Mitchell's place, if it is practicable, with a dinner at
four o'clock."

"It is not practicable----"

"It is not practicable!" exclaimed Owen, stopping in front of me.

"You did not hear me out, my dear charterer of the Sylvania," I
replied, amused at the sudden check put upon his enthusiasm. "It is not
practicable to run the steamer up to the pier at Mrs. Mitchell's place;
but we can land the passengers in the boats. Of course we can go up the
river as far as Pilatka, and perhaps farther."

"We don't want to go up to--what's that place you mentioned? I have
heard of it before, and it is forty or fifty miles up," added Owen, who
had been too busy looking after Miss Edith to pay any attention to the
geography of the State.

"The place is Pilatka; and it is seventy-five miles up."

"It would take all day to go to Pilatka; besides, I don't wish to spoil
all the fun of the trip we are to take next week. There's a Chinese
town or city, where Mrs. What's-her-name lives, about a dozen miles
up," continued my cousin.

"A Chinese town? There are no Chinamen of any consequence in Florida."

"No, no! A town with a Chinese name, where the lady that wrote _Uncle
Tom's Cabin_ lives," interposed Owen impatiently.

"Mandarin," I added, after I had consulted a pamphlet guide I had
picked up in one of the hotels. "It is fifteen miles from here."

"That's the place; and it is just the right distance!" exclaimed Owen.
"We will go to Mandarin. By the way, you must have a lunch on board
about twelve."

"All this is quite practicable."

"And why can't you take the steamer up to the pier at Mrs. Mitchell's
place?" demanded my passenger.

"Because the bottom is too near the top of the water," I replied,
laughing at the puzzled expression on my cousin's face.

"Couldn't you have the bottom put farther down for this occasion?" he
inquired very seriously.

"Certainly, if you are willing to pay the bills and to wait long enough
for the work to be done."

"I don't object to the bills, but we can't wait."

"I see that you have become quite an American traveller; you don't
dispute any bills, and you can't wait."

"I can't wait to have a channel dredged out up to that pier, for very
likely it would take all day to do it."

"It would take you Britishers three months to do it; Americans would do
it in a week."

"I think my uncle, your father, is a Britisher. But I have no time to
quarrel with you about that matter now; it will keep. We will be landed
at the pier in boats, since you are not willing to accommodate us in
any other manner."

"I will arrange the landing so that it shall be satisfactory," I added,
thinking of a large barge I had seen at the boat-wharf.

"Then we are all right for to-morrow, are we, Alick?" asked my
facetious cousin.

"All right. Whenever you tell me what you want, it shall be done."

"But just now you objected to taking your steamer up to that pier."

"I should have qualified the declaration----"

"Merciful Hotandsplosh!"

"Is that man your idol?"

"You take my breath away with your stunning long words!"

"I won't take your breath away, for you will want it all. I will do all
you want when I can," I added.

"How much prettier that sounds than 'qualified the declaration.'"

"I see that I must write out all my speeches in words of not more than
four letters, so as to bring them down to the dull brain of a Briton."

"The dull brain of a Briton is good."

"So your friend Hotandsplosh would say."

"I will introduce him to you some time."

"I don't want to know him; he is too slow for me."

"Come, come, Alick; we are quarrelling when we have business to do,"
said Owen, shaking his shoulders like a vexed child.

"You are quarrelling; I am not. You pick me up on my language as though
you were my schoolmaster, and then complain that I am impeding the
business of the conference."

"Cut it short! 'Impeding the business of the conference!' That jaw of
yours will need to be patched up by a dentist, man!"

"Your jaw does all the mischief; and you are at it again, with your
pedagogical----"

"Cut it short! What a word! A young man of high aims ought not to use
such a word; and anybody else ought to be hung for it!"

"Still at it!"

"I wish to say something about the run up the river," continued Owen,
who was very fond of criticising my language, and would even neglect
important business to do it.

"Say it, then."

"Where do we go?"

"Wherever you say."

"Merciful Hotandsplosh! Am I to study up the geography of this State,
so as to tell you where to go?" demanded my passenger.

"I will select a route, in consultation----"

"Oh dear!" gasped Owen, throwing himself at full length on a sofa, with
his legs hanging over one end of it, as though he were in utter
despair.

"I will talk with K-u-r-n-e-l, Colonel, S-h-e-p-a-r-d, Shepard, a-bout
the r-o-u-t-e, route."

"Good! Shove it off on the Colonel!" exclaimed Owen. "I know what you
say now; and I feel better."

"Perhaps you would like to know where it is possible for us to go," I
continued, taking Cornwood's paper from my pocket as Owen sprang to his
feet. "Here are some suggestions in regard to where we may go; it was
made up by our guide;" and I handed him the paper, which he opened to
the fold of the sheet, and turned it over and over.

"Merciful Grand Panjandrum!"

"Another friend of yours!"

"I got him out of an American book; and that accounts for it! Am I to
read all this? _Tempus fugit_. _Let it fugit_! I should have to be
buried in the blue sands of Florida if I read all this;" and he turned
it over several times more.

"You would have to be buried in thought for a short time if you read
it."

"Let me see, what did you call what's in this paper? Suggestions, was
it? If these are only suggestions, what must the real thing be! No, no,
Alick! Go where you please; but don't ask me to read that paper. Only
give us some shooting and fishing. Don't bother me with any more
suggestions."

"You sent for me, and I came."

"I know you did. You are a young lamb, Alick. Now go and put it to the
Colonel and Tiffany."

Presently Colonel Shepard's party came into the parlor. They had just
arrived at the house, for they had stopped to see some alligators, and
to buy Gulf beans and alligator's teeth, ornamented, for watch-charms
and other wear. Miss Margie had seen an alligator six feet long, and
thought he was very terrible. The baby reptiles she considered "very
cunning little pets."

I proceeded at once to talk with Colonel Shepard about the up-river
trip. He looked the paper over, but he and Mr. Tiffany were almost as
much perplexed over it as Owen had been.

"We must go up the St. Johns to Enterprise, at least, and up the
Ocklawaha to Lake Griffin," said the Colonel.

"But the Sylvania draws too much water to go far beyond Pilatka. After
we get the anthracite coal out of the bunkers we shall carry up eight
feet," I replied.

"Carry up eight feet! You have only two to carry, and an alligator may
bite off one of them," shouted Owen, who it seemed had been listening
to me, instead of giving attention to Miss Edith's charms, about which
she was talking.

"Give heed to my charms, Mr. Garningham!" said Miss Edith.

"That's just what I have done since I first saw you!" exclaimed Owen.

I promised to consult the Floridian, and took my leave.



CHAPTER XVI.

GRIFFIN LEEDS AT A DISCOUNT.


I did not expect that Mr. Cornwood would come on shore after what had
passed between him and me, and I did not hurry on board when I left the
house of Colonel Shepard. I passed from St. James Square down Laura
Street, into Forsyth, on which the St. Johns House was situated. I
passed the house several times, looking for Washburn, for I desired to
know what success he had had in looking up Mr. Cobbington. I saw
nothing of the mate, and I went into Bay Street, only a square from
Forsyth.

I looked in every direction for Washburn, but I could not find him, and
I was obliged to give up the search. I found my boat's crew on the
wharf, watching some negroes opening oysters. It was done in a very
clumsy manner, compared with the work of a Providence opener I had seen
in New York; and my men were not at all satisfied with the manner it
was done, though they had no interest in the job.

"Have you seen Mr. Washburn, Ben?" I asked, as we walked down the
wharf.

"Yes, sir; we put him on board half an hour ago," replied the assistant
engineer, who preferred to pull a boat rather than be idle.

"That was why I could not find him in the streets of Jacksonville," I
added. "Has any one come off from the steamer since I came ashore?"

"No, sir, not a soul," answered Ben, decidedly.

I was glad to hear this, for it assured me that Cornwood had not left
the steamer. The Sylvania was anchored on the other side of the main
channel, which was near the line of wharves, but not more than a
quarter of a mile distant. In a few minutes I was on board. The mate
was at supper; and as I had dined within a couple of hours, I did not
disturb him. I went to the steward, and gave him directions in regard
to the lunch and dinner for the next day. Cornwood was smoking his
cigar on the forecastle. I took the precaution to tell him that I
wanted to see him in about half an hour or less, that he might not come
into my room while I was engaged with Washburn.

I had done some thinking over the matter of eavesdroppers on board. I
came to the conclusion that I would have nothing of the kind on board.
I had entire confidence in the two engineers, one of whom was the son
of my guardian in Montomercy, and the other had sailed with me since
the Sylvania had come into my possession. Moses Brickland, the chief,
was lying on a sofa in the engine-room. I called Ben, and told them
both enough to enable them to understand the situation, and that some
of the later additions to our ship's company might be eavesdroppers. I
asked them to keep an eye on the open windows of my state-room, and let
me know if there were any skulking or loitering near them. Moses seated
himself at one door of the engine-room, and Ben at the other. They were
on deck, next to the rail, where they could see the windows of my room.
There was a skylight in the hurricane-deck overhead, which was always
open in this climate when it did not rain. I said nothing about this
opening, because I could hear any person's footsteps on the deck over
me.

Washburn came on deck soon after I had made this little arrangement. We
went into our room by mutual consent, for one had something to say, and
the other wanted to hear it. I explained to him what I had done to trap
any listener who might want to know what we said. He replied that he
had thought of doing something of the kind himself; but he did not care
to throw suspicion even upon Griffin Leeds by telling others the true
story.

"Well, Washburn, did you find your man?" I asked.

"I am sorry to say I did not," he replied. "But I found where he
boarded; and was told he was out, and would not return before nine or
ten in the evening. I shall try again early in the morning, before he
goes out for the day, for he takes only his breakfast at the house
where he lodges."

"Where does he lodge?" I inquired.

Washburn gave me the street and number. It was not in the best part of
the city by any means; and the mate inferred that he was not connected
with the "first families." But he was none the worse for this. His
landlord knew nothing about him, and had made him pay a week's board in
advance.

We continued to talk about Cobbington for some time; but we were none
the wiser when we got through than when we began. Suddenly we heard a
tremendous scuffling overhead. It sounded as though two men or more
were engaged in a severe conflict. After the first onslaught was over,
the voices of two angry men were heard; and one of them was that of Ben
Bowman. Both Washburn and I rushed out of the state-room, he at one
door, and I at the other.

When we were able to see the combatants, they were found to be Ben
Bowman and Griffin Leeds. Ben had by this time proved that he was the
more powerful and efficient of the two, for the octoroon had been
pinned, as it were, to the deck, so that he was unable to do anything
but kick. The assistant engineer had him by the throat, and the
listener's attempts to speak resulted in nothing but a hoarse, choking
sound, which it was painful to hear. Griffin's strength was rapidly
failing him under the severe treatment of the engineer.

[Illustration: GRIFFIN LEEDS AT A DISCOUNT. Page 167.]

In another minute, all hands were climbing the ladder to the
hurricane-deck. I noticed that Cornwood came up from the forecastle
over the top of the pilot-house, which I had forbidden any one on board
to do, at the beginning of the voyage, to prevent injury to the paint.
I concluded that Griffin had come up in the same way. The occasion of
the strife was plain enough to me as soon as I discovered who were
engaged in it. I felt a little cheap after all the precautions I had
taken to prevent being overheard.

"Let him up, Ben," I said, when I thought he had done enough.

The engineer at once relinquished his hold on the octoroon, and stood
up. But Griffin did not appear to be able to get up yet. Both of the
men were gasping for breath, and neither of them was able to speak for
some minutes. As the waiter lay on the deck, I noticed that he wore no
shoes, though he had on a pair of woollen socks. I looked about for his
shoes. I had not seen Griffin before since I came on board.

"It is plain enough what this affair means," I said to the mate, while
we were waiting for Ben to get his breath, and to be able to explain
what the occasion of the conflict was.

"It don't need a very long-headed man to explain it," replied the mate.
"Griffin has been at the old trick again."

"What is the old trick, Mr. Mate?" demanded Cornwood, rather
offensively.

"If you are a sailor, you will call me by my name," replied Washburn,
with dignity.

"Excuse me, Mr. Washburn; but I am somewhat interested in one of the
parties to this row," added Cornwood, as he glanced at me. "I meant no
offence, but I was a little excited by the circumstances. I brought
this man on board, and I am anxious to have him do his duty
faithfully," answered Cornwood, with what seemed to me to be affected
humility, for his eye still flashed, and he was evidently struggling to
be calm. "Will you be kind enough to tell me, Mr. Washburn, what the
old trick was?"

"Eavesdropping; listening to conversation not intended for him, which
was going on in the captain's room," replied the mate, rather warmly.

"It is very strange to me, for I have known the boy for years, and I
never heard any of his employers find fault with him before," added
Cornwood. "I don't believe there is a better behaved boy in the State
than Griffin Leeds. Excuse me for saying so much, which I should not
have said if I had not brought the boy on board and recommended him to
you."

I had no fault to find with his statement, as long as it was
respectful. By this time Ben had got his wind again, and appeared to be
ready to explain the reason for the conflict which had created such a
sensation on board. All hands were on deck, gathered around the
combatants. I was satisfied from the beginning that Ben had not begun
the fight, for this was the first time I had ever known him to resort
to violence, except when he had been ordered to do so by the mate in
two instances, both of them being the expulsion from the vessel of
Captain Boomsby.

"Well, how was it, Mr. Bowman?" I asked, calling him by his last name
with a handle to it, as I always did in the presence of the ship's
company.

"A few minutes before I came upon the hurricane-deck, sir, I thought
there was something like motion forward of the foremast. I stood up,
but I could not see anything or anybody. But I could not get it out of
my head that something was going on there. I spoke to Mr. Brickland
about it, and he told me to go up and see what it was."

"Where was Mr. Brickland at that time?" demanded Cornwood.

"Mr. Bowman is answering my question, Mr. Cornwood, and you will not
interfere," I interposed, for the Floridian appeared to have taken upon
himself the duty of counsel for the octoroon.

"I beg your pardon, captain," replied Cornwood with a deferential bow.

"I went to the ladder on the starboard side, and mounted to this deck.
As soon as I got up here, I saw Griffin lying flat on his face, with
his right ear at the opening under the sash of the skylight. I slipped
off my shoes, and crept as lightly as I could to the place where
Griffin lay. I had no idea of attacking him, and only intended to see
what he was doing there. As soon as I was satisfied that he was
listening to the conversation between you and Mr. Washburn, which I
could hear, though I could not tell what you said, I just touched him
on the shoulder. I meant to beckon him to come away from the skylight,
but he did not give me time to do that. He sprang to his feet, and we
all know he is a spry fellow, and pitched into me as though I had tried
to murder him."

"You lie!" yelled the octoroon, with a savage oath. "You did try to
murder me!"

Griffin leaped from his recumbent position, and, foaming with rage,
drew a bowie-knife from his pocket, the long blade of which he threw
open with a jerk of his hand. With the knife gleaming in the air, he
rushed upon Ben Bowman. He would surely have plunged the blade into his
intended victim, if Buck Lingley had not darted upon him as soon as he
saw the knife. The deckhand was the stoutest person on board, and he
bore the octoroon to the deck in an instant, and wrenched the knife
from his grasp.

"Hold on to him a moment, Buck!" I called to him. "Get some line, and
tie him hand and foot!"

Hop Tossford sprang to obey my order. He seized the end of a
heave-line, and while Buck drew the arms of the waiter behind him, he
secured them in this position with the assistance of the mate. This
line was only for temporary use; and Hop soon brought a handful of
pieces of whale-line from the store-room, and the prisoner was
carefully secured. The octoroon struggled to escape, but the mate and
Buck held him tight.

"Drop the starboard boat into the water," I continued. "Mr. Washburn,
you will deliver him to the police of the city."



CHAPTER XVII.

POOR GRIFF AND HIS COUNSEL.


"Surely, Captain Garningham, you cannot mean to hand the man over to
the police for getting into a common brawl," said Cornwood, when I had
given my order.

"We don't allow brawls on board this steamer. This is the first one
that ever occurred on the decks of this vessel," I replied, debating in
my own mind whether or not I should discharge the Floridian, who seemed
to be the real culprit, though of course I could not prove that he was
the octoroon's principal in the business of eavesdropping.

"But this was simply a misunderstanding between the men; and both of
them will be as good friends as ever before morning," pleaded Cornwood.
"Mr. Bowman intended to do the boy no harm when he seized hold of him;
and poor Griff thought he intended to kill him."

"That's just what I thought," replied the octoroon, who had entirely
cooled off.

"But I didn't seize hold of him, as the gentleman says," interposed Ben
Bowman. "I did not lay the weight of one hand on him; I only just
touched him, as I said before; and I don't want anybody to say I seized
hold of him. I didn't do anything of the sort."

"I lay down there and went to sleep, for I have had to work hard
to-day. I lay in a hard position, and I suppose it was that which made
me dream that somebody had struck me on the head, and was trying to
murder me," Griffin explained, in the most humble tones. "I woke, and
seeing a man bending over me, I thought the dream was a reality."

"Were you dreaming when you drew the knife, at least five minutes after
you were pinned to the deck by Mr. Bowman?" I asked, sternly. "Your
story is too thin."

"I was mad, crazy with excitement; I didn't know what I was doing,"
pleaded "poor Griff." "Don't give me over to the police! I never was
before a court for anything in all my life! Forgive me this time, dear
Captain!"

I was afraid I might do so if he talked to me long in this strain.

"Take him down to the boat! Obey your order, Mr. Washburn!" I said,
with energy. "Take the knife with you, and deliver it to the police."

"Captain Garningham, I beg you to consider that you are doing a very
great injustice to this boy, who, I am certain, intended no harm to
anybody," interposed Cornwood again.

"I don't believe in the harmless intentions of a man who can draw a
bowie-knife on another," I replied; and I had no more doubt of the
octoroon's guilt than I had of my own existence.

"I am very sorry indeed that you should take so serious a view of what
has proved a harmless affray," added Cornwood. "If you deliver him over
to the police, which, as the captain of the vessel, you have a right to
do, I suppose his case will be called to-morrow forenoon. I must ask
leave of absence to act as his counsel."

I supposed this was said to remind me of the excursion of the next day,
the news of which had been circulated from the steward's department.
But the excursion made no difference to me; I felt that I had a duty to
perform, and I was resolved to perform it, even if the excursion had to
be postponed to another day. Griffin Leeds was carried into the boat,
and the mate departed for the city with him.

"Now, Mr. Cornwood, I should like to see you in regard to the up-river
trip," I said, as soon as the boat had left the steamer. "We leave on
Monday."

"If this affair which has just occurred will permit us to do so," added
the Floridian, rather stiffly.

"That need not detain us a single day," I replied, decidedly. "We have
twice as many hands as we need for this river navigation; and we can
spare all that may be needed as witnesses."

"But I have to remain to defend poor Griff, who, I am persuaded, is a
victim of circumstances," said Cornwood, who evidently intended to make
it plain I was to reap the bitter fruits of my folly in the
dissatisfaction of my passengers, as they might not be inclined to stay
after they had made up their minds to go.

"Then I shall be obliged to make the trip with a river pilot," I added
promptly, for I did not intend that the Floridian should get ahead of
me in this business.

The guide bit his lips, as though he did not quite like the situation.
He knew enough of Owen Garningham to understand that, after he had made
up his mind to start on the up-river trip on Monday, he would be
determined to go in the face of all obstacles.

"I can hardly desert the poor fellow in his trouble," sighed Mr.
Cornwood.

"That is a question you must decide for yourself," I replied, with as
much indifference as I could assume. "It seems to me you make a light
matter of a serious assault, and your sympathy is all with the man who
committed it. You call him 'poor Griff,' as though he were a persecuted
victim, instead of one who had raised his hand with a knife in it
against one of the ship's company."

"I have a great regard for that boy, for he saved my life once when I
fell overboard and was injured so that I could not swim, and there were
three large sharks near the vessel. I should be inhuman to desert him,
even if he were as guilty as you seem to think he is," continued the
guide; but I was inclined to believe that his explanation was more than
half an invention.

"In what court will this man be brought up?" I asked.

"He will be brought before the mayor, as magistrate; and if he
considers it a simple assault, he will fine the boy, or send him to
prison; if an assault with intent to kill, he will bind him over to a
higher court for trial."

"In either case, the matter is likely to be disposed of in season for
the excursion to-morrow forenoon. If he is bound over, we can appear,
such of us as are required as witnesses, at the proper time," I
replied, as off-hand as though I had been a lawyer all my days. "Now we
will leave that question, and turn to others of more importance."

"It may be a matter of light importance to have the boy sent off to
work with a prison-gang for two or three years, but I don't so regard
it," growled Cornwood.

"When a man draws a knife on another, he needs the attention of the
courts. You seem to be so accustomed to that sort of thing that you
mind nothing about it. Where I come from we don't use knives with that
sort of freedom."

"If it were not clearly a misunderstanding on the part of poor Griff, I
wouldn't say anything more about it."

"It was no misunderstanding when Griffin leaped to his feet, at least
five minutes after the struggle with the engineer, and rushed upon him
with a knife. But we will say nothing more about it, anyhow. Colonel
Shepard says the party wish to go up the river as far as Sanford and
Enterprise, and up the Ocklawaha to Lake Griffin."

"As it seems to be very uncertain whether I go with you or not, I
prefer to say nothing about the trip for the present," replied the
Floridian, sulkily.

"Very well; then you will consider your engagement at an end," I added,
without an instant's hesitation; and already I began to feel some
relief at the idea of getting rid of a suspicious person.

My sudden decision did not seem to suit the guide any better than my
position in regard to Griffin Leeds. I had risen from my chair at the
desk, as though the business was finished, when I gave my decision; and
by this time he could believe that I meant all I said.

"There will be time enough to settle this business after the court has
met to-morrow morning," said he, with an evident intention of "backing
down."

"But my passengers wish to know at once what the plan is, and I desire
to procure a pilot for the excursion to-morrow," I replied.

"I will go with you on the excursion, whether I go up the river or
not."

"No, you will not. I have no time to fool with you. I shall engage a
pilot to-night for the up-river trip, if you cannot go with me," I
added, indignantly.

"I think I can go with you; in other words, I will go with you. It is
not possible to go up the Ocklawaha in this steamer," said Cornwood,
suddenly changing front, somewhat to my regret. "The masts and yards
would be carried away by the trees that overhang the stream, and she
draws too much water for the Ocklawaha or the upper St. Johns."

"That matter is settled, then, and I will report to Colonel Shepard.
Will you explain to me where we can go in this steamer."

The guide became as communicative as ever in a little while, and seemed
to have forgotten the little difference which had threatened a serious
rupture in our relations. He was as pleasant as though no cloud had
passed between us. We discussed the up-river trip, and I made memoranda
of what he said till ten o'clock, when we retired. If what he said
about his obligations to Griffin Leeds was true, I could not blame him
for wishing to stand by the waiter. But a fair statement of his
relations, without any of the bullying he had attempted, would have
accomplished his wishes better.

When I turned out in the morning, I found the mate had gone ashore. At
half-past eight, as requested by the chief of police through Washburn,
Ben Bowman and I went on shore to attend the mayor's court. I had
started in season to call on Colonel Shepard, to whom I related all the
events of the preceding evening, including my interview with the
Floridian. The Colonel decided to ask his friend, Colonel Ives, a
lawyer of influence, and a Floridian, to attend court with me.

Washburn was on hand in season, and the mayor listened to the
testimony. Cornwood had his opportunity to badger the witnesses, and he
made the most of it. The magistrate, in spite of the eloquence of the
counsel for the defence, chose to regard the offence as a serious
assault, and bound the prisoner over for his appearance at a higher
court, three weeks hence. This was about the time we expected to be
absent up the river, and I saw that the Colonel's friend had managed
the case well without saying a word out loud. Cornwood found bail for
the culprit, and he was released.

"I suppose he can return to his duties on board of the steamer," said
the waiter's counsel.

"No, sir; I would not tolerate such a man on board any more than I
would a rattlesnake," I replied.

I paid him his wages, and something more, on the spot; and when he left
the court, his look and his manner indicated that he was more intent
upon revenge than anything else. It was quarter of ten when the case
was thus settled for the present, and we hastened to the wharf, and on
board. I had engaged a large barge at the boat-wharf to put the
passengers on board, and they were all taken off at one load.

We had the anchor up by the time they were alongside, and it was only a
few minutes after ten when I rang the bell to go ahead.



CHAPTER XVIII.

THE EXCURSION TO MANDARIN.


The band struck up a lively air as the boat started; and nothing could
be more exhilarating than the strains of the music, in the soft
sunshine and mild, sweet air of that semi-tropical region. It was
March; but the air was like summer. As soon as we had passed the first
bend, the St. Johns appeared more like a far-reaching lake than a
stream. The river is from one to six miles wide below Pilatka. The
shores are never elevated, for there is not a bluff upon it that is
more than thirty feet high, while generally the land is only a few feet
above the level of the water. The highest elevation near the river
hardly exceeds sixty feet.

The country is almost wholly covered with woods, as seen from the
river. With the exception of a few villages, hardly a house can be seen
from the passing steamer. One seems to be nearly alone with nature
while voyaging on this broad tide. The trees are pines and magnolias,
and now and then one sees a patch covered with jasmine, the vine of
which climbs the trees and shrubs, and blossoms there. There are plenty
of flowers, even in the early spring. Compared with Maine or Michigan,
where I had spent most of my life, it was fairy-land in March.

"What are you doing here, Cornwood?" asked Colonel Ives, as he entered
the pilot-house, soon after we were under way.

The party was somewhat larger than it had been the day before, and both
the Mayor and Colonel Ives, with their families, were on board.

"I am the pilot of this steamer for the present," replied Cornwood; and
I thought he felt a little "cut" by the question.

"Isn't this a little derogatory to the profession?" laughed the
Colonel.

"I don't practise at the bar much, as you are aware: my health does not
admit of the confinement," the pilot explained.

"That is often the case with practitioners who don't have much to do in
their profession."

"I have always had all I could do at the bar; but the open air and an
active life agree best with me."

"It does with everybody who is short of cases."

"But he is a good pilot down the river, and I have no doubt he is just
as good up the river, Colonel Ives," I interposed. "His knowledge of
his native State surprises us all."

"I was only bantering him, captain," replied the passenger. "I think he
is a very good lawyer too, though he did not have a good case this
morning."

"When it comes to trial, I will show you that it is a better case than
you think it is," replied Cornwood, with more spirit than he had before
exhibited. "'Prisoners hang that hungry jurymen may dine,' and you and
the Mayor were in a hurry to finish the case, so that you could join
this excursion."

"I was not in the case," added the Colonel.

"But you prompted the magistrate to end it as soon as possible."

"What was the use of talking all day over a matter that was as plain as
day? The rascal would have killed the engineer, if the deck-hands
hadn't interfered," replied Colonel Ives. "The case might have been
finished in ten minutes, as well as in three-quarters of an hour."

I was willing the lawyers should fight it out between themselves, and I
left the pilot-house, which Owen and his ladies had not yet invaded. I
saw Washburn on the top-gallant forecastle, looking at the scenery of
the river, and I joined him in this retired place. I had not yet had an
opportunity to ask him if he had found Cobbington, and I went to the
forecastle for this purpose.

"I found him," replied the mate, in a disgusted tone. "But I might as
well not have found him."

"Why so?" I inquired, rather amused by the manner of my friend.

"Since I came on board, I have found out something more than I knew
before. Last evening, while you were ashore, Cornwood called a boat
that was passing, and sent a letter ashore by the boatman," continued
Washburn, as much dissatisfied as though he had been personally
injured. "Of course that note went to Captain Boomsby."

"How do you know Cornwood sent a letter on shore last night?"

"Buck," called the mate to the deck-hand who was on duty forward.

"On deck, sir," replied Buck, touching his cap to the mate.

"You told me this morning, when you set me ashore, that the pilot sent
a letter to the city last night by a boat he hailed."

"Yes, sir; three or four of us were on deck at the time, if there is
any doubt about it," replied the deck-hand.

"No doubt at all about it. Did you notice the boatman that took the
letter?"

"It was a blacky I have seen a dozen times about the steamer and on the
wharf, looking for jobs for that boat-yard," replied Buck. "He was in
the barge that brought off the passengers to-day."

"All right, Buck;" and the deck-hand retired. "After I heard about this
letter, I didn't expect anything of Cobbington, if I found him."

"Did you find him?"

"I did; he was not out of his bed when I called for him. He told me he
had two water moccasins, and one of them had got away while he had a
room at Captain Boomsby's. He did not know what became of him. He had
looked all about the house without being able to find him."

"Did he tell you what became of the other?"

"I asked him that question, and he told me he had him still. I asked
him to let me see him, but he refused in spite of all I could say to
induce him to show him. He said the snake was nailed up in a box, with
only some holes bored in it to admit the air; and he could not show the
snake without taking off the cover of the box. The moccasin was a
dangerous fellow, and he didn't want to run any risks with him. He had
left his last boarding-place because they killed a rattlesnake
belonging to him. I asked him to show me the box, but he wouldn't even
do that, and said it was all nonsense to show the box."

"You made up your mind that he had no moccasin?" I added.

"No more than I had. On my way down from the house I met his landlord,
coming home from the market. He asked me if I had found Cobbington. I
told him I had, and then informed him his lodger kept a live moccasin
snake in his room. He was greatly astonished at what I told him, and
declared that he wouldn't have a moccasin in his house for all the
money there was in Jacksonville; the snake might get loose, and bite
his wife or one of his children. He intimated that he should hasten
home and turn Cobbington out of his house: he would not have any man
under his roof who would endanger the lives of his wife and children."

"That was bad for Cobbington," I replied, with a smile.

"I told the landlord what his lodger said, that he had the moccasin
nailed up in a box. He didn't care how he kept him: he would not have
such a fellow about his house. I added that I did not believe
Cobbington had any such snake in his room, though he insisted that he
had. Then he either had a moccasin, or he lied about it, and in either
case he didn't want the fellow in his house. I came to the conclusion
that the landlord wanted to turn out his lodger, and only wished for a
reasonable excuse for getting rid of him. I left him; and I suppose
Cobbington has been turned out by this time. I shouldn't want a
poisonous snake in my house."

"Nor a man who would lie without a reasonable excuse," I added.

The steamer went along at her usual speed. I returned to the
pilot-house, where by this time Owen had installed all the young ladies
he could get into it. They were all full of fun and jollity, and were
enjoying the excursion to the utmost. As it seemed to me that they
ought to do so, I found no occasion to complain. I could not help
suspecting that the pilot might be guilty of some treachery, after the
events of the morning, and I deemed it advisable to have a close watch
upon him. But he kept the steamer in the middle of the river, where I
had been informed there were no shoals; and certainly no rocks, for not
one could be found in this part of the state, even big enough to stone
a stray dog.

"Mulberry Grove on the right," said Cornwood, who did not neglect his
duties as guide, while he attended to those of pilot.

We could see little besides a long pier, though there was a glimpse to
be obtained of a house through the vista of trees.

Twenty minutes later we ran up to the pier at Mandarin, where the pilot
made as handsome a landing as I ever saw in my life. It was half-past
eleven when we had secured the steamer to the wharf. The band played
some popular airs, and in a few minutes I judged that we had the entire
population of the village on the wharf. It was a lively time for
Mandarin, which is a remarkably quiet place. I believe I saw something
like a store there, though I am not quite sure. About all the houses
are on the bank of the river, and were reached by a long, narrow
foot-bridge, built over the lagoon. From the main bridge, cross bridges
extended to each house.

At twelve the lunch was ready, and the excursionists went down into the
cabin to attend to it, while the band on the hurricane-deck continued
to play. An oyster chowder and baked shad were the principal
substantials of the lunch; and while they were served, Gopher was the
greatest man on board. As soon as the lunch was disposed of, and the
cook had been sufficiently complimented, the party went on shore.
Cornwood led the way over the long foot-bridge.

"There is an alligator in the wild state," I said to Miss Margie, as I
was walking with her and her father.

"I don't see anything," she replied.

"Don't you see that splashing in the water, with something black in the
midst of it? That is an alligator, the first one I ever saw," I added.

It looked like a stick of wood. A little farther along we saw one on a
log. He was not more than three feet long. He attracted the attention
of the party, who had never seen one in his native element before; but
we expected to see larger ones in the course of a week or two. Mrs.
Stowe's cottage was one of the first we came to. It was a one-story,
wooden house, with no pretensions to elegance. An immense live-oak grew
near it, and covered the cottage with its branches. Around it was an
orange grove, on the trees of which many oranges still remained. The
distinguished lady was not at home, and we did not see her.

We walked to the end of the bridge, looking at the pretty dwellings on
the shore, and then went upon the land, where we had quite a ramble.
But an hour enabled us to see all there was of the place, and we
embarked for the return. Before five o'clock we were in sight of
Jacksonville. The pilot ran the boat as near the shore as it was safe
to go, and the barge I had engaged to be present transported the party
to the shore. Mrs. Mitchell's house looked very pleasant from the
outside; but we were principally interested in the garden and orange
grove. It was said that over five thousand oranges had been gathered
from one of the trees we saw. We examined a great variety of
semi-tropical trees and shrubs, such as lemon, banana, grape-fruit, and
others I cannot remember.

The party dined on the river, and landed at the market at six.



CHAPTER XIX.

THE ADVENTURES OF AN INVALID.


Mr. Cornwood had been very polite and pliable all day, and his skill as
a pilot won my commendation. When he expressed a desire to remain on
shore, at the wharf, I did not object. As soon as the anchor was let
go, all hands were piped to supper; but I was in no condition to take
another meal that day, after the dinner with the excursionists, from
which I had risen an hour before. I was glad to be alone in my
state-room, after the excitement of the day. In spite of what had
transpired in the morning, and in spite of the evidence obtained by
Washburn in regard to the snake, I could not help wondering if, after
all, the pilot was not innocent of any evil intentions.

It seemed to me that a man of his education, having a profession, could
not take part in any small conspiracy, such as Captain Boomsby would be
likely to get up. If either Cornwood or Griffin Leeds, his agent,
intended to do me any harm, it seemed to me they had had abundant
opportunity to do it already. The pilot might have wrecked the vessel,
and the waiter might have poisoned the food I ate. I resolved to be
very careful how I charged Cornwood with any evil, unless it was
capable of being proved.

"I should like to go on shore, Alick, if you have nothing better for me
to do," said Washburn, coming into my room when he had finished his
supper.

"I have nothing for you to do," I replied. "What's up now?"

"I have some curiosity to know what has become of Cobbington; and I
think I shall call upon his landlord," replied the mate, laughing.

"I will go with you, if you have no objection," I added.

"I should be glad of your company," said he, leading the way to the
gangway. "Hold on a minute, captain," he added, when I began to order
my boat. "There is the boatman that carried off Cornwood's letter. He
is looking for a job: suppose we give him one?"

I did not object, and the mate hailed the boatman. We seated ourselves
in his boat, and he pulled for the shore. Our uniforms gave us great
distinction among the colored people. Very likely some of them thought
we were United States naval officers: at any rate, they all treated us
with "distinguished consideration."

"What's your name, boatman?" asked Washburn.

"Moses Dripple," replied the man.

"Well, Moses Dripple, were you alongside our steamer last evening?"
continued the mate.

"Yes, sar; made a quarter taking a letter ashore," answered Moses,
showing teeth enough for a full-grown alligator.

"Put it in the post-office, did you?" inquired Washburn, indifferently,
as he looked behind him at the steamer.

"No, sar; didn't put it into the post-office; car'ed it to a
saloon-keeper, and he gave me a drink of apple-jack, as soon as he had
read it, for bringin' de letter."

"Is it possible that you drink apple-jack?" asked the mate, with some
observations on the folly of drinking liquor.

"Drink it when I git it, sar."

"Where did you get your apple-jack?"

"At de saloon; where else would I get it, sar?"

"I suppose it made you so boozy you don't know where the saloon was,"
added the mate, keeping up his indifference, as though his talk was
mere banter.

"It was de new saloon, sar; not boozy at all, sar; Captain Boomsby
keeps dat saloon. Mighty mean man, Captain Boomsby. As soon as he done
read de letter, he put on his coat, and left de saloon."

That was all that Washburn cared to know--that the letter from Cornwood
had gone to Captain Boomsby; and he bestowed a look of triumph upon me.
I paid the boatman a quarter, and we walked up to Bay Street. We had
hardly turned the corner before we came plump upon a man who seemed to
be very anxious to meet my friend and companion. I had never seen him
before.

"Mr. Cobbington, this is Captain Garningham, of the steamer Sylvania,"
said Washburn, chuckling.

"How do you do, Mr. Cobbington," I replied.

"How are you, captain: I'm glad to see both of you," replied
Cobbington. "One of you has got me into a bad scrape, for this morning,
Gavett, the man I boarded with, turned me out of his house because I
had a moccasin snake in a box in my room."

"Rough on you, was he?" added the mate.

"Mighty rough! I have been looking for another room all day, and I
can't get one. I've got to sleep out-doors to-night," replied
Cobbington, with a very long face.

"You shouldn't keep poisonous snakes in your room," I added.

"He never would have known it if this man hadn't told him," said the
snake-man, turning to the mate. "I don't know your name, but you got me
into a very bad scrape for an invalid; and that's the reason why I am
down in Florida, instead of at home where I could earn a decent
living," whined Cobbington. "I shall die in a week, if I have to sleep
out in the night-air: and I don't know of even a shed to get under."

"It was no more than right to tell a man you had a poisonous reptile in
his house," added Washburn. "The snake might have got out, and bitten
his wife and children."

"Early this morning I paid Gavett the last dollar I had for the rent of
the room; and I haven't had a mouthful to eat since I had my breakfast.
How long can an invalid live, sleeping out-doors, with nothing to eat?"
added Cobbington.

I saw the tears roll down the thin cheeks of the man, and my sympathies
were excited. I saw it was the same with Washburn.

"I have been in to see Captain Boomsby; I had a room in his house for a
while, and always paid for it. He wouldn't let me sleep on the floor in
one of his empty chambers, nor give me anything to eat," continued the
poor wretch.

"You shall have something to eat, and a place to sleep," I said.

We went over the way to Lyman's restaurant with him, and I ordered a
sirloin steak and fried potatoes for him, with other food. When it
came, he devoured it like a starving man. Whatever other lies he had
told, it was the truth that he was very hungry.

"That is the best meal I have eaten since I came into Florida," said he
with emphasis, when he had drained his coffee-cup. "Gentlemen, I am
more than grateful to you. I have struggled hard to keep my soul and
body together, and I've done it so far, though there isn't much left of
my body. I could live here, if I could earn enough to live on. You have
been kind to me; and now I'm going to tell you something: I have no
moccasin-snake, and I never had one, say nothing of two. I know I'm a
liar; but I told that lie for a dollar Boomsby gave me for telling it,
so that I need not be turned out of my room. If I had that Judas
dollar, I would send it back to Boomsby, and die with a clean
conscience."

"It never pays to do wrong," I added, deeply moved by the invalid's
story.

"I told Gavett I had no snake; but he turned me out, all the same. I
showed him everything I had; and he could find no box for the snake:
only a lot of baby alligators, that won't hurt anybody. I make a
quarter now and then by selling them to the children at the hotels. I
had to sell my gun I used to shoot alligators with for their teeth; my
best clothes are pawned; and my trunk is about as empty as my stomach
was half an hour ago. I have got about to the end of my rope; and I
don't know what will become of me."

"We will see what we can do for you, Mr. Cobbington," I added. "What
was your business at home?"

"I have done almost everything. I was brought up on a farm, and had a
pretty good education. My father and mother both died, and my brother
followed them, all in consumption. I went to teaching school, for we
lost the farm, and I had to take care of myself before I was twenty. My
health gave out, and I tried to work on a farm, but I wasn't strong
enough. Then I went to tending table at a summer hotel, and saved about
a hundred dollars. A man told me I should get well if I came to
Florida. I thought I could make my living here, and I came. I brought a
gun with me, and went into the woods. I shot deer, wild turkeys, and
alligators. I sold the game and the teeth, and got along pretty well in
the winter. Last summer I spent all the money I had left in coming down
here. My health was pretty good then. I sold my gun for sixty dollars,
half what it was worth, and did jobbing enough to keep me alive. I
worked as a waiter on a steamer, in place of a sick man, for a month,
and left the boat at Silver Spring, where the man took his place. I
hired a gun, and tried to get a living by shooting again; but I
couldn't find a market for the game. I had to give it up.

"I had a lot of alligators' teeth, a rattlesnake, which a gentleman on
a steamer offered to give me ten dollars for in Jacksonville, and I
worked my way down here. I sold the teeth; but the man that wanted the
rattlesnake was at St. Augustine, and I had to wait till he came back,
on his way north. Boomsby's wife turned me out when she found she
didn't like me, and they killed the snake at the St. Johns. I couldn't
stay there any longer now I had lost the ten dollars for the snake. My
money was all gone; but I picked up a little selling babies."

"Selling babies!" exclaimed Washburn.

"Baby alligators, I mean," added Cobbington, with a languid smile. "My
health was good while I was in the woods; I don't have any cough now,
but I've been running down lately."

Poor fellow! My heart was touched for him. It was hard to grub for a
bare subsistence, with the immediate prospect of dying in the street.
Washburn looked expressively at me, and I nodded to him. We rose from
the table, and told Cobbington to come with us. We took him to a
clothing-house, fitted him out with a new suit, yacht-club style, with
a white canvas cap like my own, except the gold band. We supplied him
with under-clothing, and with everything he needed, even to
handkerchiefs, socks, and shoes. Having obtained these, one-half of the
cost of which Washburn insisted upon paying, we next visited a
bath-house, where the invalid "washed and was clean." He then clothed
himself in the new clothes, and came out of the bath-room looking like
another person.

We went to the wharf, where we obtained a boat, and in a few minutes we
were on board. I formally engaged the man to take the place of Griffin
Leeds, as the waiter at the mess in the forward cabin. He had served in
this capacity in an hotel, and on steamers on the St. Johns and
Ocklawaha rivers. I gave him a berth in the forward cabin. I think he
was happy when he turned into it.

On Sunday I went to church in St. James Square, and called upon Owen as
I came out. Colonel Shepard informed me that he had chartered a steamer
that plied on the Ocklawaha at times, to take us anywhere that a
steamer could go. She was small, but large enough for our party.

I dined with the family and their guests, and went on board in the
afternoon. The steward was entirely satisfied with the manner in which
Cobbington had discharged his duties, and the invalid was the happiest
man I had seen in the Land of Flowers.



CHAPTER XX.

DIFFICULTIES IN THE WAY OF DEPARTURE.


Except in Jacksonville, there was no market on the St. Johns River; and
Mr. Peeks had been not a little disturbed in relation to the culinary
department of the Sylvania. He could not go on shore at the villages on
the river, and buy what he wanted; but with several steamers every day
going up to Pilatka, and several every week going up the Ocklawaha, I
assured him he would have no difficulty about feeding his passengers.
He made an arrangement with the keeper of the stall where he had
obtained his best meats to forward to him, on his order, such supplies
as would be needed, including ice, which was a prime necessity, not so
much to preserve the meats as to cool the water, and put various
articles in condition for the table.

In spite of the general belief in the dampness of a Florida atmosphere,
I learned that meats would keep longer than in Michigan. There are no
cellars in Florida, and the dwelling-houses are usually set on posts
planted in the ground. Meats are hung up in a shady place, where they
will keep for a week or more; and even then they are dried up, instead
of being tainted or putrefied. The steward had filled the ice-house
with the best beef, mutton, and poultry he could find, most of which
came from New York, though some of the Southern markets are supplied
with beef from Tennessee and Kentucky. Most of the cattle of Florida
range through the woods and pick up their living, so that they are not
properly fatted for the market, and look like "Pharaoh's lean kine."

No particular hour had been fixed upon for starting on the up-river
trip, but the passengers came on board at ten in the forenoon. At this
time steam was up in the boilers, and everything ready for an immediate
departure. But Mr. Cornwood had not put in an appearance. I had not
seen him since he went on shore at the wharf, on Saturday evening. I
was not much annoyed, for I knew where I could get a pilot at fifteen
minutes' notice.

Chloe, Griffin Leeds's wife, had come off with the ladies. She remained
perfectly neutral, though she knew all about the troubles with her
husband. I looked at her with some interest when she came on deck; but
she seemed to be as cheerful and pleasant as ever. If she had said
anything to the ladies about Griffin, nothing had come to me. As her
husband was not to be on board, I told the steward to give her one of
the after-berths in the cabin. She was so polite, attentive, and kind,
so wholly devoted to her duties, that the ladies had become very much
attached to her, treating her more like a friend than a servant.

Chloe was not more than twenty-two years old. She had been a stewardess
on a Charleston steamer, running up to Pilatka, at the time of her
marriage to Griffin Leeds, who was second waiter in the same boat. She
was entirely familiar with her duties, and when they were reduced to
attendance upon three ladies, she discharged them with the most
punctilious care.

"What are we waiting for, Alick?" asked Washburn, as I seated myself in
the pilot-house when all the preparations for our departure were
completed, and I could think of nothing more to be done, though I had
left the port boat in the water in case it became necessary to go on
shore for a pilot.

"Cornwood has not come off yet," I replied.

"Where is he?"

"I have no idea."

"Does he intend to play us a trick, and leave us in the lurch, now that
we are all ready for a start?" asked the mate, with some anxiety on his
face.

"I don't know, and I don't much care," I replied. "I don't know that I
ought to blame him much, since no fixed hour was named for starting."

"He ought to be on board like the rest of us, so that whenever his
services are required he may be ready to do his work," added Washburn,
impatiently. "You say you don't much care whether or not he intends to
play us a trick and leave us in the lurch. How are you to get on
without a pilot?"

"I can have one on board in half an hour at the most. There are plenty
of them, and I find they are glad to serve in such a nobby craft as the
Sylvania, where they have easy work and the best of grub," I replied.

"There comes a boat. I see the Panama hat and light clothes in it,"
added Washburn, evidently relieved, for he was impatient for the voyage
to begin.

In a minute more the pilot was on the deck of the steamer.

"I hope I have not delayed you," said he, when he saw that we were all
ready to leave.

"Not long," I replied, wishing to make things as pleasant as possible
with him for the trip of three weeks.

"I did not know at what hour you intended to leave, or I should have
been on board before," pleaded Cornwood. "I have been very busy with
some legal business this morning."

"If you are all ready, we will be off at once," I continued.

I hastened to the pilot-house, expecting him to follow me; but instead
of doing so, he passed through the engine-room, and disappeared on the
other side of the vessel. I concluded he had gone below for another
coat he wore when at the wheel. I went into the pilot-house, thinking
he would appear in a moment. The anchor was hove up to a short stay;
but the wind was blowing quite fresh from the south-west, and I did not
care to get under way in his absence from the wheel. I waited ten
minutes; and then my patience began to give out. I left the
pilot-house, with the intention of sending below for the pilot, when I
was informed that a boat had just come alongside.

It contained Captain Boomsby and Griffin Leeds.

Though I had tried to make myself proof against harboring any
suspicions, I thought the long delay of Cornwood was explained. He had
been very busy with legal business that morning. Did it relate to the
affairs of Griffin Leeds and my ancient enemy?

"Allow no one to come on board," I said to the mate, who had told me of
the coming of the boat, and who were in it.

I went aft. The gangway steps had been taken in-board, and stowed away
after Cornwood came. Captain Boomsby was rather more than half full of
whiskey. I found there was a third person in the boat, who proved to be
an officer. He had come to attach the steamer on the suit of Captain
Boomsby, to obtain possession of her on his old claim, and to trustee
Owen Garningham for any money that might be due to me. I allowed the
officer to come on deck. He was a very gentlemanly man, and had applied
to Colonel Ives when the writ was given to him. The colonel had filled
out a bond as surety for the defendant, to be signed by Colonel
Shepard; and that gentleman at once put his autograph on the document.

The officer was entirely satisfied, and was about to take his departure
when Cornwood appeared; but he offered no objection, and the writ had
not come from his office. Captain Boomsby was in a violent passion when
he learned that the steamer was to be allowed to proceed on her voyage
up the river. He swore at the officer, and declared that he had not
done his duty. The steamer belonged to him, and he insisted on coming
on board.

"I came off for my wife," said Griffin Leeds. "I want her to go on
shore with me."

This demand seemed to me a more serious complication than that of
Captain Boomsby's ridiculous suit. I did not know much about law, but I
had an idea that a man had a right to his own wife. Colonel Shepard was
a lawyer, though he did not practise his profession, and I was entirely
willing to leave this matter to him, for he was more interested in it
than any other person, as his wife was an invalid, and needed Chloe's
attentions more than the other ladies.

"Don't let her go," said the Colonel; and so said all the ladies.

"You can't separate man and wife," said Cornwood.

"We don't propose to separate man and wife," replied Colonel Shepard,
before I had time to say anything. "If his wife wants to go, she is at
perfect liberty to do so. Ask Chloe to come on deck," he added, turning
to the steward.

The stewardess appeared a minute later.

"Here, Chloe, I want you to come on shore with me," shouted Griffin
Leeds, when he saw his wife. "I have got a room all furnished for you,
and I've got a situation as second waiter at a hotel."

"No, I thank you!" replied Chloe, pertly. "I'm going to stay where I
am."

I was not a little surprised to hear her make this answer, for I
supposed she would follow the fortunes of her husband, whatever they
were. I knew nothing in regard to their marital relations, whether they
were pleasant or otherwise, though I had never seen anything to lead me
to suppose they were unpleasant.

"I want you to come with me; you are my wife and you must come!" said
Griffin, angrily. "I forbid your going in this steamer."

"You can forbid all day if you like; I'm going in the steamer!"
answered Chloe, very decidedly. "I don't go with you any more, if I can
help it."

"You are my wife, and you can't help it," retorted the husband.

"I haven't got anything more to say about it. I won't go with you; and
that's the whole of it," said the stewardess, retreating to the cabin.

Griffin Leeds swore like a pirate, and declared he would be the death
of his wife if she didn't come with him. He called upon the officer to
arrest Chloe, and compel her to go on shore with him.

"Give me a proper warrant, and I will arrest her," replied the officer,
laughing.

"I am her husband; and I tell you to take her out of that steamer,"
cried Griffin, foaming with wrath.

"I don't know that you are her husband; and if I did, I would not
meddle with her," replied the officer, who seemed to enjoy the
situation. "Our business is finished on board of this craft:" and he
returned to the boat.

"This seems to be rather a hard case," interposed Cornwood. "I don't
think we have any right to separate man and wife."

"The woman is a free citizen of Florida," added the officer; "and she
can go where she pleases without any restraint."

"So far as the legal question is concerned, I suppose the woman cannot
be put under any restraint," said Cornwood; "but the idea of carrying
off the woman against the protest of her husband, is not, morally, the
right thing to do. I think you had better discharge the woman, and then
you will be free from the possibility of blame."

"I don't propose to meddle with the matter in any way," I replied
promptly. "I don't know but you have a wife. If she should come here
and protest against my carrying you off up the river, I don't think I
should pay any attention to her."

"That's another question," replied Cornwood, smartly.

"I don't think it is: what is sauce for goose is sauce for gander. You
will take the wheel, Mr. Cornwood. Forward, there! Heave up the
anchor."

As soon as the anchor was atrip, I rang the bell to go ahead.



CHAPTER XXI.

A VISIT TO ORANGE PARK.


Cornwood was slow to move, after I directed him to take the wheel. I
saw that he was not yet in the pilot-house, when I rang the bell to go
ahead. I directed the mate with Ben and Landy to prevent any of the
party in the boat from coming on board, and hastened to the
pilot-house. But before I reached the door Cornwood was at the wheel.
He threw it over, and met the boat with the helm when she began to make
headway. I was not quite sure that he did not intend to rebel; but I
was ready to send him ashore the instant he did so in word or deed. My
suspicions began to gather weight again. He had evidently delayed the
steamer until the arrival of the boat containing Captain Boomsby and
the husband of the stewardess.

I could easily fancy that the pilot was at the bottom of all the
proceedings to delay or prevent the departure of the boat. The
attachment was to prevent her going at all; the claim for the
stewardess was to help along the matter. It seemed to me that some
heavy reward had been promised to Cornwood for his services, or he
would not endanger the liberal wages he was paid for his services on
board of the Sylvania. But I knew nothing about the matter, and it was
useless to conjecture what he was driving at.

The steamer was headed up the river, and we had actually begun our
long-talked-of trip. Cornwood steered the boat as well as usual, but he
was moody and silent. If he was ugly and bent on mischief, the worst he
could do, as I understood the matter, was to run the steamer aground.
This would not be a very serious calamity, and could involve no worse
consequences than a loss of time. I was not alarmed at anything he
might do while we were sailing up the river. I seated myself at the
side of the wheel, and allowed things to take their course, as, in New
Jersey, when it rains, they let it rain. But if Cornwood was angry, he
cooled off in the course of half an hour, and remarked that it was a
delightful day for the start. I was not obstinate on this point, and I
agreed with him.

"I don't think you treated me quite fairly, Captain Garningham, in the
affairs of poor Griff and his wife," said he, when the steamer was off
Mulberry Grove.

"Didn't treat you fairly!" I exclaimed, astonished at this new phase of
the argument. "Do I treat you unfairly because I won't have a man with
murder in his heart on board? Do I treat you unfairly because his wife
refuses to leave her place?"

"I have told you the reason why I am interested in the man; I am under
obligations to him," added Cornwood.

"I have no objection to your being interested in him to the last day of
his life; but I am not sufficiently interested in him to have a man who
draws a knife on another in this vessel," I answered. "I am not under
obligations to him."

"I have done the best I can to serve you, and I thought a friend of
mine might be entitled to some consideration," continued Cornwood, with
an injured innocence of tone and manner.

"Your influence procured for him and his wife places on board; and
Griffin might have retained his position, if he had behaved half as
well as his wife has."

"Poor Griff lay down on the deck to take a nap----"

"I don't care to hear that argument over again. I could have passed
over the scuffle, if he had not drawn his knife when there was nothing
to provoke him," I interposed.

"The assistant engineer did not tell the truth when he said he did not
lay the weight of his hand on him," protested Cornwood.

"I believe he did. I don't believe Griffin was asleep. He lay down with
his ear to the skylight of the captain's room in order to hear what
passed between me and the mate. This is the second time Griffin was
caught in the act of listening. More than this, the assistant engineer
was on the watch, by my order, for eavesdroppers, as will appear at the
trial," I replied, with energy.

"By your orders?" exclaimed Cornwood.

"By my orders. Both the engineer and the assistant were asked to do
this duty, because Griffin was seen before, skulking where he had no
business to be."

"The mate assaulted poor Griff the other day," added the pilot.

"He caught him listening under the windows of our room, and took him by
the collar for it, if that is what you mean by assaulting him."

"He had no right to take him by the collar."

"I will grant that he had not; but when one is in the midst of
eavesdroppers, his indignation may get the better of his judgment," I
replied.

"That was just the case with poor Griff; but he is a poor man, and not
the son of an ex-governor; and he is persecuted to the full penalty of
the law for it," growled Cornwood.

"I think there is some difference in the cases. Griffin was skulking
about, trying to listen to conversation which did not concern him. If
he wants to take a nap, he lies down with his ear to an open skylight.
Mr. Washburn is charged with the discipline of the vessel; and when
your friend attempted to escape from the place where he was caught, the
mate took him by the collar. Griffin, or you, as his counsel, might
have prosecuted him for the assault, if you had thought proper to do
so," I answered.

"I am sorry I did not do so, after what has happened since."

"I am sorry you did not, for it would have brought to light some things
which have not yet been ventilated."

"What do you mean by that, captain?" demanded the pilot, looking
furtively into my face.

"It is not necessary to explain matters that have not yet been brought
into the case," I replied coldly. "I think we had better drop the
subject, and not allude to it again. As a guide and pilot, I am
entirely satisfied with you. Griffin Leeds has been discharged; and he
cannot be employed again under any circumstances on this vessel. I
won't have a man about who is skulking under windows, listening to what
don't concern him, or a man who will draw a knife on another."

"The steward wants to know at what hour he shall serve dinner in the
cabin to-day?" asked Cobbington, poking his head into the pilot-house
at this moment.

For some reason not apparent to me, the pilot was so startled at the
sound of the new waiter's voice that he let go the wheel, as he was
swinging the boat around at a bend of the river. The wheel flew over
with force enough to knock a man down if it had hit him. I immediately
grasped the spokes, and began to heave it over again.

"No harm done; my hand slipped," said the pilot.

"Good morning, Mr. Cornwood," added the new waiter, with a broad grin
on his face. "I didn't know you were the pilot of this steamer. I hope
you are very well."

"Very well," answered Cornwood, with an utterly disgusted expression on
his face, as he continued to throw the wheel over.

"I think the passengers will not dine on board to-day," I replied to
the question of the waiter. "But I will let the steward know in
season."

The forward-cabin steward retired. It was evident that Cornwood had not
seen him on board before, and that he was not at all pleased to have
him as a fellow-voyager on the river. Cobbington looked as though he
had gained twenty pounds in flesh since he came on board on Saturday
night. In his new clothes he presented a very neat appearance; and he
had done his duty faithfully. He was so familiar with his work, that he
required scarcely any instruction. All hands were greatly interested in
his accounts of forest life in Florida, and he appeared to be a general
favorite. By Monday morning, he was generally called the "sportsman."

"Is that man employed on board?" asked Cornwood, soon after Cobbington
took his head out of the door.

"He is; he takes the place of Griffin Leeds," I replied.

"How long has he been on board?"

"He came on Saturday night."

"He is a good-for-nothing vagabond!" exclaimed the pilot.

"He has had a hard time of it in Florida, according to his own account.
If he does his duty, that is all I want of him," I added.

"Where did you pick him up?"

"He hailed Mr. Washburn in the street when I was with him, and we
brought him off with us. He was in a starving condition, and Captain
Boomsby, at whose house he used to have a room, refused to give him
even a supper. I believe he has been in the snake business to some
extent," I replied, indifferently.

I knew very well that Cornwood wished to know precisely what our
relations were with Cobbington; but he was not so simple as to ask any
questions about them. I could not prove that Captain Boomsby had placed
the moccasin in the closet of the room where he had confined me, for my
benefit, but I could prove that the explanation of the presence of the
snake there was without any foundation in truth. Griffin Leeds had
discovered by listening to the conversation of the mate and myself,
that we were investigating the matter, and had a clue to Cobbington.
Then Cornwood had sent a note to the saloon-keeper to this effect, and
Captain Boomsby had bribed the invalid with a dollar to lie about the
matter.

While I was reasonably certain in regard to such portions of the chain
of the story as I had been compelled to supply, I could not prove all I
believed. On the other hand, Cornwood was an exceedingly valuable
person to me as guide and pilot, and I was unwilling to dispense with
his services until he showed the cloven foot too palpably to be
retained.

The Sylvania was approaching Orange Park, a place which Colonel Shepard
desired to visit. A sign four hundred feet long, and fifteen feet high,
the largest in the world, indicates the locality. It can be read a mile
off, and the visitor "who runs may read." Cornwood ran the steamer
alongside the long pier, and our passengers landed. Mr. Benedict, the
enterprising Rhode Islander who owns the vast estate of nine thousand
acres, was on the wharf to welcome them. The place had formerly been an
immense sugar plantation; but the present owner had cut it up into
small farms and town lots, and considerable progress had been made in
peopling it with residents from the North.

The bluffs were thirty feet high on the river, and the highest
elevation was seventy feet, about the highest on the St. Johns. Quite a
number of dwelling-houses had been erected, including a hotel, and the
place had a store, a school, and a hall for religious services. Several
thousand orange-trees had been set out, and were in a thrifty
condition. They set out stumps of sour orange-trees, three inches in
diameter, and graft into them two shoots, a few inches above the
ground. These had grown two or three feet in a single year, and in five
or six years they would be in bearing condition. Young trees, five or
six feet high, are also set out. If the orange grower is successful,
the crop is exceedingly profitable.

Lots of from one to twenty acres were sold at from one to thirteen
hundred dollars, as they were nearer or farther from the river. A house
that would answer the purpose of a settler could be built for one
hundred and thirty dollars, and a comfortable cottage for five hundred
dollars.

We walked up to the hotel, and dined with the proprietor.



CHAPTER XXII.

FISHING IN DOCTOR'S LAKE.


After a very good dinner, we were invited to take a ride in an Orange
Park carriage. The vehicle was a platform wagon, with stakes, such as
is called a "hay rigging" in some parts of the North, drawn by a pair
of mules. I found that a mule in this locality cost more than a house
for the ordinary settler. On the platform were placed chairs enough to
seat all the party, including Cornwood, Washburn, and myself. The
proprietor was the driver, and as we proceeded on the excursion, he
explained everything of interest. He drove to an old orange-tree that
had borne four thousand oranges that year. Near it was a tangled grove
of fig-trees, the first I had ever seen.

From this point we struck into the woods. We crossed a clear brook
which was never dry; and Miss Margie asked if there were any snakes on
the place. Mr. Benedict thought there might be, though he had never
seen any.

"Oh, isn't that magnificent! Perfectly lovely!" cried Miss Edith in
ecstasies.

"Beautiful!" added Miss Margie. "Did you ever see anything like it?"

I had not, for one. The sight which had called forth these enthusiastic
exclamations was a perfect forest of jasmine in full blossom. The trees
that grew near the brook were of a young growth, and for half an acre
in extent they were loaded with jasmine vines so thickly covered with
flowers that the green leaves could hardly be seen. The ladies were all
delighted. Washburn and I got out, and gathered half a cord or so of
the vines, thus loaded with blossoms, and the wagon was as fragrant as
a perfume shop.

We entered a forest of pines, where we found a house built by a couple
of young men who had been several years in Cuba, and intended to
cultivate the sugar-cane. In the midst of the woods we came to an old
church, without a house within a mile of it, and which had been three
or four miles from any dwelling in the days when it was used. It was a
rather large log-house, now in a ruinous condition, in which the
planters and their families had once attended divine services. Not far
from it the proprietor stopped his team, and we all got off the wagon.
We were conducted to the "Roaring Magnetic Spring," which was one of
the features of the place. Florida is a great place for springs of
various kinds. We were all arranged on a wooden platform over the
spring, which was a tunnel-shaped cavity in the blue sand of the earth,
about ten feet deep.

"Now keep still a moment," said Mr. Benedict.

We listened, and the roaring of the spring was easily heard when the
voices of the party did not drown it.

"Isn't it beautiful!" exclaimed Miss Margie, as she bent over and gazed
into the spring, the waters of which, for six feet down, were as clear
as crystal. "Aren't those sand clouds pretty?"

As the water boiled up from the bottom of the spring, it carried the
sand up in clearly-curved clouds until their own gravity caused the
particles to sink, and again be thrown up by the force of the water.
The party watched this phenomenon with interest for some time, for not
one of them had ever seen anything like it, with the exception of Mr.
Cornwood.

"Now, I want to show you something still more remarkable," continued
the proprietor, as he produced two long, narrow strips of board. "You
have heard the roaring of the spring, and now I want to convince you
that it is magnetic."

He placed the ends of the strips at the bottom of the spring, and then
disposed of each of the other ends on the sides of Colonel Shepard's
head. The same experiment was then tried upon Mr. Tiffany, and all the
other members of the party. The roaring seemed to penetrate, and pass
through one's head. Owen declared that the process had cured him of a
headache he had had all day; but Mr. Tiffany, while he was much
interested in the phenomenon, was somewhat skeptical in regard to the
magnetic properties of the spring.

We resumed our seats on the Orange Park carriage, and rode to Doctor's
Lake. It was said to be a dozen miles long, and from one to three miles
wide. We were told there were plenty of fish in this lake, and we were
disposed to verify the truth of the assertion. We returned to the
hotel, delighted with our drive, and Mrs. Shepard declared that she
should like to live at Orange Park. Before we left, the Colonel had
bargained for two lots on the St. Johns, and to have them covered with
orange-trees. We started for the end of the pier where the steamer lay,
for the shallow water did not permit a near approach to the land.

As we approached the Sylvania, we heard a scream from a woman on board.
I was not a little startled by the sound, and Washburn and I broke into
a run. On the quarter-deck we found Griffin Leeds and Chloe. Her
husband had seized her by the arm, and was dragging her towards the
gangway. Already Ben Bowman and the two deck-hands were rushing to her
assistance, and before we could reach the scene of action they had
grappled with Leeds, and released Chloe.

The stewardess retreated to the farthest part of the deck, and appeared
to be in mortal terror of her husband. Griffin Leeds drew a knife,--not
the one he had used before, for that was in the possession of the city
marshal of Jacksonville,--and threatened to take the life of any one
that interfered with him. It was evident that he had seen the party
coming from the hotel, and had made a desperate effort to secure
possession of his wife before we could defeat his purpose. I was afraid
some of the ship's company would get hurt when I saw the knife.
Griffin's wrath seemed to be especially kindled against the assistant
engineer, on account of the affair on Saturday.

"You white-livered villain!" said he, gnashing his teeth, with a savage
oath, "I will teach you to meddle with me!"

He rushed at Ben, with the knife gleaming in the air; but Ben, who was
as cool as when on duty in the engine-room, grasped his uplifted arm
with the left hand, while he placed his right on the throat of the
assassin. Though the engineer was no taller or heavier than I was, he
was very athletic and very active. He did not move or make any
demonstration till the assailant was within reach of him, and then he
grappled with him. In vain Griffin Leeds struggled to release his hand
from the grasp of the engineer, who held it as firmly as though it had
been screwed up in the vise in the engine-room.

Buck Lingley was not an instant behind Ben in taking prompt action. He
seized the other hand of the furious octoroon, while Hop Tossford laid
both hands on his coat-collar behind. In another instant Griffin Leeds
was borne down upon the deck. The young ladies of our party began to
scream and run up the pier; and Mrs. Shepard was so agitated that her
husband feared for the consequences.

"Tie his hands behind him, and put him ashore!" I shouted.

My order was promptly obeyed, and Ben and Buck began to march the
desperate husband up the pier.

"There is no more danger of him, ladies," said Ben, as he approached
the young ladies.

Miss Margie and Miss Edith halted, and when the men with their prisoner
had passed them, they scampered to the steamer as fast as they could
run. Mrs. Shepard was assisted on board, and the danger seemed to be
passed. Chloe was herself again, and flew to the assistance of the
invalid lady. But Mrs. Shepard recovered from her agitation in a few
minutes.

"I say, Alick, how much more of this sort of thing are we to have,"
asked Owen, when the excitement had subsided. "Are we to have a scene
like this every day in the week?"

"I hope not," I replied.

"We had better let the man's wife go than have him following us in this
sort of fashion. How came the fellow up here, when we left him at
Jacksonville this forenoon?"

"I suppose he came up in that steamer," I answered, pointing to a boat
a couple of miles up the river. "The hands ought not to have let the
fellow come on board."

"The rascal is a regular butcher, and we must all follow the American
fashion of carrying a revolver."

"I see just how it was: we had to run in at the side of this pier, so
that a steamer that had occasion to stop here could make a landing at
the end of the wharf."

"Is that the reason why that villain wanted to stab somebody?" asked
Owen, with a wondering stare.

"Well, not exactly. The crew of the Sylvania were on the forecastle,
under the awning, for I saw them rushing aft when I heard the woman
scream," I continued.

"Then it was because the crew were on the forecastle?" inquired my
cousin, with open mouth.

"When Griffin landed from that steamer, he probably saw Chloe on the
quarter-deck, or if he did not, he went into the cabin and found her.
The crew being forward of the deck-house did not see him. She refused
to leave the steamer with him, and he undertook to take her away by
force," I explained.

"And you think that makes it all right, Alick?" asked Owen.

"I think not. If I had thought of such a thing as Griffin's coming on
board, I should have set a watch to prevent him from doing so. I shall
take this precaution in future."

"Does that mean that you will set a watch in the future?" asked Owen,
seriously.

"That is just what it means: and one is lucky when the dull brain of a
Briton catches the idea," I replied.

The appearance of the young ladies called Owen away, and I announced to
the passengers that they would want their fishing-gear in the course of
half an hour. I had plenty of fishing-tackle of all sorts which I kept
on board; and I knew that all the gentlemen in the cabin, unless it was
Mr. Tiffany, were supplied with all the implements for fishing and
shooting. Cornwood had procured a supply of bait while we were at
dinner. The fasts were cast off, and we backed out into the river. Ben
and Buck had returned, having made their prisoner fast to the railing
of the pier, at the suggestion of Mr. Benedict, who said he would look
out for him.

The steamer stopped when she was clear of the pier, and then went
ahead. The pilot said he was perfectly familiar with the navigation of
Doctor's Lake, having surveyed it in the service of the State. The
water was very shallow near the shore, where we had broken through the
bushes to its brink; but it was said to be very deep in many parts. I
had read that the frequent passage of steamers over the waters of the
St. Johns had driven the frightened fish into such places as Doctor's
Lake. We entered its waters, and steamed several miles up the lake.
Then the pilot rang the gong, and the vessel was soon at rest.

We baited our hooks, and dropped the lines into the lake. Miss Margie
was the first to hook a fish. After a hard pull she got him to the top
of the water. It was a catfish weighing twelve pounds. The Colonel and
Owen were disgusted. A catfish is an exaggerated hornpout, or
"bullhead." None but negroes eat them at the South.



CHAPTER XXIII.

TROLLING FOR BLACK BASS.


"The idea of fishing for catfish is absurd!" exclaimed Colonel Shepard.
"It isn't a proper use to put a white man to."

"Don't fish so deep, then," suggested Cornwood. "The catfish live on
the bottom."

I was as much disgusted with the idea of catching catfish as the
Colonel, for I had seen plenty of them caught by the negroes on the
wharves at Jacksonville. I took a good-sized spoon-hook, with three
hundred feet of line attached to it, just as I had used it in Lake
Superior, and cast the hook as far out into the water as I could. I
trolled it home, and obtained quite a heavy bite. I tried it again, and
this time hauled in a fish that would weigh six pounds.

"What's that, Mr. Cornwood?" I asked, as I brought the fish inboard.

"That's a black trout," replied the pilot.

"Black trout!" replied the Colonel, who was a great fisherman. "That
isn't a trout of any sort! It is a black bass."

"We call them black trout on the St. Johns, where they are very plenty
at some seasons of the year," added Cornwood.

"He is not quite like our black bass of the lakes of the State of New
York; his head is larger," added the Colonel, after he had looked the
fish over. "Still he is a black bass, and a big one too."

"Do you call that a big one?" demanded Cornwood contemptuously.

"I have fished a great deal in the New York lakes, and I never saw a
black bass that would weigh more than four pounds and a half, though I
have heard of them that weighed five."

"I have caught them that would weigh twelve," added the pilot.

The Colonel looked at him as though he were a descendant of the father
of lies. I had three more spoon-hooks, with the necessary lines, two of
which I had bought on the northern shore of Lake Superior. It was odd
to think of fishing with them here in Florida. I sent Cornwood to the
pilot-house, and told Moses to give the steamer about four knots an
hour, for this was the way I used to do on Lakes Huron and Superior.

We had not room for more than four lines at the stern for trolling. I
offered one of them to Mr. Tiffany; but he declined, pleading that he
had no skill in this kind of fishing. The Colonel, Owen, Gus Shepard,
and I, handled the lines. Going at four knots, the screw hardly broke
the water, though possibly it astonished the fishes. Our lines had
hardly run out their length before two of us had each a fish on his
hook. The Colonel and I brought in a fish apiece, about the size of the
one I had caught before. Owen and Gus took their turn while we were
getting our fish off the hook. My cousin lost his, but Gus got his on
board. The sport was quite equal to blue-fishing, which I had tried on
the coast of Maine. In an hour we had twenty of them, all black bass.
Miss Margie wished she might fish; I told her to put on her thick
gloves and she might try. I baited the spoon-hook with a live little
fish the pilot had procured, and gave her the line. In a few minutes
she was tugging away at a fish. He was unusually gamy, leaping out of
the water a dozen times on his way to the boat.

"I can't get him any further, captain!" cried she, out of breath with
her exertions. I took the line from her, and hauled in the largest bass
we had yet seen.

"It would be wicked to catch any more, for we can't use them," said the
Colonel. "Here, steward, weigh this fish, if you please."

The bass Miss Margie had caught carried the spring scale down to twelve
and a quarter.

"Where is Mr. Cornwood?" demanded Colonel Shepard; and he rushed
forward to the pilot-house. "Mr. Cornwood, I doubted your statement
when you said you had seen a black trout, or bass, that would weigh
twelve pounds. I beg your pardon, for we have one that will weigh
twelve and a quarter."

"I hope you will yet catch a bigger one, Colonel Shepard," replied the
pilot, delighted to be vindicated.

"Now let her out, and run for Green Cove Springs," I interposed.

The deck-hands wound up the lines; we were soon out of the lake, and
again headed up the St. Johns River. All the party were exhilarated by
the fine sport we had had on the lake, and they were devoting
themselves to a particular examination of the fish. Ben Bowman laid
aside the dignity of his office as assistant engineer, and proceeded to
dress the fish, which he was better qualified to do than any other
person on board. It was about six o'clock in the afternoon when we
finished fishing, and the cabin party were called to supper before we
got out of the lake. As soon as they had sufficiently discussed the
fish, they went below.

The mate relieved Cornwood at the wheel while the latter went to
supper, which was ready at the same hour as the cabin meal. I preferred
to take my supper with Washburn, and so I waited till half an hour
later. I was talking with him about the fishing, when Chloe came to the
door of the pilot-house, and with her usual smile said she would like
to see me. I went out on the forecastle with her, for I thought she had
taken the particular time when Cornwood was at supper to speak with me.

"Captain Garningham, I am willing to leave the Sylvania when the boat
gets to Green Cove Springs, for I know that I am making a great deal of
trouble on board," said she, showing her pretty white teeth.

"I was not aware that you had made any trouble on board," I replied.
"It is your husband who has made all the trouble."

"Well, it is on my account; and if I leave the Sylvania, he will not
trouble you any more," she added.

"I don't think the ladies in the cabin would be willing that you should
leave."

"I am sure Griffin will be in Green Cove Springs to-night, and he will
make a heap of trouble there as he has done to-day," continued Chloe.
"I don't want to keep you in hot water all the time on my account."

"We understand the situation better than before, and we shall have no
further trouble with Griffin. I shall have a hand forward and another
aft whenever we are at anchor, or at a wharf, so that he can't get on
board of the steamer," I replied. "If you don't want to go with him,
all you have to do is to stay on board."

"I don't want to go with him," said she, with a good deal of energy.
"If I could have found a place in a steamer going north, or anywhere
that would take me away from him, I would have left him a year ago;"
and her bright eyes snapped as though she meant all she said.

"How long have you been married?"

"Two years; and I was very foolish to have him. Griffin is a bad man,"
said she, shaking her head. "He was discharged from the Charleston
steamer for getting up a fight, and drawing a knife on the steward. He
beats me and abuses me, and I have been miserable ever since I married
him. I have often been afraid of my life, he is so violent, especially
when he has been drinking."

"Does he drink hard?"

"Only when he is ashore. If he did it on board any steamer, they would
discharge him right off. When this trip in the Sylvania is done, I
shall have a little money, and then I shall leave Florida by the first
train, if the ladies will give me a recommendation so that I can get a
place. I mean to change my name, and keep out of Griffin's way as long
as I live, for he will kill me if I live with him. I had no comfort for
a year till I came on board of this vessel."

"You were living in St. Augustine, were you?"

"Lived everywhere; we had been in St. Augustine two months when we
engaged on this steamer. Griffin had a place at a hotel, and was turned
off for getting drunk, and fighting. He must have been very bad, or
they would not have let him go when they were so short of waiters. He
wouldn't let me work anywhere, though I had plenty of chances to wait
on table, and one to go in the San Jacinto to Nassau. He was afraid I
should get some money and leave him, as I told him I would after he had
whipped and kicked me. I have a mark on my shoulder where he bit me,
not a week before we came on board of this vessel."

My sympathies were greatly excited; but in a quarrel between man and
wife, I had heard older people say no one should interfere unless they
came to blows, and I said nothing.

"Griffin sailed in some vessel with Mr. Cornwood, I believe," I added.

"Never in this world!" protested Chloe. "He was born and raised in
Fernandina, as I was; and I can tell where he was every hour of his
life, up to our marriage. He was on the same steamer with me three
years, and both of us were at home up to that time."

"Why did you marry him if you knew him so well?" I asked, much
interested in her story.

"Because I was foolish, and thought I could manage him. Perhaps I
could, if he didn't drink no liquor."

"I was not aware that he was a drinking man."

"If you had got near enough to smell his breath to-day, you would have
known that he drank liquor. He never seems to be very bad, but whiskey
makes him ugly."

"He seems to be a good friend of Mr. Cornwood," I suggested.

"Well, he ought to be; for Mr. Cornwood got him out of a very bad
scrape when he nearly killed a man in Jacksonville last January. I
don't think much of Mr. Cornwood, neither. I reckon he uses Griffin as
a witness when he wants one, for Griffin will swear to anything."

"Did Mr. Cornwood ever fall overboard, and Griffin save him?"

"Never in this world! He never sailed in the same vessel with him,
except this one."

"Do you know Captain Parker Boomsby, Chloe?"

"Never heard of him before."

"You had better go to the cabin now. As long as you remain on board, I
will see that you are protected," I said, rising from my stool, for it
was about time for the pilot to come on deck.

"Thank you, Captain Garningham. I have told the ladies how I am
situated, and they promise to help me all they can," replied Chloe, as
she tripped lightly to the companion-way aft.

It appeared from the statement of the stewardess that Cornwood had been
lying to me right along in regard to Griffin Leeds. He had no interest
in him, except to have him on board to act as a spy and listener upon
me. But in spite of this fact--and I had no doubt it was a
fact--Cornwood was an exceedingly useful person on board of the
Sylvania. I could not believe that he had been acting as a guide for
parties, though it was plain that he was entirely familiar with the
State of Florida.

The pilot took his place at the wheel, and Washburn and I went to
supper. We talked freely before Cobbington, who told us that Cornwood
had offered him five dollars to be a witness in a case of assault he
had not seen; but he would rather starve than commit a crime.



CHAPTER XXIV.

GREEN COVE SPRINGS AND GOVERNOR'S CREEK.


By the time we had finished our supper, the steamer was in sight of
Green Cove Springs. Magnolia was abreast of us, and we had passed
Hibernia; but nothing was in sight from either place except the hotels,
where winter boarders from the North are domiciled, and at the former a
few cottages. There were plenty of "crackers," or natives, in the
country; but they did not appear to live on the banks of the river. The
ladies were seated in the pilot-house, observing the scenery, which by
this time had become a little monotonous, though the scene was always
delightful, for we had only the varying breadth of the river, and the
forest. Occasionally we saw a few old red cedars, whose fantastic forms
excited attention for a time, with their trunks divided like an
inverted V, near the surface of the water. The bluffs, when there were
any, were covered with blackberry vines, all in blossom, so that they
looked like snow banks in the distance.

"You must get up early in the morning, ladies, and take a bath in the
warm water of the spring," suggested Mr. Cornwood as we approached the
village, which had quite a number of houses, compared with any other
place we had seen since we left Jacksonville.

Mrs. Shepard had heard of the spring, and was desirous of trying its
waters. As we approached, we discovered a small steam-yacht anchored
off an old wharf, nearly in front of the Union Hotel. It was a very
pretty craft, very broad for her length, and evidently did not draw
more than two feet of water, or perhaps three. Before we came up with
her Cornwood had rung the speed-bell, and we were moving very slowly.
He rang the gong when we were abreast of the yacht, and then gave two
strokes of the bell to back her.

"Let go the anchor!" he shouted to the deckhands forward, for as the
passengers were to remain on board all night, I thought it was better
to be off in the stream than at the wharf.

The Sylvania brought up to her cable about half-way between the end of
the long pier, where the steamers made their landings, and the little
steam-yacht. It was almost dark when we anchored, and I could not
obtain a very good view of the village. In the evening our musicians
were called for. Then the absence of Griffin Leeds was regretted, as he
played the violin; but Cobbington declared that he had played that
instrument for years before he left home: only he had no fiddle.
Fortunately, Landy Perkins, who played the violoncello, and was
learning to play the violin, had one, and our orchestra was complete.

It was a beautiful, mild, and soft evening, and our party stayed on
deck until eleven o'clock. I arranged an anchor-watch, so that two of
the ship's company should be on deck all the time, one forward and the
other aft, day and night. They were to allow no one to come on board,
unless by permission of the captain or mate; and Washburn and I had
agreed that one of us should remain on board all the time. Our
passengers did not care to have strangers staring at them, and no one
was willing that Griffin Leeds should put his feet on the deck of the
Sylvania again.

Early in the morning the boats were dropped into the water, and put in
proper condition for use. At six in the morning the steward called the
passengers, as required by them, and a little later we landed them at
some steps on the pier, near the shore, so that they had not far to
walk. Mr. Cornwood and I remained on shore to assist the party. At the
head of the wharf we found a store, a billiard-hall and a bar-room, and
other evidences of civilization. A street on the right led to the Union
Hotel and the Riverside Cottages, and one on the left to Orange
Cottage, the two latter being large boarding-houses, which we found
were occupied by people from the North.

Following the street from the wharf, we came to the Clarendon Hotel,
the most pretentious establishment in the place. At the office of this
house Cornwood obtained tickets for the baths. The spring and the
bathing-houses are inclosed in a park, ornamented with live-oaks. We
descended to the spring, around which a platform is built. The spring
was similar to that we had seen at Orange Park, though there were no
clouds of sand rising from the bottom of it. Though the water was
eighteen feet deep, we could see to the bottom of the tunnel-shaped
hole from which it issued. Its temperature was 76°, and it had a very
strong odor of sulphur.

We all drank a dipper each of the water, which was perfectly transparent,
and I thought it was not "bad to take" as a medicine. There is a bath
for ladies, and another for gentlemen. Ours was a swimming-bath, about
sixty feet long; and I must say that the water was perfectly delightful.
I was told that the place was bad for consumptives, but the water was
excellent for rheumatism, dyspepsia, and kidney complaints; but as I
had none of them, I know nothing at all about its virtues. Colonel
Shepard declared that he felt like a new man after the bath, and even
the invalid Mrs. Shepard was as frisky as a young lamb. The bath was
certainly a great luxury to all of us. We took a walk about the place,
and found the village was very much like the rural part of Jacksonville.
The gardens were crowded with orange-trees, and the mocking-birds filled
the air with their melody.

In walking over to Orange Cottage we had to cross a bridge, about
fifteen feet above the water, which was a stream flowing from the
spring. It was the clearest water I had ever seen, and I have gazed
into the crystal tide of Lake Superior, which has a great reputation
for its purity. A boat was floating on the surface, and I saw great
catfish swimming lazily out of the pool. Back of the village was the
forest of pine, magnolia, and live-oak. We walked far enough to see the
homes of some of the crackers, which were rude and primitive.

After breakfast we landed again, and followed "St. David's Path" to
Magnolia. It was through the woods, on the bank of the river. "St.
David," though he was not the original champion of Wales, had a very
fine residence near the entrance to the wood. I believe he was
canonized for the ink he made. Near the house we found some magnolia
leaves that were nearly a foot long. The blue sand in the path was as
hard as a rock, and it was strange that anything would grow in it.

The proprietor of Orange Park resented the idea, when some one called
the soil nothing but blue sand; and taking up a handful of it, he
rubbed it between his palms. The skin was considerably stained by the
operation, which could not have been the case if the earth had been
simply house-sand, as it is called in the North. We all knew that the
finest oranges, bananas, lemons, sugar-cane, as well as strawberries
and garden vegetables, grew out of it.

At the bridge which crosses Governor's Creek, on the other side of
which is the Magnolia House, we found the boats, which had been ordered
to be here. We all embarked, and ascended the creek. Our course was
through water-weeds and tiger-lilies; but we soon came to clear water.
An old mill stood by the shore.

"There is a friend of yours, Captain Garningham," said Cornwood, as he
pointed to a log, one end of which was submerged in the creek.

On the log, coiled up, with his head in the middle and resting on one
of the folds of his body, was a moccasin snake just like the one I had
seen in the attic room of Captain Boomsby's house.

"Mercy!" exclaimed Miss Margie. "It is a snake! Let us get away from
here!"

"Don't be alarmed, Miss Tiffany," interposed the guide. "He is fast
asleep."

"But he may wake, and bite some of us," insisted Miss Margie.

"If he wakes, the first thing he will do will be to run away. It is a
moccasin, and his bite is poisonous; but he can't bite in the water."

Cornwood picked up a boat-hook, but the snake was just out of his
reach. The men backed the boat a little, and the guide just touched the
tail of the reptile. This woke him, and without waiting to bid adieu to
the party, he scurried up the log, and disappeared in the trees on the
bank of the stream. Miss Margie was greatly relieved when he was gone.
The oarsmen gave way again, but had not taken three strokes before one
of them tipped over an alligator in the water. He was a little fellow,
and made off with all his might, to the great amusement of the party.
The men had not taken half a dozen strokes more, before another
alligator was turned over by an oar. This was a larger one than the
other, and his head was lifted entirely out of the water. At the same
moment Cornwood, who was standing in the bow of the boat, aimed a
revolver at him, and fired.

Miss Margie gave a little scream at the report of the pistol. The ball
had evidently done its work, for the reptile was floundering on the top
of the water, instead of running away, as the other one had done. The
guide fired again; and after a little more struggling, the alligator
lay still on the top of the water.

"We will tow him ashore and let you look at him, if you wish," said the
guide.

"No, I thank you; not on my account," added Miss Margie.

"I should really like to see him," said Miss Edith.

"Then you shall see him," replied Owen.

But there was no shore in the vicinity to tow him to; and the guide
suggested that he should be allowed to remain, while we followed the
other boat to the head of boat navigation on the creek, which was only
a short distance farther. The shore was under water, and the trees grew
out of it. The guide said this was a specimen of a portion of the
Ocklawaha, on a small scale. But we soon came to higher banks, which
were covered with a fragrant blossom called the "swamp pink" in some
parts of the North. The air was loaded with its perfume, and the young
ladies were in ecstasies over the sweetness of the blossoms, and the
beautiful appearance of the banks of the stream. Beyond this we found
the shore covered with another blossom, the swamp blueberry. The bushes
lined the shore, and were so covered with blossoms that they seemed to
be all there was of them. The young ladies wanted to gather some, and
the men filled every available place in the boat with these and the
swamp pinks.

On our return we picked up the alligator, making a line fast to him,
and towing him down to the bridge. We made a landing under the bluff,
and hauled the reptile out of the water. He was about five feet long.
Buck pried his mouth open, so that the ladies could see his teeth.
Cornwood asked Miss Margie if she did not want a piece of him for her
supper, declaring that he had eaten a portion of the tail, which he
considered very good. The English maiden preferred beef and mutton.

We did not want the alligator, and we left him where he was. Cornwood
said some native would take possession of him, and in two or three
months his teeth would be for sale in the stores at Jacksonville. We
were on board in time for dinner at one, the hour at which it had been
ordered. In the afternoon I received a visit from the gentleman who was
sailing the little steam-yacht near us. He was a New Yorker, spending
the winter in Florida, and had his wife and daughter on board. I
introduced him to our party, and showed him all over the Sylvania.



CHAPTER XXV.

ALLIGATOR SHOOTING ON BLACK CREEK.


After supper I returned the visit of Mr. Garbrook, the owner and
captain of the little steam-yacht. She was a perfect beauty, and, small
as she was, she had two state-rooms for the owner and his family, and a
nice little cabin. The whole ship's company besides the owner,
consisted of an engineer and a boy. Forward of the engine were a
cook-room, a little cabin, and the pilot-house, the latter so small
that only one person could occupy it at the same time.

"Who is the cook?" I asked, wondering how he managed to run the boat
with only two hands.

"Sometimes the boy does the cooking, and sometimes I do it; but we
don't live very high on board," said Mr. Garbrook, laughing. "We take
most of our meals on shore when we are near a hotel."

"I think I should prefer a little more room," I added.

"So should I; but a steamer of your size draws too much water. I have
an orange plantation back of Picolata; I have to run up Five-Mile Creek
to reach it by water; and it is not deep enough for such a craft as I
would like," added Mr. Garbrook.

"I was thinking of going up Black Creek to-morrow, to Middleburg; but I
cannot find a pilot. I was going to ask your party to accompany us,"
continued the owner of the little steamer.

"I think I can furnish the pilot," I replied.

"Your steamer draws too much water for Black Creek, or I suppose you
would run up to Middleburg in her. A great many parties make this
excursion."

"I don't know that I ever heard of Black Creek before," I replied,
wondering that Cornwood had not mentioned it.

Perhaps our guide did not know about Black Creek; and I pulled out of
my pocket the "Suggestions" he had written out for the trip; but I
could not find the name in it. If there was anything in Florida that
Cornwood was not familiar with, I desired to know what it was. It would
be a real enjoyment to me to find that he was not competent to pilot
the little steam-yacht up Black Creek. I was instructed to invite all
our party to the excursion, if I could bring a pilot for the occasion.

I returned to the Sylvania, and I thought I would invite the party
before I said anything to the pilot. I gave them what information I had
obtained in regard to Black Creek and Middleburg, and they were ready
to accept the invitation. I found Cornwood on the forecastle, smoking
his cigar, and opened the matter by informing him that the party were
going up Black Creek the next day.

"But this boat draws too much water to go up to Middleburg," said the
pilot, promptly. "She can't go half-way up there."

"But we are to go in that little steam-yacht," I added.

"That's another thing; I dare say she would go up if there was nothing
but a little fog under her," laughed Cornwood.

"But we wish you to pilot her up the creek," I continued.

"I will do it with the greatest pleasure," he answered.

I was taken aback by this ready reply, for I had felt confident that I
had found something the Floridian could not do.

"You did not mention Black Creek in the paper you wrote," I suggested.

"Neither did I mention Lake Griffin, because it would be impossible to
get up there in a boat drawing eight feet of water," replied Cornwood.

The pilot was not to be caught. I sent word to Mr. Garbrook that our
party would be happy to join his family in the excursion up Black
Creek, and that I would furnish a pilot. I noticed considerable
activity on board of the Gazelle, for that was the name of the
steam-yacht, after I sent the message.

I had heard nothing of Griffin Leeds during the day. Though I had no
doubt he was in Green Cove Springs, he made no attempt to come on
board. I concluded that he intended to wait for a more favorable
opportunity to recover possession of his wife; but I was determined
that no such chance should be afforded to him.

At nine in the morning we went on board of the Gazelle, and she weighed
anchor immediately. Cornwood took possession of the pilot-house,
declaring that he had never been confined in a canary-bird's cage
before. But he was good-natured about it, and when the boy had got up
the anchor, Cornwood rang the bell to start the engine. Everything
worked as regularly as though the little yacht had been a steamer of a
thousand tons. The pilot ran the boat down the river about a mile below
Magnolia, and then stood into an inlet, at the head of which we found
the stream. It was a considerable river, but Cornwood seemed to be
quite at home in it. It was a crooked stream, but the pilot ran from
one side to the other, talking to me all the time with the utmost
indifference.

I observed him for a couple of hours, until I was entirely satisfied
that he knew what he was about, and then joined the party astern. It
was seldom that a steamer disturbed the waters of Black Creek, never in
these days, except when a party of curious excursionists desired to
explore the lonely region. The Gazelle made about eight knots an hour,
and at eleven o'clock we were fast to a dilapidated pier at the ruined
town of Middleburg. It lay about half-way between the St. Johns and the
Atlantic, Gulf and West India Company's Railroad, extending from
Fernandina to Cedar Keys, on the Gulf of Mexico, intended as part of a
quick route to Havana. The building of this railroad, by diverting from
it the trade and transportation of a considerable region of country,
had utterly ruined Middleburg, and it was as lone and deserted as
Pompeii under the ashes of Vesuvius. Hardly a family was to be found in
its abandoned houses.

A glance at the ruins was enough to satisfy the party, especially as
Cornwood warned us not to enter the houses, or we should be covered
with fleas. These pests are not uncommon in Florida. Green Cove Springs
formerly had some, which were supposed to be scattered through the
place by the pigs that ran at large. The evil was corrected by keeping
them out of the village. The fleas were a vastly greater terror to the
ladies than the alligators, of which there were a great many in the
creek. Its quiet waters, not often disturbed by steamers, afforded them
a peaceful retreat. Owen and Colonel Shepard had brought their guns
with them, and had fired at some of the larger ones seen on the shore;
but the saurians might have laughed at them, if they were given to
expressing themselves in that manner. Cornwood smiled every time one of
them fired.

We ran up the "North Prong" of the river a few miles. Under the shade
of some spreading oaks we stopped for the lunch which our host had
provided. It had been obtained at the hotels, and after our sail we
were in condition to enjoy it. The alligators were larger and more
plentiful, and while the Gazelle was at rest they were more disposed to
show themselves on the sandy beach above us. Owen and the Colonel fired
at them several times; but they seemed to take no notice of the shots,
and the pilot laughed as usual.

"You haven't graduated as alligator sportsmen yet," said Cornwood when
they had wasted a large quantity of powder and ball. "You might as well
fire at an iron-clad, as at the back and sides of an alligator as large
as those are."

Owen handed him his gun, which was one of the most expensive pieces,
intended for deer and other large game. The pilot loaded it himself,
and said he should try for the largest reptile in the group on the
beach. He fired. The alligator gave a spring, and began to flounder in
the sand, while his companions deserted him, taking to the water. In
another moment he was dead.

"What do you aim at, Mr. Cornwood?" asked Owen, with admiration at the
skill of the Floridian.

"It depends on circumstances," replied the pilot. "If the alligator is
in such a position that I can take him in the eye, as that one was, and
send the ball diagonally through his head, I fire at the eye. If he
lies so that I can put the ball in behind his forward flipper, and have
it pass forward, I take him there. Sometimes he is in such a position
that you can't hit him in either of these places, and it is no more use
to fire at him than it is to shoot into the water."

"You made an end of that fellow, at any rate," added Colonel Shepard.
"I think we had better run over and take a look at him."

The pilot ran the boat near enough to the beach so that we could jump
ashore. I took a measure with me, and the alligator proved to be ten
feet and four inches long. Owen considered himself a good shot, and he
was somewhat mortified at his ill-success in shooting the saurian. We
ran farther up the creek till we saw another group of them on the sand.
The steam was shut off as soon as they came in sight around a bend. The
boat went ahead a considerable distance after the screw stopped. On
this beach were a number of parallel crooked lines, where the
alligators had crawled on the sand. One of the reptiles raised his
head, and seemed to be in doubt whether or not he should take to the
water at the approach of the steamer.

[Illustration: ALLIGATOR SHOOTING ON BLACK CREEK. Page 259.]

Owen raised his piece and fired. All but one of the alligators scurried
into the water, and disappeared. One remained on the beach motionless.
The Gazelle was started, and on reaching the shore we found the reptile
was as dead as he could be. He was larger than the other, his length
being eleven feet and two inches. My cousin wanted to take him back to
the Springs, and we hauled him on the forecastle of the little steamer.
Cornwood gave the Englishman abundant praise for what he had done.
After three attempts farther up the stream, Colonel Shepard shot one
seven feet long. This was considered enough for one day, and we started
on the return. At six we put our party on board of the Sylvania, with
many thanks to Mr. Garbrook for the pleasure of the excursion.

We had no further business in Green Cove Springs; but Owen insisted
that we must reciprocate the hospitality of the Garbrooks, and I was
asked to plan an excursion for the next day. There was no locality
above Jacksonville to which our friends had not been; and I proposed to
breakfast the Gazelle's people on board, and starting at six in the
morning make a trip to Fort George Island, where the Garbrooks had
never been, or even below Jacksonville on the river. The plan was
received with acclamation, and I hastened on board of the Gazelle to
present the invitation of Owen.

Our party were all up at five the next morning, for they did not omit
the swimming-bath a single day while they were at the Springs; and they
returned in season for the Sylvania, which had hauled up to the pier to
start on the excursion at the appointed hour. Washburn had filled the
bunkers of the steamer with light wood, which is plenty and cheap on
the St. Johns, and made steam very rapidly. I told Moses Brickland to
make the best time he could with safety, and at the breakfast-hour I
found we were making twelve knots.

Our guests were delighted with the steamer. In the forenoon, as we had
a strong southerly breeze, I put on all sail, as much to show the
Garbrooks how it was done, as for any other reason. This operation
showed off our sailors, and pleased all the party. At eleven we reached
our destination; and after lunch the party landed, and spent three
hours in visiting the various localities on the island. At three we
sailed again, and reached our destination at eight.



CHAPTER XXVI.

ON BOARD OF THE WETUMPKA.


The Garbrooks were exceedingly pleasant people. Miss Garbrook, without
being pretty, was a very sensible girl, and our young ladies liked her
very much. The time had apparently come to part when we anchored at the
Springs. The young ladies would not consider it; and then came an
invitation for our party to visit Mr. Garbrook's orange plantation on
Five-Mile Creek. It was accepted; and the next day Cornwood piloted us
up that stream as far as the depth of water would permit, and the
Gazelle took them the rest of the way. It was a delightful house, with
a beautiful garden, and ten acres of orange-trees, all in full blossom,
as fragrant as the boudoir of a belle.

We dined on what our host called Florida fare, consisting mainly of a
roasted ham and spring chickens, with oranges, cooked and uncooked, in
every conceivable form. We enjoyed the repast and the hospitality of
the plantation, and regretted that we could not remain as long as our
friends desired. Then came the question of parting, and again the young
ladies protested. Miss Nellie must go with them. Owen at once invited
the family to go with us up the river. A long discussion followed; and
the Garbrooks decided to go if we would wait till the next morning.
This was agreed to; and I sent word to the mate of the Sylvania of the
change in the time of sailing. The ladies remained at the house
overnight, and the gentlemen returned to the steamer in the Gazelle.

At half past six the little steamer brought the ladies and the baggage
of the Garbrooks on board. We got under way immediately, and in less
than half an hour we were standing up the St. Johns. This addition to
the number of our passengers made "a new deal" of the state-rooms and
berths in the cabin. I was asked to assign them as I thought proper,
and Owen told me not to consider him, for he would go into the forward
cabin if necessary. Colonel Shepard and his wife retained one of the
large state-rooms, and the other was assigned to Mr. Garbrook and his
wife. The other two state-rooms were of good size, and had a bedstead
three and a half feet wide in each. One of these was given to Miss
Garbrook, and Miss Edith and Miss Margie volunteered to occupy the
other, declaring that it was quite large enough for both of them. Mr.
Tiffany, Gus Shepard, and Owen had each a berth, without disturbing
Chloe. This arrangement was satisfactory to all the passengers.

The steamer went along at her usual speed of ten miles an hour. After
breakfast, Owen and the young ladies took possession of the
pilot-house, and the rest of the party were seated under the awning on
the forecastle. These places afforded a view of both sides of the
river, and of the long prospect ahead.

"Tocoi," said the pilot, pointing to the left. "This is the place where
passengers are landed who go to St. Augustine. A railroad, fifteen
miles in length, takes travellers the rest of the way."

We could see nothing but a few sheds, and Tocoi itself was of no
consequence. The river was just about what we had seen all the way up
from Jacksonville. At ten o'clock we ran up to the wharf at Pilatka.
This is a thriving town of from fifteen hundred to two thousand
inhabitants, and, like every other place on the river, is a resort for
invalids from the North. After dinner the party landed and explored the
town, which is not very different from any other Florida towns we had
seen. It had pleasant houses, surrounded with orange gardens.

I directed Washburn to anchor the Sylvania at some distance from the
wharf in the river, partly to keep out of the way of steamers arriving,
and partly to make sure that Griffin Leeds did not get on board of her.
I had seen nothing of him, though I fancied he was in Green Cove
Springs while we were there.

The next day was Sunday; all our passengers, and some of the ship's
company, went to church. On Monday morning we sailed for Welaka,
twenty-five miles farther up the river. It is opposite the mouth of the
Ocklawaha River. The St. Johns was only one-third of a mile wide at
this point, and began to look more like a stream and less like a lake.
Colonel Shepard had chartered a small steamer for our trip up the
Ocklawaha and the upper St. Johns. On Saturday afternoon, Washburn,
with Ben Bowman and Dyer Perkins, had started for Jacksonville to bring
the Wetumpka, for that was the name of the craft, up to this point.

She was a nearly new vessel, which the owners had built for an extra
boat, but the scarcity of engineers had prevented them from putting her
on the route at that time, though they had a couple on their way from a
northern city. Steamboat business was exceedingly brisk at this time of
the year on the upper rivers, and the owners of the line had several
boats running on them. The Colonel had obtained the Wetumpka only by
agreeing to run her himself, and by paying a large price for her, quite
as much as she could have made after paying her expenses, if she had
gone on the line.

I was a little uneasy when I found she was not at Welaka. She did not
draw over two feet of water when not loaded, and I was confident she
could come through with Washburn at the wheel. I had left it to the
mate of the Sylvania to start with his charge at whatever time best
suited him. Both Moses Brickland and Ben Bowman had been offered double
the wages I paid them when we arrived at Jacksonville, and had refused
the offer. I could think of nothing but the want of an engineer that
would prevent Washburn from coming through on time.

While I was thinking about it, and worrying a little, I heard some one
on deck say she was coming; and I felt ashamed of myself for doubting,
even for a moment, the loyalty of Ben Bowman. I left my room and went
aft. I saw one of those peculiar Florida boats coming around the bend
below us. I sent for my spy-glass, and soon made out the name of the
Wetumpka on the pilot-house. In ten minutes more she came alongside the
Sylvania.

I had not seen the craft I was to command before, and I had no little
curiosity to look her over. Washburn received me when I went on board,
and we shook hands, for we had been separated for nearly two days, a
longer time than for months before.

"What makes you so late? I was afraid something had happened to you," I
began.

"Are we not on time?" asked the mate. "We were to be here on Monday
forenoon; and it is only eleven o'clock."

"I thought you were to be here in the morning."

"We could not be here very early in the morning without running on
Sunday, or incurring the risk of running aground in the dark," replied
Washburn with a yawn. "The moon did not rise till one this morning. We
slept on board last night, and left Jacksonville at one. We have kept
her going very lively all the time."

"All right; I am entirely satisfied. What sort of a craft is she?" I
continued.

"She is not such a craft as the Sylvania, but she is all right for a
river boat. She has made very good time," replied Washburn, as he
seated himself on the forward deck.

He looked tired, and gaped several times as he was talking to me. He
looked as though he had had a hard time of it.

"I hope you are not sick, Washburn," I said, in commiserating tones.

"Not at all. I slept about four hours last night, and have been at the
wheel of the boat ten hours on a stretch. That's all that ails me; and
I shall be as good as new when I have had a nap."

"Have you had anything to eat to-day?" I asked, thinking the crew of
the Wetumpka had been on duty so that they had not had time to get any
meals.

"Plenty to eat. I laid in a stock of cold ham, chickens, and coffee for
the trip."

"You and those who came up with you had better go on board of the
Sylvania and turn in, while the rest of us transfer the baggage and
stores to this boat," I added.

I called Moses, and asked him to take charge of the engine of the river
boat, and sent the three hands from her to their bunks. The curiosity
of the passengers and crew of the Sylvania was equal to my own. The
party from the cabin rushed on board of the Wetumpka as soon as they
found she was alongside, and we all went into an examination of her.
She was a "twin boat:" that is, she had two hulls, like a "catamaran."
They were flat-bottomed, so as to draw but little water. On these two
hulls were laid a platform, which came to a point at the bow, and
projected some distance forward of the stems of the two boats. On the
main deck, no one would suspect that she was composed of two boats.

The paddle-wheel was between the two hulls, and near the stern of the
craft. The engine was on deck, and the upper part of the paddle-wheel
was boxed up above the main deck. She had a broad opening on each side
of her lower deck, through which she could receive her wood and
freight. Forward of these doors were the quarters for the crew on one
side, and the kitchen and ice-house on the other.

Above the main deck was the saloon deck, with the pilot-house at the
forward end of it. In front of this was a platform on which the
passengers could sit, the pilot looking out over their heads. In the
saloon were eight state-rooms on a side, which were small, but very
comfortably fitted up. At the stern was a pantry and a little
smoking-room. The saloon was neatly furnished, and I thought our
passengers could be very comfortable on board of the Wetumpka for a
couple of weeks. The steward and his force were busy getting ready for
dinner; but I set the deck-hands to moving the baggage of the
passengers at once.

After dinner the stores were removed on board of the river steamer, and
by two in the afternoon we were ready to start up the Ocklawaha, which
was to be the first of the two trips. We towed the Sylvania out into
deep water, anchored her, and left her in charge of Ben Bowman and Dyer
Perkins, for one engineer and one fireman were sufficient for the trip:
Cornwood took the wheel, and we ran into the Ocklawaha. In a few hours
we were in the woods, the trees of which were loaded with trailing
moss, which, however, was no new thing to us, as we had seen it in
Savannah, and all the way up the St. Johns. In places the shores were
submerged, but the channel of the river was clearly defined by the
shrubs and masses of vines, many of them covered with flowers of
various colors. The water was very clear, and not a breath of air
ruffled its surface. Everything above it was reflected as in a mirror,
and the young ladies were in ecstasies at the beauty of the forest, the
vines, and the water.

Occasionally the river widened out into a broad pool, with sandy
shores. In one of these we encountered a raft of lumber, on its way to
Jacksonville. The men on it were wiry, hatchet-faced fellows,
good-natured and easy-going. Just before sunset we came to Silver
Spring Run, into which the pilot turned the boat. If the water had been
clear before, it was perfectly transparent in this run, or stream
flowing from the spring. We could see the fish in the water, sixty feet
down. After dark we moored to a wharf for the night.



CHAPTER XXVII.

UP THE OCKLAWAHA TO LAKE GRIFFIN.


The spring in which we were moored was a pond covering several acres,
from which the run, nine miles in length, conveys its waters to the
Ocklawaha. It was so dark when we made fast the night before, that we
could not tell exactly in what sort of a place we were.

"This spring is said to be the Fountain of Youth, which Ponce de Leon
looked after," said Cornwood, as our passengers gathered on deck in
front of the pilot-house, after breakfast. "Out in the middle of this
pool, the water is eighty feet deep."

"I never saw so large a volume of clear water; and it is a great pity
that Ponce de Leon didn't find it, though it probably would not have
made the old gentleman any younger," added Colonel Shepard. "What sort
of a fish is it I see in this pond, with a long nose?"

"That is the gar-fish; but it is of no account. He is more like an
alligator than a common fish. There is an alligator-gar at the South.
But our best fish are not to be found to any great extent in these
waters, which are stirred up every day by steamers and rafts. In the
upper waters of the St. Johns you will find the best fish and game,
though there is plenty of both up this stream."

The party landed, and found on shore a village in the midst of the
forest, with stores and a hotel. In the vicinity were cotton and sugar
plantations, with many Northern settlers engaged in orange-growing and
raising early vegetables for the Northern markets. At the landing,
crates of green peas and cucumbers were ready for the steamer, which in
less than twenty-four hours could land them in Jacksonville. But we
were not much interested in examining the commercial features of the
place, and after we had looked over a few orange-groves and fields of
bananas, we returned on board. A steamer had just arrived from below,
and it was a busy scene at the landing.

"That steamer must have come up in the night," said Mr. Tiffany, as we
went on board of the Wetumpka.

"O, yes; steamers run in the night up the Ocklawaha," replied Cornwood.

"But they can see nothing, even in a moonlight night, under the trees
that shade the stream in so many places," added the English gentleman.

"On the forward part of the boat they have fires of light wood, which
illuminate their course for some distance ahead. They don't all get up
here so easy as we did, for they are generally heavily loaded and draw
a foot more water, which makes a difference in the navigation. During a
considerable portion of the year, Silver Springs is the head of
navigation on this river; but freight is brought down from Leesburg in
barges, which Yankees call scows."

"But how do they move the scows?"

"With setting-poles, assisted by the current of the river. This place
is only five miles from Ocala, to which a railroad has been laid out,
though it may be years before it is built," replied Cornwood. "We are
in the very heart of Florida now. It is not more than thirty-five miles
to Gainesville, to which a stage runs from Ocala three times a week;
and that place is on the railroad to Cedar Keys. We are forty-five
miles from the Gulf of Mexico, and sixty from the Atlantic. It is
thirty miles in a straight line to the St. Johns River, at the southern
point of Lake George."

Steam was up on the Wetumpka, and we cast off the fasts from the
landing-pier. All the party were on the main deck, looking down into
the deep, clear water. The young ladies screamed forth their delight at
the reflected objects in the water, and at the fish on the bottom,
eighty feet down. We entered the run, and in another hour we were
stemming the gentle tide of the Ocklawaha again. The stream was
somewhat narrower than below the spring, from which it receives a large
volume of water.

"Forward, there!" shouted Cornwood from the pilot-house.

"On deck, sir!" returned Buck Lingley, who was on duty there.

"Stand by with the pole."

Buck seized a pole, of which there were several on the forecastle; but
he had no idea what he was to do with it, for he was a salt-water
sailor. Cobbington was sitting on the deck, and saw that the deck-hand
was puzzled by the situation, and took another pole to assist and show
the old salt what to do. At about this time we were driven from our
position forward of the saloon by the overhanging branches of the trees
and the trailing vines. Cornwood had struck the bell, and the
paddle-wheel stopped. But the steamer went ahead until the bow struck
the bank of the stream. Overhead the trees met, and formed an arch
above us, and the long vines were caught in various parts of the boat.

It seemed to me that we were in a bad scrape, and I looked to the pilot
to ascertain if he considered the situation a difficult one. He did not
seem to me to be at all disturbed, and I thought it was not worth while
to make any outcry. I went down on the main-deck. I found the water was
very shallow in the middle of the river, and Cornwood had taken the
side where the greatest depth was to be had, though we were thereby
more snarled up in the branches of the trees than we should have been
if we had hugged the other side of the stream.

At this point the river made a sharp turn, inclining to an acute angle;
and the current flowed by the longest way around the bend. Cobbington
struck his pike-pole into a tree on the shore, and Buck followed his
example. They shoved the head of the boat off, so that she pointed up
the stream, while an occasional turn of the wheel was given to send her
ahead. The vines and branches snapped and twanged as they broke or
slipped from the parts of the boat where they were caught. In a few
minutes we were clear of the obstructions, though we had to work the
boat around the bends, and through masses of trees in this way, at
least twenty times in the course of the forenoon.

The river was full of alligators, and our sportsmen amused themselves
by firing at them, but with no great success, for the wobbling of the
boat interfered with their aim. About one o'clock we came to a
landing-place, where a few logs had been laid and tied into the sand to
form a sort of wharf. On the bank was a shanty, and we concluded to
stop for a while and have a run on shore, as the ground seemed to be
high enough to give us standing room. Dinner was ready, and as soon as
we had disposed of it we went on the wharf.

We walked through the woods a short distance, and then came to an
orange-grove, with fields of corn six inches high, and sugar-cane of
the same height. Across these fields we could see a house, but we did
not care to visit it. The woods were full of flowers, and the ladies
gathered bouquets to adorn the cabin. I was assisting Miss Margie in
this pleasant occupation, when I suddenly heard a rattling sound just
ahead of me.

The young lady was between me and the spot from which the sound came.
Near her was Chloe, for we did not think it was necessary to confine
her to the boats in these wilds of the interior. I did not believe that
Griffin Leeds had followed us farther than Pilatka, though I had
neither seen nor heard from him since we left him tied to the railing
of the pier at Orange Park.

"Run away from there, Miss Margie! This way!" screamed Chloe, with
energy. "Come to me, missy!"

Though I had no idea what the matter was, I concluded to retreat in the
same direction. The scream of the stewardess brought up the rest of the
party, who demanded the cause of the outcry.

"That was a rattlesnake in there!" exclaimed Chloe. "I know his music
well enough."

"I should like to see him," said Owen, who had brought his gun with him
for the chance of any game he might see.

I picked up a stick, and went with him. As we approached the spot where
we had been before, the rattling was renewed.

"Look out, Mr. Owen! That snake will jump six feet, and bite as quick
as a flash," screamed Chloe.

"There he is," said Hop Tossford, when we were within twenty feet of
the reptile.

He was coiled up in a heap, and looked like a very large snake. He was
shaking all over, apparently with anger at being disturbed by our
approach; and it was this motion that shook the rattles in his tail.
While we were looking at him he made a leap which brought him within
twelve or fourteen feet of us, and again coiled himself up for another
spring. Owen aimed his gun, and fired into the centre of the coil. The
rattlesnake whirled and wriggled for a moment, and then lay still. We
could see that his head had been torn all to pieces by the shot, and he
was as dead as it was possible for a snake to be. We straightened him
out, and found that he was six feet long. When positively assured that
he was dead, the ladies came up and examined him. But he was not a
pleasant sight to look upon, and a glance or two satisfied them. They
wanted no more flowers, and insisted upon going on board at once.

As we started for the boat, we met a gentleman coming down the path
from the house to the landing. He proved to be the owner of the
plantation, who had come down to see what steamer was at the wharf. He
invited us to his house, and would be delighted to have us stay a week;
but we felt obliged to decline the invitation with many thanks.

"I should not dare to stay here even a day," said Miss Margie.

"Why not, miss?" asked the gentleman, who was a native of South
Carolina.

[Illustration: OWEN AIMED HIS GUN AND FIRED. Page 280.]

"Mr. Garningham has just killed a monstrous rattlesnake; and I should
be afraid of my life to stay where they are," replied the English
maiden.

"We don't mind them at all," replied the gentleman, laughing. "I have
lived here ten years, and not one of our people has ever been bitten by
a rattlesnake. In fact, I hardly ever heard of such a thing as any one
being bitten by a rattlesnake. There are three times as many deaths
from suicide in the South, as from the bites of moccasins and
rattlesnakes put together. You get used to them in a little while, and
don't mind anything more about them than you do the mocking-birds that
sing day and night."

"I don't like them at all," added Miss Margie.

"I can't say that I like them," continued the gentleman. "I make a
business of killing them when I come across them. I have no doubt the
snake you killed was the one that came into my house the other day. We
had a big hunt for him, and couldn't find him; and I am very much
obliged to the gentleman that shot him. Very likely we shall not see
another one for a year."

The gentleman walked with us to the landing, and waited there till the
Wetumpka was out of sight. At five o'clock in the afternoon we entered
Lake Griffin, which I judged to be about ten miles long, and moored at
Leesburg in season for supper. This place is the county-town of Sumter
County, and the head of navigation by the Ocklawaha. One end of the
town was on Lake Hawkins, and there were a dozen lakes within a few
miles of it. We found nothing very different from what we had seen. Our
sportsmen brought in large quantities of small game, upon which we
feasted, and we sailed about the lake, exchanging hospitalities with
the people who treated us like old friends.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

AN EXPEDITION TO INDIAN RIVER.


After spending three days at Leesburg, we started on Friday noon, March
22, as I find it in my diary, which I kept in place of the logbook of
the Sylvania, on our trip down the river. In order to get the fullest
idea of travelling on the Ocklawaha, Cobbington rigged out the sheet
iron pans, with which the boat was provided for burning light wood, and
other combustibles that would give a bright blaze, and the run was
continued till midnight. The effect was exceedingly picturesque; and
the ladies, wrapped in their shawls and water-proofs, were delighted
with the view of the forest, illuminated by the bright fires. The
trees, the trailing moss, and the openings in the woods assumed weird
shapes, and the alligators were as frisky as though they were attending
a grand ball.

At midnight, the ladies began to yawn, and had evidently seen enough of
the dazzling spectacle; and the boat was moored to a tree for the rest
of the night. At daylight we were moving again, and in the middle of
the forenoon we reached the mouth of the river, and ran alongside of
the Sylvania. We found our ship-keepers in good condition; but both of
them wanted to go with us up the St. Johns, and I had not the heart to
refuse them. I hired a reliable man to take charge of the Sylvania, and
on Monday morning, at daylight, we began the trip.

"I don't think we want to stop at all these towns on the river," said
Owen, who put in an appearance on deck about six, with Colonel Shepard.
"We have seen enough of the little places, and I dare say there is
nothing but a shop and a post-office at any of them."

"Just as you please," I replied. "We can be at the head of navigation
on this river to-night, if you say so. But we are just going into Lake
George, and I think you had better call the ladies, for I am told the
scenery is very fine."

But the ladies began to come out of their room before we had time to
call them. The lake was simply a widening of the river for eighteen
miles to a breadth of twelve miles. It was not very different from the
lower St. Johns, except that it was studded with islands, and was twice
its width. On the largest of the islands is an extensive orange-grove.
As there were no difficulties in the navigation of the lake, Cornwood
called Buck to the wheel, and joined the party on the outer deck. He
pointed out the herons, curlew, cranes, paroquets, and other birds.
When he said it was fine fishing in the lake, our sportsmen had their
trolling lines overboard. Ten fine black bass were taken; and at "seven
bells," a portion of them were on the breakfast table. We all took our
meals at the same table on the Wetumpka, though not at the same time.

As we sat in front of the pilot-house, Cornwood pointed out all the
objects of interest, and named the towns we passed. But nature was more
to our taste than any village, after we had obtained an idea of the
average town in Florida. We did not stop all day long, except to run
into the stream that flows from Blue Spring, to note the marvellous
clearness of the water. At four in the afternoon we passed into Lake
Monroe, which is the head of navigation. On it are located the three
towns of Sanford, Mellonville, and Enterprise, at the last of which we
made a landing. This place I had heard spoken of as the "paradise of
sportsmen," and the headquarters of all who desire to hunt and fish in
this part of the state.

For a change, the passengers went on shore and stopped at the Brock
House over night. Cornwood went with them, but he returned about nine
o'clock. I was reading some letters I had obtained at the post-office;
but none came from my father, and I had become quite anxious about him.

"What do your passengers wish to do, captain?" asked Cornwood, as he
joined us in the cabin.

"They intend to hunt and fish a few days; and they want to get at it
to-morrow morning," I replied.

"There is not much game about here, I am told. I have talked with
several of the old guides, and they say this part of the country has
been hunted out," continued Cornwood.

"Where shall we go, then?"

"I find there have been heavy rains down south of us, and that the
streams are high. We can certainly go as far as Lake Harney, and
perhaps thirty or forty miles farther. That would bring us to a country
where the sportsmen seldom go; and there you will find plenty of deer,
wild turkeys, and ducks. But I want to show you some better fishing
than you have seen in Florida, or in any other place."

"Where shall that be?" I asked, curiously.

"In the salt water."

"In the salt water!" I exclaimed. "Certainly you can't get to the salt
water in the Wetumpka."

"We cannot; but if we can get seven or eight miles above Lake Harney,
as I think we can, we may cross the land to Titusville, on Indian
River. There we can find boats, and do some of the biggest fishing you
ever heard of, to say nothing of the shooting."

"How far is it across the land?" I inquired.

"Not more than nine or ten miles."

"We can walk that distance easy enough."

"The ladies can't walk nine miles."

"I think we had better go on shore and consult Colonel Shepard and Mr.
Garningham," I added; and we started to do so.

Our passengers, even the ladies, were enthusiastic for the plan. They
all wanted to go across to the salt water. Before we went on board we
had engaged four mules and two wagons, which were to be taken on board
of the steamer the next morning. I had every sort of fishing-tackle in
abundance, and both the colonel and Owen had complete outfits of rods
and reels, with a vast variety of lines, hooks, squids, sinkers, gaffs,
and landing-nets. Each of them had two sporting pieces, and all the
equipments of a hunter.

Before six in the morning, the mules appeared on the wharf, drawing the
wagons, which were nothing but "hay-riggings." They had stakes and
rails, so that seats could be put on them. Of course the mules made a
row about going on board; but they went, for all that. We took in an
abundance of forage and grain for them. We did not consider it
necessary to take any drivers, who would only increase the load for the
mules. At seven the passengers appeared. The native guides and
sportsmen said we were going off on a "wild goose chase"; to which
Cornwood replied that he should catch the goose and bring him back to
Enterprise. I rather liked his pluck, and determined to do the best I
could to make the enterprise a success.

We were under way as soon as possible, and had no difficulty in getting
to Lake Harney, in which the water was not more than three feet deep in
many places. But that, and even less, was enough for us, for it gave
one foot clear under the sterns of the twin boats.

"Now comes the tug of war," said Cornwood, as we entered the river
above the lake. "The water looks very high to me, but the bottom
shifts. Will you station a deck-hand on each side of the boat to sound,
captain?"

I went down to the main deck, and placed Buck on one side, and Hop on
the other. They were provided with poles, marked off in feet. I had
seen them used by other boats on the Ocklawaha, and so had the
deck-hands. The poles were ten feet long, but they were to report no
depths above four feet; for if we had four feet, it made no difference
how much deeper the water was.

"No bottom!" called both of them, for some time; then, "Four feet."

"Three feet!" shouted Hop, when we had gone about two miles.

Cornwood rang the speed bell, and the boat slowed down to five miles an
hour.

"Two feet and a half!" cried Buck, the next moment.

The pilot rang the gong, for there was not more than six inches of
water under the stern. The Wetumpka continued to go ahead. The pilot
did not ring to back the paddle-wheel, and the deck-hands both reported
two feet and a half, several times in succession.

"A stream comes in there," said Cornwood, pointing to the mouth of a
creek on the left bank; "that run of water has made a shoal here."

"Three feet!" called Hop; and the same call was repeated by Buck; and
the pilot rang to go ahead at full speed.

In a short time it was "No bottom" again; and we went along very nicely
for about five miles. Here we had to slow down again, and then stop
her. The deck-hands got down to two feet and a half. When Hop said two
feet, Cornwood rang to back her. This was the draft of the boat aft.
One of the flat-boats which were stowed away aft, and which we had had
no occasion to use before, was put into the water, and with Buck I went
ahead, with a sounding-pole in my hand. I followed the two feet depth
for about a rod, and then came to three feet, and soon after to "no
bottom." I shouted to the pilot the result of my examination of the
stream, and Buck pulled back to the steamer. We got on board and made
fast the painter of the flat-boat, letting it tow astern, for we might
soon need it again.

Cornwood ran the Wetumpka back for some distance, and then went ahead
at full steam. If the boat stuck, he intended to force her over the
shoal, which was not more than a rod in breadth. She went over without
even scraping the sand. If she had been loaded with freight, she could
have gone no farther. After going a couple of miles more, the pilot ran
the boat up to the shore, which was almost the only place we had seen
for miles where the banks of the river were not swampy, with the roots
of the bushes under water. It was a pine forest on the eastern shore,
with no underbrush.

"This looks like the right place," said Cornwood, after he had directed
the deck-hands to carry the bow fasts ashore and catch a turn around
the trees. Then he looked about him, as if he was trying to identify
the place. "I wish I had the latitude," he added.

"We can give you that, for I have my instruments in my room. I brought
them because I was afraid they might be stolen," I replied.

I got the instruments, and took an observation from the hurricane-deck
of the steamer; and Washburn figured it up. "28° 37' 55"," said the
mate, when he had completed and verified his calculation.

"That's it, almost to a hair line," said Cornwood, laughing. "Parallel
section line 21 runs through Titusville. We are in east section 33, and
south section 21. We are all right, and you may land your mules."

He referred to the land sections of the state, of which I had no
knowledge. We laid down the planks, and got the mules ashore, and then
the wagons. It was only ten o'clock, and we wished to reach our
destination by noon. In a few minutes, our hands, under the direction
of the pilot, succeeded in harnessing the mules to the wagons. We put
six persons in each, with their bags and sporting apparatus. All hands
wanted to go with us, but we could not take any of them. We had the
same sand for roads as in the streets of Jacksonville. Cornwood drove
one team, and I drove the other. Half a mile from the river, we found a
settler in a log house, who seemed to be greatly astonished at our
sudden appearance, and insisted on knowing how we got there. We told
him, and in reply he informed us that the woods were full of game, and
no sportsman had been that way for a year.

We reached our destination at noon. Titusville consisted of only a few
houses; but the party were gladly taken in by the settlers.



CHAPTER XXIX.

A MYSTERIOUS SHOT.


Indian River, Halifax River, Mosquito Lagoon, and half a dozen rivers,
sounds, lagoons, lakes, and inlets on the Atlantic coast of Florida,
are different names for the same shallow body of water, separated from
the main ocean by a narrow strip of sand, which extends north and south
for two hundred miles. Indian River extends from about twenty-five
miles north of Titusville to the inlet, a distance of one hundred
miles. But Banana River and Mosquito Inlet are separated from it only
by Merritt's Island, so that these bodies of water overlap each other.
The water in these inlets is often not more than three feet deep, so
that no large vessels can navigate them.

[Illustration: AN EXPEDITION TO INDIAN RIVER. Page 292.]

A few years ago a company was formed, having for its purpose the
deepening of the upper St. Johns as far as Lake Washington, about forty
miles south of the point where the Wetumpka lay, and cutting a canal
across to Indian River, not more than eight miles. No progress,
however, seems to have been made in the enterprise.

We found three cat-rigged boats at Titusville, which we had no
difficulty in procuring. The ladies would not allow us to leave them at
the settlement, though Cornwood intimated that we might have a rough
time of it. Mr. Garbrook, Cornwood, and myself served as skippers, and
we were all thoroughly acquainted with the business. The boats were
about the size of the Lakebird, in which I had voyaged in the roughest
weather of Lake St. Clair; and as we had only four persons in each
boat, we were not crowded. I had Colonel Shepard, Mr. and Miss Tiffany
in the boat with me.

Our first business was to obtain a supply of bait, which was easily
procured with our landing-nets, and consisted of small mullet and other
little fish, which had to be kept alive. The ladies were in excellent
spirits, and even Mrs. Shepard, who had been an invalid for years,
entered fully into the spirit of the occasion. When I first met this
lady in Portland, she was hardly able to move without assistance; but
latterly she seemed to need no aid from any one. She had taken part in
all our frolics and excursions, and her appetite was equal to that of
any person in the party. But no one could be sick in such a delicious
climate as this was, for we spent all our time in the open air.

Our fishing was to be done mainly by trolling, and as soon as we had
our bait, Colonel Shepard had a mullet on one of his approved squids.
We had a six-knot breeze, and I had to attend to the tiller. The bait
was hardly in the water before the Colonel began to tug at his line. I
saw a large fish break in the water, a hundred feet from the boat, and
"cut up" in the most extraordinary manner. The New Yorker labored
diligently for some time, and I luffed up the boat in order to lessen
his labors; but before he got the fish near enough to enable us to see
what he was, the patent gear snapped, and away went the fish.

I had provided Mr. Tiffany with a line from Lake Superior, and he had a
fish on before the Colonel had finished his labors with the first one.
This line was strong enough to hold anything in the water, and the
English gentleman, with my assistance, pulled in a redfish, or spotted
bass, which weighed fourteen pounds. I rigged a line for Miss Margie,
and she soon brought into the boat without help, which she would not
allow any one to give, a sea-trout, similar to the squeteague or
weakfish, but not the same thing. In the other boats they were having
the same luck.

Towards night we began to pull in red snappers from six to twelve
pounds in weight. They were perfect beauties, vermilion on the back,
the color gradually changing to pink on the belly. The Colonel was all
worn out with his exertions, and he was glad to exchange his line for
the tiller of the boat, and I took a hand in the exciting sport. But we
were catching more than we could use, and we landed at a settlement
called Eau Gallie just before dark, where we were glad to pass the
night.

We stayed two days longer in this delightful region. Every time we went
out fishing we averaged a hundred weight of fish to each line. We sent
five hundred weight across to the Wetumpka, on board of which we had
tons of ice, to be packed for future use. The Colonel was sorry to
leave such magnificent fishing, and Owen declared that he would spend
all the winters of the rest of his life in the southern part of
Florida.

On Thursday morning we harnessed up our mule teams, and started across
the land for the river. At the end of the week we were to finish our
trip in Florida; but we were to give two or three days to hunting in
the vicinity of the point where the steamer lay. On our way back
through the forest we saw game in abundance. On our arrival the mules
were picketed in the woods, for we did not like the music of their
stamping on the planks of the forward deck. We reached the boat an hour
before dinner-time, and Gopher had red snapper and spotted bass in a
variety of styles for the meal. In the afternoon the gentlemen took to
the woods with their sporting gear, but I remained to escort the ladies
and protect them from rattlesnakes and moccasins, which they seemed to
fear every time they set foot on shore. But we did not see a snake of
any kind during the whole time we were on the waters of the upper St.
Johns. At three o'clock I had the mules harnessed to one of the wagons,
and drove the ladies several miles into the forest; they were delighted
with the excursion.

On my return, when the ladies had gone up into the saloon, I went aft
on the main deck to take a look at the water. The steamer was moored
with her head to the shore, so that her stern was out in the river. I
was afraid, as we had had no rain for some days, not even a shower,
that the river would fall so as to endanger our getting over the shoal,
two miles below, where we had not had more than an inch to spare in
coming up. I measured the depth where I had done it every day I had
been on board since our arrival, and I found it was two inches lower. I
was rather alarmed, for I did not like the idea of spending several
weeks in this locality, excellent as the hunting was, for I knew that
the party would soon tire of it.

While I stood at the stern thinking of it, I heard a noise which I
thought came from the inside of the paddle-box. I listened for some
time but did not hear it again, and I concluded that a young alligator,
or some other water animal, had crawled into the opening.

I started to return to the stairs which led from the main deck forward
to the space in front of the saloon. I was passing between two piles of
lightwood on my way, when I heard the report of a pistol. A bullet
whistled uncomfortably near my head. I don't claim to be bullet-proof,
and I was startled by the sound, and by the whizzing of the ball so
near my head. I made up my mind on the instant that the shot was
intended for me, and that my life was in actual danger. Buck and Hop
were attending to the mules on shore, and I saw no one on the lower
deck.

Moses Brickland and Ben Bowman were in their rooms, and I called them.
I told them what had happened. They had heard the shot; but some one
was shooting about all the time in the vicinity of the boat, and they
paid no attention to such sounds. We searched every part of the lower
deck, even opening the trap into the paddle-box, made to allow a
workman to get in when repairs were necessary. We could find no person.

"I believe this steamer is haunted, and I wouldn't sail in her another
month if you would give her to me," said Ben, who was not a
highly-educated person, though he knew a steam-engine as well as though
he had been through college. "I have heard all sorts of noises by night
and by day."

"What sort of noises, Ben?" I asked with interest, not that I was
impressed with the idea that the Wetumpka was haunted.

"Well, footsteps where no person could be found," replied the engineer.
"Now, you say you have been fired at, and no one on board could have
done it."

"I don't believe ghosts use fire-arms, Ben," I added, as I saw Cornwood
come on the forward deck.

He had been hunting with the sportsmen, to assist them with his
knowledge of the game of the country. The moment he saw us he hastened
aft, and asked me what the matter was. As we had not exhibited to him
the evidences that anything was the matter, I was rather surprised at
the question.

"Nothing is the matter, except that a shot was fired at me a little
while ago," I replied, as though it were a matter of not much
consequence.

"I think you are mistaken," he replied very promptly.

"How could I be mistaken when the ball whistled by my head?" I
demanded.

"It might not have been within ten feet of your head, though it sounded
as though it were within a few inches. I shot a wild turkey as I came
up, and I fired in the direction of the steamer. It occurred to me that
the ball might have gone through her, and I confess that I was very
careless," replied Cornwood.

"I think you were, extremely careless," I added coldly.

"But I am sure the ball could not have gone within ten feet of you, or
I should have seen you," protested the guide.

"Where is the turkey you shot?" asked Ben, who appeared to have some
doubts in regard to the truth of the story.

"I threw him down on the forecastle as I came on board," answered
Cornwood.

We walked to that part of the steamer, and there lay the wild turkey,
as handsome a bird as I had ever seen. This evidence satisfied me, for
as the Floridian had never failed to do anything he promised, or
disappointed the party in regard to fish and game, he was in high favor
with all on board, at least with those in the cabin.

"Colonel Shepard and Mr. Garningham have shot no end of deer and wild
turkey, and they have stacked the game about two miles from the
landing," continued the guide. "They have more than we could bring, and
I volunteered to come up for a mule team."

"Buck and Hop are taking care of the pair we used this afternoon; you
can take the others," I replied.

Cornwood went on shore, and in a short time I saw him drive down the
shore into the woods.

"Do you believe that story about the wild turkey?" asked Ben, when
Cornwood had gone ashore.

"I see no reason to disbelieve it," I replied, looking with interest at
the engineer.

"Do you? Well, I don't; and I didn't believe it when he told it,"
replied Ben, as he pointed with his jack-knife at a place in the wild
turkey which he had partly dissected. "Do you see that?"

"I do not see anything but blood and meat," I answered.

"You don't! Well, there is the ball that whistled within ten feet of
your head when you were walking on the main deck."

Ben Bowman applied his knife-blade to the turkey, and pried out the
bullet, which had lodged against the breastbone.

I took it in my hand. If his story was true, this was not the ball that
passed near my head. We made another search for the man who had fired
at me, but we looked in vain.



CHAPTER XXX.

SHOOTING IN THE FOREST AND BEING SHOT.


Before supper-time, the mule team came in with a load of game. Washburn
had gone out with the sportsmen this time, for during my absence he
would not leave the steamer for a moment. I counted seventeen deer, the
smallest kind I had ever seen, and twenty-one wild turkeys. The next
day the sport was resumed, and I joined the party. At the suggestion of
Colonel Shepard, we took a couple of landing-nets, though what for I
could not imagine. But we had not gone half a mile before I discovered
the use of them.

The woods were full of young quails, which in the South are called
partridges, the latter taking the name of pheasants. These quails ran
in flocks of a dozen or less, and with the landing-nets we could cover
the whole brood. We gathered them up, and put them into a large basket,
with a cover, which we had brought with us for the purpose.

We went several miles farther south than the party of the day before
had gone; and the shooting was so abundant as to be "rather too much of
a good thing." Before noon we had all we wanted, and it seemed to be
wicked to shoot any more. The sportsmen from Enterprise had not been up
as far as this, and the game had hardly ever been disturbed in its
haunts.

I was tired of the sport before the others, and I started back for the
mule team about eleven. I was within two miles of the landing, as I
judged, for we had to estimate all our distances, when I heard the
crack of a revolver or a rifle. At the same instant I felt a burning
sensation in the back of the neck. I placed my hand upon the place, and
found that a ball had just grazed it. My hand was covered with blood
when I removed it.

I expected another shot would follow immediately, and I raised my gun,
which was loaded with ball, and looked about me. I deemed it prudent to
dodge behind a magnolia, of which there was an occasional one in the
forest. I could judge from the situation of the wound on my neck from
what direction the ball had come. My getting behind the tree had
deranged the calculations of the intended assassin. He stood at a
distance of not more than sixty feet from me, pointing a rifle towards
me.

It was Griffin Leeds.

Though I could have shot him, I preferred to be killed rather than to
kill. But before I could do anything, or even consider what to do,
another actor appeared on the stage. I saw Griffin Leeds look behind
him once, as though he feared an interruption, and doubtless he heard
the step of the third person. Until the stranger was close upon the
octoroon, I had not seen him. In the soft sand that formed the soil of
the forest, one could hardly hear the sounds of approaching footsteps.

The stranger stepped from behind a large pine-tree, and before I had
recovered from my surprise at his appearance, he fell upon Griffin
Leeds, handling him with an ease that astonished me. He flung him on
the ground like an unclean bird, and then pointed his own rifle at his
head.

It was entirely safe for me under these circumstances to leave my
hiding-place, and I walked towards the scene of the last encounter. I
kept my gun in position for use, though I was not at all inclined to
fire upon a human being. I wondered who had thus interfered to save me
from the bullet of Griffin Leeds. Then I wondered how Griffin Leeds
happened to be in the woods, miles above the head of ordinary
navigation. I thought of my wound, and placed my hand upon it. It was
beginning to feel very sore, and the blood was still flowing very
freely from it. I bound my handkerchief around my neck, but I found it
difficult to cover the place.

I had been shot at the day before. Was it not probable that the same
person had fired both shots? Then I thought of the noise I had heard
while I was measuring the depth of the river. There was some
hiding-place in the after part of the Wetumpka which we had not yet
discovered. In that place Griffin Leeds had been concealed, perhaps
from the time we left Welaka, on our trip up the Ocklawaha. This seemed
to me to be a satisfactory solution of this part of the mystery. I was
so well satisfied that I did not care to hear any evidence on the
subject. I could not have understood it any better if all the details
had been given to me under oath.

But it was plain enough to me that Griffin Leeds could not have existed
in his hiding-place for nearly two weeks, or even one, without the
connivance of some person on board. Of course that person was Cornwood.

Who was the stranger that interfered to save me? I concluded he was
some hunter, who had taken a hand in the affair simply from the love of
fair play. I walked towards him, and soon came near enough to note his
appearance. He wore a long beard, and was dressed in a common
travelling suit.

"Get up, you villain!" said the stranger, as I approached.

Griffin Leeds did not wait for a second command, but sprang to his
feet. He looked at me, and he saw that I had a gun in my hand. I aimed
at him.

"Take your hand from your pocket!" I called to him.

He did so; but the stranger sprang upon him again. Putting his hand
into the side-pocket of his sack-coat, he drew from it a small
revolver. Not satisfied with this, he continued the search, and took
from another pocket a knife like that the wretch had attempted to use
on board of the Sylvania. He was then satisfied that the fellow was
entirely disarmed.

"I am exceedingly obliged to you for the service you have rendered me,"
I began. "This is not the first trouble I have had with this----"

"Never mind that, my dear Alick," interposed my deliverer.

Before I had an opportunity to look at him again, he had folded me in
his arms as though I were a little girl, instead of a strapping big
boy, weighing one hundred and fifty. I had no need to conjecture any
longer who my deliverer was. It was my father.

The tears rolled down his cheeks, as they did down mine when I saw
them. But he was hardly changed since I last saw him. I was so happy at
this reunion that I forgot everything else. I dare say we both indulged
in exclamations. While we were using them, Griffin Leeds began to move
off. I pointed my gun at him.

"Go to that magnolia, and stand on this side of it: and if you attempt
to run away, I will shoot you!" I added; but I don't think I meant half
of it.

The octoroon doggedly obeyed. I looked at my father, whom I had
supposed to be dead for months of the period that had separated us. He
had been to England and to India since we parted. I had roamed
thousands of miles, believing all the time that I was earning my daily
bread.

"We meet at last!" exclaimed my father. "I find you in deadly peril,
and come at the moment when I may save you!"

"I was shot at before to-day; and I am afraid I have a traitor on
either hand wherever I go;" and I explained in as few words as possible
about Cornwood and Griffin Leeds, expressing my belief that the pilot
was the agent of Captain Boomsby.

"That old villain still believes I am dead," replied my father. "I went
into his saloon in Jacksonville, but he did not know me. I talked about
you; and he said you had a steamer that belonged to him, and he should
have possession of her in a couple of weeks. He insisted that he was
your guardian. I did not undeceive him."

"We had better walk back to the steamer, father,"--how dear the name
sounded to me! "What shall we do with that fellow?" I pointed at
Griffin Leeds.

"Let him march ahead of us."

We started Griffin Leeds, and followed him back to the river. On the
way I told my father all that happened since I came to Florida in
March, including my suspicions in regard to Cornwood, and the evidence
I had against him.

"Don't think any more about him, or the wretch ahead of us. I shall
take command of this expedition from this time; and you know I have
been a major in the English army," said my father, smiling.

"Why didn't you write to me, father? It is a long time since I heard a
word from you," I asked.

"I did not write to you in January because you were away, and could not
get my letters. I did not write to you in February, because I expected
to see you before any letter could reach you. I expected to be in
Jacksonville the last of February; but when I was half-way to New York
the steamer broke her shaft, and had to return under sail. It was the
8th of March when I sailed the second time from Liverpool. When I got
to Jacksonville, I heard that you had gone on a trip up the river. I
followed to Pilatka, and was told that you had gone up the Ocklawaha. I
took the next boat for that river, but seeing the Sylvania at Welaka, I
made further inquiries, and learned that you had gone up the St. Johns.
I followed you till I found your steamer. I saw no one on board that I
knew, but a man told me you were in the woods hunting, and had gone
south of the landing.

"I started to find you; and went along till I came to that fellow
skulking through the woods. I supposed he was going to join your party,
and I followed him. I heard the crack of rifles in the distance, about
the time I first saw that villain. I concluded it was the firing of the
hunters. Suddenly this man raised his rifle and fired. I had not seen
you before. You know what happened then. I have only to say, Alick,
that I shall not let you out of my sight again."

"I hope you won't, father."

I sent Hop Tossford with the mules, for I did not care to leave my
father again. We went on board of the Wetumpka. I called out Moses, and
Ben, who knew my father. They were glad to see him for my sake, if not
for their own. Buck tied Griffin Leeds to a stanchion on the steamer,
for we had driven him on board ahead of us. I was more curious than
ever to know where the "ghost" that haunted the lower deck of the
Wetumpka had been concealed.

"Where did you hide on board, Griffin?" I asked.

"I don't answer any questions," he replied, in a surly tone.

"All right," I replied, and taking Ben with me, I went aft.

The paddle-box extended almost the whole width of the boat; and under a
pile of rubbish, which had evidently been placed there to conceal it,
was a scuttle, leading into the hold of the port twin boat. Raising
this, we found a mattress from one of the berths, a blanket, and some
dishes. We had not thought of the holds of the twin boats before, for
there were two openings near the great gangway into them. We had thrown
lightwood down into them, and filled them up. We had not therefore
supposed it possible for any one to get into these holds. Here Griffin
Leeds had lived, and Cornwood had carried him his meals.

"I think that is the best place for him," said my father, after he had
looked into the port hold. "Send him back again, and set a watch over
the man Cornwood."

We went up into the saloon after this had been done, and Miss Margie
was delighted to see my father. He was introduced to the other ladies
as Sir Bent Garningham. About one o'clock, the hunters came in with a
bigger load of game than on the day before. They were just in time to
escape a tremendous thunder-shower, for the rain began to fall in
torrents about the time they entered the cabin. Owen was rather
embarrassed when he saw my father, who however extended to him a
cordial greeting. Nothing was said about the occurrences of the past.

Our dinner that day was composed entirely of the fish and game procured
by our sportsmen. We had venison in various dishes, and roast turkey of
the finest quality. While we were eating, the rain beat down in sheets
upon the deck over our heads. The lightning was terrific, and we heard
it strike several times in the forest. For two hours it poured, and
then the sun came out, and brightened up the dripping scene.

"I found this rifle in the woods," said Washburn, taking the piece from
his state-room, where he had put it when he came in.

"That was the one with which Griffin Leeds fired at me," I replied. "I
forgot all about it, and left it on the ground. Whose is it?"

He showed it to several, and at last to Cornwood. He hesitated; but
finally said it was his, and he had left it in the woods when the team
came. Inquiry proved that he had taken no rifle with him. He had no
doubt lent it to Griffin Leeds.

We were to have stayed at this landing one day longer, but when I told
Owen and Colonel Shepard that the river had fallen two inches in the
morning, they decided that it would not be safe to remain any longer.
The shower must have raised the river a little; and if we went at once,
we might get over. I ordered the mules to be taken on board; and as
soon as they and the wagons were shipped, I intimated to Cornwood that
we were ready to resume our trip. To my astonishment he protested
against going, and declared there would be no difficulty about the
water. We had no idea, he insisted, of the game in the woods.

"Cast off the fasts!" I shouted to the deckhands, from my place on the
saloon deck.

Cornwood looked in the direction of the woods, and seemed to be greatly
troubled. He evidently thought his agent was still in the woods, and I
was not disposed to undeceive him. The deckhands hauled the fasts on
board, and the boat began to drift down the river. Very reluctantly the
pilot went to the wheel, and after some manoeuvring got the Wetumpka
headed down the river. He still kept one eye on the shore.

My father had dressed my wound as soon as we got on board. It was not
much more than a scratch, though it made my neck so stiff for a couple
of days that I could hardly turn it. I had it bound up, and just as the
boat was approaching the shoal place, Cornwood asked me what ailed my
neck. It was clear enough that he did not know what had transpired in
the woods.

"In accordance with the plan you arranged with Captain Boomsby before
you came on board of the Sylvania, I have been shot," I replied. "The
ball, instead of going through my head, only grazed my neck. Your man
is a very bad shot."

"My man! Who is my man?" demanded Cornwood. But I saw that he was pale
under the charge.

"Griffin Leeds, of course," I answered. "But you have managed it very
clumsily, from the moccasin down to the shooting. You ought to have
employed a man that could hit the side of a house at sixty feet."

"I don't understand you," gasped he.

"Yes, you do. But the game is up. The gentleman who came to-day is my
father, and Captain Boomsby will give up the chase as soon as he sees
and knows him."

"I am sure I don't know what you are talking about."

"Then we won't talk any more," I added, retiring from the pilot-house
after the boat had passed over the doubtful shoal, which the rain had
rendered harmless.

At seven in the evening we reached Enterprise, where we remained
overnight. At daylight the next morning, before any of our passengers
were stirring, we started down the river again. At two in the afternoon
we were alongside the Sylvania. We merely put Washburn, Ben Bowman,
Landy Perkins, and Hop Tossford on board of her, to run her down to
Jacksonville, and kept on our way. But it was midnight when we made the
wharf of the company that owned the Wetumpka. Except those in charge of
the steamer, all were asleep. About daylight, the Sylvania anchored in
the berth she had occupied before.

Our fish and game which had been kept in the extra ice-house were in
excellent condition. I sent my share to the Carlton Hotel, whose
proprietors had been polite to me. I had handed Griffin Leeds over to
the police on our arrival. On Monday morning we were all back again on
board of the Sylvania, and were glad enough of the change into her. But
we had had a magnificent time up the river; all hands were satisfied,
and ready for another cruise.

Monday was the first day of April, and Owen came on board to settle his
accounts. He insisted upon paying me seven hundred dollars for the
month; but my father resented the proposition. He allowed me to take
the amount I had received the month before, and no more.

"Owen, you have behaved very badly," said my father seriously.

"I know I have, uncle; but I have repented it, and I hope you will
forgive me," replied Owen. "The nobleness of Alick conquered me, and I
am a better fellow than I ever was before in my life."

"I have heard what Alick has to say about it; and so far as the past is
concerned, I freely forgive you for his sake," added my father.

"I was led away by Mr. Carrington," pleaded Owen.

"No man has any right to be led away by another. It is the devil in his
own heart that leads him away, and not another man. Owen, you made a
contract with my son when he thought he had nothing in the world but
this steamer."

"I did; and I have paid all I agreed to pay."

"And been extremely liberal, father," I added.

"I find no fault; but I annul the contract," said my father. "My son
shall be in no one's employ, not even in yours, Owen."

"I should be glad to continue the arrangement to the end of the year,"
replied Owen.

"No; Alick can go where he pleases with his yacht from this day. He may
invite whom he pleases to go with him. But he shall be under nobody's
authority but mine."

I was as much astonished at the decision of my father as Owen could be;
but I said nothing, and my cousin soon went on shore, for he was
staying at the house of Colonel Shepard. We had landed the Garbrooks at
Green Cove Springs, where their yacht was waiting for them.

On Tuesday came the trial of Griffin Leeds. Cornwood's defence was
weak, and he seemed to have no pluck. His client was convicted of
assault with a dangerous weapon, and sentenced to five years; and I
suppose he is now serving in some convict gang. Chloe found a permanent
place with the Shepards. Cornwood left for St. Augustine as soon as the
trial of Griffin Leeds was finished. My father and I called at the
saloon of Captain Boomsby, merely to satisfy him that I was not an
orphan, and that it would be useless for him to enter into any more
conspiracies. I paid Cornwood one hundred and fifty dollars; and I
don't know what the captain paid him, but I think nothing. If he had
obtained possession of the Sylvania, he might have collected a heavy
fee. As a pilot and guide he was a greater success than as a lawyer.

My story is told, so far as Florida is concerned, for the present,
though I did not believe I should be able to pass Indian River Inlet
without running in and catching a few of those redfish. With my
newly-acquired liberty I was considering where to go next, and whom to
invite to go with me. My father spent much of his time with the Hon.
Mr. Tiffany, at the Carlton, where I was glad to meet Miss Margie as
often, at least, as once a day.

The future was still an open question, though I liked my cousin Owen so
well that I did not wish to think of parting with him. I was certainly
indebted to him for the pleasure of being "Down South" during the
winter, and the magnificent time I had enjoyed during our "Yacht
Adventures in Florida."





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