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´╗┐Title: A Yankee Girl at Fort Sumter
Author: Curtis, Alice Turner
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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 "A Yankee Girl at Fort Sumter" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



A YANKEE GIRL

AT

FORT SUMTER


BY

ALICE TURNER CURTIS

AUTHOR OF

The Little Maid's Historical Series, etc.


Illustrated by ISABEL W. CALEY


PHILADELPHIA

1920



INTRODUCTION


Sylvia Fulton, a little Boston girl, was staying with her father and
mother in the beautiful city of Charleston, South Carolina, just before
the opening of the Civil War. She had become deeply attached to her new
friends, and their chivalrous kindness toward the little northern girl,
as well as Sylvia's perilous adventure in Charleston Harbor, and the
amusing efforts of the faithful negro girl to become like her young
mistress, all tend to make this story one that every little girl will
enjoy reading, and from which she will learn of far-off days and of the
high ideals of southern honor and northern courage.


I.     SYLVIA

II.    A NEW FRIEND

III.   SYLVIA IN TROUBLE

IV.    AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY

V.     ESTRALLA AND ELINOR

VI.    SYLVIA AT THE PLANTATION

VII.   SYLVIA SEES A GHOST

VIII.  A TWILIGHT TEA-PARTY

IX.    TROUBLESOME WORDS

X.     THE PALMETTO FLAG

XI.    SYLVIA CARRIES A MESSAGE

XII.   ESTRALLA HELPS

XIII.  A HAPPY AFTERNOON

XIV.   MR. ROBERT WAITE

XV.    "WHERE IS SYLVIA?"

XVI.   IN DANGER

XVII.  A CHRISTMAS PRESENT

XVIII. GREAT NEWS

XIX.   SYLVIA MAKES A PROMISE

XX.    "TWO LITTLE DARKY GIRLS"

XXI.   FORT SUMTER IS FIRED UPON



CHAPTER I

SYLVIA


"Your name is in a song, isn't it?" said Grace Waite, as she and her
new playmate, Sylvia Fulton, walked down the pleasant street on their
way to school.

"Is it? Can you sing the song?" questioned Sylvia eagerly, her blue
eyes shining at what promised to be such a delightful discovery.

Grace nodded smilingly. She was a year older than Sylvia, nearly eleven
years old, and felt that it was quite proper that she should be able to
explain to Sylvia more about her name than Sylvia knew herself.

"It is something about 'spelling,'" she explained, and then sang, very
softly:

   "'Then to Sylvia let us sing,
       That Sylvia is spelling.
     She excels each mortal thing,
       Upon the dull earth dwelling.'

"I suppose it means she was the best speller," Grace said soberly.

"I think it is a lovely song," said Sylvia. "I'll tell my mother about
it. I am so glad you told me, Grace."

Sylvia Fulton was ten years old, and had lived in Charleston, South
Carolina, for the past year. Before that the Fultons had lived in
Boston. Grace Waite lived in the house next to the one which Mr. Fulton
had hired in the beautiful southern city, and the two little girls had
become fast friends. They both attended Miss Patten's school. Usually
Grace's black mammy, Esther, escorted them to and from Miss Patten's,
but on this morning in early October they were allowed to go by
themselves.

As they walked along they could look out across the blue harbor, and
see sailing vessels and rowboats coming and going. In the distance were
the three forts whose historic names were known to every child in
Charleston. Grace never failed to point them out to the little northern
girl, and to repeat their names:

"Castle Pinckney," she would say, pointing to the one nearest the city,
and then to the long dark forts at the mouth of the harbor, "Fort
Sumter, and Fort Moultrie."

"Don't stop to tell me the names of those old forts this morning," said
Sylvia. "I know just as much about them now as you do. We shall be late
if we don't hurry."

Miss Patten's house stood in a big garden which ran nearly to the
water's edge. The schoolroom opened on each side to broad piazzas, and
there was always the pleasant fragrance of flowers in the big airy
room. Sylvia was sure that no one could be more beautiful than Miss
Patten. "She looks just like one of the ladies in your 'Godey's
Magazine,'" she had told her mother, on returning home from her first
day at school.

And with her pretty soft black curls, her rosy cheeks and pleasant
voice, no one could imagine a more desirable teacher than Miss Rosalie
Pattten. There were just twelve little girls in her school. There were
never ten, or fourteen. Miss Patten would never engage to take more
than twelve pupils; and the twelve always came. Mrs. Waite, Grace's
mother, had told Mrs. Fulton that Sylvia was very fortunate to attend
the school.

School had opened the previous week, and Sylvia had begun to feel quite
at home with her new schoolmates. The winter before, Mrs. Fulton had
taught her little daughter at home; so this was her first term at Miss
Patten's.

Miss Patten always stood near the schoolroom door until all her pupils
had arrived. As each girl entered the room she made a curtsey to the
pretty teacher, and then said "good-morning" to the pupils who had
already arrived, and took her seat. When the clock struck nine Miss
Rosalie would take her place behind the desk on the platform at the
further end of the room, and say a little prayer. Then the pupils were
ready for their lessons.

"Isn't Miss Rosalie lovely," Sylvia whispered as she and Grace moved to
their seats, "and doesn't she wear pretty clothes?"

Grace nodded. She had been to Miss Rosalie's school for three years,
and she wondered a little at Sylvia's admiration for their teacher,
although she too thought Miss Patten looked exactly like a fashion
plate.

Grace was eager to get to her desk. From where she sat she could see
the grim lines of the distant forts; and this morning they had a new
value and interest for her; for at breakfast she had heard her father
say that, although the forts were occupied by the soldiers of the
United States Government, it was only justice that South Carolina
should control them, and if the State seceded from the Union Charleston
must take possession of the forts. With the consent of the United
States Government if possible, but, if this was refused, by force.

Grace had been thinking about this all the morning, wondering if
Charleston men would really send off the soldiers in the forts. She had
not spoken of this to Sylvia as they came along the street facing the
harbor, and now as she looked at the distant forts on guard at the
entrance of the harbor, she resolved to ask Miss Rosalie why the United
States should interfere with the "Sovereign State of South Carolina,"
which her father had said would defend its rights. "Question time" was
just before the morning session ended. Then each pupil could ask a
question. But as a rule only one or two of the girls had any inquiry to
make. To-day, however, there were several who had questions to ask and
Grace waited with what patience she could until it was her turn. When
Miss Rosalie smiled at her and called her name, Grace rose and said:

"Please, Miss Rosalie, if Charleston owns the forts, could anyone take
them away?"

The teacher's dark eyes seemed to grow larger and brighter, and she
straightened her slender shoulders as if preparing to defend the rights
of her State.

"My dear girl, who would question the right of South Carolina to
control all forts on her territory? We all realize that this is a time
of uncertainty for our beloved State; we may be treated with harshness,
with injustice, but every loyal Carolinian will protect his State."

The little girls looked at each other with startled eyes. What was Miss
Rosalie talking about, they wondered, and what did Grace Waite mean
about anybody "taking" Fort Sumter or Fort Moultrie? Of course nobody
could do such a thing.

School was dismissed with less ceremony than usual that morning, and
the little girls started off in groups, talking and questioning each
other about what Miss Rosalie had said.

Two or three ran after Grace and Sylvia to ask Grace what she meant by
her question.

"Of course we know that northern people want to take our slaves away
from us," declared Elinor Mayhew, the oldest girl in school, whose dark
eyes and curling hair were greatly admired by auburn-haired, blue-eyed
Sylvia, "but of course they can't do that. But how could they take our
forts?"

"I don't know," responded Grace. "That's why I asked Miss Rosalie. I
guess I'll have to ask my father."

"We'll all ask our fathers," said Elinor, "and to-morrow we will tell
each other what they say. I don't suppose YOUR father would care if the
forts were taken," and she turned suddenly toward Sylvia. "I suppose
all the Yankees would like to tell us what we ought to do."

Sylvia looked at her in surprise. The tall girl had never taken any
notice of the little Boston girl before, and Sylvia could not
understand why Elinor should look at her so scornfully or speak so
unkindly. The other girls had stopped talking, and now looked at Sylvia
as if wondering what she would say.

"I don't know what you mean," she answered bravely, "but I know one
thing: my father would want what was right."

"That's real Yankee talk," said Elinor. "They say slavery isn't right."

There was a little murmur of laughter among the other girls. For in
1860 the people of South Carolina believed they were quite right in
buying negroes for slaves, and in selling them when they desired; so
these little girls, some of whom already "owned" a colored girl who
waited upon them, had no idea but what slavery was a right and natural
condition, and were amused at Elinor's words.

"Why do you want to be so hateful, Elinor?" demanded Grace, before
Sylvia could reply. "Sylvia has not said or done anything to make you
talk to her this way," and Grace linked her arm in Sylvia's, and stood
facing the other girls.

"Well, Grace Waite, you can associate with Yankees if you wish to. But
my mother says that Miss Patten ought not to have Sylvia Fulton in her
school. Come on, girls; Grace Waite can do as she pleases," and Elinor,
followed by two or three of the older girls, went scornfully down the
street.

"Sylvia! Wait!" and a little girl about Sylvia's age came running down
the path. It was Flora Hayes; and, next to Grace Waite, Sylvia liked
her the best of any of her new companions.

"Don't mind what Elinor Mayhew says. She's always horrid when she dares
to be," said Flora.

Flora's father was a wealthy cotton planter, and their Charleston home
was in one of the historic mansions of that city. Beside that there was
the big old house on the Ashley River ten miles from the city, where
the family stayed a part of the time.

Flora's eyes were as blue as Sylvia's, and her hair was very much the
same color. She was always smiling and friendly, and was better liked
than Elinor Mayhew, who, as Flora said, was always ready to tease the
younger girls.

"I don't know what she meant," said Sylvia as, with Grace on one side
and Flora on the other, they started toward home.

"She is just hateful," declared Grace. "I wish I had not asked Miss
Rosalie about the forts. But I did want to know. It would be dreadful
not to see them where they have always been."

"Oh, Grace! You didn't think they were going to move the forts to
Washington, did you?" laughed Flora. "I know better than that. Taking
the forts means that the Government of the United States would own them
instead of South Carolina."

Grace laughed good-naturedly. She was always as ready to laugh at her
own mistakes as at those of others; and in the year that Sylvia had
known her she had never seen Grace vexed or angry.

Both Grace and Flora advised Sylvia not to tell her mother of Elinor's
unkindness, or of her taunting words. But it was rather difficult for
Sylvia to keep a secret from her mother.

"You see, it will make your mother sorry, and she will fret about it,"
Flora had said; and at this Sylvia had decided that no matter what
happened at school she would not tell her mother about it. She almost
dreaded seeing Elinor again, and wondered why Elinor's mother had not
wanted Miss Patten to take her as a pupil.

Mr. and Mrs. Fulton were surprised when at supper time Sylvia demanded
to know what a "Yankee" was. She thought her mother looked a little
troubled. But her father smiled. "Yankee is what Britishers call all
Americans," he answered.

"Then Elinor Mayhew is just as much a Yankee as I am," thought Sylvia,
and she smiled so radiantly at the thought that Mrs. Fulton was
reassured, and did not question her.

The next day was Saturday, and Mr. Fulton had planned to take his wife
and Sylvia to Fort Moultrie. The military band of the fort played every
afternoon, and the parapet of the fort was a daily promenade for many
Charleston people. During the summer workmen had been making necessary
repairs on the fortifications; but visitors were always welcomed by the
officers in charge, one of whom, Captain Carleton, was a college friend
of Sylvia's father.

Sylvia could row a small boat very well, and her father had purchased a
pretty sailboat which he was teaching her to steer. She often went with
her father on trips about the harbor, and the little girl always
thought that these excursions were the most delightful of pleasures.

There was a favorable breeze this Saturday afternoon, and the little
boat, with its shining white paint and snowy sail, skimmed swiftly
across the harbor. Sylvia watched the little waves which seemed to
dance forward to meet them, looked at the many boats and vessels, and
quite forgot Elinor Mayhew's unkindness. Her mother and father were
talking of the black servants, whom they had hired with the house of
Mr. Robert Waite, Grace's uncle. Sylvia heard them speak of Aunt
Connie, the good-natured black cook, who lived in a cabin behind the
Fultons' kitchen.

"Aunt Connie wants to bring her little girl to live with her. Their
master is willing, if we have no objections," Sylvia heard her mother
say.

"Oh, let the child come," Mr. Fulton responded; "how old is she?"

"Just Sylvia's age. Her name is Estralla," replied Mrs. Fulton.

"You'll have a little darky for a playmate, Sylvia. How will you like
that?" her father asked. But before Sylvia could answer, the boat swung
alongside the landing-place at the fort and she saw her father's
friend, Captain Carleton, waiting to welcome them.

The band was playing, and a few people were on the parapet.

"Not many visitors to-day," said the Captain, as they all walked on
together. "I am afraid the Charleston people resent the fact that the
United States is protecting its property."

As they walked along the Captain pointed to the sand which the wind had
blown into heaps about the sea-front of the old fort. "A child of ten
could easily come into the fort over those sand-banks," he said.

"Whose fort is this?" asked Sylvia, so earnestly that both the Captain
and her father smiled.

"It belongs to the United States, of which South Carolina is one,"
replied the Captain.

Sylvia gave a little sigh of satisfaction. Even Elinor Mayhew could not
find any fault with that, she thought, and she was eager to get home
and tell Grace what the Captain had said.

On the way back Sylvia asked her mother if she knew that there was a
song with her name in it.

"Why, of course, dear child. You were named for that very Sylvia,"
replied her mother.

"'Then to Sylvia let us sing,
    That Sylvia is excelling;
  She excels each mortal thing
    Upon the dull earth dwelling;
  To her let us garlands bring'"--

sang Mrs. Fulton; "and you can thank your father for choosing your
name," she added gaily.

"Oh! But Grace said it was about spelling," explained Sylvia; "but I
like your way best," she added quickly.

There were a good many pleasant things for Sylvia to think of that
night. Not every girl could be named out of a song, she reflected. Then
there was the little colored girl Estralla, who was to arrive the next
day, and besides these interesting facts, she had discovered who really
owned the forts, and could tell her schoolmates on Monday. All these
pleasant happenings made Sylvia forgetful of Elinor Mayhew's
unkindness. Before bedtime she had learned the words of the song from
which she was named. She knew Grace would think that "excelling" was
much better than "spelling."



CHAPTER II

A NEW FRIEND


The next morning Sylvia was awakened by a tapping on her chamber door.
Usually Jennie, the colored girl who helped Aunt Connie in the work of
the house, would come into the room before Sylvia was awake with a big
pitcher of hot water, and Sylvia would open her eyes to see Jennie
unfastening the shutters and spreading out the fresh clothes. So this
morning she wondered what the tapping meant, and called out: "Come in."

The door opened very slowly and a little negro girl, with a round
woolly head and big startled eyes, stood peering in. She was
barefooted, and wore a straight garment of faded blue cotton.

For a moment the two children stared at each other. Then Sylvia
remembered that Aunt Connie's little girl was coming to live with her
mother.

"Are you Estralla?" she asked eagerly, sitting up in bed.

"Yas, Missy," replied the little darky, lifting the big pitcher of
water and bringing it into the room, where she stood holding it as if
not knowing what to do next.

"Set the pitcher down," said Sylvia.

"Yas, Missy," said Estralla, her big eyes fixed on the little white
girl in the pretty bed who was smiling at her in so friendly a fashion.
She took a step or two forward, her eyes still fixed on Sylvia, and not
noticing the little footstool directly in front of her, over which she
stumbled with a loud crash, breaking the pitcher and sending the hot
water over her bare feet.

"Oh, Mammy! Mammy! Mammy!" she screamed, lying face downward on the
floor with the overturned footstool and broken pitcher, while the
steaming water soaked through the cotton dress.

In a moment Sylvia was out of bed.

"Get up, Estralla," she commanded, "and stop screaming."

The little darky's wails ceased, and she looked up at the slender white
figure standing in front of her.

"I kyan't git up; I'se all scalded and cut," she sobbed, "an' if I does
get up I'se gwine to get whipped for breaking the pitcher," and at the
thought of new trouble in store for her, she began to scream again.

"Get up this minute," said Sylvia. "I don't believe the water was hot
enough to scald you; it never is really hot. Here, help me sop it up,"
and grabbing her bath towel Sylvia began to mop up the little stream of
water which was trickling across the floor.

Estralla managed to get to her feet. She was still holding fast to the
handle of the broken pitcher. The front of her cotton dress was soaked,
but she was not hurt.

"I'll get whipped, yas'm, I will, fer breaking the pitcher."

"You won't!" declared Sylvia, half angrily. "It's my mother's pitcher,
and I'll tell her you didn't mean to break it. Now you go and put on
another dress, and tell Jennie to come up here and wipe up this floor."

"I ain't got no other dress; an' if I goes an' tells I'll get whipped,"
persisted the child.

Sylvia began to wonder what she could do. She thought Estralla was
stupid and clumsy to fall down and break the pitcher, and now she
thought her silly to be so frightened.

"I tells you, Missy, I su'ly will be whipped," she repeated so
earnestly that Sylvia began to believe it. "An' when my mammy sees my
dress all wet--" and Estralla began to sob, but so quietly that Sylvia
realized the little darky was really frightened and unhappy.

"Don't cry, Estralla," she said more gently, patting her on the
shoulder. "I'll tell you what to do. You are just about my size, and
I'll give you one of my dresses. It's pink, and it's faded a little,
but it's pretty. And you take this towel and wipe up the floor as well
as you can. Then you slip off your dress and put on mine." While Sylvia
talked Estralla stopped crying and began to look a little more cheerful.

Sylvia ran to the closet and was back in a moment with a pink checked
gingham. It had a number of tiny ruffles on the skirt, and a little
frill of lace around the neck.

"Landy! You don't mean I kin KEEP that, Missy?" exclaimed Estralla, her
face radiant at the very thought.

"Yes, quick. Somebody may come. Slip off your dress."

In a moment the old blue frock lay in a little heap on the floor, and
Sylvia had slipped the pink dress over Estralla's head, and was
fastening it. The little darky chuckled and laughed now as if she had
not a trouble in the world.

"Listen, Estralla! Here, pick up every bit of the pitcher and put the
pieces on the chair. Nobody shall know that you broke it. And now you
take this wet towel and your dress and spread them somewhere outdoors
to dry. You can tell your mammy I gave you the dress. Now, run quick.
My mother may come."

Estralla stood quite still looking at Sylvia. She had stopped laughing.

"Will you' mammy scold you 'bout dat pitcher?" she asked.

"I don't know. Anyway, nobody shall know that you broke it. You won't
be whipped. Run along," urged Sylvia.

But Estralla did not move. "I don't keer if I is whipped," she
announced. "I guess, mebbe, my mammy won't whip hard."

"Sylvia, Sylvia," sounded her mother's voice, and both the little girls
looked at each other with startled eyes.

"Run," said Sylvia, giving Estralla a little push. "Run out on the
balcony." Estralla did not question the command, and in a moment,
carrying dress and towel, she had vanished through the open window.

"Why, child! What has happened?" exclaimed Mrs. Fulton, coming into the
room and looking at the overturned footstool, the pieces of the broken
pitcher, and at Sylvia standing in the middle of the floor with an
anxious, half-frightened expression.

"Don't look so frightened, dear child. A broken pitcher isn't worth
it," said Mrs. Fulton smilingly. "It's only hot water, and won't hurt
anything. Only Father is waiting for breakfast, so use cold water this
morning. Here is your blue muslin--I'll tie your sash when you come
down," and giving Sylvia a kiss her mother hurried away.

"My landy!" whispered Estralla, peering in from the balcony window.
"Your mammy's a angel. An' so is you, Missy. I was gwine tell her the
trufe if she'd scolded, I su'ly was. Landy! I'd a sight ruther be
whipped than have you scolded, Missy."

Sylvia looked at her in astonishment. Estralla, with round serious
eyes, stood gazing at her as if she was ready to do anything that
Sylvia could possibly ask.

"Run. It's all right," said Sylvia with a little smile, and Estralla,
with a backward look over her shoulder, went slowly out of the room.

"I'm gwine to recollect this jes' as long as I live," Estralla
whispered as she made her way back to the kitchen. "Nobuddy ever cared
if I was whipped before, or if I wasn't whipped. An' I'll do somethin'
fer Missy sometime, I will. An' she give me dis fine dress too." She
bent over and smoothed out one of the little ruffles, and chuckled
happily.

Her mammy was busy preparing breakfast when Estralla slid quietly into
the kitchen. When she did look around and saw the child wearing the
pink dress she nearly dropped the dish of hot bacon which Jennie was
waiting to take to the dining-room.

"Wha' on earth did you get you' pink dress? Did Missy give it to you?
Well, you step out to the cabin and take it off. This minute! Put you'
blue frock right on. Like as not her mammy won't let you keep it," and
Aunt Connie hurried Jennie off to the dining-room with the breakfast
tray.

Estralla did not know what to do. Her blue dress was hung over a
syringa bush behind the cabin. And at the dreadful thought that Mrs.
Fulton might take away the pink dress she began to cry.

"Missy Sylvia said 'twas faded. She said to put it on," whimpered
Estralla.

Aunt Connie began to be more hopeful. If the dress was faded--and she
turned and looked at it more closely.

"Well, honey, 'tis faded. An' I guess Missy Sylvia's mammy won' take it
back. An' it's the Sabbath day, so you jes' wear it," she said, patting
the little woolly head. "Mammy's glad to have you dressed up; but you
be mighty keerful."

"Yas, Mammy. I jes' love Missy Sylvia," replied the little girl, now
all smiles, and forgetting how nearly she had come to serious trouble.

Nothing more was said to Sylvia about the broken pitcher; but when
Jennie put the room in order, and brought down the broken pieces, Aunt
Connie exclaimed: "Good massy! It's a good thing my Estralla didn't do
that! I'd 'a' cuffed her well, I su'ly would."

Sylvia did not think to tell her mother about the gift of the pink
dress to Estralla. She did not feel quite happy that she had not
explained the broken pitcher to her mother; but she had promised
Estralla that she would not tell, and Sylvia knew that a promise was a
very serious thing, something not to be easily forgotten.

She did not see Estralla again that day, and Jennie brought the hot
water as usual the next morning.

Grace and Mammy Esther called for Sylvia on Monday morning, and Sylvia
at once told her friend that she had been named from the song. This
seemed very wonderful to Grace, and she listened to Sylvia's
explanation of "excelling" instead of "spelling," and said she didn't
think it was of any consequence.

But when Sylvia told her what Captain Carleton had said about the
forts, Grace shook her head and looked very serious.

"Don't tell Elinor Mayhew, Sylvia. Because really South Carolina does
own the forts. My father said so. He said that South Carolina was a
Sovereign State," she concluded.

"What's that? What's a 'sovereign'?" questioned Sylvia.

Grace shook her head. It had sounded like a very fine thing when her
father had spoken it, so she had repeated it with great pride.

"We can ask Miss Rosalie," she suggested.

Mammy Esther left the girls at the gate of Miss Patten's garden. As
they went up the path Flora Hayes came to meet them.

"I was waiting for you," she said. "I want to ask you both to come out
to our plantation next Saturday and spend Sunday. My mother is going to
write and ask your mothers if they will give me the pleasure of your
company."

"I am sure I can come," declared Grace, "and I think it's lovely of you
to ask me."

"You'll come, won't you, Sylvia?" said Flora, putting her arm over the
little girl's shoulders as they went up the steps.

"Yes, indeed; thank you very much for asking me," replied Sylvia. She
had visited the Hayes plantation early in the summer, and thought it a
more wonderful place even than the big mansion on Tradd Street where
the Hayes family lived in the winter months. Mr. Hayes owned hundreds
of negroes, and raised a great quantity of cotton. The house at the
plantation was large, with many balconies, and cool, pleasant rooms.
Flora had a pair of white ponies, and there were pigeons, and a number
of dogs. Sylvia was sure that it would be a beautiful visit, especially
as Grace would be there.

As she went smilingly toward her seat in the schoolroom she passed
Elinor Mayhew, who was already seated.

"Yankee!" whispered Elinor sharply, looking at her with scornful eyes.

But Sylvia, remembering that her father had said that all Americans
were Yankees, nodded to the older girl and responded: "Yankee
your-self!"



CHAPTER III

SYLVIA IN TROUBLE


The Hayes plantation was about ten miles distant from Charleston, on
the opposite side of the Ashley River. Flora told Sylvia and Grace that
the Hayes coachman would drive them out, and that they would start
early on Saturday morning. Sylvia, remembering her former visit, knew
well how delightful the drive would be, and thinking of the pleasure in
store quite forgot to be troubled by Elinor Mayhew's hostility.

At recess the girls usually walked about in the garden, or tossed a
ball back and forth. Miss Rosalie would sit on the broad piazza
overlooking the garden, her fingers busy with some piece of delicate
embroidery.

To-day, as they filed out and down the steps, Elinor whispered to
several of her companions. And suddenly Sylvia realized that she was
standing alone. Grace Waite had lingered to speak to Miss Rosalie;
Flora had been excused just before recess, as her black mammy had
arrived with a note from Mrs. Hayes. The other girls were gathered in a
little group about Elinor, who was evidently telling them something of
great interest. Sylvia walked slowly along toward a little summer-house
where Miss Patten sometimes had little tea-parties. She hoped Grace
would not stay long with Miss Patten. The other girls were between
Sylvia and the arbor, and none of them moved to let her pass; nor did
any of them speak to her, as she paused with a word of greeting.

"Now, girls," she heard Elinor say; and the others, half under their
breath, but only too distinctly for Sylvia, called out: "Yankee,
Yankee!" Then like a flock of bright-colored birds they ran swiftly
into the summer-house.

For a moment Sylvia stood quite still. She realized that Elinor meant
to be hateful; but she remembered that her father had said that all
Americans were called "Yankees," and she was not a coward. She went
straight on to the arbor. Elinor Mayhew stood on the steps.

"You are just as much a Yankee as I am. And you ought to be proud of
it," declared Sylvia, facing the older girl.

"Hear that, girls!" called Elinor to the group about her. There was a
little angry murmur from the others.

"Don't you dare say that again, Miss Boston," called May Bailey, who
stood next to Elinor.

Sylvia was now thoroughly angry. She knew of no reason why these girls
should treat her in so unkind a fashion. She felt very desolate and
unhappy, but she faced them bravely.

"Yankees! Yankees! It's what all Americans are," she declared defiantly.

In an instant the little girls were all about her. Elinor Mayhew was
holding her hands, and the others were pushing her along the path to
the shore. The thick growing shrubs hid them from the house. Sylvia did
not cry out or speak. She was not at all afraid, nor did she resist.

"We ought to make her take it back," said May Bailey, as Elinor
stopped, and they all stood in a close group about Sylvia.

"Of course she's got to take it back, and apologize on her knees,"
declared Elinor. "She might as well learn that South Carolinians will
not be insulted," and Elinor lifted her head proudly.

"I won't take it back!" retorted Sylvia, "and you are the ones who will
have to apologize. Yes, every one of you, before I will ever speak to
you again."

"Hear that, girls! Wouldn't it be dreadful if she never spoke to us
again!" sneered Elinor.

"She means she will tell Miss Rosalie," said one of the girls.

"I don't, either. I can look after my own afffairs," retorted Sylvia
bravely. "I'm not a tell-tale. Although I suppose girls who act the way
you do would tell."

"Get down on your knees," commanded Elinor, trying to push the little
girl.

"There's the bell," and they all turned and scampered back to the
house, leaving Sylvia on the path; for Elinor had let go of her so
suddenly that she had fallen forward.

Her knees were hurt, and one of her hands was bruised by the fall. For
a moment she lay sobbing quietly. She was angry and miserable. She had
been brave enough when the girls had seemed to threaten her, but now
her courage was gone. She could not go back to the schoolroom and face
all those enemies. If Miss Rosalie came in search of her she might not
be able to resist telling her what had happened; and, miserable and
unhappy as she was, Sylvia resolved that she would never tell.

"But Elinor Mayhew and all the rest of them shall be sorry for this.
Yes, they shall," she sobbed as she got to her feet and turned toward
the shore. She knew she must either go straight back to the schoolroom
or else find a hiding-place until they had ceased to search for her.
There was a wall at the foot of the garden, covered with fragrant
jessamine and myrtle. If she could only get over that wall, thought
Sylvia, she would be safe. She ran swiftly forward and began to
scramble up, grasping the sturdy vines, and finding a foothold on some
bit of rough brick. She reached the top just as she heard Miss
Rosalie's servant calling her name.

Sylvia looked down to the further side. The vines drooped over and
below the wall a high bank of sand sloped to the shore. Holding tight
to the vines she slid down, hitting her bruised knees against the rough
surface. The vines cut her hands, and when she tumbled into the sand
her dress was torn and soiled, her pretty hair-ribbon was gone, and her
once white stockings were grimy. Beside these misfortunes her hands
were bleeding. Never in all her life had Sylvia been so wretched. She
sat quite still in the warm sand, and wondered what she could do. If
she went home her mother would insist upon an explanation of her untidy
condition. Beside that Sylvia was not sure if she could find her way
home unless she climbed back into the garden. She looked along the
shore at the landing-place not far distant where several boats were
bobbing up and down in the wash of the incoming tide. She could see
boats coming and going between the forts and the city. She could see
grim Fort Sumter, with its guns that seemed to look straight at her.
She watched a schooner coming across the bay, and realized that it was
coming to that very wharf. A number of men landed, and several carts
came down and boxes were unloaded, and negroes carried them to the
schooner.

Sylvia got up and walked along the shore until she was near the wharf,
and stood watching the negroes as they lifted the heavy boxes. She
wished she could ask one of them to tell her the way home. Then she
noticed a tall figure in uniform coming up the wharf.

"It's Captain Carleton!" she exclaimed joyfully, quite forgetting for
the moment her torn dress and scratched hands as she ran toward him.

"Why! Is it Sylvia Fulton?" exclaimed the surprised Captain, looking
down at the untidy little figure. "Why, what has happened?"

"Oh, dear," sobbed Sylvia, "I guess I'm lost."

"Well, well! It's lucky you came down to this wharf. Come on board the
schooner, and we'll see to these little hands first thing," and the
good-natured Captain rested a kindly hand on the little girl's shoulder
and walked down the wharf. Sylvia heard the men talking of the
Charleston Arsenal, and of the boxes of arms which were to be taken on
the schooner to Fort Sumter.

The Captain bathed the little hurt hands and flushed face, talking
pleasantly to the little girl about the schooner, and asking her if she
did not think it a much finer craft than her father's small boat; so in
a little while she was comforted and quite at home.

"Now, sit here by the cabin window, and I will come back and take you
home as soon as I settle this trouble about my supplies," and the
Captain hurried back to the wharf.

Sylvia sat quite still and looked out of the round port-hole. She felt
very tired, and leaned her head against the cushioned wall. She could
hear the monotonous chant of the negroes, and feel the swaying motion
of the vessel, and soon was fast asleep. She did not know when the
schooner was towed out into the channel, nor when the sails were
hoisted and they went sailing down the bay.

For Captain Carleton had entirely forgotten his little guest. When he
hurried back to the wharf he discovered a little group of Charleston
citizens, one of whom was Elinor Mayhew's father, disputing the right
of the United States officers to take guns from the Charleston Arsenal
to Fort Sumter; and when the matter was settled he had hurried the
departure of the vessel. Not until they were ready to land at the fort
did he remember his little friend. He went down to the cabin, and found
Sylvia fast asleep.

"Poor little Yankee! I wonder what will happen to her if South Carolina
really leaves the Union," he thought, and then his face grew troubled
as he remembered that Mr. and Mrs. Fulton must be in great trouble and
anxiety over the disappearance of their little daughter. But first of
all he must see the schooner's cargo safely unloaded at Fort Sumter,
and send his men back to Fort Moultrie; then he would take Sylvia home,
or find some way to notify her parents that she was safe and well cared
for.



CHAPTER IV

AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY


When Sylvia did not come in with the other girls Miss Patten sent a
maid in search of her. But she did not search very carefully. She
called Sylvia's name a few times, sauntered about the garden, and then
reported: "Can't find Missy Sylvia."

She was then told to go straight to Mrs. Fulton's house on the East
Battery and see if Miss Sylvia had reached home. Miss Patten did not
feel anxious. She thought it probable that the little northern girl did
not realize the rules of the school, had become tired, and so started
for home.

"Did Miss Sylvia say anything to any of you young ladies about leaving
the grounds?" she questioned the pupils. But they all declared that
they knew nothing of her whereabouts.

"She was on the path behind us when the bell rang," volunteered May
Bailey.

Elinor's face was unusually flushed, and she kept her eyes on her book.
Probably the "little Yankee," as she called Sylvia even in her
thoughts, had run home to tell her mother of the trouble.

By the time Miss Patten's messenger had reached the Fulton house Sylvia
was in the cabin of the little schooner. The girl gave her message to
Mrs. Fulton in so indefinite a manner that at first Sylvia's mother
hardly understood whether Sylvia was in the garden of the school, or
had started for home. Estralla was standing near the steps and began
whimpering: "Oh, Missy Sylvia los'! That w'at she say. She lost!"

"Nonsense, Estralla! Sylvia could not be lost in Miss Patten's garden,"
said Mrs. Fulton; but she decided to return to the school with the maid.

As they went down the street Estralla followed close behind. Her bare
feet made no noise, but now and then she choked back a despairing
little wail. For the little colored girl was sure that some harm had
befallen her new friend.

When Mrs. Fulton appeared at the school-room door Miss Patten was
greatly alarmed. Elinor Mayhew and May Bailey exchanged a look of
surprised apprehension. They felt sure that Sylvia had hurried home and
told her mother just what had happened. If she had, and Mrs. Fulton had
come to inform Miss Patten, they knew there would be unpleasant things
in store for them.

In a short time a thorough search for the lost girl was in progress.
Servants were sent along the streets, and Mrs. Fulton hastened home
thinking it possible that Sylvia might be in her own room.

No one paid any attention to the little colored girl in the faded blue
cotton gown who wandered about the paths and around the summer-house.
Estralla noticed two of the older girls talking together, and heard the
taller one say: "Well, wherever she is, she needn't think we will ever
take back one word. She IS a Yankee!"

"They'se done somethin' to my missy," decided Estralla. "They'se scairt
her." She ran down the path toward the wall at the end of the garden,
and stopped suddenly; for right in front of her, caught on the
jessamine vine which grew over the wall, she saw a fluttering blue
ribbon. "Dat's off'n Missy Sylvia's hair, dat ribbon is," she
whispered, reaching up for it. Holding it fast in her hands she looked
closely at the mass of heavy vines, and nodded her little woolly head.
"Dat's w'at she done. She dumb right up here, to git away frum those
imps o' Satan w'at was a plaguein' her," decided Estralla, and in an
instant she was going up the wall in a much easier manner than had been
possible for Sylvia. She dropped on the further side, just as Sylvia
had done, and traced Sylvia's steps to near the landing-place. Then she
stopped short. Men were loading boxes on a schooner at the end of the
pier, and she could see a tall officer in uniform standing on the deck
of the vessel.

"Hullo, here's another small girl. Black one this time," said one of
the white sailors.

"Yas, Massa! Please whar' is my missy?" replied the little darky
eagerly.

"Safe in the cabin," nodded the good-natured man.

Estralla slipped behind a pile of boxes, and watched for a chance to
get on board the vessel without being seen. She had heard many tales,
told by the older colored people, of little children, yes, and grown
people, too, who had been enticed on board vessels in far-off African
ports, and carried off to be sold into slavery. Estralla remembered
that all those people in the stories were black; but who could tell but
what there was some place in the world where white people were sold?
Anyway, she resolved that wherever Missy Sylvia went she would go with
her.

In a few moments she saw a chance to run over the gangplank. She went
straight toward the cabin door and peered in. Yes, there was Missy
Sylvia on the broad cushioned seat under the window. Very softly
Estralla tiptoed across the cabin. Just as she was about to speak
Sylvia's name the sound of approaching footsteps startled her, and,
sure that she would be sent on shore by whoever might discover her, she
looked about for a hiding-place, and the next instant she was curled up
under the very seat on which Sylvia was asleep.

It was not long before Estralla followed her missy's example. But she
was wide awake when Captain Carleton came into the cabin.

As soon as he returned to the deck Estralla crawled out from her
hiding-place and looked about her. "Wake up, Missy," she whispered
leaning over Sylvia; and Sylvia sat up quickly, with a little cry of
astonishment.

"Don't you be skeered," said Estralla softly, "'cause I ain' gwine to
let you be carried off. I knows jes' how slaves are ketched. Yas'm, I
does. My mammy tole me. They gits folks in ships and carries 'em off
an' sells 'em to folks. An' I ain' gwine to let 'em have you, Missy."
There were tears in Estralla's eyes. She knew that her own brother had
been sold the previous year and taken to a plantation in Florida. She
had heard her mother say that she, Estralla, might be sold any time.
She knew that slavery was a dreadful thing.

"Where are they taking us?" questioned Sylvia, for she realized that
the vessel was moving swiftly through the water. She wondered why
Captain Carleton had gone away. Seeing Estralla there gave her a
dreadful certainty that what the little darky said might be true.
Perhaps the vessel might have others on board who were being taken off
to be sold, as Estralla declared.

"Yas, Missy. My mammy's tole me jes' how white folks gets black folks
fer slaves. Takes 'em away from their mammies, an' never lets 'em go
back. Yas!" And Estralla's big eyes grew round with terror.

"But I am a white girl, Estralla," said Sylvia.

Estralla shook her head dolefully.

"Yas, Missy. But I'se gwine to git you safe home. You do jes' as I tell
you an' you'll be safe back with your mammy by ter-morrow!" she
declared.

"You lay down and keep your eyes tight shut till I comes back," she
added, and Sylvia, tired and frightened, obeyed.

The schooner was now coming to her landing at Fort Sumter. Estralla
managed to get on deck without being noticed. She did not know where
they were, but wherever it was she resolved to get Sylvia out of the
vessel, and ran back to the cabin.

"Now, don' you speak to nobuddy. Jes' keep right close to me," she
whispered. And Sylvia obeyed. The two little girls crept up the cabin
stairs, and crouching close to the side of the cabin made their way
toward the stern of the vessel.

The crew and the soldiers and Captain Carleton were now all toward the
bow. A small boat swung at the stern of the schooner.

"Now, Missy, we's got to git ourselves into that boat and row back
home," whispered Estralla, grasping the rope.

At that moment Sylvia turned to look back. She could see a tall officer
on the forward deck, and without an instant's hesitation she ran toward
him calling:

"Captain Carleton! Captain Carleton!" He turned smilingly toward her,
and Sylvia clasped his hand.

"I didn't know where I was," she said.

"You are at Fort Sumter. And it's all my fault," he answered. "I forgot
all about you until we were nearly here. But one of my men is going to
sail you safely home. What's this?" he added, as Estralla appeared by
Sylvia's side.

"It's Estralla. Her mammy is our cook," said Sylvia.

The Captain looked a little puzzled. He wondered how the little darky
had got on board the vessel without being seen.

"Well, she will be company for you. And you must ask your father and
mother to forgive my carelessness in taking you so far from home," said
the Captain.

It was sunset when Sylvia and Estralla, escorted by one of the soldiers
from Fort Sumter, came walking up East Battery. Mrs. Fulton was on the
piazza, and Mrs. Waite and Grace were with her. Grace was the first to
see and recognize Sylvia, and with a cry of delight ran to welcome her.

The soldier had a note for Mrs. Fulton explaining that Sylvia,
apparently on her way from school, had wandered down to the landing,
and of Captain Carleton's forgetting her presence in the cabin, so that
Sylvia was not questioned that night in regard to her disappearance
from Miss Patten's. Grace knew nothing of Sylvia's encounter with
Elinor Mayhew, so no one could imagine why she had started for home
without a word to Miss Patten.

Mrs. Fulton was too rejoiced to have her little girl safely at home to
question or blame her.

Sylvia was not hungry. The officer in charge of Fort Sumter had given
the two children an excellent supper. But she was tired and very glad
to have a warm bath and go straight to bed.

"Oh, Mother! This has been the most horrid day in all my life," she
said, as her mother brushed out the tangled yellow hair, and helped her
prepare for bed.

"It has been rather hard for your father and me," Mrs. Fulton reminded
her; "we began to fear some dreadful thing had happened to our little
girl. Promise me, Sylvia, never to run away from school again."

Sylvia promised. She wished she could tell her mother that it was not
school she ran away from; that she was trying to escape the taunts and
unfriendliness of her schoolmates. But she remembered her promise. She
had declared proudly that she should not tell, and hard as it was she
resolved that she would keep that promise. But she wished with all her
heart that she need not go to school another day.

"Do I have to go to Miss Patten's school, Mother?" she asked in so
unhappy a voice that Mrs. Fulton realized something unpleasant had
happened.

"We will talk it over to-morrow, dear," she said; "go to sleep now,"
and Sylvia crept into the white bed quite ready to sleep, but wondering
how she could talk about going to school, and still keep her promise,
when to-morrow came.



CHAPTER V

ESTRALLA AND ELINOR


In the morning Sylvia did not refer to what had happened the day
before, so her mother decided not to question her. Grace and Flora both
arrived at an early hour to accompany Sylvia to school. They were eager
to hear how she had happened to be on the schooner which had carried
arms to Fort Sumter from the Charleston Arsenal. But Sylvia did not
seem to want to talk of her adventure, and both the little southern
girls were too polite to question her.

"Father says those guns don't belong to the United States, they belong
to South Carolina."

Sylvia did not reply. She recalled one of her lessons, however, where
she had learned that the United States meant each and every State in
the Union and she remembered what Captain Carleton had said.

"Mother says I may go with you on Saturday, Flora," interrupted Grace;
"I wish it was Friday this minute."

"So do I," agreed Flora laughingly; "and we must teach Sylvia to ride
on one of the ponies this time."

For on the previous visit Sylvia had said that she wished she could
ride as Flora did.

"Oh! Truly? Flora, do you really mean it?" Sylvia asked.

"Of course I do. We will have a ride Saturday afternoon and again
Sunday," replied Flora.

With the pleasure of the plantation visit in store Sylvia for the
moment forgot all about her dread of facing the girls at school. Miss
Patten detained her at the door of the schoolroom with a warmer
greeting than usual, but said: "My dear, I want to talk with you at
recess;" but her smile was so friendly and her words so kind that
Sylvia was not troubled. As she passed Elinor's seat she did not look
up, but the whisper, "Yankee," made her flush, and brought back all her
dislike of the tall, handsome Elinor.

At recess, after the other girls had left the schoolroom, Miss Patten
came to Sylvia's desk and sat down beside her.

"Sylvia, dear," she said gently, "I want you to tell me why you started
off alone yesterday. Had anything happened here at school to make you
so unhappy that you did not want to stay?"

Sylvia looked up in surprise. Why, Miss Patten seemed to know all about
it, she thought. How easy it would be to tell her the whole story. But
suddenly she resolved that no matter what Miss Patten knew, she,
Sylvia, must not break her word. So she looked down at her desk, and
made no reply.

"I am sure none of the other pupils would mean to hurt your feelings,
Sylvia. But if any of them have carelessly said something that sounded
unkind, I know they will apologize," continued the friendly voice; and
again Sylvia looked up. If she told what Elinor and May had said she
was now sure that Miss Rosalie would make them both say they were
sorry; and Sylvia remembered that she had declared to them that they
should do exactly that.

"Would they really, Miss Patten?" she asked in so serious a voice that
the teacher believed for the moment that she would soon know the exact
reason why Sylvia had fled from the school; and she was right, she was
about to hear it, but not from Sylvia. There was a little silence in
the quiet pleasant room where the scent of jessamine and honey-suckle
came through the open windows, and no sound disturbed the two at
Sylvia's desk. Sylvia was assuring herself that she really ought to
tell Miss Patten; but somehow she could not speak. If she broke a
promise, even to an enemy, as she felt Elinor Mayhew to be, she would
despise herself. But Elinor would have to apologize for the way she had
treated Sylvia. Just at this moment of hesitation a round woolly head
appeared at one of the open windows. Two small black hands rested on
the window-sill, and a moment later Estralla, in her faded blue dress,
was standing directly in front of Miss Patten and Sylvia.

"I begs pardon, Missy Teacher. But I knows my missy ain't done nuffin'
to be kept shut up for. An' I knows why she runned off yesterd'y.
Yas'm. I heered dat tall dark girl an' nuther girl sayin' as how Missy
Sylvia was a Yankee. Yas'm; and as how they was glad they called her
names. Yas'm, I sho' heered 'em say those very words," and Estralla
bobbed her head, and stood trembling in every limb before "Missy
Teacher," not knowing what would happen to her, but determined that the
little white girl, who had protected her, and given her the fine pink
dress, should not be punished.

"Oh, Estralla!" whispered Sylvia, her face brightening.

Miss Rosalie stood up, and rested her hand on Sylvia's shoulder.

"And so you would not tell, or complain about your schoolmates?" Then
without waiting for a reply, she leaned over and kissed Sylvia. "That
is right, dear child. I am proud to have you as a pupil. Now," and she
turned to Estralla, "you run home as fast as you can go. Your young
mistress is not being punished, and will not be. But you did just right
in coming to tell me. But the next time you come remember to come in at
the door!" and Miss Rosalie smiled pleasantly at the little darky,
whose face now was radiant with delight.

"Yas'm. I sho' will 'member," and with a smile at Sylvia, Estralla
tiptoed toward the open door and disappeared.

It was a very grave teacher who watched her pupils return to their
seats that morning. It was a time when all the people in the southern
city were anxious and troubled. There had always been slaves in South
Carolina, and now the Government of the United States was realizing
that the black people must not be kept in servitude; that they had the
same rights as white people; and it was difficult for the Charleston
people to acknowledge that this was right.

Miss Rosalie was a South Carolinian, and she was sure that Charleston
people did right to insist on keeping their slaves, even if it meant
war. And it now seemed likely that the North and South might come to
warfare. The word "Yankee" was as hateful to Miss Rosalie as it was to
Elinor Mayhew, and for that very reason she determined that Elinor
should make a public apology for calling one of her schoolmates a
"Yankee." To the Carolinians the name meant the name of their enemies,
and it seemed to Miss Rosalie a very dreadful thing to accuse this
little northern girl of being an enemy.

After the girls were all seated she said in a very quiet tone:

"Elinor, please come to the platform."

For a moment Elinor hesitated. Then she walked slowly down the aisle
and stood beside Miss Patten.

"Now, young ladies, I do not need to explain to you the meaning of the
word 'courtesy.' You all know that it means kindness and consideration
of the rights and feelings of others. You know as well the meaning of
the word 'hospitality'; that it means that any person who is received
beneath your roof is entitled to courtesy and to more than that, to
protection. Even savages will protect any traveler who comes into their
home, and give the best they have to make him comfortable." Miss
Rosalie stopped a moment, and then said: "If there is anyone of you who
has not known the meaning of the two words to which I refer, will she
please to rise."

The girls all remained seated.

"Elinor, you will now apologize for having failed in courtesy and in
hospitality to one of my pupils."

Elinor stood looking out across the schoolroom. Her mouth was tightly
closed, and apparently she had no intention of obeying.

"Do I have to apologize for speaking the truth?" she demanded.

The girls held their breath. Was it possible that Elinor dared defy
Miss Patten? Grace and Flora were sadly puzzled. They were the only
pupils who did not understand the exact reason, Elinor's treatment of
Sylvia, for Miss Patten's demand.

The teacher did not respond, and Elinor did not speak. Then after a
moment Miss Patten said, "Take your seat, Elinor. I shall make this
request of you again at the beginning of the afternoon session. If you
do not comply with it you will no longer be received as a pupil in this
school."



CHAPTER VI

SYLVIA AT THE PLANTATION


When the afternoon session opened Elinor Mayhew was not in her usual
place. Grace and Flora had been told by the other girls what had
happened on the day of Sylvia's disappearance from school. May Bailey
had declared that Sylvia must have "run straight to the teacher," and
that she was a telltale as well as a "Yankee." Grace had defended her
friend warmly.

"I don't know how Miss Rosalie found out, but I'm sure Sylvia did not
tell," she declared.

Flora was unusually quiet. There were many scornful looks sent in
Sylvia's direction that afternoon, which Miss Patten noticed and easily
understood. Before school was dismissed she said that she had a brief
announcement to make.

"I want to say to you that the pupil whom Elinor treated with such a
lack of courtesy did not inform me of the fact. Nor would she say one
word against any of her schoolmates when I questioned her. Someone who
overheard Elinor's unfriendly remarks came and told me."

Flora Hayes smiled and drew a long breath. She did not blame Sylvia for
being a "Yankee," but it had troubled her to think of her new friend as
a "telltale," whatever her provocation might have been. The other girls
began to look at Sylvia with more friendly eyes, and as they ran down
the steps several found a chance to nod and smile at her, or to
exchange some word. So Sylvia began to feel that her troubles were
over, if Elinor Mayhew did not return to school.

"Father, are you sure 'Yankee' doesn't mean anything beside
'American'?" she asked in a very serious tone, as she sat beside Mr.
Fulton on the piazza that evening. They were quite alone, as Mrs.
Fulton had stepped to the kitchen to speak to Aunt Connie.

"The girls at school all think it means something dreadful," she added.

"Let me see, Sylvia. You study history, don't you?" responded her
father slowly. "Of course you do; and you know that George Washington
and General Putnam and General Warren, and many more brave men,
defended this country and its liberty?"

"Why, yes," replied Sylvia, greatly puzzled.

"The men of South Carolina were among the bravest and most loyal of the
defenders of our liberties. And when America's enemies called American
men 'Yankees' they meant General Washington and every other American
who was ready to defend the United States of America. So if any of your
friends use the word 'Yankee' scornfully they agree with the enemies of
the Union. No one need be ashamed of being called a 'Yankee.' It means
someone who is ready to fight for what is right."

But Sylvia still wondered. "The girls don't think so," she said.

"Well, that is because they don't understand. They will know when they
are older," said Mr. Fulton. He did not imagine that any of the
companions of his little daughter had treated her in an unfriendly
fashion, and thought it a good opportunity to make her understand the
real meaning of the word.

"You are a Yankee girl. And that means you must always try to protect
other people who need protection," said her father.

Sylvia's face brightened. She could easily understand that. It meant
that she must not let Estralla get a whipping when she had not deserved
it; and she was glad she had not told the real story of the broken
pitcher. She resolved always to remember what her father had said.

The remainder of the week passed pleasantly. Elinor Mayhew did not
return to school, and the other girls profited by her example and no
longer teased or taunted the little northern girl.

Saturday morning proved to be perfect weather for the drive to the
Hayes plantation. The sun shone, the clear October air was full of
autumnal fragrance, and when the Hayes carry-all, drawn by two pretty
brown horses, and driven by black Chris, the Hayes coachman, and
Flora's black mammy on the seat beside him, stopped in front of
Sylvia's house and Flora came running up the path, Sylvia and Grace
were on the steps all ready to start.

There was plenty of room for all three girls on the back seat, and
Flora declared that Sylvia should sit between Grace and herself. Mrs.
Fulton and Estralla stood at the gate and watched the happy little
party drive off. Estralla looked very sober. Ever since the adventure
at Fort Sumter the little colored girl had felt that she must look
after Missy Sylvia carefully. And she was not well pleased to see her
young mistress disappear from her watchful eyes.

"What a funny name 'Estralla' is," laughed Flora, as Sylvia called back
a good-bye.

"Oh, that isn't her name, really," explained Grace. "You know my Uncle
Robert owns her, and Auntie Connie named her after Aunt Esther and
Cousin Alice. Her name is really Esther Alice. But the colored people
never speak as we do."

"How can anybody 'own' anybody else, even if their skin is black?"
asked Sylvia.

Both her companions looked at her in such evident surprise that Sylvia
was sure she ought not to have asked such a question. Suddenly she
remembered that Flora's "Mammy" and "Uncle Chris," as Flora called him,
were negroes, and of course must have heard. She resolved not to ask
another question during her visit.

Their way took them through pleasant streets shaded by spice trees and
an occasional oak. From behind high walls came the fragrance of orange
blossoms, ripening pomegranates and grapes. Very soon they had crossed
the Ashley River, and now the road ran between broad fields of cotton
where negroes were already at work gathering the white fluffy crop
which would be packed in bags and bales and shipped to many far distant
ports.

The three little friends talked gaily of the pleasant visit which had
just begun. Sylvia was hoping that Flora would again speak of the
promised ride on one of the white ponies, but not until Uncle Chris
guided the swift horses into the driveway, shaded by fine live-oaks,
which led to the big house, was her wish gratified.

"We'll have a ride this afternoon, girls, if you are not too tired,"
she said.

Grace and Sylvia promptly declared that they were not at all tired, and
that a ride was just what they would like best.

The plantation's "big house," as the negroes called the owner's home,
was the largest house Sylvia had ever entered. Its high piazza with the
tall pillars was covered by a tangle of jessamine vines and climbing
roses. The front hall led straight through the house to another piazza,
which looked out over beautiful gardens and a tiny lake. Behind a thick
hedge of privet were the cabins of the house servants. The negroes who
did the work on the plantation, caring for the horses and cows, and
working in the cotton fields, lived at some distance from the "big"
house.

Mrs. Hayes came out on the piazza to welcome the party. She had come
down from Charleston on the previous day. It seemed to Sylvia she had
never seen so many negroes before in all her life. Neat colored maids
were flitting about the house, colored men were at work in the garden,
and colored children peered smilingly around the corner of the house.

A colored maid was told to look after Grace and Sylvia, and she led the
way up the beautiful spiral staircase to a pleasant chamber overlooking
the garden. There were two small white beds, with a little mahogany
light-stand between them. On this stand stood a tall brass candlestick.
There were two dressing-tables, and two small bureaus, and a number of
comfortable chintz-covered chairs. The floor was of dark, shining wood,
and beside each bed was a long, soft white rug.

Sylvia and Grace knew that this room had been arranged especially for
any of Flora's young friends whom she might entertain, and they both
thought it was one of the nicest rooms that anyone could imagine. The
smiling colored maid brushed their hair, helped them into the fresh
muslin dresses they had each brought, and when they were ready opened
the door and followed them down the stairs where they found Flora
awaiting them.

"Luncheon is all ready," she said, and led the way into the
dining-room, where Mrs. Hayes and Flora's two older brothers, Ralph and
Philip, were waiting for them. The boys were tall, good-looking lads,
and as they were in the uniform of the Military School of Charleston,
of which they were pupils, Sylvia thought they must be quite grown up,
although Ralph was only sixteen and his brother two years younger. They
had ridden out on horseback from Charleston, and had just arrived.

Flora introduced them to Sylvia, and Grace greeted them as old
acquaintances.

"I suppose you girls are looking forward to the corn-shucking
to-night?" Ralph asked, with his pleasant smile, as he held Sylvia's
chair for her to take her seat at the table, while Philip performed the
same service for Grace.

"Oh, my dear boy! You have betrayed Flora's surprise," said Mrs. Hayes.
"She had planned not to let the girls know about it until nightfall."

"What is a 'corn-shucking'?" questioned Sylvia; for she had always
lived in a city and did not know much about farm or plantation affairs.

"Shall I tell her, Flora?" questioned Ralph, laughingly.

"No! No, indeed! Wait, Sylvia, then it will be a surprise after all,"
responded Flora.

Sylvia smiled happily. She was sure that this visit was going to be
even more delightful than when she had been Flora's guest in the early
spring. There seemed to be so many things to do on a plantation, she
thought.

The young people were all hungry, and enjoyed the roasted duck, with
the sweet-potatoes and the grape jelly. Beside these there were hot
biscuit and delicious custards. Sylvia had finished her custard when
two maids brought a large tray into the room, and in a moment the
little girls exclaimed in admiring delight; for the tray contained two
doves, made of blanc-mange, resting in a nest of fine, gold-colored
shreds of candied orange-peel, and an iced cake in the shape of a fort,
with the palmetto flag on a tiny staff.

At the sight of their State flag both the boys arose from their seats
and saluted.

"That's the flag to fly over Charleston's forts!" declared Ralph as he
sat down.

After luncheon was over Mrs. Hayes advised the girls to lie down for a
little rest before starting for their ride. But they all declared they
were not tired, and there were so many things to see and enjoy at the
plantation that Sylvia and Grace were delighted when Flora suggested
that first of all they should go out through the garden to the negro
quarters, stopping at the stables on their way for a look at the ponies.

Sylvia was ready before the other girls and stood on the piazza
waiting. She was leaning against one of the vine-covered pillars that
supported the piazza, and Ralph and Philip, who were sitting just
around the corner, did not know she was there and could not see her.
Sylvia could hear their voices, but did not at first notice what they
were saying until the word "Yankee" caught her ear.

"The first thing you know those northern Yankees will take our forts,"
she heard Philip say, and heard Ralph laugh scornfully as he responed:
"They can't do it, or free our slaves, either. Say, did you know Father
was going to sell Dinkie; she's making such a fuss that I reckon she'll
get a lashing; says she don't want to leave her children."

There was a little silence, and then the younger boy spoke.

"I wish they wouldn't sell Dinkie. I hate to have her go. It isn't
fair. Of course she feels bad to leave those little darkies of hers.
Jove!" and the boy's voice had an angry tone, "Dinkie shan't be
whipped! I won't have it. She used to be my mammy."

Suddenly Sylvia realized that she was listening, and ran down the steps
toward the little lake which lay glimmering in the sun beneath the
shade of the overhanging pepper trees. She ran on past the lake down a
little path which led toward the pine woods. She no longer felt happy,
and full of anticipations of the surprise in store at the
corn-shucking. All she could think of was "Dinkie," a woman who was to
be sold away from her children, and who was to be whipped because she
rebelled against the cruelty of her master.

"It's because she's a slave," Sylvia whispered to herself. "I hate
slavery. My father said Yankees always fought for what was right. Why
don't they fight against slavery?" She quite forgot that Flora and
Grace would wonder where she had gone, and be alarmed at her absence.

"I do wish I could see Dinkie," she thought. "I wish I could do
something to help set every slave free." Then she remembered that
Philip had declared that Dinkie should neither be sold nor whipped.

"I like Philip," she declared aloud, and was surprised to hear a little
chuckling laugh from somewhere behind her, and turned quickly to find a
smiling negro woman close behind her.

"I likes Massa Philip myse'f," declared the woman, "an' I wishes I
could see him jus' a minute," and her smile disappeared. "I'se shuah
Massa Philip won' let 'em sell Dinkie, or lash her either," and putting
her apron over her face the woman began to cry.

"He won't! I heard him say he wouldn't have it," Sylvia assured her
eagerly. "Don't cry, Dinkie," and she patted the woman's arm.

Dinkie let her apron fall and looked eagerly at Sylvia.

"You'se the little Yankee missy, ain't you?" she questioned. "I hear
say that Yankees don't believe in selling black folks."

"They don't; I'm sure they don't. I'll run right back and tell Philip
you want to see him," replied Sylvia. "You stay right here by this
tree," she added, pointing to a big live-oak.

"Yas, Missy, I thanks you," replied the woman.

Sylvia ran back toward the house as fast as she could go. She could see
the ponies standing before the house, a small negro boy holding their
bridle-reins. The girls were on the steps waiting for her.

"I mustn't let them know that Dinkie wants to see Philip," she thought,
as the girls called out that they had been looking everywhere for her.
At that moment the two boys came along the piazza.

"Philip is going to teach you how to mount, and how to hold your reins,
Sylvia," said Flora.

Grace and Sylvia were to ride the white ponies, and Flora was to ride a
small brown horse which her mother usually rode.

Philip came slowly down the steps. He looked very sober, and Sylvia was
sure that he was thinking about Dinkie. "I don't believe he thinks
slavery is right," she thought, as Philip raised his cap, and asked if
she was ready to mount "Snap," the pony which she was to ride.

Flora and Grace were already mounted, and trotted slowly off. Sylvia
and Philip were alone on the driveway.

"Dinkie wants to see you. She's waiting down by the oak, beyond the
lake," said Sylvia. "And don't let her be whipped," she added.

The boy looked up at her quickly.

"Don't tell the girls that she sent for me," he replied. "Dinkie shan't
be whipped, or sold either." He did not thank Sylvia for her message,
and she was glad that he did not. With a brief word of direction as to
the proper manner of holding the reins, he turned toward the lake, and
Sylvia's pony trotted slowly down the drive to where Flora and Grace
were waiting.

Flora led the way past the stables, and down a broad path which led to
the negro quarters. The ponies went at a slow pace, as Flora wanted to
be sure that Sylvia was not afraid, and that she was enjoying her first
ride.

"The corn-shucking will be here," she said, pointing with her pretty
gold-mounted whip to a number of corn-cribs. "They will bring the corn
in from the fields, and we will come down in good season."

"And the moon will be full to-night," said Grace, beginning to sing:

"'De jay-bird hunt de sparrer-nes',
    All by de light of de moon.
  De bee-martin sail all 'roun',
    All by de light of de moon.
  De squirrel he holler from de top of de tree;
    Mr. Mole he stay in de groun',
  Oh, yes! Mr. Mole he stay in de groun'--'"

Sylvia listened and smiled as she looked at the happy faces of her
friends. But she could not forget Dinkie, and wondered if Philip could
really protect the unhappy woman from a whipping, and prevent her being
sold away from her children.

As they passed the cabins of the negroes the children ran out bobbing
and smiling to their young mistress, and Flora called out a friendly
greeting.

"Father's going to sell a lot of those niggers," she said carelessly.
"They eat more than they're worth."

"But won't their mothers feel dreadfully to let them go?" ventured
Sylvia. "Of course they will," declared Grace, before Flora could
respond. "And I do think it's a shame. Did you know Uncle Robert is
going to sell Estralla?" she asked turning to Sylvia.

Sylvia's grasp on the reins loosened, and she nearly lost her seat on
the broad back of the fat pony.

"What for?" she questioned, thinking to herself that Estralla should
not be sold away from her home and mother if she, Sylvia, could prevent
it.

"Oh, Uncle's agent says she isn't of any use, and he can get a good
price for her. He would have sold her last month if your mother had not
taken her in. I expect Aunt Connie will be half crazy, for all her
other children are gone," said Grace.

"We mustn't ride too far this time," Flora interrupted, "because it's
Sylvia's first ride. Hasn't she done well? Do you suppose you can turn
the pony?"

"Yes, indeed," answered Sylvia, drawing the left rein so tightly that
the little pony swung round before Flora had time to give a word of
direction. As they were now headed toward home "Snap" went off at a
good pace, well in advance of the others. It was all Sylvia could do to
keep her seat, but she was not frightened, and when the pony raced up
the driveway and came to a standstill directly in front of the piazza
steps she was laughing with delight. For the moment she had quite
forgotten Dinkie and Estralla.



CHAPTER VII

SYLVIA SEES A GHOST


"It was splendid," declared Sylvia as Grace and Flora dismounted and
the three little friends entered the house. Flora's black "Mammy" was
waiting for them on the piazza.

"Thar's some 'freshments fur yo' in de dinin'-room," she said; and the
girls were glad for the cool milk and the tiny frosted cakes which a
negro girl served them. Sylvia wondered if Flora ever did anything for
herself; for there seemed to be so many negro servants who were on the
alert to wait upon all the white people at the "big house."

"Come up to my room, girls, and rest until it's time to dress for
supper," said Flora.

Flora's room was just across the hall from the one where Grace and
Sylvia were to sleep. Instead of a small white bed like theirs there
was a big bed of dark mahogany with four tall, high posts. The bed was
so high that there was a cushioned step beside it. The portrait of a
lady hung over a beautiful inlaid desk, and Flora pointed to it with
evident pride.

"That's my great-grandmother; and her father built this house. My
mother says that she was Lady Caroline, and that she was so beautiful
that whenever she went to Charleston people would run after her coach
just to look at her," and Flora looked at her companions expectantly,
quite forgetting that she had told them the story before.

"Oh, Flora! Every time I come out here you tell me about your wonderful
great-grand-mother," said Grace, "and you used to tell me that her
ghost haunted this house."

"Well, it does," declared Flora.

Sylvia had never heard of Lady Caroline's ghost. "Do tell me about it,
Flora," she urged.

There was a wide cushioned seat with many pillows beneath the windows,
and here the girls established themselves very comfortably.

"Yes, tell Sylvia the story," said Grace, piling up several cushions
behind her back. "Of course it isn't true, but it's thrilling."

"It is true," persisted Flora. "My mother says that her own governess
saw Lady Caroline's ghost. And that she had on the very hat she has on
in the portrait, and the same blue dress and lace collar. You know
there's a secret stairway in this house. It leads from one of the
closets in your room down to a closet in my father's library and
out-of-doors, and Lady Caroline's ghost always comes in that way."

Sylvia looked up at the beautiful pictured face with a little shiver.
"I guess that the governess dreamed it," she said.

"Of course she did," declared Grace. "I think you look like that
picture, Flora," she added.

"Well, whether you believe it or not, everybody knows that this is a
haunted house," persisted Flora. "Why, there is an account of it in a
book."

But Grace shook her head laughingly. "Flora, show Sylvia your lovely
lace-work," she said.

Flora nodded, but Sylvia was sure that she was not pleased at Grace's
refusal to believe in the ghost.

"Mammy! Mam-m-e-e," called Flora, and in a moment the black woman stood
bobbing and smiling in the doorway.

"Bring my lace-work," said Flora.

"Yas, Missy," and Mammy trotted across the room to a little table in
the further corner and brought Flora a covered basket. She opened it
and set it down in front of her little mistress.

"Do's yo' want anyt'ing else, Missy Flora?" she asked.

"If I do I'll call," replied the little girl, and Mammy again
disappeared.

The basket was lined with rose-colored silk, and there were little
pockets all around it. In the centre lay a cushion on which was a lace
pattern defined by delicate threads and tiny circles of pins. A little
strip of finished lace was rolled up in a bit of tissue paper. Flora
took off the paper. "See, it is the jessamine pattern," she explained.
"My mother's governess was a Belgian lady, and she taught my mother how
to make lace and my mother taught me."

"I wish I could make lace," said Sylvia. "It would be lovely to make
some for a present for my mother."

"Of course it would. I'll teach you this winter," promised the
good-natured Flora; "let me see your hands. You know a lace-maker's
hands must be as smooth as silk, because any roughness would catch the
delicate threads."

Sylvia's hands were still scratched and roughed from her fall in Miss
Rosalie's garden and her scramble over the wall, and Flora shook her
head. "You'll have to wait awhile. And you must wear gloves every time
you go out, and wash your hands in milk every night," she said very
seriously. "Now I'll show you my embroidery. Mam-m-e-e! Mam-m-e-e," and
another basket was brought and opened. This basket was also lined with
rose-colored silk, but the silk had delicate green vines running over
it. On the inside of the cover, held in place by tiny straps, were two
pairs of shining scissors with gold handles, a gold-mounted emery bag,
shaped like a strawberry, an embroidery stiletto of ivory, and a gold
thimble.

Flora lifted out the embroidery frame, and putting on her thimble took
a few exact, dainty stitches in the collar.

"What lovely work you can do, Flora!" exclaimed Sylvia. "Don't you ever
play dolls?" remembering her own cherished dolls in their small chairs
in the corner of her room at home.

"Oh, I used to," replied Flora, "but since I began school at Miss
Patten's I don't seem to care about dolls."

"Flora can play on the harp," announced Grace.

"Oh, only just a little," responded Flora quickly.

"I think Flora can do more things than any girl I ever knew," declared
Sylvia admiringly; "and I was just thinking that the servants did
everything in the world."

Flora laughed. "You never lived on a plantation, or you couldn't think
that. Why, my mother works more than Mammy ever did. She has to tell
all the house darkies what to do, and see that all the hands have
clothes, and that the fruits are preserved. Why, she's always busy,"
replied Flora. "And of course ladies have to know how to do things,"
she concluded.

When Grace and Sylvia went to their own room Flora went with them.
"I'll show you where that secret staircase is," she said, and opening
the closet door pressed on a broad panel which moved slowly.

"There," and Flora drew Sylvia near so she could look down a dark
narrow stairway.

"But that isn't seeing a ghost," Grace said laughingly.

It was rather late when Mrs. Hayes led the way back to the house, and
Grace declared that she was almost too sleepy to walk up-stairs. But
Sylvia was not at all sleepy. After the colored girl had helped them
prepare for bed, blown out the candle, and left the room, she lay
watching the shadows of the moving vines on the wall. She wished she
was at home, for who knew but that Estralla's master might sell her
before she returned. Sylvia wondered what she could do to protect the
little girl. "I might hide her," she thought; but what place would be
secure? Suddenly she remembered something that she had heard Captain
Carleton say when she was eating luncheon on that unlucky trip to Fort
Sumter. "This fort could make South Carolina give up slavery," he had
said. Why, then, of course Estralla would be perfectly safe if she was
only at Fort Sumter, concluded the little girl, with a long sigh of
relief. "I must get her there just as soon as I get home," she decided.

Then suddenly Sylvia sat straight up in bed. The closet door had swung
softly open, and a figure with a big hat and trailing dress stepped
out. Sylvia was not frightened. "It's the ghost," she whispered; and
leaning across poked Grace, exclaiming: "Grace! Look quick! here is
Lady Caroline!"

In an instant Grace was wide awake.

"Where?" she demanded, in a frightened voice, clutching Sylvia's hand.

"Right there! By the closet door," said Sylvia. "Oh! she's gone!"

For as she looked toward the closet the figure had disappeared.

"There, you waked me up for nothing. You dreamed it," declared Grace.

"Oh, I didn't! Truly, I didn't. I haven't been asleep," Sylvia
insisted. "It is just as Flora said. There is a ghost." Just then both
the girls heard a startled cry, and a sound as if something had fallen
in the room under them.

"What's that?" whispered Grace. "Oh, Sylvia, do you suppose there
really is a ghost?"

"Yes, I saw it," declared Sylvia, with such evident satisfaction in her
tone that Grace forgot to be frightened. "Well, I guess it fell
downstairs," she chuckled; but in spite of their lack of fear both the
little girls were excited over the unusual noise, and Sylvia was sure
now that Flora had been right in saying the house was haunted. She
wished it was already morning that she might tell Flora all that had
happened.



CHAPTER VIII

A TWILIGHT TEA-PARTY


It was late when Grace and Sylvia awoke the following morning, but they
were down-stairs before the boys appeared. Mrs. Hayes greeted them
smilingly, but she said that Flora was not well and that Mammy would
take her breakfast to her up-stairs.

"After breakfast you must go up and stay with her a little while," said
Mrs. Hayes.

"Why, Flora was never ill in her life," declared Ralph; "what's the
matter?"

"She is not really ill, but she fell over something last night and
bruised her arm and shoulder, so that she feels lame and tired, and I
thought a few hours in bed would be the best thing for her," explained
Mrs. Hayes. "Mammy doesn't seem to know just how it happened," she
concluded.

Sylvia and Grace had talked over the "ghost" before coming down-stairs.
Grace had tried best to convince Sylvia that she had really dreamed
"Lady Caroline," but Sylvia insisted that a figure in a wide plumed hat
and a trailing gown had really stepped out of the closet.

"The moon was shining right where she stood. I saw her just as plainly
as I could see you when you sat up in bed," Sylvia declared. But both
the girls agreed that it would be best not to say anything about "Lady
Caroline" until they had told Flora.

After breakfast Mammy came to tell the visitors that Flora was ready to
see them.

"But jus' for a little while," she added, as she opened the door of
Flora's chamber.

Flora was bolstered up in bed, and had on a dainty dressing-gown of
pink muslin tied with white ribbons. But there was a bandage about her
right wrist, and a soft strip of cotton was bound about her head.

"Oh, girls! It's too bad that I can't help you to have a good time
to-day," she said, "and all because I was so clumsy."

Both the girls assured her that it was a good time just to be at the
Hayes plantation.

"Flora! There is a ghost! Just as you said! I saw it. Just about
midnight," said Sylvia.

"Truly!" exclaimed Flora, in rather a faint voice.

"Yes. And it was Lady Caroline. For it wore a big hat, like the one in
the picture, and its dress trailed all about it," replied Sylvia.

"Then I guess Grace will believe this is a haunted house," said Flora,
a little triumphantly.

"I didn't see it," said Grace. "And, truly, I believe Sylvia just
dreamed it."

Flora sat up in bed suddenly.

"Sylvia did not dream it. I know she saw it," she declared.

"Well, perhaps so. But I didn't," and Grace laughed good-naturedly; but
Flora turned her face from them and began to cry.

"After my being hurt, and--" she sobbed, but stopped quickly.

Sylvia and Grace looked at each other in amazement.

"It's because she is ill. And she's disappointed because you didn't see
Lady Caroline," Sylvia whispered. In a moment Flora looked up with a
little smile.

"I am so silly," she said. "You must forgive me. But I'm sure Sylvia
did see--"

"I begin to think she did," Grace owned laughingly. She had happened to
look toward the open closet and had seen certain things which made her
quite ready to own that Flora might be right. But she was rather
serious and silent for the rest of the visit. Before they left Flora's
room Flora asked Sylvia not to tell anyone that she had seen a "ghost."
"You see, the boys would laugh, and no one but me really believes the
house is haunted," she explained.

Of course Sylvia promised, but she was puzzled by Flora's request.

It was decided that Ralph and Philip should ride back to Charleston
that afternoon when Uncle Chris drove the little visitors home, and
that Flora should stay at the plantation with her mother for a day or
two.

Sylvia had enjoyed her visit. She had even enjoyed seeing the "ghost,"
but she was sorry that she could not tell her mother and father of the
great adventure. Nevertheless she was glad when the carriage stopped in
front of her own home, and she saw Estralla, smiling and happy in the
pink gingham dress, waiting to welcome her.

"Sylvia, I'm coming over to-night. I've got something to tell you,"
Grace said, as the two friends stood for a moment at Sylvia's gate,
after they had thanked Uncle Chris, and said good-bye to Sylvia's
brothers.

Grace was so serious that Sylvia wondered what it could be. "It isn't
that Estralla is going to be sold right away, is it?" she asked
anxiously.

"No. I'll tell you after supper," Grace responded and ran on to her own
home.

Sylvia's mother and father were interested to hear all that she had to
tell them about the corn-shucking, and of the wonderful cake with its
palmetto flag. She told them about poor Dinkie, and what Philip had
said: that Dinkie should not be sold away from her children, or whipped.

Mr. Fulton seemed greatly pleased with Sylvia's account of her visit.
He said Philip was a fine boy, and that there were many like him in
South Carolina.

They had just finished supper when Grace appeared, and the two little
girls went up to Sylvia's room.

"What is it, Grace?" Sylvia asked eagerly. "I can't think what you want
to tell me that makes you look so sober."

Grace looked all about the room and then closed the door, not seeing a
little figure crouching in a shadowy corner.

"I wouldn't want anybody else to hear. It's about the ghost," she
whispered. "I know all about it. It was Flora herself! Yes, it was!"
she continued quickly. "When we were in her room this morning I saw a
big hat with a long feather on it, hanging on her closet door, and a
long blue skirt, one of her mother's. They weren't there yesterday, for
the door was open, just as it was to-day."

"Well, what of that?" asked Sylvia.

"Oh, Sylvia! Can't you see?" Grace asked impatiently. "Flora dressed up
in her mother's things, and then came up the stairs to our room. She
was determined to make us think she had a truly ghost in her house.
Then when you called out, she got frightened and stumbled on the
stairs. You know we heard someone fall and cry out. Of course it was
Flora. Nobody seems to know how she got hurt. The minute I saw that
plumed hat I knew just the trick she had played. I knew there wasn't a
ghost," Grace concluded triumphantly.

Sylvia felt almost disappointed that it had not really been "Lady
Caroline." She wondered why Flora had wanted to deceive them.

"I don't think it was fair," she said slowly.

"Of course it wasn't fair. I wouldn't have believed that a Charleston
girl would do such a mean trick," declared Grace. "Of course, as we
were her company, we can't let her know that we have found her out."

"Perhaps she meant to tell us, anyway," suggested Sylvia hopefully.
"I'm sure she did. She thought it would make us laugh."

"Well, then why didn't she?" asked Grace.

Sylvia's face clouded; she could not answer this question, but she was
sure that Flora had not meant to frighten or really deceive them, and
she wanted to defend her absent friend.

"Well, Grace, we know Flora wouldn't do anything mean. And, you see,
she got hurt, and so she's just waiting to get well before she tells us
of the joke. You wait and see. Flora will tell us just as soon as we
see her again."

There was a little note of entreaty in Sylvia's voice, as if she were
pleading with Grace not to blame Flora.

"I know one thing, Sylvia. You wouldn't do anything mean, if you are a
Yankee," Grace declared warmly. "What's that noise?" she added quickly.

The room was shadowy in the gathering twilight, and the two little
girls had been sitting near the window. As Grace spoke they both turned
quickly, for there was a sudden noise of an overturned chair in the
further corner of the room, and they could see a dark figure sprawling
on the floor.

Before Sylvia could speak she heard the little wailing cry which
Estralla always gave when in trouble, and then: "Don't be skeered,
Missy! It's nobuddy. I jes' fell over your doll-ladies."

"Oh, Estralla! You haven't broken my dolls! What were you up here for,
anyway?" and Sylvia quite forgot all her plans to rescue Estralla as
she ran toward her.

The "doll-ladies," as the little darky girl had always called Sylvia's
two china dolls which sat in two small chairs in front of a doll's
table in one corner of the room, were both sprawling on the floor,
their chairs upset, and the little table with its tiny tea-set
overturned. Grace lit the candles on Sylvia's bureau, while Sylvia
picked up her treasured dolls, "Molly" and "Polly," which her
Grandmother Fulton had sent her on her last birthday.

"I wuz up here, jest a-sittin' an' a-lookin' at 'em, Missy," wailed
Estralla. "I never layed hand on 'em. An' when you an' Missy Grace
comes in I da'sent move. An' then when I does move I tumbles over. I
'spec' now I'll get whipped."

"Keep still, Estralla. You know you won't get whipped," replied Sylvia,
finding that Molly and Polly had not been hurt by their fall, and that
none of the little dishes were broken.

"You ought to tell her mother to whip her. She's no business up here,"
said Grace.

"Don't, Grace!" Sylvia exclaimed. "We don't get whipped every time we
make a mistake. And Estralla hasn't anything of her own. Just think,
your Uncle Robert can sell her away from her own mother. You said
yourself that you didn't think that was fair."

Estralla had scrambled to her feet and now stood looking at the little
white girls with a half-frightened look in her big eyes.

"Oh, Missy! I ain't gwine to be sold, be I?" she whispered.

Sylvia put her arm around Estralla's shoulders. "No!" she said, "you
shall not be sold. Now, don't look so frightened. We will have a
tea-party for Molly and Polly, and you shall wait on them. Run down and
ask your mother to give us some little cakes."

Estralla was off in an instant, and while she was away Sylvia and Grace
spread the little table, brought cushions from the window-seats and
advised Molly and Polly to forgive the disturbance.

When Mrs. Fulton came up-stairs a little later to tell Grace that her
black Mammy had come to take her home she found three very happy little
girls. Sylvia and Grace were being entertained at tea by Misses Molly
and Polly, while Estralla with shining eyes and a wide smile carried
tiny cups and little cakes to the guests, and chuckled delightedly over
the clever things which Sylvia and Grace declared Molly and Polly had
said.

"A candle-light tea-party," exclaimed Mrs. Fulton, as she came into the
room and smiled down on the happy group.

"Perhaps Flora will own up," Grace said, as the two girls followed Mrs.
Fulton down the stairs. "Anyway, you are mighty fair about it, and
you're good to that stupid little darky."

"Oh, Estralla isn't stupid. Not a bit," replied Sylvia laughingly.

Estralla, who was carefully putting the little table in order, heard
Sylvia's defense of her, and for a moment she stood very straight,
holding one of the tiny cups in each hand.

"I jes' loves Missy Sylvia, I do, I jes' wish ez how I could do
somethin' so she'd know how I loves her," and two big tears rolled down
the black cheeks of the little slave girl who had known so little of
kindness or of joy.



CHAPTER IX

TROUBLESOME WORDS


It was a week after Sylvia's visit to the Hayes plantation before Flora
returned to school. A heavy rain had made the roads nearly impassable,
and a little scar on Flora's forehead reminded Sylvia and Grace of her
unlucky tumble. On Flora's first appearance at school Sylvia was
confident that she would at once confess her part in "Lady Caroline's"
appearance, and at recess she and Grace were eager to walk with Flora.
It was now the first of November, but the air was warm and the garden
had many blossoming plants and shrubs.

Flora said that she was glad to be back at school. She told the girls
that her father had returned from a northern trip and that he had given
Dinkie and her children to Philip.

"Phil teased him so that Father was tired of hearing him. He said Phil
was a regular abolitionist," Flora explained with her pretty smile.

"What's an abbylitionzist?" asked Grace.

"Ask Sylvia. I heard my father say that Sylvia's father was one,"
answered Flora.

"I don't know. But my father is a Congregationalist," replied Sylvia.
"Perhaps that's what your father meant."

"No, it's something about not believing in having slaves, I know that
much," said Flora.

"Who would do our work then?" questioned Grace.

Flora could not answer this question. Sylvia resolved to ask Miss
Rosalie at question time the meaning of this new word. If her father
and Philip Hayes were "abolitionists," she was quite sure the word
meant something very brave and fine.

"What about Miss Flora and her ghost now?" Grace found a chance to
whisper, as they entered the schoolroom. "She doesn't mean to own up."

"Wait, she will," was Sylvia's response as she took her seat.

When question time came Sylvia was ready. She stood up smiling and
eager, and Miss Rosalie smiled back. She had grown fond of her little
pupil from Boston, and thought to herself that Sylvia was really
becoming almost like a little southern girl in her graceful ways and
pleasant smile.

"What is your question, Sylvia?" she asked.

"If you please, Miss Rosalie, what does 'abolitionist' mean?"

Some of the older girls exchanged startled looks, and May Bailey barely
restrained a laugh. Probably Grace and Sylvia were the only girls in
school who had not heard the word used as a term of reproach against
the people of the northern states who wished to do away with slavery.

Miss Rosalie's smile faded, but she responded without a moment's
hesitation:

"Why, an 'abolitionist' is a person who wishes to destroy some law or
custom."

There was a little murmur among the other pupils, but Grace and Sylvia
looked at each other with puzzled eyes. Philip did not wish to
"destroy" anything, thought Sylvia; he only wanted to protect Dinkie.
And she was sure that her father would not destroy anything, unless it
was something which would harm people. So it was a puzzled Sylvia who
came home from school that day. She decided that her father could
answer a question much better than Miss Rosalie, and resolved to ask
him the meaning of the word.

"Come up-stairs, Estralla," she said, finding the little negro girl at
the gate as usual waiting for her. "I have some things my mother said I
could give you."

Estralla followed happily. She didn't care very much what it might be
that Missy Sylvia would give her, it was delight enough for Estralla to
follow after her. But when the little girl saw the things spread out on
Sylvia's bed she exclaimed aloud:

"Does you mean, Missy, dat I'se to pick out somethin'? Well, then I
chooses the shoes. I never had no shoes."

"They are all for you," said Sylvia, lifting up a pretty blue cape and
holding it toward Estralla.

"My lan'!" whispered Estralla.

There was a dress of blue delaine with tiny white dots, two pretty
white aprons, the blue cape, and shoes and stockings, beside some of
Sylvia's part-worn underwear. She had begged her mother to let her give
the little darky these things, and Mrs. Fulton had been glad that her
little daughter wished to do so.

"Estralla has never had ANYTHING," Sylvia had urged, "and she is always
afraid of something. Of being whipped or sold. And I would like to see
her have clothes like other girls."

Estralla wanted to try on the shoes at once, and when she found that
they fitted very comfortably, she chuckled and laughed with delight.
Neither of the girls heard a rap at the door, and both were surprised
when Aunt Connie, who had opened the door and stood waiting, exclaimed:

"Fo' lan's sake! Wat you lettin' that darky dress up in you' clo'es
fer, Missy Sylvia?"

"They are her own clothes now, Aunt Connie," Sylvia explained. "My
mother said I might give them to her."

For a moment the negro woman stood silent. Then she put her hands up to
her face and began to cry, very quietly. Estralla's laughter vanished.
She wondered if her mammy was going to tell her that she could not keep
the things.

"'Scusie, Missy," muttered Aunt Connie; "you'se an angel to my po'
little gal. An' I'se 'bliged to you. But I'se feared the chile won't
wear 'em long. Massa Robert Waite's man sez he's gwine sell her off
right soon."

"He cyan't do no sech thing. Missy Sylvia won't let him," declared
Estralla, who was perfectly sure that "Missy Sylvia" could do whatever
she wished. With a pair of shoes on her feet and the blue cape over her
shoulders Estralla had more courage. Sylvia's kindness had given the
little colored girl a hope of happier days.

"Aunt Connie, I'll do all I can for Estralla," said Sylvia.

"Will you, Missy? Then ask yo' pa not to let Estralla be sold," pleaded
Aunt Connie.

Sylvia promised, and Aunt Connie went off smilingly. But Sylvia
wondered if her father could prevent Mr. Robert Waite from selling the
negro girl. "Estralla," she said very soberly, "I have promised that
you shall not be sold, and I will ask my father. But if he cannot do
anything, we will have to do something ourselves. Will you do whatever
I tell you?"

"Oh, yas indeed, Missy," Estralla answered eagerly.

"Well, I'll ask Father to-night. And to-morrow morning you bring up my
hot water, and I'll tell you what he says. But don't be frightened,
anyway," said Sylvia.

"I ain't skeered like I used to be," responded Estralla. "Yo' see,
Missy, I feels jes' as if you was my true fr'en'."

"I'll try to be," Sylvia promised.

Estralla went off happy with her new possessions, and Sylvia turned to
the window, and looked off across the beautiful harbor toward the
forts. She had heard her father say, that very noon, that South
Carolina would fight to keep its slaves, and she wondered if the
soldiers in Fort Moultrie would not fight to set the black people free.
She remembered that her father had said that Fort Sumter was the
property of the United States; and, for some reason which she could not
explain even to herself, she was sure that Estralla would be safe
there. If Mr. Robert Waite really meant to sell her, Sylvia again
resolved to find some way to get the little slave girl to Fort Sumter.

When Estralla brought the hot water the next morning she found a very
sober little mistress. For Sylvia's father had not only explained the
meaning of the word "abolitionist" as being the name the southerners
had given to the men who were determined that slavery of other men,
whatever their color, should end, but he had told his little daughter
that he could do nothing to prevent the sale of the little colored
girl, and that not even at Fort Sumter would she be safe. Sylvia had
not gone to sleep very early. She lay awake thinking of Estralla.
"Suppose somebody could sell me away from my mother," she thought,
ready to cry even at such a possibility. Sylvia knew that Aunt Connie
had been whipped because she had rebelled against parting with her
older children, and there was no Philip to take Aunt Connie's part.

"Mornin', Missy," said Estralla, coming into the room, and setting down
the pitcher of hot water very carefully. She had on the pink gingham
with one of the white aprons, and as she stood smiling and neat at the
foot of Sylvia's bed, she looked very different from the clumsy little
darky who had tumbled into the room a few weeks ago. Sylvia smiled
back. "Estralla, I want you to be sure to come up-stairs to-night after
the house is all quiet. Don't tell your mother, or anybody," she said
very soberly.

"All right, Missy," agreed Estralla, sure that whatever Missy Sylvia
asked was right.

Sylvia said nothing more, but dressed and went down to breakfast. She
heard her father say that he feared that South Carolina would secede
from the United States, and she repeated the word aloud: "'Secede'?
What does that mean?" She began to think the world was full of
difficult words.

"In this case it means that the State of South Carolina wishes to give
up her rights as one of the States of the Union," Mr. Fulton explained,
"but we hope she will give up slavery instead," he concluded.

Grace was at the gate as Sylvia came out ready for school, and called
out a gay greeting.

"What are you so sober about, Sylvia?" she asked as they walked on
together.



CHAPTER X

THE PALMETTO FLAG


When Sylvia had told Estralla to come to her room that night, she had
determined to find a way to get the little negro to a place of safety.
Sylvia did not know that a negro was, in those far-off days, the
property of his master as much as a horse or a dog, and that wherever
the negro might go his master could claim him and punish him for trying
to escape. Any person aiding a slave to escape could also be punished
by law.

All Sylvia thought of was to have Estralla protected, and she was quite
sure that a United States fort could protect one little negro girl.
Nevertheless she was troubled and worried as to how she could carry out
her plan; but she resolved not to tell Grace.

As usual Flora was waiting at Miss Patten's gate for her friends. She
was wearing a pretty turban hat, and pinned in front was a fine blue
cockade, to which Flora pointed and said: "Look, girls. This is the
Secession Cockade. Ralph gave it to me," she explained; "all loyal
Carolinians ought to wear it, Ralph says."

"What does it mean to wear one?" asked Sylvia.

"Oh, it means that you believe South Carolina has a right to keep its
slaves, and sell them, of course; and if the United States interferes,
why, Carolinians will teach them a lesson," Flora explained grandly,
repeating the explanation her father had given her that very morning.

Many of the other girls wore blue cockades, and a palmetto flag was
hung behind Miss Rosalie's desk.

"Young ladies," said Miss Rosalie, "I have hung South Carolina's flag
where you can all see it. You all know that a flag is an emblem. Our
flag means the glory of our past and the hope of the future. I will ask
you all to rise and salute this flag!"

The little girls all stood, and each raised her right hand. All but
Sylvia. Flushed and unhappy, with downcast eyes, she kept her seat.
This was not the "Stars and Stripes," the flag she had been taught to
love and honor. She knew that the palmetto flag stood for slavery.

Sylvia did not know what Miss Rosalie would say to her, and, even worse
than her teacher's disapproval, she was sure that her schoolmates,
perhaps even Grace and Flora, would dislike and blame her for not
saluting their flag.

But she was soon to realize just how serious was her failure to salute
the palmetto flag. Miss Rosalie came down the aisle and laid a note on
Sylvia's desk.

It was very brief: "You may go home at recess. Take your books and go
quietly without a word to any of the other pupils. You may tell your
parents that I do not care to have you as a pupil for another day."

As Sylvia read these words the tears sprang to her eyes. It was all she
could do not to sob aloud. She dared not look at the other girls. She
held a book before her face, and only hoped that she could keep back
the tears until recess-time.

But not for a moment did Sylvia wish that she had saluted a flag which
stood for the protection of slavery. Miss Rosalie had said that a flag
was an "emblem," and even in her unhappiness Sylvia knew that the
emblem of the United States stood for justice and liberty.

When the hour of recess came Sylvia had her books neatly strapped, and,
as Miss Rosalie had directed, she left the room quietly without one
word to any of the other girls. She had nearly reached the gate when
she heard steps close behind her and Grace's voice calling: "Sylvia,
Sylvia, dear," and Grace's arm was about her. "It's a mean shame,"
declared the warm-hearted little southern girl, "and flag or no flag,
I'm your true friend."

"Grace! Grace!" called Miss Rosalie, and before Sylvia could respond
her loyal playmate had turned obediently back to the house.

Sylvia stepped out on the street, her eyes a little blurred by tears,
but greatly comforted by Grace's assuring words of friendship.

She did not want to go home and tell her mother what had happened, and
show her Miss Patten's note, for she knew that her mother would be
troubled and unhappy.

Suddenly she decided to go to her father's warehouse and tell him, and
go home with him at noon. She was sure her father would think she had
done right.

She turned and walked quickly down King Street, and in a short time she
was near the wharves and could see the long building where her father
stored the cotton he purchased from the planters. The wharves were
piled high with boxes and bales, and there were small boats coming in
to the wharves, and others making ready to depart.

Sylvia could see her father's boat close to the wharf near the
warehouse. "I wish I could take that boat and carry Estralla off to
Fort Sumter," she thought.

A good-natured negro led her to Mr. Fulton's office, and before her
father could say a word Sylvia was in the midst of her story. She told
of the blue cockades that the other girls wore, of the palmetto flag,
and of her failure to salute it, and handed him Miss Patten's note.

Mr. Fulton looked serious and troubled as he listened to his little
girl's story. Then he lifted her to his knee, took off her pretty hat,
and said:

"Too bad, dear child! But you did right. A little Yankee girl must be
loyal to the Stars and Stripes. I am glad you came and told me."

For a moment it seemed to Sylvia that her father had forgotten all
about her. He was looking straight out of the window.

While he had not forgotten his little girl he was thinking that
Charleston people must be quite ready to take the serious step of
urging their State to declare her secession from the United States, and
her right to buy and sell human beings as slaves.

He wished that the United States officers at Fort Moultrie could
realize that at any time Charleston men might seize Fort Sumter, where
there were but few soldiers, and he said aloud: "I ought to warn them."

Sylvia wondered for a moment what her father could mean, but he said
quickly: "Jump down and put on your hat. I'm going to sail down to Fort
Moultrie and have a talk with my good friends there, and you can come
with me."

At this good news Sylvia forgot all her troubles. A sail across the
harbor with her father was the most delightful thing that she could
imagine. And she held fast to his hand, smiling happily, as they walked
down the wharf where the boat was fastened.

Mr. Fulton was beginning to find his position as a northern man in
Charleston rather uncomfortable. Many of his southern friends firmly
believed that the northern men had no right to tell them that slavery
was wrong and must cease. He wished to protect his business interests,
or he would have returned to Boston; for it was difficult for him not
to declare his own patriotic feeling that Abraham Lincoln, who had just
been elected President of the United States, would never permit slavery
to continue.

Mr. Fulton sent a darky with a message to Sylvia's mother that he was
taking the little girl for a sail to the forts, and in a short time
they were on board the Butterfly, as Sylvia had named the white sloop,
and were going swiftly down the harbor.

"May I steer?" asked Sylvia, and Mr. Fulton smilingly agreed. He was
very proud of his little daughter's ability to sail a boat, and
although he watched her shape the boat's course, and was ready to give
her any needed assistance, he was sure that he could trust her.

As they sailed past Fort Sumter Sylvia could see men at work repairing
the fortifications. Over both forts waved the Stars and Stripes.

She made a skilful landing at Fort Moultrie, greatly to the admiration
of the sentry on guard. Mr. Fulton and Sylvia went directly to the
officer's quarters, which were in the rear of the fort, and where Mrs.
Carleton gave Sylvia a warm welcome. She asked the little girl about
her school and Sylvia told her what had happened that morning.

"I am not surprised," said Captain Carleton. "I expect any day that
Charleston men will take Fort Sumter, and fly the palmetto flag,
instead of the Stars and Stripes. If Major Anderson had his way we
would have a stronger force in Fort Sumter, and that is greatly needed."

Major Anderson was the officer in command at Fort Moultrie. He was a
southern man, but a true and loyal officer of the United States.

When Captain Carleton and Mr. Fulton went out Mrs. Carleton asked
Sylvia if she was sorry to leave the school, and if she liked her
schoolmates. Sylvia was eager to tell her of all the good times she had
enjoyed with Grace and Flora, and declared that they were her true
friends. Then she told Mrs. Carleton about Estralla, and of her resolve
that the little darky girl should not be separated from Aunt Connie.

"Your best plan, then, will be to go and see Mr. Robert Waite and ask
him. He is a kind-hearted man, and perhaps he will promise you to let
the child stay with her mother. I hope it will not be long now before
all the slaves will be set free," said Mrs. Carleton.

Before Sylvia could respond Captain Carleton came hurrying into the
room. He had a letter in his hand, and asked Sylvia to excuse Mrs.
Carleton for a moment, and they left the room together. In a few
moments Mrs. Carleton returned alone, and Sylvia heard Captain Carleton
say: "It is worth trying."

"My dear Sylvia, I want you to do something for me; it is not really
for me," she added quickly, "it is for the United States. Something to
help keep the flag flying over these forts."

"Oh, can I do something like that?" Sylvia asked eagerly.

"Yes, my dear. Now, listen carefully. Here is a letter which Major
Anderson wants delivered to a gentleman who will start for Washington
to-morrow. If anyone from this fort should be seen visiting that
gentleman he would not be allowed to leave Charleston as he plans. If
your father, even, should call upon him it would create suspicion. So I
am going to ask you to carry this letter to the address written on the
envelope, and you must give it into his own hands to-night. Not even
your own father will know that you have this letter; so if he should be
questioned or watched he will be able to deny knowing of its existence.
Are you willing to undertake it?"

"Yes! Yes!" promised Sylvia. "I will carry it safely. The gentleman
shall have the letter to-night," and she reached out her hand to take
it.

But Mrs. Carleton shook her head. "No, my dear, I will pin it safely
inside your dress. It would not do for you to be seen leaving the fort
with a letter in your hand."



CHAPTER XI

SYLVIA CARRIES A MESSAGE


Mrs. Fulton did not seem surprised to hear of Sylvia's dismissal from
Miss Patten's school because of her failure to salute the palmetto
flag. She did not say very much of the occurrence that afternoon, when
Sylvia returned from the fort, for she wanted Sylvia to think as
pleasantly as possible of her pretty teacher. But she was surprised
that Sylvia herself did not have more to say about the affair.

But Sylvia's own thoughts were so filled by the mysterious letter which
was pinned inside her dress, with wondering how she could safely
deliver it without the knowledge of anyone, that she hardly thought of
school. For the time she had even forgotten Estralla.

"What do you say to becoming a teacher yourself, Sylvia dear?" her
mother asked, as they sat together in the big sunny room which
overlooked the harbor.

"When I grow up?" asked Sylvia.

Mrs. Fulton smiled. Sylvia "grown up" seemed a long way in the future.

"No--that is too far away," she answered. "I was thinking that perhaps
you would like to teach Estralla to read and write. You could begin
to-morrow, if you wished."

"Yes, indeed! Mother, you think of everything," declared Sylvia. "Why,
that will be better than going to school!"

"But we must not let your own studies be neglected," her mother
reminded her, "so after you have given Estralla a morning lesson each
day you and I will study together and keep up with Grace and Flora. By
the way, Flora was here just before you and your father reached home;
she was very sorry not to see you, and I have asked Flora and Grace to
come to supper to-morrow night."

Sylvia began to think that a world without school was going to be a
very pleasant world after all. She was sure that it would be great fun
to teach Estralla, and to have lessons with her mother was even better
than reciting to pretty Miss Rosalie; and, beside this, her best
friends were coming to supper the next night, so she had many pleasant
things to think of, which was exactly what her mother had planned. Her
father had said that she might ask Grace to go sailing with them in the
Butterfly in a day or two; and now Sylvia resolved to ask if she might
not ask Flora as well, and perhaps Estralla could go, too. So it was no
wonder that she ran up-stairs singing:

"There's a good time coming, It's almost here,"--

greatly to the satisfaction of her father and mother, who had feared
that she would be very unhappy over the school affair. They were sorry
it had happened, but they could not blame Sylvia.

"Oh, Missy Sylvia, here I is," and as Sylvia set her candle on the
table, Estralla stood smiling before her.

"Oh!" exclaimed Sylvia with such surprise that the little darky looked
at her wonderingly.

"Yo' tells me to come, an' here I is," she repeated. "You tells me,"
and Estralla sniffed as if ready to give her usual wails, "that you'se
gwine to stop my bein' sold off from my mammy. How you gwine to stop
it, Missy?"

For a moment Sylvia was tempted to tell Estralla that it couldn't be
helped, as long as South Carolina believed in slavery. But Estralla's
sad eyes and pleading look made her resolve again to protect this
little slave girl against injustice. So she replied quickly:

"That is my secret. But don't you worry. Some day, very soon, I shall
tell you all about it. You know, Estralla, that you need not be afraid.
And what do you think! I am not going to school any more."

Estralla's face had brightened. She was always quite ready to smile,
but she could not understand why Sylvia had wanted her to come so
mysteriously to her room.

"And I am going to teach you to read and write," Sylvia added.

"Is you, Missy?" Estralla responded in a half-frightened whisper. Now,
she thought, she knew all about Missy Sylvia's reasons for the secret
visit. For very few slave-owners allowed anyone to teach the slaves to
read and write. Estralla knew this, and it seemed a wonderful thing
that Missy Sylvia proposed.

"I'll tell you all about it to-morrow morning," said Sylvia; "now run
away," and with a chuckle of delight Estralla closed the door softly
behind her. She had been quite ready to run away with Missy Sylvia when
she had crept up the stairs earlier in the evening. But to stay safely
with her mammy and learn to read seemed a much happier plan to the
little darky. If she could read and write! Why, it would be almost as
wonderful as it would to be a little white girl, she thought.

Now Sylvia realized, as she stood alone in her safe, pleasant chamber,
that as soon as possible she must deliver the letter entrusted to her.
If it was to go to Washington it must be some message that was of
importance to the officers at Fort Moultrie and Fort Sumter, she
thought. Perhaps it might even be something that would help Carolinians
to give up slavery; and then Estralla and Aunt Connie, and all the
black people she knew and liked, could be safe and have homes of their
own.

Sylvia went to the window and peered out. The street and garden lay
dark and shadowy. Now and then a dark figure went along the street. The
house seemed very quiet. She tiptoed to the closet and took out a brown
cape. It was one which she wore on stormy days, and nearly covered her.
Then from one of the bureau drawers she drew out a long blue silk
scarf, and twisted it about her head.

"I can pull the end over my face, and they'll think I'm a darky," she
thought, resolved if anyone spoke to her not to answer.

She whispered over the name and address on the letter. She knew that
the street led from King Street, and she was sure that she could find
it. But it was some distance from home; it would be late before she
could get back.

She blew out her candle, opened her chamber door and stood listening.
She could not hear a sound, and tiptoed cautiously along the hall to
the stairs. What if the door of her mother's room should open, she
thought, terrified at such a possibility. What could she say? She had
promised not to tell of the letter, and what reason could she give for
creeping out of the house at that hour?

But she reached the lower floor safely, and now came the danger of
making a noise when opening the door. Sylvia grasped the big key and
turned it slowly. Then she pulled at the heavy door, and it swung back
easily. She gave a long breath of relief as she stepped out on the
piazza. She left the door ajar, so that she could slip in easily on her
return. Keeping in the shadow of the trees she reached the street, and
now she felt sure that nothing could prevent her from delivering the
letter.

She ran swiftly along, now and then meeting someone who glanced
wonderingly at the flying little figure. She had reached King Street
and was nearly at the street where she was to turn, when suddenly a
heavy hand grasped her arm and nearly swung her from her feet.

"Running off, are you? And wearing your mistress's clothes at that,
I'll warrant," said a gruff voice. "Wall, now, whose darky are you?"

Sylvia pulled the silken scarf from her face, and even in the glimmer
of the dull street-lamp under which the man had drawn her he could see
the auburn hair and blue eyes. But he still kept his grasp on her arm.
There were slaves who were not black, he knew, and "quality white"
girls were not running about Charleston streets alone at night.

"What is your name?" he demanded.

Sylvia looked at him resentfully. "How dare you grab me like this?" she
demanded. "Let me go."

The man released his grasp instantly. No darky girl or slave would have
spoken like that. He vanished as suddenly as he had appeared, more
frightened now than Sylvia herself.

For an instant Sylvia stood quite still. She felt ready to cry, and now
walked more slowly. For the first time she realized something of what
it must be to be a colored girl.

"If I had been Estralla he could have dragged me off and had me
whipped," she thought. "Oh, I must get Mr. Robert Waite to let Estralla
stay safe with us."

She was now near her destination, which proved to be a large house
right on the street. She knocked at the door several times before it
was opened. Then she found herself looking up at a tall man whose white
hair and kindly smile gave her confidence.

"Well, little girl, whom do you wish to see?" he asked pleasantly.

"I have a message, I--" began Sylvia, her voice trembling a little.
"Are you Mr. Doane?"

"Yes; come in," and he held the door open for her to enter, and then
closed and fastened it behind them.

Sylvia drew the letter from its hiding-place and handed it to him, and
Mr. Doane slipped it into his pocket.

"Come in, my child, and rest a moment; you are out of breath," he said,
leading the way to a small room at the end of the narrow hall.

Sylvia was glad to sit down in a low chair near the table, while Mr.
Doane opened the envelope. She could see that there was another letter
enclosed, as well as the one which the tall man was reading with such
interest.

When he had finished reading the letter he tore it into a great many
small pieces. Then he put the enclosed envelope carefully in an inner
pocket.

"So you brought me this letter from the fort. Well, you have done what
I hope may prove a great service to the Stars and Stripes. I thank
you," he said, looking with smiling eyes at the tired little figure in
the brown cape.

Then he asked Sylvia her name, and she told him that no one, not even
her dear mother, knew that she had brought the message. Before they had
finished their talk he had heard all about the blue cockades that the
girls had worn at Miss Patten's school, and of Sylvia's refusal to
salute the palmetto flag.

"You see I couldn't do that, because it would mean that I believed that
Estralla ought to be a slave, and of course I don't believe such a
dreadful thing," she explained. So then Mr. Doane heard all about
Estralla and Aunt Connie.

Sylvia decided that she liked Mr. Doane even better than Captain
Carleton. And when he told her again that by her courage in bringing
him the message from the fort, and by her silence in regard to it, that
she had done him a great service, as well as a service to those whose
only wish for South Carolina was that the State should free herself
from slavery, Sylvia forgot all about the long walk through the shadowy
streets.

"I wish I had someone to send with you to see you home safely," Mr.
Doane said, a little anxiously, as they stood together in the little
hallway. "But I am known here, and I fear everything I do is watched.
So I must trust that you will be safely cared for."

Before Sylvia could reply, and say that she was not at all afraid to go
alone, the outer door rattled as if someone were trying to push it open.

"You have been followed. Run back to the sitting-room," whispered Mr.
Doane. "I will open the door."



CHAPTER XII

ESTRALLA HELPS


Sylvia, standing just inside the door of the small room, heard the
outer door swing open. She heard Mr. Doane's sharp question, and then a
familiar wail.

"Oh! It's Estralla!" she exclaimed, and ran back to the entry.

"It's Estralla! Oh! I'm so glad!" she said.

"Don' you be skeered, Missy Sylvia," said Estralla valiantly. "Dis yere
man cyan't take you off'n sell you."

"All Estralla can think of is that somebody is going to be carried off
and sold," Sylvia said, turning to Mr. Doane, who stood by looking very
serious.

"How did you know where your little mistress was?" he questioned
gravely. For if this little darky knew of Sylvia's errand he feared
that she might tell others, and so Sylvia would have brought the
message from the fort to little purpose. The letter, which was now in
Mr. Doane's pocket, was to the Secretary of War in Washington, asking
for permission for Major Anderson to take men to Fort Sumter, before
the secessionists could occupy it.

"I follers Missy," explained Bstralla. "An' when that man grabs her on
King Street, I was gwine to chase right home an' get Massa Fulton, but
Missy talks brave at him, an' he lets go of her. Oh, Missy! What you
doin' of way off here?"

At this question Mr. Doane smiled, realizing that the little negro girl
had no knowledge of the message which Sylvia had delivered.

"Well, Estralla, suppose Miss Sylvia came to try and help give you your
freedom?" he asked.

"An' my mammy?" demanded Estralla eagerly.

"Why, of course," Mr. Doane replied. "For anything that helps to
convince South Carolina that she is wrong will help to free the
slaves," he added, turning to Sylvia.

"Now, Estralla, if you love Miss Sylvia, if you want to stay with your
mammy, you must never tell of her visit here to-night. Remember!" and
Mr. Doane's voice was very stern.

"Estralla won't tell," Sylvia declared confidently; "and I am glad she
came to go home with me."

"Shuah I'll do jes' what Missy wants me to," said the little darky.

"Try to let Mrs. Carleton know that I received the letter, and that I
hope to reach Washington safely," said Mr. Doane, as he bade Sylvia
good-night.

As the door closed behind them Estralla clasped Sylvia's hand.

"Wat dat clock say?" she asked; for one of the city clocks was striking
the hour.

"It's twelve o'clock," answered Sylvia.

"Oh! My lan', Missy! Dat's a terrible onlucky time fer us to be out,"
whispered Estralla. "Dat's de time w'en witch folks comes a-dancin' an'
a-prancin' 'roun' and takes off chilluns."

Sylvia knew that all the negroes believed in witches and all sorts of
impossible tales, so Estralla's words did not at all frighten her, but
she did wish that she was safe in her own home. The streets were now
dark and silent, and black shadows seemed to lurk at every corner as,
hand in hand, Estralla and Sylvia ran swiftly along.

"I tells you, Missy, dat it's jes' lucky I comes after you, cos'
witch-folks, w'at comes floatin' 'roun' 'bout dis hour of de night, dey
ain't gwine to tech us; cos' when dey's two folks holdin' each other
hands tight, jes' like we is, dey don't dast to tech us," said Estralla.

"Where were you, Estralla, when I came down-stairs?" Sylvia asked.

"I was jes' a-takin' a little sleep on de big rug side of your door,
Missy. I'se been a-sleepin' dere dis long time. My mammy lets me. An'
when you opens de door I mos' calls out, but didn't. I jes' stan's up
quick, so's you nebber know I was thar," and Estralla chuckled happily.

Sylvia wondered to herself why Estralla should choose such a hard bed.
Then, suddenly, she realized all Estralla's devotion. That the little
negro girl had slept there to be near her "fr'en'." She remembered the
first time that she had ever seen Estralla, on the morning when she had
tumbled in to Sylvia's room and broken the big pitcher, and that even
then Estralla had been ready to confess and take the whipping that she
was sure would follow, rather than let Sylvia be blamed. She recalled
Estralla's effort to rescue her at Fort Sumter on the day Sylvia had
run away from Miss Patten's school; and she remembered that it was
Estralla who had told Miss Patten the real reason, and so saved her
from further trouble.

"Estralla, you have been my true friend," she declared, "and I am going
to remember it always. I am going to ask my mother to put a nice little
bed for you in your mammy's cabin."

"Don' yo' do that, Missy. I likes sleepin' on de rug," pleaded Estralla.

"Hush, we must creep in without making any noise," responded Sylvia, in
a whisper, for they were now directly in front of Sylvia's home.

Noiselessly Estralla led the way.

"Oh, Missy! de door is shut fas'," she whispered, as she endeavored to
push it open.

"But it can't be shut," Sylvia answered.

Both the little girls pushed against it, but the door stood fast.

"Oh! What will we do?" half sobbed Sylvia, who was now very tired, and
almost too sleepy to think of anything.

"We cyan't get in de back door. My mammy she'd wake up if a rabbit run
twixt her cabin an' de kitchen," Estralla whispered back. "I 'spec's
I'll hev' to climb up to de winder ober de porch, and comes down and
let you in."

"Oh! Can you, Estralla?"

Sylvia's voice was very near to tears. She had forgotten all about the
importance of the message she had safely delivered. All she wanted now
was to be inside this dear safe house where her mother and father were
sleeping, not knowing that their little girl, cold and sleepy, was shut
out.

"I 'spec's I can," Estralla answered. "You jes' stay quiet, an' in
'bout four shakes of a lamb's tail I'se gwine to open de door, an' in
yo' walks."

There was a little scrambling noise among the stout vines which ran up
the pillars of the porch as Estralla started to carry out her plan. A
cat, or a fluttering bird, would have hardly made more commotion.
Sylvia listened eagerly. Suppose the porch window was fastened? she
thought fearfully. It seemed a very long time before the front door
opened, and Estralla reached out and clutched at the brown cape.

Noiselessly they crept up the stairs, Estralla leading the way. It was
she who opened the door of Sylvia's room, and then with a whispered
"Yo'se all right now, Missy," closed it behind her.

Sylvia hung up the brown cape in the closet, and slipped off her dress.
She was soon in bed and fast asleep, and it was late the next morning
before she awoke--so late that her father had breakfasted and gone to
his warehouse; Estralla had been sent on an errand, and Mrs. Fulton
decided that Sylvia should have a holiday.

"You seem tired, dear child," she said a little anxiously, as Sylvia
said that she did not want to go to walk; that she had rather sit still.

"I guess I am tired," acknowledged the little girl, and was quite
content to sit by the window with a story-book, instead of giving
Estralla a lesson.

"If it had not been for Estralla I don't know what would have happened
to me last night," she thought. She wondered who had closed and
fastened the front door, but dared not ask.

Grace and Flora were to come early that afternoon, as soon after school
as possible, and Flora had sent Sylvia a note that she would bring her
lace-work and give her a lesson. By noon Sylvia felt rested, and was
looking eagerly forward to her friends' visit. She began to feel that
she was a very fortunate little girl to have had the chance to do
something that might help, as Mr. Doane had said, to give the black
people their freedom. She only wished that she could tell her mother
and father of the midnight journey.

"But I will ask Mrs. Carleton the next time I go to the fort to let me
tell Mother," she resolved.



CHAPTER XIII

A HAPPY AFTERNOON


Grace was the first to arrive, and she declared that she wished that
she was in Sylvia's place and need not go to school another day.

The two little friends stood at the window watching for Flora, and it
was not long before they saw her coming up the walk, closely followed
by her black "Mammy," who was carrying two baskets. One of these seemed
very heavy.

"What can be in Mammy's basket, I wonder?" said Grace. "And, look,
Sylvia! Flora isn't wearing the blue cockade! That's because she is
coming to visit you. She had it on at school this morning."

Flora wore the same pretty velvet turban which she had worn on Sylvia's
last day at school. She had on a cape of garnet-colored velvet, and as
she came running into the room Sylvia looked at her with admiring eyes.

"You do look so pretty, Flora! And I am so glad to see you. Come
up-stairs to my room and take off your things."

"It isn't half the fun going to school now that you don't come,
Sylvia," responded Flora, as the three friends went up the broad
staircase together. "Mammy," with her baskets, followed them, and when
she had helped her little mistress lay aside her cape and hat, Flora
said:

"You can go home now, Mammy, And my mother will tell you when to come
after me."

"Yas, Missy," responded the old colored woman, and with a curtsey to
each of the little girls she left the room.

"What makes your mammy look so sober, Flora?" questioned Grace. "She is
usually all smiles; but to-day she hasn't a word to say for herself."

"Oh, the darkies are all stirred up over all this talk about their
being set free," Flora answered, "and even Mammy, who was Mother's
nurse, and has always been well taken care of, thinks it would be a
fine thing for her children and grandchildren to be 'jes' like white
folks,'" and Flora laughed scornfully.

"But that needn't make her look sober!" insisted Grace.

"I reckon she's upset because my mother sold two or three little slaves
yesterday--Mammy's grandchildren," Flora answered carelessly.

Sylvia could feel her face flushing, and she said over to herself that
no matter what Flora said that she, Sylvia, must remember that Flora
was her guest. Beside that, had not Flora taken off the blue cockade so
that Sylvia would not be reminded of the trouble at school?

But Grace felt no such restraints. She was a southern girl as well as
Flora, but she was sorry for the old colored woman.

"Well, I do wish we could keep the pickaninnies until they grow up. It
seems a shame when they feel so bad to be sold off to strangers. And
some of them are abused too," she said.

"You talk as if they felt just the same as we do, and that's silly,"
Flora declared; "but Philip talks just the same. He says he is going to
give Dinkie her freedom," and she turned toward the two baskets which
Mammy had set down with such care near Molly and Polly.

"I brought my lace-work, and Mother has fixed a cushion for you,
Sylvia, and one for Grace, too. See! The pattern is begun on each one,
and I will give you both lessons until you know as much as I do." As
Flora talked she had opened the smaller basket and taken out two square
boxes and handed one to each of her friends.

"Open them," she said, nodding smilingly.

The box which she handed to Sylvia was covered with plaited blue silk.
It had a narrow edge of gilt braid around the cover. Grace's box was
covered with yellow silk, but the boxes were of the same size.

As Sylvia and Grace lifted the covers they smiled and exclaimed
happily. The lace cushion lay inside, and in dainty little pockets on
each side of the boxes were the delicate threads and materials for the
lace. A thimble of gold, with "Sylvia from Flora" engraved around its
rim, was in Sylvia's box, and one exactly like it was in Grace's box.

"Oh, Flora Hayes! This is the most beautiful present that ever was!"
declared Sylvia; and Grace, holding the box with both hands, was
hopping up and down saying over and over: "Flora! You are just like the
Golden Princess in a fairy story who gives people what they want most."

"My mother made the boxes herself," Flora explained proudly. "I wanted
to give you girls something, and I'm awfully glad you like them." Then
Flora stood up quickly.

"Girls! I dressed up in Mother's hat and skirt, that night at the
plantation. It wasn't Lady Caroline."

She spoke very rapidly as if she wished to finish as quickly as
possible. It was not easy to think of Flora Hayes as being ashamed, but
Sylvia felt quite sure that Flora felt sorry that she had attempted to
deceive her friends.

"I knew it all the time," said Grace slowly, "and I told Sylvia it was
you; didn't I, Sylvia?"

"Yes," said Sylvia, "and we knew you were sure to tell us about it,
Flora. But you did look just like the picture of Lady Caroline."

Flora sat down. It had been so much easier to confess than she had
expected. Neither Grace nor Sylvia had seemed resentful or surprised.

"You didn't tell me that you knew," she said, a little accusingly.

"Oh, well, we couldn't do that, Flora. You see we were your guests,"
Grace explained.

"And we knew you were sure to tell us," Sylvia added.

Flora was silent for a moment. She was thinking that both her friends
had been rather fine about the whole affair. They had not run screaming
from their room on the appearance of the "ghost," and alarmed the
house, and so brought discovery and punishment and shame upon her;
neither had they resented her not confessing.

"Well, I do think you two girls are the nicest girls in this town," she
declared, "and I am mighty proud that you are my friends. I can tell
you one thing: I'll never try to make anyone believe in ghosts again. I
was half frightened to death myself when I crept up those stairs, and
my shoulder has been lame ever since."

Grace and Sylvia had wondered what the large basket contained, but in
their interest over Flora's beautiful gifts, and their delight in her
"owning up" to being the "ghost," they had quite forgotten about it. It
was Flora who now pointed at it and said laughingly: "I've brought my
dolls in that basket."

"Molly and Polly will be glad enough to have company," Sylvia assured
her.

Flora opened the basket and took out a large black "mammy" in a purple
dress, white apron, and a yellow handkerchief twisted turban-fashion
about her head.

"Mammy Jane always goes with the young ladies," she explained
laughingly, and took out two fine china dolls dressed in white muslin
with broad crimson silk sashes. Each of these fine ladies had a tiny
parasol of crimson silk.

"I'm going home after my dolls," exclaimed Grace, and while Sylvia
brought cushions for these unexpected visitors, and introduced them to
Molly and Polly, Grace hurried home and was soon back again with her
own treasured dolls, which she introduced as "Mr. and Mrs. and Miss
Delaney."

The lesson in lace-making was quite forgotten as the three girls played
with the array of dolls.

Sylvia ran to the door and called Estralla, who appeared so quickly
that Sylvia wondered where she could have been. Estralla was told that
she must help "Mammy Jane" take care of the doll visitors, and the
little negro's face beamed with pleasure. Not one of the little girls
in the pleasant room was as happy as Estralla; and when supper was
ready and Sylvia and her friends went down-stairs, leaving Estralla in
charge of all the dolls, she could hardly believe in her good fortune,
and, as usual, was sure it was all due to her beloved Missy Sylvia.

After supper the dolls were all invited downstairs to be introduced to
Sylvia's father and mother; and Estralla, smiling and delighted, was
entrusted with bringing "Mammy Jane."

The three friends often looked back on that happy afternoon, for on the
very next day Mr. Hayes decided to move his family to the plantation,
and it was many days before Sylvia, Grace and Flora were to be together
again. The citizens of Charleston, in December, 1860, were becoming
anxious as to what might befall them. Very soon it might be possible
that South Carolina would secede from the Union, and war with the
northern states might follow. In such a case the guns of Fort Sumter
and Fort Moultrie might fire on Charleston, and many planters who had
homes in Charleston were sending their families to their country homes.
Northern men who had business in Charleston were also anxious, and
Sylvia did not know that her own father was seriously considering a
return to Boston.

But the little girls bade each other good-night with happy smiles and
laughter, and without a thought but that they would have many more
pleasant times together.

Sylvia did not even think of the lace-making until she brought down her
pretty box to show to her mother and father.

"The Charleston people have been so kind to us," Mrs. Fulton said, a
little sadly.

"They are the most courteous and kindly people in the world," declared
Mr. Fulton.

Sylvia went up to her room wondering why her mother and father seemed
so serious, when everything was so lovely. She had almost forgotten her
adventure of the previous night, and went happily to bed with Flora's
pretty gift on the light-stand beside her bed.



CHAPTER XIV

MR. ROBERT WAITE


It was a very sober little darky who came up to Sylvia's room the next
morning. She set down the pitcher of water and moved silently toward
the door.

"What's the matter, Estralla?" Sylvia called; for usually Estralla was
all smiles, and had a good deal to say.

Estralla shook her head. "Nuffin', Missy. I knowed you couldn't do
nuffin' 'bout it. My mammy says how nobody can."

"Wait, Estralla! What do you mean?" exclaimed Sylvia, sitting up in bed.

"I'se gwine to be sold! Jes' like I tells you. My mammy was over to
Massa Waite's house las' night, and she hears ober dar dat Massa
Robert's gwine to sell off every nigger what ain't workin'--this week!"
Estralla's voice had drifted into her old-time wail.

"Oh, Estralla! What can I do?" and Sylvia was out of bed in a second,
standing close beside the little colored girl.

"I dunno, Missy Sylvia. I 'spec' dar ain't nuffin' you kin do. But you
has been mighty good to me," Estralla replied. "It's mighty hard to go
off and leave my mammy an' never see you-all no more, Missy Sylvia. I
dunno whar I'll be sent."

"Estralla, if you were earning wages for Mr. Robert Waite would he let
you stay here?" Sylvia asked eagerly.

"I reckon he would, Missy. But who's a-gwine to pay wages for a
pickaninny like me? Nobuddy! Missy, I'se a-gwine to run off an' hide
myself 'til the Yankee soldiers comes and sets us free," said Estralla.

"You can't do that. But don't be frightened, Estralla. I have thought
of something. I will hire you! Yes, I will; and pay wages for you to
Mr. Waite. I'll go tell him so this very day," declared Sylvia, her
face brightening, as she remembered the twenty dollars in gold which
her Grandmother Fulton had given her when she had left Boston. "You can
do whatever you please with it," was what Grandmother Fulton had said.

Sylvia had thought that she would ask her mother to buy her a watch
with the money, but she did not remember that now. She knew that, more
than anything, she would rather keep Estralla safe. Twenty dollars was
a good deal of money, she reflected. If the northern soldiers would
only come quickly and set the slaves free! But even if they did not
come for a long time the money would surely pay Mr. Waite wages for
Estralla, so that he would not insist on selling her.

Estralla's face had brightened instantly at Sylvia's promise. And when
Sylvia explained that she had money of her very own, and even opened
her writing desk and showed Estralla the shining gold pieces, the
little darky's fears vanished. She was as sure that all would be well
now, as she had been frightened and despondent when she entered the
room.

"Shall I tell my mammy?" she asked eagerly.

"Yes," Sylvia responded. "I know my mother will let me. Because Grandma
said I could do as I pleased with the money. And I please to pay it to
Mr. Waite."

"Then I'll be your maid, won't I, Missy Sylvia?" chuckled the little
darky with proud delight, "an' I'll allers go whar yo' goes, like Missy
Flora Hayes' mammy does."

"Why, yes, I suppose you will," agreed Sylvia.

Sylvia had meant to tell her mother and father of her plan about
Estralla at breakfast time, but her father was just leaving the
dining-room when she came in.

"Are you going to ask your little friends to go out in the Butterfly
this afternoon?" he asked. "If you want to go to the forts you must be
on hand early."

"I'll ask them right away after breakfast, before they start for
school," Sylvia promised eagerly. She was glad that she could go to the
forts again, and tell Mrs. Carleton that she had given the letter to
Mr. Doane. This filled her thoughts for the moment, so she quite forgot
about her plan to employ Estralla, especially as her mother had decided
that lessons would not begin until the following week.

It had seemed to Mrs. Fulton that her little daughter was tired, and
not as well as usual, and she was glad that the sailing expedition
would take her out for a long afternoon on the water.

Sylvia ate her breakfast hurriedly, and ran upstairs for her cape and
hat, to find Estralla waiting just inside the door of her room.

"Wat yo' mammy say 'bout my bein' yo' maid?" questioned the little
darky.

"Oh, it will be all right. I am going to ask Grace and Flora to go
sailing this afternoon, and I'll keep on to Mr. Robert Waite's and have
it all settled this morning," Sylvia replied, putting on her pretty new
hat.

"You may come, too," she added.

"Yas, Missy. Wat yo' reckon Massa Robert gwine to say?" questioned
Estralla earnestly.

"I think I will take the money," Sylvia said, not answering Estralla's
question; "then Mr. Waite will be sure that I can pay him."

Mrs. Fulton saw Sylvia, closely followed by Estralla, running across
the garden toward the house where Grace Waite lived.

"Poor little darky! What will she do when Sylvia goes north?" she
thought. For Mr. Fulton had told her that very morning that he was sure
South Carolina would secede from the Union, and then northern men would
no longer be welcome in Charleston. That meant of course that the
Fultons would have to return to Boston, if that were possible, but all
communication with northern states might be prevented. It was no wonder
that Mr. and Mrs. Fulton were anxious and worried.

Grace was ready to start for school when Sylvia and Estralla arrived,
and her mother gave her consent at once for her to go sailing in the
afternoon.

"The Christmas holidays will soon be here, so a half day out of school
will not matter," Mrs. Waite said smilingly, and gave Grace a note for
Miss Patten.

"I'll walk to Flora's with you," said Grace. "Now, Sylvia, own up that
you think Charleston is nicer than Boston. Why, it is all ice and snow
and cold weather up there, and here it is warm and pleasant. You
couldn't go sailing if you were in Boston to-day," she added laughingly.

"No, but I could go sleighing," responded Sylvia.

As they came in sight of Flora's home they both exclaimed in surprise:

"Why, they are all going away! Look, Flora and her mother are in the
carriage!" said Grace, "and there is Philip on horseback."

The carriage had turned on to the street, and even as Grace spoke a
curve in the road hid it from view. Philip, evidently giving some
directions to the negroes who were loading trunks and boxes into a
cart, rode down the driveway just as Grace and Sylvia reached the
entrance.

He greeted them smilingly, and stopped his horse to speak with them.

"It was all planned for us to go to the plantation before Flora got
home last night," he explained. "Father thought it was best for the
family to be out of the city. You see, it's getting time for
Carolinians to take possession of the forts, and there may be trouble.
But the palmetto flag will soon float over Fort Sumter," he added
smilingly, and with a touch of his cap and a smiling good-bye he rode
off.

Sylvia was sorry that Flora was going away, but that Philip should want
the palmetto flag to take the place of the Stars and Stripes over Fort
Sumter seemed a much greater misfortune. "When he knows it stands for
slavery," she thought, wondering if he had entirely forgotten about
Dinkie.

"I'll have to run, or I'll be late for school," declared Grace. "I'll
be all ready when you call," and with a gay good-bye she was off down
the street, leaving Sylvia and Estralla standing alone near the high
wall which enclosed the garden of the Hayes house.

"Massa Robert Waite, he live right 'roun' de corner," said Estralla,
and the two girls turned down the street leading to the house of
Estralla's master.

Sylvia went up the flight of stone steps which led to Mr. Waite's door
a little fearfully. A tall, good-natured colored man opened the door
and asked her errand, and then led the way across the wide hall and
rapped at a door.

"A little white missy to see you, Massa Robert," he said, and in a
moment Sylvia found herself standing before a smiling gentleman, whose
red face and white whiskers made her think of the pictures of Santa
Claus.

"Won't you be seated, young lady?" he said, very politely, waving his
hand toward a low cushioned chair, and bowing "as if I were really
grown up," thought Sylvia.

"I am Sylvia Fulton," she said, wondering why her voice sounded so
faint.

"Perhaps you are the daughter of Mr. John Fulton, who does me the favor
of renting my house on the East Battery," responded Mr. Waite, with
another bow.

"Yes, sir," said Sylvia meekly, wondering whether she would ever dare
tell him her errand. There was a little silence, and then Mr. Waite
took a seat near his little visitor and said:

"Let me see; is not your name in a song? 'Then to Sylvia let us sing,'"
he hummed, beating time with his right hand.

"Oh, yes, I was named for that song. And, if you please, Mr. Waite,
would you let me pay you wages for Estralla?"

"For Estralla? Now, of course, I ought to know all about Estralla. But,
you see, I have a man who attends to the names, and all that, of my
negroes. But perhaps you can tell me who Estralla is?" replied Mr.
Waite.

"If you please, sir, she is Aunt Connie's little girl, and she lives
with us, and I like her, and I thought--" began Sylvia, but Mr. Waite
raised his hand, and she stopped suddenly.

"I see! I see! You want her to wait upon you. I see. Quite right. But
if she is living in your house she is not costing me a penny for board.
So I am indebted to you. Well! Well! I must see that whatever you wish
is carried out. You need not pay me wages, little Miss Sylvia, but you
shall have the girl for your own servant as long as you live in my
house, and I am delighted to have you take her off my hands. Yes,
indeed! Yes, indeed!" and Mr. Waite smiled and bowed, and seemed
exactly like Santa Claus.

"I'm ever so much obliged," said Sylvia. "I like Estralla."

"Do you? Yes! Well! And I hope you will come again, Miss Sylvia. I am
greatly pleased to have made your acquaintance," and the polite
gentleman escorted her to the door, where he bade her good-bye with
such an elegant bow that Sylvia nearly fell backward in her effort to
make as low a curtsey as seemed necessary.

Estralla had hidden herself behind some shrubbery, and joined Sylvia at
the gate.

"Would he hire me out, Missy?" she asked eagerly.

"My, no!" answered Sylvia, and before she could explain the generosity
of Estralla's owner, the little darky was wailing and sobbing: "I
knowed I'd be sold! I knowed it."

"Keep still, Estralla! Mr. Waite says I may have you without paying
him. Just as long as I live in his house he said you were to be my
maid! Oh, Estralla! He was just as kind and polite as if I had been a
grown-up young lady," said Sylvia with enthusiasm.

"Yas'm, I reckons he would hafter be, 'cos he's a Carolinian gen'man.
I'se mighty glad he gives me to you, Missy. I reckon my mammy's gwine
to be glad," and Estralla, quite forgetting that there was such a thing
as trouble in the world, danced along beside her new mistress.

Sylvia hurried home, eager to tell her mother of her wonderful new
friend, and of Flora's departure to the plantation.

Mrs. Fulton listened in surprise. But when Sylvia finished her story of
Mr. Waite's kindness, declaring that he was just like Santa Claus, she
did not reprove her for going on such an errand without permission, but
agreed with her little daughter that Mr. Robert Waite was a very kind
and generous gentleman.

Aunt Connie was as delighted as it was possible for a mother to be who
knows that her youngest child is safe under the same roof with herself.
She tried to thank Sylvia for protecting Estralla, but Sylvia was too
happy over her success to listen to her.

When Grace returned from school Sylvia ran over and told her all about
her Uncle Robert's kindness.

Grace listened with wondering eyes.

"Oh, that's just like Uncle Robert," she declared. "But I think you
were brave to ask him."



CHAPTER XV

"WHERE IS SYLVIA?"


The Butterfly was all ready and waiting for its passengers when Grace
and Sylvia, followed by the smiling and delighted Estralla, who was
carrying Sylvia's cape and trying to act as much like a "rale grown-up
lady's maid" as possible, came down to the long wharf.

Although it was December, there was little to remind anyone of winter.
The air was soft and clear, the sun shone brightly, and only a little
westerly breeze ruffled the blue waters of the harbor.

Negroes were at work on the wharf loading bales of cotton on a big
ship. They were singing as they worked, and Sylvia resolved to remember
the words of the song:

"De big bee flies high,
 De little bee makes de honey,
 De black man raise de cotton,
 An' de white man gets de money."

She repeated it over and then Grace sang it, with an amused laugh at
her friend's interest in "nigger songs."

Mr. Fulton came to meet them and helped them on board the boat. As the
Butterfly made its way out into the channel the little girls looked
back at the long water-front, where lay many vessels from far-off
ports. In the distance they could see the spire of St. Philip's, one of
the historic churches of Charleston, and everywhere fluttered the
palmetto flag.

Sylvia sat in the stern beside her father, and very soon the tiller was
in her hand and she was shaping the boat's course toward the forts.
Grace watched her admiringly.

"I believe you could steer in the dark," she declared.

"Of course she could if she had a compass and was familiar with the
stars," said Mr. Fulton; and he called Grace's attention to the compass
fastened securely near Sylvia's seat, and explained the rules of
navigation.

"Is that the way the big ships know how to find their harbors?" asked
Grace, when Mr. Fulton told her of the stars, and how the pilots set
their course.

"Yes, and if Sylvia understood how to steer by the compass she could
steer the Butterfly as well at night as she can now."

Sylvia looked at the compass with a new interest; she was sure that
navigation would be a much more interesting study than grammar, and
resolved to ask her father to teach her how to "box the compass."

There had been many changes at Fort Moultrie since Sylvia's last visit.
A deep ditch had been dug between the fort and the sand-bars, and many
workmen were busy in strengthening the defences, and Sylvia and Grace
wondered why so many soldiers were stationed along the parapet.

Captain Carleton seemed very glad to welcome them, and sent a soldier
to escort the girls to the officers' quarters, while Mr. Fulton went in
search of Major Anderson. Sylvia wondered if she would have a chance to
tell Mrs. Carleton that she had safely delivered the message.

Mrs. Carleton was in her pleasant sitting-room and declared that she
had been wishing for company, and held up some strips of red and white
bunting. "I am making a new flag for Fort Sumter," she said. "Perhaps
you will help me sew on the stars, one for each State, you know."

"Is there one for South Carolina?" asked Grace, as Mrs. Carleton found
two small thimbles, which she said she had used when she was no older
than Sylvia, and showed the girls how to sew the white stars securely
on the blue.

"Yes, indeed! One of the first stars on the flag was for South
Carolina," replied Mrs. Carleton, "and this very fort was named for a
defender of America's rights."

While Grace and Sylvia were so pleasantly occupied Estralla had
wandered out, crossed the bridge which connected the officers' quarters
with the fort, and now found herself near the landing-place, so that
when Mrs. Carleton made the girls a cup of hot chocolate and looked
about to give Estralla her share, the little colored girl was not to be
seen.

"I'll call her," said Sylvia, and ran out on the veranda.

No response came to her calls, so she went down the steps and along the
walk which led to the sand-bars, past the houses and barracks on
Sullivan's island. No one was in sight whom she could ask if Estralla
had passed that way. She climbed a small sand-hill covered with stunted
little trees and looked about, but could see no trace of the little
darky. It had not occurred to Sylvia that Estralla would go back to the
fort.

"Oh, dear! I wonder where she can be," thought Sylvia, calling
"Estralla! Estralla!" and sure that if she was within hearing Estralla
would instantly appear. As Sylvia climbed over the sandy slope she saw
here and there a small green vine with glossy leaves and a tiny yellow
blossom, and resolved to gather a bunch to carry back to Mrs. Carleton.
"When I give them to her I'll have a chance to say that Mr. Doane has
the letter," she thought.

Wandering on in search of the flowers, she went further and further
from the fort, up one sand slope and clown another, almost forgetting
her search for Estralla, and finally deciding that it was time to go
back to Mrs. Carleton.

"Probably Estralla is there before this, and they will be looking for
me," she thought, and climbed another sandy slope, expecting to see the
houses and barracks directly in front of her. But she found herself
facing the open sea, and look which way she would there was only shore,
sand heaps and blue water.

But Sylvia was not at all alarmed. She was sure that all she had to do
was to follow the line of shore and she would soon be in sight of some
familiar place, so she started singing to herself as she walked on:

"De big bee flies high,
  De little bee makes de honey,"

and hoping that Mrs. Carleton would not think that she had been
careless in losing her way.

It was rather difficult walking. Her feet slipped in the sand, and
after a little Sylvia decided not to follow the shore, but to climb
back over the sand-hills.

A cold wind was now blowing from the water, and she was glad of the
shelter of the stunted trees, and decided to rest for a little while.

"Of course I can't be lost, because I know exactly where I am. This is
Sullivan Island, and the fort is right over there. I mustn't rest but a
minute, for my father said we would start home early," she thought, and
again started on, going directly away from the fort, and over
sand-hills and into little sloping valleys farther and farther away
from familiar places.

The December day drew to a close, and dusky shadows crept over the
island. Once or twice Sylvia's wanderings had brought her back to the
shore, but not until the darkness began to gather did she really
understand that she was lost, and that she was too tired to walk much
longer. She thought of the little compass on board the Butterfly, and
wondered if a compass would help anyone find her way on land as well as
on the sea. At last she began to call aloud: "Estralla! Estralla!"
feeling almost sure that, like herself, Estralla must be wandering
about lost in the sand-hills.

It was nearly dark before she gave up trying to find her way to the
fort, and, shivering and half afraid, crawled under the scraggly
branches of some stunted trees on a sheltered slope. "My father will
come and find me, I know he will," she said aloud, almost ready to cry.
"I'll wait here, and keep calling 'Estralla,' so he will hear me."

A few moments after Sylvia started to find Estralla Mrs. Carleton had
been called to a neighbor's house. "Tell Sylvia I won't be gone long,"
she had said to Grace.

Grace did not mind being alone until Sylvia returned. She helped
herself to the rich creamy chocolate and the little frosted cakes, and
then curled up on a broad couch near the window with a book full of
wonderful pictures. The pictures were of a tall man on horseback, and a
short, fat man on a donkey. "The Adventures of Don Quixote," was the
title of the book, and after Grace began to read she entirely forgot
Sylvia, Estralla, and Mrs. Carleton. And not until Mr. Fulton came into
the room an hour later did she lift her eyes from the book.

"All ready to start!" said Mr. Fulton, "and it will be dusk before we
reach home. Where is Sylvia?"

"Oh!" exclaimed Grace, looking up in surprise. "Hasn't she come back
with Estralla? Mrs. Carleton has just gone to the next house."

"Well, put on your things and run after them, that's a good girl," said
Mr. Fulton. "Why, here is Estralla now," he added, as the little
colored girl appeared at the door. "Tell Miss Sylvia to come down to
the landing; I'll meet you there," and he hurried away, thinking his
little daughter was safe with Mrs. Carleton.

"Whar' is Missy Sylvia?" asked Estralla, who had been asleep in a sunny
corner of the veranda for the last hour.

"Where is Sylvia?" echoed Mrs. Carleton, who came in at that moment.
"Has she gone to the boat?"

"Why, I don't know. Perhaps she has. Mr. Fulton said for us to come
right to the landing," said Grace, her thoughts still full of the
faithful Sancho Panza of whom she had been reading.

"I will go to the wharf with you. It was too bad to leave you. I must
see Sylvia before she goes. Perhaps I may not be permitted to have
visitors much longer," said Mrs. Carleton, and she and Grace left the
pleasant room and, followed closely by Estralla, made their way over
the bridge to the landing-place.

"Where is Sylvia?" asked Mr. Fulton, looking at his watch. "We really
ought to have started an hour ago." For a moment the little group
looked at each other in silence. Then with a sudden cry Estralla darted
off.

Mrs. Carleton hurriedly explained Sylvia's starting off to find
Estralla, and her own departure. She blamed herself that she had
permitted Sylvia to go out alone.

"She must be somewhere about the fort," declared Captain Carleton.

"Oh, yes," agreed Mr. Fulton, "but we had best lose no time in finding
her."

While Captain Carleton questioned the soldiers, Mr. Fulton and Mrs.
Carleton and Grace hastened back to the officers' quarters, and a
thorough search for the little girl was begun at once. No one gave a
thought to Estralla, who had traced her little mistress along the
street, and was now running along a sandy slope beyond the barracks
calling: "Missy Sylvia! Missy Sylvia!" But no answer came to her calls.



CHAPTER XVI

IN DANGER


Estralla did not know why she was so sure that Missy Sylvia had
wandered out beyond the barracks; but, since her little mistress was
not at Mrs. Carleton's, and had not come to the landing-place, the
little colored girl was sure that she must be among the sand-hills, and
she ran along calling Sylvia's name as she ran.

Now and then she stopped to listen for some response, or to look about
for some sign that might tell her that Sylvia had passed that way, and
near the top of one of the little slopes she found a bunch of the green
vines and yellow blossoms which Sylvia had dropped.

"She shuah am somewhar near," thought Estralla, and just then she heard
a far-off call.

"Dat was my name!" she exclaimed aloud, and listened more intently than
ever.

"Maybe 'twas jes' one o' them gull-birds a-callin'," she decided as no
further sound came to her ears.

Now she went on more carefully, but she, too, came to the shore; but it
was on the inner curve of the land, a little cove where an old shanty
stood near the water, and a boat was drawn up near by.

Estralla looked into the rough cabin, half hoping to find Sylvia there.
Then she went back a little way and shouted Sylvia's name again and
again, and this time there was a response. "Estralla! Estralla!" came
clearly to her ears.

"My lan' o' grashus!" whispered the little darky, and then called
loudly, "I'se a-comin', Missy Sylvia." And now Sylvia called again.
Back and forth sounded the voices of the two girls, each one moving
toward the other, for at the welcome sound of Estralla's call Sylvia
had sprung up and hurried in the direction from which the voice seemed
to come.

It was now so nearly dusk that as they came in sight of each other they
were like dark shadows.

"Oh, Estralla! Where is my father?" Sylvia cried as Estralla ran toward
her and flung both arms about her little mistress.

"He's a-waitin' fer yo', Missy! Don' be skeered; I'se gwine to take
keer of yo'."

"Do you know the way back, Estralla?" asked Sylvia. "I couldn't find
the fort."

"No, Missy; I reckon we couldn't fin' nuthin' now, 'tis too nigh dark.
But thar's a cabin an' a boat jes' over t'other side o' dis san' heap.
I kin fin' them," responded Estralla, turning back. They walked very
slowly, for Estralla wanted to be quite sure that they were going in
the right direction, and not until they were in sight of the cabin and
the shadowy outlines of the boat did she feel safe. Then with a sigh of
relief she exclaimed:

"Wat I tell yo', Missy Sylvia! Ain't dar a boat, like what I said? An'
don' yo' know all 'bout a boat? Course yo' does. Now yo' can sail us
right off home. An' when yo' pa comes home 'mos' skeered to def, 'cos
he cyan't fin' yo', thar' yo'll be," and Estralla chuckled happily as
if all their troubles were over.

But Sylvia was not so sure. Unless there was a sail or a pair of oars
the boat would be of little use, and even with oars and sail could she
guide the boat safely to Charleston?

They soon discovered that there was a pair of oars in the boat, but
there was no sail or tiller. Sylvia could row, but Estralla could not
be of any use. But it seemed the only way in which they could reach
either Fort Moultrie or their home, for both the little girls realized
that they might wander about the sand-hills all night without finding
their way back to the fort. It was chilly and dark, and the old cabin
with its sagging roof and open doorway was not a very inviting shelter.
Indeed, Estralla was quite sure that a lion, or at the very least a
family of wolves, was at that moment safely hidden in one of the dark
corners of the cabin.

"The moon is out! Look!" said Sylvia, "and there goes a steamer."

Sylvia did not know that this steamer was a guard-boat which Governor
Pickens of South Carolina had ordered stationed between Sullivan's
Island and Fort Sumter to prevent, if possible, any United States
troops being landed at that fort.

"I can see the fort!" declared Sylvia. "That's it off beyond the boat,"
and she pointed down the harbor. "Now, we will start. I know I can row
the boat that far, and I am sure my father will not go home without us.
To-morrow we will send this boat back."

Sylvia had now forgotten all her weariness, and she was no longer
afraid. She was sure that in a little while she would be safely at the
fort, and then, she resolved, she would at once tell Mrs. Carleton that
Mr. Doane had the letter and ask permission to tell her mother of her
part in the secret message.

The boat was already half afloat, and it was an easy matter to pull up
the big stone attached to a strong rope which served as an anchor, and
then to push off from shore.

"You watch, Estralla, and if any other boat comes near shout at the top
of your voice," said Sylvia as she dipped the oars into the dark water
and pulled off from shore.

"My lan', Missy! Bar's dat light agin," called the half-frightened
darky, "an' we's right in it dis time!"

An instant later a call came from the guardboat. "Boat ahoy! Where
bound?" and before Sylvia could ship her oars or answer the call she
found herself looking straight into the blinding light, and felt the
little boat rising on the crest of the wave made by the steamer.

"We's gwine to be drownded, Missy!" shouted Estralla, and before Sylvia
could say a word the frightened little darky had sprung up and lurched
forward across Sylvia's knees.

The boat tipped and the water rushed over one side, but Sylvia,
clutching the oars steadily, and remembering her father's frequent
warnings, sat perfectly still and the little craft righted itself.

"You nearly upset us; keep still where you are. Don't move!" said
Sylvia angrily. The light had flashed in another direction now, and the
guard-boat had moved on, thinking the boat contained two young darkies
bound for Sullivan's Island after a visit to Charleston.

Sylvia could feel the water about her feet and ankles. She wished that
she had called for help, for she realized now that they might be run
into and sunk by some passing craft. Beside that the wind and tide were
now carrying them swiftly along toward the open sea. Then, suddenly,
Sylvia dropped her oars and screamed at the top of her voice. Estralla
shouted loudly. Their boat had run directly against the wall of Fort
Sumter. In an instant there were lights flashing over the parapet.
There was the sound of voices, a call, and then the little craft was
held firmly against the barricade and a gruff voice called:

"Stop your noise, and we'll have you safe in a jiffy."

But it seemed a long time to the frightened children before a tall
soldier swung over into the boat and lifted Sylvia and then Estralla up
to the outstretched hands which grasped them so firmly.

"What on earth were you out in that boat for?" questioned an elderly
gruff-voiced officer, when Sylvia and Estralla, thoroughly drenched and
wondering what new misfortune was in store for them, followed him into
a bare little cell-like room where the lamplight made them blink and
shield their eyes for a moment.

Sylvia told of their adventures as quickly as possible, and the officer
listened in amazement.

"Upon my word!" he said as she finished. "It's a wonder you are alive
to tell the story. And so you are a little Yankee girl? Well! Come
along to my quarters and my wife will put you both to bed, or you'll be
too ill to go home to-morrow."

"Can't we go to Fort Moultrie right away?" pleaded Sylvia. "My father
must be worried about me."

"No one from this fort can go to Fort Moultrie," he responded gravely.
"Those flash-lights are from a guard-boat which the South Carolina
people have sent down the harbor so that Major Anderson won't send us
reinforcements without their knowledge. I wish Anderson would send some
message to the President," he added, as if thinking aloud.

Sylvia wondered to herself if the letter she had carried to Mr. Doane
might not be a message to the President? She wished she could tell this
big officer about it. But she remembered her promise to Mrs. Carleton
not to speak of it to anyone.

"Here's a half-drowned little Yankee girl and her little darky," said
the officer, as he led the two girls into a warm pleasant room where a
pretty elderly lady with white hair sat with her needlework.

"For pity sake, Gerald!" she exclaimed. "They are shivering with cold,"
and without asking a single question she began to take off Sylvia's wet
dress.

"Gerald, send Sally right in with hot milk," she directed, and the
officer vanished.

It was not long before Sylvia was sitting up in bed wrapped in a
gay-colored blanket and drinking milk so hot and sweet and spicy that
it seemed as if she could never have enough of it. Estralla was curled
up in a big scarlet wrapper on a rug near the fire with a big mug of
the spiced and sweetened milk. And when they had finished this a plate
of hot buttered biscuit, and thin slices of ham, was brought in. Then
there was more warm milk.

"Now you must both go straight to sleep," commanded Mrs. Gerald, "and
to-morrow morning my husband will take you safely home," and kissing
Sylvia, and with a kindly smile for Estralla, the friendly woman bade
them good-night.

There was no light now in the room save the dancing firelight, Sylvia
lay watching the shadows on the wall. Estralla was fast asleep, but her
little mistress lay awake thinking over the adventures of the day. She
was at Fort Sumter, the long dark fort which she had so often seen with
the Stars and Stripes waving above it from her home, from Miss Patten's
schoolroom, and in her sails about the harbor. Sylvia snuggled down in
her comfortable bed with a sense of safety and comfort. "I wish my
father and mother could know I am at Fort Sumter," was her last waking
thought.



CHAPTER XVII

A CHRISTMAS PRESENT


Every nook and corner of Fort Moultrie was searched for the missing
Sylvia, and when no trace of her could be discovered, her friends
became nearly certain that the little girl must have slipped from the
landing-place into the sea, and that it was useless to search for her.
But it was late in the evening before Mr. Fulton gave up the search,
and with a sad and anxious heart headed the Butterfly toward
Charleston. He still hoped that his little girl might be found. A party
of soldiers, headed by Captain Carleton, had started to search for her
on Sullivan's Island, but this had not been determined upon until late
in the evening, at about the time when Estralla and Sylvia were
embarking upon their adventurous voyage to Fort Sumter.

No one had given a thought to the little darky girl. She was supposed
to be somewhere about the fort.

Grace, warmly wrapped in a thick shawl, sat beside Mr. Fulton as the
Butterfly made its swift way across the dark harbor. They could see the
dark line of the guard-boat, but they were not molested and came into
the wharf safely. Grace held close to Mr. Fulton's hand as they hurried
toward home with the sad news of Sylvia's disappearance. Neither of
them spoke until they reached the walk leading to the door of Grace's
home, then Grace said:

"I know Sylvia will be found. Estralla will surely find her and bring
her home."

"Estralla! Why, I had entirely forgotten her," responded Mr. Fulton.

"She ran off as soon as Sylvia was missed," Grace continued earnestly,
"and she will find her. Probably she has found her before this."

"I believe you are right. Estralla is a clever little darky, and if she
started in search of Sylvia perhaps she has been able to find her. I
had not thought of it," and Mr. Fulton's voice had a new note of hope.

"Thank you, Grace. I will start back to the fort as soon as I have
talked with Sylvia's mother."

But on Mr. Fulton's return to the wharf he found a sentry on guard who
refused him permission to go to the fort. It was in vain that Mr.
Fulton explained that his little daughter was lost, that he must be
permitted to return to the fort.

The sentry wasted no words. "Orders, sir. Sorry," was the only response
he could get, and at midnight Mr. Fulton was in his own house looking
out over the harbor. Mingled with his anxious fear for the safety of
his little daughter was the thought of the sentries now guarding
Charleston's water-front, of the assembling of soldiers in the city,
and the evident plan of the southerners to seize the forts in the
harbor and force the Government into war.

He realized that in that case it would not be possible for his family
to remain in Charleston.

Early the next morning Sylvia was awakened and made ready for her
return, and when the sun shone brightly over the waters of the harbor
she and Estralla, with Captain Gerald and a strong negro servant, were
on board a boat sailing rapidly toward home.

They landed at the wharf where the Butterfly was fastened, and before
Captain Gerald had stepped on shore Sylvia called out: "Father! Father!
There he is! And Mother, too!" and in another moment her mother's arms
were about her, and she was telling as rapidly as possible the story of
her adventures, and of Estralla coming to her rescue.

Grace came running to meet Sylvia as they came near their home.

"Oh, Sylvia, I wish I had been with you," she exclaimed. "That is twice
you have been to Fort Sumter without meaning to go, isn't it?"

"We will hope that her next visit will not be as dangerous as this
one," said Mr. Fulton soberly.

For several days Sylvia could think and talk only of her wanderings
among the sand-hills, and of her first sight of the guard-boat. She
began teaching Estralla on the very day of her return, and the little
darky made rapid progress.

"Father, when may we go to Fort Moultrie again?" she asked one morning
a few days later, for she wanted very much to see Mrs. Carleton, and
was quite sure that her father would be ready to sail down the harbor
on any pleasant day, and his reply made her look up in surprise.

"I do not know that we shall ever go to the forts again," her father
had replied. "Did you not hear the bells ringing and the military music
yesterday? South Carolina has seceded from the Union. No one is allowed
to go to the forts. And unless Major Anderson takes possession of Fort
Sumter the Confederates will."

"And we are to start for Boston next week, dear child," Sylvia's mother
added.

It seemed to Sylvia that her mother was very glad at the thought of
returning to her former home. But Sylvia was not glad. What would
become of Estralla?

Mr. Waite had said that as long as Sylvia lived in his house the little
colored girl could be her maid. But if they went to Boston and left
Estralla behind Sylvia was sure that there would be nothing but trouble
for the faithful little darky.

"Why, Sylvia! What is the matter?" questioned her mother anxiously; for
Sylvia was leaning her head on the table.

"I can't go to Boston and leave Estralla!" she sobbed. "She has done
lots of brave things for me. She wouldn't leave me to be a slave."

Mr. and Mrs. Fulton looked at each other with puzzled eyes.

"But Estralla would not want to leave her mammy," suggested Mr. Fulton.

"Oh, Father! Can't Aunt Connie and Estralla go with us?" and Sylvia
lifted her head and looked hopefully at her father. "Couldn't I buy
Estralla and then make her free? I've got that gold money Grandma gave
me."

"I am afraid it wouldn't be much use for me to even try to buy a
slave's freedom now," Mr. Fulton said a little sadly. "Don't suggest
such a thing to Aunt Connie, Sylvia."

"When shall we go to Boston?" Sylvia asked.

"Right away after Christmas, unless Fort Sumter is attacked before that
time. Washington ought to send troops and provisions for the forts at
once!" replied Mr. Fulton.

After her father had left the house Sylvia and her mother went up to
Mrs. Fulton's pleasant sitting-room.

"We must begin to pack at once," declared Sylvia's mother, "and do not
go outside the gate alone, Sylvia. I wish we could leave Charleston
immediately."

"Won't I see Mrs. Carleton again?" Sylvia asked anxiously.

"I do not know, dear child, but run away and give Estralla her lesson,
as usual. It will not be a very gay Christmas for any of us this year,"
responded Mrs. Fulton, and Sylvia went slowly to her own room where
Estralla was waiting for her.

The little colored girl had put the room in order; there was a bright
fire in the grate, the morning sunshine filled the room, and Miss Molly
and Polly, smiling as usual, were in the tiny chairs behind the little
round table.

"Dar's gwine to be war, Missy!" Estralla declared solemnly. "Yas'm.
Dar's soldiers comin' in from ebery place. Won't de Yankees come and
set us free, Missy?"

Sylvia shook her head. "I don't know, Estralla! Let's not talk about
it," she replied.

"Wal, Missy, lots of darkies are runnin' off! My mammy say we'll stay
right here 'til Massa Fulton goes, an' den"--Estralla stopped, leaned a
little nearer to Sylvia and whispered, "an' den my mammy an' I we'se
gwine to go with Massa Fulton."

Mrs. Fulton was not in her room, so Sylvia went down the stairs to look
for her. She heard voices in the sitting-room, and turned in that
direction.

"Oh!" she whispered, as she stood in the open door. For her mother was
sitting on the big sofa near the open fire, and beside her sat Mr.
Robert Waite, while her father was standing in front of them. They were
all talking so earnestly that they did not notice the surprised little
girl standing in the doorway, and Sylvia heard Mr. Waite say:

"I shall be glad to protect your interests here, Mr. Fulton, as far as
it is possible to do so. And you had better leave Charleston
immediately. The city is no longer a safe place for northern people.
The conflict may begin at any moment."

"'Conflict,'" Sylvia repeated the word to herself. Probably it meant
something dreadful, she thought, recalling the "question period" at
Miss Rosalie's school.

Just then Mr. Waite glanced toward the door and saw Sylvia. In a second
he was on his feet, bowing as politely as on their last meeting.

"Miss Sylvia, I am glad to see you again," and he stepped forward to
meet her.

Sylvia, feeling quite grown-up, made her pretty curtsey, and smiled
with delight at Mr. Waite's greeting, as he led her toward her mother
and, with another polite bow, gave her the seat on the sofa.

"I was hoping to see Miss Sylvia," he said. "I had meant to make her a
little Christmas gift, with your permission," and he bowed again to
Mrs. Fulton. "She was kind enough to interest herself in behalf of one
of my people, the little darky, Estralla. And so I thought this would
please you," and he smiled at Sylvia, who began to be sure that Mr.
Waite and Santa Claus must be exactly alike. As he spoke he handed
Sylvia a long envelope.

"Do not open it until to-morrow, if you please," he added.

Sylvia promised and thanked him. She wondered if the envelope might not
contain a picture of this kind friend. She knew that she must not ask a
question; questions were never polite, she remembered, especially about
a gift. But whatever it was she was very happy to think Mr. Robert
Waite had remembered her.

They all went to the door with their friendly visitor, and stood there
until he had reached the gate. Then Sylvia said, speaking very slowly:

"I think Mr. Robert Waite is just like the Knights in that book, 'The
Age of Chivalry.' They always did exactly what was right, and so does
he; and they were polite and so is he."

"Then, my dear, perhaps you will always remember that to do brave and
gentle deeds with kindness is what 'chivalry' means," responded Mrs.
Fulton.

Grace came in that afternoon greatly excited that it was a holiday. The
whole city was rejoicing over the fact that South Carolina had been the
first of the southern states to secede from the Union. Palmetto flags
floated everywhere; the streets were filled with marching men. Major
Anderson in Fort Moultrie watched Fort Sumter with anxious eyes, hoping
for a word from Washington which would give him authority to occupy it
before the Charleston men could turn its guns against him. Already Mr.
Doane had reached Washington; the message Sylvia had carried through
the night had been delivered, and its answer, by a trusted messenger,
was on its way south.



CHAPTER XVIII

GREAT NEWS


Sylvia carried the long envelope which Mr. Robert Waite had given her
to her room, and put it in the drawer of her desk with the treasured
gold pieces.

"It will be splendid to have a picture of Mr. Waite to show Grandma
Fulton," she thought happily, "and I can tell her all about him."

Then her thoughts rested on Flora, in the "haunted house," and she
opened the silk-covered work-box and tried on the pretty gold thimble.
She thought of her gold pieces, and a sudden resolve came into her mind:

"I will give Flora and Grace each a gold locket, with my picture in
it." And just then Mrs. Fulton entered the room, and Sylvia ran toward
her:

"Mother! Mother! I have a beautiful plan. I want to give Flora and
Grace each a present. I want to give them each a gold locket with my
picture in it. On Grace's locket I want 'Grace from Sylvia,' and on
Flora's, 'Flora from Sylvia.' I can pay for them with my gold money. I
may, mayn't I, Mother?" and Sylvia looked eagerly toward her mother.

"Of course you may; but it is too late to get the pictures and lockets
in time for Christmas," responded Mrs. Fulton.

"I don't care when; only if we do go back to Boston I want them to have
something to remember me by," said Sylvia, remembering the unfailing
loyalty of her two little southern friends.

"The day after Christmas we will select the lockets, and see about the
pictures," said Mrs. Fulton. Before Sylvia could answer there came a
tap at the door, and Aunt Connie, evidently rather anxious and
uncertain, whispered:

"Dar's a lady, Mistress, a lady f'um de fort, an' she say--"

"It must be Mrs. Carleton. I'll go right down," responded Mrs. Fulton,
and, followed by Sylvia, she hurried down the stairs, to find Mrs.
Carleton awaiting them.

"Captain Carleton insisted that I should come to you," she said. "He
feels sure that the Charleston men mean to take Fort Sumter at once.
Major Anderson is sending the women and children away from Fort
Moultrie to places of safety."

"Of course you must stay with us, and we are delighted to have you,"
said Mrs. Fulton. "We want to stay in Charleston unless it becomes
necessary for us to leave."

Mrs. Carleton greeted Sylvia warmly, and, greatly to her surprise, said:

"I have not had the opportunity to thank you, dear child, for
delivering the message safely. We have heard that Mr. Doane has
presented the letter to the President, and Major Anderson is sure that
reinforcements and provisions for the forts will be sent at once." Then
turning to Mrs. Fulton, she continued: "I know this loyal child kept
her secret, and that even you and her father do not realize what a
service your little daughter has rendered to the cause of Freedom!"

Mrs. Fulton was looking at her visitor in amazement.

"Sylvia! Message! Secret?" she exclaimed in such a puzzled tone that
both Mrs. Carleton and Sylvia laughed aloud.

"Tell her, Sylvia! And I want to hear how you delivered the letter,"
said Mrs. Carleton.

So Sylvia told the story of creeping out of the house at nearly
midnight, of the man who had declared her to be a runaway darky, of
Estralla following her, and of their return. "And the door was closed
and fastened, although I left it open," she concluded.

Mrs. Fulton recalled that one night they had been slightly disturbed by
some unusual noise and that Mr. Fulton had gone down-stairs and
discovered the front door open. "And we blamed Aunt Connie," she added.

"I did want to tell you, Mother," said Sylvia, "but it's even better to
have Mrs. Carleton tell you."

That evening the story was retold to Mr. Fulton, who listened with even
more surprise than Sylvia's mother had shown. He said that Estralla had
been as brave as Sylvia, and that he wished he could do an equal
service for the United States.

"This will be a fine story to tell Grandma Fulton," he whispered to
Sylvia, when he gave her his good-night kiss.

She awoke early, before Estralla appeared with the usual pitcher of hot
water and to light the fire in the grate, and in a moment was out of
bed and at her desk. She opened the envelope very carefully, expecting
to see the pictured face of her kind friend smiling at her, But there
was no picture. There were only two documents tied with red tape, and
with big red seals on them, and a number of printed and signed papers.

"Oh, clear! It isn't anything at all except letters," exclaimed Sylvia,
nearly ready to cry with disappointment. And, suddenly, she did cry--a
cry so like Estralla's wail that the little darky just entering the
room stopped short, and nearly dropped the pitcher of hot water.

"Wat's de matter, Missy? Wat is de matter?" Estralla demanded.

Tears were in Sylvia's eyes as she turned toward the little darky. They
were not tears for her own disappointment at not finding the expected
picture, but they were tears for what Sylvia believed to be the most
bitter misfortune that could befall Estralla and Aunt Connie. For she
was sure that the papers in that envelope were to tell her that Aunt
Connie and Estralla had both been sold. But she resolved quickly that
Estralla should not know of this until she had told her mother.

"Nothing I can tell you now, Estralla," she said, wiping away her tears.

Estralla looked quite ready to weep with her young mistress, but she
lit the fire, and crept silently out of the room.

Sylvia dressed as quickly as possible, picked up the papers and ran to
her mother's room.

"Look, Mother! It's dreadful. It wasn't a picture of Mr. Robert Waite
at all. It's just a lot of papers about Estralla and Aunt Connie being
sold," and Sylvia began to cry bitterly.

Mr. Fulton took the papers and looked them over, while Sylvia with her
mother's arm about her sobbed out her disappointment.

"Sold! Estralla! Why, my dear Sylvia, these papers give Aunt Connie and
Estralla their freedom, from yesterday. And these," and Mr. Fulton held
up the smaller documents, "give them permission to leave Charleston for
the north at any time within six months."

For a moment neither Sylvia nor her mother made any response to this
wonderful statement.

"Truly, Father? Truly?" exclaimed Sylvia with shining eyes.

"Yes. These papers have been recorded. Estralla and her mother are no
longer slaves. They are free," said Mr. Fulton, as he folded the
papers. "Mr. Waite has made you the finest gift in the world, little
daughter," he added seriously.

"And Estralla and Aunt Connie may go to Boston with us?" pleaded
Sylvia, quite sure that her father and mother would agree. "Won't
Grandma be surprised to see them?"

Mrs. Carleton was as pleased and surprised as Sylvia herself over Mr.
Waite's gift, and it was decided that directly after breakfast Sylvia
should tell Aunt Connie and Estralla the wonderful news. It was too
great to be kept a secret even until Christmas Day.

"Dar, Mammy! Wat I tells yo'? I tells yo' Missy Sylvia gwine to look
out fer us," Estralla declared triumphantly, evidently not at all
surprised.

"But it is Mr. Robert Waite who has given you your freedom," Sylvia
reminded them, "and my father says that you must both go with me and
thank him."

"Yas, Missy," responded Aunt Connie, "but I reckons we wouldn't be
thankin' him if 'twan't fer yo'. Massa Robert HE knows dat all his
niggers gwine to be free jes' as soon as de Yankees come. Yas, indeedy,
he knows. But we shuahly go long wid yo', Missy, an' thanks him. We
knows our manners."

Many eyes turned to watch the smiling colored woman and the delighted
little negro girl who walked down King Street that afternoon, one on
each side of a little white girl who looked as well pleased as her
companions, for Sylvia decided that no time should be lost in telling
Mr. Robert Waite of how greatly his generosity was appreciated.

He welcomed Sylvia with his usual cordiality, and told Aunt Connie that
he wished her good fortune, and sent her and Estralla home.

"I will walk back with your young mistress," he said, and Sylvia felt
that it was the proudest day of her life when she walked up King Street
beside the friendly southerner.

"He talks just as if I were grown up," thought Sylvia gratefully, when
Mr. Waite spoke of the forts, and of the possibilities of war between
the northern and southern states.

"Tell your father not to hasten his preparations to leave Charleston;
you are among friends, and these difficulties may be adjusted," Mr.
Waite said as he bade Sylvia good-bye, and wished her a happy Christmas.



CHAPTER XIX

SYLVIA MAKES A PROMISE


"It doesn't seem a bit like Christmas," declared Sylvia, as she stood
at the sitting-room window looking out at the falling rain.

Christmas day of 1860 was a gloomy, rainy day in Charleston, and many
people felt exactly as Sylvia did, that it was not like Christmas.

Grace came over in the morning bringing a little chased gold ring for
Sylvia, which the little girl promised always to wear. She wished that
she could tell Grace about the lockets, but decided it would be better
to surprise Grace with the locket itself.

As soon as Grace returned home Sylvia ran to find her mother.

"We will go down street and buy the lockets to-morrow morning, won't
we, Mother?" she asked, and Mrs. Fulton promised that they would start
early.

Sylvia resolved that, if the lockets and pictures did not take all her
money, she would buy a doll for Estralla. She knew that nothing else
would please the little colored girl as much as a "truly" doll.

But the morning of December twenty-sixth found the city of Charleston
angry and excited. Crowds collected in the streets, and Mr. Fulton
received a message from Mr. Robert Waite asking him to remain at home
until Mr. Waite arrived.

"What is the matter, Father?" Sylvia asked.

"He isn't coming to take back Estralla, is he?"

"No, of course not, child. It is trouble over the forts," responded her
father. And in a short time Mr. Waite arrived. But he was not smiling
this morning. He was very grave and serious.

"Major Anderson has evacuated Moultrie, and he and his men are at Fort
Sumter," said Mr. Waite. "I came to assure you that whatever action
Charleston takes that I will protect your household and property as far
as possible."

Then Sylvia heard him say that Governor Pickens had seized Castle
Pinckney, and that troops had been sent to Sullivan's Island to occupy
Fort Moultrie, and the United States Arsenal, situated in the midst of
the city of Charleston, was also in possession of the secessionists.

Sylvia listened to every word, but without much idea of what it all
meant.

"Can't we buy the lockets to-day, Mother?" she asked.

"No, we must not go on the streets to-day," Mrs. Fulton answered; but
Mr. Waite smiled at the little girl and said:

"I will gladly accompany Miss Sylvia if she has errands to do," so
Sylvia told him about the pictures and lockets for Grace and Flora, and
Mr. Waite assured her mother and father that he could easily spare the
time to go with her upon so pleasant an errand. The friendly man
realized that the little household were troubled and anxious, and that
it would reassure them if their little girl could safely carry out her
plan. So the two set forth together.

Mr. Robert Waite was too well known for any southerner to doubt his
loyalty to South Carolina, and his visit to Mr. Fulton's house was in
itself a protection to the family. As they walked along Sylvia told him
how kind Grace and Flora had been to her.

"If we should go away the lockets will remind them how much I think of
them," she said, and Mr. Waite smiled and said: "Yes, indeed," but it
seemed to Sylvia that he was not really thinking about the lockets.

She held close to his hand, for there were crowds on every corner, and
loud and violent threats against Major Anderson were heard from nearly
every group. Sylvia heard one man declare that it was the duty of
Charleston men to fire upon Fort Sumter at once; and before they
reached the shop where she was to purchase the lockets Sylvia began to
fear that she would never see Captain Carleton again.

The lockets were purchased, and Mr. Waite took Sylvia to a studio to
sit for the pictures for the lockets. There was enough money left to
purchase a fine doll for Estralla, and Mr. Waite gave her a box filled
with candy of many kinds, shapes and flavors. All these things occupied
her thoughts so pleasantly that for a time she quite forgot the
disturbance in the streets, and all the trouble that seemed so near to
her and to her Charleston friends.

"I will call to-morrow," said Mr. Waite, as he left the little girl at
her own door. "And tell your father that he had best not go on the
streets unless he goes with my brother or myself."

This last message made Sylvia very sober. She came into the
sitting-room holding her packages, and found her mother and Mrs.
Carleton busy with their sewing, while her father was at his desk
writing. She repeated Mr. Waite's message, and her father nodded
silently.

Then Sylvia told them that the lockets and pictures would be ready the
following day. "And I have a doll for Estralla," she concluded.

"Why not make the doll a fine dress and mantle?" suggested Mrs.
Carleton. "Come up to my room and I will help you," and Sylvia agreed
smilingly.

Mrs. Carleton had a roll of crimson silk in her work-bag and before
supper time the new doll was dressed and ready for Estralla.

"This is for you, Estralla," Sylvia said, when Estralla came up to her
room, as she often did in the late afternoon.

"Fer me, Missy! He, he, I knows w'en you's jokin'; but 'tis a fine lady
doll," responded the little girl, wishing with all her heart that the
beautiful doll in the gorgeous silken dress which Sylvia was holding
toward her might really be hers.

"Take it, Estralla! It is for you. Truly it is," and Sylvia's tone was
so serious that Estralla came slowly forward and took the doll.

For a moment the two little girls stood looking at each other in
silence, Sylvia smiling, but Estralla with a surprised, half-anxious
expression.

"Don't be afraid of it. Can't you have a doll of your own?" said Sylvia.

"Mebbe I can," replied Estralla, and then two big tears ran down her
black cheeks.

"I'se got so much now, Missy Sylvia, dat I dunno as 'tis safe fer me to
hev a doll," she whispered; but in a moment she was all smiles, and ran
off to show her new treasure to her mother.

The pictures and the lockets proved all that Sylvia had hoped, and on
New Year's day, when Grace came in for her daily visit, Sylvia gave her
a small package.

"Please open it, Gracie!" she said, all eagerness to see her friend's
delight.

Mr. Fulton had purchased a slender chain for each locket, and as Grace
held up the pretty gift she exclaimed delightedly: "Oh, Sylvia! It is
lovely, and I'll always wear it," and looked at the tiny picture of her
friend with smiling satisfaction.

Sylvia had written a letter to Flora, and Grace promised to see that
the locket and letter should reach her safely.

Every day Mr. Robert Waite or his brother escorted Mr. Fulton upon any
errand of business to which he was obliged to attend. News had reached
Charleston that a steamer with supplies and reinforcements for Major
Anderson was on its way, and Mr. Robert Waite declared that the
Confederates would never permit it to reach the fort.

Mrs. Carleton was very anxious. She had not received any message from
her husband.

"If I could sail a boat I would go to Fort Sumter myself," she said one
morning as she and Sylvia stood at a window overlooking the harbor.

"I can sail a boat," responded Sylvia.

Mrs. Carleton turned and looked at the little girl.

"If all this trouble ends in war, if the Confederates really dare fire
upon the flag of the United States, I do not know how I can get any
word from my husband," she said.

Sylvia thought that her friend's voice sounded as if she were about to
cry, and the little girl slipped her hand into Mrs. Carleton's. She
wished there was something she could say to comfort her. Then she
thought quickly that there was something.

"I'll sail you over to the fort to see him whenever you ask me to," she
said impulsively.

"Dear child, I may have to ask you, but I hope not. 'Twould be a
dangerous undertaking," she said, leaning over to kiss Sylvia's cheek.

That was the sixth of January, 1861, and on the ninth a steamer, The
Star of the West, with supplies and reinforcements for Major Anderson,
entered Charleston harbor and was fired upon by a Confederate battery
concealed in the sand-hills at Sullivan Island.

And now for many days the Fultons heard only discouraging news.
Everywhere there was great activity among the Confederates. Mrs.
Carleton became more and more anxious for news of Captain Carleton, but
she did not remind Sylvia of her promise.

Grace and Sylvia were together a great deal, and every morning Sylvia
would run out to the front porch to wave a good-bye to Grace on her way
to school. Then there was Estralla's lesson hour, her own studies, and
Mrs. Carleton was teaching her to crochet a silk purse as a gift to Mr.
Robert Waite, so that Sylvia did not think very much about the soldiers
at Fort Sumter.

"What do you think about starting for Boston with us, Mrs. Carleton?"
Mr. Fulton said one night just as Sylvia was going up-stairs. "I really
think the time has come for me to take Sylvia and her mother to Boston,
and I am sure Captain Carleton would want you to go with us."

"And Estralla and Aunt Connie will go, too; won't they, Father?" said
Sylvia, running back to her father's side.

"Yes, child. But I thought you were upstairs," responded Mr. Fulton.
"Do not speak of our leaving Charleston to anyone. Remember. Not to
Grace or Estralla, until your mother or I give you permission."

Sylvia promised. It seemed to her the best of good news that they would
soon see Grandmother Fulton, and she went happily off to bed thinking
of all she would have to tell her grandmother, and of the long letters
she would write to Flora and Grace. "And when summer comes they must
both come and make me a visit," she thought, little knowing that when
summer came no little southern girl would be allowed to visit a Boston
girl.



CHAPTER XX

"TWO LITTLE DARKY GIRLS"


"When will Mr. Lincoln be President?" Sylvia asked a few mornings after
her father's announcement of his intention to return to Boston.

"He was inaugurated yesterday," replied her mother.

"Then can't Captain Carleton go north with us?" asked Sylvia, who had
convinced herself that when Mr. Lincoln was in charge of the Government
that all the troubles over Charleston's forts would end.

But Mrs. Fulton shook her head.

"Captain Carleton must stay and perhaps fight to defend the flag," she
replied. "I wish we could leave at once, but we must stay as long as we
can."

Sylvia listened soberly. She wondered what her mother would say if she
knew of her promise to Mrs. Carleton to take a message to Fort Sumter
if Mrs. Carleton should ask her to do so.

The warm days of early March made the southern city full of fragrance
and beauty. Many flowers were in bloom, the hedges were green, and the
air soft and warm. Sylvia and Grace often spoke of Flora, and wished
that they could again visit the plantation.

Philip had brought Sylvia a letter from Flora, thanking her for the
locket, and hoping that they would see each other again. Philip had not
come into the house. He seemed much older to Sylvia than he did on her
visit to the plantation in October. He said that Ralph was in the
Confederate army. "I'd be a soldier if I was only a little older," he
declared; and Sylvia did not even ask him about Dinkie, or the ponies.
She wished that she could tell him that very soon she was going to
Boston, but she knew that she must not; so she said good-bye, and
Philip walked down the path, and waved his cap to her as he reached the
gate.

It had been many weeks since the Butterfly had sailed about Charleston
harbor. But the little boat was in the charge of an old negro who took
good care of it. The negro knew Sylvia, and he knew that it was through
her interest in Estralla that the little negro girl and her mother had
been given their freedom. Now and then he appeared at Aunt Connie's
kitchen, and one warm day toward the last of March, when Sylvia was
wandering about the garden, she saw Uncle Peter going up the walk to
the rear of the house.

"Oh, Uncle Peter! Wait!" she called and ran to ask him about the boat.

Uncle Peter had a great deal of news to tell. He said that unless Major
Anderson and his soldiers left Fort Sumter at once that all the forts,
and the new batteries built by the Confederates, would open fire upon
Sumter and destroy it.

"I hears a good deal, Missy, 'deed I does," he declared, "but I doan'
let on as I hears. Massa Linkum he's gwine to send a lot o' big ships
down here 'fore long. Yas, indeed."

"I wish I could have a sail in the Butterfly again," said Sylvia, a
little wistfully.

"Do you, Missy? Well, I reckons you can. I doan' believe any body'd
stop me a-givin' yo' a little sail 'roun' de harbor," said Uncle Peter.
"I 'spec's Major Anderson is a-waitin' an' a-watchin' fer dem ships of
Massa Linkum to come a-sailin' in," continued the old negro; for it was
a time when the colored people were eager and hopeful for some news
that might promise them their freedom.

Sylvia knew that Mrs. Carleton was worried and unhappy. It was known in
Charleston that Fort Sumter was near the end of its food supplies, and
that unless the Government at Washington sent reinforcements and
provisions very soon by ships that the little garrison would be at the
mercy of the Confederates, who were daily growing in strength.

As Sylvia left Uncle Peter and walked back to the house she was
thinking of her promise to Mrs. Carleton.

"Perhaps she won't ask me. But if I could go and see Captain Carleton,
and tell him that she was going to Boston with us, and then bring her
back a message, I know she'd be happier," thought the little girl. And
she thought, too, of the pleasure it would be to once more sail the
Butterfly to Fort Sumter.

She sat down on the porch steps, and a moment later Estralla appeared
bringing a plate of freshly baked sugar cookies from Aunt Connie.

"Mammy says she made these 'special for you, Missy," declared Estralla
smilingly.

"I'll go and thank her myself," said Sylvia, taking the plate, and
offering one of the cookies to Estralla.

"Uncle Pete he say as de soldiers at Fort Sumter mus' be gettin'
hungry," said the little colored girl. "I wish you and I could take
Captain Carleton some of these cookies," responded Sylvia.

"If you was black like I is we could go a-sailin' right off to de fort
in plain daylight," said Estralla.

Sylvia sprang to her feet so quickly that she nearly upset the plate of
cookies.

"Could we? Oh, Estralla, could we really?" she exclaimed.

Estralla looked at her little mistress with wondering eyes.

"Yas, course; nobody'd mind two leetle nigger gals. But you ain't
black, Missy."

"But, Estralla, listen. I could be black. You could rub soot from the
chimney all over my face and hands. And I could pin my hair close on
top of my head and twist one of your mammy's handkerchiefs tight over
it. Then nobody would know me." Sylvia had quite forgotten the fine
cookies. She was holding Estralla by the arm, and talking very rapidly.
Estralla was almost frightened at Sylvia's eagerness.

"Yas, Missy; but what for do you wanter go?" she asked.

"Oh, Estralla! If the men are hungry we could carry them something to
eat. But most of all I want to see Captain Carleton, and get some
message for his wife. She is so unhappy to go away without a word."

"Come 'long down in de garden," said Estralla, now as interested as
Sylvia herself, "an' tells me more whar' nobody'll be hearin'," and the
two little girls hurried off to a far corner of the pleasant garden.

"Uncl' Peter won' let us take the boat," Estralla objected as Sylvia
told her how easy the plan would be; "an' how be you gwine to get all
blacked up without folks knowin' it?"

But Sylvia had an answer for every objection.

"I'll come to your cabin and dress up there, and I will ask your mammy
to give me some food for a poor man. Some cookies and a cake," she
said. "We will start early to-morrow morning. And, Estralla, we will
have to tell Uncle Peter, or he won't let us have the boat."

"Lan', Missy, I'll do jes' w'at yo' says. But I reckon Uncle Pete won'
let us. Wat yo' mammy gwine to think w'en you ain't home to your
dinner?" responded Estralla. But she was finally convinced that Missy
Sylvia could carry out the plan, and agreed to have a large quantity of
soot ready at her mother's cabin the next morning.

Sylvia was glad that she had eaten only one of the cookies. She carried
the remainder to her room and then went to the kitchen.

"Will you make me a fine big cake, Aunt Connie?" she asked.

"Lan', course I will, chile! But, w'at you wan' it fer?" answered Aunt
Connie, smiling down at the little girl whom she loved so dearly.

"It's a secret, Aunt Connie! I want to give it away, and I don't want
to tell even my mother until--well," and Sylvia hesitated a moment, and
then continued, "until next week. Then I will tell her, and you too."

"Dat's right, Missy. I'll make yo' de finest cake I knows how. Le's
see! I'll put citron, an' raisins, an' currants in it. An' butter! Yas,
thar'll be a fine lot o' things in dat cake!" and Aunt Connie rolled
her eyes, and lifted her hands as if she could already taste its
richness.

All that afternoon Sylvia could think of nothing but the proposed trip.
She sat with Mrs. Carleton a little while before supper, and told her
of what Uncle Peter had said: that ships from the north were on the way
to the aid of Fort Sumter.

"Oh! I do wish I could send the news to Sumter. It would give them all
courage," said Mrs. Carleton.

Sylvia was for a moment tempted to tell her friend that she would carry
the message, but she kept silent, thinking to herself that here was
another reason for her to carry out her plan.

"If you could send a message to Captain Carleton what would you say?"
questioned Sylvia, and Mrs. Carleton smiled at Sylvia's serious voice.

"Why, if I could only let him know that I was safe and well and going
to Boston with you, in case Sumter really is attacked; I know that is
what he wants to hear."

Mrs. Carleton's smile vanished. Sylvia realized that this kind friend
was troubled, and wished with all her heart that she could say:
"To-morrow I will tell you all about Captain Carleton." But she knew
that she must keep silent until she had carried out her plan.

Sylvia was the first one at the breakfast table the next morning, and
was delighted when her mother said that she and Mrs. Carleton were
invited to luncheon at the house of a friend.

"Aunt Connie and Estralla will take good care of you," Mrs. Fulton
added, and Sylvia felt her face flush. But she made no reply, and soon
hurried to the cabin where Estralla was waiting for her.

It was still early in the forenoon when two little negro girls, one
carrying a large package wrapped in a newspaper, appeared at the wharf
where the Butterfly was moored. Uncle Peter was not to be seen. But he
had just left the boat, whose sail had not even been lowered, and the
two girls hurried on board. In a moment Sylvia had unfastened the rope,
pushed the boat clear of the landing, and rudder in hand was steering
the boat out toward the channel.

Two or three men in uniform watched the little "darkies," as they
supposed both the girls to be, with amusement. Negro children were
always playing about, and no attention was paid to them.

"My landy," whispered Estralla, "dat was jes' as easy. W'at Uncle Pete
do w'en he fin's de boat gone?"

But it happened that Uncle Peter had been sent on an errand to a
distant part of the town, and before he returned the Butterfly was well
down the harbor.

Once or twice a guard-boat passed them closely enough to make sure that
there were only two colored children in the boat, and they came up
under the walls of Fort Sumter without a hindrance. The sentries at the
fort had watched the little craft with anxious eyes, wondering if it
could be bringing any message. But when the soldiers looked down at the
two little negro girls they laughed, in spite of their disappointment.
When Sylvia said that her name was Sylvia Fulton, and that she had come
to see Captain Carleton, a sentry exclaimed: "That girl has blacked her
face. She is white."

But Captain Carleton could hardly believe that it was his little friend
Sylvia. And he was eager to hear all that she could tell him. Estralla
held the cake and cookies, which she had carefully wrapped in a
newspaper, and the Captain seemed as much pleased with the paper as
with the cake.

"You can write a letter to Mrs. Carleton and we will take it,"
suggested Sylvia, and then she told him Uncle Peter's news: that the
President was sending ships to the aid of the fort.

"That is great news," said the Captain; "if it is only true we may keep
the fort for the Union."

Within the hour of their arrival Sylvia and Estralla were on their way
home. The Captain had praised and thanked Sylvia for the loyal
friendship that had prompted her visit.

"Mrs. Carleton and I will always remember your courage," he said, as he
handed her the letter.

"I am so glad I thought about it; but it was really Estralla. She said
if I was black we could come," Sylvia had replied.

Then the boat swung clear and headed toward Charleston.

"I am not going to land at the big wharves," said Sylvia. "I am going
to that wharf near Miss Patten's garden. And then we'll tell Uncle
Peter where the Butterfly is."

It was early in the afternoon when Estralla appeared at the cloor of
her mammy's kitchen.

"Whar on airth you been? An' whar's yo' missy?" demanded Aunt Connie.
"Didn' I makes her a fine om'lit fer her dinner, an' it's ruinated."

"Missy wants a big pitcher of hot water," replied Estralla, dancing
about just beyond Aunt Connie's reach.

"Missy Sylvia say to tell you we been carryin' de cake to her fr'en',
an' she gwine to tell you, Mammy," explained Estralla when her mammy
had finally grasped her firmly by the shoulders.

"W'y didn' yo' say dat firs' place? H'ar's de hot water," and Estralla
hurried off to help Sylvia scrub off the sticky soot which had so well
disguised her; and when Mrs. Fulton and Mrs. Carleton returned they
found a very rosy-faced smiling little girl on the porch all ready to
tell them of her trip to Fort Sumter, and to give Mrs. Carleton the
longed-for news from her husband.



CHAPTER XXI

FORT SUMTER IS FIRED UPON


When Sylvia's father heard of her sailing the Butterfly to Fort Sumter
he was greatly troubled.

"If it should be discovered that my daughter had carried a message to
Fort Sumter we would all be in danger; even the Waites would give us
up," he declared. "What made you undertake such a thing, Sylvia?"

The little girl explained as well as she could her wish to get news of
Captain Carleton for his wife, and said that she was sure no one knew
that she was a white girl. But Mr. Fulton was anxious and uneasy, and
Sylvia began to realize that her secret adventure might bring serious
results to those she loved best.

"I told Captain Carleton what Uncle Peter said about ships coming to
help Fort Sumter," she said, feeling almost sure that her father would
think this the worst of all, but determined to make a full confession.
She resolved that never again would she make plans without telling her
mother and father, for she was most unhappy at her father's troubled
look, and at his disapproval.

"What?" exclaimed Mr. Fulton. "Did you tell Captain Carleton that
reinforcements were coming to the aid of Fort Sumter?"

"Oh, yes, I did, Father," sobbed Sylvia, who was now sure that she had
told the very worst of her acts.

But to her surprise she heard her father say: "Thank heaven! That may
influence Anderson to hold the fort until help arrives," and his arm
was about his little daughter, and she looked up through her tears to
hear him say:

"The news you carried to the fort is just what they wanted to know. And
it may help to save the Union. It is worth while for us all to face
personal danger if it proves that you were of service."

Sylvia did not quite understand why Uncle Peter's news should be so
important, but her father explained to her that Major Anderson would
now feel sure of help, and that his men would have courage to bear
hardship and hunger if need be until the ships arrived.

"And you forgive me for going?" Sylvia pleaded.

"My dear child! I am glad and proud that you could carry such a message
to brave soldiers," her father replied, "but do not mention it to
anyone. I must hasten my arrangements to leave Charleston. General
Beauregard may fire upon Fort Sumter at any day, and I am of no use
here."

Sylvia drew a long breath of relief. That her father should really
praise her for what she had feared might prove a very serious mistake
made the little girl happy although it did not change her resolve never
again to make adventurous plans without the approval of her mother or
father. She realized that, although she had carried a valuable message,
she had also endangered her father's safety if her visit to the fort
was discovered, as every southerner would believe that Mr. Fulton had
made the plan to be of aid to the United States.

The little household now began its preparations to start north as soon
as possible, and Sylvia was eager for the time to come that would see
them safely on their way to their northern home. Grace Waite and her
mother had gone into the country, and Sylvia did not know if she would
see her friend again.

The morning of April 11, 1861, dawned brightly over the harbor of
Charleston, whose waters were covered with white sails putting hastily
to sea. Guard-boats were plying constantly between the harbor and the
islands. It was rumored about the town that before sunset the
Confederate batteries would open fire upon Fort Sumter.

Mr. Fulton's preparations to leave Charleston were completed, and if
nothing prevented they would start for Boston on April 14th. On the
eleventh, however, Mrs. Carleton hardly left the window from which she
could look out over the harbor toward Fort Sumter. At any moment it
might be attacked, and she knew that such an attack meant the beginning
of a terrible civil war.

Sylvia wandered about the house and garden with Estralla, telling the
little colored girl of the home in Boston which she soon hoped to see.

The hours passed, and the streets of Charleston grew strangely quiet.
At sunset everything was calm, and no sound of guns disturbed the peace
of the April evening, and Sylvia went to bed at the usual hour, not
thinking that she would be wakened by the roar of cannon. The older
members of the family sat up until after midnight. The sea was calm,
and the night still under the bright starlight. At last they decided to
retire, but there was little sleep for them that night.

At half-past four the next morning the sound of guns from Fort Johnson
broke upon the stillness. It was the signal to the Confederate
batteries to open fire.

Hardly had the echo of the opening gun died upon the air when every
Confederate fort and battery opened fire upon Sumter, until the fort
was "surrounded by a circle of fire."

The Fulton household dressed hurriedly and from the windows looked over
the harbor at the flashing lights and bursts of flame. Sylvia stood
close beside Mrs. Carleton, and they were all silent.

Aunt Connie brought up hot coffee and a tray of food, but none of them
cared to eat. Mr. Fulton waited anxiously for the sound of answering
guns from Fort Sumter. But not until seven o'clock that morning did
Fort Sumter open its fire.

"War has begun," said Mr. Fulton gravely, turning away from the window.

"Will the President's ships come soon, Father?" asked Sylvia.

"We must hope so," he answered; "and now there is no time for us to
lose. We must start at once."

"Bres' de Lord!" said Aunt Connie, who was standing near the door, and
as Mr. Fulton spoke she hurried off to her cabin to make her final
preparations for the long journey.

Mrs. Fulton hastened to pack up the few things they would take with
them, and Sylvia helped Mrs. Carleton pack. Early in the fore-noon they
were ready. Mr. Robert Waite's carriage was at the door, with Mr.
Waite, who had come to escort them on the first stage of their journey.

"I wish I could say good-bye to Grace," said Sylvia as she went down
the steps of the porch. She was all ready to enter the carriage when
she heard her name called: "Sylvia! Sylvia!" and Grace came flying up
the path.

"Grace! Grace!" responded Sylvia, and for a moment the two little
girls, "Yankee" and southern girl, clung closely together, while the
noise of the echoing guns from the forts boomed over the harbor.

"We will always be friends, won't we, Sylvia?" said Grace; and Sylvia
responded "Always." Then with one more good-bye kiss Grace turned and
ran back to Mammy Esther. She had persuaded her mother to bring her to
Charleston that she might bid Sylvia good-bye, and now they would
hasten back to the country, for Charleston might be attacked by United
States ships of war, and was no longer a place of safety.

The Fultons now entered the carriage. Aunt Connie and Estralla were the
only members of the party who were smiling and happy. To Estralla it
was the most wonderful day of her life. She was free. And with her
mammy and her Missy Sylvia she was starting for a world where little
colored girls could go to school, just as white children did, and never
be bought or sold. She looked at Sylvia with adoring eyes.

"What are you thinking of, Estralla?" asked Sylvia.

Estralla leaned close to her "true fr'en'" and whispered: "I was
a-t'inkin' 'bout my breakin' of de pitcher, an' a-spillin' de hot
water, Missy Sylvia. You took my part den, Missy, an' you'se allers
taken my part. My mammy say she bress de Lord dat you came to
Charleston."

Sylvia smiled back at the little colored girl. For a moment she forgot
the booming of the distant guns, and remembered only her friends and
the happy days she had spent in her southern home.



The next Volume in this Series will be:

A YANKEE GIRL AT BULL RUN





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