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Title: Down South
Author: Hardy, Lady Duffus
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                              DOWN SOUTH.



                              DOWN SOUTH


                                  BY

                           LADY DUFFUS HARDY

                               AUTHOR OF
                  “THROUGH CITIES AND PRAIRIE LANDS”


                       LONDON: CHAPMAN AND HALL
                                LIMITED
                                 1883

                                LONDON
                      R. CLAY, SONS, AND TAYLOR.,
                          BREAD STREET HILL.



CONTENTS.


 CHAPTER I.

 Two cities.--Our home upon the waters.--Southward bound.--“Only a
 brass star.”--At Ford’s Hotel....._Pages 1-13_

 CHAPTER II.

 To-day and the yesterdays.--Richmond--Its monuments--Its
 surroundings.--The sculptor’s studio.--Andromache......_Pages 14-28_

 CHAPTER III.

 Fire and ruins.--Through sylvan scenes.--The Cave of Lwray.--A
 jewelled city underground.--The white savages of Wise
 County....._Pages 29-44_

 CHAPTER IV.

 Through the great swamp.--Charleston.--A memory of the Old
 World.--Blacks and whites.--Peculiarities of the coloured folk.--A
 ghost of dead days.--Quaint scenes _Page 45-62_

 CHAPTER V.

 St. Michael’s chimes.--Architectural attraction.--Magnolia
 Cemetery.--A philosophical mendicant.--The market.--Aboard the
 boat--Fort Sumpter....._Pages 63-83_

 CHAPTER VI.

 The great Salt Marsh.--A break down.--We reach Savannah.--Fancy
 sketches.--The forest city.--A gossip with the natives.--Cross
 questions and crooked answers....._Pages 84-90_

 CHAPTER VII.

 To-day and yesterday.--General experience of travel in the South.--The
 associated Southern railways....._Pages 100-109_

 CHAPTER VIII.

 _En route_ for Jacksonville.--A few words about Florida--Its
 climate.--Its folk--Its productions....._Pages 110-121_

 CHAPTER IX.

 Pine forests.--Arcadian scenes.--Strange companionship.--We reach
 Jacksonville....._Pages 122-131_

 CHAPTER X.

 Jacksonville.--Our hotel.--Greenleaf’s museum.--Floridian curiosities.
 East winds and tropical breezes.--Strawberry packing _Page 132-143_

 CHAPTER XI.

 Fernandina.--Romance or history?--Dungeness.--To Tocor.--On board the
 boat.--Oddities.--A lovely water drive _Page 144-158_

 CHAPTER XII.

 St. Augustine.--A land of the long ago.--A chat with a Spanish
 antiquity.--Quaint streets.--City gate.--Fort Marion.--The old Slave
 Market.--The monuments.--The Plaza.--Cathedral and Convent....._Pages
 159-179_

 CHAPTER XIII.

 A chat by the way.--A steam bicycle.--Rough times.--At
 Ocala....._Pages 180-188_

 CHAPTER XIV.

 The “Okeehumkee.”--The Silver Springs.--The weird wonders of the
 Ocklawaha....._Pages 189-203_

 CHAPTER XV.

 Picturesque scenery on St. John’s River.--“Sickening for the fever
 ma’am?”--The inland lakes.--A pair of elderly turtle doves.--Sport on
 the Indian river....._Pages 204-221_

 CHAPTER XVI.

 Retrospective.--A critical conductor.--Montgomery.--Train wreckers at
 work.--Weird scenes in the moonlight.--Silent watchers.--“Wild Cat”
 train to New Orleans....._Pages 222-237_

 CHAPTER XVII.

 New Orleans, “The Paris of the South.”--French quarters.--Tropical
 street scene.--To Carrolton.--The Levées.--Classical architecture.--A
 coloured funeral.--The dismal swamp.--Lake Ponchartrain.--A gambling
 population....._Pages 238-252_

 CHAPTER XVIII.

 Atlanta.--A wilderness of bricks and mortar.--Lovely
 surroundings.--Scarlet woods.--Memorial day.--Scenes in the
 cemetery....._Pages 253-262_

 CHAPTER XIX.

 Columbia.--Wright’s Hotel--Variegated scenes.--Past and present--A
 Sabbath city.--The Penitentiary.--Sunday service.--A few last
 words....._Pages 263-276_



DOWN SOUTH



CHAPTER I.

     Two cities.--Our home upon the waters.--Southward bound.--“Only a
     brass star.”--At Ford’s hotel.

A dull haze hangs over the city; St. Paul has put on his cap of clouds,
and the great dome looms dimly on our sight; the mystery of twilight has
taken possession of the city, and shrouds the streets in the open day.
The fine old trees in the parks and in the squares are losing their
green foliage, and stand half naked, shivering in the damp autumn air,
while their yellow shrunken leaves are swept rustling along the ground,
moaning their melancholy protest against the wandering wind, and even
thus early in the season--for it is only late September--visions of
November fogs are looming in the near future. But we turn our backs upon
the dreary prospect, and send our thoughts onward towards the _City of
Rome_ whither we are fast journeying--not that ancient city which sits
upon its seven hills, like a discrowned queen, still ruling the world of
Art, swaying the minds of men, and, like a gigantic loadstone, drawing
the heart of the world towards herself, grander in her age of ruin than
her youthful pride; the glory of her dead days circles her with a halo
of poetry and romance which renders her immortal. Her ruined
palaces and temples lift their hoary heads and crumbling columns
heavenward--impressive, awe-inspiring, and time-defying, showing only
the footprints of the ages as they have passed solemnly onwards. The
stir and bustle of every-day commonplace life, the cavalcade of
nineteenth-century frivolities and fashions, have failed to drive the
spirit of antiquity from the place; it still sits brooding in the air,
permeating the souls and stirring the hearts of men with a passionate
enthusiasm for the days that are gone. There is no coming and going of
armies, no heathenish maraudings, no slave-trading, war-waging
population nowadays; no centurion guards, no glittering cohorts flashing
their arms and tossing their white plumes in the face of the sun; yet
they seem to have left their ghostly impression on the air, and in the
still evening hours we feel their presence revealed to us through (what
we call) our imagination, and the past marches solemnly hand-in-hand
with the present before our spirit’s eyes; and while we think we are
merely day-dreaming--indulging in pleasant reveries--the subtle essence
of ourselves is mingling with an immortal past. But it is not towards
this ancient city we are fast hastening; our _City of Rome_ is the
creation of to-day, it has nothing to say to the yesterdays; its kingdom
belongs to the to-morrows, which are crowded into the years to come. It
is not throned like its ancient namesake on seven hills, but rides upon
the myriad waves of a limitless ocean, and looks as though it could rule
them too--this floating city, which is to carry us three thousand miles
across the fascinating, fickle, and inconstant sea. Like a strong young
giant our noble vessel lifts its great black bulwarks into the sunlight,
and we climb its steep sides in the full confidence that much of the
nauseating horrors of a sea voyage will be spared to us. The Atlantic
steamers, as everyone knows, are all luxuriously appointed, but this is
the most luxurious; our state room has two windows draped with green
rep, a cosy sofa, and--luxury of luxuries--a reading lamp; one berth is
four feet wide, with a spring mattress, downy pillows, and plenty of
them; the upper berth is the usual size.

It takes us some hours to explore the vessel from end to end, as we are
kindly permitted to do; occasionally we lose ourselves, and are picked
up by a stray hand and set in the right way. We stroll through the grand
saloon, where some frantic musician is already evoking solemn sounds
from the grand organ, while the passengers are clamouring for seats at
special tables, and the bewildered stewards are distracted in their
endeavour to oblige everybody. It is a case of bull-baiting--British
bull-baiting; the poor bull is on the horns of a dilemma; he manages to
extricate himself somehow, and things settle down to general
satisfaction. Descending to the engine-room, we seem to have a glimpse
of the infernal regions--such a rattle and clatter of machinery,
whizzing and whirling amid the blaze of a hundred fires, some lashed to
white heat, others blazing with a steady roar, their red flames leaping
over their fiery bed, lighting up the swarthy faces of the firemen, who
look like dusky gnomes flitting among eternal fires. By the time we
reach the upper deck the tender has departed, the anchor is up, and--are
we moving? We seem to be still stationary, but the shores of England are
receding from us, the long, curving lines of the shore growing dim and
more dim, the forest of shipping with its tall masts and fluttering
sails fades slowly from our sight, and as the twilight closes in we are
almost out of sight of land; it vanishes away till it looks like a bank
of low-lying clouds fringing the horizon; now and then a white sail
flashes out of the darkness and is gone.

The night is simply superb, and the heavens are ablaze with stars, like
a jewelled canopy stretching over us as far as the eye can reach. Such
brilliancy above! Such a soft, hazy atmosphere around us! We seem to be
floating away into dreamland, as our giant vessel glides like a phantom
ship through the drowsy night; but for the phosphorescent waves which
run rippling at the side, or swirl in white feathery foam round the bow,
we should not know that we are moving--yet we are going at the rapid
rate of sixteen knots an hour, so steadily her iron keel treads through
the world of waters. Some of our fellow-passengers group themselves on
the deck, or stroll up and down singing old home songs or catches, and
glees. Lulled by these pleasant sounds and occasional echoes of the
sailors’ voices, we sleep soundly through our first night at sea.

To some this voyage is a new experience, and to them everything is a
pleasure and delight; their senses are on the _qui vive_, and they
extract a keen enjoyment from the slightest matter; whether they are
watching the shifting colours of the sea and skies, strolling idly up
and down, or leaning over the bulwarks, straining their eyes over the
vast expanse, eagerly expecting a school of whales to go spouting past,
they are equally happy and content, seeing mountains where never a
molehill exists; the atmospheric changes interest them, the whistling of
the wind through the shrouds makes a new music to their ears, and the
life on board ship with all its variations has the charm of novelty. But
the novelty soon wears off and they gradually awake to the fact that a
sea-voyage is a most monotonous affair. This the _habitués_, to whom the
voyage is as an oft-told tale, realise from the first moment; they know
precisely how the next ten days are likely to pass, and at once set
their minds to enliven the monotony, every one contributing something to
the amusement of the whole. We are especially fortunate on the present
occasion, there being several of Colonel Mapleson’s company on board,
who are most amiable in their endeavours to amuse their
fellow-passengers. There is also an unusual amount of amateur musical
and dramatic talent on board, and they combine together and organise a
concert or some kind of dramatic entertainment every evening.

About eight o’clock everybody turns out in pretty, simple toilettes, and
the stream sets towards the music-room. Great Britain is sparsely
represented, and I don’t think with the best specimens; the scanty few
seem manufactured for foreign travel only, and are not of the finest
workmanship, either of art or nature.

On the evening of the first entertainment a gorgeous apparition appeared
in the shape of the master of the ceremonies, the only evident reason
for his filling that position being his possession of a swallow-tail
coat. He was a fair, slim young man, with his hair parted down the
middle. He was in full evening dress, with a huge artificial flower--a
sunflower--in his buttonhole, and white gloves too long for his fingers.
He was a British-Australian, we learned. When he opened his mouth he
dropped, not pearls, but _h_’s; he dropped them in one place and picked
them up in another, and in his attempt to announce the different
operatic airs he mangled the soft Italian language till it fell upon the
ear a mass of mutilated sounds. He had to run the gauntlet of a good
deal of masculine chaff, which he bore with a stolid equanimity born of
self-contentment; however, he unconsciously contributed to the general
amusement, and gave rise to some humorous illustrations which served to
beguile the time.

The weather continues delightful, a balmy atmosphere brooding over a
smooth, grey sea. In quiet uninteresting calm the days pass by, but at
night nature rallies her forces and gives us some glorious sunsets,
filling the pale skies with cloud islands of golden light, while white
and crimson feathery plumes, like spectral palms, float hither and
thither across the sea-green sky. But nobody cares for a second-hand
sunset, it must be seen to be appreciated--no word-painting or most
brilliant colouring on canvas can convey an idea of it.

About mid-ocean we fall into foul weather, and a violent game of pitch
and toss ensues; a clatter of broken china, contused limbs, and half a
score of black eyes are the result. There is a tough-fibred,
strong-brained missionary on board, whose very face in its stern
rigidity is suggestive of torments here and hereafter. He takes
advantage of the occasion and lifts up his eyes and voice in violent
denunciation of all miserable sinners, exhorts everybody to repent upon
the spot as the day of doom is at hand--the Lord has come in storm and
tempest to break up the good ship and bury her living freight at the
bottom of the sea! He aggravates the fear, and tortures the nerves, of
the weaker vessels, till several ladies are carried to their berths in
violent hysterics. Some few husbands, fathers, and lovers, expressed a
strong desire to have that missionary “heaved overboard.” We pitied the
poor heathens who would presently benefit by his ministrations.

We pass out of the storm into genial American weather--blue skies, soft,
ambient air, and brilliant sunshine. A foretaste of the lovely Indian
summer greets us long before we reach the shore. Our vessel, owing to
its gigantic size, is a long time swinging round and entering its dock.
We are in sight of New York at three in the afternoon, but it is late in
the evening before we are able to effect a landing.

Everybody knows what a New York winter is like. We plunge at once into
the hurly-burly, and for the next few months we “do as the world
doth--say as it sayeth,” and being bound to the wheel whirl with it
till the hard king, frost, melts and disappears under the genial breath
of a somewhat humid spring; then we turn our faces southward.

It is impossible for the best disposed person to extract much pleasure
from a dismal drive across the plains of Pennsylvania, while the heavens
are weeping copiously, drenching the sick earth with their tears, and
dropping a grey cloud mantle over it. A heavy mist is hiding everything,
and moves like a shrouded funeral procession among the tall trees, as
though it had wrapped the dead winter in its grave-clothes, and was
carrying it away for burial in some invisible world we know not of. A
damp chillness clings and crawls everywhere; it finds its way to our
very bones; we shiver, and draw our wraps closer round us. The whole
world seems veiled in mourning for the sins of our forefathers; even the
buoyant spirits of the famous Mark Tapley must have gone down under
these dreary surroundings.

There is nothing to be seen, nothing to be heard, but the pattering rain
upon the windows, and the snort or occasional scream of our engine, like
the shriek of a bird of prey, as it sweeps on its iron road. We look
round us; everything and everybody seems in a state of depression,
wrapped in a general gloom. The whimpering cries of the children sink
into a dismal rhythmical wail, as though they wrangled by arithmetic,
and wept according to rule.

There was a small family of these human fledglings aboard, and the
parent bird was sorely tried in her endeavour to keep within bounds the
belligerent spirits of her flock; in vain she called their attention to
imaginary “gee-gees” and the invisible wonders outside--they stared out
into the blankness, discovered the deception, and howled louder than
ever. The cock-horse limped on its way to Banbury Cross, and even the
lady with rings on her fingers and bells on her toes made music in vain.
At last a mysterious voice issued from a muffled man in a corner,
offering “ten dollars to anybody who would smother that baby.”

We all sympathised with the spirit of the offer, but perhaps the fear of
after-consequences prevented anybody from accepting it. The mother dived
into a boneless, baggy umbrella, which apparently served as luncheon
basket, wardrobe, and, I verily believe might have been turned into a
cradle; thence she abstracted crackers, apples, and candies--and cotton
handerchiefs which she vigorously applied to their little damp noses.

This interesting family got off at Baltimore and left us for diversion
to our own resources, to feed upon our own reserve fund of spirits,
which afforded but poor entertainment.

As we reached Washington there was a rift in the clouds overhead, and a
brilliant ray of sunlight darted through, lighting up the city, and
gilding the great dome of the Capitol with heavenly alchemy; it might
have been that some immortal eye had opened suddenly, winked upon this
wicked world, and shut again, for in a moment it was as dark and
cheerless as before.

Here we change cars, and as we pass through the little waiting-room
there is a general rush, a clustering at one spot, and a babel of voices
clash one with another; we catch a few wandering words--“Here’s where he
fell, right here,” “Carried out that way,” “The wretch, I hope he’ll be
hung,” &c. We look down and see a small brass star let into the ground,
which marks the spot where poor Garfield fell; women prod it with their
parasols, men assault it with their walking-sticks. We have no time to
shed the “tributary tear”; the bell rings “All aboard, all aboard,” and
in another moment we are on our way to Richmond. The weather clears, a
few glancing gleams of golden sunlight stream through the broken clouds,
then the sun closes its watery eye and goes to sleep, with a fair
promise of a bright to-morrow.

We roll on through the fresh greenery of Maryland till the evening
shadows fall and the death of the day’s life goes out in gloom and
heaviness. We spend the hours in anticipatory speculations till we reach
Richmond about ten o’clock; we drive at a rapid pace through the rough
stony streets till we pull up at Ford’s hotel, where we intend taking up
our quarters. A night arrival at a strange hotel is always more or less
depressing--on this occasion it is especially so; we pass from the dim
obscurity of the streets without to a still greater obscurity within.
Preceded by a wisp of a lad we ascend the stairs and pass through a
dimly-lighted corridor; not the ghost of a sound follows us, the echo of
our footsteps is muffled in the thick carpet, and swallowed up in the
brooding silence.

Our attendant unlocks and throws open a door, flourishes a tiny lamp
above his head, then, with an extra flourish, sets it on the table,
inquiring with a hoarse voice, as though he had just made a meal of
sawdust, “do we want anything more”; as we had had nothing we could not
very well require any more of it. By the light of our blinking lamp we
inspect our apartment, which is at least amply supplied with beds; there
are three of them, each of Brobdignagian proportions--rivals to the
great bed of Ware--they fill the room to overflowing and seem struggling
to get out of the window. We are soon lost in a wilderness of feathers
and wandering through the land of Nod. It seems to me that the worst
room in the house is always reserved for the punishment of late
arrivals, which is bad diplomacy on the part of hotel proprietors, as it
frequently drives their guests away in search of better quarters. It
might have been so with us; but the next morning our smiling host
appears and ushers us into a delightful suite of rooms on the ground
floor, opposite the gardens of the Capitol, where the playful squirrels
are so numerous and so tame that they will come jumping across the road
to your windows to be fed, take nuts from your hand, and sit demurely by
your side and crack them.



CHAPTER II.

     To-day and the yesterdays.--Richmond.--Its monuments.--Its
     surroundings.--The sculptor’s studio.--Andromache.


It is at Richmond we get our first view of the South and the Southern
people. Although we are only twelve hours from the booming, hustling
city of New York, yet we feel we have entered a strange land. The
difference is not so much in mere externals, as that the whole character
of life is changed, and from all sides it is borne upon us that we are
in the land of a “lost cause;” it impregnates the very air we breathe,
and is written on the grave earnest faces of the people; it reveals
itself everywhere and in everything.

A few hours in Richmond, and somehow we feel as though the war was of
yesterday. The victor may forget, but the vanquished, who have tasted
the bitterness worse than death, remember; it is ever “yesterday” with
the mother who mourns her dead. The passion for Virginia glows in every
Virginian breast, and a myriad hearts beating as one mourn with proud
regret for her noblest sons. Not Virginia alone; the generous North and
faithful South unite in yielding due reverence to the indomitable
Jackson and to Lee--the stainless gentleman and pure patriot. Here, in
Richmond, those names are household words, and every day we hear fresh
anecdotes of their lives and deaths. But the South does not waste its
time in lamenting over their graves; there is no greater mistake than to
imagine that it is frittering away its energies in vain regrets. The
past is past, the dead are buried; and on the ruins of the old life the
South is building up a new--in fact, it is recreating itself. New
railways opening, great factories arising on every side, bear witness to
the energy with which the South is throwing itself into the work of
restoration. The reviving South of to-day bears promise of fairer
fruitage, a far nobler future than could ever have been reaped from
their beloved and buried past. Now that the curse of slavery, the
inherited evil--not their crime, but their misfortune--has been torn out
of the fair land, at the root of whose seeming prosperity it lay coiled
like a canker worm--now that the blot is effaced, washed away in the
life blood of the best and bravest of the North and South--their
undaunted spirits are united in one grand effort to lift up their
beautiful land till it shall stand in the foremost rank among many
nations.

No one visiting the South to-day can recognise a single feature of its
ancient self, so complete is the change that has swept over the whole
land, so silent the revolution that has worked in the minds of men and
the arrangement of things. It is like a creature that has been dead,
buried, and resurrected to a higher and nobler state of existence; in
fact, looking back upon its life among the yesterdays it can scarcely
recognise itself; the very atmosphere seems changed from a sultry
enervating air to an invigorating breeze, affecting the spirits as well
as the bodies of the people.

Never was ruin so proudly met, defeat so grandly borne; there is no
useless looking back, no lingering regrets over the irrevocable
past--their eyes and their energies are bent on the onward march. But we
must hasten to take our first view of the city of Richmond.

It is situated something like its namesake, our own English Richmond,
only instead of being laved by our broad familiar Thames, it is girdled
by the grand historic river “James,” which winds in graceful coils in
and out and round and round like a silver serpent gliding through a
paradise of green. The city stands on a series of low-lying softly
undulating hills; the Capitol, a building of pure classical
architecture, stands in the centre of the city silhouetted against the
bright blue sky, and is a landmark for miles round. Standing on this
Capitol Hill, the highest point, we have a magnificent view spread
panoramically before and around us, while on every side the landscape
blends all the softness and brilliant colouring of the lowlands with the
strength and majesty of the highland scenery, variegated by picturesque
near views of land and water, here a white sail flutters in the soft
breeze, and groups of grand old forest trees lift their leafy crowns
high into the cloudland, and are sometimes lost among the fleecy
cloudlets grey and white that are sailing by, leaving the azure blue far
above them; from this point of vantage, we look down, to where the city
fades away in ragged fringes of poor squalid-looking dwellings,
apparently inhabited by our brethren of African descent. The principal
residential streets are certainly fine and wide, with handsome detached
houses in varied styles of architecture, which redeem from any monotony
the quiet, dignified, and emphatically “gentlemanly neighbourhood.”
Looking to the left we see the shabby one-horse cars crawling along the
crazy up-and-down streets, running hither and thither, stretching away
till they are hidden in a wilderness of green or lost in the pale blue
mist of the distant horizon, and the public buildings, cathedral, and
many-spired churches are prominent features therein. The river
stretching away to the right widens and hides among the foothills, then
reappears again and again till it dwindles into a narrow thread,
seeming to sew the land and skies together. Looking round on this
imposing scene, so rich in memories of bygone days, our thoughts
naturally connect the present with the past, and wander through the long
line of dead years to a time more than two centuries ago, when the great
ships ploughed the breast of this river, and brought the first freight
of civilisation to what was then a wilderness.

Away to the left, about two miles along the banks of the river, we
descry the spot where Powhatan wielded his sceptre and ruled his dusky
tribe as kings rule not in these days; we can almost fancy we see
Pocahontas launch her frail skiff upon the bosom of the placid water.

All trace of the tribe and of their dwelling is swept away; only the
grand old trees marked by the finger of passing ages still stand, with
gnarled and knotted trunks, quivering leaves, and withering branches, as
though they were struggling in their death agony, and must soon lie low,
with the rest of earth’s perishable things. Only a stretch of fancy, and
we see Captain Smith surrounded by swarms of threatening faces, passing
under their green vigorous branches, as he believes, to a barbarous
death.

Before descending the hill, we make a tour of inspection around the
splendid groups of statuary which adorn the gardens. First in public
favour and in general interest stands the Washington monument; a
gigantic and finely executed equestrian figure of George Washington,
mounted on an imposing granite column, rising from a star-shaped base;
beneath and around him, standing on separate pillars, are the full sized
figures of Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, and sundry other heroes and
statesmen of past days; but of later and fresher interest, is the bronze
statue said to be a life-like portrait of Stonewall Jackson. This fine
production is believed to be the last and best work of the celebrated
English sculptor Foley; it bears the following inscription:--

“Presented by English gentlemen as a tribute of admiration for the
soldier and patriot, Thomas J. Jackson, and gratefully accepted by
Virginia in the name of the Southern people. Done A.D. 1875, in the year
of the Commonwealth.” “_Look! There is Jackson, standing like a stone
wall._”

Yes; there he stands to-day, in dark and strong relief against the
burning blue of his own Virginian skies! Stands, every inch a chief, as
he will stand for ever shrined in the hearts of the Southern people--a
monument of all that is staunch and true in human kind; not more
immovable now upon his marble pedestal, than at that hour when the ranks
of his men in grey stood like granite under the Federal fire. In the
Capitol library hangs the Confederate flag, dusty and battle-worn,
proudly pointed out to strangers, and regarded with reverence by those
who followed it, and saw it flutter through the smoke of battle. Round
the library walk are ranged the portraits of the great Southern leaders.
Here is the noble and thoughtful face, “the good grey head that all men
knew,” of General Lee, and there the dark stern brow of Stonewall
Jackson; and here is Jefferson Davis, and many other statesmen and
patriots of the fallen Confederacy.

An ardent Virginian accompanied us on our tour through his beloved city;
with lingering eyes, he gazed tenderly upon the figure of the general
who had led them through so many fires.

“Ah!” said he, shaking his head regretfully, “there’ll never be another
Stonewall, he was popular even with the union men; they all admired our
dashing commander.” He added with kindling eyes, “I remember one day,
when our troops were camped on the south bank of the Rappahannock about
a mile from the shore, the Federal troops occupied the opposite side;
both encampments extended for several miles, a line of pickets was
stretched along both banks, and though within easy rifle shot of each
other, firing was by tacit agreement for a while suspended. Although
talking across the river was strictly prohibited, the orders were not
heeded, and lively wordy skirmishing was carried on. One day, loud
cheering was heard on the left of the Confederate line, and as brigade
after brigade took it up, the sound rolled down the southern side of the
river.

“‘What’s all that cheering about, boys?’ asked the Federal pickets.

“‘It’s old Stonewall riding along the line,’ was the reply, shouted
across the water; and the pickets on both sides of the river took up the
cry, and foes and friends together were waving their hats and shouting--

“‘Hurrah! hurrah! for old Stonewall!’”

Having duly admired all we ought to admire, we descend the hill and
commence our explorations of the town. We thread the pretty shady
streets, pass the Monumental Church, erected above the ruins of the
Richmond Theatre, which was destroyed by fire in 1811 during the
performance of _The Bleeding Nun_, when scarcely a dozen of the audience
were saved, and many of the most influential families of the town
perished in the flames. We pause a moment before the “Allan House,”
where that strange mystical genius, Edgar Allan Poe, passed the early
years of his most troublous self-tormented life. It is a square,
old-fashioned, brick building, with a high sloping roof, surrounded by
ragged, forlorn-looking weedy grounds; ruin is fast working its will
with the old house, and desolation seems to flap its wings from the
tumbling chimney stacks, while memories of brighter days are brooding
behind the shuttered windows. Presently we pass the Libby Prison--a
large, low, melancholy-looking building on the banks of the river. We
shudder as we remember the tales of bygone sufferings there, and pass
quickly on our way to visit the tobacco factory of Messrs. Mayo and Co.
No overpowering odour such as we had apprehended greets us there as we
enter the premises, but a sweet pleasant fragrance, like that of Spanish
liquorice or some agreeable confection, pervades the atmosphere. We
arrive at the busiest business hour of the day, and the “hands,”
consisting of several hundred negroes, are industriously at work,
weighing, sorting, sifting, and pressing with all their might; a hive of
the busiest of human bees, singing their quaint songs, but never for a
moment relaxing in their labours--their melancholy, melodious voices
rising and falling, swelling and rolling, in waves of harmonious sounds.
As, one after the other, they become conscious of the presence of
strangers, their voices die away, and a hush gradually falls over the
entire mass.

Seeing how much we are struck by those peculiarly sweet negro voices,
Mr. Mayo courteously desires a select number to gather at one end of the
extensive room, and sing for our special benefit. Chairs are brought, an
impromptu auditorium formed, the dusky troop assemble, and a tall,
coal-black negro, with white gleaming teeth and shining eyes, steps
forward, strikes the first note, and leads his fellows through the
musical maze. They wander away from the fields of their own quaint
melodies, and, I presume in deference to our presence, start at a run
into the realms of religious poetry, and sing some of their stirring
revivalist hymns, characteristic of their race and reflecting their tone
of mind.

Before we leave, however, they descend from their heights, and ring out
some catching popular airs, winding up with an old favourite, “The
Suwanee River.” After a most pleasant hour we take our leave, and carry
with us an impression we shall not easily forget. Down on the main
street we pass the “old stone house,” the most ancient building in the
city. Tradition connects it with the names of Washington, Lafayette, and
many other celebrities of bygone days; there are several other roomy
old-fashioned houses scattered about the city, more interesting from
their historical association than their architectural beauty.
Progressing still downwards, we cross the bridge which connects Richmond
with the suburb of Manchester, a dreary-looking, scattered town on the
opposite bank of the river. We stand for many minutes on the centre of
the bridge, and gaze round in simple awe and admiration. The river, no
longer a tranquil stream, boils and bubbles in whirling eddies beneath
our feet, rushing in roaring rapids on its tempestuous way, leaping in
white foam flecks over the rough boulders, and hissing round the base
of the beautiful islands which rise from its stormy breast--not bald or
barren islands, but covered with a rich growth of variegated shrubs and
trees, which spread their green branches, like blessing hands, over the
face of the stormy waters. It is a wonderfully fine view, full of
suggestive poetry and romance, and for many moments holds us
spell-bound; this rich woodland, growing out of the depths of the
turbulent water in serene loveliness, contrasting with the white
gnashing teeth of the foaming wave-crests below. On our left rises the
city of Richmond, seated like a queen upon her throne, clasped by her
girdle of green, and living waters flowing at her feet. On our right
stands the homely city of Manchester, a foil to the grace and loveliness
of the fair city on the opposite shore; before us lie the ancient
hunting grounds of Powhatan; around us the land-locked waters rush
foaming and roaring on, winding through banks of glorious green till
they fall into the quiet far-off bay and there find peace, like unquiet
spirits sinking to eternal rest. Low-lying upon the shore close by are
the Tredegar Iron Works, belching forth flames and smoke, flinging their
lurid light in the face of the summer sun.

We are travelling with flying feet, and have little time to loiter on
our way; having taken in the chief points of interest in the city of
Richmond, we drive out to the beautiful cemetery of Hollywood; this is
rather a melancholy pleasure, for on every side are monuments raised to
the illustrious dead, whose names are familiar to our ears as household
words; they are written in emblazoned letters on the scroll of fame, and
will be read by trumpet-tongue when they are unrolled in the light of
heaven. Here is the invariable monument to the “Confederate dead;” it is
the first we see, but not the last, by many. No Southern city is so poor
but it can afford to lavish its tribute of honour to its loved and lost.

Before leaving Richmond we pay a visit to the studio of the well-known
sculptor, E. V. Valentine, of whom Virginia is so justly proud. The
studio is full of minor works of art; hands and feet, as though they
were lately amputated, are flung in dusty corners; masks and faces frown
or smile from the walls, and many-winged cherubs are flying over our
heads. Some have flown away, and are fixed in monumental marble in some
far-away graveyard; and bygone beauties, some robed in white, some in
the salmon-coloured glory of terra-cotta, are crowded on the shelves,
face downward or upward, tumbled one over the other without the
slightest regard to their dignity. On one side of the room stands a
dwarfed equestrian figure of General Lee; he appears to have been
arrested sword in hand as he was galloping to the front, the look and
attitude are startlingly life-like; we can almost fancy we hear the word
of command issuing from the stony lips; one touch of the magic wand
would make the marble palpitate and live; but the living must die, and
this piece of sculptured stone will stand for ages to come; long after
generation on generation has passed away, he will still stand in the
light of the world’s eyes even as he is standing before us now, with the
“light of battle on his face” and the word of command upon his lips. On
the opposite side of the room lies the reverse figure; there the patriot
chief is stretched full length upon his bier as on a bed of rest, the
noble face set in a mighty calm, the left arm thrown across his breast,
the right straightened at his side, grasping his sword, “the attitude in
which he always slept upon the battle-field.” So one of his faithful
followers tells us as he looks down on the recumbent figure.

“Why represent him in _repose_?” he demurs. “To me, who have seen him so
often in _action_, it is not the attitude in which he should have been
immortalised.”

We think otherwise as we gaze on the serene and noble face set in the
calm of--is it sleep? or death? After action, repose; after the
battle-fever, rest. To us it is sweet, not sad, to think how--

    “To the white regions of eternal peace
      The General has gone forward!”

In the centre of the room a huge calico extinguisher has descended from
the ceiling, and hides something we are about to see; some invisible
machinery upraises the extinguisher, and reveals a muffled group,
swathed in wet linen, which is slowly unwound--and we gaze upon the
sculptor’s masterpiece, _Andromache_, modelled in clay. He has chosen no
moment of tragic agony for his work; but a still scene of home life.
Hector has gone to the war--the pain of parting is over, and Andromache
sits at her spinning-wheel, her hands lying listlessly in her lap, the
thread still between her fingers, her eyes looking forward but seeing
nothing. Her thoughts have wandered after her hero, and are lost on the
battle-field. The attitude, full of grace, is one of utter despondency,
the lovely face is full of sadness and longing, shadowed by a weariness
that tells of almost helpless despair. A lizard, the emblem of death, is
stealing out from among the folds of her drapery, to snap the thread
that lies so loosely in her hand. Her child, a sunny-faced, smiling
cherub, has climbed upon her lap, and is playing with her neck ornament,
trying in vain to attract her attention, and watching for the smile of
recognition to dawn upon her lips.

The work is still in an unfinished state; the artist being occupied in
arranging the draperies and carrying out other details of his work. It
is exquisite in design and finely executed. I have no doubt that this
rare work of art, will, when completed, find its way into the European
galleries. Meanwhile the artist turns a shower of spray upon the
beautiful group, wraps her again in her damp swathing clothes, the
calico extinguisher descends, and Andromache is lost to view.



CHAPTER III.

     Fire and ruins.--Through sylvan scenes.--The cave of Luray.--A
     jewelled city underground.--The white savages of Wise County.


After spending a delightful week in Richmond, we begin to think it is
time to be “moving on.” So anxious are we to resume our journey
southward, we decide to go by the evening train, but unfortunately about
mid-day a thick smoke fills the air, and over-spreads the city like a
funeral pall. We learn that the railway bridge is on fire, burning so
furiously, and spreading so rapidly, that in the space of an incredibly
short time the buildings on either side are gutted, and the wind carries
the flying sparks over the city, and for a time it is in danger of total
destruction; people rush out of their houses, and watch breathlessly the
result; but the sparks fly over the house-tops in a flaming shower,
setting fire to one roof after another; and at last, after scaring half
the town, catching at the tindery thatch of the Allan House, threatening
to destroy one of the chief landmarks of the ill-starred poet’s life,
but the passers by rush to the rescue, and the old house is saved for
the benefit of new generations of relic hunters.

We fear that the destruction of the railway bridge will cause us
difficulty, and detain us in Richmond to our inconvenience; but our
landlord assures us we shall be able to start in the evening, as we had
originally designed. “Things are sure to be fixed all right,” he says.
Wonderfully expressive, and variously applied is that little word “fix,”
in the idiomatic language of this “Greater Britain.” Never did so small
a word mean so much! It does duty as a “word of all work,” in the
kitchen, in the stable, and in the lady’s chamber; the ladies “fix”
their hair, the gentlemen “fix” their whiskers, they “fix” their
dinners, they “fix” their babies, they “fix” their weddings, they “fix”
their funerals--in fact that little insignificant monosyllable is
imported into all the articles of their daily life, and they live in a
general atmosphere of “fixing.”

In accordance with our host’s kind assurance, things are pleasantly
“fixed” for our departure, the only inconvenience being that we have to
drive across the foot-bridge (so called because it is a wide carriage
drive) over the river, and take the train from Manchester on the other
side. The shades of evening are fast falling round us as we drive down
the narrow streets towards the river, and thence take our last view of
these Richmond hills, which remind us so strongly of that other
Richmond, girded by our winding river Thames.

The Capitol with its silent groups of heroic dead is dimly shadowed
forth in the fading light; here and there the street lamps are lit, and
look like glimmering glow-worms crawling up the narrow winding ways; and
from the stained glass windows of many churches the mellow light streams
through, revealing a fantastic kind of mosaic in brilliant hues--blue
and crimson, green and gold, blending harmoniously together; the roll of
the organ, and the united voices of the singers follow us down through
the hilly street until they are lost in the distance.

The dark river is rushing beneath the foot-bridge at our feet; and on
our right the foaming flood is lighted by the fading fires of the still
burning wreck of the railway bridge. The whole structure is down, and
the huge beams lying like fiery serpents on the river’s surface, now
smouldering in red sullen fires, then up-leaping in tiny flickering
tongues of blue flame, licking round and feeding upon every remnant that
remains of the bridge that only at noon had stood proud and strong
against the sky, its iron limbs spanning the dark water. It had been
supported by twelve brick pillars, which are still left standing; each
one wearing its crown of jewelled flames, burning in lurid flashes, like
altars of the Eastern fire-worshippers, or beacon lights at sea, showing
the gloomy gaps between, whence the burning masses had fallen into the
sea. These colossal pillars blazing in the darkness, between the sable
shadows of the river, and the moonless midnight of the sky, threw a
light bright as the brightest day around us. On both banks of the broad
river, before and behind us, rise the gaunt ruins that were prosperous
factories in the morning, now mere blackened shells, yet picturesque and
radiant in the soft golden ruddy glow of the beautiful cruel flames,
that still lick and twist serpent-like in and out of the empty window
frames. Successful commonplace prosperity at noon, they are transfigured
into resplendent ruin at night. Well, the train awaited us on the
opposite side, and there the owners of the destroyed property were
already talking together, planning the rebuilding of their factories
with improvements; wasting no words in useless regrets; they were
scheming, and in their mind’s eye reconstructing the works, while the
ruins still smouldered before their eyes.

The road to Western Virginia leads through some of the most beautiful
scenery of the south. Lying near, and around us, are soft swelling hills
and undulating valleys, with here and there dark pine woods, grouped in
sombre masses; their branches standing out stiff and grim, like serried
ranks of swords, pricking the skies--a standing army of nature’s wild
recruits rooted to her breast, their only warfare being carried on with
the raging elements, when the storm king comes crashing down from the
distant mountains in a whirlwind of raging wrath, and armed with the
invisible horrors of the air hurls itself upon the woodland kings,
tearing their stiffened limbs, wrenching and twisting their tall
straight trunks, and leaving them a shapeless shivering mass upon the
ground, broken like a gallant army, but not vanquished; the earth still
holds them fast, wrapping her soft moss about their bleeding wounds,
fanning them with sweet airs, and lifting them up again to flourish in
the face of the sun. Here and there broad bands of the silver stream
sandal the foothills, and lace the ragged fringes of the earth together.
We look round on a wide panoramic view of variegated green, where hill
and valley, wooded knolls and rocky ridges, frowning forests and smiling
meadows, are blended in one harmonious whole, and a soft hazy atmosphere
lies like a heavenly mystery over all. The view is bounded and shut in
by the lofty range of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Winding slowly and
almost by imperceptible gradations downwards, we soon reach the
beautiful Shenandoah valley, _en route_ for the wonderful cave of
“Luray,” which lies in the centre of Page county.

The earth’s surface here and for miles round is rugged and broken, as
though by some great upheaval centuries ago; huge grey boulders are
lying in all directions, as though some ancient Titan had flung them
down in sport. Giant rocks, the work of the great sculptor Nature, lie
in folded ridges, their stony draperies falling about them in massive
magnificence that is beyond the reach of art. Rivulets of living water
trickle down their gaping sides, and gather, and swell, and flow through
darkened chasms half hidden from the light of the sun, playing an
everlasting game of hide and seek, then rushing forth sparkling and
laughing in its light.

Eastward about a mile from the pretty village of Luray, and partially
screened by the dense thickets which crown the hilltops, there exists an
extensive cave. Concerning its first discovery, many years ago,
tradition tells an interesting story, indicating a man named Ruffner as
its first discoverer. He with his family, it is said, was among the
first settlers in the valley below, and one day he went out on a hunting
expedition and never returned. After a search of many weeks, his gun was
found at the entrance to the cave, and in due time he was discovered,
having wandered among its labyrinthine courts and passages till he was
lost and dead of starvation. From this event it was called “Ruffner’s”
cave, and is so printed on the maps both of that period and since.
Little interest, however, attached to the cave, and for a time it seemed
to have passed from the memory of man, and remained neglected and hidden
away in the heart of the mountain until the summer of 1878, when a
number of gentlemen formed themselves into a company not only for the
more complete exploration of the old cave, but for a regularly organised
search for new wonders. They hoped to discover even a more extensive
cave, which from their geological survey they believed to exist in the
neighbourhood. They ranged the hillside, penetrated dense thickets and
tangled woods; crept and groped under rocky ledges--first taking care to
rout the brood of rattlesnakes from their slimy bed, and hunting the
frightened foxes from their burrows under the ground, where for ages
they had lived in savage security--but for many weeks their search was
in vain. However, on returning one evening, exhausted and disheartened,
along the northern side of the hill, they observed a suspicious looking
hollow choked up with straggling bushes, loose stones, weeds, and
rubbish of all kinds, the accumulation of years. They set to work at
daydawn, clearing away the tangled brushwood, tossing out the loose
stones, and plunging deeper and deeper into the dark abyss, till they
felt a rush of cool air creeping up through the broken earth, and after
a few hours’ laborious endeavour they found themselves in a lofty
passage, which formed a kind of antechamber to a vast palace of wonder
which had been building since the world began. Thus was the Luray cave
discovered; but it is only during the last year that it has been
rendered accessible to the public. Nature hides her most beautiful
secrets so closely within her breast, and surrounds them with so many
mysteries, that art and labour, hand in hand, must come to the fore
before they can become the property of the world outside.

Surely Aladdin’s magical lamp never lighted up such jewelled wonders as
are to be beheld here! Here are halls and corridors, stairways and
galleries, chasms and bridges, built or hollowed out with a weird
architectural magnificence wonderful to behold. We stand in the spacious
nave of the cathedral, and gaze at its groined and glittering roof, and
Gothic columns of many-coloured stalactite. The utter silence (which
never exists in the outer world, where there is always the whirr of
invisible insects, the stir of leaves, the whispering of grasses, and a
thousand other nameless sounds) here is supremely impressive; the air,
laden with solemn stillness, lies heavy and close round us. We listen
for the roll of some hidden organ to fill the darkening shadows with
music, and tempt us to fall upon our knees in worship of the Great
Unknown. We pass through a narrow jagged passage full of grotesque
shapes and caricatures of things real and unreal, till we come to a
damp, low-roofed opening called the bridal chamber, which is profusely
ornamented with fantastic formations of crystalline rock. It is said, I
don’t know how truthfully, that some benighted imbeciles have already
been married on this spot. The roof is everywhere supported by hundreds
of columns of various gradations of colour and size, from a thin walking
cane to the grand pillar in the “giant’s hall,” which is nearly twenty
feet in circumference, and is ribbed and rugged like the bark of a tree.
A curious feature in this particular cave is the profusion of thin
icicles--I do not know by what other name to call them; it seems as
though threads of ice had been woven together in a veil of frost work
unknown to decorative art. They hang from the edges, and drape the walls
in falling folds like a tapestry curtain; they droop in graceful folds
before Diana’s bath, and are drawn round the couch of the “sleeping
beauty”--for a symmetrical form that is almost human lies shrouded in
ice beneath it. Fancy has found some appropriate name for every nook and
corner, form and figure, of this underground world. However fantastic
these stalactite embellishments may be they are never inharmonious, one
thing never seems out of keeping with another. Here we may gather to
ourselves lessons of loveliness, and the mysterious mingling of the
beautiful in form and colour that æstheticism tries in vain to teach.

We wander through the “garden,” and gaze round with still greater
amazement upon the gorgeous colouring and delicate formation of these
stalactite flowers, so airy and fragile; they look as though a breath
would wither them, yet they have been in bloom for ages, and will bloom
on for ages more. The grey stone is covered with this growth of glassy
flowers, with quivering petals of pink and violet and white. We are
inclined to smell them, scarce believing they are cold and scentless.
Presently we come upon a glacial forest scene, where the fluted columns,
uprising like knotted trunks of trees, spread their thin, brittle
branches till we fancy we see them quivering in the still air. Let fancy
take the bit in her mouth and run away with our reason, and we shall
believe we are standing amid a spectral group of ancient willow and elm
trees which have perished from the upper world, and live out their
frozen life of ages here below. Here and there a tiny rill of water
trickles like a silver thread down among the folded draperies, till it
is lost among the fretted frostwork below. Then crossing a rude stony
balcony we look down into a wide, deep chasm, which yawns beneath our
feet, and it is not difficult for the imagination to evolve the most
uncanny creatures of weird, unearthly forms from the depths of darkness
which the magnesium lights illuminate but cannot penetrate.

At last we come up from those vast underground realms to the light of
the living sun, awestruck and impressed with the wonders thereof. While
we are carrying out our small human lives, taxing our intellect, our
imagination and our skill to build up vast edifices of brick and stone
on this outer earth, which in a few short years must crumble away, an
unknown and invisible world is being slowly perfected beneath our
feet--a world not made by hands--every touch and tint the work of a
passing age; silently and slowly the viewless workers labour on, under
the land and under the sea, while cycles and ages pass! Will not this
outer crust whereon we live slowly crack like a shell, and one day fall
away, and leave a world such as the Revelation tells of, whose jewelled
palaces are of silver and gold, the glory and wonder whereof this world
knoweth not! We feel as though we had stood on the outermost edge and
caught a glimpse of the wonder-land where nature is working her will in
silence and darkness.

Some of the most picturesque and sublime scenery of the South may be
found in the regions of Western Virginia, where nature in her wildest
mood holds sovereign sway among her everlasting hills, clothed with
majestic woods running down to the narrow valleys and winding lands
which intersect the mountains. Here in these solitudes, scattered
through these lonely regions, live a primitive people, leading a
primitive life.

They are supposed to be the descendants of the Irish and Scotch who came
over to this country about two hundred years ago, and wandered on and on
till they reached these solitudes and then settled down in sparse and
scattered groups far apart, not in villages but in single families,
where they have been living undisturbed through all these changing
years, marrying and intermarrying with some kind of ceremony peculiar to
themselves, from generation to generation. Children have been born,
grown to be old men, and died, having never passed out from their own
solitary homes.

They hold no communion with the outer world; no “iron horse” steams
through their solitudes, and few and far between indeed are the
travellers who invade their wilderness. Even with each other their
communication is scarce and scant--their nearest neighbour may be
residing from five to twenty miles away; visiting is therefore a rather
difficult process, especially as there are no roads leading from one
place to another. People have to find their way, or rather make their
way, over the rough, stony mountain, and through the tangled woods,
wading through brooks and leaping across dangerous chasms before they
can enjoy the luxury of looking on a human face! These poor people can
neither read nor write, they have no means of learning to do either;
they are beyond the reach of the school-board, without the pale of
civilisation. There are no schools, no books, no newspapers, no post, no
highroads, no church, no law but what their own untaught nature lays
down; no religion save that which they evolve from the mystery of their
own being--for even in the most savage, untutored breast, a still small
voice is always whispering speculations as to the unknown from the
beginning to the end and after. They build their own log huts (some of
which are in the last stage of dilapidation) and make their own rough
furniture. Having cleared as much land as they want, they grow patches
of corn, cabbages, and such like; nuts, fruits and sorrel, and other
kinds of green stuff which they use for food all grow plentifully in
these uncultivated lands. Some own a cow and a few fowls, and wild hogs
are numerous enough to supply them with all they need of animal food.

In all this region cotton grows abundantly, and they weave their own
clothes, the old spindle of two hundred years ago being still in use
among them. The men wear shoes--when they can get them--all the year
round; but the women go barefoot except in the winter time and during
the inclement season, when the streams are turned to frozen ice, and the
earth is shrouded in thick snow. It is the women who do the outdoor
work, while their lords and masters, following the example of savage
Indian tribes, stay by the fireside and smoke their pipes. Occasionally,
once in a year or two, some one of this scattered community will load
his mule and fill his cart with different commodities of his own and his
neighbour’s and make a pilgrimage to the nearest town--which may be a
hundred miles off or more--and sell or exchange them for such
necessaries as they require, and with which they cannot supply
themselves. The existence of these primitive people is very well known
to such travellers as from time to time have penetrated these solitudes;
but this state of things will not be allowed to remain long unchanged;
the spirit of progress is abroad, and is already making a subtle and
invisible progress even among these primeval solitudes.

Some three or four years ago a solitary gentleman of engineering
proclivities started on a voyage of discovery through these desolate
regions, and after long wanderings and many disappointments fell
figuratively upon his feet at last, and after a patient investigation of
certain localities came to the conclusion that some of nature’s rich
resources were hidden away in the heart of these mountains. Having once
convinced himself of this truth he returned to civilisation, and with
little difficulty organised a company, and in the course of a few months
returned with a staff of engineers and workers necessary for the full
development and carrying out of his design. The shaft was sunk, the mine
is now in full working order, and promises to be a great success.

Meanwhile there have been many and great difficulties to be overcome in
the suspicious ignorance and sturdy opposition of these, the original
inhabitants of the soil, who regard the new order of things with evil
eyes, and watch with ill-disguised dissatisfaction, and low, muttered
threats that the invasion of their privacy shall be paid for by the
lives of their invaders, who, however, go steadily on with their work
with a fearless determination to carry it through in spite of the
opposition of this hostile community.

The new comers associated with the old inhabitants, whenever occasion
served, in a frank, friendly fashion, endeavouring to convince them that
any act of violence on their part would be followed by speedy punishment
and the total expulsion of the whole scattered community from the soil
where they had become rooted for generations past. But in vain they
tried to persuade them that the new order of things would be for their
benefit, and would bring them into connection with the great world,
giving to them and to their children an opportunity of rising and
improving their condition. They have no ambition, and being utterly
unconscious of their ignorance are content therewith. They don’t know
anything nor don’t want to know anything; they have many curious
traditions circulating among them, descending from father to son, and
growing and deepening in wonder by the way. They are full too of strange
superstitions, as a people living so utterly apart from the rest of the
world, lost in the speculations and mystery of their own lonely lives
would naturally be; they may have a kind of dreamy conviction that
somewhere across the mountains the inhabitants boil and eat brown
babies, and, if occasion serves, are in no ways loth to indulge
surreptitiously in the luxury of a fine fat white boy!

However, they are day by day getting more reconciled to the presence of
their civilised brethren, who by general tact and little helpful
kindnesses have won their toleration and good will. Though they still
stand aloof and watch the progress of affairs with curious eyes, they
give _no_ assistance and offer no opposition.

Meanwhile public attention having been called to the existence of the
valuable mines throughout these districts, the construction of a railway
is under consideration; and if the projected undertaking be carried out
villages and towns will spring up like magic in these untrodden wilds,
the echoes of life and labour resound through the now silent solitudes,
and the flood of a new strong life will burst among these wandering
weaklings of humanity, and either absorb them into their own strength,
or drive to still deeper and farther solitary wilds the white savages of
Wise County.



CHAPTER IV.

     Through the great swamp.--Charleston.--A memory of the old
     world.--Blacks and whites.--Peculiarities of the coloured folk.--A
     ghost of dead days.--Quaint scenes.


After much loitering and a keen enjoyment of the wilder beauties of
Virginia we start on our way to Charleston, one of the oldest historic
cities in America, and doubly interesting to us from its connection with
the old colonial day, when the British flag fluttered over the
inhabitants, and the stars and stripes were things of the future.

Our way lies through wide stretches of uncultivated lands, dotted here
and there by negro huts with black babies and pigs tumbling together in
the mire. In the course of a few hours we emerge from these
uninteresting wilds, and are running through the great swamps which
extend for miles along either side of our iron road, and are strictly
impassable for either man or beast, though it is said that hundreds of
poor human creatures in the old days chafed and fretted and grew
discontented with their condition of life, and in their foolish
endeavour to escape from it were lost in these wilds. Who knows what
cries to God for help and mercy have gone up from the inner gloom of
these dismal swamps?--cries that perhaps the angels heard and came down
from heaven to answer.

Although we are journeying through perfectly flat country, with never an
undulating wave of land in sight, the scenery is ever changing, and
never presents the same picture to the eye for two minutes together.
There is, of course a certain monotony in the character of the natural
pageant that is gliding past us, but the combinations vary both in form
and colour, now advancing, now receding as we flash past them; the air
is full of light, and queer-looking grey birds rise up and wheel in
eddying circles over our heads, flapping their wings, and uttering
strange cries, which our engine’s voice has not strength enough to
smother.

The idea of a swamp had always presented itself to our mind’s eye as a
vast expanse of shiny, slushy soil, half mud, half water, with here and
there a rank undergrowth of bushes and stiff grass, and briers, through
which it must be a melancholy task to travel,--but it is not so. In
travelling through these swampy regions the prospect is neither a dull
nor an uninteresting one; whole forests of grand old trees rise up from
the watery waste, the rich varied foliage growing so luxuriantly, and
in such impenetrable masses that scarce a ray of sunshine comes glinting
through. We feel as though by some strange accident we have been caught
up by some modern magician, clothed in steel with a heart of iron, and
whirled along through the forest primeval.

For hours, nay, for the whole day long we speed through this world of
green, now and again the great trees turning their leafy arms into a
perfect arch above our heads, as we go thundering on.

Some of our fellow travellers go to sleep, others yawn over a book which
they have not energy enough to read, some get out the cards and play
poker or _écarté_, according as the spirit of gambling moves them; we
hear murmured complaints, “There is nothing to see,” and “What a
horribly monotonous journey.”

But to us it is not monotonous; there is life and beauty in the
ever-changing lights and shadows of the forest, sometimes most
Rembrandt-like in their depth and dim obscurity; in the dainty colouring
of the leaves, and the many strange formations of these ancient kings of
the forest, standing in deep rank and file, sentinels and guardians of
the silent land, their green heads lifted to the skies, their gnarled
and knotted feet firmly planted on the earth below. We wonder are they
quite dumb and speechless? Deaf to the low whispering of the wind,
stirred only to a gentle rustle by its balmy breath? Who knows? What to
us is the mere soughing of the wind may be to them a living language
coming straight down from the Great Unknown, with a message cheering
them in their solitude here with a promise of a hereafter, when they
shall bloom in paradise, and angels walk and talk beneath their leafy
shade. They seem so lonely here; they have never heard the sound of a
human voice; no foot has ever strayed among their fallen leaves, no
lovers’ voices made sweet music in the night, no childish babble echoed
through their bended boughs.

We are still lost in contemplation, with our thoughts wandering through
the soft luxuriant beauty of this forest land, when we slowly emerge
from its density into the open country. The landscape changes,
widens,--Charleston is in sight! In a few minutes the cling-clanging of
the engine bell tells us we are nearing the station--another moment, and
we are there.

It is evening now, the lamps are lighted, and but a few scattered groups
are making their way homeward through the quiet streets, for they keep
early hours in Charleston, and by ten o’clock all decent folk are at
home in their beds.

The gloomy grandeur of the “Charleston House”--and it is really a
handsome stone building--attracts us not; we stop at the “Pavilion,” a
pretty homelike hotel with a verandahed front, and balcony filled with
evergreens and flowers, on the opposite corner of Meeting Street. Our
room has the usual regulation furniture, without any pretensions to
luxury--clean, comfortable beds, chilly-looking marble-topped tables,
and the inevitable rocking chairs, without which the humblest home would
be incomplete. We go to bed and sleep soundly after our twenty-four
hours’ run.

Within all was bright and pleasant enough, but without the prospect was
anything but cheering. Our windows opened upon a dingy courtyard,
surrounded on three sides by dilapidated buildings two stories high; the
rickety doors hung loosely on their rusty hinges, the windows were
broken or patched with paper or old rags, and the venetian blinds swung
outside in a miserably crippled condition--all awry and crooked, every
lath splintered or broken, the paint was worn off in rain-stained
patches everywhere, and the woodwork was worm-eaten, and rotten. The
place had altogether a miserable appearance, as though the ghost of the
old dead days was haunting and brooding over it in the poverty of the
present. It seemed to be deserted too, for as we looked out upon it in
the light of the early morning, we heard no sound, nor saw a human
creature anywhere.

We learned afterwards that these had been the original slave quarters,
and are still occupied by the same inhabitants--the freedmen of to-day,
the slaves of yesterday, in many cases still serving their old masters
in the old way. The servants of the hotel, waiters, chambermaids, etc,
are all coloured, or rather coal-black; for as we go farther South the
mixed breeds are more rarely to be met with; it is only here and there
we come across the mulatto or others of mixed blood, which is rather a
surprise to us, for we expected the half breeds greatly to outnumber the
original race.

In Charleston two thirds of the population are black, and almost without
exception in all Southern cities they largely preponderate over the
whites, whose superiority they tacitly acknowledge, and work under their
direction with amiable contentment.

Their inherent respect for the white race is exemplified in many ways,
especially in the small matters of everyday life. In many of the
coloured churches they have white preachers, and these are always the
most popular. One old “mammy,” who had nursed a friend of mine forty
years ago, and who still occupies her old position in the same family,
is accustomed to walk three miles to and from church, though she is over
seventy years of age. On her mistress inquiring why she went so far,
when one of her own people held service close by, “I’se no sit under no
nigger preacher!” said the old woman, shaking her head contemptuously.

This kind of feeling penetrates even into the nursery. The dark nurse
will be most devoted to the white baby, while she utterly neglects her
own,--hence the great mortality among the dusky brood, which,
comparatively, more than doubles that of the whites. An attempt to
secure the services of a young coloured girl for an infant of her own
race (whose mother was nursing a white child) was met with the scornful
answer, “I’se no tend no nigger babies,” the girl herself being black as
coal!

It is the same in the schools, for though both white and coloured pass
exactly the same examinations, they will not send their children to be
taught by their own people. The rank and file of teachers may be
coloured, but they must be led, and in all their duties superintended,
by the whites! Woe be to the coloured teacher who dares to put a naughty
Topsy in the corner! The maternal virago swoops down upon her with
direst outcries, and lays her case before the authorities with as much
solemnity as could be used in the court-martial of a refractory colonel.

The master mechanics, builders, carpenters, blacksmiths, etc., are
generally white, while the journeymen and labourers are coloured; it is
the same with the shopkeepers and small traders, their employés being of
the opposite race.

The great drawback in the labour market throughout the Southern States
is the uncertainty of the labour supply. The blacks as a rule are
excellent mechanics, but they will not work well unless under strict
supervision, and they will only work while necessity demands they
should. They have no sense of the responsibility which rests upon their
employer, and cannot see that their idle self-indulgence must result in
his ruin and ultimately in their own. So soon as they have earned a few
dollars they enjoy a spell of idleness till they have eaten them up, and
then go to work for more; but this peculiarity is not confined to the
dark race. They are a good-natured and simple, but shiftless and utterly
irresponsible, people; to-day is all; they apply the scriptural text
literally, and “take no thought of to-morrow.” Gay, thoughtless, fond of
pleasure and every kind of self-indulgence, and having led for
generations past a life of dependence on the will and direction of
others, they can exercise no discretion of their own; they are mere
machines to be set in motion by the master hand. Generations must pass
before they can learn the lesson of self-government, and be led to feel
that their own prosperity must be the outcome of their co-operation with
the prosperity of others. I speak of the general character of the
people; of course there are exceptions to this rule, and many of them.
Education is doing its work slowly but surely; there are schools
everywhere, where they receive exactly the same training as the whites,
and consequently the coloured population of to-day is a great advance
on the enslaved race of twenty years ago.

We spend our first day in Charleston in a rambling promenade through the
city, so gathering a general view of the whole before we take the
special points of interest.

It is a bright sunny day, with a cool fresh breeze blowing, not at all
the sort of weather we ought to have considering the season; instead of
the hot sun blazing and burning in vindication of its Southern
character, compelling us to creep along every inch of shade, and melting
us even then, it simply looks down upon us with a kind, genial eye,
occasionally winking and playing bo-peep with the woolly white clouds
which come sailing across the azure sky, and the balmy breath of the
wind is sufficiently cool to render our wraps not only comfortable but
absolutely necessary.

Before we have gone many steps on our way we come upon a pleasant party
of some half dozen negroes, sitting on a fence like a gathering of black
crows, each one whittling a stick and chewing tobacco in solemn
silence--not the silence of thought, but the silence of emptiness, their
great shining eyes staring at nothing, thinking of nothing, like lazy
cattle basking in the sunshine in supreme idleness.

On returning some hours later, we find them in exactly the same place,
whittling the same stick and chewing the same quid; they do not seem to
have stirred an inch. In odd nooks and corners, entangled in the ragged
edges of the city, we come upon similar groups, and I believe if we had
returned in six days instead of six hours we should have found them in
precisely the same condition.

The aspect Charleston presents at the first glance to the stranger’s eye
is impressive in the extreme; apart from the historical and romantic
interest which clings to the place, it has a character peculiarly its
own, and bears slight resemblance to any other city we have seen. It
seems to have stood still during the last century, and is strictly
conservative in its appearance and in its ways.

Quaintly tangled streets and alleys cling to the main
thoroughfares, running up and down, in and out, in a sort of
thread-my-grandmother’s-needle fashion; making a loop here, tying
themselves into knots there, and resolving themselves into a perfect
puzzle which the pedestrian has hard matter to piece together with his
weary feet.

The houses in these out-of-the-way parts of the town are old-fashioned,
odd-looking places, some so crippled in their lower limbs as to need the
support of strong oaken beams, or patches of bricks and mortar; some are
rickety in their upper stories, and lean affectionately on one side so
as to support themselves on the strength of their neighbours, as weaker
human creatures are apt to do. Everything seems pining for a fresh coat
of paint; but they do their best to conceal their need of it, covering
themselves with creeping plants or tawdry hangings, hiding their
discolorations and bruises with gorgeous hued flowers, and clasping
their green mantle round them as we may have seen an aristocratic beggar
draw his robe across his breast to hide his rags and tatters.
Occasionally, in some obscure corner of the city, we come upon a
rambling old mansion of quaint, picturesque architecture, once the home
of refinement and wealth, where the great ones of the country lived in a
state of ease, luxury, and almost feudal splendour. It is occupied now
by hosts of coloured folk; swarms of black babies crowd the verandahs or
climb and tumble about the steps and passages, while the dilapidated
balconies are filled with lines of clothes to dry; the negro smokes his
pipe beneath the eaves, and the women folk, with their heads turbanned
in gay-coloured handkerchiefs, laugh and chatter from the windows and
lounge in the doorways. How long ago is it since the clank of the
cavaliers’ spurs rang upon the crumbling pavement, and sweet ladies with
their pretty patched faces laughed from the verandahs, while merry
voices and music and hospitality echoed from the now dingy,
time-dishonoured halls, and stately dames in the decorous dress and
manners of the old days walked to and fro, adding by their gracious
presence to the attraction of the festive scene? But these good old days
are over; no imperious dames, in stiff brocades and jewelled slippers,
pace the wide corridors, or dance the graceful minuet upon the floor;
there is no sound of flute and tabor now, but the many sounding notes of
labour, the tramp of busy hives of working men and women, and the
plaintive voices of the negroes singing is heard instead of it, and who
shall say which makes the better music?

It was on the balcony of one of those houses Jane Elliot stood to see
her lover, William Washington, march past with his cavalry regiment on
their way to the war, more than a century ago. Drums beat and bugles
sounded, and as the gallant men marched on she observed they had no
flag! For a few brief moments they halted beneath her window while with
her own hands she tore the crimson brocade back from one of her
drawing-room chairs, and improvised a banner, which they triumphantly
bore away, marching double quick time to the tune their hearts were
playing.

Years after, in 1827, when she was widowed and old and grey, she stood
on the same spot and gave this, her dead husband’s battle banner, to the
Washington light infantry of Charleston. It is now held by them almost
as a sacred relic, and is only carried on days of grand parade or other
special occasions. We may catch a glimpse of life as it was in this
Charleston of old times from a writer in 1763, who says:--

“The inhabitants of this Carolina province are generally of a good
stature and well made, with lively and agreeable countenances. The
personal qualities of the ladies are much to their credit and advantage;
they are genteel and slender, they have fair complexions--without the
aid of art--and regular, refined features, their manners are easy and
natural, their eyes sparkling and enchantingly sweet. They are fond of
dancing; many sing well, and play upon the harpsichord and guitar with
great skill. In summer riding on horseback or in carriages--which few
are without--is greatly practised. In the autumn, winter, and spring,
there is variety and plenty of game for the gun or dogs; and the
gentlemen are by no means backward in the chase. During the season, once
in two weeks, there is a dancing assembly in Charleston, where there is
always a brilliant appearance of lovely and well dressed women: we have
likewise a genteel playhouse, where a very tolerable set of actors,
called ‘The American Company of Comedians,’ exhibit. Concerts of
instrumental music are frequently performed by gentlemen. Madeira wine
and punch are the common drinks of the inhabitants, but few gentlemen
are without claret, port, Lisbon, and other wines of Spanish, French,
or Portugal vintages. The ladies are very temperate, and only drink
water, which in Charleston is very unwholesome. There are about 1,100
houses in the town, some of wood, some of brick; many of them have a
genteel appearance, though generally encumbered with balconies or
piazzas, and are all most luxuriously furnished. The apartments are
arranged for coolness, which is very necessary.”

Charleston, as I have said before, is strictly conservative in its
principles, and in many respects is much the same to-day as it was then.
In spite of all its reverses--the internal struggles of the Cavaliers
and Puritans, who brought hither their old quarrels and prejudices along
with their household gods, from over the sea, its strife with the
Indians, its troubles during the British occupation, and its terrible
disasters during the late four years’ conflict--it still retains many of
its old characteristics; its features are the same, though cruelly
scarred with the flames and sword of war. We pass on our way through
Meeting Street, one of the chief thoroughfares of the city; it is a
long, straight, not overwide, shady street, with beautiful trees on
either side, and has a look of almost cloistered quiet about it. There
are several handsome churches embosomed in bowers of green, and the
ruins of an ancient cathedral, which was burned by accident more than
twenty years ago; they point this out as proudly, and cherish it as
fondly, as though it were a legitimate ruin, a wreck that old time had
left upon their shores.

The long stretch of houses on either side are not of any specially
varied or picturesque style of architecture; they are three stories
high, and have a rather curious appearance, as they turn their backs
upon the streets, or rather stand sideways like pews in a church, their
fronts facing seaward, to catch the cool sea breeze which blows down
from the battery above. The three-storied piazzas running round every
house, the green venetians wholly or partly closed, not a soul in sight,
either from within or without, give an appearance of almost oriental
seclusion to the place; one half expects to see some dark, laughing
beauty peeping out from among the flowers. The dear old city is full of
romance and beauty everywhere, and as we pass through the silent
street--silent, yet speaking with an eloquence that surpasses
speech--the ghost of the dead days seems marching with muffled feet
beside us, and the very stones seem to have a story to tell. We feel as
though we have fallen upon an enchanted land, where time is standing
still, and the years have grown grey with watching. Here and there we
come upon a large empty mansion, one of the grand dwellings of old
colonial days, whence the tenants have been driven by adverse
circumstances; it stands staring down upon the street with blank, glassy
eyes, perhaps with a rent in its side, and its face bruised and
battered, its discoloured, painted skin peeling off, and slowly rotting.
People have neither time nor money to rehabilitate these ancient
mansions; they must needs be deserted by their owners, who have gone to
seek their fortunes in the eastern cities, while the old homes are left
to decay.

From this pretty shady street we come out upon the Battery, and stand
for a moment to look round upon the peaceful scene, and enjoy the balmy
breeze which sweeps straight from the near Gulf Stream. This is a
delightful promenade and pleasure ground, where the good Charlestonians
from time immemorial have come for their evening stroll, or to sit under
the leafy shade of the scrub-oaks, gossiping with their neighbours. The
Battery grounds front the land-locked bay--a sheet of crystal water
about three miles wide--around which, and on the opposite side, lies a
perfect garland of softly-swelling green islands, which stretch far away
out of our sight. On each side, running like arms from the bay, are the
Ashley and Cooper rivers, holding the town in their watery embrace.
Around three sides of the Battery there runs an elevated promenade,
raised about two feet from the grounds, which are beautifully laid out
in pretty, white shell walks, grassy turf, and gorgeous flower beds,
while groups of fine old forest trees, that have heard the whispering of
many centuries, spread their leafy branches far and wide. Turning their
backs upon the town and facing this lovely land-and-water scene, stands
a variegated collection of fine old-fashioned houses of quaint
architecture. Some are landmarks of the old colonial days; each one
differs in form and colour from the other, but all are fanciful
structures with elaborate ornamentation; some are circular, some flat
fronted, some curving in a fantastic fashion, and seeming to look round
the corner on their friends and neighbours, to assure them they are not
proud though they have turned their backs upon them; some have wide
balconies of stone, some light verandahs with green venetian blinds or
graceful ironwork clinging to their front; but everywhere creeping
plants and brilliant flowers are growing.

The view on all sides is most picturesque and lovely, and the fragrant
air is a delight to the senses. Here is the real aristocratic part of
the city, and here to this day, in spite of the many freaks of fortune,
the descendants of the old Huguenot and Cavalier families inhabit the
homes of their ancestors, whose familiar names still echo on the ears of
the town. With lagging footsteps we take our way homeward through the
city, losing ourselves and finding ourselves more than once. Altogether
we come to the conclusion that Charleston is a sober suited, gentlemanly
city strongly impregnated with the savour of old days; somewhat worn and
grey, but thoroughly dignified and pleasant, full of old-world
prejudices and decorum that no flighty tourist would care to outrage.

We have merely glanced at the outer aspect of the city, to-morrow we
must visit some interiors and the more definite features within and
around it. As we enter our chamber after our long ramble we hear the
sounds of merry voices, and the passing of people to and fro in the
courtyard; then suddenly amid the shouting and the laughter there rises
a choir of voices, a hush falls everywhere--they are singing “The sweet
by and by.” We approach the window and look out. A group of coal-black
negroes are sitting round one table piling up rich ripe strawberries for
our dessert; close by is another party shelling peas. It is these groups
who are singing. Their plaintive melancholy voices affect us solemnly;
but even as the last notes are trembling on their lips they begin to
play monkey tricks on one another, turning somersaults in the air,
grinning from ear to ear, and chattering like magpies!



CHAPTER V.

     St. Michael’s chimes.--Architectural attraction.--Magnolia
     Cemetery.--A philosophical mendicant.--The market.--Aboard the
     boat.--Fort Sumter.


A closer acquaintance with Charleston, its surroundings, and its people,
deepens our first impression. A dignified gravity seems to be set like a
seal upon their lives, whence all light frivolous things have been cast
out, and replaced by high hopes and noble aspirations, born of a past
sorrow. There is a look of preoccupation on their faces, as though their
thoughts and desires have outstripped their powers of action, and they
are pushing the world’s work forward that they may come up with them and
realise the state of their holy ambitions. They dress sombrely, in dark
neutral tints, with a quiet elegance and simplicity. They are as the
sober setting to a brilliant picture, where the coloured folks supply
the flaunting figures and gaudy colouring--the blacker they are the more
gorgeous are their personal adornments.

Passing up the long shady Meeting Street, with its rows of tall trees on
either side of it, the most prominent object in view is the old Church
of St. Michael, which is a great point of interest to visitors. It was
built more than a century and a half ago; the quaint and somewhat sombre
interior, with its high box pews, groined roof, and dainty columns is
impressive as only such ancient places of worship can be. The tall,
graceful, steeple towers high above all other spires and is a landmark
for miles round. It has a wonderfully fine peal of bells, too, with a
most romantic history. In 1782 when the British vacated Charleston they
seized these bells and shipped them to England, considering them as a
military perquisite. However, in the space of a few weeks, they were
re-shipped to Charleston, and replaced in the belfry. In 1861 they were
sent to Columbia for safety, and in the terrible conflagration which
destroyed that city they were so much damaged by fire as to be perfectly
useless. They were then sent once more to England to be recast, and,
strange to say, this delicate piece of work was performed by the
descendants of the same firm which made them nearly a century and a half
ago! They were recast from the same model, and perfected as nearly like
the original as possible, and when finished were returned to Charleston,
where they were detained in the custom-house for some time, the
authorities being too poor to pay the duty, which amounted to several
thousand dollars! These public boards are seldom public-spirited--red
tapeism seems to tie down their sympathies, and strangle their
patriotism. However, after all their vicissitudes, the bells were
reinstated in their old place, and all Charleston went wild with
excitement when the musical chimes rang out once more, seeming to tell
their story in rhythmical rhyme! And when their brazen tongues again
clashed out upon the ears of the people, who knows what other tales they
told, or what mournful memories they sent echoing through the city,
stirring all hearts like the roll of a muffled drum?

Both within and without, St. Michael’s is perhaps the most interesting
of all the churches. Its preachers have always been men of note;
enrolled among them are many who are now world-famous. There are places
of worship for all denominations of sinners, who can choose their own
road, through highways or by-ways, from this world to the next.

They can travel express through the mystic musical region of the highest
of high churches, where the spiritual leader takes the train in hand and
is answerable for all accidents by the way; or they may wander through
quiet, peaceful meadow-lands, where only the voice of the shepherd calls
their attention to the tinkling bells of salvation in the distance,
whose music will ring out clearer and sweeter as they near the great
beyond. Indeed, people may take their religion in any form they please;
the means are abundantly supplied, from the undiluted draught of simple
faith to the modest mixture of half-and-half measures, where soft music
is falling, candles faintly burning--and always extinguished at the
right moment--and on to the hottest, strongest spiritual essence, with
incense burning, banners flying, and--why not?--drums, fifes, and
trumpets playing on the march to celestial glory! And no doubt the
Salvation Army will soon come streaming from the east, laden with patent
piety warranted to cure the most diseased soul, and secure a front seat
in the halls of heaven in a single day!--not without payment, though,
for the “almighty dollar” plays a prominent part in these spiritual
proceedings.

The many handsome churches and public buildings add largely to the
attractions of Charleston, and are, to a certain extent, a reflex of the
minds of the people. As the descendants of old families concentrate
their energies and their pride on their ancestral home, so the good
Charlestonians from generation to generation have devoted theirs to the
glorification of their beloved city; and in erecting new buildings,
public companies as well as private individuals, instead of building
according to their own special taste, have had some regard to that of
their neighbours; every stone has been laid thoughtfully one upon the
other, not only with regard to its own features, but as a part of a
whole, and in perfect harmony with the general aspect of the city. One
building never mars the effect of the other; the eye is hurt by no
incongruity of architecture, no false colouring, but everywhere is a
pleasant blending of symmetrical forms and delicate tints. The effect
upon the eye is the same as that of a perfect melody upon the ear--no
slurred notes, no flat where a sharp should be, nothing jarring, no
false rhythm anywhere.

In secluded streets as well as in the public quarter of many a large
city the eye is often struck with discords in bricks and mortar, marble,
or stone; each structure perhaps tasteful enough in itself, but the
effect being marred, and marring by contrast the work of its neighbour.

Fancy the effect of knee-breeches and a tall beaver on the Apollo
Belvedere, a flat nose on “Antinous,” or a _nez retroussé_ on the Venus
of Milo!

The first question you are asked on entering a southern city is: “Have
you been to the cemetery?”

This is one of the chief places of interest which everybody is anxious
to point out; for next to the city of the living they cherish the city
of their dead. It is here they come to while away their leisure hours,
and bring the fresh flowers of every season to lay above the dust of
their departed--for you seldom see an undecorated grave.

The Magnolia Cemetery is about three miles from the city; we pass first
through a grand avenue to the German burial-ground, which is beautifully
kept, with shining white walks winding among blooming flower beds and
rare shrubberies, shaded by grand old oaks, clothed in their mantles of
soft grey moss. Carved upon the headstones the solemn words “Her ruhet
in Gott” meet the eye at every turn. Passing through this grave-garden,
we soon come to the main entrance to Magnolia Cemetery; within the
massive gates a colossal bell is suspended from a lofty scaffolding,
which tolls slowly as the funeral approaches; a pretty Gothic chapel,
where the services are held, stands to the left. Passing under the
archway we come upon a few score of white wooden headstones, which stand
like special guardians at the gates of death; beneath these lie the
Federal dead. Farther on lies the wide Confederate burial-ground; here,
side by side, and rank on rank, by hundreds--nay, by thousands--lie the
soldiers of the lost cause sleeping their last sleep, happily
unconscious of the ruin that fell on the land they loved before yet the
grass grew over their graves. Few, very few, have an inscription to mark
who rests beneath, but soft green hillocks swell in low waves on all
sides of us; these hide the unknown dead, and over them are daisies and
sweet wild flowers growing. Beyond these again lie the more fortunate,
who have died at home, surrounded by friends and kindred, and fitly
mourned in monuments of marble; there are symbolical urns and broken
columns, groups of mourning friends in every possible or impossible
attitudes of depression; there is a cherub blowing a trumpet as though
striving to wake up the heavenly host with the news “another recruit is
coming.” He is blowing so hard he seems to have blown himself out of his
draperies, which are fluttering in the wind behind him, and weeping
angels are drying their eyes with stony pocket-handkerchiefs, as though
bemoaning that all the virtues of all the world lay perishing beneath
them--at least, so says the inscription written there. As it always
happens in the great cemeteries of north, south, east, and west, some of
the departed are mourned in doggerel rhyme, some in ungrammatical prose.
I think that many would rise up from their silent beds and wipe out
these effusions if they could; but the dead have no remedy against the
imbecilities of the living. One feels disposed to envy the unknown dead
whose worth is chronicled and memory kept green in the hearts that loved
them, with no marble monument to point the place where they lie “carved
in dust.”

Passing through this silent world, we find ourselves in a wide white
street which runs through the Catholic cemetery from east to west, in
the centre and at the highest point of which stands a gigantic black
cross. Cedar and ash and willow trees are growing in picturesque masses;
green shrubberies refresh the sight, and rich red and cream roses are
blooming everywhere. The grave gardens here are laid out in various
shapes and sizes--square, circular, triangular, &c.--like a geometrical
puzzle spread over the ground. The simplest grave has a cross above it,
sometimes of wood, of iron, or of stone; the symbol of Christianity, as
though growing out from the hearts of the sleepers, is lifted on all
sides.

The sun is shining, the sweet air blowing, and a look of serene calm and
most perfect peace is smiling everywhere. How the vexed and troubled
folk, who wander here to get away from the busy, noisy world, must long
to creep down under the roses and hide from this world’s noisy strife,
and lie beside the sleeper under the sod, with hands crossed, eyes
closed, at rest for ever more. Here is a grave covered with
“forget-me-nots,” and a cry--a hard, cold cry--written in stone, craving
to be “kept green in men’s memories;” as though the dead could hope to
be remembered, when _we_ who are living have to lift up our voices and
struggle to the front that we may not be forgotten even while we live!
Tall costly shafts of granite, wreathed with everlasting flowers, prick
the skies, and elaborate architectural designs are erected here and
there; one has brass cannon at the gates and sabres crossed upon the
threshold, pointing the way the sleeper took to his death. After
wandering about for some time we sit down to rest under a cedar tree,
luxuriating in the sweet scent and bright colour of the waving
flowerbeds, quite alone, as we thought, till a voice rather suggestive
of “beer and skittles” came out of the silence:

“Nice weather, marm; things is sort o’ springin’ up everywheres, and
some on ’em is full blowed, ain’t they?”

I look up; the owner of the voice has evidently just sidled round from
the other side of the tree. He is an elderly man, with a ragged beard
and patched clothing--the forlorn and decaying remnants of military
glory; his face has a sodden, dissipated look, and his eyes a weak
gin-and-watery appearance, anything but prepossessing. He was not
exactly a nice kind of human ghoul to meet in such a solitary spot. I
answered with an assenting smile or some kind of commonplace cheap
civility, which evidently satisfied him, for he edged a little nearer,
adding philosophically--

“Yes, it takes a good deal o’ sunshine to set things a startin’ out;
sometimes I think I’d as lief be lyin’ down there in the dark as
starvin’ up here in the sunshine--leastways the sun don’t always shine,
not on me. I’ve been a soldier, marm,” he added with a slightly Irish
accent, “and done my duty on many a gory field, and--oh! a--ah!”

He groaned a low guttural sort of groan--his feelings were evidently too
much for him; he took out a red cotton handkerchief, shook it out for
one moment as though unfurling a battle flag, then buried his face in it
and boo-hoo’d behind it till his broad shoulders shook with emotion. I
felt embarrassed. I was not sure I should not have that six feet of
suffering manhood in another moment grovelling at my feet; but he
recovered his mental equilibrium, replaced his handkerchief, shook his
hat well forward on his head, and said somewhat irrelevantly but with a
mournful intonation--

“‘Tain’t no use trying to cross yer fate. I’ve tried it, and it don’t
answer; but one thing always puts me in mind of another; n’ flowers, n’
trees, n’ grass, n’ sich-like strikes me jist now as oncommon like human
natur, for the sun o’ charity must shine on the human heart, before it
will open up and give out the perfume from its inhuman pockets as it
oughter--” There was a momentary and suspicious silence on my part; then
my ragged and somewhat poetic philosopher added insinuatingly, “Yer
don’t happen to hev a stray quarter hanging about yer clo’es anywheres?
’cause a sight of it would do me a deal o’ good.”

This ancient sinner wheedled the quarter out of my “clo’es,” and fearing
lest he might move up his guns for another attack I got up and walked
away a poorer and wiser woman, resolved never again to become the prey
of a hoary impostor, but to fly from the first wag of his tongue as from
the first clash of the tail of a rattlesnake.

We saunter on, and looking from the eastern point of Magnolia we have a
magnificent panorama of the city and the clustering vessels afloat in
the harbour, while stern and grim Fort Sumter looms in the distance; the
white sails flutter to and fro, and dainty vessels curtsey to their own
shadows reflected on the placid water; not a ripple stirs its surface,
and the sun pours down a flood of silver on this sea of glass, lighting
up and brightening the prospect all around, the purple pines and
low-lying forts on the surrounding islands forming a charming background
to the panoramic scene.

Charleston is reported by its inhabitants (and surely they ought to
know) to be a perfectly healthy city, free from epidemics of any kind;
if you dared to doubt it, all good Charlestonians would have you stoned
to death on the spot. It certainly _may_ be true within the limits of
the city, but of its surroundings the healthfulness is more than
doubtful. It lies low, and is surrounded by marshy lands, which at
certain seasons of the year are covered with water--the overflow of the
two rivers, Ashley and Cooper, which compass it on either side.

On returning through the suburbs from our visit to the cemetery, we
come upon a very handsome house in a solitary situation, surrounded by a
somewhat neglected garden and wide-spreading meadows. Leading to the
entrance is an avenue of fine old English oaks, draped with grey Spanish
moss. Although secluded, it has the spires and steeples and other
prominent features of Charleston city in full view. It is in a state of
perfect preservation, with no signs of dilapidation anywhere--it is
simply deserted utterly both by man and beast. The dog kennels are
empty, not a bird sings from the boughs, not even the domestic cat
crouches upon the tiles or creeps along the weedy garden paths; even the
stone lions which guard the entrance look in a damp depressed condition,
as though they too would be glad to get away if they only could! On
inquiring the cause of this desertion, I am answered:

“Oh, it belongs to a very fine family--they cleared out some weeks ago.
They always leave in March and come back in October.”

“What a pity! It seems to me that they are away at the very pleasantest
season.”

“But the most unhealthy; it is impossible to live about here during the
summer months.”

“Malaria?” I hazard interrogatively.

“Worse--what we call country fever, which is more dangerous and often
fatal. If it once gets thoroughly into the system people die of it, or
are sufferers for life.”

Presently we are overtaken by waggon loads of men, both black and
white--all singing merry rollicking songs, and driving at a rapid pace
towards the city. We draw our modest vehicle to one side as they rattle
and clatter past us. We then learn that they are the factory phosphate
hands, driving back to their homes in the city. Although the phosphate
works are only an hour’s distance from Charleston they are totally
deserted every evening; not a single living creature remains upon the
premises, as it is injurious to breathe the poisonous air after the sun
has set, for then the noxious vapours rise and fill the air with disease
and death. Over the extensive works, where the sound of pickaxe and
shovel and whirring wheels and human voices are echoing all the day, a
silence falls, and the malarial fiend wanders through its confined space
seeking, but seeking in vain, for some human prey to torment and kill
with its subtle kiss.

This lurking evil lies only in the one direction of the city; on the
other side and extending round the harbour are some delightful summer
resorts, Mount Pleasant and Sullivan Island being among the most
prominent, both being easily reached by a pleasant river trip. The Ferry
Company’s boats make the journey in about an hour, and make it many
times in the day; but perhaps the loveliest of all Charleston’s
surroundings is Summerville, which is reached by the South Carolina
railway. It is situated in the heart of the pine woods, on a ridge which
extends from the Ashley to the Cooper river; the climate is
health-giving and invigorating, and in summer, though the days are warm,
there is always a deliciously cool breeze in the evening, and there are
no mosquitoes to make night horrible to the sleeper; it is serene and
peaceful as a corner of the original paradise.

On our way to Fort Sumter we have to pass through the market, which is
quite unique of its kind. It is a remarkably fine building in the form
of a temple; the front faces Meeting Street, the most picturesque of all
Charleston thoroughfares. Passing through a handsome lofty archway with
a carved stone front and iron gates--now open, as the marketing
operations are in full swing--we find ourselves in a long narrow
corridor with groined roof and wide windows and doors on either side,
where gawky, ill-looking buzzards are gathered, flapping their wings and
feeding upon refuse.

As we walk up this narrow aisle piles of rich luscious fruit rise to the
right and the left of us; there are hills of pine-apples, and yellow and
red bananas, festoons of purple grapes, and mountains of strawberries,
bushels of black and white currants, pumpkins, and that arch impostor,
the great green water-melon, all artistically arranged, and forming a
perfect mosaic of nature’s own colouring--only the rough red face of the
honest British gooseberry is nowhere to be seen.

Next comes the vegetable department, where everything green looks crisp
and fresh, with the diamond dew-drops still decorating the folded
leaves, and everything coloured seems painted in Nature’s brightest
hues. Dainty young carrots, and tiny turnips, looking like baby
snowballs, are nestling among the sedate old cabbages, whose great white
hearts seem enlarged almost to bursting; and the oyster and egg plant,
unknown in European markets, are hiding among the common but useful
rough-coated potato; and the delicate asparagus, with its purple tips
and straight white stems, bound up in big bundles, the large and
well-proportioned rallying round and covering up the crippled weaklings
of their kind, and performing this manœuvre so artfully that the most
Argus-eyed housekeeper is sometimes taken in by the false pretence. The
scarlet runners and fine marrowfat peas seem bursting out of their skins
with joy at being gathered at last; from the very moment when they first
unfolded their pink and purple buds they have been forced to creep up
and cling to those tormenting sticks, twisting and twining and working
so hard, night and day, till they were tired of living, and would really
have gone soon to seed, and once more hidden themselves in their native
earth. Now they are at rest--they don’t know they are going to be boiled
in an hour.

Here and there we come upon a silly-looking turtle lying on its back,
its flabby flippers wriggling feebly as though trying to turn over and
crawl back to its native element.

Next we arrive at the fish and poultry division. There are golden pats
of butter dressed in white frills and ornamented with violets, which, it
is said, impart to it a delicious fragrance and flavour; and eggs from
all the feathery tribe, white and brown, speckled and light blue, are
eternally rolling over, trying to crack one another’s shells with all
their might. Here plump young chickens, who were unfortunate enough to
be born in the early spring, are strung up beside their tough old
grandfathers; and prairie hens, and other wild birds from desolate
regions, hang with stretched necks and drooping wings above the slabs of
white marble, where fish from all waters are spread in tempting array.
The shining red mullet, and the fat ugly sheep’s-head, and even the
humble red horse, lie side by side with the aristocratic salmon; and the
poor little baby porker, slaughtered in its infancy, before it had even
had time to wear a ring through its nose or grout in the gutter, is
lying close by, stiff and stark, with a lemon in its mouth.

Framed, like a picture, by the archway at the opposite end of this long
aisle, lie the sparkling waters of the bay, with the swelling green
hills beyond, and the little wheezy vessel which is to take us to Fort
Sumter bobbing up and down by the pier. The little steamer, with the
stars and stripes fluttering front the masthead, is puffing and blowing
and making a great fuss, plunging head foremost, and shrieking like an
angry virago for us to make haste, as she is in a hurry to get away.

With the fresh breeze blowing in our faces, and the sun shining in our
eyes, as only a Southern sun can shine, we step on board, and in another
moment our brisk little convoy is dancing over the water like a joyous
child released from school; it trembles and leaps like a living thing,
and we almost fancy that its iron heart must be beating with a feeling
of sentient enjoyment like our own.

All kinds and conditions of men are crowded round us--high and low, rich
and poor; evidently we are all out for a holiday, and in the most
perfect _sang-froid_ fashion, and without the slightest ceremony,
everybody talks to everybody else. A lady from the North sits beside me,
and shading her complexion from the sun, softly drones into my ear her
whole family history, from the birth of her first baby to the
vaccination of her last. I learn that she is now travelling in search of
health, and cannot find it--the farther she goes, the farther it flies
from her.

“And yet,” she murmurs plaintively, “I know it must sometimes be quite
near me, if I could only lay my hands upon it.” She talked of health as
a thing to be caught on the “hold fast” or “let go” principle.

“It seems to be like a game of ‘hot boiled beans and butter,’” I remark
somewhat flippantly, “only there is no one to tell you when you are
growing ‘hot’ or ‘cold.’”

Why will people afflict their fellow-travellers with the history of
their family troubles or personal ailments, and so indulge in a luxury
which is even forbidden to hospital patients! Our sympathies cannot be
worked like a fire-engine; it is impossible for the most sympathetic to
pump up a sudden interest in Jeremiah’s gout or Matilda’s inward
complications, especially when there are beautiful scenes and delicious
airs around you, which you may have come thousands of miles to enjoy;
but there are some people to whom nothing is attractive or interesting
outside of that great ogre “self.”

With the exception of ourselves they were all Americans on board--men
from the East, men from the West; some were for the first time making a
tour through their own Southern States, but east and west, north and
south, walked up and down the deck, side by side, fraternising in the
most friendly fashion, chatting upon passing scenes, or talking quietly
one with another, indulging in reminiscences of that long long ago, when
the links of brotherhood had been for a time broken. Close by was an old
man with a stubbly grey beard and a mangy fur cap, that looked like a
drowned kitten tied round his head; he had gathered a few hoary-headed
comrades round him, and they were talking of old days, fighting their
battles over again, setting up their guns, and drawing plans upon the
deck. So, as the future narrows and closes round us, we are driven to
the past for comfort. Flashes of sentiment and scraps of conversation
were floating round us, and the very air seemed impregnated with a
subtle something that was new and strange to us. While looking round
upon this pleasant peaceful scene, the white sails dipping and
coquetting with their own shadow in the water, the soft green hills and
the grim old forts beyond, all bathed in peaceful sunshine, it is
impossible but the mind will travel back to the day when the air was
filled with lurid battle smoke, and the cannon stationed all around the
shore belched forth blazing fires, while a hundred hungry, angry tongues
of flame leapt from their iron mouths. Just such a calm as this lay upon
the city the day the first gun was fired, though the passions of men
were brooding below like a strong and silent tide, which is soon to
overflow and flood the nations. A Carolinian poet thus describes the
scene, and the vivid picture is present to-day as it was then:--

    “Calm as the second summer which precedes
       The first fall of the snow,
     In the broad sunlight of heroic deeds,
       The city hides the foe.
     As yet, behind their ramparts stern and proud,
       Her bolted thunders sleep--
     Dark Sumter, like a battlemented cloud,
       Looms o’er the solemn deep.
     No Calpe frowns from lofty cliff or scar,
       To guard the holy strand;
     But Moultrie holds in leash the dogs of war,
       Above the level sand.”

We pass by “Sullivan Island,” girdled by its beach of golden sand, with
a beadwork of white foam embroidered in living light fringing the shore,
and its pretty homes surrounded by lovely gardens and farmsteads, and
tall church steeples, gleaming in the sunshine. We have but a distant
view of Fort Moultrie, which is a striking feature on the low-lying
land, but we have no time to pay it a visit, our hearts and our eyes too
are anchored on Fort Sumter, and thitherward our saucy vessel turns its
head, a crazy plank is flung to the shore, and we land at last. Federals
and confederates, foreigners and strangers, saunter on together.

There is little of the old fort standing; it is a ruin now--a grim
picturesque rugged ruin, almost levelled to a mound of rock and sand;
desolation, with its empty socketless eyes, stares from the narrow
loopholes, where twenty years ago there flashed the fiery orbs of war.
We descended, or rather scrambled, down a flight of broken steps--it
seemed we were going into the bowels of the earth--peeped into what
looked like dark, narrow graves, where the men used to lie, smothered
and half stifled, while they worked their guns, and living through this
death in life for four long years, they came out of their darkness to
the light of the sun to find their martyrdom had been in vain--their
cause was lost. But the gates are closed upon all these things, and God
keeps the key.



CHAPTER VI.

     The great Salt Marsh.--A break down.--We reach Savannah.--Fancy
     sketches.--The forest city.--A Gossip with the Natives.--Cross
     questions and crooked answers.


On the sweetest of spring mornings, when the sunshine seems to reach
down into our hearts, and the soft breeze stirs our pulse and sets our
thoughts playing a jubilant melody, while our hearts sing a soft sweet
song that the ears hear not, and that our own spirits can but dimly
comprehend--we turn our back on the quaint old city of Charleston, and
resume our journey South.

Squatting about the platform of the railway station we find groups and
whole families of negroes, or, as they are now more respectfully called,
“coloured folk,”--from the queer little black ball of a baby, to the
withered old grandmother with a face notched and scarred, as though time
had kept his calendar and scored the passing years in wrinkles, till
they all run one into the other, and the face was made up of nothing
else. They are dressed, as is the custom of their kind, in all the
colours of the rainbow, and are heavily laden with baskets of fish,
fruit, vegetables, and bundles of their personal belongings, with their
“piccaninnies” sprawling at their feet and crawling in and out like
little black eels. We are struck with an idea, almost a dread, that they
are going to ride in our car--not that we object to the colour of “God’s
image carved in ebony,” but their neighbourhood is not odorous.

“We has second class on dis line,” said the porter, in answer to our
inquiries, “and dey be gwine dere; dey’s no company for white folk--not
clean, nor nice in dey’s manners. I’s black myself, but I knows dem
folk’s no company for ladies and gen’l’men.”

With much tumbling, and clutching their brood together, they scrambled
into their appointed places, in a seedy-looking car adjoining ours, and
we are off; the city spires and steeples fade from our view, and our
faces are set towards Georgia. We are well beyond the region of the
maple trees now; but forests of pine and cypress, dashed here and there
with the snow-white blossoms of the dogwood, close on all sides of us,
except where our narrow iron path makes its way through them. Soon we
come to an open clearing, where the forest trees have been cut down and
timber huts built up; this is a wood station, and mountains of logs are
piled on each side. Here we stop to feed our engine, while a diversified
company of wild hogs--gaunt, lean, hungry-looking creatures, all legs
and heads, like swinish tramps who get their living in the woods--gather
and grunt in herds almost under our car wheels, and goats with large
families of youthful nannies and billies stand staring mildly in the
background, now and then playfully butting one another.

We are soon off again; racks of wood are stationed at certain distances
all along the line, coal being scarce in these localities, and wood much
lighter of digestion. Our hungry engine insists on having four square
meals a day, and even then grows weak and feeble, and demands a snack in
between; it slackens, and snorts, and grumbles, till the driver, often
aided by the passengers (who seem to enjoy the fun), gets down and cuts
a few dainty branches just to appease its appetite, and coax it on to
the next station.

We pass through the great salt marsh, where the grand old pines, rank on
rank, are standing with their roots in pickle, and their half bald heads
fringed with green lifted heavenwards. A bush fire has broken out
somewhere in the distance, and the flames come leaping along the surface
of the marsh, with a blue, lurid-looking light, feeding upon whatever
they can find; now they glide in graceful spiral lines, like fiery
serpents round the trunk of some grand old tree, and leave it a charred
and blackened stump.

As the evening shadows fall we enter the cypress swamps; the dusky
forms of the forest giants stand stiff and stark in the gloaming, making
up a weird and somewhat romantic scene. Night closes in, the great
golden moon climbs slowly into the purple skies, and the balmy evening
air has a delicious fragrance as though it came from worlds unknown. But
with all its sombre subtle charm, a cypress swamp is not exactly the
place one would choose to break down in, and just here our engine, which
has been crawling and groaning like a crippled maniac for the last half
hour, elects to stop short. She (I believe engine is feminine) stops,
and shows no sign of ever intending to move again.

American _sang-froid_ is difficult to disturb, but on this occasion the
passengers deign to manifest some interest in the cause of the delay.
They bombard the conductor with questions, and skirmish round the
engineer, sending their suggestions flying round his devoted head, till
a peremptory order is given, and they are driven back into the cars with
some loss of patience. As if by magic, a breakdown gang is soon gathered
round the engine--heaven knows where they came from, whether they
dropped from the skies, or emerged from the bowels of the earth, for
human habitation thereabout seemed impossible, unless they had built a
nest high up in the dark cypress boughs.

Meanwhile various editions of the cause of our delay are freely
circulated. One piece of official information at last reaches us: The
mainspring of our engine is broken. One reports that they are making a
new one; another that they are mending the old one. “No, they are
propping it up with a piece of wood,” says a third. “That’s impossible,”
cries another unlicensed authority; “the idea of an engine hobbling on
wooden legs!” Then begins a game at speculation, and we all take a hand:
“How long shall we be kept there?” “Perhaps all night--perhaps all day!”
“Will they send help to us?” “They can’t, there’s only a single line of
rail, and no telegraph near.”

Then some of our fellow travellers begin to relate, at the top of their
voices, a chapter of the worst accidents that have ever happened
anywhere or to anybody, ending with the relation of a terrible
catastrophe which happened only a week ago, when the trestle work, which
runs for six miles across the Savannah river a little further on, gave
way, and the whole train was precipitated into the river--“not a soul
saved,” adds the narrator with great gusto.

Meanwhile everybody is getting hungry; and buns, biscuits, and morsels
of stale crumbly cake are fished up from bags or baskets. I have nothing
to fish up from anywhere, and a good Samaritan gives me an orange and a
piece of rye bread; never was voluntary contribution more thankfully
received. Presently a plausible youth comes along the car selling cold
hard-boiled eggs. Where he comes from, where he got, or how he cooked
his eggs is a mystery; but hunger bids us hasten to invest in his wares.
Alas! he and his eggs prove a delusion and a snare! The eggs we throw
out of the window--but the deceiver has disappeared.

By degrees the clatter of tongues ceases; silence falls over us.
Alligators and frogs are croaking in the swamps; I don’t know which
croaks loudest; their language seems so similar, I can hardly tell one
from the other. Everybody regards the situation with irritating good
temper, nobody grumbles. Are the true Americans ever heard to complain,
I wonder? They are patient, cheerful always, and stoical and
philosophical as Red Indians. Oh, for a good British growl! I lift my
voice feebly once or twice, but am shamed into silence by the example of
my companions.

Presently we begin to move, and slowly as a royal progress we roll on
towards Savannah. When we reach it the small hours of the morning are
already far on the march and we go supperless to bed. On taking a survey
of our surroundings by daylight we have reason to be very well satisfied
with our quarters. We have two large sunny rooms, most comfortably
furnished, opening on to a wide verandah overgrown with greenery, which
is luxuriant everywhere South.

A few words here concerning the accommodation for tourists which is to
be found in all Southern cities. On first setting our faces thitherward
we received a mass of gratuitous information--all of which we accepted
_cum grano salis_. We were neither disposed to be led nor misled by
friendly counsels. “There are no decent hotels--nothing but ramshackle
old buildings, mere refuges for the destitute.”

“Where you’ll always find lively companionship--especially by night.”

“Perhaps an alligator in the morning, or a comfortable moccasin or black
snake coiling round your feet to get themselves warm.”

“A family of young roaches six inches long flying out of your shoe as
you go to put your foot into it.”

“Nothing to eat but tough steaks, and hominy fried in fat, or rusty
bacon served in its own grease.”

“Alligator soup is a rare dainty.”

“And they’ll dish up a rattlesnake into a tasty ragout. No fresh
milk--no fresh meat--nothing but tallow-fried steak; ground beans in
your coffee-cup in the morning.”

These fancy sketches, however, bore not the slightest resemblance to the
actual truth; they were born of a _too_ lively imagination, with no
experience to keep it from rambling into the realms of fiction. In _all_
the Southern cities we visited there was most excellent hotel
accommodation to be found, though the hotels are not as a rule, either
so large or luxurious as those in other portions of the United States.
There are fewer grand corridors, less velvet upholstery, less carving
and gilding and gorgeous mirrors; but the rooms are large, airy, and
conveniently furnished, and nowhere is a comfortable lounge or
rocking-chair found wanting. The cuisine is not always such as to tickle
the palate of an epicure, or gratify the taste of a gourmet. There is no
attempt (and how often in the most pretentious hotels it is _only_ an
attempt) at French cookery--no _entrées_, no “high falutin” arrangements
at the dinner table; but there is generally good soup, a great variety
of excellent fish and vegetables, poultry, fruit, and pies, and
puddings, and most delicious crisp salads of all descriptions--and what
can a whole-souled, hungry mortal desire more? No one with a healthy
appetite and good digestion will complain of Southern fare, to which
Southern courtesy imparts perhaps its sweetest savour.

There are plenty of wild fowl, but a scarcity of all such animal food as
beef or mutton, in consequence of there being so little grazing land,
and that little is of very poor quality; the cattle they do raise is of
the most inferior order--Pharaoh’s lean kine; and as they are not able
to satisfy their own appetites, are not qualified to gratify ours. The
native meats are tough and flavourless. Private families get along very
well with the articles of consumption enumerated above. The good sirloin
or succulent saddle is rarely seen upon their tables, though the hotels
import largely; indeed, throughout Georgia, Carolina, &c., the
substantials are always supplied from the eastern states. Our bill of
fare reads thus:--“Tennessee beef,” “Boston pork,” “New York mutton,”
and even “New York lamb.”

On a sunny morning we take our first ramble through the “forest city” of
Savannah, and how well it deserves the name! It seems to have grown out
of the very heart of the “forest primeval,” whose giant progeny still
keep guard over the nest of human kind. Whichever way we turn, we look
through long vistas of shady streets crossing each other at right
angles; at each of these crossings, throughout the entire city, is an
open space laid out as a pretty little pleasaunce or toy garden,
carpeted with soft turf and tiny beds of bright flowers, and sometimes
planted with green shrubberies, while the fine old forest trees, which
time and civilisation have left standing, spread their wide branches for
colonies of wild birds to build and sing in. These spaces are like
slightly improved miniature editions of Paddington Green, but every one,
though it be but twelve foot square, is dignified by the name of “park.”

Some of the widest thoroughfares have four rows of trees planted the
entire length, the branches here and there meeting overhead, forming a
perfect archway, while the open street cars on the Central Avenue
beneath seem to carry us along through primeval bowers of luxuriant
green; we can hardly believe that anything so prosaic as “iron rails”
supply part of the motive power.

We find these open street cars a most convenient and pleasant mode of
locomotion, and spend much time riding about the city in this democratic
fashion, for the streets are ill-kept and dusty, and the roadways
sometimes a foot deep with heavy sand, so that it is impossible either
to walk or drive in a private vehicle with any comfort. Once we are
attracted by big red letters painted on a car side “Concordia,” “Forsyth
Park.” Everybody says we must go there; we take everybody’s advice, and,
as usual, find “nothing in it.” Concordia is a fine name for a small
tea-garden; Forsyth is a pretty shady spot, though it might be railed
into a small corner of Kensington Gardens; but the warm southern breeze,
and the oleander, orange, lemon, and magnolia--although the latter is
not yet in bloom--have made our short expedition a most agreeable one.

There is little architectural beauty anywhere in the city or its
surroundings--scarcely any attempt at ornamentation. The houses are made
up of doors and windows on the strictest utilitarian principles.

The natural beauties of this Arcadian city are so great they don’t seem
to care at all for the embellishments of art. Among the pleasant drives
in the city suburbs, is one to Laurel Grove. We step from the cars at
the terminus, and inquire of an old negro our way to the nearest point
of interest. He regarded us a moment with his beady black eyes, with his
head on one side like an inquisitive old bird. “Why! why! I thought
everybody know’d everywheres about Laurel Grove. But maybe you don’t
live nigh Savannah--come a long ways, perhaps?” he added curiously.

We explained our nationality.

“My lord! England!” I wish I could paint the expression of astonishment,
curiosity, and interest that overspread his good-humoured old monkey
face as he added, inspecting us admiringly, “My! Think o’ that! I never
spoke to an English lady but once before. It’s a cold country over thar,
ain’t it?”

The old man seems inclined to talk, and I am disposed to encourage his
loquacity; so much information may be gained in those gatherings by the
wayside--one feels the pulse of the spirit of the people, and learns
which way their hearts are beating. It is wiser to feed upon such crumbs
as chance throws in our way, than to wait till a full banquet of
stereotyped facts are spread before us. He asked me many questions,
which I answered in the way best suited to his understanding; then I
began a short catechism on my side. He was very communicative, and
answered me frankly enough. He had been born a slave, he said, on a
cotton plantation a few miles from the city, and in the season still
worked for his old master.

“But since you are now free,” I inquire, “why don’t you go North, and
break all connection with the old life? surely you would find more
advantageous employment and opportunities for improvement there?”

“Na, na,” said the old man, “we never go North; the Yankees set’s free
and gie’s votes, but it ain’t home-like to us thar. We likes to stay
along o’ them as we was raised wi’; ole mass’rs know all ’bout us, n’ we
know all about them.”

We found the changes rung to the same tune with but slight variation
throughout the South. The coloured people will serve their old masters,
will ask their advice and guidance, go to them for consolation in their
trouble, and seek their assistance when they are in difficulties; but
they will not vote for them, nor in any way serve their political
influence. They seem to have a hazy notion that they might be taken back
into slavery; they cannot realise that such a thing is impossible, nor
can they understand that their masters are glad to be rid of the
responsibility which slavery imposed upon them. The masters rejoice in
their freedom as much as the slaves do in theirs.

Beautiful in itself, beautiful in its surroundings, Savannah is an
ideal city for a summer lounge, with its pleasant shady promenades and
myriad miniature parks, thronged with people who are always well dressed
but never loud in their attire; there is a quiet refinement and dignity
about them which savours of old world conservatism.

A host of good fairies seem to have been hovering round at the birth of
Savannah. In 1733 the city consisted of only a few tents pitched under
the pine trees between what is now Bull and Whitaker Streets, now it is
one of the most thriving cities of the South; both wharves and quays are
crowded with men and merchandise, for a brisk and flourishing business
is carried on in the timber and cotton trade. It is a most important
commercial centre, both its imports and exports being on a largely
increasing scale.

It is impossible not to enjoy thoroughly a saunter through this Arcadian
city, a chat with the natives included. We were constantly amused by
finding ourselves playing at a forced game of “cross questions and
crooked answers,” our inquiries on any subject never receiving a direct
reply. In years gone by I had a passing pleasant acquaintance with a
family who lived in Savannah, but who, I afterwards learnt, were then
sojourning in England for a time. It would have given me great pleasure
to renew the acquaintance, and I inquire of the hotel clerk if Mr. ----
is still living in Savannah?

“Ain’t seen him for a long while; think he’s dead or gone to Europe, but
I’ll ask.” He telephones the inquiry to some invisible party, and a
sepulchral voice answers back--

“Don’t know--but Peter Green he died last week.”

The connection between the deceased Peter Green and my acquaintance,
Mr. ----, I have yet to learn. Another time we ask--

“Which is the car for Thunderbolt?” and are promptly answered,

“That red un is startin’ right away for Laurel Grove.” I inquire the way
to the railway station, and am directed to the river side. I ask about
the morning train, and am answered with detailed information about the
evening express. However, on sternly reiterating my question, and
emphasising the note of interrogation, I sometimes succeeded in at last
receiving the desired information.

No one should leave Savannah without visiting the ancient cemetery of
Buonaventura, the former residence of a fine old family, which passed
from their hands many years ago, and after undergoing many changes has
been at last converted into a cemetery. On entering the noble avenue,
and passing beneath the arching glories of the grand old oaks, with
their long weird robes of Spanish moss, it is difficult to believe that
we are entering a city of the dead, by whom indeed it is very sparsely
populated, the graves are so few and far between; one can almost fancy
that the dead had wandered thither, and moved by the sublime repose of
the place had lain down to rest, while nature wrapped them round about
with her soft mantle of green, and showered her sweet-scented wild
flowers above them. There is a profound mournfulness too hovering around
these silent, solitary avenues, where groups of sombre giant trees stand
brooding and wrapped in their grey moss mantles, with drooping arms, and
hoary heads bent low together, as though they were whispering mysteries,
holding a solemn council, and pronouncing the eternal sentence on the
dead below.

There is nothing prosaic or commonplace about Savannah; it is a
perfectly idyllic city, primitive and simple in its ways, with no stir
of frivolous worldly gaieties to rouse it from its sublime repose. No
sound of drums and trumpets runs echoing through its streets; the only
music is that which the wind makes as it whistles in many monotones
through the tall tree tops, and calls soft melodies from the tremulous
leaves, as the ancient god Pan made music by the reedy waterside. It is
not grey with age, nor marred and scarred by the hand of time; it seems
to luxuriate in eternal youth, and live a dreamy life of unaltered
poetry and sunshine. Even that most prosaic of all institutions, the
police station, is in perfect unison with the rest of this Arcadian
city; it seems to have nothing to do but drone away its hours in one
ceaseless _dolce far niente_, as though the ugly serpent sin crawled low
down out of sight--perhaps stirring the hearts, but rarely inciting the
acts of the people. There seems to be a great scarcity even of small
sinners. It is a low, clean, brick building in a cool shady part of the
city; covered with climbing plants and held close in the embrace of an
ancient vine, which twines in and out of every nook and cranny as though
it could never be torn away but with the life of the building.

Well, our last day in this forest city closes; the mocking bird, that
sings only in the dark, holds its last concert on our verandah, and we
are sung to sleep by the sharp cutting cries of a family of youthful
alligators which some northern tourists are taking home in a tank.



CHAPTER VII.

     To-day and yesterday.--General experience of travel in the
     South.--The associated Southern Railways.


On first starting Southward everybody warned us of the great discomfort
of Southern travel; we were therefore prepared for all kinds of
inconvenience and annoyances by the way--partly arising from the alleged
dearth of proper meal stations, and the long waits at the little wayside
stations, where we expected to be turned out of one train and left
disconsolately waiting in the wilderness till we are picked up by
another, and we were prepared to resign ourselves to jolting cars and
rough roads, indeed to a series of jerky rickety journeys, ill fed by
day, ill lodged by night.

Having reached thus far, we have continued to pick up many crumbs of
experience by the way, and I think this is a fitting place to pause, and
say a few words on this and some few other subjects. First, I have no
doubt that my many friendly informants spoke according to the light
which illuminated their minds, reflected from the days gone by, when
things generally were in a chaotic state, trembling in the balance
between order and disorder; or perhaps they thought retrospectively of a
time still earlier, when there were few travellers and scarce
accommodation--for the one must grow in accordance with the other. _Mais
nous avons changé tout cela._ In no country in the world are changes so
rapid and complete as in the United States. North and south, east and
west--all are animated by the same spirit of progress; always on the
onward march; carrying on their social revolutions with a rapidity that
astonishes and takes away the breath of the dear old world, which has
been working for centuries building up cities, gathering peoples
together, making laws, and evolving constitutions from the heart of
ages, lopping off and pruning the rotten branches till it has grown
tired of its labours, and would fain fold its hands and rest. But the
new world has its life before it; like a strong young Samson, it is full
of restless energies, it must always be “up and doing,” and trying its
strength in all directions--building up on theoretical principles,
bombarding and pulling down as practical necessities lead them, changing
the features of the land, modelling and remodelling day by day till,
were the whole skies turned into a looking-glass, it would not recognise
its own face as reflected therein.

The South of to-day is not the South of the yesterdays. It has slept
and dreamed through so many generations of beautiful repose beneath
sunny skies and soft sweet airs, enjoying an eternal _dolce far niente_
and giving no thought to anything beyond itself. Now it is awake, it has
unsealed its eyes, shaken off the luxurious flowery chain that has held
it like links of iron, stretched its limbs, and, as a sleeping army
springs to life at the sound of the trumpet, it is up and doing;
developing its marvellous resources on the earth and under the earth,
building factories, opening mines, and utilising its wonderful water
power--forcing the quiet river out of its accustomed way, lashing it
till, after much foaming, flashing, and groaning, it grinds the corn,
crushes the rough ore, and labours at the world’s work like a sentient
being.

In the old days there was not much travel through the Southern States.
The wealthy planter lived literally under his own vine and fig tree--a
life of luxurious ease and sweet contentment. There, on his own domain,
he kept a kind of feudal state, surrounded by his dusky subjects. There
was no stimulant, because no need for exertion; the refinements and
elegances were in a state of high cultivation, and his requirements were
gratified by his immediate surroundings; he rarely looked beyond them.
Everything bloomed in his own garden, except, perhaps, heartsease, for
he always listened for the storm which he knew must arise on some
future though indefinite day. Perhaps in due course his sons went the
tour of Europe, and then returned to the old homestead to tread in their
father’s footsteps, and live through life in the old primitive,
luxurious fashion. On the rare occasions when they decided to travel
through their own states to and from points out of the beaten path made
by the main railway lines, or the steamboats ploughing their watery
highways, they had to journey across the country where roads were rough
or existed not at all; the arrangement needing much consideration and
being attended by considerable expense.

The journey they could take in twelve hours by rail would occupy four or
five days, when they must carry their own servants and provisions with
them, and also be provided with a supply of tents, and generally camp
out from the beginning to the end of the journey. They required to
travel very carefully too, not only from the generally swampy state of
the country, but from the risk they ran of making acquaintance with
slimy reptiles and other odious creations. These considerations rendered
the expedition one that could hardly be taken for pleasure; but now, in
these later days, it is a delight to travel in this sunny land;
travelling is made easy even to the most remote portion of the Southern
States, and every day things are everywhere improving and making a
royal progress as near perfection as we can ever hope to arrive.

The main line of railway runs, like an iron vertebra, a kind of
backbone, from north to south; the directors of the southern line of
railway, realising the necessity of extension, and desirous of giving
easy access to all parts of the country, have laid down branch lines in
all directions, running out like the arms of an octopus, grasping at
distant towns and villages, and halting at the most beautiful secluded
spots in the inmost quarters of the land. Having due regard to the fact
that people will not travel unless they can do so with a tolerable
amount of ease and comfort, the projectors of the southern lines of
railway have paid due respect to the requirements of the public, and
have formed their plans and carried on their operations with a view to
the convenience and comfort of their temporary guests.

The lines are carefully laid over level roads with the best steel rails,
and are carried through some of the most picturesque as well as the most
weird and wild portions of the country. The carriages are new, the
drawing-room and sleeping cars elegantly fitted up with luxurious spring
seats, mirrors, and gorgeous surroundings.

In order to insure safety, so far as safety can be assured in any branch
of human life, the trains are in the command of the most experienced
engineers, and are supplied with the patent Westinghouse automatic air
brakes, and all other new and improved appliances, so as to reduce the
risk of travelling to a minimum degree. Everything is done with
leisurely dignity and quietude in the South; there is no bustle or
confusion, no general rush, even at the depots. The iron horse, in his
bright brass harness, comes up to the platform with a few dignified
snorts; there is no puffing, nor blowing, nor demoniacal shrieks, as
though a score of fiends were struggling to get free from their fiery
prison. He deposits his living freight according to their several
desires; then, answering to the call of the engine-bell, as a good steed
responds to the spur of his rider, with a stately tramp moves onward,
the thin blue smoke curling from his cavernous nostrils, as though he
were some metallic monster going for an evening stroll with a gigantic
cigar between his iron lips.

Those who take delight in going at express speed must abandon that idea
in travelling South. There is no rapid transit there, no “Lightning
Express” nor “Flying Dutchman” thunders through those sylvan scenes; but
you are carried along at a decorous pace, at the rate of twenty,
sometimes thirty, miles an hour. This is a great gain to those who
travel for pleasure only, as they are enabled thoroughly to enjoy the
scenery of the state they are moving through.

The rich, romantic forest, with its hoary-headed army of grand old
trees--grim cedars, lofty pines, and light skirmishing lines of graceful
palmettoes, all dressed in their regimentals of varied greens--march
slowly and solemnly by, saluting you gravely with their bowing branches
as they pass in panoramic review before your eyes; you have time to take
in the individual character of these glorious hummocks and savannahs as
you pass them by. For personal enjoyment it is surely better to travel
in this leisurely fashion than to fly through the air, hurled and
whirled along at express speed, till earth and sky seems blended
together in one blurred mass of mingled blue and green.

There are well-provisioned restaurants stationed at certain intervals
all along the road. The excellence of these, of course, varies according
to the management; at most you may enjoy the luxury of a thoroughly well
cooked meal--the universal steak, fried chicken, varied vegetables,
dessert, and milk and coffee _ad libitum_. At some you get a dainty meal
that even an epicure might enjoy; I call to mind one perfectly luxurious
entertainment. The train drew up at a secluded wayside spot; it was no
station at all, only a few pretty cottages embowered in trees were
scattered about in sight. We were convoyed by our polite train conductor
through a blooming garden to one of these, with the porch overgrown with
honeysuckle and a wealth of white roses; here, in a simply furnished
dining-room, preparations had been made for our entertainment. We were a
party of about twenty, including the engineer and conductors; and while
the brown bees were droning at their pleasant work outside, the
brilliant-hued flowers peeped in at the windows, nodded their plumed
heads at us, and kept up a whispering concert while we regaled ourselves
on the good things set before us. It was a dainty feast, fit for the
gods; there was no vulgar display of huge underdone joints--the very
sight of which is apt to chase away the appetite without cost to its
owner; there were broiled chickens with mushrooms, delicate lamb, crisp
salad, new potatoes stewed in cream, new laid eggs, strawberries, dainty
omelets, and other tempting dishes. A steaming cup of fragrant coffee
was handed round as, our twenty minutes having expired, we were summoned
to depart by the stentorian cry of “All aboard! All aboard!” Everybody
complimented our hostess--a widow lady--on her pleasant entertainment,
and promised to advise everybody to stop there and taste her
hospitality.

The train only stops here once in the twenty-four hours; the rest of
the time the cottage and its inhabitants are left to enjoy their sweet
seclusion. Of course this kind of thing is an exception, though at
several stations we enjoyed excellent meals well worth the tourist’s
while to remember. As the happiness of a human being largely depends on
the state of his stomach, if that portion of machinery is judiciously
treated it helps to keep the rest in order, and is an aid to general
good spirits.

At one place--Smithville in Georgia--a capital home-made wine,
“Scuppernong,” was supplied liberally and without extra charge. The cost
of a meal was sometimes fifty cents, but more usually seventy-five
cents. Occasionally the steak may be tough, the “rooster” have outgrown
his early youth, but with plenty of fresh eggs and bacon, vegetables,
salad, and bread and butter, the hungry may be well satisfied.

I have perhaps dwelt on this subject more than it was necessary I should
have done; but so many misapprehensions exist, so many false reports (no
doubt ignorantly) circulated concerning Southern travel, that I have
thought it well to give my slight experience on the subject, and I am
sure my testimony will be supported by all who have followed or may
follow in my footsteps. Of course, in the great army of tourists there
is always a contingent of native-born grumblers who are never
satisfied, and wander through the sullen groves of discontent and fret
the very air with their endless complaining; and even when they enter
the gates of heaven they will complain, like the dissatisfied cherub,
that “their halo doesn’t fit.”



CHAPTER VIII.

     _En route_ for Jacksonville.--A few words about Florida.--Its
     climate.--Its folk.--Its productions.


When the associated Southern railways cease to exist the Florida Transit
takes up the matter, and conveys you with equal comfort to some of the
most attractive points of the state.

We are soon _en route_ for Florida, which is the kind of Mecca of our
hearts’ desires. Florida! The very name is suggestive of sunshine and
flowers, orange groves, and the sweet-scented air of “Araby the blest.”
I have but little time and little space to devote to this varied and
beautiful land, and fear that my brief sketch will convey but a faint
idea of the country; though it may perhaps serve to waken the interest
and induce some few to follow in my footsteps, or rather to make a visit
of inspection on their own account and see and judge for themselves. If
they go from mere curiosity only they will find plenty to gratify it,
and if with any idea of settling there the field is so wide, the
attractions so varied, they will find no difficulty in settling
according to their hearts’ desires; whatever they seek in the way of
climate or of soil they will surely find there if they give themselves
time and trouble to seek it out.

This being one of the younger children of the state, having been born
into it indeed only in 1845, its progress has been slow--much slower
than that of many of the other states in this “go-ahead” land, many of
which have grown to maturity at a single bound, like the magic tree the
Indian jugglers show us, which is planted, grows, bears buds, flowers,
and fruits in the very hour of its birth. Although the natural
advantages of Florida are unequalled, its development has been very
gradual, and its population, scanty and scattered, is much smaller in
proportion than that of any other state in the Union. We may, perhaps,
except Nevada and Colorado, both of which are mountainous, rocky
regions, whereas Florida is a level land, its highest elevation being
about 500 feet above the sea, and very rarely attaining to that. There
is, however, a constant tide of immigration flowing into the state, and
the increase of the population during the last dozen years is
surprising. Still some of the finest portions of the state are yet
unpenetrated--luxuriant wildernesses left in a state of nature; but
these are being rapidly cleared, and there is room enough for another
million of workers and a promising field for their speculations. Let
the settlers flock in as fast as they may, provided they come with an
adequate supply of patience, industry, and discrimination in their
choice of a settlement, a prosperous career may be assured to them; for
Florida has a soil fitted for the production of every possible kind of
fruit, flowers, vegetables, and forest produce that can be cultivated in
any part of the temperate or semi-tropical world.

Many of us have heard (and regarded as fabulous) of its growth of
oranges and lemons, but these marvellous accounts are in no way
exaggerated. Some orange groves have produced for their owners from 300
to 3,000 dollars an acre, and a single acre of pines has produced as
much as 1,200 dollars in one season! Such prolific productions and large
profits are by no means uncommon, especially when there is a railway
depot near at hand which renders the transport easy.

It is not uncommon to see wide stretches of wheat fields ripening in
January. Sugar cane and pines are largely cultivated in the
semi-tropical portions of the state, which yield an immense profit; and
of garden vegetables, sometimes, nay often, two or three abundant crops
are produced from the same tract of land within the year. Common
vegetables as well as dainty fruits grow abundantly, and peach trees
attain to a prodigious size; the largest known grows in Volusia County,
its branches spreading nearly eighty feet in diameter! Everything grows
with a spontaneity that is surprising--fruits and flowers everywhere in
the woods and wildernesses in wild luxuriance. The very nature of things
seems to be reversed; pears grow on graceful vines, peas on stately
trees, and some things (as witness the air plant) grow on nothing at
all. But in spite of the richness of the soil, the geniality of the
climate, Florida is not exactly a paradise; here as elsewhere man must
carry out the great law, and labour for his daily bread. Nature is
prolific, and yields her treasures ungrudgingly, but she demands
something in return. Men must come to her with a strong arm and patient
brain, bring their intelligence to the fore, learn to watch her varying
moods and seasons, and prune and train and use her after her own
fashion; all this has to be learned by a new comer, for the agricultural
process and the treatment of fruits and flowers is quite different from
that which is necessary in their culture elsewhere; but given a certain
amount of prudence and knowledge, and more comfort with less labour may
be obtained here than in any other part of the world, for it is rarely
too hot, rarely too cold. Frost is never an expected visitor, though in
certain years it has been a most unwelcome guest, and amply revenged
itself for its general expulsion from the soil. The winter of 1880 was
exceptionally severe; it girded on its frosted garments and travelled
southward, sweeping through the northern part of Florida and laying its
icy hand upon orange and lemon groves, freezing the fruit upon the
trees, working sad havoc wherever it took its frozen way, causing great
loss to all, ruin to some; but this visitation was confined to a very
small portion of the state. In the larger and more numerous districts
frost is simply unknown, and its advent would cause as much wonderment
as a snowstorm in Calcutta. The truth is, there is trinity and unity in
the state, three Floridas in one, which may be thus classified--the
tropical, semi-tropical, and temperate or northern Florida. The latter,
northern Florida, is a land of wheat, corn, cotton, rice, apples,
grapes, etc.--indeed, all cereals, fruits, or vegetables that are
cultivated in the northern provinces may be grown here, as well as some
few of the hardier Southern products. Slight frosts and cold snaps are
not of infrequent occurrence, and the scenery is the most picturesque of
all the state, being varied by grand rolling forests, grey, rugged
rocks, and beautiful winding streams, where fish and wild fowl of all
kinds are most abundant. The temperature is delightful all the year
round, and it is in this region the finest live stock is raised.

In middle or semi-tropical Florida the soil is of a sandy character, the
country flat and uninteresting, unvaried by streams or rivers; it is
only in the orange lake region that a fair extensive lake may here and
there be found, hidden away in some wooded tract of uncultivated land.
Here many of the products of the temperate or tropical regions, such as
lemons, figs, guava, and citron trees, may be found growing side by
side, all the year round; and delicious vegetables, tomatoes, beets,
lettuce, cucumbers, and fine marrowfat peas, are shipped daily in large
quantities, and despatched northward during the months of January,
February, and March. Strawberries, too, are largely cultivated, and
yield an immense profit.

Strangers are daily flocking into this district from all points of the
states. Many prefer this to the more southern parts of Florida, and
large settlements are growing rapidly everywhere, especially along the
line of the Transit Railway, which runs between Cedar Keys and
Fernandina. Almost fabulous quantities of the hardier fruits and
vegetables are produced here, and as the facilities of transportation
lie near at hand, they are at once placed in the hands of the consumer,
and with the slightest expense to the grower. This region is, however,
always liable to frost, which may be looked for any time during the
winter months, but may not appear for many years; but when it does come,
the crops are ruined for that season.

Southern Florida is really the tropical region, the Egypt of the United
States, where frosts are unknown, and every fruit or flower, or forest
product, which grows in the most tropical quarters of the world, is or
may be cultivated with complete success. Pine-apples, bananas, cocoanut,
guava, almonds, olives and figs, with a long list of other tropical
fruits, are produced in luxuriant abundance, but we no longer wander
through groves of orange or lemon trees. Of scenery in these parts there
is nothing to speak of; in the interior it is made up of sunshine,
fruits and flowers. The land is level and uninteresting till you reach
the coast line, where all along the Atlantic shore you have fine
picturesque ranks of bold rocky landscape, flanked by the glorious old
sea. For 1,150 miles the sea washes the shores of Florida, and yet
throughout this long stretch of seaboard there are but a very few good
harbours, and these are chiefly on the Atlantic coast.

All along this coast line the country is very prolific, and in the
woods, in the air, in the lakes, and in the rivers, fish, flesh and
fowl--especially oysters and turtles--are most abundant. This is a
delightful region wherein to enjoy a perfect summer climate during the
winter months; but at the midsummer time, gnats, flies, and mosquitoes
are swarming, and become a perfect scourge. Here, too, at the
furthermost southern point, jutting out between the Atlantic Ocean and
the Gulf of Mexico, are the celebrated “Everglades”--an immense tract of
country consisting of many thousands of square miles of flat prairie
land, completely covered with fresh sweet water, clear as crystal, and
varying from six inches to six feet deep. This in turn is studded with
islands which bear an immense growth of oak, hickory, palmetto, pine,
cedar, and other valuable timbers, and here in these peculiar wilds
dwell the remnant of the Seminole Indians, once the most powerful of all
the Indian tribes which formerly inhabited those isolated regions. It
needs not be said that no white folk are dwellers herein, though
occasionally a bold party of hunters will penetrate these desolate
regions; and on their return to the civilised world they bring a
pleasant account of the simple hospitality and kindly spirit of the
inhabitants.

There is some talk of draining these Everglades; if this idea be carried
out, it will open up millions of acres of valuable cotton and sugar
lands, and will, no doubt, be quickly occupied by an adventurous
multitude.

The first great need here, as in other parts of Florida, is population.
Let a party of pioneers start with pickaxe and shovel, and hew out the
first pathway; one builds the first shanty, a companion follows and
builds another; men are gregarious animals, and the nucleus once formed,
soon gather together. Small storekeepers bring thither the necessities
of life (a saloon and liquor store is among the first erections); then
follows the wholesale dealers, the bankers, and soon solid prosperity is
assured to the little colony. Villages spring up and soon expand into
cities, for wherever labour leads capital quickly follows. There is no
need for labour to languish for want of funds, industry and brains are
more valuable than money in the market; and no matter how poor, even
penniless, a man may be, if he is willing to work and to aid in the
developing another man’s land, he will surely end by cultivating his
own. It is not wealth that has made the first step towards progression
in any land, it is always the poor emigrant, with his rifle and
wheelbarrow, who first penetrates the wilds, turns the first sod, and so
lays the first stone of cities and civilisation.

Nowhere can the capitalist find so large a scope for his speculations,
and nowhere can the poor man find a better market for the labour of his
hand or the fruits of his brain; with industry and prudence he may be
assured of present comfort and future prosperity--limitless prosperity,
provided also that he be energetic and wise.

The development of Florida has generally been carried on by the northern
people. Everywhere throughout the entire state they are planning fresh
improvements: draining swampy lands, fertilising the soil, and
experimentalising with strange crops, building railways, cities, mills,
and churches--in fact, endeavouring to cultivate, and turn to good
account the most neglected and wildest regions; and everywhere their
endeavours are crowned with success, for on every side you find evidence
of northern capital and northern enterprise. No one who thinks of
settling and establishing a permanent residence in this “flowery land,”
can do better than consult Barbour’s _Florida_, from which he can
extract all he desires to know.

Mr. Barbour has visited all parts, and penetrated the remotest recesses
of the state, and has made himself thoroughly acquainted with the
resources of every special district, and has boiled his varied
experiences down, and reproduced them in the aforenamed volume. He gives
no advice, makes no attempt to influence settlers in their choice of a
location; he merely states facts, gives a descriptive account of each
district--its capabilities, its climate, its soil, and gives a list of
such cereals, fruits, flowers, and vegetables, etc. as have been, or may
be, most successfully cultivated in each place; thus imparting most
valuable information to those who most need it, never misleading the
inquiring mind or twisting the imagination awry.

I have no time to consider the subject of Florida so particularly as I
desire to do; I can only generalise, as a rule, and visit such special
places as are easy of access, and are, or are likely to become, places
of popular resort, either for the invalid or pleasure-seeker; my object
is to enjoy the season, and see what there is for other people to enjoy.

Some transient visitors who have eyes yet no eyes, sensibilities without
sense, give a brief but sweeping opinion of Florida, and say--

“It’s a hot, dry, dusty place, nothing in it but oranges and
alligators--good enough in winter for those poor creatures who don’t
care to run the risk of freezing in the north; and that’s all there is
in it.”

Such hastily uttered opinions are no doubt attributable to a bilious
temperament or bad digestion. Every season brings a fresh influx of
visitors, some in search of health, some in search of pleasure; there is
a plentiful supply of both, and each may choose his own fashion of
taking it. Some love to lounge on the wide verandahs looking over the
perfumed garden of fruits and flowers, enjoying in January the soft
balmy breath of June; or they may wander through miles of orange groves,
or row upon the quiet moonlit lakes or rivers, or indulge in fishing
expeditions up the wonderful “St. John’s,” varying that gentle pastime
by shooting wild ducks or alligators.

Those who are inclined to enjoy a pure pleasure trip, a ramble through
the ancient Spanish cities and modern towns, to take a trip up the Royal
St. John’s, or the weird wild Ocklawaha--the most wonderful water-way in
the world--may let loose their imagination and go with me, for I am _en
route_ for Jacksonville.



CHAPTER IX.

     Pine forests.--Arcadian scenes.--Strange companionship.--We reach
     Jacksonville.


Our road still lies through cities of silent pines, stirred only by the
voice of the moaning wind; whole armies of them are drawn up on either
side, stretching away as far as the eye can reach. They look as though
they have just come out of a great battle: some are crippled and stand
tottering on their roots, others hang their lank limbs as though they
have not strength to upbear their weight of leaves, and some are
standing with huge gashes in their sides, and punctured wounds all over
their bodies; their bark is stripped off, and their naked trunks are
scarified all over, they are cut and stabbed till their poor veins are
drained of their life’s blood. Here and there stands the rough,
tumble-down shanty of the turpentine distillers--a hard-working and
intelligent set of labourers, who are largely employed in these lonely
forest regions, gathering the wealth of these gigantic uncomplaining
pines. And how great is the wealth that is gathered therefrom--tar and
rosin, phosphate of lime, of soda, of magnesia, potash, and many other
important chemicals are wrung from their generous limbs. They give,
give, give, till their strength is exhausted; then the distiller moves
on and carries the war into another part of the country, while his
victims are left to recuperate. But no sooner are they grown strong and
vigorous again with renewed healthy life--the sap rising and refilling
their empty veins--scarcely have their old wounds had time to heal, when
they are again attacked by the ruthless requirements of man. Their sides
are cut and stabbed, and once more their veins are emptied, and thus,
like dropsical human kind, they are tapped again and again till they are
dried up, and have nothing more to give. Their green crowns fall, their
arms wither, and they are left to a lonely, though picturesque old age,
and are perhaps more admired in the naked grandeur of their decline than
in their youthful prime; for are not the ruined castles of old days more
impressive and attractive than the gorgeous palaces of the new? for
there nature in the long run beats art even at her own work. As fast as
art builds up time begins to break down, and does his work by
imperceptible degrees: then nature with decorative ingenuity comes to
the fore and clothes the dilapidations with soft moss and a graceful
combination of ivy, ferns, and flowers, till the ugly skeleton with its
empty sockets and crumbling limbs is all aglow with a beautiful new
life--a picturesqueness that is only born of decay.

Here and there, creeping out from some watery waste within their midst,
are wide shining pools, overspread with soft green lily pads, with fair
white blossoms cushioned thereon, looking as pure and innocent as baby
fairies asleep on a bed of green leaves.

As we jog solemnly along on our iron road the scene undergoes a gradual
change, and we are soon in a new world of green; the change has been so
gradual indeed that we hardly know when we took our last look of the
dark sombre pines of the north. Their brethren of the South, with whom
we are now making acquaintance, are of a lighter colour, and seem of a
more airy frivolous nature than the northern forest kings whom we have
left a few hundred miles behind us. Here they are tall, slim, and
straight, with bare smooth trunks, and a chaplet of pale feathery green
leaves waving like warriors’ plumes above their lofty heads. We have
soon outrun the romantic cypress swamps, the salt marshes, and forest
lands; the shining pools with their lovely water lilies give place to
banks of fine white sand, but still among the yellow pines the white
blossom of the dogwood streams out like a hidden banner half unfurled.

The form and character of the trees here are very different from the
eastern or northern branches of their family, just as an oriental beauty
differs from a Belgravian belle. We are no longer rushing through
luxuriant “hammocks,” and tangles of a leafy wonderland; the ground is
rough and uneven, and has but a scanty growth of green. Now and then we
come upon a solitary date-palm, majestic in its stately loneliness; the
surrounding trees seem to have fallen away from it and group themselves
in the distance, as though in honour to its royalty. Here, too, is the
tall palmetto, the parent of a large family of dwarf palmettoes which
are gathered around it, with their sheaves of lance-like leaves lifted
in the sunlight.

We thoroughly enjoy the novelty of the scenery, so different from that
we have already passed through. We feel we are on the threshold of a
tropical land, and wait eagerly for its wonder to unfold itself; the
change is so subtle and silent we cannot tell where it began; we feel it
in the very air we breathe, even the sunshine seems to fall from a
different part of the heavens, and to bring with it a kind of perfumed
warmth with its glorious light. Then we cross wide tracts of barren sand
dunes--rich red sand--with here and there a stunted growth of green;
these poor tracts of country are occasionally varied by rich hammocks or
clearings, interspersed with a tangle of wild orange trees or stately
palmettoes, half smothered in the embrace of luxuriant vines.

Presently we stop at a kind of wayside hotel (the veriest hovel that
sells a jug of lager or slab of corncake is dignified by the name of
hotel); it is quite in the wilderness, a sort of travellers’ rest, with
not a shanty nor even a pig-stye in sight, for the wild hogs (and their
name is legion) run free--poor homeless tramps of the wilderness; and
long legged, ragged-looking Cochin-Chinas are strutting about crowing
their loudest, as though the whole world belonged to _them_. This is no
house of entertainment for us; we have been merely signalled to stop to
take up passengers. For in a moment a fierce-looking portly gentleman,
warranted fresh from his tailor, comes out of the low cranky door, and
an attendant darkie hauls his portmanteau after him; an abundance of
chains and seals dangle from his waistcoat pocket, and with much puffing
and blowing, like a human grampus, he gets into the train, and glares
defiantly round him. He is loud--loud in his dress, loud in his talk,
louder still in his actions; he bangs into his seat, slams down the
window, and bawls out some last instructions, then sinks into his seat,
gives sundry wrathful snorts, and sits swelling like a frog who is like
to burst. Two poor half-Indian women come down the narrow winding
pathway from the wilderness; they have evidently tramped many miles, and
slink into a seat at the very end of the train, as though they had no
business there; they have a timid, frightened look upon their dusky
faces, and glance anxiously round at everything and everybody. We gather
from their whispered confidences that they have come from some small
settlement in the interior of the country, and had never been in a train
before--possibly had never seen one; all their worldly goods seem to be
contained in the baskets and bundles which they deposit beside them, and
guard with jealous care. There is something pathetic in the care and
attention these lonely women show to each other. They are evidently
stricken by some great sorrow, for as they sit together side by side,
staring out upon the landscape with lustreless eyes, a large tear that
had been long gathering rolls slowly down the cheek of one of them; they
speak no word, but huddle closer together with a dumb sympathy that is
more eloquent than words.

We knew not whence they had come nor whither they were going; they were
two lonely women, and by their talk alone in the world, mere waifs and
strays of humanity--drifting, drifting on the tide of life, till they
are cast upon that silent shore where the tide neither ebbs nor flows.
If the engine gave an extra shriek or whistle they cast silent,
inquiring glances round like frightened animals, but never spoke a
word. At meal time they turned aside and ate surreptitiously from their
baskets, nibbling slyly like mice at a cheese.

The fierce-looking gentleman who had first attracted our attention was
evidently in a hurry to get on; he pelted the guard with questions
whenever he caught sight of him: “How far were we from this place?”
“When should we get to that?” “How slowly we were going. I could race
the engine and win,” he adds contemptuously; then he fidgeted in his
seat, and fretted and fumed; he scowled at everybody, and seemed
absolutely to swell with his own importance. He pulled out a big watch
as noisy and fussy as himself; it looked so brazen and ticked so loud as
though nothing in this world was going but itself--as though indeed it
had nothing at all to do with time, but was rather in a hurry to get
ahead of it, when it should have been minding its own business, done its
duty, and ticked the solemn flight of the passing hours. We turn our
backs upon this pompous individual, and our interest becomes absorbed in
these two poor women, from whom we gather an outline of their history.
It is a simple one: a story of trials and struggles, of tangles, of
failures, and want and sorrow, of life and death; such as may be written
of so many of the human family who reap only thorns and thistles in this
world; but in the next who knows what roses may for them be blooming!
Luckily for all such labourers, hope, like a will-o’-the-wisp, lights
the distant shadows and dances before them, now here, now there, till
they reach their journey’s end and drop unnoticed into nameless graves.

Presently we cross a narrow stream or river, and learn that we have left
the rolling lands of Georgia behind and are now in Florida. We look
round as though we expected a sudden transformation scene, but there is
no violent change. Nature is full of surprises, but here in these
latitudes she moves with a slow, subtle grace, in accordance with the
soft sunshine, and warm, soft air of these semi-tropical regions, where
nothing is in a hurry, and even the streams and rivers flow in a tender,
languid ripple. She is still changing the expression of her countenance,
but slowly; her white, gleaming sands flash more and more frequently in
our eyes. We are on the rough, ragged edge of Florida; it is flat and
sandy with a scanty growth of straggling yellow pines and stunted
palmettoes, which seem cowering down trying to hide themselves from the
sight of the sun.

Within an hour we are in Jacksonville, the first city in Florida, whence
the tourist takes his first impression of the climate and the people.
The train stops at a busy, bustling wharf, and as we step out we face
the grand expanse of the noble St. John’s river, stretching away in
gracefully curving lines to the right and the left of us; a few fishing
boats with brown patched sails are gliding to and fro, and one or two
pretty miniature steamers are puffing lazily along its surface; the
curving banks on the opposite shore are fringed with green to the
water’s edge. We turn round and face the town: there is a wide stretch
of land cut up in plots of garden ground, then a long, unbroken line of
shops and houses, varied by the lofty and elegant façades of the Everett
and Carlton Hotels which face the river front, the view however being
slightly marred by the wharf and the railway station, which is a mere
rough, wooden structure and has been hastily run up regardless of
architectural appearance; a few rough, wooden benches under cover are
all the waiting-rooms the passengers are likely to find. Adjoining the
station, and indeed forming a part of it, are long wharves and
packing-houses, where hives of busy bees are always working, especially
during the months of January and February, packing and shipping
strawberries and other delicate fruits to New York and other eastern and
northern cities. At this point there is an immense amount of railway
traffic, the iron roads running like the arms of an octopus in every
direction; trains are constantly passing to and fro, but they are too
far away for either the sight or the sounds to cause any actual
inconvenience beyond slightly obstructing the view of the Bay Street
hotels. If these ugly but useful structures were swept away, or
stationed a little farther down the river away from the town, the land
and water view from the whole line of Bay Street would be lovely in the
extreme.

Lying farther back, as we afterwards find, are numerous other hotels,
all erected in choice positions, some embowered in trees and gardens of
blooming flowers; all are beautifully shaded and luxuriously appointed
in every particular.

There are plenty of omnibuses waiting; we drive at once to the Everett,
attracted by its handsome appearance and position, and knowing that
there we should have the advantage of every breeze that blew from the
river.



CHAPTER X.

     Jacksonville.--Our hotel.--Greenleaf’s museum.--Floridian
     curiosities.--East winds and tropical breezes.--Strawberry packing.


We shake the dust from our garments and wash our travel-stained faces,
and by the time we descend to the dining-room we find that the regular
_table-d’hôte_ dinner is over, but the tables are still laid for the
accommodation of late comers. Some of the lights are out, the rest are
turned low, and scores of dusky shadows seem to be hiding in the distant
corners of the big room. The tables are laid with snow-white cloths, and
furnished with shining silver and glass and flowers, but the long saloon
is so empty and still it looks like a dead banquet lying in state rather
than the preparations for a social meal. However, as we enter with a few
others, the lights flash up and everything is lively enough, the
ever-attentive black waiters bustle briskly about, and by the time we
are comfortably seated the first instalment of our meal is before us.
Judging from the first ladle of soup, you may generally tell what your
dinner will be, they say. So from our first dainty dish of roast oysters
we augured well for our general entertainment. They are evidently
accustomed to cater for epicures and invalids; every dish is delicately
served; even if you were not hungry you would be tempted to eat. We had
scarcely commenced when our waiter inquired, in an insinuating whisper,
“Would we like a little ‘blue cat?’”

We know that in some countries rats and mice are considered rare
dainties, and even in the more civilised quarters of the globe snails
and frogs are regarded as luxurious tit-bits. We desired the blue cat to
be served, and half expected to see the feline animal served up--claws,
tail, and all smothered in sauce piquante! And why not? I believe that
French art could dress up the sole of an old shoe, or even a rusty
door-nail so as to tempt the appetite and sit easy on the digestion.
However, our blue cat turned out to be a familiar fish of most delicious
flavour; we had made acquaintance with it before, but had not been
introduced to it by its proper name; we had eaten “blue cat,” but knew
it not.

It is growing late in the month of March, and Jacksonville is not
itself, they tell us. A month ago, and the hotels were all crowded, and
so great was the influx of people they could not be comfortably housed;
fair ladies and fastidious gentlemen were forced into strange quarters,
taking their places, like aristocratic stowaways, in garrets, in lumber
rooms, or in any hole or corner where humanity can stretch itself and
sleep. Such scores of invalids and pleasure-seekers come hither in
search of health or amusement during the winter months, that although
there are many first-class hotels, and over a hundred and
fifty--counting those of a second-class and boarding-houses
together--yet even then the accommodation is scarcely enough for the
visitors. Everybody flocks to the large hotels; they like the elegantly
upholstered drawing-rooms, with their gorgeous decorations and gilded
mirrors, the lofty corridors, and, above all, the well-appointed
_cuisine_. There are some people who would rather sleep on a shelf with
their feet out of the window, like _Alice in Wonderland_, and enjoy
these luxuries, than occupy a large airy room with commonplace comforts.

During the season Jacksonville is the gayest of gay cities; its hotels
are brilliantly lighted, and the sounds of mirth and music float from
its open windows; there are concerts, private theatricals, picnics and
water-parties, no end of them. The flagging spirits of the invalids are
stirred and stimulated by the general gaieties round them; they are
driven to forget themselves, and have no time to dwell upon their own
ailments, as they are apt to do in their own domestic circle, with
anxious sympathising friends around them. Perhaps in the early stages
this is well, but in the later phases of disease the necessity of
dressing, and dining, and living in public is the heavy penalty paid for
such enjoyment. Some, however, seem to think that it is cheap at the
price.

In the morning we sally forth on a tour of inspection through the
streets of Jacksonville. The roads are so heavy with deep sand, that
driving is attended with much dust and discomfort. A lumbering vehicle
passes us on the road and we are enveloped in a cloud of fine white
sand, and grope our way with closed eyes until it has had time to settle
itself. No one, unless disposed to self-martyrdom, will think of
entering a vehicle except under direst necessity; but there are
delightful little street cars, running on an iron tramway, which take
you the entire round of the city, past all the hotels, the stores and
principal thoroughfares, and bring you back to the starting-place for
five cents. Walking is here a most delightful exercise; the side-walks
everywhere are laid with light springy planks on which it is a pleasure
to tread. We stroll on in a kind of go-as-you-please, walking-made-easy
fashion, as though we never wanted to stop. The streets are all wide,
and beautifully shaded with vigorous young water-oaks, whose luxuriant
green foliage is a contrast to the pines and palmettoes we have lately
been passing through. So rich and so dense is their wealth of leaves,
so extensive their branches, that in places they reach above our heads
across a roadway seventy-two feet wide, and we walk on under an arching
roof of green; so rapid is their growth in these latitudes that some
were pointed out to me which had attained to ten feet circumference in
forty-two years. Some grow strong and lusty in the clinging clasp of the
mistletoe, and are only saved from being smothered in its tender
embraces by the pruning-knife, which cuts down and strews the ground
with all such pleasant parasites as would otherwise sap the strength and
destroy the life of the strong young oaks. Whichever way we turn we look
through long vistas of green.

The homes of the settled population of Jacksonville are very beautiful,
and are built in pretty fanciful styles--no sameness nor dull uniformity
anywhere. Some are surrounded by blooming gardens, for here the gardens
bloom all the year round; as one flower fades and falls another takes
its place, so the floral army is always “in position.” Some are covered
with creeping plants and vines, others buried in orange-groves or
embowered in shrubs, oleanders, and magnolia trees. There is no
unsightly or incongruous feature anywhere in this lovely city; it is
literally composed of handsome hotels, elegant dwellings, and smiling
gardens. The shops are congregated on one spot, instead of being
scattered in odd corners throughout the city, and are situated in a long
line on Bay Street, where you may enjoy a pleasant promenade and
transact your business at the same time. In these shops you will find
every possible commodity of merchandise, from the baby’s teething coral
to the grandfather’s gravestone, for such _articles de luxe_ are
sometimes wanted even in Florida. A brisk trade is carried on in all
kinds of Floridian curiosities in this beautiful semi-tropical city. You
may buy bracelets and earrings of delicately-tinted sea beans, set in
silver or gold. Some say that these beans are the fruit of a leguminous
plant, which drops from the pod into the sea; others suggest that they
are washed over from the vines which grow along the shores of the West
Indies; but wherever they come from they are here in abundance and in
great variety of colours and shapes--some are opaque, some red, some a
rich brown, and some (the choicest specimens) are smoothly polished and
speckled like a leopard’s skin. Here also may be found some beautiful
specimens of Indian shell-work, and graceful plumes of dried grasses,
either natural or dyed in all the colours of the rainbow. The ladies
wear palmetto hats trimmed with leaves or feathery flowers made from
these grasses--quite a new and extremely elegant style of millinery. But
alligators’ teeth are mostly in demand; gentlemen wear them on their
watch-chains, as studs, as buttons, even as ornaments to their
umbrellas and walking-sticks; the ladies wear them set in all kinds of
fanciful ornaments. A lovely molar set in gold drops from her pretty
ear, or a row of sharp incisors coil round her wrist and grin from their
gold setting, as though they have just come from the dentist; or they
twine, half smothered in coral tongues or trellis-work of gold, about
her neck. Situated on this street, too, are the principal banks and
wholesale mercantile houses, the proprietors of which are so energetic
and enterprising they bid fair to make this the chief commercial city in
the state. The Aston Buildings, where every possible information
concerning anything or everything may be obtained--a collection of
legal, shipping, and insurance offices--are situated on the corner of
Bay and Hogan Streets. Close by, Mr. Greenleaf has quite a museum of
rare specimens of Floridian curiosities, connected with a well-stocked
bazaar, which is filled with all kinds of quaint things either for use
or ornament. This is well worth a visit, as, in addition to other
attractions, there is a kind of menagerie in the back part of the
premises, where wild cats, owls, snakes, alligators, and many other
monstrosities are on view. There is a large tank of infant alligators,
varying from six inches to a foot long. These are for sale, and are
greatly in request. I have seen them bought, packed in thick cardboard
boxes with perforated tops, and sent as presents to friends in distant
parts of the country, travelling by mail post-paid. I am told that they
rarely meet with an accident by the way, but arrive safely at their
journey’s end, hungry, but in good condition--a rather unique kind of
present, and decidedly embarrassing token of friendly remembrance.

For nearly a mile this busy business thoroughfare is lined on either
side with shops of every possible description--houses of entertainment
and variegated open stores, wine merchants, barbers’ shops, millinery
stores, fancy goods; the windows gaily dressed, all aglow with bright
colours and glittering ornaments. Elegantly dressed women and gentlemen,
the _jeunesse dorée_ of the eastern cities, saunter to and fro. It seems
as though a bit of Regent Street had been cut out and plumped down on
the skirts of this semi-tropical city.

We turn a few steps out of this animated thoroughfare, and are in a
perfect elysium; we feel as though we had turned our backs upon the
world, and are already on our way to paradise--we forget all about the
serpent. Although it is still spring-time, the thermometer reaches to
85°. They tell us that that is the maximum summer heat, and that such
weather is most unusual at this early season. The heat that would be
unendurable elsewhere is by no means oppressive here; we enjoy a stroll
through the shady streets at midday. Though the sun is at its zenith,
there is no hot glare of light anywhere, but a soft delicious breeze is
blowing--an “east wind” they call it, but it bears no resemblance to the
stormy virago who plays that _rôle_ in more northern latitudes, hurling
down church steeples, playing bagatelle with the chimney-pots, and,
worst of all, attacking with its biting breath poor helpless humanity.
In vain mankind buttons its greatcoat, and clasps its warm furs round
it, the east wind finds out its weakest place, and plays the devil’s own
tune upon its naked nerves, racks its bones with rheumatic twinges,
shooting neuralgic pains, making a target of the human body and hitting
the bull’s eye every time. Driven out of the open streets, people creep
in and cower down at their own fireside, but it follows them, it cannot
be kept out by bolts and bars; as subtle and invisible as thought it
steals down the throat, gives an evil touch to the bronchial tubes,
wrings the liver with a cruel hand, and even spoils the temper, like a
wicked old wretch as it is. One doesn’t so much mind facing the good
honest blustering north wind, it is an open foe, and in some way you can
defend yourself against it; but the east is a malicious insinuating
enemy, it will attack you even in your bed before you have had time to
put a woollen nightcap on. Here, however, it is soft and balmy, full of
a spicy fragrance; it seems to come down new-born, straight from the
gate of heaven, breathing the breath of angels, and laden with the soft
airs of eternal spring. Who can tell? Perhaps as it grows older and
travels onward it may gather evil by the way, absorb the miasmic
exhalations from the earth and from the miseries and vices of mankind
till its temper is spoilt, and it becomes as hard, cruel, and bitter as
the east wind of our own land--which we must again meet presently. But
here all is fresh and delightful. We don’t find in the face of the child
the inborn sins of its manhood, so we revel in this balmy breeze, and
give no thought to the east wind that may be afar off sweeping our
native streets, holding our friends and our foes alike in its cruel
grip.

Down on the wharf the air is scented with strawberry perfume, for, as I
think I have said elsewhere, the great packing-houses are situated here,
and trains and vessels fruit-laden come from all parts of the state and
disgorge their treasures. An immense trade in fruit and vegetables is
carried on--early peas, young potatoes, asparagus, pine-apples, and
strawberries being largely exported to the eastern and northern states;
business is brisk everywhere, but there is no confusion. Hundreds of
hands are busy packing the rich luscious strawberries in the
ice-boxes--ice above, ice below, ice everywhere; then they are
hermetically sealed and sent to New York or elsewhere, arriving there in
perfection, as though they were just fresh gathered. In front of the
wharf, lying along the river, are several small pleasure boats and some
large three-masted schooners, dipping and fretting and tossing their
mastheads, as though they were in a hurry to get their lumber freight
and be gone; the huge mill is whirring busily, its iron teeth tearing
the king of the forest to pieces as fast as it can, perhaps cutting up
and slicing some of that large family of pines we have been lately
passing through. Who knows? perhaps they may return one day shaped into
the tall strong masts of some noble ship, bearing her fluttering sails
on high, creaking and swaying in the wind as though struggling to get to
their silent brotherhood on the plains up yonder, and tell them how much
of the world they have seen, and what strange peoples they have borne
across the seas.

The busy wharves, the beautiful river, picturesque streets and Arcadian
surroundings, make this first glimpse of Florida delightful. We have
nothing to do but revel in the breeze and bask in the sunshine, and we
do it.

Jacksonville has so many advantages that it is rapidly becoming the
favourite resort of travelling multitudes. So rapid has been its growth
during the short period of its existence that its population already
numbers about 11,000; it is everywhere lighted with gas, has an
excellent water supply (though I cannot say much for the water, it
should be used as an outward application only). The postal and
telegraphic system is as near perfection as such arrangements generally
are; they have even the latest scientific improvement, the telephone.
You may travel to and from anywhere and everywhere. There is a perfect
system of river traffic, and trains are dashing in and out of the city
all day long.

It seems to us a pity that the invalid population should take their
flight so early; the weather is still perfect, and I am told it is
likely to continue so for the next two months, when it will literally be
emptied, even of its floating population. Some of its infatuated
inhabitants live there all the year round; they tell me it is delightful
even in the height of summer--“there has never been a case of sunstroke
known, there is no malaria, no fever,” no anything that humanity needs
to avoid. But these are interested folk; I shall have something to say
on that subject presently.



CHAPTER XI.

     Fernandina.--Romance or history?--Dungeness.--To Tocor.--On board
     the boat.--Oddities.--A lovely water drive.


A pleasant, slow, jog-trotting, line of railway connects Jacksonville
with Fernandina, about fifty miles distant. It is a delightful old city
situated on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, first founded by the
Spaniards in 1632, and has a most romantic history, on which, in my
glimpse of these sunny lands, I have no time to dwell; but then every
city throughout these regions has an interesting history, and the
history of one is the history of all--savage warfare with the Indians,
internal struggles with the adventurous Spaniards, as one after another
their flying expeditions came, each one firing the other with wonderful
stories of the enchanted land, telling of “great stores of crystal and
gold, rubies and diamonds” which were to be found therein. Again and
again their vessels came and fought and plundered, and went or were
driven away. Again and again the waves of humanity broke upon these
shores; some were wrecked and ruined, some drifted and married and
intermarried with the natives, and settled and flourished.

The history of the land is full of romance, from its early discovery by
Ponce de Leon, who came hither in search of the Fountain of Youth--that
fountain which plays so sweet a tune, and sparkles and flashes a
glorious baptism once in every life, and then is seen or heard no more.
Men seek for it as a kind of holy grail, but find it not. Ponce de Leon
shared the fate of the rest of the world, and instead of finding the
Fountain of Youth drank of the bitter waters of death. He was driven
back from these sunlands with great disaster, and retired to Cuba, where
he died of his wounds, aggravated by disappointment.

Deeds of crime, of cruelty, and of treachery, brightened here and there
by the noblest heroism of which humanity is capable, mark the annals of
Florida. The whole land is aglow with unwritten poetry, romance, and
passionate combinations, which, gathered together, would supply the
place of fiction for ages to come; but through her many tribulations,
quarrels, and martyrdom, she has come out the peaceful, sweet land we
see, teeming with the richest fruits and flowers of the earth. But here,
even as in the paradise of old, there lurks a whole hydra-headed brood
of serpents among the flowers. However, for the present, I must confine
my attention to Fernandina.

No trace remains of the original city. The houses of the Spaniards and
the huts of the natives are all swept away; it is fresh, new, and
bright. It has many of the characteristics of Jacksonville, but is much
quieter, and there is an appearance of quaint old-world dignified repose
about it, which lively, bustling Jacksonville does not possess--the one,
in festive dress, is always on the alert for pleasure or amusement, the
other is sweetly suggestive of home and peace.

The streets are wide and well shaded with fine oaks and magnolias; the
pretty houses are generally hidden away out of sight by the luxuriant
growth of tropical flowering shrubs, and are surrounded by smooth lawns
and gardens. There are no iron rails laid down, no cars running through
the Arcadian streets, no traffic, indeed, except the hotel omnibuses,
plying leisurely to and from the railway station. The resident
population is between two and three thousand, the number of course being
largely increased during the winter months. Every arrangement is made
for the reception and luxurious accommodation of travellers. The
“Egmont” is the finest hotel; it is beautifully situated, palatial in
its appointments, and with a fine view of the town and surrounding
country, in front of it a pretty little grove of palmettoes.

Many people prefer Fernandina to Jacksonville as being quieter, cooler,
and the climate more bracing, and less of a resort for fashionable
invalidism. The surroundings are lovely, full of romantic strolls and
pleasant wandering ways, where you may ramble without fear of getting
into a swamp or plunging into a quagmire. One favourite drive, of which
people never seem to tire, is through a lovely winding way, something
like a Devonshire lane, with stretches of flowering shrubs and tangles
of palmetto scrub lifting their shining leaves on either side. This
leads to the sea-shore, about two miles distant from the town, where
there is a wonderful beach of hard white sand as smooth and level as a
ball-room floor. Here you may enjoy an uninterrupted drive for twenty or
thirty miles, with the wild woodland country stretching away on the one
hand, and the white foam lips of the Atlantic lapping the shore on the
other, while the briny breeze comes, laden with a thousand miles of
iodine, fanning your cheek and expanding your lungs with its healing,
health-giving breath; and, under the exhilarating spell of this
invigorating air and glorious sunshine, you feel that “life is indeed
worth living,” and have no desire to debate upon the question.

This drive, within such easy access of the town, brings many visitors to
Fernandina. Some enjoy the pleasant stroll through the woodland way to
the beach; those who are not sufficiently strong or energetic enough to
enjoy the luxury of walking, drive there, for, during the season, there
are plenty of comfortable carriages on hire, and this remarkable
sea-shore presents quite a gay and animated appearance.

There are many other attractions in the immediate vicinity of
Fernandina, and among them is a pleasant ride to a romantic old
fortification, now a picturesque ruin--Fort Clinch, which lies at the
northernmost point nearest the Georgia line, and with which many quaint
histories are connected; on these I have no time to dwell. No one should
leave Fernandina without paying a visit to Dungeness, which is situated
on Cumberland Island. A tiny steamer sailing from Fernandina takes you
there in about an hour.

Cumberland Island is about eighteen miles long, and averaging a mile in
width. The magnificent domain of Dungeness, situated at the southernmost
end of the island, occupies about one-third of its total area. It was
presented to General Nathaniel Green by the State of Georgia, in
acknowledgment of his services to the South.

The original mansion was burnt and totally destroyed during the early
part of the civil war, but the grand old ruin still stands firm as a
rock with its battlemented walls and tumbling towers; while, instead of
crumbling away, the coquina walls seem absolutely to have been so
hardened by the action of the fire as to be almost time-defying. This
property has passed from the hands of the Green family, and I am told
that the present owner talks of pulling down the ruin and building a
modern mansion on the site thereof. Social opinion lifts its voice
loudly against such an act of vandalism, but a man has a right to do as
he likes with his own; and reverence for the past and love of the
picturesque must be inborn, it cannot be ingrafted on a commonplace
mind, even though its owner be a millionaire.

The visit of a single day to Dungeness is nothing, you will want to go
again and again, and you could occupy your time in no better way. The
sail thither across the smooth waters of the Sound, with the green land
lying around it, is delightful, and once ashore you feel as though you
would never tire of wandering through this enchanted land, which is
teeming with unwritten poetry and romance. There are quaint gardens
aglow with brilliant flowers, fruit trees and apple orchards,
labyrinthine walks through glorious avenues and groves of live oaks and
magnolias--a luxuriant growth of tropical green is everywhere. Now with
entranced eyes you gaze on some magnificent view of land and water;
passing onward through tangled vines and scenes of Arcadian loveliness
you come upon a glorious beach, with the sea waves softly rolling to and
fro as though they longed to leap up and meander over the forbidden
land. There is plenty of work here for the fishing-rod and gun, but I
fancy that the most inveterate lover of either would be disposed to lay
aside fishing-rod and gun and lounge in dreamy idleness through this
sweet, romantic land, and at the day’s end would be loth to leave it.

At present there are no hotels in Dungeness; people take their luncheon
baskets and pic-nic on the ground, but no doubt when the spirit of
improvement has swept the ruin away and smoothed the picturesque
wrinkles from the face of the dear old island, “accommodation for
tourists” will be speedily prepared; the demand creates the supply.
Although there is but one strip of railway leading to Jacksonville, and
that runs through low-lying swampy land, yet one of the most important
lines in Florida, the “Atlantic Gulf and West India Transit Railway,”
starts from Fernandina and runs directly across the south-west part of
the state to Cedar Keys. The Mallory line of steamers also call at
Fernandina on their way to and from Charlestown and Savannah.

Our next point of interest is St. Augustine; in order to get there we
have to return to Jacksonville, sleep one night at the hotel, and take
the boat the next day for Tocoi, which is twenty-five, perhaps thirty
miles, up the St. John’s river; thence we go by train to St. Augustine
in about an hour.

It is a lovely morning; earth, air, and sky seem to have joined in a
glorious combination to make one perfect day. We take our last ramble
through the sweet shady streets of Jacksonville; there is not a creature
abroad, only the song birds hold a jubilee as they flit to and fro among
the tree tops overhead, and the leaves are rustling gently as though
whispering a last “Good-bye” as we pass beneath their cool green
shadows.

The steamer is waiting for us at the wharf, and, our luggage having been
sent on before, we stroll quietly on board, ascend the wide staircase,
and pass through the luxurious saloon, which is as elegantly fitted up
as a London drawing-room, with handsome mirrors, painted panels, velvet
hangings, sofas, lounges, and light cane rocking-chairs that can easily
be carried from one part of the vessel to another. There is one table
tastefully laid out for the sale of Indian work; some of it is very
beautiful, and well worthy of inspection. The art committee of ladies’
needlework might pick up many a valuable idea therefrom. There is also a
stall for the sale of newspapers, magazines, and books. Everything is
arranged to make our temporary sojourn pleasant. Some of our
fellow-passengers-to-be have deposited themselves in the cosiest
nooks--some curled up in easy chairs, some stretched on sofas before the
windows where they can enjoy the passing prospect “at ease.” One pretty
pale girl, who has evidently been travelling all night, lies covered up
fast asleep; another is training a youthful alligator to recognise her
voice and follow her about. Some curious specimens of Eastern and
Western humanity, and some few of our own countrymen, who seem
manufactured expressly for foreign travel--and foreign travel only--are
also “on view.” One has already taken possession of the piano, which
appears to be suffering from internal dilapidations; he meanders over
the keys in an aimless, objectless way, and gets nothing out of them
except an occasional squeak or series of scaley groans, as though the
torture is more than they can bear. A young fellow comes along, followed
by a poodle dog walking decorously on its hind legs, and carrying a
valise in its mouth with a solemnity suited to the occasion. However, as
soon as it is released from its responsibilities its natural spirit
comes out; it runs round and round after its own tail, and finding it
can’t catch it leaves off like a sensible human being (when human beings
are sensible and leave off hunting the impossible); but as he (for _it_
is a he) “has got no work to do,” he resolves to enjoy himself to the
best of his canine fashion. He makes short runs after everybody’s skirts
or pantaloons, trots away with an old lady’s basket, drops it, springs
up and tumbles down, yelping and barking with delight. When he is tired
he leaves off, lies down, lolling out his tongue as though he wanted it
to be examined by a doctor, and pants as though his heart was trying to
break through his ribs. One crusty old gentleman with weak nerves starts
a theory that the dog is mad. Some take the alarm, and the poor brute is
cuffed and hunted from under tables and chairs and sofas and at last is
inveigled out upon the deck under false pretences--deluded by the idea
of “rats”--and is tied to a rail, where he remains a prisoner till our
journey’s end. We carry out a couple of rocking-chairs and keep him
company, cheering him with a kind word and occasional pat, which he
perfectly understands, and in his mute, pathetic way shows us that he
quite appreciates our sympathy. Meanwhile the bell has rung, and we are
cast off from the shore and started on our brief water trip. The river
stretches its slow length lazily before and behind us in a state of
dreamy calm, as though it wanted to lie still and enjoy one brief,
undisturbed holiday; it has no freight ships to bear on its breast
to-day, and resents the intrusion of our pleasure steamer; it turns its
tide away and will give us no help whatever, but runs after us now and
then in light, foamy flashes as our paddle-wheel irritates it into
action.

This delightful water drive from Jacksonville to Tocoi is not perhaps
the most picturesque portion of the St. John’s river, yet is full of
interest and has many points of attraction for strangers. We glide
between low-lying shores fringed with branching reeds and waving
grasses, closed in the distance by serried ranks of fine old forest
trees and stretches of evergreen shrubs; it is full of primitive
simplicity, peace, and delicious quietude. We feel at peace with
ourselves and all the world as we glide along this placid river, its
tranquil surface only broken by the reflection of the floating clouds
above it, which are mirrored therein as in a looking-glass; here and
there we pass a tiny vessel with white sails set and the stars and
stripes fluttering from its masthead. Presently we come to Orange Park,
a neat little village wreathed with beautiful gardens and sentinelled by
fine old forest trees, which stand in rank and file along the water’s
edge. There is a fine hotel here standing a short distance from, but in
full view of, the river, for the accommodation of winter visitors, to
whom it furnishes most comfortable quarters.

There are lovely spots to delight the eye and stir the imagination of
the passing summer tourist all along these low-lying lands, but there is
not one wherein, if he is wise, he will linger beyond the passing day,
unless he is prepared to order his funeral beforehand. During the winter
there are no more delightful residences than here by this river side;
we pass by one that looks like a bit of paradise cut out and laid down
upon these smiling shores, with its tangle of trees and vines, and wild
fruits and flowers, and birds of bright plumage flitting to and fro. But
woe be to him who in summer is tempted to linger here; it is as the
beauty of the fair frail charmer, blooming and dimpling with smiles in
the sunlight, but when the night comes breathing disease and death. Most
of these attractive places are deserted as the hot weather sweeps on,
except by those whom necessity compels to face the evils from which they
cannot fly; some get acclimatised, but all suffer more or less from the
damp dews and fevers. But the time for these malarial fiends to walk
abroad has not come yet; we are still in the full swing of the healthful
weather--of bright sunshine and sweet, fresh breezes.

Presently our attention is directed to Mandarin, a village made up of
orange groves and fruit orchards. Some distance off, on the elevated
land of the east shore, and plainly visible through its luxuriant leafy
surroundings, stands the beautiful home of Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe;
it is built like a Swiss chalet, with wide verandahs covered with
climbing plants running round it. Some few miles farther up we pass
Magnolia, another settlement of much the same description. Next we come
to Green Cove Springs, a winter resort of some importance, which is
largely patronised by healthy-minded invalids.

There are two fine, well-appointed hotels there, wide shady lanes
leading straight up from the river wherein some pretty cottage homes are
nestling, though these, like the rest, are left to run to seed when the
earth is at its loveliest, and the June roses begin to bloom.

The springs from which this place takes its name are situated in the
centre of the town and in close proximity to the hotel. The water is
clear and sparkling, and is used for bathing as well as for drinking
purposes; it is classed among the healthiest of the sulphur springs. We
pass more orange groves, the trees partly stripped of their golden
fruit, for the gatherers are hard at work, and the oranges are lying in
heaps upon the ground like mounds of yellow cannon balls. One or two
scattered villages and we reach Tocoi, when we take the cars for St.
Augustine.

Tocoi is nothing but a rough wooden shed dignified by the name of a
railway station, where tourists, when they have landed from the boat,
may find temporary shelter from the sun’s burning rays while they
wait--and they always have to wait--for the train to carry them on; as
there is only one narrow line of rail and one train passing to and fro
this waiting process is sometimes trying to the patience. There are not
more than half-a-dozen of us landed from the steamer, and having seen us
safely off her deck she gives a little shriek of delight, as though glad
to be rid of us, and puffs on her way again. We glance round upon our
somewhat dingy, dirty surroundings, then along the line for our train.
There are no signs of it; there is nothing in sight but a miserable
shanty in the last stages of dilapidation. Outside, in the tumble-down
porch, a coloured woman with a gaudy handkerchief tied round her head is
busy at the washtub, while her dusky brood are tumbling about with a
colony of fat pigs and long-legged Cochin-Chinas. We seat ourselves on a
hamper under the eaves of the shed--it is close and fusty inside--and
wait.

Presently a train that does not seem much larger than a child’s
plaything comes puffing slowly along as much as to say, “I’m coming! I’m
coming! Don’t be in a hurry.”

We enter a miniature car, wherein we sit three abreast; our Liliputian
engine gives a series of asthmatic gasps, as though it had hardly
strength to carry itself along, and objected to its living freight, but
it is presently lashed by its fire fiend into obedience, and sets off
with a jerk.

Our road lies through the densest of dense jungles, a wild and seemingly
impenetrable forest, whose tangle of palms, cypresses and oaks, all
entwisted with heavy Spanish moss,

    “Lets not one sunshaft shoot between!”

After a delightful drive of about an hour and a half our little toy
train rings a tinkling bell, and we slacken our already slack pace into
the shed dignified by the name of the St. Augustine depot.



CHAPTER XII.

     St. Augustine.--A land of the long ago.--A chat with a Spanish
     antiquity.--Quaint streets.--City gate.--Fort Marion.--The old
     Slave Market.--The monuments.--The Plaza.--Cathedral and Convent.


Another morning breaks, a worthy successor to the last; it seems made up
of some heavenly alchemy--a tissue of golden glory and shimmer of silver
sheen.

Over the silent sea and yet more silent land a supreme stillness reigns,
unbroken by the rustle of leaves or whirr of the invisible insect world.
The great sun hangs like a ball of fire in the pale skies, and fills the
land with dazzling light. The green earth, with all her wealth of fruit
and flowers in her lap, seems wrapt in a sweet languor, as though she
had fallen asleep and was smiling in her dreams; while her giant sons of
the forest and straggling children of the plains lift their leafy
fingers to their lips, and whisper to the wandering wind, “Hush! she is
weary, let her rest,” and the red roses and white lilies nod their heads
drowsily and sleep with her. The very dogs doze dreamily in the sun;
they don’t seem to have a good honest bark, or vigorous wag of the tail,
left in them. Life, the busy bustling nineteenth-century life we know
of, exists not here. We feel as though we had gone to sleep in the world
of to-day and been carried away in our dreams, and woke up in an ancient
city of two hundred years ago.

This dear, romantic St. Augustine! It is not grim with age, nor grey and
hoary with the rust of time. It is like an old-fashioned beauty who has
been lying in state through these long years, pranked in all her finery
of feathers, furbelows, paint, powder, and patches, and now wakes up and
walks and talks with us in the quaint stilted phraseology of old days.
Never was change of time and place so sudden, so strangely felt, as the
transition from brilliant Jacksonville and pretty pleasant Fernandina to
this quiet, quaint old-world city, wherein the dignity and simple grace
of the Spanish cavaliers who first conquered, settled and peopled it,
seems still to linger; we can almost fancy we see their shadowy forms
stoop their plumed heads as they pass in and out of their ancient homes,
with gilt spurs jangling and swords clanging at their heels. We are
steeped to the lips in the spirit of the middle ages all round us, and
everywhere we recognise the features and individualities of days dead
and gone.

The hotels, built expressly for the service of the travelling world, are
the only touches of modern life we find herein--no other thing of modern
birth dares lift its head in St. Augustine. As a rule the inhabitants
seem made to match the place--indeed, they are a part of it. Many are
the descendants of the early settlers, and they and their fathers before
them have lived there all their days, and still occupy the ancient
dwellings of their race.

Passing by one of these old Coquina homes I saw an old Spaniard sitting
in the porch smoking his pipe, while his granddaughter, a bright-eyed
brunette, sat rocking her baby by his side, while an immense fuschia
tree in full bloom shook out its crimson flowers above them. I stopped
to inquire the way to the “city gate.” He rose up, tall, straight, erect
to his full height, over six feet, doffed his cap, and with the stately
courtesy of his race came down, leaned over the fence, and directed us
on our way, adding:--

“You’re strangers, I think? A good many come here nowadays.”

We were in no hurry to go on; seeing he was conversationally inclined,
we gratified him, and ourselves likewise; we lingered for a pleasant
chat--one gains so much in these wayside gatherings. He volunteered some
bits of interesting information about the place, about his family, and
about himself. I made some touristical observation about the appearance
of the city and its salubrious situation, and inquired how long he had
lived there.

“I was born with the century,” he said, “and I was born here in this
very house I live in.”

“Why, you don’t look like eighty years of age,” I remark.

“No, nor I don’t feel like it, lady,” he answered; “but I’m in my
eighty-second year, and I feel hale and strong yet. I’ve lived through
some troublous times, too; it hasn’t always been fair weather here in
St. Augustine.”

Seeing we were interested in anything concerning St. Augustine, and
anxious to glean any scraps of information, he opened the gate and
invited us to “walk in” and rest. As we were scarcely a hundred yards
from our hotel we did not want to “rest,” but we walked in nevertheless
and sat down in the porch and prepared for a gossip; it was easy to lead
him to talk of the old days, he seemed to enjoy fighting his battle of
life over again.

“Yes, I’ve seen a good many changes,” he said, warming to his work. “Few
men have lived a life out on one spot and seen so much--so many
revolutions, things, thoughts, governments and people changing, but the
place remaining just the same; there’s been no pulling down old
landmarks in St. Augustine, and the wear and tear of time isn’t much.
You see the city is all built of coquina, and that is stronger than
stone--the older it is the harder it becomes. Yes, I’ve seen the British
flag flying from the old fort, the Spanish banner flying; now we are
under the eagle’s wing, and the stars and stripes are fluttering over
us.”

“I suppose you would as soon live under one rule as another?” I venture
to say.

“Provided they rule well, yes; and we’ve nothing to complain of now; the
laws are easy, and we are left to live and work in peace, though up to
the last few years we’ve been liable to hostile incursions of the
Indians. Why, I’ve seen them swarm over the bastions yonder, and come
swooping and yelling through the streets, filling the air with their
hideous war-cry--such scenes, dear ladies, as I dare not tell you of;
now we are under the American flag, and, the Blessed Lord be thanked, we
are at peace.”

He took us through his orchard at the back of the house, and on to a
small orange grove of about an acre, which he proudly informed us he
managed all himself. We gathered and ate some oranges--deliciously cool
and refreshing they were; he apologised for their size and scarcity, as
the trees had been stripped of their finest fruit some weeks ago.

As yet we had only caught a general view of St. Augustine, and we
hurried on to make acquaintance with its special features. The streets
are narrow and crooked, varying from ten to twenty feet wide, the
houses having verandahs or balconies jutting out overhead so close
together that the ladies thereon can almost shake hands across from one
side of the road to the other. There are no regular pavements or
sidewalks, and the roads are laid with broken oyster or mussel shells.
The houses are mostly built of a kind of compressed shell-stone called
“coquina,” which is quarried from the island of Anastasia, that lies
about a mile across the harbour and separates St. Augustine from the
Atlantic Ocean. This is the oldest European settlement in America, and
was so settled long before the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers. The most
picturesque and romantic of all the quaint old streets is George Street,
with its curious houses and hanging balconies clinging along the fronts
thereof, and are generally covered with climbing plants. The white
coquina walls rise straight and bare direct from the roadway; the
windows are small and closely curtained, as though the old Spanish dons
still jealously guarded their hidden beauties from the sight of man.
There is an air of great seclusion everywhere--we might be wandering
through an oriental city; but we know that behind these bare walls there
are blooming gardens of oleander, magnolia, orange and lemon trees;
occasionally we get a glimpse of some rich striped lily or glowing
passion-flower nodding over the wall.

Mr. Lorillard has a beautiful villa here--a touch of to-day in the land
of the yesterdays. It is of quaint though modern architecture, and is
full of gabled ends and corners. The smooth-shaven lawn and flower
gardens are simply railed in and in full view of the passer by.
Whichever way you turn you catch a breath of poetry and romance; a scent
of the days gone by clings round the ancient homes and pervades the air,
having a subtle effect upon our spirits. We fancy we hear the clang of
arms, and the long-silent voices ringing in the air, and shadowy forms
are gliding beside us, haunting the old scenes where they walked and
talked so many centuries ago.

At the top of St. George Street stands the ancient city gate, which once
formed part of the old stone wall which, running from shore to shore,
protected the city from hostile incursions. The greater part of the wall
has long since disappeared, but a rude, rugged, moss-covered mass clings
around, as though it helped to support, the tall ornamental towers which
once rose up on each side of the city gate, and which still stand
massive and strong, like sentinels who will not be beaten from their
post, though a great gap yawns where the gate has fallen from its rusty
hinges. Coming through St. George Street we look straight through to the
wide stretches of country beyond. The sentry boxes scooped out of the
solid wall are there still, exactly as when the last guard stepped from
them in obedience to the bugle call, when the sun had set and the sentry
was relieved. This is, perhaps, the most ancient and certainly the most
picturesque ruin in this portion of the country.

Passing between the still stately towers we come in full view of Fort
Marion, one of the most attractive features of St. Augustine. It was
commenced in the year 1592, but was not completed till the year 1756. It
is a remarkable, fine, and imposing structure--grand, grey, and massive,
standing on a gently rising hill outside the town, and lifting its
gloomy front towards the sea. No ruin is Fort Marion, but perfect in all
its parts, stamped only with the desolation and dreariness which must
brood over any place that is deserted and unused for a certain number of
years.

The labour of construction is said to have been wholly performed by
negro slaves and prisoners of war. The moat is now dried up and
overgrown with grass and rank weeds, but there are the drawbridges, the
massive arched entrance, the barbican, the dark passages, frowning
bastions, and mysterious dungeons. A whiskered sergeant--a remnant of
military glory--has charge of the fort, and lives in a pretty,
rose-covered cottage outside. In company with several other tourists we
explored the curiosities of the old fort. One large dingy stone chamber,
with vaulted roof and damp floor, like a gigantic cellar, was occupied
by the townspeople, who came flocking to the fort for shelter some few
years ago when the place was threatened by an irregular army of
piratical marauders; the ashen embers where they baked their last loaf
of bread still lie upon the iron plate, and the empty oven yawns
hungrily open. This apartment, itself but dimly lightly, leads into a
huge, dark dungeon, black as Erebus; but _the_ “dark dungeon” _par
excellence_ lies beyond, and to this treat-in-store we proceed. Chill,
black, and dismal as the grave, is this partly-underground dungeon,
where in 1835 two skeletons were found chained to the wall--victims, no
doubt, to some cruel Spanish inquisition. We stand shivering in its
chilly blackness while our guide gives us fragmentary sketches of the
history of the fort. The last prisoners confined here were a number of
refractory Indians, stirrers-up of trouble, horse-thieves, and general
marauders, who were sent thither by the order of United States
Government in 1874, but were released in 1878. In no cruel dungeon like
this “dark cell,” however, were these “braves” confined. A large,
casemented chamber was prepared for their reception, they were taken out
in squads for exercise, and under proper surveillance were even allowed
to bathe. They have left their sign-manual upon the walls--specimens of
Indian art in the shape of sundry sprawly sketches of man and beast.
For, as it is well known, the Indians are fond of drawing, and will draw
on anything and with any kind of material that will make a mark. They
will even exchange a surplus squaw for a few pencils or paint brushes.
Crude and out of all proportions as their productions are, they
illustrate the minds and peculiar proclivities of the people. An Indian
never represents himself as standing, dancing, or walking; he is always
on horseback, and always fighting against fabulous numbers, and always a
conqueror, riding victorious over a score of prostrate foes. We pass
through an antique chapel, whence the worshippers have fled “into the
silent land” and left it deserted except for the ghostly echo which
rises up and follows us as we pass through. We peep through dusky
passages, ramble up and down crumbling stone stairs, cross the barbican,
pass many worm-eaten oaken doors which, we are told, “lead nowhere in
particular,” and presently emerge upon the grassy, battlemented slopes
of the old fortification and look out across the bay, over the island of
Anastasia, to the sea beyond. After wandering for a brief period through
these gloomy precincts, and inhaling the damp, imprisoned air of the
dungeons, it is pleasant to stand in the sunlight and breathe the fresh
air of heaven again. We promenade the battlements and look down upon the
lovely fort with barbicans and towers, esplanades, drawbridges, and
grass-grown moat spread out before and around us. Lifting the eyes and
gazing further off we have a magnificent land and sea view, with the
quaint old city with its lovely gardens grouped at our feet.

We meet many other promenaders who, like ourselves, appreciate the
glorious view, except in some cases when the view is bounded by a
sun-bonnet on one side and a wide sombrero, shading a bearded masculine
face, upon the other. There was Darby enjoying the evening air, with his
fat wife Joan trudging by his side; and here was a tall young lady of
Amazonian deportment solemnly parading side by side with her latest
conquest--a small, meek young man, who had evidently no strength to
resist capture and could not close his ears to the voice of the charmer.
He wore spectacles and a blue necktie, reminding one somewhat of a pet
sheep being led by a blue ribbon; one half expected to hear him reply
with a soft “Baa--aa” to the tender tones of his ladylove. Now in
turning a shady corner we come upon a pair of time-honoured flirts, who
had left their youth a long way behind them, and are now shooting their
blunt little arrows at one another, both well practised, and evidently
little damage is done on either side.

Descending presently from our vantage ground, we turn our backs upon the
romantic old fort, looking so grey and lonesome in the sunlight; its
glories have passed away, and its peaceful solitudes have become the
haunt of tourists and travellers; the green lizards swarm in its sunny
corners, and men and women linger through long summer evenings in its
shady nooks, and make love beneath its frowning battlements. We pass
along the sea wall, which is of coquina, like most of the buildings
here, and is about a mile long, forming a magnificent promenade; it is
elevated above the roadway, and being only two feet wide it gives no
encouragement to the “gay and festive throng” or social gathering on
moonlit evenings. People generally march in single file and take the air
in a solemn business-like fashion, though occasionally a pair of young,
slim creatures cling together and walk side by side, by no means
inclined to carp at the narrowness of the wall, which compels one arm to
slide round the other waist, and with a kind of forced pressure to “hold
on” to save the other from falling. On one side is the water, still as a
lake, yet indescribably seeming to breathe the “salt sweet fragrance” of
the vast Atlantic beyond.

The pretty vessels of the yachting club, with white sails fluttering,
are curtseying to their own shadows on its surface. On the other side,
about three feet below the sea wall, is a wide, smooth, shell road,
where you may enjoy a delightful drive or promenade _au cheval_; here
and there are stone steps leading up to the wall, so that you are not
obliged to march along its whole length, or leap down at the risk of
breaking your neck. Fronting the water on the other side of the road is
Bay Street, the principal business thoroughfare of the city, where there
are some excellent shops, and queer old houses which take boarders all
the year round, for the winter cold, or summer heat, is never excessive
in St. Augustine; it is one of the few Floridian resorts which is
pleasant at all seasons. The temperature, calculated by a study of the
thermometer for the last ten years, is for summer about 80 Fahrenheit;
autumn, 70 to 75; winter, 58 to 60--a most delightful temperature,
especially as there is generally a soft balmy east wind blowing, though
occasionally in the winter time a wild north-easter, in its fiercest
mood, sweeps over the Atlantic, and wreaks its vengeance on St.
Augustine and the surrounding coast. People are inclined to smash the
thermometer which dares to register only sixty when this cruel wind is
biting them through!

At the other end of the sea wall, opposite the fort, are the United
States Barracks, jutting out at the water side; there is generally a
regiment stationed here, when the band plays every day at five o’clock
during the season. Although this quaint dreamy old city is but a small
place, there is much of interest to be seen here.

There is the “Plaza de la Constitution,” where the good Christians
burnt their brethren a century ago; it is a large square, laid out with
grass plots, and flower beds, with paths cut through, leading from one
side of the Plaza to the other. In the centre stands the curious old
market-place, roofed in at the top, but open on all sides; this was the
ancient slave mart, where “God’s image, carved in ebony,” was bought and
sold in most ungodly fashion; there is the place where they stood,
ranged in rows like cattle in a pen, so that their purchasers might walk
to and fro examining them from all points to see that they had their
money’s worth. They sit there now, these selfsame slaves of the old
days, with bright kerchiefs round their heads, surrounded by fruits and
flowers, buying and selling on their own account, laughing, chaffing,
bargaining with one another with the easy air that freedom gives. Close
by is the graceful monument erected by the ladies of St. Augustine to
the Confederate dead, whose names are carved upon the shaft. No matter
how impoverished the land may have been, how ruined the people, in every
Southern city, small or great, they have found money enough to erect a
monument,--some most costly, some poetic, and all more or less artistic,
to those who--

    “Fell while wearing the grey for them!”

There is another monument, somewhat weather-beaten, erected by the
Spaniards to commemorate the adoption of the Spanish institutions in
1812. Then there is the grey old rookery of a convent, where the
withered old sisters sit for ever making lace--wondrous fine lace it is,
and produced in such large quantities we wonder who buys it all.
Fronting on the Plaza, also, is the old cathedral, with its quaint
Moorish belfry, and still more quaint and ancient peal of bells, one of
which bears the stamp of 1682. It is not much regarded from an
architectural point of view, its antiquity is everything. Partly facing
the Plaza, and partly facing the sea breezes, stands the St. Augustine
Hotel. We preferred the “Magnolia,” though its position is perhaps not
so good; it stands in the centre of that queer crooked St. George
Street, and is as pretty and picturesque as, considering its name, it
ought to be, with odd turns and angles, verandahs clinging everywhere
covered with blooming flowers, and beautiful magnolias and banana trees
in the delicious straggly old garden. The magnolias are not yet in
bloom, but from their nest of leafy buds we catch a glimpse of the
creamy flower, and the long purplish crimson leaves of the banana still
shields the golden fruit from too quick maturity. The oleander is
already covered with its luxuriance of crimson, pearly pink, and waxen
white bloom, and the Japan plum tree laden with juicy fruit.

Stepping out on the verandah in the early morning we find everybody
sucking oranges in the most solemn business-like fashion. The gentlemen
go at it with a will, and generally work through a whole basketful of
the golden fruit; they make a hole at one end and suck with inflated
cheeks, like a bevy of ancient cherubs blowing a trumpet, and suck in
sweet silence, seemingly oblivious of all that is passing round them as
they take their morning dose of this delicious nectar. Some of the
ladies peel them with white slim fingers, and extract the juice as
daintily as the bee extracts honey from the flower; some of the
uncompromising feminine family, “who have no nonsense about them,” pull
the orange to pieces, mangle its delicate tissues, and disembowel it
with ruthless teeth. Some work as though they were sucking for a wager,
and others go through their heap with slow solemn enjoyment. Those who
have not eaten a fresh gathered orange in Florida don’t know what an
orange is.

All round in the neighbourhood of St. Augustine are lovely orange
groves, and long avenues with cedar hedges, and grand old mulberry trees
with gnarled and knotted trunks, and heavy branches, that look as
antiquated as the city itself. Being desirous of entering into, and
spending a little time in the inspection of some one of the many noted
orange groves, we were directed to one owned by a prominent citizen, who
would, we were assured, “make us right welcome;” and armed with cards of
introduction we took our way to his residence. Passing along a
magnificent avenue of stately trees, which bordered his extensive
grounds, and closed above our heads shutting the sunlight out, we came
to the large iron entrance gate. There was a bell, and we rang it, but
nobody answered it except a large white cat, who emerged from a
shrubbery, and rubbed against the gate purring and arching her back
ingratiatingly as if inviting us to enter. Finding no response except
this feline welcome, we pushed open the gate and walked up to the house,
the cat purring a congratulatory purr at our heels as if she was very
glad indeed that we had come. We ascended the “stoop” (_Anglicè_, door
steps), and rang the hall-door bell. No answer. We amused ourselves
ringing at intervals; and when we were tired of tinkling the bell, which
seemed to wake sepulchral echoes, we started on a tour of inspection
around the house. It seemed as dead asleep as the Sleeping Beauty; its
eyes were all shut, the sun-blinds all rigorously closed. There were
seats on the piazza, and we rested for a while in the fragrant shadow of
a great apoppinac tree, whose showers of dainty yellow blossoms fell
like an odorous golden rain upon the grass, while the fairy flowers of
the azalea, light as drifted snow-flakes, stirred as if breathing soft
mysteries in the whispering balmy breeze. Meanwhile the cat jumped up on
my lap and went to sleep, until we started afresh on an exploration of
the grounds; then our feline friend escorted us, her comfortable and
contented purr allaying the apprehensions of ferocious mastiffs which
invariably beset us in strange quarters, though our secondary dread of
steel man-traps, set for more harmful intruders than ourselves, kept us
cautiously within the boundaries of the gravel walks.

We found tool-sheds, arbours, bowers, stables, chicken-houses,
dog-kennels and cottages, but not a sign of life except a portly hen and
a brood of chickens, who fled to their coop at sight of our soft
snowflake of an escort, whose emerald eyes dilated, and affectionate
purring ceased at sight of them. Having explored the more domestic
portion of the grounds, and still finding nobody to show us through the
orange plantation, we proceeded to show ourselves through it. Is there a
tree, I wonder, more beautiful than the orange, with its shining foliage
of dark and glossy green, its scented snow of blossoms, its red-gold
globes of fruit! Here in St. Augustine, although too late in the season
for the fullest beauty of the groves--the gathering being almost
over--we still found here and there the flower and the fruit growing
amicably together on sister boughs. We came upon one glorious tree, its
graceful branches bending under the rich burthen of its fruit of fiery
gold, glowing in that southern sunshine. We reached down a laden bough,
and trespassed on the taken-for-granted hospitality of our unknown and
unknowing host to the extent of an orange apiece.

Long had we yearned to taste an orange plucked fresh from the tree!
Often had we anticipated the unrivalled freshness of the gushing juice
of the fruit yet warm to the heart with sunshine, and exhaling still the
fragrance of the dews of morning! Now we had got our oranges, “fresh
from the tree--dew, sunshine, &c., &c.,” at last. We tasted the
long-anticipated delicacy. Ugh! our dainty morsel turned out to be the
bitter rind, the biting acrid juice, of that species known as the “sour
orange”! What an excellent moral might have been deduced from this Dead
Sea fruit of our desires! It was a sermon in a bite! But, unfortunately,
there was nobody to whom to preach it, except the cat. We threw our
oranges far, far away, sadder and wiser women. But the daughters of Eve
are incorrigible, and, anon, we built our dreams again around a “fresh
mango,” and were again disillusioned. Yet unconvinced by many
disenchantments, we still go on through life seeking our mango or our
orange, “fresh from the tree.”

But that afternoon’s peregrination is still one of our pleasantest
memories of St. Augustine.

There are plenty of amusements and resorts in and around this quaint,
mediæval-looking old place to entertain the tourist, when he has
sufficiently taken into himself the aspect of this bit of the middle
ages dropped down in the modern day of the bright New World.

When you have seen all that St. Augustine itself has to show you, you
may, with much profit and interest, extend your wandering, and cross
over to inspect the coquina quarries and the fine lighthouse on St.
Anastasia’s Island, when the solitary keepers will, perhaps, tell you
some stirring incidents of their lonely lives; or you may sail down to
the wonderful sulphur spring, which boils up from the ocean--its pale
blue sulphurous water forcing its way through a hundred and forty feet
of the salt sea waves. The current is at times so strong (for the spring
is intermittent), that a short time ago one of the coast survey steamers
was floated over the “boil” of it!

There is another delightful excursion passing through the city gate,
over a smooth, pleasant road, till you turn off to San Sebastian Beach,
which forms a pleasant drive for many miles, when you may see the ruins
of some old palisades, which at one time connected Fort Monsa with a
stockade at San Sebastian. The excursion need only occupy a few hours;
unless you choose to linger by the way, you may return to St. Augustine
in time for dinner.

There are plenty of occupations wherewith gentlemen may beguile the
pleasant hours. They can indulge in shooting and fishing expeditions on
the banks of the Matanzas river, and shoot their own game, catch their
own fish, and cook their own dinners. It is not an uncommon thing for
ladies to join in these excursions. They enjoy playing at “being
gipsies” for a season; they soon tire of it.

On one balmy morning early we turn our backs upon the sweet-scented
old-world city, and take the little fussy, jog-trot train back to Tocoi,
carrying with us a host of pleasant memories of this delicious, dreamy,
romantic St. Augustine.



CHAPTER XIII.

     A chat by the way.--A steam bicycle.--Rough times.--At Ocala.


The boat is waiting, bobbing up and down at the little rustic pier at
Tocoi. The sun is laughing down upon us, with a face of shining gold,
and the sweet east wind is fanning our cheeks with its breath of balm; a
sweep of sunny water lies before us, sea-gulls and strange birds are
wheeling over our heads as we step on board, and are soon on our way to
Palatka.

We pass by pretty little hamlets and endless groves of orange and lemon
trees, stretching inland from the low-lying shore; most of them are
already stripped of their golden fruit, but some have their branches
still heavily laden.

In about two hours we land at Palatka, a pretty bright little town, one
of the scores of places which we are obliged to pass through with only a
passing glance. Those who are tired of wandering and wish to rest,
cannot do better than spend a few pleasant tranquil days here on the
banks of the quiet river. There is an excellent hotel, “The Palatka
House,” where they will find comfortable accommodation and an excellent
cuisine. We desire to reach Silver Springs and thence take the boat down
the Ocklawaha river, of whose wonders we have heard so much that we
prepare ourselves for disappointment. We don’t quite know how to get
there or whether we are to sleep on the land or on the river, but we are
content to drift, being strong in the faith that things will come right
somehow.

We have not been long seated when our conductor comes along; he punches
our ticket, and smilingly adds a conjecture “Ladies from England, I
think?”

We modestly admit the fact. He claims nationality with us, and forthwith
friendly relations are established between us. He sits down and enters
into conversation.

“You live in London, perhaps,” he hazards as a preliminary observation.
That fact ascertained, he adds excitedly, “Ah! then you must know my
father, Mr. Augustus Brown; he lives at Rose Villa, Lower Norwood, near
by the Crystal Palace.” I pleaded ignorance of Mr. Augustus Brown,
representing that these delightful suburbs were about ten miles from
London’s self, and that a pilgrimage to the Crystal Palace was not a
thing of everyday occurrence.

“Ten miles!” he repeated incredulously, “why here we know everybody
within a radius of a hundred miles! Think again, you must know him, you
_must_ have met him somewhere! He is a fine old gentleman, tall, thin,
with grey hair, and a long beard--you’ll surely remember him?”

He looked so earnest that I was quite sorry to disappoint him by
repeating my former statement, at the same time softening the blow by
explaining the immense population of London and its suburbs, and how
often people lived for years without even knowing their next door
neighbours. That was all very well, but not to know my father, “Mr.
Augustus Brown,” was quite another thing! I’m afraid by my ignorance of
the inhabitants of Lower Norwood I lost caste considerably in his eyes.
He went about his business with rather a perplexed face and presently
came back to us with the information:

“You’ll have to change cars soon at Perry’s Junction for Ocala; it isn’t
much of a place, but you’ll have to sleep there, and in the morning take
the cars for Silver Springs, about half an hour’s ride.” He then emerged
from his official character and added, “Perhaps you’ll be going back to
England soon? Yes? Well, I should like to give you my father’s address.”
He fumbled through a tattered pocket-book, and extracted therefrom a
crumpled piece of paper. “There, if you should ever be in that
neighbourhood I hope you’ll just give a call on my folks; they’ll make
you right welcome, and please tell ’em I’m all right, and I hope to be
home next fall.”

I took the paper, but knowing that my chance of making the acquaintance
of his esteemed parents was small I ventured to suggest that he would
most likely forward that information himself.

“No,” he answered, “I’m not much of a hand with a pen; somehow we get
out of the way of it in these parts. I haven’t written to the old folk
for years, though I think of them often enough--God bless ’em! I often
picture to myself how they’ll look when I first walk in upon ’em.”

“Take you for a tramp, most likely, and shut the door in your face,” I
suggest, somewhat flippantly, perhaps; but he answered gravely:

“Father might, but mother ’ll know me, sure enough, though I left home
at fourteen years old and I’m now thirty. But _she’d_ know me, ay, even
if I was in my coffin. And I should know her dear old face, even if we
don’t meet till we meet in heaven.”

We were constantly beset by similar inquiries from perfect strangers;
the fact of our nationality once ascertained, somebody would accost
us--on the cars, the platform, the hotel corridors, no matter where.

“Excuse me, but do you know my cousin, the Rev. Jonah Smith, a
clergyman, curate of St. Jeremiah’s, somewhere down in Cumberland, the
place where my grandfather came from?”

Everybody seemed to think we _must_ know their relations--sometimes we
found it very difficult to convince them to the contrary. Once I
received a long letter, filling several sheets of foolscap, as long as a
lawyer’s long brief, setting forth a whole family history up to a
certain period, marriages and intermarriages, beseeching me to set
inquiries on foot and transmit to them any information I could gather
concerning their English relations, with whom they, the American branch,
had held no communication for the last generation.

To me there is something touching in this desire to claim kinship with
the old family tree, whose branches are flourishing in all quarters of
the habitable globe. It is so everywhere in the conservative South. In
the more cosmopolitan north it is different; as a rule nobody cares to
claim kinship with anybody or anything, except perhaps Wall Street and
the money market.

At Perry’s Point we changed cars, and took a “narrow gauge” line to
Ocala. It was the first time we had been on the genuine “narrow” gauge,
and I fervently hope our last. Nothing could well be narrower, the rails
being less than three feet apart; the cars running thereon are almost
the usual width, seating four passengers in a row, divided in the centre
by a passage two or three feet wide. It was like travelling on a see-saw
or a bicycle; the cars oscillated fearfully from side to side, we had to
hold on to the straps for dear life; even when it came to a stand it
was not still, but slowly rocked from side to side.

During this short journey we twice broke down, and were detained some
hours while the injury was repaired. We complained of the danger and
discomfort of this mode of travelling, at the risk of life and limb. I
believe I was regarded by the whole car as a British malcontent; nobody
grumbled nor even lifted a disapproving voice. One lady seemed much
surprised at our discomposure, and said, raising her placid brows and
smiling sweetly:

“I dare say we shall get to Ocala all right; there is no use in
fretting. It is true the cars _did_ topple over an embankment a few
weeks ago--such things will happen sometimes; a few limbs were broken,
but nobody was killed! Besides, we must all die some time, and _I_ don’t
think it matters how or when. I really wouldn’t be uneasy,” she added
consolingly, with a slightly contemptuous look upon her face. “I dare
say it will be all right; and if not,” she shrugged her shoulders,
“well, you know, as we say in our prayers, God’s will be done.”

Alas! I could not view the situation in this spirit of philosophical
resignation; but I resolved to sink myself no lower in the eyes of my
self-possessed fellow-travellers, and sat through the rest of the
journey with outward calm, but inward tribulation of spirit. It was long
past midnight when we reached our destination. It was a dark, moonless
night, the rain was pouring in torrents, the thunder rolled and
reverberated through the stormy air; now and again the heavens opened
and let a flood of lightning through, then closed and left us in utter
darkness. The train stopped; peering from the car windows we saw a light
twinkling here and there, but no other sign of life. There were no
omnibuses, no carriages plying for hire. We gathered our light
hand-baggage together and followed the dreary procession to the end of
the cars; they all seemed to know where they were going, and one by one
our fellow-passengers were swallowed up in the darkness. We stood on the
car platform for a moment and peered out into the black night; the
deluge of rain was still falling.

“There are no conveyances! How are we to get to the hotel?” we
exclaimed, looking round in helpless bewilderment and addressing nobody
in particular.

“Take care, madam, take care--you’ll be in two feet of water that way,”
cried a friendly voice arresting my progress; then taking possession of
my parcels and of me, added, “It is awkward there being no conveyances
on such a night as this; in fine weather it does not signify. The hotel
is close by; pray take my arm. I live here, and know every step of the
way.”

The train conductor volunteered his assistance to my companion, and
swinging his lamp low to guide our faltering feet walked on before us.

“I am the clergyman here,” said my escort in a kind gentle voice, as he
pioneered me through a morass and across a pool of mud. My thanks be to
him, although I never beheld his face, for, having deposited us at our
hotel, he vanished into the night and was seen no more.

We passed first through a kind of rough sitting-room, where some few of
our fellow-passengers were already seated in placid contentment, waiting
the hotel clerk’s leisure. We were wet through, and not disposed to wait
his leisure, so claimed his attention at once, and got it too, as a
“lone female” in the South does generally manage to get her will and
way.

We were put in charge of a small boy with a big voice, who led us across
a sort of courtyard towards a large building--the hotel proper. It
seemed to be only a rough temporary erection, doomed to be speedily
swept away to make room for some more commodious and imposing structure.
A flight of rough wooden steps from the outside led to the interior,
whither we slowly ascended, the wind and the rain beating on us as we
went. We were shown to our room by a slovenly young woman with a strong
Hibernian accent, evidently a late importation from the Emerald isle. It
was much more comfortably furnished than we had expected from general
appearances. Having relieved ourselves of our wet clothes, we went in
search of supper, and, after groping our way through the empty
ill-lighted passages, found a long low room illuminated by rows of tiny
oil-lamps--the dingiest of dingy apartments, with tables spread, and
surrounded by hungry troops of travellers.

There was not much to eat, indeed nothing but leathery slabs of ham,
fried eggs, and flabby omelettes; the thunder had turned the milk sour,
so the coffee and tea was served plain, while soda and seltzer water
popped and sputtered on all sides of us.

The beds were fairly comfortable, and we arose the next morning to find
a smiling sky promising a fair day for the trip down the Ocklawaha
river.

A little train (not a “narrow-gauge,” we were thankful to find) bore us
from Ocala to Silver Springs.



CHAPTER XIV.

     The “Okeehumkee.”--The Silver Springs.--The weird wonders of the
     Ocklawaha.


A queer-looking stumpy boat yclept the “Okeehumkee” was waiting for us
at the head of the “Silver Springs.” The vessel was short and broad,
like a monstrous beetle with its legs cut off; it was made to fit and
float on the “Ocklawaha” river and nowhere else. We stepped first on to
a lower deck--crowded with coils of ropes and poles, and the
miscellaneous belongings of the queer little craft--which was occupied
by the engineers, stokers, and other stray hands, who helped to work the
vessel; there was a big boiler, and a little engine, and a tiny cupboard
of a kitchen, where operations for our mid-day meal were being
vigorously carried on.

Ascending a narrow flight of steps we are on the bow of the vessel--a
wide balcony which occupies the entire front; behind this, and entered
by two glass doors from the balcony is the saloon, bayfronted with
windows all round, comfortably furnished with sofas and easy chairs,
and two round tables. Opening from this again is a narrow passage
running through to the end of the boat, on each side of which is a row
of tiny cabins--about twelve in all, narrowing towards the stern. There
is what is called “accommodation” for a score or so of tourists. Foolish
people think they are fortunate if they can secure a “berth;” they don’t
know how much may be left of them in the morning. Mosquitoes are a
hungry race, and make a meal of the sleeper. He goes to bed fair and
well to look at; when he gets up in the morning he can scarcely
recognise his own face! Wise people sit up all night, and when they are
tired of the wonderful scenery (which is illuminated at night by huge
flaming pine logs which blaze from a great iron cauldron just above the
balcony) they doze in easy chairs, or roll themselves up like mummies
and sleep on the sofas. Some sit up on the balcony all night smoking,
and at intervals singing snatches of old songs, which fall pleasantly on
the drowsy ears of the sleepers.

I wonder if I can convey to any one an idea of the Ocklawaha river! It
can be compared with no other river that I have ever seen, heard, or
read of, and its fairest wonders are at our starting point, Silver
Springs. Looking forward I see nothing but a wide expanse of pale green
water. Our steamer gives a series of short asthmatic puffs, and we are
moving slowly over the surface of the Silver Springs--so slowly we are
scarcely conscious of any movement at all. We lean over the side of the
vessel, and look down upon a world of wonders; we can hardly believe
that it is really water we are passing through. It seems as though all
the jewels from all quarters of the globe had been gathered together and
melted down, and poured into the great earth hollow we are gliding over.
The spring is eighty feet deep, the water so clear that the sweet fairy
flowers at the bottom of it seem to lie close at hand; you feel as
though you could lean over and pluck one from the bed, which seems to be
formed of holes, arches, and deep crevasses of many-coloured rocks;
variegated blues and greens and greys, all amalgamating together,
beneath the soft rippling water, give it the many brilliant,
ever-changing hues, till we feel as though we were sailing through a
stream of liquid gems--opals and emeralds, amethysts and
sapphires--enough to make gorgeous the purple robes of all the kings of
all the earth. Submerged trees are standing tall and strong in this
watery world; long ribbon grasses are gracefully waving as though
stirred by the breath of some fair floating Undine, and starry white
flowers open their blue eyes dreamily as we glide slowly over their
silent home. Silver scaled fish dart in and out from among the tall
reeds and rocky islets, and infant turtles with their ugly awkward
little bodies propel themselves along; while thin, long-bladed fish
flash hither and thither like sharp swords wielded by invisible hands,
crossing and recrossing, parrying, and thrusting--coming within a
hairsbreadth, but never smiting.

Our wee craft is only too brief a time crossing this “pool of wonders;”
then we seem to be running straight into a wilderness--a veritable bit
of the forest primeval--where a tangle of dense “hammock” seems to stop
our watery way, but by a sudden turn our little vessel strikes an
opening and takes us out of the Silver Springs, and on to the river.

Thenceforth all the day long we are gliding through the sweetest,
loveliest water lane in all the world; winding in and out through
mysterious wooded wilds--crooked and full of sudden turns and odd
angles. We wonder how our queer little “Okeehumkee” finds her way along;
we fancy she must be jointed like an eel, or she could never wriggle her
way through this leafy labyrinth. Sometimes, indeed often, she runs her
snout against the shore, and the services of a huge black Titan, “Joe,”
are called into action; he jumps off the boat, and prods and pushes with
a long pole till we are off again. Sometimes the river ties itself into
a knot, but the little craft somehow threads her way through the loops
and bows, and comes out at the other end of it.

There are no banks on either side of this marvellous Ocklawaha river;
the water runs on a level with the shore. Dense masses of jungle and
wild forest lands sweep down and close it on either side with their
leafy embrace; so closely they clasp it, that often we cannot see a foot
of water on either side of us, and the branches of the fine old trees
reach their long arms across and interlock one with the other forming a
grand overarching avenue above our heads. It is so narrow here and there
that it seems as though by some strange magical process the green earth
had been liquefied purely for our accommodation in passing through, and
anon the stream spreads out like a shining silver mirror in the heart of
a jungle of overhanging trees.

Never was there such variety of scenery on a single river; it seems as
though Nature had gathered all her forces here just to show how much she
could do with her few favourite allies--the forest, rock, and stream.
The trees are marching with us side by side, executing strange
manœuvres as we pass along, nodding their proud heads, and waving
their blessing arms above us; now it is a regiment of tall pines, the
bright lances of sunlight glinting and flashing between their boughs;
then there is an awkward squad of scrub oaks, magnolias, and gums, lofty
palms and dwarf palmettoes, with long grasses and all kinds of brilliant
vegetation crowding about their roots, and luxuriant vines and shining
mistletoe clinging and climbing round their naked trunks, clothing them
with rich verdure, and lost at last in their leafy coronals. All the
glowing growth of the forest seems locked and interlocked together, as
though the sons of the wilderness were engaged in a wrestling match,
trying which could first uproot the other from the ancient soil. Now we
face a phalanx of veteran oaks, clothed utterly, and their green boughs
hidden, beneath mantles of beautiful Spanish moss; generally it is of
deep mourning grey, and hangs like a nun’s veil gently swayed by the
passing wind, then it is of a more silvery hue, but always down
drooping, as though the iron grey beards of millions of men had been
shorn off and flung thither in sport by some wandering wind.
Occasionally we come upon masses of strange and wonderful moss; it is
long, fibrous, and shining, and hangs in wavy tresses like the golden
hair of a woman, as though some sweet Ophelia had been floating down the
river, and the envious branches, determined that _all_ should not be
lost, stooped downwards, caught and tangled her glistening tresses,
while the tide bore the fair form slowly on and the soft breeze still
murmurs mournfully “drowned, drowned, drowned.”

Here and there the scene widens, and half-a-dozen little fussy tributary
streams hurry out from their mysterious depths to join the quiet
Ocklawaha in its dreamy flow, and we push our way for a while through an
extensive watery plain, where reeds and grasses, and fair white lilies,
twine their delicate fibres together and try to stop our progress; but
we break through the pretty network as though it were a spider’s web,
and puff our ruthless way out of it. Now there are a flight of small,
bright-plumaged birds, with the heron in pursuit, or a volley of
long-necked cranes shoot with their discordant cry across our path, and
an elderly stork, judging from the length of his legs, stands at a safe
distance and watches us from the shore.

We glance up half-a-dozen narrow water lanes, take a sudden turn, and
plunge again into the wilderness. A great ugly alligator, who has been
sunning himself on a fallen tree trunk, lifts his horny eyelids
stupidly, and lazily slips under the water as we come puffing along. We
are constantly coming upon these revolting creatures in the most
unexpected places. Sometimes their leaden eyes simply stare, or they
open their spiky mouths, as though they would like to swallow us, and
don’t stir. Familiarity breeds contempt. I suppose they have got so used
to having their privacy invaded by our odd little steamer that they
conclude it is only a friendly monster like themselves, and won’t do
them any harm. Time was when the “bang, bang” of the sportsman’s gun
went echoing through these solitudes; but now tourists are forbidden to
shoot alligators or any other thing from the decks of the Ocklawaha
boats.

Sometimes we catch sight of a huge black snake wriggling its way up from
the water and through the long grass till it vanishes from our sight;
for it is here in these luxuriant and mysterious wilds that Nature hides
the most hideous of her progeny. Creeping things and poisonous reptiles,
that we shudder to think of, have their homes in these brilliant and
luxuriant solitudes--the secret haunts of all-bountiful Nature, where
man will not dare to penetrate. Or if he does he is seized by the foul
fever-fiend, malaria, and faints and falls in the slimy swamps, with a
creation of loathsome nameless things for his death companions.

We make our way through a coil of green and are again in the narrow
mazes of the mazy stream. Here and there at long intervals we pass a
solitary landing-place, which leads by mule-tracks to some sort of
civilisation far in the interior. Nobody gets off the vessel, nobody
comes aboard. I don’t believe anybody ever does. Why should they, unless
they wanted to establish relations with the friendly alligators, study
their lives and write their biographies, or be lost in the wilderness?
Now we come to a tall pine with a tiny red box impaled upon its trunk,
bearing the inscription _U. S. A. Mail_; this is the post office for the
convenience of people passing up and down the river. We are the mail,
but there are no letters for us to-day.

Presently we pass a dilapidated log-hut; its owner, a long-limbed
stalwart-looking negro, lounges in the doorway smoking his pipe. He
comes down to the boat and receives a hamper of provisions and a bundle
of tobacco. He gives us in exchange a bundle of the “vanilla plant”--a
weedy growth on the low-lying grounds of the Ocklawaha, and it is
largely used to adulterate the cheap chewing tobacco. It is gathered in
great quantities by the natives, who derive a very good revenue from the
business. Soon there is a general stir, a buzz goes round, everybody
crowds to the bow of the boat on the look out for the wonderful “Cypress
Gate,” through which we shall soon be passing. Two tall straight cypress
trees loom upon our sight; they stand one on each side of the river like
lofty Grecian columns supporting a leafy dome above our heads, and
framing the earth and sky beyond. So narrow is this natural gateway,
that as our little boat glides through it is within an inch of the land
on either side.

At one o’clock precisely the dinner is served. The cosy little saloon is
transformed into a commodious dining-room; the small round tables are
drawn out and covered with a snowy cloth and shining glass and silver,
while a goodly array of appetising things are set thereon. There are
fowls and cutlets, pure and simple, crisp salads, a variety of
vegetables, and such a dessert! Such delicious puddings and pies, tarts
and _compotes_, quite an _embarras de richesses_ indeed! One wonders
how so many gastronomic delights can be conjured out of our very limited
surroundings. There are no wines to be obtained on board; those who wish
to indulge in those luxuries must supply themselves. Our comforts are
well looked after; at six o’clock the tables are again spread with cold
meats, ham and eggs, and tea and coffee.

As soon as possible we are out on the balcony again; and for all the
long day we glide through this tropical wonderland, some new fantastic
beauty flashing upon us at every turn. Now the foliage is so dense that
the gleams of sunlight lose themselves in the luxuriant mass, and try in
vain to reach us; looking upwards we see a narrow strip of sky, like a
band of ribbon, intensely blue, lacing the tall tree tops together
overhead. Then the shores widen out, and the marshy land is covered with
broad-bladed grass; the wild savannahs and forests are driven back, and
a lofty pine stands solitary in a lonely place like an advance-guard
thrown out from an army of green. Again we are plunged in a tangled
wilderness where cypress, pine, and palm, swarm down upon us and again
line the banks of the river, and multitudes of strange forms dazzle our
eyes and bewilder our imagination. It is growing dusky, and wild weird
shapes float out of the depths and fill our minds with strange fancies.
The whole forest seems marching to some wild tune which the wind is
playing; the long, vine-wreathed branches twine and sway and circle and
swing in the twilight, like a troop of dancing girls, new born from
their silent depths, their white arms flashing and curving, while the
soft silver moss falls like a veil, hiding their laughing faces. They
come out from the gloom like a phantasmagoria of living beauty down to
the water’s edge; then they fade, mingle with earth, air, and sky, and
we are in the wilderness again.

The night is closing in; there is no moon, but the small bright stars
are trembling like heavenly fruit scattered over the dusky skies, and
earth and river and forest blend together in one black mystery. There is
nothing left of our most perfect day but its memory; it has quite faded
away--lost, swallowed up in the dark wilderness behind us.

Some of our fellow passengers retire to the saloon as soon as the
daylight fades, and stand with their noses flattened against the saloon
window to see what follows. A scanty few of us, wrapped in shawls and
cloaks (for it has grown chilly, even cold), gather upon the balcony,
and watch for the illumination that is to come; and now a general
exchange of civilities begins. One brings out a supply of quinine and
administers small doses all round; another luxuriates in a constant
shower of toilet vinegar; one walks up and down like a polar bear,
diving now and then into the depths of his coat pockets, and produces
lozenges, or sticky somethings that are a “sure antidote for
malaria”--for we are in the very heart of its dominions, there is no
doubt about that. The sunlight keeps the foul fiend down, hidden away
beneath the rich, rank luxuriance that delights the eye with its tangled
brilliance; but so soon as the sun goes down it rises, an invisible
ghost, and mingles subtly with the air we breathe, and attacks us from
our weakest points. Therefore we arm ourselves against it, and drench
ourselves with antidotes, inside and out. One gentleman, whose sole
object in life seems to be the nursing of his own infirmities, appears
like a wild Indian clothed in his cabin blankets, with his nose buried
in a huge bottle of camphorated spirits. I believe it is tied on like a
horse-bag.

Soon the huge pine knots are lighted on the top of the pilot house above
our heads, and a brilliant flame flares out upon the night and, for a
moment, every tree, every leaf, is clearly defined, like a bas-relief
flung out from a world of darkness. The blaze flickers and flashes and
fades, and, for a moment, we glide through leafy obscurity, which seems
to have grown darker from the light that has departed. In silent majesty
the grand old forest is gliding past us with muffled steps and hidden
features--a shrouded army, marching through the silent night. Then,
again, our pine fire lights up the skies, and illuminates the
surrounding scenery with flashes of red and green and blue and yellow;
then all commingling fade into one white glare; frightened birds are
scared from their secret nests, and flutter, with melancholy cries, for
a second above our heads, and then are swallowed up in the darkness. Now
the blue flame flashes up to the great tree tops, then darts downward
like a fiery serpent, and up some narrow winding water lane, and, for a
second, a thousand weird forms float before our eyes, and change and
fade and melt into nothingness. The negroes passing to and fro upon the
lower deck, their black faces and shining eyes illumined by the red
glare, look like gnomes or demons labouring in their enchanted fires.

Through these mysterious lights and shadows, ever changing, ever
varying, now suggesting veiled apparitions from another world, now
bathed in the glory of this, we pass till long after midnight, when we
are out of the labyrinth of the Ocklawaha, and back in the broad stream
of the St. John’s river. Several of us are sitting up on deck with our
baggage, ready to be transferred to the St. John’s river boat, which we
expect every moment to meet. Presently, out of the dense black, a silver
glare of light looms slowly on our sight. It is the electric lamp of the
expected steamer. Nearer and nearer looms the dim giant hulk of the big
vessel. We signal three shrill shrieks, “Will you stop and take
passengers aboard?” They signal back three demoniacal yells, “Yes.”

She comes alongside and stops. We speedily transfer ourselves from the
“Okeehumkee” to one of the splendid “De Bary” line of steamers which ply
up and down the St. John’s river. Many people make their arrangements so
as to sleep at Palatka, and take the St. John’s river boat from that,
its starting place early in the morning; but to us it was a great saving
of time to meet it on its way. There are two ways of enjoying the
Ocklawaha river excursion: one is to take the boat at Palatka, which
starts at eight o’clock in the morning, and reaches Silver Springs about
seven o’clock on the next. It remains there about two hours, in order
that its passengers may, if they please, take a row boat--there are
plenty there for hire--and row about the spring, making a closer
inspection of its wonders than they could possibly do from the deck of
the steamer. It starts again on its return journey about nine o’clock,
and reaches Palatka in the small hours of the following morning; but the
sleeping passengers are not disturbed, except by their own desire, till
the usual hour of rising. The return down the river, as the tide is with
them, takes some hours less time than the upward journey. Some people
prefer spending the two days and nights on the boat, as, by this means,
they have a daylight view of every feature of the river. The other way
is to follow our example: sleep at Ocala, and take the return journey
only. Ocala has every possibility of developing into an important place;
as yet it is new, but it is improving day by day. A large hotel is
building close to the railway station, which promises well for future
tourists.

As we exchange parting civilities with our travelling companions on
leaving the Ocklawaha boat, they lean over the rails, waving their
handkerchiefs, and wishing us “Good night,” and “_Bon voyage_.” They
puff on their way, illuminating the widening waters as they go. We watch
the dear little “Okeehumkee” puff itself out of sight; then enter the
large luxurious saloon, which is empty now and dimly lighted. Everybody
has retired to rest, not a sound is stirring any where, and the thick
carpet smothers our footsteps as we follow our dusky guide to our
cabins, which are really charming little rooms with large, comfortable
beds. Worn out with the excitements of our long, delightful day, we are
soon wrapped in a dreamless sleep.



CHAPTER XV.

     Picturesque scenery on St. John’s river.--“Sickening for the fever,
     ma’am?”--The inland lakes.--A pair of elderly turtle doves.--Sport
     on the Indian river.


In the morning we wake early, and find ourselves on the vast expanse of
the St. John’s river, which curves and circles round and about the level
land, stretching away before and behind us till it sheathes itself like
a silver lance in the horizon. It is a glorious day, with the bluest of
blue skies, and the sun pouring down a flood of silver light. No other
craft is in sight, we have the river all to ourselves; but a score or
two of beautiful, long-billed, white herons rise up from the marshy
land, and majestically wheel in slow graceful curves in the air above
our heads, and then take their flight southward.

We have not long enjoyed our stroll upon the empty deck when the bell
rings and we are summoned to breakfast; there are scarcely a dozen
passengers aboard this boat, where there is comfortable accommodation
for several hundreds, but our numbers increase as the day goes on.

A capital breakfast is prepared for us--broiled chickens, mushrooms, and
fresh fish just taken from the river; these boats pride themselves on
the good living they afford their passengers. Our captain, a big, burly
man, sits at the head of the table and motions for us to take our seats
beside him. He glances at us from under his brows, and bestows on us a
beaming smile and brief “Good morning;” then applies himself vigorously
to the knife and fork business, and eats and smiles persistently
throughout the meal. But he does not talk; conversation evidently is not
his strong point, but navigation is. He once opens his mouth
professionally. A much bewhiskered young fellow, who speaks without
thinking, ventures to suggest that on this smooth river the vessel might
be commanded by a “sleeping partner.” The captain wheels round and
answers sternly,

“Sir, I have passed my life on the St. John’s river, and I assure you
the navigation of the high seas is child’s play compared to the
navigation of the St. John’s river.” Silence follows this stern rebuke.

It is evident that sociability will form no part of our day’s diversion.
Although humankind is so sparsely represented, we carry a few score of
pigs below, and they keep up a grunting chorus among themselves. Among
the passengers grouped round the breakfast table is one fierce-looking
individual with ginger-coloured hair, and fat, clean-shaven face, who
evidently likes to hear himself talk; he invades the general silence,
and speaks like an oracle, flings down his opinion as though it were a
challenging gauntlet, and defies any one to take it up. We have most of
us some friend with similar characteristics, with whom conversation is
simply impossible, though they are always armed and ready for a game of
contradiction. Advance an argument, or venture on a ripple of pleasant
small talk, as modestly as you may, your arguments are knocked down one
after the other, like ninepins, as fast as you set them up, and your
rippling talk is swamped in a wave of fine phrases. I ventured on three
observations, mere commonplaces, which were politely waived aside. I was
a woman and a stranger, and so escaped flat contradiction. As one after
the other we drifted from the table somebody said, in a grumbling
undertone,

“That fellow ought to be flung overboard; he’s no fit company for
travelling Christians.”

“Before the day’s over he’ll get a lick the rough side of my tongue, you
bet,” said somebody else.

I am happy to say that performance was not carried out, as the obnoxious
person, in company with a score of fat hogs, got off at the first
landing-stage, and a woman with a large family of small children came
on. These kept things lively the whole day long. She lived in the
constant fear that one or other of her progeny would fall overboard;
they did not have a moment’s peace of their lives; she was always at
their heels, diving after them, fishing them out of odd nooks and
corners whither childish curiosity led them. We settled ourselves down
in the bow of the boat to take general observations of the scenery we
were passing through.

The St. John’s is a magnificent river, winding, widening, and wandering,
now through low-lying marshy lands, now through fine forests of live
oaks, festooned with Spanish moss, or decorated with graceful vines,
twisting and curling fantastically round them, alternated with tangles
of cypress, sweet gums, and stately palm; through wild savannahs, and
groves of shining orange-trees, and here and there past pretty villages
and beautiful homes with blooming gardens reaching down and drooping
their rich blossoms over the water. From each of these there generally
runs out a tiny pier--for everybody likes to have a landing stage in his
own possession--with a fleet of small boats, with gay flags and striped
awning, anchored thereto. But these are rare features in the passing
landscape; it is only now and then, at rare intervals, we are refreshed
with these sweet home views.

The scenery on either side of the river is picturesque, and rarely
romantic throughout; and yet in no single feature does it bear any
resemblance to the weird wildness of the Ocklawaha. In many places it
is six miles wide, and is seldom less than one; the current is slow, and
it moves with feeble pulsations on its course; it is never flustered or
stirred to headlong rashness, it creeps quietly, with a grand placidity,
round anything that lies in its way, never dashes or tumbles over it; no
wind can lash it into fury, no storms disturb its sweet tranquillity; it
is more like a long chain of lakes and lagoons, fed from a thousand
springs, than a restless river. Perhaps it owes some of its placidity to
the fact that it flows the wrong way, and by no human agency can it ever
be set right. Unlike the rest of the American rivers, it flows due
north; the why and the wherefore is one of Nature’s mysteries. It is
always spacious and majestic: here a tiny island with a crown of green
foliage studs its surface; there tall reeds and rushes and wide-leaved
grasses sway in the slow-flowing current, as though they have wandered
from the land, and are trying to save themselves from drowning. Not
unfrequently the river rises out of its natural bed and overflows the
low-lying banks on either side till the land seems covered with tiny
lakelets. All sorts of queer birds, long necked, long legged, long
billed, some with snowy plumage, some grey, some with red bills and
golden green wings, flamingoes and curlews fly overhead, and
solemn-looking storks stand meditating on the watery shore. If we
approach too near some of the conglomeration of odd-looking birds throw
out their long necks, elongate their unwieldy-looking bodies, rise
gracefully and wheel in slow gyrations over our head till they are lost
in the distance.

So far as the eye can reach there are rolling lands covered everywhere
with a dense growth of vegetation, large tracks covered with marshy
grasses, and maiden cane, which is a spurious kind of sugar cane, grows
to the height of twelve or fifteen feet, and resembles a waving field of
ripening corn. Here and there are clumps of dwarf palmettoes, tall
pines, dog-wood, and sweet gums, stretching away till they are lost in
the distant horizon. Looking back we see the zig-zag of the stream
curling and curving in watery hieroglyphics behind us. The whole journey
through this long river of many hundred miles is most picturesque and
interesting--a constant panorama of tropical scenery and strange animal
life. The alligators we see on the shores of this river are much larger
than those on the Ocklawaha; they are more shy, too, and don’t let us
get near them. We have no chance of studying their physiognomies here,
for, as we approach, we see a black mass like an animated tree trunk
skurrying and splashing head-foremost into the water. In watching the
animate and inanimate life along these shores it is impossible to find a
moment’s monotony anywhere.

The skies are intensely blue, the sunshine glorious; a golden haze,
born of the sun’s intensity and the green earth’s responsive gladness,
falls like a shining veil everywhere. Surrounded by such scenes at such
a season, one is apt to fall into a contemplative mood. I was roused
from a state of this drowsy kind of day dreaming by having a bottle of
some medicated salts thrust under my nose, and a voice at my elbow
inquiring with tender solicitude:

“You’re looking pale; sickening for the fever, ma’am?”

I devoutly hoped not.

“Just recovering from it, then?” added my interlocutor.

This I could emphatically deny. I inquired, with a touch of irritation,
did a visit to Florida necessitate an attack of malarial fever; and was
answered--

“Well, ma’am, most people du hev it ef they stay long enough.”

We were growing accustomed to this inquiry, “Have you had the fever?”
Everybody asked it; at the same time everybody informed us there was no
malaria there in their own immediate surroundings, it existed in the
place we had left, and in the place we were going to; it was never
present with us; it had been yesterday, or would be to-morrow, but it
was never to-day. It reminded us of the jam in _Through the
Looking-glass_: “Jam yesterday, and jam to-morrow, but never, never any
jam to-day.”

People who ought to know have stated that malaria is unknown at any
season in any part of Florida, and have written volumes in support of
this assertion. Perhaps it may be called by another name; certainly no
one can travel through the low-lying districts of the St. John’s River,
or, indeed, through any portion of semi-tropical Florida, without
realising the fact that, amid all the rich luxuriance, the brilliant
sunshine, and soft sweet airs, the fever fiend lies concealed, like the
serpent hidden beneath the joys of paradise, biding its time, waiting
till the hot summer days are swooning among the flowers.

Of course there are some places which at all seasons are more free from
malarial disturbances than others. Fernandina may especially be
mentioned, and St. Augustine. Jacksonville, and the regions of the
Tallahassee country, though certainly liable to invasion, yet usually
present a clean bill of health all the year round. But we will indulge
in a retrospective view of Florida hereafter; at present we are on the
St. John’s River, enjoying the most perfect _dolce far niente_, with no
thought beyond the hour, and don’t care to be interrupted even for the
very necessary operation of eating. The sound of the dinner bell is a
disturbing element, but we must perforce obey its summons; though the
mind can be fed on fair sunshine and fine scenery, the body requires
more substantial support. On board this boat, and I believe on all that
line of river steamers, there is uncommonly good feeding; the meals are
excellently well and abundantly served. We “get through” as quickly as
possible, and station ourselves again on deck.

We stop at all the landing stages to take in freight; sometimes it is
man, sometimes it is mutton, the fruits of the earth, or the fruits of
human kind. From some unexplained reason we make quite a long stop at
“Saratoga,” a pretty little settlement lying along the east shore of the
river. It is a striking contrast to that fashionable Saratoga, far away
in the eastern province, with its gigantic hotels, its luxuries, its
trim promenades, its music, its whirl of gaiety, and rush and roar of
animated life--a seething cauldron of perfumed humanity, highly
decorated and ready for daily sacrifice on the altar of fashion. There
it is art, or nature clipped and twisted and trained, so far from its
original simplicity, that you cannot recognise a single feature--in
fact, Nature in masquerade; in brilliant, gorgeous masquerade, it is
true, but hiding the naked loveliness of Nature’s self. Who could
recognise the chaste beauty of a “Venus di Medici” beneath Worth’s
latest costume, with decorations of Tiffany’s brightest jewels? Here is
Nature’s purest self in her own Arcadian simplicity, clothed with golden
orange groves and blooming gardens, aglow with brilliant-hued flowers
running all along the river side, nodding at their own shadows in the
stream. No belles nor beaux stroll through these lovely solitudes; not a
petticoat is in sight; only a few coloured folk are working in the
gardens, as our father Adam worked in our lost inheritance, “the Garden
of Eden.” The bees are gathering honey, and the invisible insect world
seems all astir, filling the air with a dreamy drowsy hum, just stirring
the waves of silence to a soft, low-uttered harmony. Some few of our
fellow passengers go ashore and ramble among the groves for half an
hour, when they return loaded with the luscious fruit, which they seem
to enjoy all the more having been allowed to gather all they desired for
themselves.

We steam on for a few miles, when we come to Welaka, one of the
healthiest localities of the state. It stands on a high bluff, fringed
with a magnificent growth of live oaks, clothed in their own beautiful
robes of green, undecorated by the grey Spanish moss, which, while
adding to the graceful appearance of the trees, tells plainly that the
malarial fiend is lurking somewhere near. In this locality is grown some
of the finest oranges in the state, as the soil is rich and dry, and all
the conditions are favourable to their successful cultivation. Directly
opposite the landing stage is the mouth of the wonderful Ocklawaha,
whose weird depths we have so lately penetrated. Three miles farther on
we reach Norwalk, a primitive landing place, where there seems nothing
to land for, and nowhere to go to when you have landed. But the
settlement, it seems, is laid more than a mile back from the river, and
is rather an important little town, the neighbourhood producing a large
amount of garden vegetables and fruits. Very few orange growers settle
in that location; very few tourists visit it; it is a simple city of
homes; it has the regulation number of schools (indeed the simplest
hamlet is well off on that score, the means for education are freely
scattered throughout the length and breadth of the land; the poorest
tillers of the land or toilers of the sea have no excuse for ignorance),
churches, banks, etc., and a thriving population of busy workers. It is
at this point the lower St. John’s river ends, and we pass into a narrow
crooked channel, varying from forty to several hundred feet wide. Here
the water loses its clear opaline blue, and reflects the clouds in dark
murky shadows. This dingy colour of the water, they say, is owing to the
rich, rank vegetation of this tropical region of the St. John’s river.
Everywhere the shores are covered with dense forests of oak, cypress,
willow, etc., interlaced with gigantic vines, some barren, some bearing
a rich fruitage of sweet wild grapes. The grey Spanish moss hangs from
the green branches, and reeds, rushes, and all kinds of long tropical
grasses form an impenetrable jungle down to the water’s edge--nay,
encroach upon the water’s self and sway gently on its surface; and
flowers of immense size and brilliant colours are abundant everywhere;
they spread over the surface of the water, and flourish on the vines, on
the trees, on everything or on nothing, for we catch an occasional
glimpse of the mysterious golden-hued air plant among the luxuriant
green foliage. Here, too, the alligators and other hideous river
reptiles abound, but you must have sharp eyes to get a glimpse of them,
for as the steamer approaches they hurry back, and dive under the water,
or hide upon the land. This dense jungle scenery is apt to give one an
idea that we are going through some of Nature’s primeval solitudes, her
secret haunts, impenetrable and uninhabitable for the human race. But
that is a wrong idea; this is the low-lying valley region; the ground
slopes upwards from the water’s edge, and within a mile or two--nay,
sometimes much nearer, only a few hundred yards away from the
waterside--are wide clearings where some adventurous pioneer has
squatted and made his home, and cultivates the land, his own not by
right of purchase, but possession. Only a few hundred yards from the
malarial region you may breathe pure, healthful air.

We soon emerge from these luxuriant picturesque regions, and are on the
wide river again. Rarely has one river so many phases as this
world-famous St. John’s; the scenery is always changing--a series of
panoramic views, land and water, combining to make one whole of
picturesque loveliness. We stop at two or three more unimportant
landing-places, pass some neat, solitary homes and thriving orange
groves, and then reach Georgetown, the entrance to Lake St. George. Here
a party of gentlemen with dogs and guns come on board. They are going on
a sporting expedition up the Indian river into wilder regions than we
dare to penetrate; for although the Indian river region is well known
and thoroughly appreciated, it is visited by very few tourists or
strangers, it being difficult of access, necessitating several days’
water travelling, and the accommodation for travellers being of the
roughest description, and even then only to be obtained at rare
intervals. To make amends, however, for the scarcity of places of public
entertainment, the inhabitants are most hospitable, and a guest chamber
is generally reserved in even the humblest farmhouse, where the stranger
is always made welcome to the best the house affords. This kind of
primitive casual entertainment is often far preferable to the gilded
glories of the stereotyped hotel. These Indian river regions are more
sparsely populated than those of St. John’s; this too is owing to its
general inaccessibility, for nowhere in all the state is there a richer
or more fertile soil calculated for the growth of cereals of all kinds,
fruits, vegetables, and sugar-cane attaining sometimes to sixteen feet
high--a single stalk yielding more than a gallon of juice; and cacao,
date, cocoanut, ginger, cassava, and yams may be cultivated with equal
profit. The river affords rare sport for the fishermen, for it abounds
with a great variety of fish, and is remarkable for its superb mullet,
weighing from three to nine pounds, and measuring from fifteen to twenty
inches in length. Turtling is also largely carried on, and is a most
lucrative business. The splendid hammock lands all along the Indian
river have a magnificent growth of hickory, mulberry, red elm, iron
wood, and crab wood; both the latter are finely grained, and capable of
receiving a fine polish. The surrounding woods abound with small game
and deer, and occasionally a small black bear shows himself, while wild
cats and such-like creatures may be found without much difficulty by
those who seek them, and sometimes they make themselves more free than
welcome to those who do not. Not infrequently a panther appears upon the
scene, and is seldom allowed to retire unmolested to his den. It is
hardly necessary to state that the whole of this fertile Indian river
region is far below the frost line--the general temperature all the year
round being about 75°, though it has been known on rare occasions to
rise to 90° or fall to 55°. But we must draw our thoughts from the
Indian river and continue on our way; we are now upon Lake St. George.
Slowly we steam across this magnificent sheet of water, one of the
loveliest and most interesting of all the lakes in Florida; it is six
miles wide by fourteen miles long. These lovely lakes, of all shapes and
sizes, are scattered throughout the central region of Florida; they vary
from smooth, pleasant-looking pools of about an acre, hidden away in the
heart of the pine woods, to the spacious lakes of fifty miles. They all
lie far away from the large rivers and the sea-shore, and have always
pleasant if not especially attractive surroundings; their shores are
generally slightly rolling, and covered with palmetto or pine, or
sometimes the grassy slopes are outlined by a thick tangle of jungle in
the distance. Orange Lake County is one of the famous inland lake
districts. In the neighbourhood of Interlaken and Oceola the lakes are
most numerous; looking in any direction a dozen or more pretty lakelets
may be seen, and from one special spot in Maitland no less than nine
large lakes are visible. Farther South, still in the centre of the
peninsula, and surrounded by fine hammock lands (which always indicate
the richest soil), are several other beautiful lakes--Conway, Cypress,
Kissimmee, and Tohopekalaga and many more, large and small. The country
is prairie-like, and the vegetation throughout this extensive region
purely tropical, though as yet it is very sparsely populated.
Civilisation has not had time to develop the means of transport, and the
lands are lying waste, only waiting till the spirit of cultivation
sweeps that way.

In this brief allusion to the lake regions, which constitute so special
a feature in the peninsula of Florida, I have made no mention of the
numerous springs of sparkling waters which dot the whole surface of the
land; in some cases they are like little lakelets, in some cases they
are springs of pure water, in others the water is medicated.

Most of the lake shores in Orange County are dotted with pretty homes
embowered in green trees, their smooth lawns and flower gardens running
down to the water’s edge. Lake Okechobee covers an area of nearly seven
hundred square miles, and is the largest in the state; it is at the very
farthest point South, and penetrates into the region of the Everglades.

Here, on Lake St. George, wild ducks and all kinds of water fowl seem as
numerous as butterflies on a warm summer’s day. Some of our fellow
travellers amuse themselves by shooting the wild ducks, and a hybrid
young darkie, who seems as much at home in the water as out of it, dives
down head foremost, and fishes them out, and seems to enjoy the fun of
it.

There was one couple on board who attracted general attention by their
frank and unreserved appreciation of each others’ charms. They were not
young, they were not beautiful; they were a kind of attenuated edition
of the renowned Mr. Pickwick and Mrs. Wardle. _He_ wore glasses, and the
tender passion filtered through a pair of green spectacles loses
somewhat of its romance. They were evidently veterans in the art of
amorous warfare; he sat with his arm round her waist, and carried on his
wooing through the medium of a bottle of champagne; they drank out of
one glass, and worked slowly to the bottom of it, and then called for
more. Some kinds of clay will bear a great deal of soaking.

While we are still steaming along this beautiful river, past widening
valleys, through thickets of dense shrubberies interlaced with gigantic
vines, night closes in and shuts the wild picturesque scenery from our
view. All wise people retire to the saloon, where somebody makes a
feeble attempt to get up a concert; but as there are no singers and no
audience to speak of the idea is abandoned and everybody goes to bed.

To make an entire exploration of the St. John’s river involves about
eight hundred miles of travel, which, however, is never wearisome, as
the scenery shifts and changes at every turn, and the boat is a most
comfortable floating home; any one who is not well satisfied with the
arrangement and accommodation must be very hard to please. As we are
nearing our journey’s end we meet another party of sportsmen returning
from an excursion up the Indian river. On board their boat they have
about one hundred gigantic turtles, the weight of each one being legibly
marked on its back; they were conveying them to Jacksonville, to be
shipped thence to the northern markets.

We had intended to leave the boat at Enterprise and spend a few days
there rambling about the country and familiarising ourselves with the
scenery of the surrounding neighbourhood. However, we were doomed to
disappointment, for on arriving there we find the place deserted, the
hotel closed, and no prospect of entertainment until October, when it
will reopen for the season.

Our captain suggests that there are some fruit-growers or small farmers
in the neighbourhood who would make us welcome and put us up comfortably
for a few days; but although we know that hospitality is boundless in
these regions, we do not feel disposed to take advantage of it. Some of
our fellow-passengers go ashore, intending to camp out and make their
way across to the Indian river settlement. We spend a delightful three
days and nights upon the river, and return to Jacksonville. It is late
in the evening when we arrive; we sleep once more at our delightful
hotel, and take the early morning train for New Orleans, where we hope
to arrive in about two days.



CHAPTER XVI.

     Retrospective.--A critical conductor.--Montgomery.--Train wreckers
     at work.--Weird scenes in the moonlight.--Silent watchers.--“Wild
     Cat” train to New Orleans.


In the light of the early morning we bid adieu to Florida, its fruits,
its flowers, its sunshine and its people. We have found our own
country-people largely represented in all parts of the state, and
everywhere they are doing well, and look healthy, happy, bright and
contented; and on all sides we see evidence of their thrift, industry,
and general prosperity. We inquire to whom belongs some lovely extensive
orange groves, or some picturesque luxurious dwelling, and we are told
to “some English settlers,” who perhaps began with a shanty in the
wilderness, and have transformed it into an earthly paradise of peace
and plenty. Then a thriving farm, with its abundant cattle, its corn or
cotton-fields, and peach or pine orchards stretching away till they are
lost in the distance; the farmer is a man from the “old country”--in
fact, wherever the Anglo-Saxon spirit stirs, prosperity follows: “When
he sets his hand to the plough he doeth it with all his might.” There
are very few Irish in Florida, in fact so few that when the familiar
accent greets our ears it sounds strange to us in these latitudes, and
we turn round to look at the speaker. Their scanty numbers is somewhat
surprising, as nowhere could the tide of immigration set in with such
promise of success; indeed here is a veritable “Tom Tiddler’s ground,”
it needs but the shovel and pickaxe to turn over the soil, when all who
will may “pick up the gold and silver.” The foreign element is
altogether rather conspicuous from its absence, for there is but a poor
sprinkling of German settlers, and the Latin races are scarcely
represented at all; even the Spaniards who once were rulers in the land
have left but here and there a solitary specimen of their races, and
they are not often to be found in the great army of workers. A little
fruit, a little corn--such as can be obtained by little labour--contents
them; they have no ambition, either for the advancement of themselves,
or of their children who follow in their footsteps, and live as their
parents lived; if they can sit and smoke and dream under their own
fig-tree their cup of happiness is full. English and Americans
contribute the greater portion of the population; the stream of
immigration has set in from every state in the Union, but New England
appears to be the state most largely represented; nearly all the
railroads, steamboats, factories, &c., are the outcome of New England
and New York enterprise, brains, and capital.

Coloured labour is generally used, both in the house and in the fields,
gardens, and groves, but it is uncertain and unsatisfactory in its
results; and the immigration of a few thousand of the quiet,
industrious, reliable Chinese would be cordially welcomed throughout the
State of Florida. They may have their drawbacks and be undesirable as
citizens, but as mechanical or field labourers or house servants they
are unsurpassed, being quiet, civil, obedient and obliging; set against
these good qualities their propensity for petty pilfering and lying; but
these vices once acknowledged, you can prepare for or guard against
them; their industry and faithful labour may always be relied on. Many
other nations have their vices without their redeeming qualities. There
is very little crime, comparatively, in Florida; assaults or robberies
are of infrequent occurrence. This is perhaps to be wondered at, as the
houses are so few and far between, and every facility exists for the
operations of tramps or burglars, but tramps and burglars are almost
unknown; if any of that genus ventures to interfere with the honest
working population a rough-and-ready kind of popular justice speedily
overtakes the evil-doer.

The difference between the people here in the extreme South and those in
the extreme West is very remarkable. Here the stream of life flows on in
peaceful untroubled calm, it moves with a decorous quiet, is never in a
hurry; they till the soil, and sow, and reap, prune, and plant in a
leisurely fashion. They have made their homes and settled down there and
mean to stay. There is no vexatious hurrying to and fro, no sudden
influx of strangers from all lands, pouring in and overspreading the
country, bringing with them a whirl of evil passions, with murder in
their train, each elbowing the other, trampling down all rule and order
in their eager thirst for gold! Here there is no excitement, no mines to
develop, no visions of sudden fortunes to be grasped in a lucky hour, no
rush of eager anxious men in flannel shirts, top-boots, sombreros, armed
with knives and revolvers, such as we often see even in the cities of
the west; there is no gambling with fate, no endeavour to cheat
fortune’s blind old eyes. Here the dignity of labour, as “when Adam
delved and Eve span,” asserts itself supreme. Men know that to
conscientious labour will come success, with prosperity and ease in the
near distance. Well, we say farewell to this land of promise with
regret, and once more we establish ourselves on our pleasant Pullman
car, and are _en route_ for New Orleans.

One of our casual acquaintances accompanies us to the station, loads us
with heaps of good wishes and a basket of beautiful flowers; we exchange
a pleasant farewell, and the train moves slowly off. We take our last
look at the majestic river, whereon we have passed so many delightful
hours; it is clothed with a silver sheen, and ripples and sparkles and
flashes in the royal light of the sun. The little Palatka steamer, with
a single white sail fluttering from its masthead, puffs fussily on its
way, bearing a fresh freight of happy tourists on their way to the
wonderful Ocklawaha--as it bore us only a few days ago; for a moment it
seems to be racing with us, then we pass out of sight. We take a last
look at the pretty embowered city of Jacksonville, and then proceed to
decorate our section with flowers, have a table set up, get out our
books and a little idle needlework, and settle ourselves comfortably in
our travelling home.

The car is almost empty, and the few companions we have are of the
masculine order; the touristical element is absent. Our companions,
judging from, their conversation, are all Texan farmers who have been on
a trip through Florida, combining business with pleasure, investigating
the land generally, seeing how they could improve their own possessions;
and gathering up hints and facts and scraps for future use. One talked
of giving up his cattle ranch in Texas, and migrating to Florida
altogether.

“Steers and heifers, and such-like are well enough raisin’,” he said,
“but them cattle lifters are always about, and keep us a little too
lively all the time. When we go to bed at night we are never sure we
sha’n’t find our cattle driven off in the morning, and then--well,
there’s generally a little shootin’ before we can get ’em back. I’ve
seen so much of that sort of thing that now I’m getting an old man I’m
tired of it. It seems all so quiet and peaceful down Florida, no lifters
nor raiders thereabouts. I think,” he added, after a pause, “I shall
turn my cattle into orange groves.”

The conversation generally turned upon agricultural matters, in which,
of course, they were all deeply interested--in fact, so interested, that
they interested us. We could not help observing how much better educated
they seem to be than the same class at home. Two lively young fellows
entered into a brisk discussion as to the relative superiority of their
different States. One, a tall, lanky, loose-jointed specimen, was a
landowner in “Alabama”--or “Alabawmer,” as he called it, with a by no
means unpleasant drawl; the other was a restless, eager-eyed young
Texan, as full of quips and cranks as a young monkey. He seemed to
regard life generally as a good joke, and turned everything into a
laugh; sometimes the laugh was against himself, but he was shrewd and
sensible enough, though he had a queer, quaint way of handling his
subject. It was a pleasant journey on the whole; their rough-and-ready
talk was amusing, and gave us a new view of life in the wilds. Their
account of the various methods of cultivating lands in the different
States was most interesting, and we wish we could drop these grains of
useful knowledge among those who could benefit by it. The seeds we sow
and the harvests we gather have little to do with the agricultural
interests.

Our conductor, as usual, when he has leisure from his official duties,
lounges across to our section and enters into a pleasant conversation
with us. He discusses the social, political, and literary questions of
the day with sound good sense and much discrimination. He opens his
stores of knowledge freely, and shows us through every department of his
mind; as one door shuts he opens another, takes a header, and plunges
from one subject to another without any preliminary leading up thereto;
he seems determined to make the best use of his time, and show us how
much worldly and intellectual gossip can be gathered in the wilds of
Alabama. He reminds us of the clever tradesman who conducts you through
the warehouse where all his best goods are on exhibition. He embellished
his conversation with poetical quotations from Tennyson and Shakespeare,
and occasionally fished up from the depths of his memory a mysterious
passage of Browning and tried to make sense of it. He endeavoured, but
failed, to extract the poet’s meaning from the conglomerated mass of
fine phrases and high-sounding words with which he had scrupulously
clothed and concealed it, as though he never intended anybody ever
should find it out; and, indeed, if he entered on the quest, might have
some difficulty in finding it out himself. Our conductor appears to be a
devotee of the drama, too, and is not disposed to hide his light under a
bushel. He waxed critical on the subject of Modjeska’s Juliet and
Bernhardt’s Camille; he had seen both once when he had been travelling
East. The time passed so pleasantly that we were sorry when his duties
called him away, but they did not very often. Our agricultural
companions evidently thought our conversation frivolous and foolish, and
occasionally snorted a disapproving snarl about play-acting.

As there are no dining cars attached to this train, meals are served at
stated places. At Waycross we get an excellent supper--a thoroughly
enjoyable and satisfactory meal. Some of our fellow-travellers, having
been deluded into the belief that nothing eatable was to be had on the
road, abstracted from the bowels of their baskets stale sandwiches,
crumpled buns, and mashed fruits, a delightful provision against
starvation, which had got considerably mixed during the journey.

We reach Montgomery about eight o’clock in the evening, and there we
have to wait two hours for the New Orleans train. It is not often we
have these long dreary waits by the wayside; as a rule the
correspondence between the trains is arranged so as to avoid this
inconvenience. However, we have to wait now, and had best bear the
annoyance patiently. We take a walk through the dimly-lighted town,
indulge in a little characteristic gossip with the natives, and
the time soon passes; it is useless to fret and fume over the
unavoidable--travelling has taught us that much. On our return to the
“waiting-room” (so called by courtesy, for it is a mere shed with a few
wooden benches), our attention is attracted by a young woman who is
seated in a dusky corner; she has a fractious child about a year old in
her arms, and in a tired voice is telling somebody of the long weary
journey she has had, and--

“Now,” she continues, with a low sob in her voice, “I have to go on a
common car all the way to New Orleans. I cannot get a sleeping berth; I
have just been to the office, and they say they are all taken.”

I doubt this, as I have just had a choice of two; I volunteer to go and
see what I can do in the matter, and succeed in securing for her the
last berth. As soon as we enter the car I see that the woman is
_coloured_; perhaps this is the reason of her failure. One or two of
our fellow passengers look on her askant, as coloured people are not
generally taken on the Pullman cars, but no one was inhuman enough to
take exception to her presence.

There is a stir, a momentary confusion in finding and settling ourselves
in our different sections; if we would only be guided by the calm
official mind, we should be guided thereto in less time and with less
trouble. We are both tired and sleepy, and in an incredibly short time
are in our closely-curtained berths fast asleep, wandering through the
land of nod.

Suddenly we are violently shaken out of our sleep. Jerk! crash! and we
stand still. Doors open and shut, men pass hastily to and fro, the
gentlemen tumble out of their berths; soon everybody is astir, and
mysterious whispers and wonderings pass from one to another. “We’re off
the line,” says one; “The train’s wrecked;” “Any body hurt?” “It’s
brigands,” etc. We are in the last car, fortunately for us, and we step
out on to the platform to ascertain for ourselves what is really the
matter. A polite unknown voice issues from the darkness--

“Would you like to see the wreck?” it inquires. Yes, we would like it
very much; and two chivalrous but invisible escorts receive us as we
alight in a mud bank (where we nearly leave our shoes), and half lead
and half support us as we stumble along the track. There lies the
engine--a wreck among its expiring fires--the tender smashed beside it;
the two foremost cars are off the line, toppling sideways but not
absolutely turned over. Our car, the last, was the only one that kept
the rails--this accounts for the mere shaking the accident caused us.
The occupants of the forward cars were very much shaken; the baggage
master had his shoulder dislocated, but no one was seriously hurt. We
were all indebted for our providential escape to the presence of mind of
our engine driver, who, on feeling his engine jerk off the line,
reversed it, whistled “down brakes,” and having done all that could be
done for saving us, jumped from the engine and saved himself. On farther
inquiry we learn that our accident is believed to be no accident at all,
but the work of “train wreckers,” who have removed the rails, and are no
doubt lurking in the surrounding wilds, biding their time to swoop down
and rob the train--a little game they are rather fond of playing in this
part of the country. We are prepared for them, however. The gentlemen,
who are all well armed, turn out of the train, every one of them, join
the officials, and watch with them through the night. Meanwhile we are
locked into the cars, assured of safety, and solemnly adjured to retire
to rest, as we shall have to be astir at four o’clock in the morning.

A great fire of pine logs is kindled on the track, and the dusky
figures of our volunteer guard pass to and fro, now illuminated by the
red glare of light, then vanishing like shadowy spectres into the
darkness, and the white watery moon peering out from a ragged mass of
leaden clouds, or hiding behind them, gives the whole scene a weird
look, like a living illustration torn out from some dead romance. There
is no talking, no sound, only the solitary figures of the watchers
stalking to and fro in the mysterious gloom. In the soft grey dawn of
the morning we are roused (though indeed few of us need rousing, we too
have been silent watchers through the night). We make a hasty toilet,
gather our belongings together, descend from the cars, and walk along
the line to meet the New Orleans train which has been signalled to stop,
and is already disgorging its living freight. The alighting passengers
meet us face to face with scared inquiring looks, as wondering why they
have been roused from their sleep so early. The sight of our dilapidated
train explains the mystery, and our sleepy melancholy processions pass
each other by; they go east by the train which has been sent from
Montgomery to meet them, and we enter the cars they have vacated. On
viewing our wrecked train by the morning light we realise more
completely the danger we have passed through.

The transfer of baggage and passengers is soon made, and by the time the
beautiful sun has opened like a rich red rose in the east, we are once
more on our way towards New Orleans.

All the usual transit arrangements have been thrown out of gear by our
accident, and we have to run on what is called “a wild cat train,” that
is to say, we have no time of our own, and have to get along as well as
we can, without any legitimate chum to the “right of the road.” We
shriek and whistle, and wriggle along for a few minutes, and then are
ignominiously shunted; our engine gasps, and swallows its own smoke, and
droops its iron wings in a most forlorn condition; even the fireman
hides his face, as the triumphant express dashes joyously by, as though
rejoicing in our humiliating condition. Even the usually despised
freight train passes _us_. We are something lower than an “immigrant
train”--we are a “wild cat.” We struggle on a little farther and then
are signalled out of the way again; we are always backing, pulling up
short, and being shunted into unexpected sidings--never knowing what we
are going to do from one moment to another, or where we shall get
anything to eat, or whether we shall have to starve till we get to New
Orleans. Sometimes during this weary waiting we get out and promenade
the track; it is rather rough walking, and we don’t do too much of it.
Or if we are brought to a standstill in the wilderness, we ramble for
half-an-hour through the sweet wet woods, for the gentle rain has
bathed the tall trees and brought out the perfume of the wild flowers,
and clothed all the wooded wonders with a dainty freshness. Who cares to
wander through the hot dry woods in the scorching summer time, when the
thirsty trees droop their long branches as though trying to reach the
running water, whose gentle gurgling they hear from afar off; and the
pale flowers, sick and sorely laden with their own perfumes, open their
parched lips prayerfully and wait for the freshening rain? Well, it has
fallen to-day, and the wild woods are chirping with vigorous
life--birds, and shrubs, and flowers, and all the insect world, fresh
from their showery bath, are waking and whirring joyously in the soft
sunshine; then we come upon a clump of magnolia trees, whose long buds
are slowly opening into flower, and somebody presents me with a magnolia
as large as a young cabbage.

About twelve o’clock we pull up at a desolate-looking village; people
come out of their cottages, pigs and children tumbling one over the
other, to stare at this sudden irruption of humanity, at this hour when
no respectable train is expected to be on the road. We alight, and are
marshalled through numerous tumble-down cottages to a dilapidated
hotel--a cross between an Irish shanty and a low class refreshment bar.
Here we get a meal, or at least a substitute for one; we are all too
hungry to pay much attention to the quality of the food, provided we
get enough of it. The landlady, in large hoop earrings and a draggled
print gown, received us at the stair-head, and with apologies for the
poor entertainment she is able to afford us, on the ground of the
exceptional nature of the occasion; it is the very first time a train
has come to a standstill in this primitive part of the country.

There is a general clatter and chatter; two or three small negroes
flutter round like a flock of frightened geese; everybody seems to get
in everybody else’s way--they tumble over each other, tumble over us.
There is a general scrimmage and rush for such eatables as are here
attainable; one gets a cup of steaming coffee while the milk vanishes in
the distance; another is refreshed with a bowl of sugar; one gets proud
possession of a yard of corn bread, another grasps a dish of rancid
butter--but the difficulty is getting the two together; fresh eggs are
plentiful, and are piled like mountains of white cannon balls upon the
table. A trio of adventurous gentlemen make a raid upon the kitchen, and
reappear proudly bearing their spoils aloft; by degrees things shake
down and we manage to fill the vacuum within us. Our damaged baggage
master, with his dislocated shoulder bound up by amateur hands, is
cheerful, albeit in pain, and receives the attentions of the ladies with
great placidity; he has to be fed like a big baby, for he can’t use his
right hand, and his left is sprained and swollen. Everybody is
laughing, chatting, and grumbling all in a breath; as for us we never
enjoyed a thoroughly British growl at so small a price--twenty cents a
head!

On our way to the station we meet a wicked-looking little Topsy, with a
huge brown jug of new milk, just fresh from the cow; we speedily relieve
her of this responsibility, and in the twinkling of an eye change the
stone jug and its contents into a shower of “nickels.”

Re-entering the car we are again on our way, and enjoy a series of
dissolving views of some of the most charming scenery of the
South--through plantations of cotton trees, and red and white blossomed
dogwood. Slowly the world of green disappears beneath the grey twilight
shadows; the sun, which has been blazing like a ball of burnished gold
all day, seems suddenly to grow tired of shining, and draws his crimson
curtains round him and sinks suddenly to rest. Soon the lights of New
Orleans loom upon our sight.

Omnibuses and cars of all description are in waiting at the station, and
in a very short time we are driving through the up and down streets of
this quaint old city to the Hotel St. Charles, where we take our rest.



CHAPTER XVII.

     New Orleans, “The Paris of the South.”--French quarters.--Tropical
     street scene.--To Carrolton.--The Levées.--Classical
     architecture.--A coloured funeral.--The dismal swamp.--Lake
     Ponchartrain.--A gambling population.


The Hotel St. Charles is a very fine impressive building in the centre
of the city of New Orleans. It is of white stone, and the simple
colonnaded front, with its tall straight fluted columns, gives it quite
a classical appearance. It is the best hotel in the town, but it might
be better; it has spacious corridors, and handsomely furnished rooms,
but the cuisine is not so good as it should be in an hotel of such
pretensions, the table is poorly served, and it is wanting in that
liberality which is characteristic of the South. The service is very
scanty; one servant seems to have to do the work of six. Our waiter was
a simple biped--a mere man, when he ought to have had as many arms and
legs as a devil fish; he had need of them, he was always wanted here,
there, and everywhere, and seemed to flash about on invisible telegraph
wires.

We start in the early morning on a pedestrian excursion through this
“Paris of the South.” We almost fancy that we have gone to sleep in the
new world, and woke up in the old fair and familiar city across the sea.
It is the same, yet not the same; there is a similarity in the general
features, especially in the vicinity of Canal Street, to which I shall
allude more fully by and by, and an insouciant gaiety in the aspect of
the people, which pervades the very air they breathe; an electric
current seems always playing upon their spirits, moving their emotional
nature, sometimes to laughter, sometimes to tears. It seems as though
the two cities had been built on the same model, only differently draped
and garnished, decorated with different orders, and stamped with a
different die. Coming down a narrow lane, we met a typical old
Frenchwoman, her mahogany coloured face scored like the bark of an old
tree scarcely visible beneath her flapping sun-bonnet. She wore short
petticoats, and came clattering along over the rough stones in her
wooden sabots, while her tall blue-bloused grandson carrying her
well-filled basket strode beside her; and a meek eyed sister of charity
bent on her errand of mercy passed in at a creaking doorway. These were
the only signs of life we saw as we first turned on our way to the
French quarter of the town, which still bears the impress of the old
colonial days. This is the most ancient portion of the city, and full
of romantic traditions of the days that are dead and gone. The long,
narrow, crooked streets, running on all sides in a spidery fashion, with
rows of shabby-looking houses, remain exactly as they were a hundred
years ago. Strict conservatism obtains here; nothing has been done in
the way of improvement; the old wooden houses are bruised and battered
as though they had been engaged in a battle with time and been worsted;
they are covered with discolorations and patches, naked and languishing
for a coat of new paint. There are no dainty green sun blinds here, but
heavy worm-eaten wooden shutters, and queer timber doors hung on clumsy
iron hinges; here and there we get a glimpse of the dingy interiors
while a few bearded men are lounging smoking in the doorways, and a few
children, chattering like French magpies, are playing on the threshold.
Everything is quiet and dull--a sort of Rip Van Winkle-ish sleep seems
drooping its drowsy wings and brooding everywhere, till a lumbering dray
comes clattering over the cobble stones, and sends a thousand echoes
flying through the lonely streets.

From these stony regions, past the little old-fashioned church where the
good Catholics worshipped a century ago and we emerge upon Canal Street,
the principal business thoroughfare of the city; it is thronged with
people at this time of day, busy crowds are passing to and fro, the
shop windows are dressed in their most attractive wares, temptingly
exposed to view. Confectioners, fruit, and fancy stores overflow into
open stalls in front and spread along the sidewalk; huge bunches of
green bananas, strawberries, peas, pines, cocoa-nuts and mangoes,
mingled with dainty vegetables, are lying in heaps. We are tempted to
try a mango, the favourite southern fruit, of whose luscious quality we
have so often heard, but the first taste of its sickening sweetness
satisfies our desires. The street is very wide, and the jingle-jangle of
the car-bells, the rattling of wheels, and the spasmodic shriek and
whistle of the steam engine--all mingle together in a not unsweet
confusion. Lumbering vehicles, elegant carriages, street-cars, and a
fussy little railway, all run in parallel lines along the wide roadway.
This is the great backbone of the city, whence all lines of vehicular
traffic branch off on their diverse tracks into all the highways and
by-ways of the land. Here we get on to a car which carries us through
the handsomest quarter of the city. Quaint, old-fashioned houses,
surrounded by gardens of glowing flowers, and magnificent magnolias, now
in full bloom, stand here and there in solitary grandeur, or sometimes
in groups like a conclave of green-limbed giants, clothed in white
raiment, and perfumed with the breath of paradise. Past lines of elegant
residences, where the _élite_ of the city have their abode, and we soon
reach a rough wooden shed yclept a “depot.” Here the horses are
unhitched, and a steam dummy attached to carry us on our way. The little
dummy looks like a big-bellied coffee-pot as it puffs fussily along, on
its way, but it does its work well, and in a little time lands us at
“Carrolton.”

We alight at the railway terminus, at the foot of the levées, the Mecca
of our morning pilgrimage. We ascend a dozen cranky steps, and stand on
the top of the levée, with the coffee-coloured flood of the great
Mississippi rolling at our feet, and look back upon the low-lying city
behind us.

This king of rivers is here wide and winding, but drowsy and sluggish;
its vast waters rolling down from the north seem to languish here in the
indolence of the South; it stretches its slow length along, like a
sleeping giant with all its wondrous strength and power hushed beneath
the summer sun.

The levées form a delightfully cool promenade, and are thronged with
people on summer evenings. Cosy benches shaded by wide spreading green
trees are placed at certain distances, and glancing across the broad
brown lazy river to the opposite side the view is picturesque in the
extreme.

The architectural beauty of New Orleans is unique, and wholly unlike any
other Southern city; the avenues are wide and beautifully planted, a
generous leafy shade spreads every way you turn. The dwelling houses
which line St. Charles’s Avenue are graceful, classical structures;
there are no Brummagem gingerbread buildings, no blending together of
ancient and modern ideas, and running wild into fancy chimney-pots,
arches, points, and angles like a twelfth-cake ornament. Some are
fashioned like Greek temples, most impressive in their chaste outline
and simplicity of form; others straight and square, with tall Corinthian
columns or fluted pillars, sometimes of marble, sometimes of stone. The
severe architectural simplicity, the pure white buildings shaded by
beautiful magnolias and surrounded by brilliant shrubs and flowers, form
a vista charming to the eye and soothing to the senses, and all stands
silhouetted against the brightest of blue skies--a blue before which the
bluest of Italian skies would seem pale.

The aspect of the city changes on every side; we leave the fashionable
residential regions, and enter broad avenues lined with grand old forest
trees, sometimes in double rows, the thick leaved branches meeting and
forming a canopy overhead. The ground is carpeted with soft green turf,
and bare-legged urchins, black and white, are playing merry games; a
broken down horse is quietly grazing, and a cow is being milked under
the trees, while a company of pretty white goats, with a fierce looking
Billie at their head, are careering about close by. Pretty pastoral
bits of landscape on every side cling to the skirts, and fringe the
sides of this quaint city. As we get farther away from St. Charles’s
Avenue the better class of residences grow fewer and fewer, till they
cease altogether, and we come upon pretty green-shuttered cottages, with
their porches covered with blossoms, and rows of the old-fashioned straw
beehives in front. Here and there are tall tenement houses built of
cherry-red bricks, which are let out in flats to the labouring classes.

We happen to be the only occupants of the car, and our driver, glancing
back at us through the sliding door, and realising that we are strangers
in the land, divides his attention between his horses and his
passengers. He has a pale, fair, melancholy face and dreamy eyes--a kind
of blond Henry Irving--and we cannot get rid of an idea that Hamlet the
Dane has followed his lamented father’s custom of “revisiting the
glimpses of the moon,” and is doing us the honour of driving our car.

Presently we come upon a procession that attracts our interest. A party
of people, chiefly of the gentler sex--I cannot in this case say the
fairer, as they are all black as coals--are slowly parading the
sidewalk, the girls, even down to little children three or four years
old, all clad in white. It has been raining and the streets are still
wet; they are tramping over muddy crossings in white satin slippers,
their white dresses draggling in the damp, while their brown or black
faces and black shining eyes beam with a kind of grotesque incongruity
through their white veils.

“A bridal party?” we remark interrogatively to our Hamlet. The Prince of
Denmark shakes his head, and vouchsafes a grave and dreamy smile as he
corrects our mistake: “No, ma’am. It’s a coloured funeral.”

Turning into Claiborne Street we fancy it must be the entrance-gate to
the forest primeval; as far as the eye can reach we gaze through long
vistas of ancient trees, whose huge trunks are gnarled and knotted and
scarred by the passing ages. This delightful avenue has four rows of
these glorious trees, with double car-tracks running under their cool
and welcome shade; down the centre, and crossed by rude rustic bridges,
runs what we supposed to be a narrow canal or natural running stream,
but we learn that it is an open sewer, the peculiar soil and sanitary
arrangements of the city necessitating a system of open drainage--which
is, however, by no means unsightly or offensive; and through the
arteries of the city there run these narrow sewers, carrying all the
impurities and refuse as a kind of tributary offering to the glorious
Mississippi.

The burial grounds or cemeteries we pass on our way have a strange
appearance, as in consequence of the peculiarities of the soil and
climate, the dead are not buried under the earth, but are laid upon its
surface with the stone monument raised above them.

Another day we have a light springy carriage, and avoiding the
car-tracks bowl over the soft green turf, beneath the arching trees,
with the sunlight glinting through. We drive out of the city, and wind
about among its picturesque suburbs--a charming drive, though the air is
moist and warm, and our strength seems oozing from our finger-tips. We
can imagine what New Orleans must be in summer time, when even in these
April days our vital forces grow faint and feeble.

The public buildings, state offices, and churches, are remarkably fine
architectural features of the city. There is no need to describe them
here, for the written description of one church, unless indeed there is
some special history connected therewith, sounds much the same as
another; and any visitor to the city can get an excellent guide thereto
and familiarise himself with their appearance so far as he desires, and
some are interesting enough to repay him for his trouble.

There is one very favourite excursion, largely patronised by the
inhabitants of the city on warm summer evenings, and one which the most
casual tourist should not fail to take. We enter the little railway
train in Canal Street, the very heart of the city, and steaming
leisurely along we soon reach the outskirts, and run through pretty
woodland scenery, with dainty dwellings scattered here and there among
the full-foliaged trees. Presently we come upon a long stretch of open
country; on one side is the canal, with a wide roadway and spacious
tracts of cultivated lands beyond it. On the other side of the railway
track, on our right, there runs a similar carriage road and footway
running along the edge of a luxuriant thicket of green low-lying bushes,
which seem like the ragged fringe of the virgin forest; then there rises
clusters of slight willowy slips; a part of the pristine family of oaks
and alders which have grown and developed into gigantic trees,
thickening and twining their long arms together till they form an
impenetrable mass of green, but instead of a bit of forest primeval, we
are told that this is a most dismal swamp of many miles extent, utterly
impassable for either man or beast, and varying from two to eight or ten
feet deep, the abode of repulsive reptiles and other obnoxious
creatures. They say that it is no uncommon thing at certain seasons of
the year for a huge black or green snake to wriggle out of its home of
slush and slime and coil itself up on the pathway, or an alligator will
sometimes be found stretched along the railway track, its lidless eyes
staring stupidly at the sun.

The whole of this part of New Orleans has been reclaimed from these
extensive swamps, and no doubt, if the necessity should arise, the whole
ground may be reclaimed and cultivated or built over; but such a
proceeding could only be carried out at an almost fabulous expense, and
as the great lungs of the city have plenty of breathing room in other
directions, it will no doubt be left, for this century at least, in the
occupation of noisome reptiles, the refuse of God’s creatures.

Lake Ponchartrain, where we are presently safely deposited, is one of
the most picturesque spots in all this region; a silver shining sheet of
water, on whose surface the passing clouds seem softly sailing, for the
skies are reflected therein as in a mirror. We look across the water
upon wide stretches of undulating cultivated lands, “with verdure clad,”
a soft mossy carpet with purple flags and long lance-like grasses
reaching down to the water’s edge. A lovely garden, artistically
arranged with tropical flowers, fully half a mile long, runs along this
side of the lake, and among the beds of gorgeous blossoms there are
pretty winding walks, and rustic benches are arranged beneath
wide-spreading shady trees. A glorious promenade runs like a golden band
along the borders, and a pretty fancifully-built hotel and restaurant
stands at the head of the lake. It is a perfect nest of a place, hung
round with balconies and covered with climbing plants, the luxurious
Virginian creeper with its wealth of purple bloom with white star-like
flowers mingling between. Surrounding the hotel is a wide space studded
with little marble-topped tables, dedicated to the convenience of the
hungry and thirsty multitudes who flock thither up from the hot, dusty
town on summer evenings, to breathe the fresh cool air which blows
across the surface of the lake.

Tables and chairs are set in all kinds of shady nooks and corners, and
merry parties are sipping sherbet, lemonade, and ice-cream; even the
democratic “lager beer” is served in foaming goblets, and while the band
is playing people stroll to and fro or group under the trees eating
ices, and not always confining themselves to the above harmless
beverages. They enjoy themselves each after his own fashion, and it is
generally midnight before the last train returns with its living freight
towards the town.

We take our last evening stroll through the streets of New Orleans,
which have a fascination unknown to them by day. They are everywhere
brilliantly illuminated; we fancy it must be some special occasion, but
it is always the same; electric lights and gas-jets in quaint devices
are flaring everywhere, strains of music are floating on the air, the
shops and stalls are ablaze with brilliant colouring, and appear in
fancy dress--as a lady throws off her morning robes and appears _en
grande toilette_ for the evening festivities; open air performances,
shows, and theatres are in full swing. Strange to say, places that have
seemed quiet and harmless, even dingy, during the daytime, bloom out
into gambling dens, where the rattling of dice and the rolling of
billiard balls make deadly music through the night. How often some
haggard form, hunted by ruin and despair, slips like a shadow from these
lighted halls; a pistol-shot, a groan, and he vanishes into a darker
night, “where never more the sun shall rise or set.” There are no laws
against gambling; they are a free people here, and are allowed to choose
each his own road to ruin, consequently gambling is carried on to a
frightful extent, and by all kinds and conditions of men. It seems
indigenous to the soil, for while men stake houses and lands, nay, the
very last coin from their pockets, the very children gamble over their
tops and marbles or dirt pies in the gutter.

The inhabitants of New Orleans are never tired of expatiating on the
beauties of their city, and dilating on the golden history of its
romantic past, or the prosperous record of its present day. Their
devotion further insists on the general healthiness of its climate; they
admit there are occasional epidemics, but then at certain seasons
epidemics rage everywhere, they are not specially improvised for New
Orleans, and the black population suffers always more than the white.

Lovely though it be--a most quaint, picturesque old city, with its
bright skies and gorgeous growth of tropical flowers--no sane person
could have faith in its sanitary perfections. A beautiful human nest it
is; low-lying, as in a hole scooped out of the solid earth, many feet
below the waters of the Mississippi, partially surrounded by swamps of
the rankest kind, and girdled by silver streams and deep flowing rivers,
it must necessarily be the favourite resort of the malarial fiend. Here
that scourge of the South, the yellow fever, too, rising from sweltering
earth, sends forth his scorching, blighting breath, and clothes the land
in mourning. But every man clings to his own soil; no matter whether it
brings forth thorns or roses, he is satisfied with the gathering
thereof.

“Well,” exclaimed a devoted citizen as he cheerfully discussed the
subject with us, “in every country there is an occasional force which
carries off the surplus population; sometimes it is fire, or flood,
earthquakes or mining explosions. Nature sends us the yellow fever; of
course it is not a pleasant visitor, but it does its work well enough,
and I don’t know but it is as well to get out of the world that way as
any other.”

It is impossible to enumerate half the pleasant excursions which may be
taken from New Orleans. Its wonderful watery highways are among the
finest in the world, and wind through the land in all directions. By
them you may travel anywhere and everywhere through the loveliest
scenery of the South, as pleasantly as though the panorama were passing
the windows of your own drawing-room.

Splendid steamers--floating palaces indeed of gigantic proportions,
luxuriously upholstered, and fitted with all the carving and gilding so
dear to some travellers’ hearts--are eternally passing to and fro. We
were strongly disposed to take a trip on the “Natchez,” the sovereign
vessel, but time pressed, and we were compelled to move on.



CHAPTER XVIII.

     Atlanta.--A wilderness of bricks and mortar.--Lovely
     surroundings.--Scarlet woods.--Memorial day.--Scenes in the
     cemetery.


About five o’clock on a sultry afternoon we start on the cars for
Atlanta. The train is crowded, the day is bright, the spiritual
thermometer stands high, and everybody seems resolved to be social with
everybody else; they commence with a running fire of casual gossip, and
proceed to give gratuitous information of a confidential character
concerning themselves and their families. One gentleman is returning
from Texas, and fondly cherishes a banana tree, which he is carrying
home to his wife in Atlanta, intending to try and coax it into growing
in the garden there. He has tried the experiment before, he tells us,
but the banana will not take kindly to the soil; in spite of all care
hitherto it has invariably drooped and died. Still, he does not despair;
like the lonely scion of a sickly family he will cherish this last, and
endeavour to raise a new family on his native soil.

We fare well on this journey; though there are no regular eating
stations erected on the way yet we are well provided for. People come on
the cars at certain places, bringing plates of broiled chicken and
meats, with delicious little brown crisp rolls of bread, hard boiled
eggs, and tarts, covered with snow-white napkins, and daintily arranged
so as to tempt the appetite; and baskets of delicious grapes and peaches
with the tender bloom upon them, and every kind of fruit that is in
season. Glasses of iced milk, a delicious beverage, may also be
obtained.

We reach Atlanta the next day about two o’clock, and take up our abode
at Markham House, which is conveniently situated opposite the railway
station. This is an extremely comfortable and homelike hotel, without
any pretence to luxurious entertainment or upholstered grandeur; but we
find there a capital table liberally served.

We are, however, somewhat dismayed on going to perform our customary
ablutions when we find our ewer filled with something strongly
resembling pea-soup. We demand water, and learn that this obnoxious
liquid is all the water we are likely to get for ablutionary purposes.
The table is supplied with something drinkable of a less soupy
description, though far removed from the “bright waters of the sparkling
fountain;” but for a few days we must perforce be content, and take our
mud bath with what appetite we may.

There is nothing picturesque or attractive in either of the Atlanta
hotels; ours, we are told, is considered second rate, but there is
really little difference between them. Both are situated in crowded
thoroughfares, and both are within a stone’s throw of the railway
station, and are simple structures with no architecture to speak of. The
city is built in a rambling labyrinthine fashion, as though it had grown
up in a wild way of its own, straggling along here and there, without
any set plan or design beyond the convenience of the day. It has pushed
itself out in all directions, here pranking itself out in glowing
gardens and garlands of green, there rising up in huge brick buildings
seven stories high, massed together in blocks, or stretched in long
rows, lifting their stony heads high in the air, looking down
threateningly and frowningly as though they meant some day to topple
over into the narrow street below. It has grown large and strong, and no
longer runs in leading-strings, but asserts itself as one of the most
important cities of the South.

The resources of the surrounding country are developing day by day,
being especially rich in the production of cotton of the finest kind,
quite equal to that grown on the famous Sea-islands of Carolina. All the
varied wealth of the country for hundreds of miles round pours into
Atlanta, which in turn distributes it to all parts of the world. This
conglomeration of bricks and mortar is not attractive in itself, but is
most interesting in its early history, its gradual growth and marvellous
development; all within the city limits is full of the stir and bustle
of commonplace life, its surroundings are simply lovely and most
romantic.

A short car drive through the up-and-down stony streets, a ramble
through a winding lane, and we are in the midst of a beautiful wild wood
flaming with scarlet honeysuckle, creeping up, twining round, and
seeming to strangle the great strong trees in its close embrace,
drooping its bright blooms like a canopy above our heads; they are
lovely to the eye, but, like so many beautiful things, are poisonous and
scentless. We wander for hours, but do not get to the end of the crimson
woods. Every man, woman, or child we meet--black, white, or brown--have
their hands full of the gorgeous rose-red flowers of this Southern
honeysuckle, so far richer than its northern sister. Some are carrying
them home in baskets for domestic decoration, others make them into
wreaths, or wear them on their hats or on their breasts.

No matter in what direction you turn on leaving the labyrinths of bricks
and mortar, you are at once plunged into a wealth of lovely scenery,
fringed on one side with the blazing woods; on one side it is skirted by
richly-timbered, well-cultivated lands, jewelled with wild flowers of
every hue and colour. Then we come upon a tangle of forest scenery or
thickets varying from a few to thousands of acres. These consist of a
dense growth of live and water oaks, dog wood, hickory, and pine, hung
with garlands of moss, or close clinging draperies of purple blooms,
birds are peeping and twittering in and out, butterflies and insects
humming, and a whole colony of frogs croaking joyously throughout this
luxuriant wilderness. We should not be much surprised to find a fairy
city hidden away in this labyrinthine mass of leaves and timbers; who
knows but when the evening shadows fall, and a thousand tiny twinkling
lights flash hither and thither, we think the fireflies are abroad, when
in reality it is the elfin army of lamplighters illuminating their fairy
city with wandering stars.

In these sweet solitudes the morning passes quickly, and in the
afternoon we go to the cemetery, which is about three miles from the
town, to witness the decoration of the soldiers’ graves--for it is
Memorial Day--the one day set apart in every year now and for all time
for people to come to do honour to the dead who fell in the lost cause;
nay, for the dead who fell on either side. Streams of people crowd the
highways and byways, all flowing in one direction, and all mass together
at the wide-open gates of the cemetery. The ground is kept by sundry
mutilated remnants of the war; some with one arm, some with one leg, but
none have the right complement of limbs, while some are mere mutilated
crippled specimens of humanity, with bent bodies and limbs twisted out
of their natural form. We wonder how they have had courage to crawl so
far towards the end of their days, and to bear themselves cheerfully
too. But the great God who “tempers the wind to the shorn lamb” has not
forgotten them. He sends them an invisible support and comforter we know
not of; He lays His blessed hand upon their heart-strings and makes a
music in their lives, grander and sweeter than is the blare of
victorious trumpets to the conqueror’s ear. They live their lives out in
this city of the dead, and through the sunny days or evening shadows,
sleeping or waking, are always there surrounded by their silent
brotherhood, who wait for them in the great beyond. They lie here under
the green sod with upturned faces and hands crossed upon their breasts.
“After life’s fitful fever they sleep well.”

We arrive an hour before the ceremonial commences, and walk about the
pretty grave-garden and read the names upon the monuments, and listen to
anecdotes of those who rest below. The old soldiers seem to love to talk
of their dead comrades, to fight their battles over again. They tell us
how this one, “such a fine, handsome young fellow,” rode always into
battle whistling a merry tune as he dashed into the thick of it; and how
this one with the spirit of the ancient Puritans uplifted his voice to
the glory of God as he brandished his sword and rushed to the front.

Presently a slow solemn strain of music with the roll of the muffled
drum reaches our ears. It comes nearer and nearer. There is a trampling
of feet, “the tramp of thousands sounding like the tread of one,” and
the committee, escorted by a detachment of soldiers with their arms
reversed and followed by a multitude of people, make their way across
the hilly ground, and through the winding pathways till they reach a
wide grassy slope, where, railed in and reached by a flight of marble
steps, there stands a huge plain shaft of granite, with the inscription
in large gold letters, “To our Confederate Dead,” engraved thereon. A
platform is raised in front of this, which is now occupied by some score
or two of ladies, all dressed in deep mourning, each carrying a basket
of flowers, which may be replenished from the miniature mountain of
violets and pale wild roses which are heaped upon the ground. Lying
around, spreading in all directions, are myriad nameless graves. Some
have a white headstone a foot high, some have wooden crosses, some have
but the green turf to cover them. Here Federals and Confederates lie
side by side, no enmity between them now. The treaty of eternal peace
has been signed by the sovereign lord, Death; all are now gathered
together and are marching through the silent land, under the banner of
their great Captain, Christ.

There was a slight stir and a few elderly gray-headed men, accompanied
by a minister of the church, ascended the platform. A hush fell upon the
multitude, and all listen reverently and bareheaded while an earnest
simple prayer is offered up.

Then a tall, soldier-like man, a well-known general, who had faced a
hundred fires, stepped forward and made a most touching and eloquent
address--to which friend or foe, victor and vanquished, might listen
with equal feeling of interest and respect,--glorifying the heroic
qualities of those who fought and fell in the lost cause, but, while
giving honour to the dead, detracting nothing from the living. The
keynote running through the whole discourse was like a prayer that the
seed sown amid fire and sword, and watered by the blood of patriots
(patriots _all_; no matter on which side they fought, each believed they
were fighting for their rights), might take root, grow, flourish, and
yield a glorious harvest for the gathering of this great country, her
unity never again to be disturbed and torn by the children of her love
and pride.

At the conclusion of the address a hymn, “Nearer, my God, to Thee,” was
sung by the uplifted voices of the whole multitude, even to the
outermost edge they caught up the sweet refrain, and it rose and fell,
swelled and softened, till it rolled back upon our ears in waves of
melodious music, which stirred our hearts and sent a mist floating
before our eyes.

Now the ladies descend from the platform and scatter themselves over the
ground, their mourning figures passing to and fro among the graves: on
every mound they lay a bunch of flowers, regardless on which side they
fought,--the “boys in blue” and the “boys in gray” are all arrayed in
one common raiment now. Who knows but a spirit army may be bending down
from the skies above, watching the pious work, and no longer seeing
through a glass darkly, longing to whisper, “All is well,” to the hearts
which are still sorrowing below.

The solemn ceremonial over, drums beat, the soldiers resume their arms,
form in line, the band plays a stirring military air, and they march
quickly off the ground. We watch the crowd melt away, but do not feel
disposed to join the busy, chattering stream on its homeward road,
especially as by this time quite a miniature fair has risen up outside
the cemetery gates; and roast; peanuts, fruit, cake, and iced drinking
stalls are surrounded by thirsty multitudes, who keep up a lively rattle
among themselves; while the tag-rag of the gathering run after the
military procession, and follow it on its way back to the dusty town. We
wander for a while through the deserted cemetery, reading the strange
medley of mottoes, and the sometimes ludicrous and always commonplace
chronicles of the virtues of the sleeper. We are presently invited to
sit down and rest in the porch of a rustic dwelling, the home of one of
the crippled guardians of the place--a grand old man he was, with gray
hair and a face bronzed by exposure to many weathers, and scored and
wrinkled by the hand of time. He brought us a jug of deliciously cool
milk, and sat down and talked, as old men love to talk, of “the days
that are bygone”; and told us many pleasant anecdotes of “how we lived
down south forty years ago.”

The evening shadows were lengthening, and lying like long spectral
fingers on the dead men’s graves, as we rose up and made our way
hurriedly to the horse-car which was to carry us back to Atlanta.



CHAPTER XIX.

     Columbia.--Wright’s Hotel.--Variegated scenes.--Past and
     present.--A Sabbath city.--The penitentiary.--Sunday service.--A
     few last words.


We start for Columbia at half-past eight in the morning; it is dull and
misty during the earlier part, but as the day deepens the weather
clears, and by the time we are running through the great cotton belt of
Georgia, a bright sun is shining, and we enjoy the pretty, peaceful
scenery; which, however, has no especial feature till we reach the Great
Stone Mountain, a vast mass of gray granite, standing bald and bare,
rising far above the tops of the tallest trees, which are grouped round
its base, like a company of dwarfs at the feet of a giant. It is visible
for miles round--a huge, gray dome cut out of the blue skies. The stone
quarry from the base of this mountain is used, and has been used for
years past, in the building of public edifices and churches in the
near-lying cities, without any visible diminution or disfiguration. Here
and there is a deep dentation--as though you had scooped a spoonful
from a mountain of ice cream, nothing more. When it first looms upon the
sight, it looks like a huge globe rising out of the earth, smooth as a
billiard ball, silhouetted against the bright blue skies.

It is nearly eleven o’clock at night when we reach Columbia; here hotel
omnibuses, as usual, are in waiting. Into one of these we get; and the
lumbering, creaky old vehicle leaps, and bumps, playing the game of
pitch and toss with us, as it rattles over the rough, stony way, through
a darkness black as Erebus. We peer out through the windows; there is
nothing but darkness visible--no signs of a city. Presently, rows of
trees, dark, spectral trees, seem to be marching past us--rustling their
leaves, waving their thick branches, stretching their leafy arms on each
side of us, as though they were trying to stop our way! Are we driving
through a forest? we wonder.

There is only one other occupant of the omnibus--a tall, limp young man,
who has flung himself in a heap at the farthest corner. We venture to
inquire of him.

“We seem to be going a long way. Are we far from the city?” and he
answers in a sort of dislocated voice,

“Well--we’re getting along;” which patent fact brings no information to
our inquiring minds.

Presently we catch a glimmer of light shining from among the trees, and
find we are nearing human habitations at last; for tiny lamps are
gleaming from pretty nests of houses, which are hidden away in the
woodland background. The lights gradually grow more and more numerous,
and wide streets develop out of the darkness, and the sounds of tramping
feet and voices reach our ears. Through these we rattle quickly, and in
a very few moments are deposited at our destination, “Wright’s Hotel,”
which, on closer acquaintance, we decide to be one of the cosiest and
pleasantest in all the south. It stands on the principal thoroughfare,
and has a wide and imposing elevation. The rooms are beautifully clean
and comfortably furnished; and the _cuisine_ is excellent. The everyday
cooking is elevated to a fine art: an omelette is as light and airy as a
dream; a broil has a flavour of poetry about it; and a fricandeau
arrives at a state of idyllic perfection. All the arrangements are
essentially English, and we settle down for a few days with a home-like
feeling in our hearts.

The city stands on a lofty plateau--a hill, indeed, of great elevation,
and the surrounding country, sloping away in all directions, lies around
us a perfect panorama of natural beauty. Whichever way we turn our eyes,
they travel downwards and outwards, far away, over wide stretches of
wooded country. There a rapid river runs in and out, amid a paradise of
green; then a sheet of silver water, or placid lake, calm as an infant’s
sleep, dimples in the light of the sun; and wild wildernesses lie
nestling among what look like English fields of buttercups and daisies
and acres of waving grain; while a rich growth of variegated green
fringes the feet or climbs up the sides of the softly swelling distant
hills. Tender lights and shadows are lying restfully everywhere. It all
looks so calm and peaceful--as though nature, hushed to sleep, was
smiling in her dreams.

The streets of the city are wide, and of course arranged as usual to run
at right angles; there has been no hurry or confusion in the building of
it, the spirit of the designer is visible everywhere, and the design has
been carefully carried out with harmonious effect; every vista is
pleasant and refreshing to the eye. Like most other southern cities the
thoroughfares are shaded with magnificent old trees, thickly planted,
and of prodigious size, on both sides of the road; and yet Columbia has
a character peculiarly its own. It is like an oasis lifted up and out of
the great world round it; a serene and silent city it sits apart, with a
life and story all its own; there is no noise or bustle, no hurrying
throngs of people streaming through the vacant streets, no jingling
bells of cars, no rattling of carriages passing over the stony
roads--only at certain hours the hotel omnibuses crawl to and from the
station--a drowsy hum is in the air, the shops have opened their glassy
eyes and are blinking in the morning light; they might as well go to
sleep again--nobody seems to want to buy anything--only a few stragglers
are wandering aimlessly about, everything moves leisurely, nobody seems
in a hurry about anything. Life itself seems to move onward with slow
and solemn footstep, scarce making a single echo on the shores of time.

So stands this lovely city steeped in the southern sunshine, robed in
fair green garlands, with blooming gardens clinging about her skirts;
there is a refreshing sweetness in the air, a purity and harmony mingled
with a Sabbath stillness everywhere.

A patriarchal simplicity pervades the atmosphere, the people seem to
know we are strangers, and as strangers greet us with a recognising
smile or pleasant word; the coloured folks relapse into a broad grin;
there is a gentle courtesy, an air of good breeding, even among the
loafers gathered at the street corners as they lift their ragged caps
and make way for us to pass. We turn down a pretty, shady thoroughfare
and as we are rambling along in a state of sweet contentment, imbued
with the brooding spirit of the place, a cheery voice bids us “Good
morning.” We look up and two black faces with laughing eyes and gleaming
teeth look down upon us from a perfect nest of roses, the two women are
sitting in their balcony with their dusky children rolling at their
feet; a game at questions, answers, and observations follows, and we
enjoy quite a pleasant characteristic conversation; one comes down and
brings us a handful of sweet-smelling flowers as we pass on our way.

We wander through this idyllic city as through a land of dreams, and
have some difficulty in finding our way back to our hotel, as the
streets are all verbally christened but none have their names written
up, the houses too are unnumbered. I remarked that this is an awkward
arrangement or want of arrangement.

“Not at all,” is the answer, “everybody knows everybody here.”

“But it is certainly puzzling for strangers.”

“Oh, strangers have only got to ask, they find their ways wherever they
wish to go, and get along well enough.”

We “got along,” and one bright morning found our way to the university,
a fine old, red-brick building, standing back far away from the shady
street, in a quadrangle surrounded by tall red-brick houses, with rows
of trees planted before and blooming gardens behind them; a few
marauding geese are gobbling on the green, but there are no other signs
of life, not even a stray dog in the inclosure, the wide quadrangle is
empty of humanity; a soft breeze stirs the tall tree tops, rustling the
leaves with a whispering sound, as though they had brought a message
from some far-off lands. A cloistered stillness is about the place which
is almost oppressive as we wander to and fro, looking up at the tall
closed houses and pondering on the special history we know of some of
them. We cannot gain admission to the college, as the doors are barred
and we see no one to whom we could address an inquiry, so we turn away,
and with echoless footsteps pass over the green sward out into the
public high-road.

The next morning we drive out, in a rather rickety, shandrydan vehicle,
over the broad sandy roads, past a pretty little valley or wild wooded
basin, so called a “park,” to the penitentiary or State prison. We are
received by a dignified-looking gentleman, the governor, and by him
handed over to the military guard, who conducts us through the different
wards.

No idling here--shoemakers, carpenters, blacksmiths, all hard at work,
amidst profound silence so far as the human voice is concerned, for
prisoners are not permitted to speak, even in answer to the visitors’
remarks addressed to them. The majority of both sexes are coloured,
there is but a mere sprinkling of white convicts. Some Boston tourists,
who have joined our party, sigh as they observe this. “Evidently the
white man’s offences are condoned, while the poor negro is invariably
convicted,” they say, shaking their heads deploringly. A good-natured,
cheery-looking matron takes us through the women’s quarters, where all
are busily engaged at sewing, stitching, or machine work; here, too,
strict silence is preserved, they make their requirements known by dumb
show; most of them keep their heads bent downwards as we enter, but one
or two look up, and a smile, like a gleam of sunshine, breaks over their
clouded faces, their eyes speak though their lips are mute, as they
recognise their matron’s kindly face,--no need of words to tell of her
popularity, for grateful glances follow her wherever she goes, even the
brush of her skirts as she passes seems to do them good; she gives an
encouraging pat here, a smile or kindly word there, and who knows but
the seed one kind heart scatters among their barren lives may take root
and help them to bear something better than prison fruit in the future.
She passes on, doing a true Christian’s duty in smoothing the way of the
unfortunate, who have fallen beyond the pale of human law, but not
beyond the reach of God’s mercy.

The workrooms where they pass their days are light and airy, but the
small, bare, white, vaulted cells, where they spend their time from six
in the evening till six in the morning, look barren, cold, and silent as
so many narrow graves. There are no windows, they are honeycombed into
the wall, and air and light are only admitted through the iron-grated
entrance door, which gives on to a wide whitewashed corridor, where the
warder in charge keeps watch during the night.

The penitentiary is surrounded by very extensive grounds, laid out to
supply the prison with vegetables, here a score or two of prisoners in
striped, zebra-like clothing are at work digging potatoes or cultivating
cabbages. A high wall surrounds this open space, a turret or watch-box
stands in the centre on the top of each section, commanding every inch
of the ground. These are occupied night and day by an armed guard, who
have orders to shoot down any prisoner who attempts to escape.

“They don’t often miss their aim either,” observes our guide
complacently.

On Sunday we attend service here. The barn-like building dedicated to
divine worship is not nearly large enough to hold half the prisoners;
they overflow outside the doors, swarm on the steps, and cling in groups
outside the windows. Nearly all are coloured, some pure black. The
leader of the choir, a tall, good-looking young fellow, we are told is a
“lifer,” in for arson, a very common crime among the negroes. The
southern laws seem to be far more rigorous than those of the north,
capital punishment being enforced for some offences which are met only
by imprisonment in the northern States. Amongst the crowd of coloured
folk, we notice there are three or four white women, who, according to
general custom, take precedence of the dark race; they enter first in
the procession, and sit in the front row. One keeps her head
determinedly bent down; we just see under the shadow of her calico
poke-bonnet a young rounded chin, a fair smooth cheek with a peach-like
bloom upon it; but her eyes and brow we never catch a glimpse of; she
sits through the whole service with eyes and head bowed resolutely down
out of our range of sight. What is her story? Somehow we feel it must be
a pitiful one, and our sympathies go out to her. Does the sight of us
“remind her of the state from which she fell?”--the descent so easy, the
return so hard and almost impossible! Next her sits another woman, a
striking contrast, an older woman with a powerful characteristic face,
dark defiant eyes, close thin lips, she seems to look her fate in the
face boldly, as though she had “dreed her weird,” and took her
punishment without shrinking; a hard Ishmaelitish face it is; she looks
as though _she_ was against all the world, and the world was against
_her_; no softening line, no gleam of sorrow or regret rested thereon.
Whatever crime she had committed, she looks ready to go out and commit
it again. Her hard cold eyes glare at us angrily, as though resenting
our presence.

“What right have you to come out of your free sunny world to see us in
our home of shame and misery?” they seem to say. We feel quite restless
and uncomfortable beneath her stony gaze; we cannot avoid it, we cannot
get away from it; it has a sort of magnetic attraction, a fascination
for us; we turn our eyes away, and try to fix our attention on the
preacher, but it is no use; there is some disturbing element in the air,
and against our will our eyes are drawn back to that powerful face, with
its lowering brow and rebellious lips.

We are glad when the service is over, and we get out into heaven’s
sunshine and breathe the pure fresh air again. Still that face haunts us
and casts a shadow on the sunlight, and at night those pale steely eyes
flash out between the darkness and our dreams. Somehow, on that glorious
Sabbath morning, we wish we had left our devotions undone. We feel that
somewhere and at some future time we shall see that face again--we
should know it, years hence, among a thousand.

It is perhaps here in Columbia more than in any other city that we
realise to the fullest extent the ruin and desolation that has been; for
though, as a rule, throughout the main streets the houses in a
scrambling sort of way are built up again, yet there are wide gaps and
ruins of crumbling stone and charred wood, partly covered now with soft
moss or a rank growth of tall weeds. Here, round an extensive corner a
hoarding is raised to hide the utter desolation that lies where once
were lovely homes, now levelled to the dust, and blooming gardens, now
a wilderness of thorns and thistles, scattered over with the mute signs
of broken lives. These ugly features come upon us in the midst of
perfect peace--a calm repose lies over the land; but still they point
with spectral finger to the scar left by cruel wounds. And over the
sweet golden sunshine of that still Sabbath morning a shadow seems to
fall. In fancy we see the darkness of one awful night close over
Columbia, the signal rockets shoot up from that State House on the hill,
the fiery tongues of flame leap from crumbling homes and devastated
hearths. But these things are not to be thought of now. The “dark hour”
of Columbia is past, and we see her lying peacefully to-day in the light
of the rosy dawn.

Our southern trip is over, and we turn our faces eastward, leaving many
regrets behind, and carrying many pleasant memories away with us. We
have seen the south, not in its full flush of prosperity, its hour of
pride, but in its struggles to rise up to a higher and nobler height
than it has ever yet reached. Industry and thrift have taken the place
of luxury and ease. Scarce twenty years ago and the whole land was
drowsily dreaming away its life, with only a sybaritish enjoyment of the
present; no ambition for coming years, no sowing the good seed for the
future harvest of mankind. The whole world’s centre was in themselves
and their own immediate surroundings; they gave no thought or care to
anything beyond; like the gorgeous butterflies, they rather looked down
on the working bees, who have the building up and are the mainsprings of
this world’s well-being.

Cradled in sunshine, girdled by all that is lovely in creation, wrapped
in fine raiment, but with the earthworm Slavery curled about its roots,
sapping its nobler instincts, eating its heart away, and binding its
invisible soul with chains stronger than those which bind its own
miserable body, the South slept the sleep of a most baneful peace, till
the sleep was broken, and the thunder of war echoed through the silent
land. Then how grandly she awoke, shook off her rosy chains, and rose up
like a god, with her latent fires blazing, her energies new strung,
and--but everybody knows what followed. Never was desolation so great as
that which fell upon this beautiful land; never was ruin more proudly
met, more grandly borne. It is nobler, far nobler now than in its hour
of pride; there are no puerile regrets, no rebellious utterings, no
useless looking back; their motto is “Excelsior!” and with undaunted
spirit, men and women too (for the Southern women are “the souls of
men”) are striving to build up a glorious future upon the ruins of the
past. Every man puts his hand to the plough and devotes his life, and
uses his best energies as a kind of lever to lift up his country to the
“old heroic height.” Passionate devotion and fervent patriotism is
aglow through all the south, but every man is devoted to his own special
State rather than to the united whole; and everywhere they are at work,
immense factories are in full operation, mines are being opened,
railways built, and through the whole length and breadth of the South a
general stir and bustle of business prevails. Everywhere prosperity is
present, and the prospect widens of a growing prosperity in the future.
Meanwhile, new industries and new inventions crowd the market. One new
industry is the making of “olive butter,” which is a very fine oil,
extracted from the cotton seeds, which in the old days were regarded as
useless and thrown away. Many thousands of persons are employed in
carrying on this business, which brings (and is probably on the
increasing scale) to the Southern States annually the sum of fifteen
millions of dollars.

Northern capital has generously outstretched a friendly hand, and poured
its wealth into the empty coffers, and given the means of general
rehabilitation; and the awakened South has brains to plan, and pluck and
energy to carry on its noble campaign, while the world looks on with
silent respect and expectation for the days that are to come.


LONDON: R. CLAY, SONS, AND TAYLOR, PRINTERS, BREAD STREET HILL





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