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Title: A Florida Sketch-Book
Author: Torrey, Bradford
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Florida Sketch-Book" ***

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                          Books by Mr. Torrey,
                                 ------

                    BIRDS IN THE BUSH. 16mo, $1.25.

                    A RAMBLER'S LEASE. 16mo, $1.25.

                    THE FOOT-PATH WAY. 16mo, gilt top, $1.25.

                    A FLORIDA SKETCH-BOOK. 16mo, $1.25.


                         HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN & CO.
                          Boston and New York.



                          A FLORIDA SKETCH-BOOK


                                   BY


                             BRADFORD TORREY


                             [Illustration]


                           BOSTON AND NEW YORK
                      HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY
                     The Riverside Press, Cambridge
                                  1894


Copyright, 1894, By BRADFORD TORREY.

_All rights reserved._


_The Riverside Press, Cambridge, Mass., U. S. A._ Electrotyped and
Printed by H. O. Houghton & Co.



CONTENTS

                                     PAGE

  In the Flat-Woods                     1

  Beside the Marsh                     34

  On the Beach at Daytona              41

  Along the Hillsborough               68

  A Morning at the Old Sugar Mill     102

  On the Upper St. John's             121

  On the St. Augustine Road           151

  Ornithology on a Cotton Plantation  180

  A Florida Shrine                    193

  Walks about Tallahassee             204



A FLORIDA SKETCH-BOOK.



IN THE FLAT-WOODS.


In approaching Jacksonville by rail, the traveler rides hour after hour
through seemingly endless pine barrens, otherwise known as low pine-woods
and flat-woods, till he wearies of the sight. It would be hard, he
thinks, to imagine a region more unwholesome looking and uninteresting,
more poverty-stricken and God-forsaken, in its entire aspect. Surely, men
who would risk life in behalf of such a country deserved to win their
cause.

Monotonous as the flat-woods were, however, and malarious as they
looked,--arid wastes and stretches of stagnant water flying past the car
window in perpetual alternation,--I was impatient to get into them. They
were a world the like of which I had never seen; and wherever I went in
eastern Florida, I made it one of my earliest concerns to seek them out.

My first impression was one of disappointment, or perhaps I should
rather say, of bewilderment. In fact, I returned from my first visit
to the flat-woods under the delusion that I had not been into them at
all. This was at St. Augustine, whither I had gone after a night only in
Jacksonville. I looked about the quaint little city, of course, and went
to the South Beach, on St. Anastasia Island; then I wished to see the
pine lands. They were to be found, I was told, on the other side of the
San Sebastian. The sun was hot (or so it seemed to a man fresh from the
rigors of a New England winter), and the sand was deep; but I sauntered
through New Augustine, and pushed on up the road toward Moultrie (I
believe it was), till the last houses were passed and I came to the edge
of the pine-woods. Here, presently, the roads began to fork in a very
confusing manner. The first man I met--a kindly cracker--cautioned me
against getting lost; but I had no thought of taking the slightest risk
of that kind. I was not going to _explore_ the woods, but only to enter
them, sit down, look about me, and listen. The difficulty was to get into
them. As I advanced, they receded. It was still only the beginning of
a wood; the trees far apart and comparatively small, the ground covered
thickly with saw-palmetto, interspersed here and there with patches of
brown grass or sedge.

In many places the roads were under water, and as I seemed to be making
little progress, I pretty soon sat down in a pleasantly shaded spot.
Wagons came along at intervals, all going toward the city, most of them
with loads of wood; ridiculously small loads, such as a Yankee boy would
put upon a wheelbarrow. "A fine day," said I to the driver of such a
cart. "Yes, sir," he answered, "it's a _pretty_ day." He spoke with an
emphasis which seemed to imply that he accepted my remark as well meant,
but hardly adequate to the occasion. Perhaps, if the day had been a
few shades brighter, he would have called it "handsome," or even "good
looking." Expressions of this kind, however, are matters of local or
individual taste, and as such are not to be disputed about. Thus, a man
stopped me in Tallahassee to inquire what time it was. I told him, and
he said, "Ah, a little sooner than I thought." And why not "sooner" as
well as "earlier"? But when, on the same road, two white girls in an
ox-cart hailed me with the question, "What time 'tis?" I thought the
interrogative idiom a little queer; almost as queer, shall we say, as
"How do you do?" may have sounded to the first man who heard it,--if the
reader is able to imagine such a person.

Meanwhile, let the morning be "fine" or "pretty," it was all one to the
birds. The woods were vocal with the cackling of robins, the warble of
bluebirds, and the trills of pine warblers. Flickers were shouting--or
laughing, if one pleased to hear it so--with true flickerish prolixity,
and a single downy woodpecker called sharply again and again. A
mocking-bird near me (there is _always_ a mocking-bird near you, in
Florida) added his voice for a time, but soon relapsed into silence. The
fact was characteristic; for, wherever I went, I found it true that the
mocker grew less musical as the place grew wilder. By instinct he is
a public performer, he demands an audience; and it is only in cities,
like St. Augustine and Tallahassee, that he is heard at his freest and
best. A loggerhead shrike--now close at my elbow, now farther away--was
practicing his extensive vocabulary with perseverance, if not with
enthusiasm. Like his relative the "great northern," though perhaps in a
less degree, the loggerhead is commonly at an extreme, either loquacious
or dumb; as if he could not let his moderation be known unto any man.
Sometimes I fancied him possessed with an insane ambition to match the
mocking-bird in song as well as in personal appearance. If so, it is
not surprising that he should be subject to fits of discouragement and
silence. Aiming at the sun, though a good and virtuous exercise, as we
have all heard, is apt to prove dispiriting to sensible marksmen. Crows
(fish crows, in all probability, but at the time I did not know it)
uttered strange, hoarse, flat-sounding caws. Every bird of them must have
been born without a palate, it seemed to me. White-eyed chewinks were
at home in the dense palmetto scrub, whence they announced themselves
unmistakably by sharp whistles. Now and then one of them mounted a
leaf, and allowed me to see his pale yellow iris. Except for this mark,
recognizable almost as far as the bird could be distinguished at all, he
looked exactly like our common New England towhee. Somewhere behind me
was a king-fisher's rattle, and from a savanna in the same direction came
the songs of meadow larks; familiar, but with something unfamiliar about
them at the same time, unless my ears deceived me.

More interesting than any of the birds yet named, because more strictly
characteristic of the place, as well as more strictly new to me, were
the brown-headed nuthatches. I was on the watch for them: they were one
of the three novelties which I knew were to be found in the pine lands,
and nowhere else,--the other two being the red-cockaded woodpecker and
the pine-wood sparrow; and being thus on the lookout, I did not expect
to be taken by surprise, if such a paradox (it is nothing worse) may be
allowed to pass. But when I heard them twittering in the distance, as I
did almost immediately, I had no suspicion of what they were. The voice
had nothing of that nasal quality, that Yankee twang, as some people
would call it, which I had always associated with the nuthatch family. On
the contrary, it was decidedly finchlike,--so much so that some of the
notes, taken by themselves, would have been ascribed without hesitation
to the goldfinch or the pine finch, had I heard them in New England;
and even as things were, I was more than once deceived for the moment.
As for the birds themselves, they were evidently a cheerful and thrifty
race, much more numerous than the red-cockaded woodpeckers, and much
less easily overlooked than the pine-wood sparrows. I seldom entered the
flat-woods anywhere without finding them. They seek their food largely
about the leafy ends of the pine branches, resembling the Canadian
nuthatches in this respect, so that it is only on rare occasions that one
sees them creeping about the trunks or larger limbs. Unlike their two
Northern relatives, they are eminently social, often traveling in small
flocks, even in the breeding season, and keeping up an almost incessant
chorus of shrill twitters as they flit hither and thither through the
woods. The first one to come near me was full of inquisitiveness; he flew
back and forth past my head, exactly as chickadees do in a similar mood,
and once seemed almost ready to alight on my hat. "Let us have a look at
this stranger," he appeared to be saying. Possibly his nest was not far
off, but I made no search for it. Afterwards I found two nests, one in a
low stump, and one in the trunk of a pine, fifteen or twenty feet from
the ground. Both of them contained young ones (March 31 and April 2), as
I knew by the continual goings-in-and-out of the fathers and mothers. In
dress the brown-head is dingy, with little or nothing of the neat and
attractive appearance of our New England nuthatches.

In this pine-wood on the road to Moultrie I found no sign of the new
woodpecker or the new sparrow. Nor was I greatly disappointed. The place
itself was a sufficient novelty,--the place and the summer weather. The
pines murmured overhead, and the palmettos rustled all about. Now a
butterfly fluttered past me, and now a dragonfly. More than one little
flock of tree swallows went over the wood, and once a pair of phœbes
amused me by an uncommonly pretty lover's quarrel. Truly it was a
pleasant hour. In the midst of it there came along a man in a cart, with
a load of wood. We exchanged the time of day, and I remarked upon the
smallness of his load. Yes, he said; but it was a pretty heavy load to
drag seven or eight miles over such roads. Possibly he understood me as
implying that he seemed to be in rather small business, although I had no
such purpose, for he went on to say: "In 1861, when this beautiful war
broke out between our countries, my father owned niggers. We didn't have
to do _this_. But I don't complain. If I hadn't got a bullet in me, I
should do pretty well."

"Then you were in the war?" I said.

"Oh, yes, yes, sir! I was in the Confederate service. Yes, sir, I'm a
Southerner to the backbone. My grandfather was a ----" (I missed the
patronymic), "and commanded St. Augustine."

The name had a foreign sound, and the man's complexion was swarthy, and
in all simplicity I asked if he was a Minorcan. I might as well have
touched a lighted match to powder. His eyes flashed, and he came round
the tail of the cart, gesticulating with his stick.

"Minorcan!" he broke out. "Spain and the island of Minorca are two
places, ain't they?"

I admitted meekly that they were.

"You are English, ain't you?" he went on. "You are English,--Yankee
born,--ain't you?"

I owned it.

"Well, I'm Spanish. That ain't Minorcan. My grandfather was a ----,
and commanded St. Augustine. He couldn't have done that if he had been
Minorcan."

By this time he was quieting down a bit. His father remembered the Indian
war. The son had heard him tell about it.

"Those were dangerous times," he remarked. "You couldn't have been
standing out here in the woods then."

"There is no danger here now, is there?" said I.

"No, no, not now." But as he drove along he turned to say that _he_
wasn't afraid of _any_ thing; he wasn't that kind of a man. Then, with a
final turn, he added, what I could not dispute, "A man's life is always
in danger."

After he was gone, I regretted that I had offered no apology for my
unintentionally offensive question; but I was so taken by surprise,
and so much interested in the man as a specimen, that I quite forgot
my manners till it was too late. One thing I learned: that it is not
prudent, in these days, to judge a Southern man's blood, in either sense
of the word, by his dress or occupation. This man had brought seven or
eight miles a load of wood that might possibly be worth seventy-five
cents (I questioned the owner of what looked like just such a load
afterward, and found his asking price half a dollar), and for clothing
had on a pair of trousers and a blue cotton shirt, the latter full of
holes, through which the skin was visible; yet his father was a ---- and
had "owned niggers."

A still more picturesque figure in this procession of wood-carters was a
boy of perhaps ten or eleven. He rode his horse, and was barefooted and
barelegged; but he had a cigarette in his mouth, and to each brown heel
was fastened an enormous spur. Who was it that infected the world with
the foolish and disastrous notion that work and play are two different
things? And was it Emerson, or some other wise man, who said that a boy
was the true philosopher?

When it came time to think of returning to St. Augustine for dinner, I
appreciated my cracker's friendly warning against losing my way; for
though I had hardly so much as entered the woods, and had taken, as I
thought, good heed to my steps, I was almost at once in a quandary as
to my road. There was no occasion for worry,--with the sun out, and
my general course perfectly plain; but here was a fork in the road,
and whether to bear to the left or to the right was a simple matter
of guess-work. I made the best guess I could, and guessed wrong, as
was apparent after a while, when I found the road under deep water
for several rods. I objected to wading, and there was no ready way of
going round, since the oak and palmetto scrub crowded close up to the
roadside, and just here was all but impenetrable. What was still more
conclusive, the road was the wrong one, as the inundation proved, and,
for aught I could tell, might carry me far out of my course. I turned
back, therefore, under the midday sun, and by good luck a second attempt
brought me out of the woods very near where I had entered them. I visited
this particular piece of country but once afterward, having in the mean
time discovered a better place of the same sort along the railroad, in
the direction of Palatka. There, on a Sunday morning, I heard my first
pine-wood sparrow. Time and tune could hardly have been in truer accord.
The hour was of the quietest, the strain was of the simplest, and the
bird sang as if he were dreaming. For a long time I let him go on without
attempting to make certain who he was. He seemed to be rather far off: if
I waited his pleasure, he would perhaps move toward me; if I disturbed
him, he would probably become silent. So I sat on the end of a sleeper
and listened. It was not great music. It made me think of the swamp
sparrow; and the swamp sparrow is far from being a great singer. A single
prolonged, drawling note (in that respect unlike the swamp sparrow, of
course), followed by a succession of softer and sweeter ones,--that was
all, when I came to analyze it; but that is no fair description of what I
heard. The quality of the song is not there; and it was the quality, the
feeling, the soul of it, if I may say what I mean, that made it, in the
true sense of a much-abused word, charming.

There could be little doubt that the bird was a pine-wood sparrow; but
such things are not to be taken for granted. Once or twice, indeed,
the thought of some unfamiliar warbler had crossed my mind. At last,
therefore, as the singer still kept out of sight, I leaped the ditch
and pushed into the scrub. Happily I had not far to go; he had been
much nearer than I thought. A small bird flew up before me, and dropped
almost immediately into a clump of palmetto. I edged toward the spot and
waited. Then the song began again, this time directly in front of me,
but still faraway-sounding and dreamy. I find that last word in my hasty
note penciled at the time, and can think of no other that expresses the
effect half so well. I looked and looked, and all at once there sat the
bird on a palmetto leaf. Once again he sang, putting up his head. Then
he dropped out of sight, and I heard nothing more. I had seen only his
head and neck,--enough to show him a sparrow, and almost of necessity the
pine-wood sparrow. No other strange member of the finch family was to be
looked for in such a place.

On further acquaintance, let me say at once, _Pucæa æstivalis_ proved to
be a more versatile singer than the performances of my first bird would
have led me to suppose. He varies his tune freely, but always within a
pretty narrow compass; as is true, also, of the field sparrow, with whom,
as I soon came to feel, he has not a little in common. It is in musical
form only that he suggests the swamp sparrow. In tone and spirit, in the
qualities of sweetness and expressiveness, he is nearly akin to _Spizella
pusilla_. One does for the Southern pine barren what the other does for
the Northern berry pasture. And this is high praise; for though in New
England we have many singers more brilliant than the field sparrow,
we have none that are sweeter, and few that in the long run give more
pleasure to sensitive hearers.

I found the pine-wood sparrow afterward in New Smyrna, Port Orange,
Sanford, and Tallahassee. So far as I could tell, it was always the
same bird; but I shot no specimens, and speak with no authority.[1]
Living always in the pine lands, and haunting the dense undergrowth,
it is heard a hundred times where it is seen once,--a point greatly in
favor of its effectiveness as a musician. Mr. Brewster speaks of it as
singing always from an elevated perch, while the birds that I saw in the
act of song, a very limited number, were invariably perched low. One
that I watched in New Smyrna (one of a small chorus, the others being
invisible) sang for a quarter of an hour from a stake or stump which
rose perhaps a foot above the dwarf palmetto. It was the same song that
I had heard in St. Augustine; only the birds here were in a livelier
mood, and sang _out_ instead of _sotto voce_. The long introductory note
sounded sometimes as if it were indrawn, and often, if not always, had
a considerable burr in it. Once in a while the strain was caught up at
the end and sung over again, after the manner of the field sparrow,--one
of that bird's prettiest tricks. At other times the song was delivered
with full voice, and then repeated almost under the singer's breath.
This was done beautifully in the Port Orange flat-woods, the bird being
almost at my feet. I had seen him a moment before, and saw him again
half a minute later, but at that instant he was out of sight in the
scrub, and seemingly on the ground. This feature of the song, one of its
chief merits and its most striking peculiarity, is well described by Mr.
Brewster. "Now," he says, "it has a full, bell-like ring that seems to
fill the air around; next it is soft and low and inexpressibly tender;
now it is clear again, but so modulated that the sound seems to come from
a great distance."[2]

[1] Two races of the pine-wood sparrow are recognized by ornithologists,
_Pucæa æstivalis_ and _P. æstivalis bachmanii_, and both of them have
been found in Florida; but, if I understand the matter right, _Pucæa
æstivalis_ is the common and typical Florida bird.

[2] _Bulletin of the Nuttall Ornithological Club_, vol. vii. p. 98.

Not many other birds, I think (I cannot recall any), habitually vary
their song in this manner. Other birds sing almost inaudibly at times,
especially in the autumnal season. Even the brown thrasher, whose
ordinary performance is so full-voiced, not to say boisterous, will
sometimes soliloquize, or seem to soliloquize, in the faintest of
undertones. The formless autumnal warble of the song sparrow is familiar
to every one. And in this connection I remember, and am not likely ever
to forget, a winter wren who favored me with what I thought the most
bewitching bit of vocalism to which I had ever listened. He was in the
bushes close at my side, in the Franconia Notch, and delivered his whole
song, with all its customary length, intricacy, and speed, in a tone--a
whisper, I may almost say--that ran along the very edge of silence. The
unexpected proximity of a stranger may have had something to do with his
conduct, as it often appears to have with the thrasher's; but, however
that may be, the cases are not parallel with that of the pine-wood
sparrow, inasmuch as the latter bird not merely sings under his breath
on special occasions, whether on account of the nearness of a listener
or for any other reason, but in his ordinary singing uses louder and
softer tones interchangeably, almost exactly as human singers and players
do; as if, in the practice of his art, he had learned to appreciate,
consciously or unconsciously (and practice naturally goes before theory),
the expressive value of what I believe is called musical dynamics.

I spent many half-days in the pine lands (how gladly now would I spend
another!), but never got far into them. ("Into their depths," my pen was
on the point of making me say; but that would have been a false note.
The flat-woods have no "depths.") Whether I followed the railway,--in
many respects pretty satisfactory method,--or some roundabout, aimless
carriage road, a mile or two was generally enough. The country offers
no temptation to pedestrian feats, nor does the imagination find its
account in going farther and farther. For the reader is not to think
of the flat-woods as in the least resembling a Northern forest, which
at every turn opens before the visitor and beckons him forward. Beyond
and behind, and on either side, the pine-woods are ever the same. It is
this monotony, by the bye, this utter absence of landmarks, that makes
it so unsafe for the stranger to wander far from the beaten track. The
sand is deep, the sun is hot; one place is as good as another. What use,
then, to tire yourself? And so, unless the traveler is going somewhere,
as I seldom was, he is continually stopping by the way. Now a shady spot
entices him to put down his umbrella,--for there is a shady spot, here
and there, even in a Florida pine-wood; or blossoms are to be plucked; or
a butterfly, some gorgeous and nameless creature, brightens the wood as
it passes; or a bird is singing; or an eagle is soaring far overhead, and
must be watched out of sight; or a buzzard, with upturned wings, floats
suspiciously near the wanderer, as if with sinister intent (buzzard
shadows are a regular feature of the flat-wood landscape, just as cloud
shadows are in a mountainous country); or a snake lies stretched out in
the sun,--a "whip snake," perhaps, that frightens the unwary stroller by
the amazing swiftness with which it runs away from him; or some strange
invisible insect is making uncanny noises in the underbrush. One of my
recollections of the railway woods at St. Augustine is of a cricket, or
locust, or something else,--I never saw it,--that amused me often with a
formless rattling or drumming sound. I could think of nothing but a boy's
first lesson upon the bones, the rhythm of the beats was so comically
mistimed and bungled.

One fine morning,--it was the 18th of February,--I had gone down the
railroad a little farther than usual, attracted by the encouraging
appearance of a swampy patch of rather large deciduous trees. Some
of them, I remember, were red maples, already full of handsome,
high-colored fruit. As I drew near, I heard indistinctly from among them
what might have been the song of a black-throated green warbler, a bird
that would have made a valued addition to my Florida list, especially at
that early date.[3] No sooner was the song repeated, however, than I saw
that I had beep, deceived; it was something I had never heard before.
But it certainly had much of the black-throated green's quality, and
without question was the note of a warbler of some kind. What a shame
if the bird should give me the slip! Meanwhile, it kept on singing at
brief intervals, and was not so far away but that, with my glass, I
should be well able to make it out, if only I could once get my eyes
on it. That was the difficulty. Something stirred among the branches.
Yes, a yellow-throated warbler (_Dendroica dominica_) a bird of which I
had seen my first specimens, all of them silent, during the last eight
days. Probably he was the singer. I hoped so, at any rate. That would
be an ideal case of a beautiful bird with a song to match. I kept
him under my glass, and presently the strain was repeated, but not by
him. Then it ceased, and I was none the wiser. Perhaps I never should
be. It was indeed a shame. Such a _taking_ song; so simple, and yet so
pretty, and so thoroughly distinctive. I wrote it down thus: _tee-koi_,
_tee-koo_,--two couplets, the first syllable of each a little emphasized
and dwelt upon, not drawled, and a little higher in pitch than its
fellow. Perhaps it might be expressed thus:--

[Illustration: Musical notes]

I cannot profess to be sure of that, however, nor have I unqualified
confidence in the adequacy of musical notation, no matter how skillfully
employed, to convey a truthful idea of any bird song.

[3] As it was, I did not find _Dendroica virens_ in Florida. On my way
home, in Atlanta, April 20, 1 saw one bird in a dooryard shade-tree.

The affair remained a mystery till, in Daytona, nine days afterward,
the same notes were heard again, this time in lower trees that did not
stand in deep water. Then it transpired that my mysterious warbler was
not a warbler at all, but the Carolina chickadee. That was an outcome
quite unexpected, although I now remembered that chickadees were in or
near the St. Augustine swamp; and what was more to the purpose, I could
now discern some relationship between the _tee-koi_, _tee-koo_ (or, as
I now wrote it, _see-toi_, _see-too_), and the familiar so-called phœbe
whistle of the black-capped titmouse. The Southern bird, I am bound to
acknowledge, is much the more accomplished singer of the two. Sometimes
he repeats the second dissyllable, making six notes in all. At other
times he breaks out with a characteristic volley of fine chickadee notes,
and runs without a break into the _see-toi_, _see-too_, with a highly
pleasing effect. Then if, on the top of this, he doubles the _see-too_,
we have a really prolonged and elaborate musical effort, quite putting
into the shade our New England bird's _hear_, _hear me_, sweet and
welcome as that always is.

The Southern chickadee, it should be said, is not to be distinguished
from its Northern relative--in the bush, I mean--except by its notes. It
is slightly smaller, like Southern birds in general, but is practically
identical in plumage. Apart from its song, what most impressed me was its
scarcity. It was found, sooner or later, wherever I went, I believe, but
always in surprisingly small numbers, and I saw only one nest. That was
built in a roadside china-tree in Tallahassee, and contained young ones
(April 17), as was clear from the conduct of its owners.

It must not be supposed that I left St. Augustine without another
search for my unknown "warbler." The very next morning found me again
at the swamp, where for at least an hour I sat and listened. I heard no
_tee-koi_, _tee-koo_, but was rewarded twice over for my walk. In the
first place, before reaching the swamp, I found the third of my flat-wood
novelties, the red-cockaded woodpecker. As had happened with the nuthatch
and the sparrow, I heard him before seeing him: first some notes, which
by themselves would hardly have suggested a woodpecker origin, and then
a noise of hammering. Taken together, the two sounds left little doubt
as to their author; and presently I saw him,--or rather them, for there
were two birds. I learned nothing about them, either then or afterwards
(I saw perhaps eight individuals during my ten weeks' visit), but it
was worth something barely to see and hear them. Henceforth _Dryobates
borealis_ is a bird, and not merely a name. This, as I have said, was
among the pines, before reaching the swamp. In the swamp itself, there
suddenly appeared from somewhere, as if by magic (a dramatic entrance
is not without its value, even out-of-doors), a less novel but far more
impressive figure, a pileated woodpecker; a truly splendid fellow, with
the scarlet cheek-patches. When I caught sight of him, he stood on one
of the upper branches of a tall pine, looking wonderfully alert and
wide-awake; now stretching out his scrawny neck, and now drawing it in
again, his long crest all the while erect and flaming. After a little he
dropped into the underbrush, out of which came at intervals a succession
of raps. I would have given something to have had him under my glass just
then, for I had long felt curious to see him in the act of chiseling out
those big, oblong, clean-cut, sharp-angled "peck-holes" which, close to
the base of the tree, make so common and notable a feature of Vermont
and New Hampshire forests; but, though I did my best, I could not find
him, till all at once he came up again and took to a tall pine,--the
tallest in the wood,--where he pranced about for a while, striking sundry
picturesque but seemingly aimless attitudes, and then made off for good.
All in all, he was a wild-looking bird, if ever I saw one.

I was no sooner in St. Augustine, of course, than my eyes were open for
wild flowers. Perhaps I felt a little disappointed. Certainly the land
was not ablaze with color. In the grass about the old fort there was
plenty of the yellow oxalis and the creeping white houstonia; and from a
crevice in the wall, out of reach, leaned a stalk of goldenrod in full
bloom. The reader may smile, if he will, but this last flower was a
surprise and a stumbling-block. A vernal goldenrod! Dr. Chapman's Flora
made no mention of such an anomaly. Sow thistles, too, looked strangely
anachronistic. I had never thought of them as harbingers of springtime.
The truth did not break upon me till a week or so afterward. Then, on the
way to the beach at Daytona, where the pleasant peninsula road traverses
a thick forest of short-leaved pines, every tree of which leans heavily
inland at the same angle ("the leaning pines of Daytona," I always said
to myself, as I passed), I came upon some white beggar's-ticks,--like
daisies; and as I stopped to see what they were, I noticed the presence
of ripe seeds. The plant had been in flower a long time. And then I
laughed at my own dullness. It fairly deserved a medal. As if, even
in Massachusetts, autumnal flowers--the groundsel, at least--did not
sometimes persist in blossoming far into the winter! A day or two after
this, I saw a mullein stalk still presenting arms, as it were (the
mullein always looks the soldier to me), with one bright flower. If I had
found _that_ in St. Augustine, I flatter myself I should have been less
easily fooled.

There were no such last-year relics in the flat-woods, so far
as I remember, but spring blossoms were beginning to make their
appearance there by the middle of February, particularly along the
railroad,--violets in abundance (_Viola cucullata_), dwarf orange-colored
dandelions (_Krigia_), the Judas-tree, or redbud, St. Peter's-wort,
blackberry, the yellow star-flower (_Hypoxis juncea_), and butterworts.
I recall, too, in a swampy spot, a fine fresh tuft of the golden club,
with its gorgeous yellow spadix,--a plant that I had never seen in bloom
before, although I had once admired a Cape Cod "hollow" full of the rank
tropical leaves. St. Peter's-wort, a low shrub, thrives everywhere in
the pine barrens, and, without being especially attractive, its rather
sparse yellow flowers--not unlike the St. John's-wort--do something
to enliven the general waste. The butterworts are beauties, and true
children of the spring. I picked my first ones, which by chance were of
the smaller purple species (_Pinguicula pumila_), on my way down from
the woods, on a moist bank. At that moment a white man came up the road.
"What do you call this flower?" said I. "Valentine's flower," he answered
at once. "Ah," said I, "because it is in bloom on St. Valentine's Day, I
suppose?" "No, sir," he said. "Do you speak Spanish?" I had to shake my
head. "Because I could explain it better in Spanish," he continued, as
if by way of apology; but he went on in perfectly good English: "If you
put one of them under your pillow, and think of some one you would like
very much to see,--some one who has been dead a long time,--you will be
likely to dream of him. It is a very pretty flower," he added. And so it
is; hardly prettier, however, to my thinking, than the blossoms of the
early creeping blackberry (_Rubus trivialis_). With them I fairly fell in
love: true white roses, I called them, each with its central ring of dark
purplish stamens; as beautiful as the cloudberry, which once, ten years
before, I had found on the summit of Mount Clinton, in New Hampshire, and
refused to believe a _Rubus_, though Dr. Gray's key led me to that genus
again and again. There _is_ something in a name, say what you will.

Some weeks later, and a little farther south,--in the flat-woods behind
New Smyrna,--I saw other flowers, but never anything of that tropical
exuberance at which the average Northern tourist expects to find
himself staring. Boggy places were full of blue iris (the common _Iris
versicolor_ of New England, but of ranker growth), and here and there a
pool was yellow with bladderwort. I was taken also with the larger and
taller (yellow) butterwort, which I used never to see as I went through
the woods in the morning, but was sure to find standing in the tall dry
grass along the border of the sandy road, here one and there one, on my
return at noon. In similar places grew a "yellow daisy" (_Leptopoda_),
a single big head, of a deep color, at the top of a leafless stem. It
seemed to be one of the most abundant of Florida spring flowers, but
I could not learn that it went by any distinctive vernacular name.
Beside the railway track were blue-eyed grass and pipewort, and a dainty
blue lobelia (_L. Feayana_), with once in a while an extremely pretty
coreopsis, having a purple centre, and scarcely to be distinguished from
one that is common in gardens. No doubt the advancing season brings an
increasing wealth of such beauty to the flat-woods. No doubt, too, I
missed the larger half of what might have been found even at the time of
my visit; for I made no pretense of doing any real botanical work, having
neither the time nor the equipment. The birds kept me busy, for the most
part, when the country itself did not absorb my attention.

More interesting, and a thousand times more memorable, than any flower
or bird was the pine barren itself. I have given no true idea of it,
I am perfectly aware: open, parklike, flooded with sunshine, level
as a floor. "What heartache," Lanier breaks out, poor exile, dying of
consumption,--"what heartache! Ne'er a hill!" A dreary country to ride
through, hour after hour; an impossible country to live in, but most
pleasant for a half-day winter stroll. Notwithstanding I never went far
into it, as I have already said, I had always a profound sensation of
remoteness; as if I might go on forever, and be no farther away.

Yet even here I had more than one reminder that the world is a small
place. I met a burly negro in a cart, and fell into talk with him about
the Florida climate, an endless topic, out of which a cynical traveler
may easily extract almost endless amusement. How about the summers here?
I inquired. Were they really as paradisaical (I did not use that word)
as some reports would lead one to suppose? The man smiled, as if he had
heard something like that before. He did not think the Florida summer a
dream of delight, even on the east coast. "I'm tellin' you the truth,
sah; the mosquiters an' sand-flies is awful." Was he born here? I No;
he came from B----, Alabama. Everybody in eastern Florida came from
somewhere, as well as I could make out. "Oil, from B----," said I. "Did
you know Mr. W----, of the ---- Iron Works?" He smiled again. "Yes, sah;
I used to work for him. He's a nice man." He spoke the truth that time
beyond a peradventure. He was healthier here than in the other place, he
thought, and wages were higher; but he liked the other place better "for
pleasure." It was an odd coincidence, was it not, that I should meet in
this solitude a man who knew the only citizen of Alabama with whom I was
ever acquainted.

At another time I fell in with an oldish colored man, who, like
myself, had taken to the woods for a quiet Sunday stroll. _He_ was
from Mississippi, he told me. Oh, yes, he remembered the war; he was
a slave, twenty-one years old, when it broke out. To his mind, the
present generation of "niggers" were a pretty poor lot, for all their
"edication." He had seen them crowding folks off the sidewalk, and
puffing smoke in their faces. All of which was nothing new; I had found
that story more or less common among negroes of his age. He didn't
believe much in "edication;" but when I asked if he thought the blacks
were better off in slavery times, he answered quickly, "I'd rather be
a free man, _I_ had." He wasn't married; he had plenty to do to take
care of himself. We separated, he going one way and I the other; but
he turned to ask, with much seriousness (the reader must remember that
this was only three months after a national election), "Do you think
they'll get free trade?" "Truly," said I to myself, "'the world is too
much with us.' Even in the flat-woods there is no escaping the tariff
question." But I answered, in what was meant to be a reassuring tone,
"Not yet awhile. Some time." "I hope not," he said,--as if liberty to
buy and sell would be a dreadful blow to a man living in a shanty in a
Florida pine barren! He was taking the matter rather too much to heart,
perhaps; but surely it was encouraging to see such a man interested in
broad economical questions, and I realized as never before the truth of
what the newspapers so continually tell us, that political campaigns are
educational.



BESIDE THE MARSH.


I am sitting upon the upland bank of a narrow winding creek. Before me is
a sea of grass, brown and green of many shades. To the north the marsh is
bounded by live-oak woods,--a line with numberless indentations,--beyond
which runs the Matanzas River, as I know by the passing and repassing of
sails behind the trees. Eastward are sand-hills, dazzling white in the
sun, with a ragged green fringe along their tops. Then comes a stretch of
the open sea, and then, more to the south, St. Anastasia Island, with its
tall black-and-white lighthouse and the cluster of lower buildings at its
base. Small sailboats, and now and then a tiny steamer, pass up and down
the river to and from St. Augustine.

A delicious south wind is blowing (it is the 15th of February), and I sit
in the shade of a cedar-tree and enjoy the air and the scene. A contrast,
this, to the frozen world I was living in, less than a week ago.

As I approached the creek, a single spotted sandpiper was teetering
along the edge of the water, and the next moment a big blue heron rose
just beyond him and went flapping away to the middle of the marsh. Now,
an hour afterward, he is still standing there, towering above the tall
grass. Once when I turned that way I saw, as I thought, a stake, and then
something moved upon it,--a bird of some kind. And what an enormous beak!
I raised my field-glass. It was the heron. His body was the post, and
his head was the bird. Meanwhile, the sandpiper has stolen away, I know
not when or where. He must have omitted the _tweet_, _tweet_, with which
ordinarily he signalizes his flight. He is the first of his kind that I
have seen during my brief stay in these parts.

Now a multitude of crows pass over; fish crows, I think they must be,
from their small size and their strange, ridiculous voices. And now a
second great blue heron comes in sight, and keeps on over the marsh and
over the live-oak wood, on his way to the San Sebastian marshes, or some
point still more remote. A fine show he makes, with his wide expanse of
wing, and his feet drawn up and standing out behind him. Next a marsh
hawk in brown plumage comes skimming over the grass. This way and that he
swerves in ever graceful lines. For one to whom ease and grace come by
nature, even the chase of meadow mice is an act of beauty, while another
goes awkwardly though in pursuit of a goddess.

Several times I have noticed a kingfisher hovering above the grass (so
it looks, but no doubt he is over an arm of the creek), striking the air
with quick strokes, and keeping his head pointed downward, after the
manner of a tern. Then he disappeared while I was looking at something
else. Now I remark him sitting motionless upon the top of a post in the
midst of the marsh.

A third blue heron appears, and he too flies over without stopping.
Number One still keeps his place; through the glass I can see him
dressing his feathers with his clumsy beak. The lively strain of a
white-eyed vireo, pertest of songsters, comes to me from somewhere on my
right, and the soft chipping of myrtle warblers is all but incessant.
I look up from my paper to see a turkey buzzard sailing majestically
northward. I watch him till he fades in the distance. Not once does he
flap his wings, but sails and sails, going with the wind, yet turning
again and again to rise against it,--helping himself thus to its adverse,
uplifting pressure in the place of wing-strokes, perhaps,--and passing
onward all the while in beautiful circles. He, too, scavenger though he
is, has a genius for being graceful. One might almost be willing to be a
buzzard, to fly like that!

The kingfisher and the heron are still at their posts. An exquisite
yellow butterfly, of a sort strange to my Yankee eyes, flits past,
followed by a red admiral. The marsh hawk is on the wing again, and while
looking at him I descry a second hawk, too far away to be made out.
Now the air behind me is dark with crows,--a hundred or two, at least,
circling over the low cedars. Some motive they have for all their clamor,
but it passes my owlish wisdom to guess what it can be. A fourth blue
heron appears, and drops into the grass out of sight.

Between my feet is a single blossom of the yellow oxalis, the only flower
to be seen; and very pretty it is, each petal with an orange spot at the
base.

Another buzzard, another marsh hawk, another yellow butterfly, and then a
smaller one, darker, almost orange. It passes too quickly over the creek
and away. The marsh hawk comes nearer, and I see the strong yellow tinge
of his plumage, especially underneath. He will grow handsomer as he grows
older. A pity the same could not be true of men. Behind me are sharp
cries of titlarks. From the direction of the river come frequent reports
of guns. Somebody is doing his best to be happy! All at once I prick up
my ears. From the grass just across the creek rises the brief, hurried
song of a long-billed marsh wren. So _he_ is in Florida, is he? Already
I have heard confused noises which I feel sure are the work of rails of
some kind. No doubt there is abundant life concealed in those acres on
acres of close grass.

The heron and the kingfisher are still quiet. Their morning hunt was
successful, and for to-day Fate cannot harm them. A buzzard, with
nervous, rustling beats, goes directly above the low cedar under which I
am resting.

At last, after a siesta of two hours, the heron has changed his place. I
looked up just in season to see him sweeping over the grass, into which
he dropped the next instant. The tide is falling. The distant sand-hills
are winking in the heat, but the breeze is deliciously cool, the very
perfection of temperature, if a man is to sit still in the shade. It is
eleven o'clock. I have a mile to go in the hot sun, and turn away. But
first I sweep the line once more with my glass. Yonder to the south are
two more blue herons standing in the grass. Perhaps there are more still.
I sweep the line. Yes, far, far away I can see four heads in a row. Heads
and necks rise above the grass. But so far away! Are they birds, or
only posts made alive by my imagination? I look again. I believe I was
deceived. They are nothing but stakes. See how in a row they stand. I
smile at myself. Just then one of them moves, and another is pulled down
suddenly into the grass. I smile again. "Ten great blue herons," I say to
myself.

All this has detained me, and meantime the kingfisher has taken wing and
gone noisily up the creek. The marsh hawk appears once more. A killdeer's
sharp, rasping note--a familiar sound in St. Augustine--comes from I
know not where. A procession of more than twenty black vultures passes
over my head. I can see their feet drawn up under them. My own I must use
in plodding homeward.



ON THE BEACH AT DAYTONA.


The first eight days of my stay in Daytona were so delightful that I
felt as if I had never before seen fine weather, even in my dreams. My
east window looked across the Halifax River to the peninsula woods.
Beyond them was the ocean. Immediately after breakfast, therefore, I
made toward the north bridge, and in half an hour or less was on the
beach. Beaches are much the same the world over, and there is no need to
describe this one--Silver Beach, I think I heard it called--except to say
that it is broad, hard, and, for a pleasure-seeker's purpose, endless.
It is backed by low sand-hills covered with impenetrable scrub,--oak
and palmetto,--beyond which is a dense growth of short-leaved pines.
Perfect weather, a perfect beach, and no throng of people: here were the
conditions of happiness; and here for eight days I found it. The ocean
itself was a solitude. Day after day not a sail was in sight. Looking
up and clown the beach, I could usually see somewhere in the distance a
carriage or two, and as many foot passengers; but I often walked a mile,
or sat for half an hour, without being within hail of any one. Never were
airs more gentle or colors more exquisite.

As for birds, they were surprisingly scarce, but never wanting
altogether. If everything else failed, a few fish-hawks were sure to be
in sight. I watched them at first with eager interest. Up and down the
beach they went, each by himself, with heads pointed downward, scanning
the shallow water. Often they stopped in their course, and by means of
laborious flappings held themselves poised over a certain spot. Then,
perhaps, they set their wings and shot downward clean under water. If the
plunge was unsuccessful, they shook their feathers dry and were ready
to begin again. They had the fisherman's gift. The second, and even the
third attempt might fail, but no matter; it was simply a question of time
and patience. If the fish was caught, their first concern seemed to be
to shift their hold upon it, till its head pointed to the front. That
done, they shook themselves vigorously and started landward, the shining
white victim wriggling vainly in the clutch of the talons. I took it for
granted that they retired with their quarry to some secluded spot on the
peninsula, till one day I happened to be standing upon a sand-hill as
one passed overhead. Then I perceived that he kept on straight across
the peninsula and the river. More than once, however, I saw one of them
in no haste to go inland. On my second visit, a hawk came circling about
my head, carrying a fish. I was surprised at the action, but gave it no
second thought, nor once imagined that he was making me his protector,
till suddenly a large bird dropped rather awkwardly upon the sand, not
far before me. He stood for an instant on his long, ungainly legs, and
then, showing a white head and a white tail, rose with a fish in his
talons, and swept away landward out of sight. Here was the osprey's
parasite, the bald eagle, for which I had been on the watch. Meantime,
the hawk too had disappeared. Whether it was his fish which the eagle had
picked up (having missed it in the air) I cannot say. I did not see it
fall, and knew nothing of the eagle's presence until he fluttered to the
beach.

Some days later, I saw the big thief--emblem of American liberty--play
his sharp game to the finish. I was crossing the bridge, and by accident
turned and looked upward. (By accident, I say, but I was always doing
it.) High in the air were two birds, one chasing the other,--a fish-hawk
and a young eagle with dark head and tail. The hawk meant to save his
dinner if he could. Round and round he went, ascending at every turn, his
pursuer after him hotly. For aught I could see, he stood a good chance of
escape, till all at once another pair of wings swept into the field of my
glass.

    "A third is in the race! Who is the third,
    Speeding away swift as the eagle bird?"

It _was_ an eagle, an adult, with head and tail white. Only once more the
osprey circled. The odds were against him, and he let go the fish. As it
fell, the old eagle swooped after it, missed it, swooped again, and this
time, long before it could reach the water, had it fast in his claws.
Then off he went, the younger one in pursuit. They passed out of sight
behind the trees of an island, one close upon the other, and I do not
know how the controversy ended; but I would have wagered a trifle on the
old white-head, the bird of Washington.

The scene reminded me of one I had witnessed in Georgia a fortnight
before, on my way south. The train stopped at a backwoods station; some
of the passengers gathered upon the steps of the car, and the usual
bevy of young negroes came alongside. "Stand on my head for a nickel?"
said one. A passenger put his hand into his pocket; the boy did as he
had promised,--in no very professional style, be it said,--and with a
grin stretched out his hand. The nickel glistened in the sun, and on
the instant a second boy sprang forward, snatched it out of the sand,
and made off in triumph amid the hilarious applause of his fellows. The
acrobat's countenance indicated a sense of injustice, and I had no doubt
that my younger eagle was similarly affected. "Where is our boasted honor
among thieves?" I imagined him asking. The bird of freedom is a great
bird, and the land of the free is a great country. Here, let us hope,
the parallel ends. Whether on the banks of Newfoundland or elsewhere, it
cannot be that the great republic would ever snatch a fish that did not
belong to it.

I admired the address of the fish-hawks until I saw the gannets. Then I
perceived that the hawks, with all their practice, were no better than
landlubbers. The gannets kept farther out at sea. Sometimes a scattered
flock remained in sight for the greater part of a forenoon. With their
long, sharp wings and their outstretched necks,--like loons, but with a
different flight,--they were rakish-looking customers. Sometimes from
a great height, sometimes from a lower, sometimes at an incline, and
sometimes vertically, they plunged into the water, and after an absence
of some seconds, as it seemed, came up and rested upon the surface. They
were too far away to be closely observed, and for a time I did not feel
certain what they were. The larger number were in dark plumage, and it
was not till a white one appeared that I said with assurance, "Gannets!"
With the bright sun on him, he was indeed a splendid bird, snowy white,
with the tips of his wings jet black. If he would have come inshore like
the ospreys, I think I should never have tired of his evolutions.

The gannets showed themselves only now and then, but the brown pelicans
were an every-day sight. I had found them first on the beach at St.
Augustine. Here at Daytona they never alighted on the sand, and seldom
in the water. They were always flying up or down the beach, and, unless
turned from their course by the presence of some suspicious object, they
kept straight on just above the breakers, rising and falling with the
waves; now appearing above them, and now out of sight in the trough of
the sea. Sometimes a single bird passed, but commonly they were in small
flocks. Once I saw seventeen together,--a pretty long procession; for,
whatever their number, they went always in Indian file. Evidently some
dreadful thing would happen if two pelicans should ever travel abreast.
It was partly this unusual order of march, I suspect, which gave such an
air of preternatural gravity to their movements. It was impossible to see
even two of them go by without feeling almost as if I were in church.
First, both birds flew a rod or two with slow and stately flappings;
then, as if at some preconcerted signal, both set their wings and scaled
for about the same distance; then they resumed their wing-strokes;
and so on, till they passed out of sight. I never heard them utter a
sound, or saw them make a movement of any sort (I speak of what I saw
at Daytona) except to fly straight on, one behind another. If church
ceremonials are still open to amendment, I would suggest, in no spirit
of irreverence, that a study of pelican processionals would be certain
to yield edifying results. Nothing done in any cathedral could be more
solemn. Indeed, their solemnity was so great that I came at last to find
it almost ridiculous; but that, of course, was only from a want of faith
on the part of the beholder. The birds, as I say, were _brown_ pelicans.
Had they been of the other species, in churchly white and black, the
ecclesiastical effect would perhaps have been heightened, though such a
thing is hardly conceivable.

Some beautiful little gulls, peculiarly dainty in their appearance
("Bonaparte's gulls," they are called in books, but "surf gulls"
would be a prettier and apter name), were also given to flying along
the breakers, but in a manner very different from the pelicans'; as
different, I may say, as the birds themselves. They, too, moved steadily
onward, north or south as the case might be, but fed as they went,
dropping into the shallow water between the incoming waves, and rising
again to escape the next breaker. The action was characteristic and
graceful, though often somewhat nervous and hurried. I noticed that the
birds commonly went by twos, but that may have been nothing more than
a coincidence. Beside these small surf gulls, never at all numerous, I
usually saw a few terns, and now and then one or two rather large gulls,
which, as well as I could make out, must have been the ring-billed. It
was a strange beach, I thought, where fish-hawks invariably outnumbered
both gulls and terns. Of beach birds, properly so called, I saw none but
sanderlings. They were no novelty, but I always stopped to look at them;
busy as ants, running in a body down the beach after a receding wave, and
the next moment scampering back again with all speed before an incoming
one. They tolerated no near approach, but were at once on the wing for
a long flight up or down the coast, looking like a flock of snow-white
birds as they turned their under parts to the sun in rising above the
breakers. Their manner of feeding, with the head pitched forward, and
a quick, eager movement, as if they had eaten nothing for days, and
were fearful that their present bit of good fortune would not last, is
strongly characteristic, so that they can be recognized a long way off.
As I have said, they were the only true beach birds; but I rarely failed
to see one or two great blue herons playing that role. The first one
filled me with surprise. I had never thought of finding him in such a
place; but there he stood, and before I was done with Florida beaches I
had come to look upon him as one of their most constant _habitués_. In
truth, this largest of the herons is well-nigh omnipresent in Florida.
Wherever there is water, fresh or salt, he is certain to be met with
sooner or later; and even in the driest place, if you stay there long
enough, you will be likely to see him passing overhead, on his way to
the water, which is nowhere far off. On the beach, as everywhere else,
he is a model of patience. To the best of my recollection, I never saw
him catch a fish there; and I really came to think it pathetic, the
persistency with which he would stand, with the water half-way to his
knees, leaning forward expectantly toward the breakers, as if he felt
that this great and generous ocean, which had so many fish to spare,
could not fail to send him, at last, the morsel for which he was waiting.

But indeed I was not long in perceiving that the Southern climate
made patience a comparatively easy virtue, and fishing, by a natural
consequence, a favorite avocation. Day after day, as I crossed the
bridges on my way to and from the beach, the same men stood against the
rail, holding their poles over the river. They had an air of having been
there all winter. I came to recognize them, though I knew none of their
names. One was peculiarly happy looking, almost radiant, with an educated
face, and only one hand. His disability hindered him, no doubt. I never
saw so much as a sheep-head or a drum lying at his feet. But inwardly, I
felt sure, his luck was good. Another was older, fifty at least, sleek
and well dressed. He spoke pleasantly enough, if I addressed him;
otherwise he attended strictly to business. Every day he was there,
morning and afternoon. He, I think, had better fortune than any of the
others. Once I saw him land a large and handsome "speckled trout,"
to the unmistakable envy of his brother anglers. Still a third was a
younger man, with a broad-brimmed straw hat and a taciturn habit; no less
persevering than Number Two, perhaps, but far less successful. I marveled
a little at their enthusiasm (there were many beside these), and they,
in their turn, did not altogether conceal their amusement at the foibles
of a man, still out of Bedlam, who walked and walked and walked, always
with a field-glass protruding from his side pocket, which now and then
he pulled out suddenly and leveled at nothing. It is one of the merciful
ameliorations of this present evil world that men are thus mutually
entertaining.

These anglers were to be congratulated. Ordered South by their
physicians,--as most of them undoubtedly were,--compelled to spend the
winter away from friends and business, amid all the discomforts of
Southern hotels, they were happy in having at least one thing which they
loved to do. Blessed is the invalid who has an outdoor hobby. One man,
whom I met more than once in my beach rambles, seemed to devote himself
to bathing, running, and walking. He looked like an athlete; I heard him
tell how far he could run without getting "winded;" and as he sprinted
up and down the sand in his scanty bathing costume, I always found him a
pleasing spectacle. Another runner there gave me a half-hour of amusement
that turned at the last to a feeling of almost painful sympathy. He was
not in bathing costume, nor did he look particularly athletic. He was
teaching his young lady to ride a bicycle, and his pupil was at that most
interesting stage of a learner's career when the machine is beginning to
steady itself. With a very little assistance she went bravely, while at
the same time the young man felt it necessary not to let go his hold upon
her for more than a few moments at once. At all events, he must be with
her at the turn. She plied the pedals with vigor, and he ran alongside
or behind, as best he could; she excited, and he out of breath. Back and
forth they went, and it was a relief to me when finally he took off his
coat. I left him still panting in his fair one's wake, and hoped it would
not turn out a case of "love's labor's lost." Let us hope, too, that he
was not an invalid.

While speaking of these my companions in idleness, I may as well mention
an older man,--a rural philosopher, he seemed,--whom I met again and
again, always in search of shells. He was from Indiana, he told me with
agreeable garrulity. His grandchildren would like the shells. He had
perhaps made a mistake in coming so far south. It was pretty warm, he
thought, and he feared the change would be too great when he went home
again. If a man's lungs were bad, he ought to go to a warm place, of
course. _He_ came for his stomach, which was now pretty well,--a capital
proof of the superior value of fresh air over "proper" food in dyspeptic
troubles; for if there is anywhere in the world a place in which a
delicate stomach would fare worse than in a Southern hotel,--of the
second or third class,--may none but my enemies ever find it. Seashell
collecting is not a panacea. For a disease like old age, for instance,
it might prove to be an alleviation rather than a cure; but taken long
enough, and with a sufficient mixture of enthusiasm,--a true _sine qua
non_,--it will be found efficacious, I believe, in all ordinary cases of
dyspepsia.

My Indiana man was far from being alone in his cheerful pursuit. If
strangers, men or women, met me on the beach and wished to say something
more than good-morning, they were sure to ask, "Have you found any
pretty shells?" One woman was a collector of a more businesslike turn.
She had brought a camp-stool, and when I first saw her in the distance
was removing her shoes, and putting on rubber boots. Then she moved
her stool into the surf, sat upon it with a tin pail beside her, and,
leaning forward over the water, fell to doing something,--I could not
tell what. She was so industrious that I did not venture to disturb her,
as I passed; but an hour or two afterward I overtook her going homeward
across the peninsula with her invalid husband, and she showed me her pail
full of the tiny coquina clams, which she said were very nice for soup,
as indeed I knew. Some days later, I found a man collecting them for the
market, with the help of a horse and a cylindrical wire roller. With
his trousers rolled to his knees, he waded in the surf, and shoveled the
incoming water and sand into the wire roller through an aperture left for
that purpose. Then he closed the aperture, and drove the horse back and
forth through the breakers till the clams were washed clear of the sand,
after which he poured them out into a shallow tray like a long bread-pan,
and transferred them from that to a big bag. I came up just in time to
see them in the tray, bright with all the colors of the rainbow. "Will
you hold the bag open?" he said. I was glad to help (it was perhaps the
only useful ten minutes that I passed in Florida); and so, counting quart
by quart, he dished them into it. There were thirty odd quarts, but he
wanted a bushel and a quarter, and again took up the shovel. The clams
themselves were not canned and shipped, he said, but only the "juice."

Many rudely built cottages stood on the sand-hills just behind the beach,
especially at the points, a mile or so apart, where the two Daytona
bridge roads come out of the scrub; and one day, while walking up the
beach to Ormond, I saw before me a much more elaborate Queen Anne house.
Fancifully but rather neatly painted, and with a stable to match, it
looked like an exotic. As I drew near, its venerable owner was at work
in front of it, shoveling a path through the sand,--just as, at that
moment (February 24), thousands of Yankee householders were shoveling
paths through the snow, which then was reported by the newspapers to be
seventeen inches deep in the streets of Boston. His reverend air and
his long black coat proclaimed him a clergyman past all possibility of
doubt. He seemed to have got to heaven before death, the place was so
attractive; but being still in a body terrestrial, he may have found the
meat market rather distant, and mosquitoes and sand-flies sometimes a
plague. As I walked up the beach, he drove by me in an open wagon with
a hired man. They kept on till they came to a log which had been cast
up by the sea, and evidently had been sighted from the house. The hired
man lifted it into the wagon, and they drove back,--quite a stirring
adventure, I imagined; an event to date from, at the very least.

The smaller cottages were nearly all empty at that season. At different
times I made use of many of them, when the sun was hot, or I had been
long afoot. Once I was resting thus on a flight of front steps, when a
three-seated carriage came down the beach and pulled up opposite. The
driver wished to ask me a question, I thought; no doubt I looked very
much at home. From the day I had entered Florida, every one I met had
seemed to know me intuitively for a New Englander, and most of them--I
could not imagine how--had divined that I came from Boston. It gratified
me to believe that I was losing a little of my provincial manner, under
the influence of more extended travel. But my pride had a sudden fall.
The carriage stopped, as I said; but instead of inquiring the way, the
driver alighted, and all the occupants of the carriage proceeded to do
the same,--eight women, with baskets and sundries. It was time for me to
be starting. I descended the steps, and pulled off my hat to the first
comer, who turned out to be the proprietor of the establishment. With a
gracious smile, she hoped they were "not frightening me away." She and
her friends had come for a day's picnic at the cottage. Things being
as they were (eight women), she could hardly invite me to share the
festivities, and, with my best apology for the intrusion, I withdrew.

Of one building on the sand-hills I have peculiarly pleasant
recollections. It was not a cottage, but had evidently been put up as a
public resort; especially, as I inferred, for Sunday-school or parish
picnics. It was furnished with a platform for speech-making (is there
any foolishness that men will not commit on sea beaches and mountain
tops?), and, what was more to my purpose, was open on three sides. I
passed a good deal of time there, first and last, and once it sheltered
me from a drenching shower of an hour or two. The lightning was vivid,
and the rain fell in sheets. In the midst of the blackness and commotion,
a single tern, ghostly white, flew past, and toward the close a bunch
of sanderlings came down the edge of the breakers, still looking for
something to eat. The only other living things in sight were two young
fellows, who had improved the opportunity to try a dip in the surf. Their
color indicated that they were not yet hardened to open-air bathing,
and from their actions it was evident that they found the ocean cool.
They were wet enough before they were done, but it was mostly with fresh
water. Probably they took no harm; but I am moved to remark, in passing,
that I sometimes wondered how generally physicians who order patients
to Florida for the winter caution them against imprudent exposure. To
me, who am no doctor, it seemed none too safe for young women with
consumptive tendencies to be out sailing in open boats on winter
evenings, no matter how warm the afternoon had been, while I saw one
case where a surf bath taken by such an invalid was followed by a day of
prostration and fever. "We who live here," said a resident, "don't think
the water is warm enough yet; but for these Northern folks it is a great
thing to go into the surf in February, and you can't keep them out." The
rows of cottages of which I have spoken were in one sense a detriment to
the beach; but on the whole, and in their present deserted condition,
I found them an advantage. It was easy enough to walk away from them,
if a man wanted the feeling of utter solitude (the beach extends from
Matanzas Inlet to Mosquito Inlet, thirty-five miles, more or less); while
at other times they not only furnished shadow and a seat, but, with
the paths and little clearings behind them, were an attraction to many
birds. Here I found my first Florida jays. They sat on the chimney-tops
and ridgepoles, and I was rejoiced to discover that these unique and
interesting creatures, one of the special objects of my journey South,
were not only common, but to an extraordinary degree approachable. Their
extreme confidence in man is one of their oddest characteristics. I heard
from more than one person how easily and "in almost no time" they could
be tamed, if indeed they needed taming. A resident of Hawks Park told
me that they used to come into his house and stand upon the corners of
the dinner table waiting for their share of the meal. When he was hoeing
in the garden, they would perch on his hat, and stay there by the hour,
unless he drove them off. He never did anything to tame them except to
treat them kindly. When a brood was old enough to leave the nest, the
parents brought the youngsters up to the doorstep as a matter of course.

The Florida jay, a bird of the scrub, is not to be confounded with the
Florida _blue_ jay (a smaller and less conspicuously crested duplicate of
our common Northern bird), to which it bears little resemblance either
in personal appearance or in voice. Seen from behind, its aspect is
peculiarly striking; the head, wings, rump, and tail being dark blue,
with an almost rectangular patch of gray set in the midst. Its beak is
very stout, and its tail very long; and though it would attract attention
anywhere, it is hardly to be called handsome or graceful. Its notes--such
of them as I heard, that is--are mostly guttural, with little or nothing
of the screaming quality which distinguishes the blue jay's voice. To my
ear they were often suggestive of the Northern shrike.

On the 23d of February I was standing on the rear piazza of one of the
cottages, when a jay flew into the oak and palmetto scrub close by. A
second glance, and I saw that she was busy upon a nest. When she had
gone, I moved nearer, and waited. She did not return, and I descended the
steps and went to the edge of the thicket to inspect her work: a bulky
affair,--nearly done, I thought,--loosely constructed of pretty large
twigs. I had barely returned to the veranda before the bird appeared
again. This time I was in a position to look squarely in upon her. She
had some difficulty in edging her way through the dense bushes with a
long, branching stick in her bill; but she accomplished the feat, fitted
the new material into its place, readjusted the other twigs a bit here
and there, and then, as she rose to depart, she looked me suddenly in the
face and stopped, as much as to say, "Well, well! here's a pretty go!
A man spying upon me!" I wondered whether she would throw up the work,
but in another minute she was back again with another twig. The nest, I
should have said, was about four feet from the ground, and perhaps twenty
feet from the cottage. Four days later, I found her sitting upon it. She
flew off as I came up, and I pushed into the scrub far enough to thrust
my hand into the nest, which, to my disappointment, was empty. In fact,
it was still far from completed; for on the 3d of March, when I paid it
a farewell visit, its owner was still at work lining it with fine grass.
At that time it was a comfortable-looking and really elaborate structure.
Both the birds came to look at me as I stood on the piazza. They perched
together on the top of a stake so narrow that there was scarcely room for
their feet; and as they stood thus, side by side, one of them struck its
beak several times against the beak of the other, as if in play. I wished
them joy of their expected progeny, and was the more ready to believe
they would have it for this little display of sportive sentimentality.

It was a distinguished company that frequented that row of narrow back
yards on the edge of the sand-hills. As a new-comer, I found the jays
(sometimes there were ten under my eye at once) the most entertaining
members of it, but if I had been a dweller there for the summer, I should
perhaps have altered my opinion; for the group contained four of the
finest of Floridian songsters,--the mocking-bird, the brown thrasher,
the cardinal grosbeak, and the Carolina wren. Rare morning and evening
concerts those cottagers must have. And besides these there were
catbirds, ground doves, red-eyed chewinks, white-eyed chewinks, a song
sparrow (one of the few that I saw in Florida), savanna sparrows, myrtle
birds, redpoll warblers, a phœbe, and two flickers. The last-named birds,
by the way, are never backward about displaying their tender feelings. A
treetop flirtation is their special delight (I hope my readers have all
seen one; few things of the sort are better worth looking at), and here,
in the absence of trees, they had taken to the ridgepole of a house.

More than once I remarked white-breasted swallows straggling northward
along the line of sand-hills. They were in loose order, but the movement
was plainly concerted, with all the look of a vernal migration. This
swallow, the first of its family to arrive in New England, remains in
Florida throughout the winter, but is known also to go as far south as
Central America. The purple martins--which, so far as I am aware, do not
winter in Florida--had already begun to make their appearance. While
crossing the bridge, February 22, I was surprised to notice two of them
sitting upon a bird-box over the draw, which just then stood open for
the passage of a tug-boat. The toll-gatherer told me they had come "from
some place" eight or ten days before. His attention had been called to
them by his cat, who was trying to get up to the box to bid them welcome.
He believed that she discovered them within three minutes of their
arrival. It seemed not unlikely. In its own way a cat is a pretty sharp
ornithologist.

One or two cormorants were almost always about the river. Sometimes they
sat upon stakes in a patriotic, spread-eagle (American eagle) attitude,
as if drying their wings,--a curious sight till one became accustomed
to it. Snakebirds and buzzards resort to the same device, but I cannot
recall ever seeing any Northern bird thus engaged. From the south bridge
I one morning saw, to my great satisfaction, a couple of white pelicans,
the only ones that I found in Florida, though I was assured that within
twenty years they had been common along the Halifax and Hillsborough
rivers. My birds were flying up the river at a good height. The brown
pelicans, on the other hand, made their daily pilgrimages just above the
level of the water, as has been already described, and were never over
the river, but off the beach.

All in all, there are few pleasanter walks in Florida, I believe, than
the beach-round at Daytona, out by one bridge and back by the other.
An old hotel-keeper--a rural Yankee, if one could tell anything by his
look and speech--said to me in a burst of confidence, "Yes, we've got a
climate, and that's about all we have got,--climate and sand." I could
not entirely agree with him. For myself, I found not only fine days, but
fine prospects. But there was no denying the sand.



ALONG THE HILLSBOROUGH.


Wherever a walker lives, he finds sooner or later one favorite road. So
it was with me at New Smyrna, where I lived for three weeks. I had gone
there for the sake of the river, and my first impulse was to take the
road that runs southerly along its bank. At the time I thought it the
most beautiful road I had found in Florida, nor have I seen any great
cause since to alter that opinion. With many pleasant windings (beautiful
roads are never straight, nor unnecessarily wide, which is perhaps the
reason why our rural authorities devote themselves so madly to the work
of straightening and widening),--with many pleasant windings, I say,

    "The grace of God made manifest in curves,"

it follows the edge of the hammock, having the river on one side, and the
forest on the other. It was afternoon when I first saw it. Then it is
shaded from the sun, while the river and its opposite bank have on them
a light more beautiful than can be described or imagined; a light--with
reverence for the poet of nature be it spoken--a light that never was
_except_ on sea or land. The poet's dream was never equal to it.

In a flat country stretches of water are doubly welcome. They take the
place of hills, and give the eye what it craves,--distance; which softens
angles, conceals details, and heightens colors,--in short, transfigures
the world with its romancer's touch, and blesses us with illusion. So,
as I loitered along the south road, I never tired of looking across the
river to the long, wooded island, and over that to the line of sand-hills
that marked the eastern rim of the East Peninsula, beyond which was the
Atlantic. The white crests of the hills made the sharper points of the
horizon line. Elsewhere clumps of nearer pine-trees intervened, while
here and there a tall palmetto stood, or seemed to stand, on the highest
and farthest ridge looking seaward. But particulars mattered little.
The blue water, the pale, changeable grayish-green of the low island
woods, the deeper green of the pines, the unnameable hues of the sky,
the sunshine that flooded it all, these were beauty enough;--beauty all
the more keenly enjoyed because for much of the way it was seen only by
glimpses, through vistas of palmetto and live-oak. Sometimes the road
came quite out of the woods, as it rounded a turn of the hammock. Then I
stopped to gaze long at the scene. Elsewhere I pushed through the hedge
at favorable points, and sat, or stood, looking up and down the river.
A favorite seat was the prow of an old rowboat, which lay, falling to
pieces, high and dry upon the sand. It had made its last cruise, but I
found it still useful.

The river is shallow. At low tide sand-bars and oyster-beds occupy much
of its breadth; and even when it looked full, a great blue heron would
very likely be wading in the middle of it. That was a sight to which I
had grown accustomed in Florida, where this bird, familiarly known as
"the major," is apparently ubiquitous. Too big to be easily hidden, it
is also, as a general thing, too wary to be approached within gunshot. I
am not sure that I ever came within sight of one, no matter how suddenly
or how far away, that it did not give evidence of having seen me first.
Long legs, long wings, a long bill--and long sight and long patience:
such is the tall bird's dowry. Good and useful qualities, all of them.
Long may they avail to put off the day of their owner's extermination.

The major is scarcely a bird of which you can make a pet in your mind, as
you may of the chickadee, for instance, or the bluebird, or the hermit
thrush. He does not lend himself naturally to such imaginary endearments.
But it is pleasant to have him on one's daily beat. I should count it one
compensation for having to live in Florida instead of in Massachusetts
(but I might require a good many others) that I should see him a hundred
times as often. In walking down the river road I seldom saw less than
half a dozen; not together (the major, like fishermen in general, is of
an unsocial turn), but here one and there one,--on a sand-bar far out
in the river, or in some shallow bay, or on the submerged edge of an
oyster-flat. Wherever he was, he always looked as if he might be going to
do something presently; even now, perhaps, the matter was on his mind;
but at this moment--well, there are times when a heron's strength is to
stand still. Certainly he seemed in no danger of overeating. A cracker
told me that the major made an excellent dish if killed on the full of
the moon. I wondered at that qualification, but my informant explained
himself. The bird, he said, feeds mostly at night, and fares best with
the moon to help him. If the reader would dine off roast blue heron,
therefore, as I hope I never shall, let him mind the lunar phases. But
think of the gastronomic ups and downs of a bird that is fat and lean by
turns twelve times a year! Possibly my informant overstated the case; but
in any event I would trust the major to bear himself like a philosopher.
If there is any one of God's creatures that can wait for what he wants,
it must be the great blue heron.

I have spoken of his caution. If he was patrolling a shallow on one side
of an oyster-bar,--at the rate, let us say, of two steps a minute,--and
took it into his head (an inappropriate phrase, as conveying an idea of
something like suddenness) to try the water on the other side, he did
not spread his wings, as a matter of course, and fly over. First he put
up his head--an operation that makes another bird of him--and looked in
all directions. How could he tell what enemy might be lying in wait? And
having alighted on the other side (his manner of alighting is one of his
prettiest characteristics), he did not at once draw in his neck till his
bill protruded on a level with his body, and resume his labors, but first
he looked once more all about him. It was a good _habit_ to do that,
anyhow, and he meant to run no risks. If "the race of birds was created
out of innocent, light-minded men, whose thoughts were directed toward
heaven," according to the word of Plato, then _Ardea herodias_ must long
ago have fallen from grace. I imagine his state of mind to be always like
that of our pilgrim fathers in times of Indian massacres. When they went
after the cows or to hoe the corn, they took their guns with them, and
turned no corner without a sharp lookout against ambush. No doubt such a
condition of affairs has this advantage, that it makes ennui impossible.
There is always something to live for, if it be only to avoid getting
killed.

After this manner did the Hillsborough River majors all behave themselves
until my very last walk beside it. Then I found the exception,--the
exception that is as good as inevitable in the case of any bird, if the
observation be carried far enough. He (or she; there was no telling which
it was) stood on the sandy beach, a splendid creature in full nuptial
garb, two black plumes nodding jauntily from its crown, and masses of
soft elongated feathers draping its back and lower neck. Nearer and
nearer I approached, till I must have been within a hundred feet; but it
stood as if on dress parade, exulting to be looked at. Let us hope it
never carried itself thus gayly when the wrong man came along.

Near the major--not keeping him company, but feeding in the same shallows
and along the same oyster-bars--were constantly to be seen two smaller
relatives of his, the little blue heron and the Louisiana. The former is
what is called a dichromatic species; some of the birds are blue, and
others white. On the Hillsborough, it seemed to me that white specimens
predominated; but possibly that was because they were so much more
conspicuous. Sunlight favors the white feather; no other color shows so
quickly or so far. If you are on the beach and catch sight of a bird far
out at sea,--a gull or a tern, a gannet or a loon,--it is invariably the
white parts that are seen first. And so the little white heron might
stand never so closely against the grass or the bushes on the further
shore of the river, and the eye could not miss him. If he had been a blue
one, art that distance, ten to one he would have escaped me. Besides,
I was more on the alert for white ones, because I was always hoping to
find one of them with black legs. In other words, I was looking for the
little white egret, a bird concerning which, thanks to the murderous work
of plume-hunters,--thanks, also, to those good women who pay for having
the work done,--I must confess that I went to Florida and came home again
without certainly seeing it.

The heron with which I found myself especially taken was the Louisiana;
a bird of about the same size as the little blue, but with an air of
daintiness and lightness that is quite its own, and quite indescribable.
When it rose upon the wing, indeed, it seemed almost _too_ light, almost
unsteady, as if it lacked ballast, like a butterfly. It was the most
numerous bird of its tribe along the river, I think, and, with one
exception, the most approachable. That exception was the green heron,
which frequented the flats along the village front, and might well have
been mistaken for a domesticated bird; letting you walk across a plank
directly over its head while it squatted upon the mud, and when disturbed
flying into a fig-tree before the hotel piazza, just as the dear little
ground doves were in the habit of doing. To me, who had hitherto seen the
green heron in the wildest of places, this tameness was an astonishing
sight. It would be hard to say which surprised me more, the New Smyrna
green herons or the St. Augustine sparrow-hawks,--which latter treated me
very much as I am accustomed to being treated by village-bred robins in
Massachusetts.

The Louisiana heron was my favorite, as I say, but incomparably the
handsomest member of the family (I speak of such as I saw) was the great
white egret. In truth, the epithet "handsome" seems almost a vulgarism
as applied to a creature so superb, so utterly and transcendently
splendid. I saw it--in a way to be sure of it--only once. Then, on an
island in the Hillsborough, two birds stood in the dead tops of low
shrubby trees, fully exposed in the most favorable of lights, their
long dorsal trains drooping behind them and swaying gently in the wind.
I had never seen anything so magnificent. And when I returned, two or
three hours afterward, from a jaunt up the beach to Mosquito Inlet,
there they still were, as if they had not stirred in all that time. The
reader should understand that this egret is between four and five feet in
length, and measures nearly five feet from wing tip to wing tip, and that
its plumage throughout is of spotless white. It is pitiful to think how
constantly a bird of that size and color must be in danger of its life.

Happily, the lawmakers of the State have done something of recent years
for the protection of such defenseless beauties. Happily, too, shooting
from the river boats is no longer permitted,--on the regular lines, that
is. I myself saw a young gentleman stand on the deck of an excursion
steamer, with a rifle, and do his worst to kill or maim every living
thing that came in sight, from a spotted sandpiper to a turkey buzzard!
I call him a "gentleman;" he was in gentle company, and the fact that he
chewed gum industriously would, I fear, hardly invalidate his claim to
that title. The narrow river wound in and out between low, densely wooded
banks, and the beauty of the shifting scene was enough almost to take
one's breath away; but the crack of the rifle was not the less frequent
on that account. Perhaps the sportsman was a Southerner, to whom river
scenery of that enchanting kind was an old story. More likely he was a
Northerner, one of the men who thank Heaven they are "not sentimental."

In my rambles up and down the river road I saw few water birds beside the
herons. Two or three solitary cormorants would be shooting back and forth
at a furious rate, or swimming in midstream; and sometimes a few spotted
sandpipers and killdeer plovers were feeding along the shore. Once in a
great while a single gull or tern made its appearance,--just often enough
to keep me wondering why they were not there oftener,--and one day a
water-turkey went suddenly over my head and dropped into the river on the
farther side of the island, I was glad to see this interesting creature
for once in salt water; for the Hillsborough, like the Halifax and the
Indian rivers, is a river in name only,--a river by brevet, --being, in
fact, a salt-water lagoon or sound between the mainland and the eastern
peninsula.

Fish-hawks were always in sight, and bald eagles were seldom absent
altogether. Sometimes an eagle stood perched on a dead tree on an island.
Oftener I heard a scream, and looked up to see one sailing far overhead,
or chasing an osprey. On one such occasion, when the hawk seemed to be
making a losing fight, a third bird suddenly intervened, and the eagle,
as I thought, was driven away. "Good for the brotherhood of fish-hawks!"
I exclaimed. But at that moment I put my glass on the new-comer; and
behold, he was not a hawk, but another eagle. Meanwhile the hawk had
disappeared with his fish, and I was left to ponder the mystery.

As for the wood, the edge of the hammock, through which the road passes,
there were no birds in it. It was one of those places (I fancy every
bird-gazer must have had experience of such) where it is a waste of time
to seek them. I could walk down the road for two miles and back again,
and then sit in my room at the hotel for fifteen minutes, and see more
wood birds, and more kinds of them, in one small live-oak before the
window than I had seen in the whole four miles; and that not once and
by accident, but again and again. In affairs of this kind it is useless
to contend. The spot looks favorable, you say, and nobody can deny it;
there must be birds there, plenty of them; your missing them to-day was a
matter of chance; you will try again. And you try again--and again--and
yet again. But in the end you have to acknowledge that, for some reason
unknown to you, the birds have agreed to give that place the go-by.

One bird, it is true, I found in this hammock, and not elsewhere: a
single oven-bird, which, with one Northern water thrush and one Louisiana
water thrush, completed my set of Florida _Seiuri_. Besides him I
recall one hermit thrush, a few cedar-birds, a house wren, chattering
at a great rate among the "bootjacks" (leaf-stalks) of an overturned
palmetto-tree, with an occasional mocking-bird, cardinal grosbeak,
prairie warbler, yellow redpoll, myrtle bird, ruby-crowned kinglet,
phœbe, and flicker. In short, there were no birds at all, except now
and then an accidental straggler of a kind that could be found almost
anywhere else in indefinite numbers.

And as it was not the presence of birds that made the river road
attractive, so neither was it any unwonted display of blossoms. Beside a
similar road along the bank of the Halifax, in Daytona, grew multitudes
of violets, and goodly patches of purple verbena (garden plants gone
wild, perhaps), and a fine profusion of spiderwort,--a pretty flower,
the bluest of the blue, thrice welcome to me as having been one of the
treasures of the very first garden of which I have any remembrance.
"Indigo plant," we called it then. Here, however, on the way from
New Smyrna to Hawks Park, I recall no violets, nor any verbena or
spiderwort. Yellow wood-sorrel (oxalis) was here, of course, as it was
everywhere. It dotted the grass in Florida very much as five-fingers do
in Massachusetts, I sometimes thought. And the creeping, round-leaved
houstonia was here, with a superfluity of a weedy blue sage (_Salvia
lyrata_). Here, also, as in Daytona, I found a strikingly handsome
tufted plant, a highly varnished evergreen, which I persisted in taking
for a fern--the sterile fronds--in spite of repeated failures to find
it described by Dr. Chapman under that head, until at last an excellent
woman came to my help with the information that it was "coontie" (_Zamia
integrifolia_), famous as a plant out of which the Southern people
made bread in war time. This confession of botanical amateurishness
and incompetency will be taken, I hope, as rather to my credit than
otherwise; but it would be morally worthless if I did not add the story
of another plant, which, in this same New Smyrna hammock, I frequently
noticed hanging in loose bunches, like blades of flaccid deep green
grass, from the trunks of cabbage palmettos. The tufts were always out of
reach, and I gave them no particular thought; and it was not until I got
home to Massachusetts, and then almost by accident, that I learned what
they were. They, it turned out, _were_ ferns (_Vittaria lineata_--grass
fern), and my discomfiture was complete.

This comparative dearth of birds and flowers was not in all respects
a disadvantage. On the contrary, to a naturalist blessed now and then
with a supernaturalistic mood, it made the place, on occasion, a welcome
retreat. Thus, one afternoon, as I remember, I had been reading Keats,
the only book I had brought with me,--not counting manuals, of course,
which come under another head,--and by and by started once more for the
pine lands by the way of the cotton-shed hammock, "to see what I could
see." But poetry had spoiled me just then for anything like scientific
research, and as I waded through the ankle-deep sand I said to myself
all at once, "No, no! What do I care for another new bird? I want to see
the beauty of the world." With that I faced about, and, taking a side
track, made as directly as possible for the river road. There I should
have a mind at ease, with no unfamiliar, tantalizing bird note to set my
curiosity on edge, nor any sand through which to be picking my steps.

The river road is paved with oyster-shells. If any reader thinks
that statement prosaic or unimportant, then he has never lived in
southern Florida. In that part of the world all new-comers have to
take walking-lessons; unless, indeed, they have already served an
apprenticeship on Cape Cod, or in some other place equally arenarious. My
own lesson I got at second hand, and on a Sunday. It was at New Smyrna,
in the village. Two women were behind me, on their way home from church,
and one of them was complaining of the sand, to which she was not yet
used. "Yes," said the other, "I found it pretty hard walking at first,
but I learned after a while that the best way is to set the heel down
hard, as hard as you can; then the sand doesn't give under you so much,
and you get along more comfortably." I wonder whether she noticed, just
in front of her, a man who began forthwith to bury his boot heel at every
step?

In such a country (the soil is said to be good for orange-trees, but they
do not have to walk) roads of powdered shell are veritable luxuries, and
land agents are quite right in laying all stress upon them as inducements
to possible settlers. If the author of the Apocalypse had been raised in
Florida, we should never have had the streets of the New Jerusalem paved
with gold. His idea of heaven would have been different from that; more
personal and home-felt, we may be certain.

The river road, then, as I have said, and am glad to say again, was
shell-paved. And well it might be; for the hammock, along the edge of
which it meandered, seemed, in some places at least, to be little more
than a pile of oyster-shells, on which soil had somehow been deposited,
and over which a forest was growing. Florida Indians have left an evil
memory. I heard a philanthropic visitor lamenting that she had talked
with many of the people about them, and had yet to hear a single word
said in their favor. Somebody might have been good enough to say that,
with all their faults, they had given to eastern Florida a few hills,
such as they are, and at present are supplying it, indirectly, with
comfortable highways. How they must have feasted, to leave such heaps of
shells behind them! They came to the coast on purpose, we may suppose.
Well, the red-men are gone, but the oyster-beds remain; and if winter
refugees continue to pour in this direction, as doubtless they will,
they too will eat a "heap" of oysters (it is easy to see how the vulgar
Southern use of that word may have originated), and in the course of
time, probably, the shores of the Halifax and the Hillsborough will be a
fine mountainous country! And then, if this ancient, nineteenth-century
prediction is remembered, the highest peak of the range will perhaps be
named in a way which the innate modesty of the prophet restrains him from
specifying with greater particularity.

Meanwhile it is long to wait, and tourists and residents alike must
find what comfort they can in the lesser hills which, thanks to the
good appetite of their predecessors, are already theirs. For my own
part, there is one such eminence of which I cherish the most grateful
recollections. It stands (or stood; the road-makers had begun carting it
away) at a bend in the road just south of one of the Turnbull canals.
I climbed it often (it can hardly be less than fifteen or twenty feet
above the level of the sea), and spent more than one pleasant hour upon
its grassy summit. Northward was New Smyrna, a village in the woods, and
farther away towered the lighthouse of Mosquito Inlet. Along the eastern
sky stretched the long line of the peninsula sand-hills, between the
white crests of which could be seen the rude cottages of Coronado beach.
To the south and west was the forest, and in front, at my feet, lay the
river with its woody islands. Many times have I climbed a mountain and
felt myself abundantly repaid by an off-look less beautiful. This was
the spot to which I turned when I had been reading Keats, and wanted
to see the beauty of the world. Here were a grassy seat, the shadow of
orange-trees, and a wide prospect. In Florida, I found no better place in
which a man who wished to be both a naturalist and a nature-lover, who
felt himself heir to a double inheritance,

    "The clear eye's moiety and the dear heart's part,"

could for the time sit still and be happy.

The orange-trees yielded other things beside shadow, though perhaps
nothing better than that. They were resplendent with fruit, and on my
earlier visits were also in bloom. One did not need to climb the hill
to learn the fact. For an out-of-door sweetness it would be hard, I
think, to improve upon the scent of orange blossoms. As for the oranges
themselves, they seemed to be in little demand, large and handsome as
they were. Southern people in general, I fancy, look upon wild fruit of
this kind as not exactly edible. I remember asking two colored men in
Tallahassee whether the oranges still hanging conspicuously from a tree
just over the wall (a sight not so very common in that part of the State)
were sweet or sour. I have forgotten just what they said, but I remember
how they _looked_. I meant the inquiry as a mild bit of humor, but to
them it was a thousandfold better than that: it was wit ineffable. What
Shakespeare said about the prosperity of a jest was never more strikingly
exemplified. In New Smyrna, with orange groves on every hand, the wild
fruit went begging with natives and tourists alike; so that I feel a
little hesitancy about confessing my own relish for it, lest I should be
accused of affectation. Not that I devoured wild oranges by the dozen,
or in place of sweet ones; one sour orange goes a good way, as the common
saying is; but I ate them, nevertheless, or rather drank them, and found
them, in a thirsty hour, decidedly refreshing.

The unusual coldness of the past season (Florida winters, from what I
heard about them, must have fallen of late into a queer habit of being
regularly exceptional) had made it difficult to buy sweet oranges that
were not dry and "punky"[4] toward the stem; but the hardier wild fruit
had weathered the frost, and was so juicy that, as I say, you did not
so much eat one as drink it. As for the taste, it was a wholesome
bitter-sour, as if a lemon had been flavored with quinine; not quite so
sour as a lemon, perhaps, nor _quite_ so bitter as Peruvian bark, but,
as it were, an agreeable compromise between the two. When I drank one,
I not only quenched my thirst, but felt that I had taken an infallible
prophylactic against the malarial fever. Better still, I had surprised
myself. For one who had felt a lifelong distaste, unsocial and almost
unmanly, for the bitter drinks which humanity in general esteems so
essential to its health and comfort, I was developing new and unexpected
capabilities; than which few things can be more encouraging as years
increase upon a man's head, and the world seems to be closing in about
him.

[4] I have heard this useful word all my life, and now am surprised to
find it wanting in the dictionaries.

Later in the season, on this same shell mound, I might have regaled
myself with fresh figs. Here, at any rate, was a thrifty-looking
fig-tree, though its crop, if it bore one, would perhaps not have
waited my coming so patiently as the oranges had done. Here, too, was
a red cedar; and to me, who, in my ignorance, had always thought of
this tough little evergreen as especially at home on my own bleak and
stony hillsides, it seemed an incongruous trio,--fig-tree, orange-tree,
and savin. In truth, the cedars of Florida were one of my liveliest
surprises. At first I refused to believe that they were red cedars, so
strangely exuberant were they, so disdainful of the set, cone-shaped,
toy-tree pattern on which I had been used to seeing red cedars built.
And when at last a study of the flora compelled me to admit their
identity,[5] I turned about and protested that I had never seen red
cedars before. One, in St. Augustine, near San Marco Avenue, I had the
curiosity to measure. The girth of the trunk at the smallest place was
six feet five inches, and the spread of the branches was not less than
fifty feet.

[5] I speak as if I had accepted my own study of the manual as
conclusive. I did for the time being, but while writing this paragraph
I bethought myself that I might be in error, after all. I referred the
question, therefore, to a friend, a botanist of authority. "No wonder the
red cedars of Florida puzzled you," he replied. "No one would suppose
at first that they were of the same species as our New England savins.
The habit is entirely different; but botanists have found no characters
by which to separate them, and you are safe in considering them as
_Juniperus Virginiana_."

The stroller in this road suffered few distractions. The houses, two
or three to the mile, stood well back in the woods, with little or no
cleared land about them. Picnic establishments they seemed to a Northern
eye, rather than permanent dwellings. At one point in the hammock, a
rude camp was occupied by a group of rough-looking men and several small
children, who seemed to be getting on as best they could--none too well,
to judge from appearances--without feminine ministrations. What they
were there for I never made out. They fished, I think, but whether by way
of amusement or as a serious occupation I did not learn. Perhaps, like
the Indians of old, they had come to the river for the oyster season.
They might have done worse. They never paid the slightest attention
to me, nor once gave me any decent excuse for engaging them in talk.
The best thing I remember about them was a tableau caught in passing.
A "norther" had descended upon us unexpectedly (Florida is not a whit
behind the rest of the world in sudden changes of temperature), and while
hastening homeward, toward nightfall, hugging myself to keep warm, I saw,
in the woods, this group of campers disposed about a lively blaze.

Let us be thankful, say I, that memory is so little the servant of the
will. Chance impressions of this kind, unforeseen, involuntary, and
inexplicable, make one of the chief delights of traveling, or rather
of having traveled. In the present case, indeed, the permanence of the
impression is perhaps not altogether beyond the reach of a plausible
conjecture. We have not always lived in houses; and if we love the sight
of a fire out-of-doors,--a camp-fire, that is to say,--as we all do, so
that the burning of a brush-heap in a neighbor's yard will draw us to the
window, the feeling is but part of an ancestral inheritance. We have come
by it honestly, as the phrase is. And so I need not scruple to set down
another reminiscence of the same kind,--an early morning street scene, of
no importance in itself, in the village of New Smyrna. It may have been
on the morning next after the "norther" just mentioned. I cannot say. We
had two or three such touches of winter in early March; none of them at
all distressing, be it understood, to persons in ordinary health. One
night water froze,--"as thick as a silver dollar,"--and orange growers
were alarmed for the next season's crop, the trees being just ready to
blossom. Some men kept fires burning in their orchards overnight; a
pretty spectacle, I should think, especially where the fruit was still
ungathered. On one of these frosty mornings, then, I saw a solitary
horseman, not "wending his way," but warming his hands over a fire that
he had built for that purpose in the village street. One might live
and die in a New England village without seeing such a sight. A Yankee
would have betaken himself to the corner grocery. But here, though that
"adjunct of civilization" was directly across the way, most likely it had
never had a stove in it. The sun would give warmth enough in an hour,--by
nine o'clock one would probably be glad of a sunshade; but the man was
chilly after his ride; it was still a bit early to go about the business
that had brought him into town: what more natural than to hitch his
horse, get together a few sticks, and kindle a blaze? What an insane idea
it would have seemed to him that a passing stranger might remember him
and his fire three months afterward, and think them worth talking about
in print! But then, as was long ago said, it is the fate of some men to
have greatness thrust upon them.

This main street of the village, by the way, with its hotels and shops,
was no other than my river road itself, in its more civilized estate, as
I now remember with a sense of surprise. In my mind the two had never
any connection. It was in this thoroughfare that one saw now and then
a group of cavaliers strolling about under broad-brimmed hats, with big
spurs at their heels, accosting passers-by with hearty familiarity,
first names and hand-shakes, while their horses stood hitched to the
branches of roadside trees,--a typical Southern picture. Here, on a
Sunday afternoon, were two young fellows who had brought to town a mother
coon and three young ones, hoping to find a purchaser. The guests at the
hotels manifested no eagerness for such pets, but the colored bell-boys
and waiters gathered about, and after a little good-humored dickering
bought the entire lot, box and all, for a dollar and a half; first having
pulled the little ones out between the slats--not without some risk to
both parties--to look at them and pass them round. The venders walked off
with grins of ill-concealed triumph. The Fates had been kind to them, and
they had three silver half-dollars in their pockets. I heard one of them
say something about giving part of the money to a third man who had told
them where the nest was; but his companion would listen to no such folly.
"He wouldn't come with us," he said, "and we won't tell him a damned
thing." I fear there was nothing distinctively Southern about _that_.

Here, too, in the heart of the town, was a magnificent cluster of
live-oaks, worth coming to Florida to see; far-spreading, full of ferns
and air-plants, and heavy with hanging moss. Day after day I went out to
admire them. Under them was a neglected orange grove, and in one of the
orange-trees, amid the glossy foliage, appeared my first summer tanager.
It was a royal setting, and the splendid vermilion-red bird was worthy
of it. Among the oaks I walked in the evening, listening to the strange
low chant of the chuck-will's-widow,--a name which the owner himself
pronounces with a rest after the first syllable. Once, for two or three
days, the trees were amazingly full of blue yellow-backed warblers.
Numbers of them, a dozen at least, could be heard singing at once
directly over one's head, running up the scale not one after another, but
literally in unison. Here the tufted titmouse, the very soul of monotony,
piped and piped and piped, as if his diapason stop were pulled out and
stuck, and could not be pushed in again. He is an odd genius. With plenty
of notes, he wearies you almost to distraction, harping on one string
for half an hour together. He is the one Southern bird that I should
perhaps be sorry to see common in Massachusetts; but that "perhaps"
is a large word. Many yellow-throated warblers, silent as yet, were
commonly in the live-oaks, and innumerable myrtle birds, also silent,
with prairie warblers, black-and-white creepers, solitary vireos, an
occasional chickadee, and many more. It was a birdy spot; and just across
the way, on the shrubby island, were red-winged blackbirds, who piqued
my curiosity by adding to the familiar _conkaree_ a final syllable,--the
Florida termination, I called it,--which made me wonder whether, as
has been the case with so many other Florida birds, they might not
turn out to be a distinct race, worthy of a name (_Agelaius phœniceus
something-or-other_), as well as of a local habitation. I suggest the
question to those whose business it is to be learned in such matters.[6]

[6] My suggestion, I now discover,--since this paper was first
printed,--was some years too late. Mr. Ridgway, in his _Manual of North
American Birds_ (1887), had already described a subspecies of Florida
red-wings under the name of _Agelaius phœniceus bryanti_. Whether my New
Smyrna birds should come under that title cannot be told, of course, in
the absence of specimens; but on the strength of the song I venture to
think it highly probable.

The tall grass about the borders of the island was alive with clapper
rails. Before I rose in the morning I heard them crying in full chorus;
and now and then during the day something would happen, and all at once
they would break out with one sharp volley, and then instantly all
would be silent again. Theirs is an apt name,--_Rallus crepitans_. Once
I watched two of them in the act of crepitating, and ever after that,
when the sudden uproar burst forth, I seemed to see the reeds full of
birds, each with his bill pointing skyward, bearing his part in the
salvo. So far as I could perceive, they had nothing to fear from human
enemies. They ran about the mud on the edge of the grass, especially
in the morning, looking like half-grown pullets. Their specialty was
crab-fishing, at which they were highly expert, plunging into the water
up to the depth of their legs, and handling and swallowing pretty large
specimens with surprising dexterity. I was greatly pleased with them, as
well as with their local name, "everybody's chickens."

Once I feared we had heard the last of them. On a day following a sudden
fall of the mercury, a gale from the north set in at noon, with thunder
and lightning, hail, and torrents of rain. The river was quickly lashed
into foam, and the gale drove the ocean into it through the inlet, till
the shrubbery of the rails' island barely showed above the breakers.
The street was deep under water, and fears were entertained for the new
bridge and the road to the beach. All night the gale continued, and
all the next day till late in the afternoon; and when the river should
have been at low tide, the island was still flooded. Gravitation was
overmatched for the time being. And where were the rails, I asked myself.
They could swim, no doubt, when put to it, but it seemed impossible that
they could survive so fierce an inundation. Well, the wind ceased, the
tide went out at last; and behold, the rails were in full cry, not a
voice missing! How they had managed it was beyond my ken.

Another island, farther out than that of the rails (but the rails,
like the long-billed marsh wrens, appeared to be present in force all
up and down the river, in suitable places), was occupied nightly as
a crow-roost. Judged by the morning clamor, which, like that of the
rails, I heard from my bed, its population must have been enormous.
One evening I happened to come up the street just in time to see the
hinder part of the procession--some hundreds of birds--flying across
the river. They came from the direction of the pine lands in larger and
smaller squads, and with but a moderate amount of noise moved straight
to their destination. All but one of them so moved, that is to say. The
performance of that one exception was a mystery. He rose high in the air,
over the river, and remained soaring all by himself, acting sometimes
as if he were catching insects, till the flight had passed, even to the
last scattering detachments. What could be the meaning of his eccentric
behavior? Some momentary caprice had taken him, perhaps. Or was he, as
I could not help asking, some duly appointed officer of the day,--grand
marshal, if you please,--with a commission to see all hands in before
retiring himself? He waited, at any rate, till the final stragglers had
passed; then he came down out of the air and followed them. I meant to
watch the ingathering a second time, to see whether this feature of it
would be repeated, but I was never there at the right moment. One cannot
do everything.

Now, alas, Florida seems very far off. I am never likely to walk again
under those New Smyrna live-oaks, nor to see again all that beauty of the
Hillsborough. And yet, in a truer and better sense of the word, I do see
it, and shall. What a heavenly light falls at this moment on the river
and the island woods! Perhaps we must come back to Wordsworth, after
all,--

    "The light that never was, on sea or land."



A MORNING AT THE OLD SUGAR MILL.[7]


[7] I have called the ruin here spoken of a "sugar mill" for no better
reason than because that is the name commonly applied to it by the
residents of the town. When this sketch was written, I had never heard
of a theory since broached in some of our Northern newspapers,--I know
not by whom,--that the edifice in question was built as a chapel, perhaps
by Columbus himself! I should be glad to believe it, and can only add
my hope that he will be shown to have built also the so-called sugar
mill a few miles north of New Smyrna, in the Dunlawton hammock behind
Port Orange. In that, to be sure, there is still much old machinery, but
perhaps its presence would prove no insuperable objection to a theory
so pleasing. In matters of this kind, much depends upon subjective
considerations; in one sense, at least, "all things are possible to him
that believeth." For my own part, I profess no opinion. I am neither an
archæologist nor an ecclesiastic, and speak simply as a chance observer.

On the third or fourth day of my sojourn at the Live Oak Inn, the lady
of the house, noticing my peripatetic habits, I suppose, asked whether I
had been to the old sugar mill. The ruin is mentioned in the guide-books
as one of the historic features of the ancient settlement of New Smyrna,
but I had forgotten the fact, and was thankful to receive a description
of the place, as well as of the road thither,--a rather blind road, my
informant said, with no houses at which to inquire the way.

Two or three mornings afterward, I set out in the direction indicated.
If the route proved to be half as vague as my good lady's account
of it had sounded, I should probably never find the mill; but the
walk would be pleasant, and that, after all, was the principal
consideration, especially to a man who just then cared more, or thought
he did, for a new bird or a new song than for an indefinite number of
eighteenth-century relics.

For the first half-mile the road follows one of the old Turnbull canals
dug through the coquina stone which underlies the soil hereabout; then,
after crossing the railway, it strikes to the left through a piece of
truly magnificent wood, known as the cotton-shed hammock, because, during
the war, cotton was stored here in readiness for the blockade runners of
Mosquito Inlet. Better than anything I had yet seen, this wood answered
to my idea of a semi-tropical forest: live-oaks, magnolias, palmettos,
sweet gums, maples, and hickories, with here and there a long-leaved pine
overtopping all the rest. The palmettos, most distinctively Southern of
them all, had been badly used by their hardier neighbors; they looked
stunted, and almost without exception had been forced out of their normal
perpendicular attitude. The live-oaks, on the other hand, were noble
specimens; lofty and wide-spreading, elm-like in habit, it seemed to me,
though not without the sturdiness which belongs as by right to all oaks,
and seldom or never to the American elm.

What gave its peculiar tropical character to the wood, however, was
not so much the trees as the profusion of plants that covered them and
depended from them: air-plants (_Tillandsia_), large and small,--like
pineapples, with which they claim a family relationship,--the exuberant
hanging moss, itself another air-plant, ferns, and vines. The ferns,
a species of polypody ("resurrection ferns," I heard them called),
completely covered the upper surface of many of the larger branches,
while the huge vines twisted about the trunks, or, quite as often,
dropped straight from the treetops to the ground.

In the very heart of this dense, dark forest (a forest primeval, I should
have said, but I was assured that the ground had been under cultivation
so recently that, to a practiced eye, the cotton-rows were still visible)
stood a grove of wild orange-trees, the handsome fruit glowing like lamps
amid the deep green foliage. There was little other brightness. Here and
there in the undergrowth were yellow jessamine vines, but already--March
11--they were past flowering. Almost or quite the only blossom just
now in sight was the faithful round-leaved houstonia, growing in
small flat patches in the sand on the edge of the road, with budding
partridge-berry--a Yankee in Florida--to keep it company. Warblers and
titmice twittered in the leafy treetops, and butterflies of several
kinds, notably one gorgeous creature in yellow and black, like a larger
and more resplendent Turnus, went fluttering through the under-woods.
I could have believed myself in the heart of a limitless forest; but
Florida hammocks, so far as I have seen, are seldom of great extent, and
the road presently crossed another railway track, and then, in a few rods
more, came out into the sunny pine-woods, as one might emerge from a
cathedral into the open day. Two men were approaching in a wagon (except
on Sunday, I am not certain that I ever met a foot passenger in the
flat-woods), and I improved the opportunity to make sure of my course.
"Go about fifty yards," said one of them, "and turn to the right; then
about fifty yards more, and turn to the left. _That_ road will take you
to the mill." Here was a man who had traveled in the pine lands,--where,
of all places, it is easy to get lost and hard to find yourself,--and
not only appreciated the value of explicit instructions, but, being a
Southerner, had leisure enough and politeness enough to give them. I
thanked him, and sauntered on. The day was before me, and the place was
lively with birds. Pine-wood sparrows, pine warblers, and red-winged
blackbirds were in song; two red-shouldered hawks were screaming, a
flicker was shouting, a red-bellied woodpecker cried _kur-r-r-r_,
brown-headed nuthatches were gossiping in the distance, and suddenly I
heard, what I never thought to hear in a pinery, the croak of a green
heron. I turned quickly and saw him. It was indeed he. What a friend is
ignorance, mother of all those happy surprises which brighten existence
as they pass, like the butterflies of the wood. The heron was at home,
and I was the stranger. For there was water near, as there is everywhere
in Florida; and subsequently, in this very place, I met not only the
green heron, but three of his relatives,--the great blue, the little
blue, and the dainty Louisiana, more poetically known (and worthy to wear
the name) as the "Lady of the Waters."

On this first occasion, however, the green heron was speedily forgotten;
for just then I heard another note, unlike anything I had ever heard
before,--as if a great Northern shrike had been struck with preternatural
hoarseness, and, like so many other victims of the Northern winter, had
betaken himself to a sunnier clime. I looked up. In the leafy top of
a pine sat a boat-tailed grackle, splendidly iridescent, engaged in a
musical performance which afterward became almost too familiar to me,
but which now, as a novelty, was as interesting as it was grotesque.
This, as well as I can describe it, is what the bird was doing. He opened
his bill,--_set_ it, as it were, wide apart,--and holding it thus,
emitted four or five rather long and very loud grating, shriekish notes;
then instantly shook his wings with an extraordinary flapping noise,
and followed that with several highly curious and startling cries, the
concluding one of which sometimes suggested the cackle of a robin. All
this he repeated again and again with the utmost fervor. He could not
have been more enthusiastic if he had been making the sweetest music in
the world. And I confess that I thought he had reason to be proud of
his work. The introduction of wing-made sounds in the middle of a vocal
performance was of itself a stroke of something like genius. It put me in
mind of the firing of cannons as an accompaniment to the Anvil Chorus.
Why should a creature of such gifts be named for his bodily dimensions,
or the shape of his tail? Why not _Quiscalus gilmorius_, Gilmore's
grackle?

That the sounds _were_ wing-made I had no thought of questioning. I had
seen the thing done,--seen it and heard it; and what shall a man trust,
if not his own eyes and ears, especially when each confirms the other?
Two days afterward, nevertheless, I began to doubt. I heard a grackle
"sing" in the manner just described, wing-beats and all, while flying
from one tree to another; and later still, in a country where boat-tailed
grackles were an every-day sight near the heart of the village, I more
than once saw them produce the sounds in question without any perceptible
movement of the wings, and furthermore, their mandibles could be seen
moving in time with the beats. So hard is it to be sure of a thing, even
when you see it and hear it.

"Oh yes," some sharp-witted reader will say, "you saw the wings
flapping,--beating time,--and so you imagined that the sounds were like
wing-beats." But for once the sharp-witted reader is in the wrong. The
resemblance is not imaginary. Mr. F. M. Chapman, in A List of Birds
Observed at Gainesville, Florida,[8] says of the boat-tailed grackle
(_Quiscalus major_): "A singular note of this species greatly resembles
the flapping of wings, as of a coot tripping over the water; this sound
was very familiar to me, but so excellent is the imitation that for a
long time I attributed it to one of the numerous coots which abound in
most places favored by _Q. major_."

[8] _The Auk_, vol. v. p. 273.

If the sounds are not produced by the wings, the question returns, of
course, why the wings are shaken just at the right instant. To that I
must respond with the time-honored formula, "Not prepared." The reader
may believe, if he will, that the bird is aware of the imitative quality
of the notes, and amuses itself by heightening the delusion of the
looker-on. My own more commonplace conjecture is that the sounds are
produced by snappings and gratings of the big mandibles ("He is gritting
his teeth," said a shrewd unornithological Yankee, whose opinion I had
solicited), and that the wing movements may be nothing but involuntary
accompaniments of this almost convulsive action of the beak. But perhaps
the sounds _are_ wing-made, after all.

On the day of which I am writing, at any rate, I was troubled by no
misgivings. I had seen something new, and was only desirous to see more
of it. Who does not love an original character? For at least half an
hour the old mill was forgotten, while I chased the grackle about, as he
flew hither and thither, sometimes with a loggerhead shrike in furious
pursuit. Once I had gone a few rods into the palmetto scrub, partly
to be nearer the bird, but still more to enjoy the shadow of a pine,
and was standing under the tree, motionless, when a man came along the
road in a gig. "Surveying?" he asked, reining in his horse. "No, sir;
I am looking at a bird in the tree yonder." I wished him to go on, and
thought it best to gratify his curiosity at once. He was silent a moment;
then he said, "Looking at the old sugar house from there?" That was too
preposterous, and I answered with more voice, and perhaps with a touch
of impatience, "No, no; I am trying to see a bird in that pine-tree." He
was silent again. Then he gathered up the reins. "I'm so deaf I can't
hear you," he said, and drove on. "Good-by," I remarked, in a needless
undertone; "you're a good man, I've no doubt, but deaf people shouldn't
be inquisitive at long range." The advice was sound enough, in itself
considered; properly understood, it might be held to contain, or at least
to suggest, one of the profoundest, and at the same time one of the most
practical, truths of all devout philosophy; but the testiness of its tone
was little to my credit. He was a good man,--and the village doctor,--and
more than once afterward put me under obligation. One of his best
appreciated favors was unintended and indirect. I was driving with him
through the hammock, and we passed a bit of swamp. "There are some pretty
flowers," he exclaimed; "I think I must get them." At the word he jumped
out of the gig, bade me do the same, hitched his horse, a half-broken
stallion, to a sapling, and plunged into the thicket. I strolled
elsewhere; and by and by he came back, a bunch of common blue iris in one
hand, and his shoes and stockings in the other. "They are very pretty,"
he explained (he spoke of the flowers), "and it is early for them." After
that I had no doubt of his goodness, and in case of need would certainly
have called him rather than his younger rival at the opposite end of the
village.

When I tired of chasing the grackle, or the shrike had driven him away (I
do not remember now how the matter ended), I started again toward the old
sugar mill. Presently a lone cabin came into sight. The grass-grown road
led straight to it, and stopped at the gate. Two women and a brood of
children stood in the door, and in answer to my inquiry one of the women
(the children had already scampered out of sight) invited me to enter the
yard. "Go round the house," she said, "and you will find a road that runs
right down to the mill."

The mill, as it stands, is not much to look at: some fragments of wall
built of coquina stone, with two or three arched windows and an arched
door, the whole surrounded by a modern plantation of orange-trees, now
almost as much a ruin as the mill itself. But the mill was built more
than a hundred years ago, and serves well enough the principal use of
abandoned and decaying things,--to touch the imagination. For myself, I
am bound to say, it was a precious two hours that I passed beside it,
seated on a crumbling stone in the shade of a dying orange-tree.

Behind me a redbird was whistling (cardinal grosbeak, I have been
accustomed to call him, but I like the Southern name better, in spite of
its ambiguity), now in eager, rapid tones, now slowly and with a dying
fall. Now his voice fell almost to a whisper, now it rang out again; but
always it was sweet and golden, and always the bird was out of sight
in the shrubbery. The orange-trees were in bloom; the air was full of
their fragrance, full also of the murmur of bees. All at once a deeper
note struck in, and I turned to look. A humming-bird was hovering amid
the white blossoms and glossy leaves. 1 saw his flaming throat, and
the next instant he was gone, like a flash of light,--the first hummer
of the year. I was far from home, and expectant of new things. That, I
dare say, was the reason why I took the sound at first for the boom of a
bumble-bee; some strange Floridian bee, with a deeper and more melodious
bass than any Northern insect is master of.

It is good to be here, I say to myself, and we need no tabernacle. All
things are in harmony. A crow in the distance says _caw_, _caw_ in a
meditative voice, as if he, too, were thinking of clays past; and not
even the scream of a hen-hawk, off in the pine-woods, breaks the spell
that is upon us. A quail whistles,--a true Yankee Bob White, to judge him
by his voice,--and the white-eyed chewink (he is _not_ a Yankee) whistles
and sings by turns. The bluebird's warble and the pine warbler's trill
could never be disturbing to the quietest mood. Only one voice seems
out of tune: the white-eyed vireo, even to-day, cannot forget his saucy
accent. But he soon falls silent. Perhaps, after all, he feels himself an
intruder.

The morning is cloudless and warm, till suddenly, as if a door had been
opened eastward, the sea breeze strikes me. Henceforth the temperature
is perfect as I sit in the shadow. I think neither of heat nor of cold.
I catch a glimpse of a beautiful leaf-green lizard on the gray trunk of
an orange-tree, but it is gone (I wonder where) almost before I can say
I saw it. Presently a brown one, with light-colored stripes and a bluish
tail, is seen traveling over the crumbling wall, running into crannies
and out again. Now it stops to look at me with its jewel of an eye.
And there, on the rustic arbor, is a third one, matching the unpainted
wood in hue. Its throat is white, but when it is inflated, as happens
every few seconds, it turns to the loveliest rose color. This inflated
membrane should be a vocal sac, I think, but I hear no sound. Perhaps the
chameleon's voice is too fine for dull human sense.

On two sides of me, beyond the orange-trees, is a thicket of small oaks
and cabbage palmettos,--hammock, I suppose it is called. In all other
directions are the pine-woods, with their undergrowth of saw palmetto.
The cardinal sings from the hammock, and so does the Carolina wren. The
chewinks, the blackbirds (a grackle just now flies over, and a fish-hawk,
also), with the bluebirds and the pine warblers, are in the pinery. From
the same place comes the song of a Maryland yellow-throat. There, too,
the hen-hawks are screaming.

At my feet are blue violets and white houstonia. Vines, thinly covered
with fresh leaves, straggle over the walls,--Virginia creeper, poison
ivy, grapevine, and at least one other, the name of which I do not
know. A clump of tall blackberry vines is full of white blossoms,
"bramble roses faint and pale," and in one corner is a tuft of scarlet
blooms,--sage, perhaps, or something akin to it. For the moment I feel no
curiosity. But withal the place is unkempt, as becomes a ruin. "Winter's
ragged hand" has been rather heavy upon it. Withered palmetto leaves and
leaf-stalks litter the ground, and of course, being in Florida, there
is no lack of orange-peel lying about. Ever since I entered the State a
new Scripture text has been running in my head: In the place where the
orange-peel falleth, there shall it lie.

The mill, as I said, is now the centre of an orange grove. There must
be hundreds of trees. All of them are small, but the greater part are
already dead, and the rest are dying. Those nearest the walls are fullest
of leaves, as if the walls somehow gave them protection. The forest is
creeping into the inclosure. Here and there the graceful palm-like tassel
of a young long-leaved pine rises above the tall winter-killed grass. It
is not the worst thing about the world that it tends to run wild.

Now the quail sings again, this time in two notes, and now the hummer is
again in the orange-tree. And all the while the redbird whistles in the
shrubbery. He feels the beauty of the day. If I were a bird, I would sing
with him. From far away comes the chant of a pine-wood sparrow. I can
just hear it.

This is a place for dreams and quietness. Nothing else seems worth
the having. Let us feel no more the fever of life. Surely they are
the wise who seek Nirvana; who insist not upon themselves, but wait
absorption--reabsorption--into the infinite. The dead have the better
part. I think of the stirring, adventurous man who built these walls and
dug these canals. His life was full of action, full of journeyings and
fightings. Now he is at peace, and his works do follow him--into the
land of forgetfulness. Blessed are the dead. Blessed, too, are the bees,
the birds, the butterflies, and the lizards. Next to the dead, perhaps,
they are happy. And I also am happy, for I too am under the spell. To me
also the sun and the air are sweet, and I too, for to-day at least, am
careless of the world and all its doings.

So I sat dreaming, when suddenly there was a stir in the grass at my
feet. A snake was coming straight toward me. Only the evening before a
cracker had filled my ears with stories of "rattlers" and "moccasins." He
seemed to have seen them everywhere, and to have killed them as one kills
mosquitoes. I looked a second time at the moving thing in the grass. It
was clothed in innocent black; but, being a son of Adam, I rose with
involuntary politeness to let it pass. An instant more, and it slipped
into the masonry at my side, and I sat down again. It had been out taking
the sun, and had come back to its hole in the wall. How like the story of
my own day,--of my whole winter vacation! Nay, if we choose to view it
so, how like the story of human life itself!

As I started homeward, leaving the mill and the cabin behind me, some
cattle were feeding in the grassy road. At sight of my umbrella (there
are few places where a sunshade is more welcome than in a Florida
pine-wood) they scampered away into the scrub. Poor, wild-eyed,
hungry-looking things! I thought of Pharaoh's lean kine. They were like
the country itself, I was ready to say. But perhaps I misjudged both,
seeing both, as I did, in the winter season. With the mercury at 80°,
or thereabout, it is hard for the Northern tourist to remember that he
is looking at a winter landscape. He compares a Florida winter with a
New England summer, and can hardly find words to tell you how barren and
poverty-stricken the country looks.

After this I went more than once to the sugar mill. Morning and afternoon
I visited it, but somehow I could never renew the joy of my first visit.
Moods are not to be had for the asking, nor earned by a walk. The place
was still interesting, the birds were there, the sunshine was pleasant,
and the sea breeze fanned me. The orange blossoms were still sweet,
and the bees still hummed about them; but it was another day, or I was
another man. In memory, none the less, all my visits blend in one, and
the ruined mill in the dying orchard remains one of the bright spots
in that strange Southern world which, almost from the moment I left it
behind me, began to fade into indistinctness, like the landscape of a
dream.



ON THE UPPER ST. JOHN'S.


The city of Sanford is a beautiful and interesting place, I hope, to
those who live in it. To the Florida tourist it is important as lying
at the head of steamboat navigation on the St. John's River, which here
expands into a lake--Lake Monroe--some five miles in width, with Sanford
on one side, and Enterprise on the other; or, as a waggish traveler once
expressed it, with Enterprise on the north, and Sanford and enterprise on
the south.

Walking naturalists and lovers of things natural have their own point
of view, individual, unconventional, whimsical, if you please,--very
different, at all events, from that of clearer-witted and more
serious-minded men; and the inhabitants of Sanford will doubtless take it
as a compliment, and be amused rather than annoyed, when I confess that
I found their city a discouragement, a widespread desolation of houses
and shops. If there is a pleasant country road leading out of it in any
direction, I was unlucky enough to miss it. My melancholy condition was
hit off before my eyes in a parable, as it were, by a crowd of young
fellows, black and white, whom I found one afternoon in a sand-lot just
outside the city, engaged in what was intended for a game of baseball.
They were doing their best,--certainly they made noise enough; but
circumstances were against them. When the ball came to the ground,
from no matter what height or with what impetus, it fell dead in the
sand; if it had been made of solid rubber, it could not have rebounded.
"Base-running" was little better than base-walking. "Sliding" was safe,
but, by the same token, impossible. Worse yet, at every "foul strike" or
"wild throw" the ball was lost, and the barefooted fielders had to pick
their way painfully about in the outlying saw-palmetto scrub till they
found it. I had never seen our "national game" played under conditions
so untoward. None but true patriots would have the heart to try it, I
thought, and I meditated writing to Washington, where the quadrennial
purification of the civil service was just then in progress,--under a
new broom,--to secure, if possible, a few bits of recognition ("plums"
is the technical term, I believe) for men so deserving. The first
baseman certainly, who had oftenest to wade into the scrub, should have
received a consulate, at the very least. Yet they were a merry crew,
those national gamesters. Their patriotism was of the noblest type,--the
unconscious. They had no thought of being heroes, nor dreamed of bounties
or pensions. They quarreled with the umpire, of course, but not with
Fate; and I hope I profited by their example. My errand in Sanford was to
see something of the river in its narrower and better part; and having
done that, I did not regret what otherwise might have seemed a profitless
week.

First, however, I walked about the city. Here, as already at St.
Augustine, and afterward at Tallahassee, I found the mocking-birds in
free song. They are birds of the town. And the same is true of the
loggerhead shrikes, a pair of which had built a nest in a small water-oak
at the edge of the sidewalk, on a street corner, just beyond the reach
of passers-by. In the roadside trees--all freshly planted, like the
city--were myrtle warblers, prairie warblers, and blue yellow-backs,
the two latter in song. Once, after a shower, I watched a myrtle bird
bathing on a branch among the wet leaves. The street gutters were running
with sulphur water, but he had waited for rain. I commended his taste,
being myself one of those to whom water and brimstone is a combination
as malodorous as it seems unscriptural. Noisy boat-tailed grackles, or
"jackdaws," were plentiful about the lakeside, monstrously long in the
tail, and almost as large as the fish crows, which were often there
with them. Over the broad lake swept purple martins and white-breasted
swallows, and nearer the shore fed peacefully a few pied-billed grebes,
or dabchicks, birds that I had seen only two or three times before, and
at which I looked more than once before I made out what they were. They
had every appearance of passing a winter of content. At the tops of three
or four stakes, which stood above the water at wide intervals,--and at
long distances from the shore,--sat commonly as many cormorants, here,
as everywhere, with plenty of idle time upon their hands. On the other
side of the city were orange groves, large, well kept, thrifty-looking;
the fruit still on the trees (March 20, or thereabouts), or lying in
heaps underneath, ready for the boxes. One man's house, I remember, was
surrounded by a fence overrun with Cherokee rosebushes, a full quarter of
a mile of white blossoms.

My best botanical stroll was along one of the railroads (Sanford is a
"railway centre," so called), through a dreary sand waste. Here I picked
a goodly number of novelties, including what looked like a beautiful pink
chicory, only the plant itself was much prettier (_Lygodesmia_); a very
curious sensitive-leaved plant (_Schrankia_), densely beset throughout
with curved prickles, and bearing globes of tiny pink-purple flowers;
a calopogon, quite as pretty as our Northern _pulchellus_; a clematis
(_Baldwinii_), which looked more like a bluebell than a clematis till
I commenced pulling it to pieces; and a great profusion of one of the
smaller papaws, or custard-apples, a low shrub, just then full of large,
odd-shaped, creamy-white, heavy-scented blossoms. I was carrying a
sprig of it in my hand when I met a negro. "What is this?" I asked. "I
dunno, sir." "Isn't it papaw?" "No, sir, that ain't papaw;" and then,
as if he had just remembered something, he added, "That's dog banana."
Oftener than anywhere else I resorted to the shore of the lake,--to the
one small part of it, that is to say, which was at the same time easily
reached and comparatively unfrequented. There--going one day farther than
usual--I found myself in the borderland of a cypress swamp. On one side
was the lake, but between me and it were cypress-trees; and on the other
side was the swamp itself, a dense wood growing in stagnant black water
covered here and there with duckweed or some similar growth: a frightful
place it seemed, the very abode of snakes and everything evil. Stories
of slaves hiding in cypress swamps came into my mind. It must have been
cruel treatment that drove them to it! Buzzards flew about my head, and
looked at me. "He has come here to die," I imagined them saying among
themselves. "No one comes here for anything else. Wait a little, and
we will pick his bones." They perched near by, and, not to lose time,
employed the interval in drying their wings, for the night had been
showery. Once in a while one of them shifted his perch with an ominous
rustle. They were waiting for me, and were becoming impatient. "He is
long about it," one said to another; and I did not wonder. The place
seemed one from which none who entered it could ever go out; and there
was no going farther in without plunging into that horrible mire. I stood
still, and looked and listened. Some strange noise, "bird or devil,"
came from the depths of the wood. A flock of grackles settled in a tall
cypress, and for a time made the place loud. How still it was after they
were gone! I could hardly withdraw my gaze from the green water full of
slimy black roots and branches, any one of which might suddenly lift its
head and open its deadly white mouth! Once a fish-hawk fell to screaming
farther down the lake. I had seen him the day before, standing on the
rim of his huge nest in the top of a tree, and uttering the same cries.
All about me gigantic cypresses, every one swollen enormously at the
base, rose straight and branchless into the air. Dead trees, one might
have said,--light-colored, apparently with no bark to cover them; but if
I glanced up, I saw that each bore at the top a scanty head of branches
just now putting forth fresh green leaves, while long funereal streamers
of dark Spanish moss hung thickly from every bough.

I am not sure how long I could have stayed in such a spot, if I had not
been able to look now and then through the branches of the under-woods
out upon the sunny lake. Swallows innumerable were playing over the
water, many of them soaring so high as to be all but invisible. Wise and
happy birds, lovers of sunlight and air. _They_ would never be found
in a cypress swamp. Along the shore, in a weedy shallow, the peaceful
dabchicks were feeding. Far off on a post toward the middle of the lake
stood a cormorant. But I could not keep my eyes long at once in that
direction. The dismal swamp had me under its spell, and meanwhile the
patient buzzards looked at me. "It is almost time," they said; "the fever
will do its work,"--and I began to believe it. It was too bad to come
away; the stupid town offered no attraction; but it seemed perilous to
remain. Perhaps I _could_ not come away. I would try it and see. It was
amazing that I could; and no sooner was I out in the sunshine than I
wished I had stayed where I was; for having once left the place, I was
never likely to find it again. The way was plain enough, to be sure, and
my feet would no doubt serve me. But the feet cannot do the mind's part,
and it is a sad fact, one of the saddest in life, that sensations cannot
be repeated.

With the fascination of the swamp still upon me, I heard somewhere in
the distance a musical voice, and soon came in sight of a garden where a
middle-aged negro was hoeing,--hoeing and singing: a wild, minor, endless
kind of tune; a hymn, as seemed likely from a word caught here and there;
a true piece of natural melody, as artless as any bird's. I walked slowly
to get more of it, and the happy-sad singer minded me not, but kept on
with his hoe and his song. Potatoes or corn, whatever his crop may have
been,--I did not notice, or, if I did, I have forgotten,--it should have
prospered under his hand.

Farther along, in the highway,--a sandy track, with wastes of scrub on
either side,--a boy of eight or nine, armed with a double-barreled gun,
was lingering about a patch of dwarf oaks and palmettos. "Haven't got
that rabbit yet, eh?" said I. (I had passed him there on my way out, and
he had told me what he was after.)

"No, sir," he answered.

"I don't believe there's any rabbit there."

"Yes, there is, sir; I saw one a little while ago, but he got away before
I could get pretty near."

"Good!" I thought. "Here is a grammarian. Not one boy in ten in this
country but would have said 'I seen.'" A scholar like this was worth
talking with. "Are there many rabbits here?" I asked.

"Yes, sir, there's a good deal."

And so, by easy mental stages, I was clear of the swamp and back in the
town,--saved from the horrible, and delivered to the commonplace and the
dreary.

My best days in Sanford were two that I spent on the river above the
lake. A youthful boatman, expert alike with the oar and the gun, served
me faithfully and well, impossible as it was for him to enter fully into
the spirit of a man who wanted to look at birds, but not to kill them. I
think he had never before seen a customer of that breed. First he rowed
me up the "creek," under promise to show me alligators, moccasins, and
no lack of birds, including the especially desired purple gallinule.
The snakes were somehow missing (a loss not irreparable), and so were
the purple gallinules; for them, the boy thought, it was still rather
early in the season, although he had killed one a few days before, and
for proof had brought me a wing. But as we were skirting along the shore
I suddenly called "Hist!" An alligator lay on the bank just before us.
The boy turned his head, and instantly was all excitement. It was a big
fellow, he said,--one of three big ones that inhabited the creek. He
would get him this time. "Are you sure?" I asked. "Oh yes, I'll blow
the top of his head off." He was loaded for gallinules, and I, being no
sportsman, and never having seen an alligator before, was some shades
less confident. But it was his game, and I left him to his way. He pulled
the boat noiselessly against the bank in the shelter of tall reeds, put
down the oars, with which he could almost have touched the alligator,
and took up his gun. At that moment the creature got wind of us, and
slipped incontinently into the water, not a little to my relief. One live
alligator is worth a dozen dead ones, to my thinking. He showed his back
above the surface of the stream for a moment shortly afterward, and then
disappeared for good.

Ornithologically, the creek was a disappointment. We pushed into one bay
after another, among the dense "bonnets,"--huge leaves of the common
yellow pond lily,--but found nothing that I had not seen before. Here
and there a Florida gallinule put up its head among the leaves, or took
flight as we pressed too closely upon it; but I saw them to no advantage,
and with a single exception they were dumb. One bird, as it dashed into
the rushes, uttered two or three cries that sounded familiar. The Florida
gallinule is in general pretty silent, I think; but he has a noisy
season; then he is indeed noisy enough. A swamp containing a single pair
might be supposed to be populous with barn-yard fowls, the fellow keeps
up such a clatter: now loud and terror-stricken, "like a hen whose head
is just going to be cut off," as a friend once expressed it; then soft
and full of content, as if the aforesaid hen had laid an egg ten minutes
before, and were still felicitating herself upon the achievement. It was
vexatious that here, in the very home of Florida gallinules, I should see
and hear less of them than I had more than once done in Massachusetts,
where they are esteemed a pretty choice rarity, and where, in spite of
what I suppose must be called exceptional good luck, my acquaintance with
them had been limited to perhaps half a dozen birds. But in affairs of
this kind a direct chase is seldom the best rewarded. At one point the
boatman pulled up to a thicket of small willows, bidding me be prepared
to see birds in enormous numbers; but we found only a small company of
night herons--evidently breeding there--and a green heron. The latter
my boy shot before I knew what he was doing. He took my reproof in good
part, protesting that he had had only a glimpse of the bird, and had
taken it for a possible gallinule. In the course of the trip we saw,
besides the species already named, great blue and little blue herons,
pied-billed grebes, coots, cormorants, a flock of small sandpipers (on
the wing), buzzards, vultures, fish-hawks, and innumerable red-winged
blackbirds.

Three days afterward we went up the river. At the upper end of the lake
were many white-billed coots (_Fulica americana_); so many that we did
our best to count them as they rose, flock after flock, dragging their
feet over the water behind them with a multitudinous splashing noise.
There were a thousand, at least. They had an air of being not so very
shy, but they were nobody's fools. "See there!" my boy would exclaim, as
a hundred or two of them dashed past the boat; "see how they keep just
out of range!"

We were hardly on the river itself before he fell into a state of
something like frenzy at the sight of an otter swimming before us,
showing its head, and then diving. He made after it in hot haste, and
fired I know not how many times, but all for nothing. He had killed
several before now, he said, but had never been obliged to chase one
in this fashion. Perhaps there was a Jonah in the ship; for though I
sympathized with the boy, I sympathized also, and still more warmly,
with the otter. It acted as if life were dear to it, and for aught I
knew it had as good a right to live as either the boy or I. No such
qualms disturbed me a few minutes later, when, as the boat was grazing
the reeds, I espied just ahead a snake lying in wait among them. I gave
the alarm, and the boy looked round. "Yes," he said, "a big one, a
moccasin,--a cotton-mouth; but I'll fix him." He pulled a stroke or two
nearer, then lifted his oar and brought it down splash; but the reeds
broke the blow, and the moccasin slipped into the water, apparently
unharmed. That was a case for powder and shot. Florida people have a poor
opinion of a man who meets a venomous snake, no matter where, without
doing his best to kill it. How strong the feeling is my boatman gave me
proof within ten minutes after his failure with the cotton-mouth. He
had pulled out into the middle of the river, when I noticed a beautiful
snake, short and rather stout, lying coiled on the water. Whether it was
an optical illusion I cannot say, but it seemed to me that the creature
lay entirely above the surface,--as if it had been an inflated skin
rather than a live snake. We passed close by it, but it made no offer to
move, only darting out its tongue as the boat slipped past. I spoke to
the boy, who at once ceased rowing.

"I think I must go back and kill that fellow," he said.

"Why so?" I asked, with surprise, for I had looked upon it simply as a
curiosity.

"Oh, I don't like to see it live. It's the poisonousest snake there is."

As he spoke he turned the boat: but the snake saved him further trouble,
for just then it uncoiled and swam directly toward us, as if it meant
to come aboard. "Oh, you're coming this way, are you?" said the boy
sarcastically. "Well, come on!" The snake came on, and when it got well
within range he took up his fishing-rod (with hooks at the end for
drawing game out of the reeds and bonnets), and the next moment the snake
lay dead upon the water. He slipped the end of the pole under it and
slung it ashore. "There! how do you like that?" said he, and he headed
the boat upstream again. It was a "copper-bellied moccasin," he declared,
whatever that may be, and was worse than a rattlesnake.

On the river, as in the creek, we were continually exploring bays and
inlets, each with its promising patch of bonnets. Nearly every such place
contained at least one Florida gallinule; but where were the "purples,"
about which we kept talking,--the "royal purples," concerning whose
beauty my boy was so eloquent?

"They are not common yet," he would say. "By and by they will be as thick
as Floridas are now."

"But don't they stay here all winter?"

"No, sir; not the purples."

"Are you certain about that?"

"Oh yes, sir. I have hunted this river too much. They couldn't be here in
the winter without my knowing it."

I wondered whether he could be right, or partly right, notwithstanding
the book statements to the contrary. I notice that Mr. Chapman, writing
of his experiences with this bird at Gainesville, says, "None were seen
until May 25, when, in a part of the lake before unvisited,--a mass of
floating islands and 'bonnets,'--I found them not uncommon." The boy's
assertions may be worth recording, at any rate.

In one place he fired suddenly, and as he put down the gun he exclaimed,
"There! I'll bet I've shot a bird you never saw before. It had a bill as
long as that," with one finger laid crosswise upon another. He hauled the
prize into the boat, and sure enough, it was a novelty,--a king rail, new
to both of us. We had gone a little farther, and were passing a prairie,
on which were pools of water where the boy said he had often seen large
flocks of white ibises feeding (there were none there now, alas, though
we crept up with all cautiousness to peep over the bank), when all at
once I descried some sharp-winged, strange-looking bird over our heads.
It showed sidewise at the moment, but an instant later it turned, and I
saw its long forked tail, and almost in the same breath its white head.
A fork-tailed kite! and purple gallinules were for the time forgotten.
It was performing the most graceful evolutions, swooping half-way to
the earth from a great height, and then sweeping upward again. Another
minute, and I saw a second bird, farther away. I watched the nearer one
till it faded from sight, soaring and swooping by turns,--its long,
scissors-shaped tail all the while fully spread,--but never coming down,
as its habit is said to be, to skim over the surface of the water. There
is nothing more beautiful on wings, I believe: a large hawk, with a
swallow's grace of form, color, and motion. I saw it once more (four
birds) over the St. Mark's River, and counted the sight one of the chief
rewards of my Southern winter.

At noon we rested and ate our luncheon in the shade of three or
four tall palmetto-trees standing by themselves on a broad prairie,
a place brightened by beds of blue iris and stretches of golden
senecio,--homelike as well as pretty, both of them. Then we set out
again. The day was intensely hot (March 24), and my oarsman was more than
half sick with a sudden cold. I begged him to take things easily, but he
soon experienced an almost miraculous renewal of his forces. In one of
the first of our after-dinner bonnet patches, he seized his gun, fired,
and began to shout, "A purple! a purple!" He drew the bird in, as proud
as a prince. "There, sir!" he said; "didn't I tell you it was handsome?
It has every color there is." And indeed it was handsome, worthy to be
called the "Sultana;" with the most exquisite iridescent bluish-purple
plumage, the legs yellow, or greenish-yellow (a point by which it may be
distinguished from the Florida gallinule, as the bird flies from you),
the bill red tipped with pale green, and the shield (on the forehead,
like a continuation of the upper mandible) light blue, of a peculiar
shade, "just as if it had been painted." From that moment the boy was a
new creature. Again and again he spoke of his altered feelings. He could
pull the boat now anywhere I wanted to go. He was perfectly fresh, he
declared, although I thought he had already done a pretty good day's work
under that scorching sun. I had not imagined how deeply his heart was set
upon showing me the bird I was after. It made me twice as glad to see it,
dead though it was.

Within an hour, on our way homeward, we came upon another. It sprang out
of the lily pads, and sped toward the tall grass of the shore. "Look!
look! a purple!" the boy cried. "See his yellow legs!" Instinctively he
raised his gun, but I said No. It would be inexcusable to shoot a second
one; and besides, we were at that moment approaching a bird about which
I felt a stronger curiosity,--a snake-bird, or water-turkey, sitting in
a willow shrub at the further end of the bay. "Pull me as near it as it
will let us come," I said. "I want to see as much of it as possible." At
every rod or two I stopped the boat and put up my glasses, till we were
within perhaps sixty feet of the bird. Then it took wing, but instead
of flying away went sweeping about us. On getting round to the willows
again it made as if it would alight, uttering at the same time some
faint ejaculations, like "ah! ah! ah!" but it kept on for a second sweep
of the circle. Then it perched in its old place, but faced us a little
less directly, so that I could see the beautiful silver tracery of its
wings, like the finest of embroidery, as I thought. After we had eyed
it for some minutes we suddenly perceived a second bird, ten feet or
so from it, in full sight. Where it came from, or how it got there, I
have no idea. Our first bird kept his bill parted, as if in distress; a
peculiar action, which probably had some connection with the other bird's
presence, although the two paid no attention to each other so far as we
could make out. When we had watched them as long as we pleased, I told
the boy to pull the boat forward till they rose. We got within thirty
feet, I think. At that point they took flight, and, side by side, went
soaring into the air, now flapping their wings, now scaling in unison. It
was beautiful to see. As they sat in the willows and gazed about, their
long necks were sometimes twisted like corkscrews,--or so they looked, at
all events.

The water-turkey is one of the very oddest of birds. I am not likely
to forget the impression made upon me by the first one I saw. It was
standing on a prostrate log, but rose, as I drew near, and, to my
surprise, mounted to a prodigious elevation, where for a long time it
remained, sailing round and round with all the grace of a hen-hawk or
an eagle. Its neck and head were tenuous almost beyond belief,--like a
knitting-needle, I kept repeating to myself. Its tail. too, shaped like
a narrow wedge, was unconscionably long; and as the bird showed against
the sky, I could think of nothing but an animated sign of addition. A
better man--the Emperor Constantine, shall we say?--might have seen in it
a nobler symbol.

While we were loitering down the river, later in the afternoon, an eagle
made its appearance far overhead, the first one of the day. The boy,
for some reason, refused to believe that it was an eagle. Nothing but a
sight of its white head and tail through the glass could convince him.
(The perfectly square _set_ of the wings as the bird sails is a pretty
strong mark, at no matter what distance.) Presently an osprey, not far
from us, with a fish in his claws, set up a violent screaming. "It is
because he has caught a fish," said the boy; "he is calling his mate."
"No," said I, "it is because the eagle is after him. Wait a bit." In
fact, the eagle was already in pursuit, and the hawk, as he always does,
had begun struggling upward with all his might. That is the fish-hawk's
way of appealing to Heaven against his oppressor. He was safe for that
time. Three negroes, shad-fishers, were just beyond us (we had seen them
there in the morning, wading about the river setting their nets), and at
the sight of them and of us, I have no doubt, the eagle turned away. The
boy was not peculiar in his notion about the osprey's scream. Some one
else had told me that the bird always screamed after catching a fish. But
I knew better, having seen him catch a hundred, more or less, without
uttering a sound. The safe rule, in such cases, is to listen to all you
hear, and believe it--after you have verified it for yourself.

It was while we were discussing this question, I think, that the boy
opened his heart to me about my methods of study. He had looked through
the glass now and then, and of course had been astonished at its power.
"Why," he said finally, "I never had any idea it could be so much fun
just to look at birds in the way you do!" I liked the turn of his phrase.
It seemed to say, "Yes, I begin to see through it. We are in the same
boat. This that you call study is only another kind of sport." I could
have shaken hands with him but that he had the oars. Who does not love
to be flattered by an ingenuous boy?

All in all, the day had been one to be remembered. In addition to the
birds already named--three of them new to me--we had seen great blue
herons, little blue herons, Louisiana herons, night herons, cormorants,
pied-billed grebes, kingfishers, red-winged blackbirds, boat-tailed
grackles, redpoll and myrtle warblers, savanna sparrows, tree swallows,
purple martins, a few meadow larks, and the ubiquitous turkey buzzard.
The boat-tails abounded along the river banks, and, with their tameness
and their ridiculous outcries, kept us amused whenever there was nothing
else to absorb our attention. The prairie lands through which the river
meanders proved to be surprisingly dry and passable (the water being
unusually low, the boy said), with many cattle pastured upon them. Here
we found the savanna sparrows; here, too, the meadow larks were singing.

It was a hard pull across the rough lake against the wind (a dangerous
sheet of water for flat-bottomed rowboats, I was told afterward), but the
boy was equal to it, protesting that he didn't feel tired a bit, now we
had got the "purples;" and if he did not catch the fever from drinking
some quarts of river water (a big bottle of coffee having proved to be
only a drop in the bucket), against my urgent remonstrances and his own
judgment, I am sure he looks back upon the labor as on the whole well
spent. He was going North in the spring, he told me. May joy be with him
wherever he is!

The next morning I took the steamer down the river to Blue Spring, a
distance of some thirty miles, on my way back to New Smyrna, to a place
where there were accessible woods, a beach, and, not least, a daily sea
breeze. The river in that part of its course is comfortably narrow,--a
great advantage,--winding through cypress swamps, hammock woods,
stretches of prairie, and in one place a pine barren; an interesting and
in many ways beautiful country, but so unwholesome looking as to lose
much of its attractiveness. Three or four large alligators lay sunning
themselves in the most obliging manner upon the banks, here one and
there one, to the vociferous delight of the passengers, who ran from
one side of the deck to the other, as the captain shouted and pointed.
One, he told us, was thirteen feet long, the largest in the river. Each
appeared to have its own well-worn sunning-spot, and all, I believe, kept
their places, as if the passing of the big steamer--almost too big for
the river at some of the sharper turns--had come to seem a commonplace
event. Herons in the usual variety were present, with ospreys, an eagle,
kingfishers, ground doves, Carolina doves, blackbirds (red-wings and
boat-tails), tree swallows, purple martins, and a single wild turkey,
the first one I had ever seen. It was near the bank of the river, on a
bushy prairie, fully exposed, and crouched as the steamer passed. For a
Massachusetts ornithologist the mere sight of such a bird was enough to
make a pretty good Thanksgiving Day. Blue yellow-backed warblers were
singing here and there, and I retain a particular remembrance of one
bluebird that warbled to us from the pine-woods. The captain told me,
somewhat to my surprise, that he had seen two flocks of paroquets during
the winter (they had been very abundant along the river within his time,
he said), but for me there was no such fortune. One bird, soaring in
company with a buzzard at a most extraordinary height straight over the
river, greatly excited my curiosity. The captain declared that it must be
a great blue heron; but he had never seen one thus engaged, nor, so far
as I can learn, has any one else ever done so. Its upper parts seemed to
be mostly white, and I can only surmise that it may have been a sand-hill
crane, a bird which is said to have such a habit.

As I left the boat I had a little experience of the seamy side of
Southern travel; nothing to be angry about, perhaps, but annoying,
nevertheless, on a hot day. I surrendered my check to the purser of the
boat, and the deck hands put my trunk upon the landing at Blue Spring.
But there was no one there to receive it, and the station was locked.
We had missed the noon train, with which we were advertised to connect,
by so many hours that I had ceased to think about it. Finally, a negro,
one of several who were fishing thereabouts, advised me to go "up to the
house," which he pointed out behind some woods, and see the agent. This
I did, and the agent, in turn, advised me to walk up the track to the
"Junction," and be sure to tell the conductor, when the evening train
arrived, as it probably would do some hours later, that I had a trunk at
the landing. Otherwise the train would not run down to the river, and my
baggage would lie there till Monday. He would go down presently and put
it under cover. Happily, he fulfilled his promise, for it was already
beginning to thunder, and soon it rained in torrents, with a cold wind
that made the hot weather all at once a thing of the past.

It was a long wait in the dreary little station; or rather it would
have been, had not the tedium of it been relieved by the presence of a
newly married couple, whose honeymoon was just then at the full. Their
delight in each other was exuberant, effervescent, beatific,--what
shall I say?--quite beyond veiling or restraint. At first I bestowed
upon them sidewise and cornerwise glances only, hiding bashfully behind
my spectacles, as it were, and pretending to see nothing; but I soon
perceived that I was to them of no more consequence than a fly on the
wall. If they saw me, which sometimes seemed doubtful,--for love is
blind,--they evidently thought me too sensible, or too old, to mind a
little billing and cooing. And they were right in their opinion. What was
I in Florida for, if not for the study of natural history? And truly,
I have seldom seen, even among birds, a pair less sophisticated, less
cabined and confined by that disastrous knowledge of good and evil which
is commonly understood to have resulted from the eating of forbidden
fruit, and which among prudish people goes by the name of modesty. It was
refreshing. Charles Lamb himself would have enjoyed it, and, I should
hope, would have added some qualifying footnotes to a certain unamiable
essay of his concerning the behavior of married people.



ON THE ST. AUGUSTINE ROAD.


One of my first inquiries at Tallahassee was for the easiest way to the
woods. The city is built on a hill, with other hills about it. These are
mostly under cultivation, and such woods as lay within sight seemed to be
pretty far off; and with the mercury at ninety in the shade, long tramps
were almost out of the question. "Take the St. Augustine road," said
the man to whom I had spoken; and he pointed out its beginning nearly
opposite the state capitol. After breakfast I followed his advice, with
results so pleasing that I found myself turning that corner again and
again as long as I remained in Tallahassee.

The road goes abruptly downhill to the railway track, first between
deep red gulches, and then between rows of negro cabins, each with its
garden of rosebushes, now (early April) in full bloom. The deep sides
of the gulches were draped with pendent lantana branches full of purple
flowers, or, more beautiful still, with a profusion of fragrant white
honeysuckle. On the roadside, between the wheel-track and the gulch,
grew brilliant Mexican poppies, with Venus's looking-glass, yellow
oxalis, and beds of blackberry vines. The woods of which my informant had
spoken lay a little beyond the railway, on the right hand of the road,
just as it began another ascent. I entered them at once, and after a
semicircular turn through the pleasant paths, amid live-oaks, water-oaks,
red oaks, chestnut oaks, magnolias, beeches, hickories, hornbeams, sweet
gums, sweet bays, and long-leaved and short-leaved pines, came out into
the road again a quarter of a mile farther up the hill. They were the
fairest of woods to stroll in, it seemed to me, with paths enough, and
not too many, and good enough, but not too good; that is to say, they
were footpaths, not roads, though afterwards, on a Sunday afternoon,
I met two young fellows riding through them on bicycles. The wood was
delightful, also, after my two months in eastern Florida, for lying on
a slope, and for having an undergrowth of loose shrubbery instead of a
jungle of scrub oak and saw palmetto. Blue jays and crested flycatchers
were doing their best to outscream one another,--with the odds in favor
of the flycatchers,--and a few smaller birds were singing, especially
two or three summer tanagers, as many yellow-throated warblers, and a
ruby-crowned kinglet. In one part of the wood, near what I took to be
an old city reservoir, I came upon a single white-throated sparrow and
a humming-bird,--the latter a strangely uncommon sight in Tallahassee,
where, of all the places I have ever seen, it ought to find itself in
clover. Here, too, were a pair of Carolina wrens, just now in search
of a building-site, and conducting themselves exactly in the manner of
bluebirds intent on such business; peeping into every hole that offered
itself, and then, after the briefest interchange of opinion,--unfavorable
on the female's part, if we may guess,--concluding to look a little
farther.

As I struck the road again, a man came along on horseback, and we fell
into conversation about the country. "A lovely country," he called it,
and I agreed with him. He inquired where I was from, and I mentioned
that I had lately been in southern Florida, and found this region a
strong contrast. "Yes," he returned; and, pointing to the grass, he
remarked upon the richness of the soil. "This yere land would fertilize
that," he said, speaking of southern Florida. "I shouldn't wonder,"
said I. I meant to be understood as concurring in his opinion, but such
a qualified, Yankeefied assent seemed to him no assent at all. "Oh, it
will, it will!" he responded, as if the point were one about which I
must on no account be left unconvinced. He told me that the fine house
at which I had looked, a little distance back, through a long vista of
trees, was the residence of Captain H., who owned all the land along
the road for a good distance. I inquired how far the road was pretty,
like this. "For forty miles," he said. That was farther than I was ready
to walk, and coming soon to the top of the hill, or, more exactly, of
the plateau, I stopped in the shade of a china-tree, and looked at the
pleasing prospect. Behind me was a plantation of young pear-trees,
and before me, among the hills northward, lay broad, cultivated
slopes, dotted here and there with cabins and tall, solitary trees.
On the nearer slope, perhaps a sixteenth of a mile away, a negro was
ploughing, with a single ox harnessed in some primitive manner,--with
pieces of wood, for the most part, as well as I could make out through
an opera-glass. The soil offered the least possible hindrance, and
both he and the ox seemed to be having a literal "walk-over." Beyond
him--a full half-mile away, perhaps--another man was ploughing with
a mule; and in another direction a third was doing likewise, with a
woman following in his wake. A colored boy of seventeen--I guessed his
age at twenty-three--came up the road in a cart, and I stopped him to
inquire about the crops and other matters. The land in front of me was
planted with cotton, he said; and the men ploughing in the distance were
getting ready to plant the same. They hired the land and the cabins of
Captain H., paying him so much cotton (not so much an acre, but so much
a mule, if I understood him rightly) by way of rent. We talked a long
time about one thing and another. He had been south as far as the Indian
River country, but was glad to be back again in Tallahassee, where he
was born. I asked him about the road, how far it went. "They tell me it
goes smack to St. Augustine," he replied; "I ain't tried it." It was an
unlikely story, it seemed to me, but I was assured afterward that he was
right; that the road actually runs across the country from Tallahassee to
St. Augustine, a distance of about two hundred miles. With company of my
own choosing, and in cooler weather, I thought I should like to walk its
whole length.[9] My young man was in no haste. With the reins (made of
rope, after a fashion much followed in Florida) lying on the forward axle
of his cart, he seemed to have put himself entirely at my service. He had
to the full that peculiar urbanity which I began after a while to look
upon as characteristic of Tallahassee negroes,--a gentleness of speech,
and a kindly, deferential air, neither forward nor servile, such as sits
well on any man, whatever the color of his skin.

[9] But let no enthusiast set out to walk from one city to the other
on the strength of what is here written. After this sketch was first
printed--in _The Atlantic Monthly_--a gentleman who ought to know whereof
he speaks sent me word that my informants were all of them wrong--that
the road does not run to St. Augustine. For myself, I assert nothing. As
my colored boy said, "I ain't tried it."

In that respect he was like another boy of about his own age, who lived
in the cabin directly before us, but whom I did not see till I had been
several times over the road. Then he happened to be at work near the
edge of the field, and I beckoned him to me. He, too, was serious and
manly in his bearing, and showed no disposition to go back to his hoe
till I broke off the interview,--as if it were a point of good manners
with him to await my pleasure. Yes, the plantation was a good one and
easily cultivated, he said, in response to some remark of my own. There
were five in the family, and they all worked. "We are all big enough to
eat," he added, quite simply. He had never been North, but had lately
declined the offer of a gentleman who wished to take him there,--him
and "another fellow." He once went to Jacksonville, but couldn't stay.
"You can get along without your father pretty well, but it's another
thing to do without your mother." He never meant to leave home again
as long as his mother lived; which was likely to be for some years, I
thought, if she were still able to do her part in the cotton-field. As a
general thing, the colored tenants of the cabins made out pretty well,
he believed, unless something happened to the crops. As for the old
servants of the H. family, they didn't have to work,--they were provided
for; Captain H.'s father "left it so in his testimonial." I spoke of the
purple martins which were flying back and forth over the field with many
cheerful noises, and of the calabashes that hung from a tall pole in one
corner of the cabin yard, for their accommodation. On my way South, I
told him, I had noticed these dangling long-necked squashes everywhere,
and had wondered what they were for. I had found out since that they were
the colored man's martin-boxes, and was glad to see the people so fond of
the birds. "Yes," he said, "there's no danger of hawks carrying off the
chickens as long as the martins are round."

Twice afterward, as I went up the road, I found him ploughing between the
cotton-rows; but he was too far away to be accosted without shouting,
and I did not feel justified in interrupting him at his work. Back
and forth he went through the long furrow after the patient ox, the
hens and chickens following. No doubt they thought the work was all for
their benefit. Farther away, a man and two women were hoeing. The family
deserved to prosper, I said to myself, as I lay under a big magnolia-tree
(just beginning to open its large white flowers) and idly enjoyed the
scene. And it was just here, by the bye, that I solved an interesting
etymological puzzle, to wit, the origin and precise meaning of the
word "baygall,"--a word which the visitor often hears upon the lips of
Florida people. An old hunter in Smyrna, when I questioned him about
it, told me that it meant a swampy piece of wood, and took its origin,
he had always supposed, from the fact that bay-trees and gall-bushes
commonly grew in such places. A Tallahassee gentleman agreed with this
explanation, and promised to bring home some gall-berries the next time
he came across any, that I might see what they were; but the berries were
never forthcoming, and I was none the wiser, till, on one of my last
trips up the St. Augustine road, as I stood under the large magnolia
just mentioned, a colored man came along, hat in hand, and a bag of grain
balanced on his head.

"That's a large magnolia," said I.

He assented.

"That's about as large as magnolias ever grow, isn't it?"

"No, sir; down in the gall there's magnolias a heap bigger'n that."

"A gall? What's that?"

"A baygall, sir."

"And what's a baygall?"

"A big wood."

"And why do you call it a baygall?"

He was stumped, it was plain to see. No doubt he would have scratched
his head, if that useful organ had been accessible. He hesitated; but
it isn't like an uneducated man to confess ignorance. "'Cause it's a
desert," he said, "a thick _place_."

"Yes, yes," I answered, and he resumed his march.

The road was traveled mostly by negroes. On Sunday afternoons it looked
quite like a flower garden, it was so full of bright dresses coming home
from church. "Now'-days folks git religion so easy!" one young woman
said to another, as they passed me. She was a conservative. I did not
join the procession, but on other days I talked, first and last, with
a good many of the people; from the preacher, who carried a handsome
cane and made me a still handsomer bow, down to a serious little fellow
of six or seven years, whom I found standing at the foot of the hill,
beside a bundle of dead wood. He was carrying it home for the family
stove, and had set it down for a minute's rest. I said something about
his burden, and as I went on he called after me: "What kind of birds are
you hunting for? Ricebirds?" I answered that I was looking for birds of
all sorts. Had he seen any ricebirds lately? Yes, he said; he started
a flock the other day up on[10] the hill. "How did they look?" said I.
"They is red blackbirds," he returned. This was not the first time I had
heard the red-wing called the ricebird. But how did the boy know me for a
bird-gazer? That was a mystery. It came over me all at once that possibly
I had become better known in the community than I had in the least
suspected; and then I remembered my field-glass. That, as I could not
help being aware, was an object of continual attention. Every day I saw
people, old and young, black and white, looking at it with undisguised
curiosity. Often they passed audible comments upon it among themselves.
"How far can you see through the spyglass?" a bolder spirit would now
and then venture to ask; and once, on the railway track out in the pine
lands, a barefooted, happy-faced urchin made a guess that was really
admirable for its ingenuity. "Looks like you're goin' over inspectin'
the wire," he remarked. On rare occasions, as an act of special grace, I
offered such an inquirer a peep through the magic lenses,--an experiment
that never failed to elicit exclamations of wonder. Things were so near!
And the observer looked comically incredulous, on putting down the glass,
to find how suddenly the landscape had slipped away again. More than one
colored man wanted to know its price, and expressed a fervent desire
to possess one like it; and probably, if I had ever been assaulted and
robbed in all my solitary wanderings through the flat-woods and other
lonesome places, my "spyglass" rather than my purse--the "lust of the
eye" rather than the "pride of life"--would have been to thank.

[10] He did not say "upon" any more than Northern white boys do.

Here, however, there could be no thought of such a contingency. Here were
no vagabonds (one inoffensive Yankee specimen excepted), but hard-working
people going into the city or out again, each on his own lawful business.
Scarcely one of them, man or woman, but greeted me kindly. One, a white
man on horseback, invited, and even urged me, to mount his horse, and
let him walk a piece. I must be fatigued, he was sure,--how could I help
it?--and he would as soon walk as not. Finding me obstinate, he walked
his horse at my side, chatting about the country, the trees, and the
crops. He it was who called my particular attention to the abundance
of blackberry vines. "Are the berries sweet?" I asked. He smacked his
lips. "Sweet as honey, and big as that," measuring off a liberal portion
of his thumb. I spoke of them half an hour later to a middle-aged
colored man. Yes, he said, the blackberries were plenty enough and
sweet enough; but, for his part, he didn't trouble them a great deal.
The vines (and he pointed at them, fringing the roadside indefinitely)
were great places for rattlesnakes. He liked the berries, but he liked
somebody else to pick them. He was awfully afraid of snakes; they were so
dangerous. "Yes, sir" (this in answer to an inquiry), "there are plenty
of rattlesnakes here clean up to Christmas." I liked him for his frank
avowal of cowardice, and still more for his quiet bearing. He remembered
the days of slavery,--"before the surrender," as the current Southern
phrase is,--and his face beamed when I spoke of my joy in thinking that
his people were free, no matter what might befall them. He, too, raised
cotton on hired land, and was bringing up his children--there were eight
of them, he said--to habits of industry.

My second stroll toward St. Augustine carried me perhaps three
miles,--say one sixty-sixth of the entire distance,--and none of my
subsequent excursions took me any farther; and having just now commended
a negro for his candor, I am moved to acknowledge that, between the sand
underfoot and the sun overhead, I found the six miles, which I spent
at least four hours in accomplishing, more fatiguing than twice that
distance would have been over New Hampshire hills. If I were to settle
in that country, I should probably fall into the way of riding more, and
walking less. I remember thinking how comfortable a certain ponderous
black mammy looked, whom I met on one of these same sunny and sandy
tramps. She sat in the very middle of a tipcart, with an old and truly
picturesque man's hat on her head (quite in the fashion, feminine readers
will notice), driving a one-horned ox with a pair of clothes-line reins.
She was traveling slowly, just as I like to travel; and, as I say, I was
impressed by her comfortable appearance. Why would not an equipage like
that be just the thing for a naturalistic idler?

Not far beyond my halting-place of two days before I came to a Cherokee
rosebush, one of the most beautiful of plants,--white, fragrant, single
roses (_real_ roses) set in the midst of the handsomest of glossy green
leaves. I was delighted to find it still in flower. A hundred miles
farther south I had seen it finishing its season a full month earlier. I
stopped, of course, to pluck a blossom. At that moment a female redbird
flew out of the bush. Her mate was beside her instantly, and a nameless
something in their manner told me they were trying to keep a secret. The
nest, built mainly of pine needles and other leaves, was in the middle
of the bush, a foot or two from the grass, and contained two bluish or
greenish eggs thickly spattered with dark brown. I meant to look into
it again (the owners seemed to have no great objection), but somehow
missed it every time I passed. From that point, as far as I went, the
road was lined with Cherokee roses,--not continuously, but with short
intermissions; and from the number of redbirds seen, almost invariably
in pairs, I feel safe in saying that the nest I had found was probably
one of fifteen or twenty scattered along the wayside. How gloriously the
birds sang! It was their day for singing. I was ready to christen the
road anew,--Redbird Road.

But the redbirds, many and conspicuous as they were, had no monopoly of
the road or of the day. House wrens were equally numerous and equally
at home, though they sang more out of sight. Red-eyed chewinks, still
far from their native berry pastures, hopped into a bush to cry, "Who's
he?" at the passing of a stranger, in whom, for aught I know, they may
have half recognized an old acquaintance. A bunch of quails ran across
the road a little in front of me, and in another place fifteen or twenty
red-winged blackbirds (not a red wing among them) sat gossiping in a
treetop. Elsewhere, even later than this (it was now April 7), I saw
flocks, every bird of which wore shoulder-straps,--like the traditional
militia company, all officers. _They_ did not gossip, of course (it is
the male that sports the red), but they made a lively noise.

As for the mocking-birds, they were at the front here, as they were
everywhere. During my fortnight in Tallahassee there were never many
consecutive five minutes of daylight in which, if I stopped to listen,
I could not hear at least one mocker. Oftener two or three were singing
at once in as many different directions. And, speaking of them, I must
speak also of their more northern cousin. From the day I entered Florida
I had been saying that the mocking-bird, save for his occasional mimicry
of other birds, sang so exactly like the thrasher that I did not believe
I could tell one from the other. Now, however, on this St. Augustine
road, I suddenly became aware of a bird singing somewhere in advance,
and as I listened again I said aloud, with full persuasion, "There!
that's a thrasher!" There was a something of difference; a shade of
coarseness in the voice, perhaps; a tendency to force the tone, as we
say of human singers,--a _something_, at all events, and the longer I
hearkened, the more confident I felt that the bird was a thrasher. And
so it was,--the first one I had heard in Florida, although I had seen
many. Probably the two birds have peculiarities of voice and method
that, with longer familiarity on the listener's part, would render them
easily distinguishable. On general principles, I must believe that to
be true of all birds. But the experience just described is not to be
taken as proving that _I_ have any such familiarity. Within a week
afterward, while walking along the railway, I came upon a thrasher and
a mocking-bird singing side by side; the mocker upon a telegraph pole,
and the thrasher on the wire, half-way between the mocker and the next
pole. They sang and sang, while I stood between them in the cut below
and listened; and if my life had depended on my seeing how one song
differed from the other, I could not have done it. With my eyes shut,
the birds might have changed places,--if they could have done it quickly
enough,--and I should have been none the wiser.

As I have said, I followed the road over the nearly level plateau for
what I guessed to be about three miles. Then I found myself in a bit of
hollow that seemed made for a stopping-place, with a plantation road
running off to the right, and a hillside cornfield of many acres on
the left. In the field were a few tall dead trees. At the tip of one
sat a sparrow-hawk, and to the trunk of another clung a red-bellied
woodpecker, who, with characteristic foolishness, sat beside his hole
calling persistently, and then, as if determined to publish what other
birds so carefully conceal, went inside, thrust out his head, and resumed
his clatter. Here, too, were a pair of bluebirds, noticeable for their
rarity, and for the wonderful color--a shade deeper than is ever seen
at the North, I think--of the male's blue coat. In a small thicket in
the hollow beside the road were noisy white-eyed vireos, a ruby-crowned
kinglet,--a tiny thing that within a month would be singing in Canada,
or beyond,--an unseen wood pewee, and (also unseen) a hermit thrush,
one of perhaps twenty solitary individuals that I found scattered
about the woods in the course of my journeyings. Not one of them sang
a note. Probably they did not know that there was a Yankee in Florida
who--in some moods, at least--would have given more for a dozen bars of
hermit thrush music than for a day and a night of the mocking-bird's
medley. Not that I mean to disparage the great Southern performer;
as a vocalist he is so far beyond the hermit thrush as to render a
comparison absurd; but what I love is a _singer_, a voice to reach the
soul. An old Tallahassee negro, near the "white Norman school,"--so
he called it,--hit off the mocking-bird pretty well. I had called his
attention to one singing in an adjacent dooryard. "Yes," he said, "I
love to hear 'em. They's very amusin', very amusin'." My own feeling
can hardly be a prejudice, conscious or unconscious, in favor of what
has grown dear to me through early and long-continued association. The
difference between the music of birds like the mocker, the thrasher,
and the catbird and that of birds like the hermit, the veery, and the
wood thrush is one of kind, not of degree; and I have heard music of the
mocking-bird's kind (the thrasher's, that is to say) as long as I have
heard music at all. The question is one of taste, it is true; but it is
not a question of familiarity or favoritism. All praise to the mocker
and the thrasher! May their tribe increase! But if we are to indulge in
comparisons, give me the wood thrush, the hermit, and the veery; with
tones that the mocking-bird can never imitate, and a simplicity which the
Fates--the wise Fates, who will have variety--have put forever beyond his
appreciation and his reach.

Florida as I saw it (let the qualification be noted) is no more a land
of flowers than New England. In some respects, indeed, it is less so.
Flowering shrubs and climbers there are in abundance. I rode in the cars
through miles on miles of flowering dogwood and pink azalea. Here, on
this Tallahassee road, were miles of Cherokee roses, with plenty of the
climbing scarlet honeysuckle (beloved of humming-birds, although I saw
none here), and nearer the city, as already described, masses of lantana
and white honeysuckle. In more than one place pink double roses (vagrants
from cultivated grounds, no doubt) offered buds and blooms to all who
would have them. The cross-vine (_Bignonia_), less freehanded, hung its
showy bells out of reach in the treetops. Thorn-bushes of several kinds
were in flower (a puzzling lot), and the treelike blueberry (_Vaccinium
arboreum_), loaded with its large, flaring white corollas, was a real
spectacle of beauty. Here, likewise, I found one tiny crab-apple
shrub, with a few blossoms, exquisitely tinted with rose-color, and
most exquisitely fragrant. But the New Englander, when he talks of
wild flowers, has in his eye something different from these. He is not
thinking of any bush, no matter how beautiful, but of trailing arbutus,
hepaticas, bloodroot, anemones, saxifrage, violets, dogtooth violets,
spring beauties, "cowslips," buttercups, corydalis, columbine, Dutchman's
breeches, clintonia, five-finger, and all the rest of that bright and
fragrant host which, ever since he can remember, he has seen covering his
native hills and valleys with the return of May.

It is not meant, of course, that plants like these are wholly wanting in
Florida. I remember an abundance of violets, blue and white, especially
in the flat-woods, where also I often found pretty butterworts of two
or three sorts. The smaller blue ones took very acceptably the place of
hepaticas, and indeed I heard them called by that name. But, as compared
with what one sees in New England, such "ground flowers," flowers which
it seems perfectly natural to pluck for a nosegay, were very little in
evidence. I heard Northern visitors remark the fact again and again. On
this pretty road out of Tallahassee--itself a city of flower gardens--I
can recall nothing of the kind except half a dozen strawberry blossoms,
and the oxalis and specularia before mentioned. Probably the round-leaved
houstonia grew here, as it did everywhere, in small scattered patches.
If there were violets as well, I can only say I have forgotten them.

Be it added, however, that at the time I did not miss them. In a garden
of roses one does not begin by sighing for mignonette and lilies of the
valley. Violets or no violets, there was no lack of beauty. The Southern
highway surveyor, if such a personage exists, is evidently not consumed
by that distressing puritanical passion for "slicking up things" which
too often makes of his Northern brother something scarcely better than
a public nuisance. At the South you will not find a woman cultivating
with pain a few exotics beside the front door, while her husband is
mowing and burning the far more attractive wild garden that nature has
planted just outside the fence. The St. Augustine road, at any rate,
after climbing the hill and getting beyond the wood, runs between natural
hedges,--trees, vines, and shrubs carelessly intermingled,--not dense
enough to conceal the prospect or shut out the breeze ("straight from the
Gulf," as the Tallahassean is careful to inform you), but sufficient to
afford much welcome protection from the sun. Here it was good to find
the sassafras growing side by side with the persimmon, although when,
for old acquaintance' sake, I put a leaf into my mouth I was half glad
to fancy it a thought less savory than some I had tasted in Yankeeland.
I took a kind of foolish satisfaction, too, in the obvious fact that
certain plants--the sumach and the Virginia creeper, to mention no
others--were less at home here than a thousand miles farther north. With
the wild-cherry trees, I was obliged to confess, the case was reversed. I
had seen larger ones in Massachusetts, perhaps, but none that looked half
so clean and thrifty. In truth, their appearance was a puzzle, rum-cherry
trees as by all tokens they undoubtedly were, till of a sudden it flashed
upon me that there were no caterpillars' nests in them! Then I ceased to
wonder at their odd look. It spoke well for my botanical acumen that I
had recognized them at all.

Before I had been a week in Tallahassee I found that, without forethought
or plan, I had dropped into the habit (and how pleasant it is to think
that some good habits can be dropped into!) of making the St. Augustine
road my after-dinner sauntering-place. The morning was for a walk: to
Lake Bradford, perhaps, in search of a mythical ivory-billed woodpecker,
or westward on the railway for a few miles, with a view to rare migratory
warblers. But in the afternoon I did not walk,--I loitered; and though
I still minded the birds and flowers, I for the most part forgot my
botany and ornithology. In the cool of the day, then (the phrase is an
innocent euphemism), I climbed the hill, and after an hour or two on
the plateau strolled back again, facing the sunset through a vista of
moss-covered live-oaks and sweet gums. Those quiet, incurious hours are
among the pleasantest of all my Florida memories. A cuckoo would be
cooing, perhaps; or a quail, with cheerful ambiguity,--such as belongs
to weather predictions in general,--would be prophesying "more wet" and
"no more wet" in alternate breaths; or two or three night-hawks would
be sweeping back and forth high above the valley; or a marsh hawk would
be quartering over the big oatfield. The martins would be cackling, in
any event, and the kingbirds practicing their aerial mock somersaults;
and the mocking-bird would be singing, and the redbird whistling. On
the western slope, just below the oatfield, the Northern woman who
owned the pretty cottage there (the only one on the road) was sure to
be at work among her flowers. A laughing colored boy who did chores
for her (without injury to his health, I could warrant) told me that
she was a Northerner. But I knew it already; I needed no witness but
her beds of petunias. In the valley, as I crossed the railroad track,
a loggerhead shrike sat, almost of course, on the telegraph wire in
dignified silence; and just beyond, among the cabins, I had my choice
of mocking-birds and orchard orioles. And so, admiring the roses and
the pomegranates, the lantanas and the honeysuckles, or chatting with
some dusky fellow-pilgrim, I mounted the hill to the city, and likely
as not saw before me a red-headed woodpecker sitting on the roof of the
State House, calling attention to his patriotic self--in his tri-colored
dress--by occasional vigorous tattoos on the tinned ridgepole. I never
saw him there without gladness. The legislature had begun its session in
an economical mood,--as is more or less the habit of legislatures, I
believe,--and was even considering a proposition to reduce the salary and
mileage of its members. Under such circumstances, it ought not to have
been a matter of surprise, perhaps, that no flag floated from the cupola
of the capitol. The people's money should not be wasted. And possibly
I should never have remarked the omission but for a certain curiosity,
natural, if not inevitable, on the part of a Northern visitor, as to the
real feeling of the South toward the national government. Day after day I
had seen a portly gentleman--with an air, or with airs, as the spectator
might choose to express it--going in and out of the State House gate,
dressed ostentatiously in a suit of Confederate gray. He had worn nothing
else since the war, I was told. But of course the State of Florida was
not to be judged by the freak of one man, and he only a member of the
"third house." And even when I went into the governor's office, and
saw the original "ordinance of secession" hanging in a conspicuous
place on the wall, as if it were an heirloom to be proud of, I felt no
stirring of sectional animosity, thorough-bred Massachusetts Yankee
and old-fashioned abolitionist as I am. A brave people can hardly be
expected or desired to forget its history, especially when that history
has to do with sacrifices and heroic deeds. But these things, taken
together, did no doubt prepare me to look upon it as a happy coincidence
when, one morning, I heard the familiar cry of the red-headed woodpecker,
for the first time in Florida, and looked up to see him flying the
national colors from the ridgepole of the State House. I did not break
out with "Three cheers for the red, white, and blue!" I am naturally
undemonstrative; but I said to myself that _Melanerpes erythrocephalus_
was a very handsome bird.



ORNITHOLOGY ON A COTTON PLANTATION.


On one of my first jaunts into the suburbs of Tallahassee I noticed not
far from the road a bit of swamp,--shallow pools with muddy borders and
flats. It was a likely spot for "waders," and would be worth a visit.
To reach it, indeed, I must cross a planted field surrounded by a lofty
barbed-wire fence and placarded against trespassers; but there was
no one in sight, or no one who looked at all like a land-owner; and,
besides, it could hardly be accounted a trespass--defined by Blackstone
as an "_unwarranted_ entry on another's soil"--to step carefully over
the cotton-rows on so legitimate an errand. Ordinarily I call myself
a simple bird-gazer, an amateur, a field naturalist, if you will; but
on occasions like the present I assume--with myself, that is--all the
rights and titles of an ornithologist proper, a man of science strictly
so called. In the interest of science, then, I climbed the fence and
picked my way across the field. True enough, about the edges of the water
were two or three solitary sandpipers, and at least half a dozen of the
smaller yellowlegs,--two additions to my Florida list,--not to speak of a
little blue heron and a green heron, the latter in most uncommonly green
plumage. It was well I had interpreted the placard a little generously.
"The letter killeth" is a pretty good text in emergencies of this kind.
So I said to myself. The herons, meanwhile, had taken French leave, but
the smaller birds were less suspicious; I watched them at my leisure, and
left them still feeding.

Two days later I was there again, but it must be acknowledged that this
time I tarried in the road till a man on horseback had disappeared round
the next turn. It would have been manlier, without doubt, to pay no
attention to him; but something told me that he was the cotton-planter
himself, and, for better or worse, prudence carried the day with
me. Finding nothing new, though the sandpipers and yellowlegs were
still present, with a very handsome little blue heron and plenty of
blackbirds, I took the road again and went further, and an hour or two
afterward, on getting back to the same place, was overtaken again by the
horseman. He pulled up his horse and bade me good-afternoon. Would I
lend him my opera-glass, which happened to be in my hand at the moment?
"I should like to see how my house looks from here," he said; and he
pointed across the field to a house on the hill some distance beyond.
"Ah," said I, glad to set myself right by a piece of frankness that under
the circumstances could hardly work to my disadvantage; "then it is your
land on which I have been trespassing." "How so?" he asked, with a smile;
and I explained that I had been across his cotton-field a little while
before. "That is no trespass," he answered (so the reader will perceive
that I had been quite correct in my understanding of the law); and when
I went on to explain my object in visiting his cane-swamp (for such it
was, he said, but an unexpected freshet had ruined the crop when it was
barely out of the ground), he assured me that I was welcome to visit it
as often as I wished. He himself was very fond of natural history, and
often regretted that he had not given time to it in his youth. As it
was, he protected the birds on his plantation, and the place was full
of them. I should find his woods interesting, he felt sure. Florida was
extremely rich in birds; he believed there were some that had never been
classified. "We have orioles here," he added; and so far, at any rate, he
was right; I had seen perhaps twenty that day (orchard orioles, that is),
and one sat in a tree before us at the moment. His whole manner was most
kindly and hospitable,--as was that of every Tallahassean with whom I had
occasion to speak,--and I told him with sincere gratitude that I should
certainly avail myself of his courtesy and stroll through his woods.

I approached them, two mornings afterward, from the opposite side, where,
finding no other place of entrance, I climbed a six-barred, tightly
locked gate--feeling all the while like "a thief and a robber "--in front
of a deserted cabin. Then I had only to cross a grassy field, in which
meadow larks were singing, and I was in the woods. I wandered through
them without finding anything more unusual or interesting than summer
tanagers and yellow-throated warblers, which were in song there, as they
were in every such place, and after a while came out into a pleasant
glade, from which different parts of the plantation could be seen, and
through which ran a plantation road. Here was a wooden fence,--a most
unusual thing,--and I lost no time in mounting it, to rest and look about
me. It is one of the marks of a true Yankee, I suspect, to like such a
perch. My own weakness in that direction is a frequent subject of mirth
with chance fellow travelers. The attitude is comfortable and conducive
to meditation; and now that I was seated and at my ease, I felt that this
was one of the New England luxuries which, almost without knowing it, I
had missed ever since I left home.

Of my meditations on this particular occasion I remember nothing; but
that is no sign they were valueless; as it is no sign that yesterday's
dinner did me no good because I have forgotten what it was. In the
latter case, indeed, and perhaps in the former as well, it would seem
more reasonable to draw an exactly opposite inference. But, quibbles
apart, one thing I do remember: I sat for some time on the fence, in the
shade of a tree, with an eye upon the cane-swamp and an ear open for
bird-voices. Yes, and it comes to me at this moment that here I heard the
first and only bull-frog that I heard anywhere in Florida. It was like
a voice from home, and belonged with the fence. Other frogs I had heard
in other places. One chorus brought me out of bed in Daytona--in the
evening--after a succession of February dog-day showers. "What is that
noise outside?" I inquired of the land-lady as I hastened downstairs.
"That?" said she, with a look of amusement; "that's frogs." "It _may_
be," I thought, but I followed the sounds till they led me in the
darkness to the edge of a swamp. No doubt the creatures were frogs, but
of some kind new to me, with voices more lugubrious and homesick than I
should have supposed could possibly belong to any batrachian. A week or
two later, in the New Smyrna flat-woods, I heard in the distance a sound
which I took for the grunting of pigs. I made a note of it, mentally, as
a cheerful token, indicative of a probable scarcity of rattlesnakes; but
by and by, as I drew nearer, the truth of the matter began to break upon
me. A man was approaching, and when we met I asked him what was making
that noise yonder. "Frogs," he said. At another time, in the flat-woods
of Port Orange (I hope I am not taxing my reader's credulity too far, or
making myself out a man of too imaginative an ear), I heard the bleating
of sheep. Busy with other things, I did not stop to reflect that it was
impossible there should be sheep in that quarter, and the occurrence
had quite passed out of my mind when, one day, a cracker, talking about
frogs, happened to say, "Yes, and we have one kind that makes a noise
exactly like the bleating of sheep." That, without question, was what I
had heard in the flat-woods. But this frog in the sugar-cane swamp was
the same fellow that on summer evenings, ever and ever so many years ago,
in sonorous bass that could be heard a quarter of a mile away, used to
call from Reuben Loud's pond, "Pull him in I Pull him in!" or sometimes
(the inconsistent amphibian), "Jug o' rum! Jug o' rum!"

I dismounted from my perch at last, and was sauntering idly along the
path (idleness like this is often the best of ornithological industry),
when suddenly I had a vision! Before me, in the leafy top of an oak
sapling, sat a blue grosbeak. I knew him on the instant. But I could see
only his head and neck, the rest of his body being hidden by the leaves.
It was a moment of feverish excitement. Here was a new bird, a bird about
which I had felt fifteen years of curiosity; and, more than that, a bird
which here and now was quite unexpected, since it was not included in
either of the two Florida lists that I had brought with me from home.
For perhaps five seconds I had my opera-glass on the blue head and the
thick-set, dark bill, with its lighter-colored under mandible. Then I
heard the clatter of a horse's hoofs, and lifted my eyes. My friend the
owner of the plantation was coming down the road at a gallop, straight
upon me. If I was to see the grosbeak and make sure of him, it must be
done at once. I moved to bring him fully into view, and he flew into the
thick of a pine-tree out of sight.

But the tree was not far off, and if Mr. ---- would pass me with a nod,
the case was still far from hopeless. A bright thought came to me. I
ran from the path with a great show of eager absorption, leveled my
glass upon the pine-tree, and stood fixed. Perhaps Mr. ---- would take
the hint. Alas! he had too much courtesy to pass his own guest without
speaking. "Still after the birds?" he said, as he checked his horse.
I responded, as I hope, without any symptom of annoyance. Then, of
course, he wished to know what I was looking at, and I told him that a
blue grosbeak had just flown into that pine-tree, and that I was most
distressingly anxious to see more of him. He looked at the pine-tree.
"I can't see him," he said. No more could I. "It wasn't a blue jay, was
it?" he asked. And then we talked of one thing and another, I have no
idea what, till he rode away to another part of the plantation where a
gang of women were at work. By this time the grosbeak had disappeared
utterly. Possibly he had gone to a bit of wood on the opposite side of
the cane-swamp. I scaled a barbed-wire fence and made in that direction,
but to no purpose. The grosbeak was gone for good. Probably I should
never see another. Could the planter have read my thoughts just then he
would perhaps have been angry with himself, and pretty certainly he would
have been angry with me. That a Yankee should accept his hospitality, and
then load him with curses and call him all manner of names! How should
he know that I was so insane a hobbyist as to care more for the sight of
a new bird than for all the laws and customs of ordinary politeness? As
my feelings cooled, I saw that I was stepping over hills or rows of some
strange-looking plants just out of the ground. Peanuts, I guessed; but to
make sure I called to a colored woman who was hoeing not far off. "What
are these?" "Finders," she answered. I knew she meant peanuts,--otherwise
"ground-peas" and "goobers,"--and now that I once more have a dictionary
at my elbow I learn that the word, like "goober," is, or is supposed to
be, of African origin.

I was preparing to surmount the barbed-wire fence again, when the planter
returned and halted for another chat. It was evident that he took a
genuine and amiable interest in my researches. There were a great many
kinds of sparrows in that country, he said, and also of woodpeckers. He
knew the ivory-bill, but, like other Tallahasseans, he thought I should
have to go into Lafayette County (all Florida people say La_fay_ette) to
find it. "That bird calling now is a bee-bird," he said, referring to a
kingbird; "and we have a bird that is called the French mocking-bird; he
catches other birds." The last remark was of interest for its bearing
upon a point about which I had felt some curiosity, and, I may say, some
skepticism, as I had seen many loggerhead shrikes, but had observed no
indication that other birds feared them or held any grudge against them.
As he rode off he called my attention to a great blue heron just then
flying over the swamp. "They are very shy," he said. Then, from further
away, he shouted once more to ask if I heard the mocking-bird singing
yonder, pointing with his whip in the direction of the singer.

For some time longer I hung about the glade, vainly hoping that the
grosbeak would again favor my eyes. Then I crossed more planted
fields,--climbing more barbed-wire fences, and stopping on the way to
enjoy the sweetly quaint music of a little chorus of white-crowned
sparrows,--and skirted once more the muddy shore of the cane-swamp,
where the yellowlegs and sandpipers were still feeding. That brought me
to the road from which I had made my entry to the place some days before;
but, being still unable to forego a splendid possibility, I recrossed
the plantation, tarried again in the glade, sat again on the wooden
fence (if that grosbeak only _would_ show himself!), and thence went on,
picking a few heads of handsome buffalo clover, the first I had ever
seen, and some sprays of penstemon, till I came again to the six-barred
gate and the Quincy road. At that point, as I now remember, the air was
full of vultures (carrion crows), a hundred or more, soaring over the
fields in some fit of gregariousness. Along the road were white-crowned
and white-throated sparrows (it was the 12th of April), orchard orioles,
thrashers, summer tanagers, myrtle and palm warblers, cardinal grosbeaks,
mocking-birds, kingbirds, loggerheads, yellow-throated vireos, and sundry
others, but not the blue grosbeak, which would have been worth them all.

Once back at the hotel, I opened my Coues's Key to refresh my memory
as to the exact appearance of that bird. "Feathers around base of
bill black," said the book. I had not noticed that. But no matter; the
bird was a blue grosbeak, for the sufficient reason that it could not
be anything else. A black line between the almost black beak and the
dark-blue head would be inconspicuous at the best, and quite naturally
would escape a glimpse so hasty as mine had been. And yet, while I
reasoned in this way, I foresaw plainly enough that, as time passed,
doubt would get the better of assurance, as it always does, and I should
never be certain that I had not been the victim of some illusion. At
best, the evidence was worth nothing for others. If only that excellent
Mr. ----, for whose kindness I was unfeignedly thankful (and whose pardon
I most sincerely beg if I seem to have been a bit too free in this
rehearsal of the story),--if only Mr. ---- could have left me alone for
ten minutes longer!

The worry and the imprecations were wasted, after all, as, Heaven be
thanked, they so often are; for within two or three days I saw other blue
grosbeaks and heard them sing. But that was not on a cotton plantation,
and is part of another story.



A FLORIDA SHRINE.


All pilgrims to Tallahassee visit the Murat place. It is one of the
most conveniently accessible of those "points of interest" with which
guide-books so anxiously, and with so much propriety, concern themselves.
What a tourist prays for is something to see. If I had ever been a
tourist in Boston, no doubt I should before now have surveyed the
world from the top of the Bunker Hill monument. In Tallahassee, at all
events, I went to the Murat estate. In fact, I went more than once; but
I remember especially my first visit, which had a livelier sentimental
interest than the others because I was then under the agreeable delusion
that the Prince himself had lived there. The guide-book told me so,
vouchsafing also the information that after building the house he
"interested himself actively in local affairs, became a naturalized
citizen, and served successively as postmaster, alderman, and mayor "--a
model immigrant, surely, though it is rather the way of immigrants,
perhaps, not to refuse political responsibilities.

Naturally, I remembered these things as I stood in front of "the big
house "--a story-and-a-half cottage--amid the flowering shrubs. Here
lived once the son of the King of Naples; himself a Prince, and--worthy
son of a worthy sire--alderman and then mayor of the city of Tallahassee.
Thus did an uncompromising democrat pay court to the shades of Royalty,
while a mocking-bird sang from a fringe-bush by the gate, and an oriole
flew madly from tree to tree in pursuit of a fair creature of the
reluctant sex.

The inconsistency, if such it was, was quickly punished. For, alas!
when I spoke of my morning's pilgrimage to an old resident of the town,
he told me that Murat never lived in the house, nor anywhere else in
Tallahassee, and of course was never its postmaster, alderman, or mayor.
The Princess, he said, built the house after her husband's death,
and lived there, a widow. I appealed to the guide-book. My informant
sneered,--politely,--and brought me a still older Tallahassean, Judge,
whose venerable name I am sorry to have forgotten, and that indisputable
citizen confirmed all that his neighbor had said. For once, the
guide-book compiler must have been misinformed.

The question, happily, was one of no great consequence. If the Prince had
never lived in the house, the Princess had; and she, by all accounts (and
I make certain her husband would have said the same), was the worthier
person of the two. And even if neither of them had lived there, if my
sentiment had been _all_ wasted (but there was no question of tears),
the place itself was sightly, the house was old, and the way thither a
pleasant one--first down the hill in a zig-zag course to the vicinity of
the railway station, then by a winding country road through the valley
past a few negro cabins, and up the slope on the farther side. Prince
Murat, or no Prince Murat, I should love to travel that road to-day,
instead of sitting before a Massachusetts fire, with the ground deep
under snow, and the air full of thirty or forty degrees of frost.

In the front yard of one of the cabins opposite the car-wheel foundry,
and near the station, as I now remember, a middle-aged negress was
cutting up an oak log. She swung the axe with vigor and precision, and
the chips flew; but I could not help saying, "You ought to make the man
do that."

She answered on the instant. "I would," she said, "if I had a man to
_make_."

"I'm sure you would," I thought. Her tongue was as sharp as her axe.

Ought I to have ventured a word in her behalf, I wonder, when a man
of her own color, and a pretty near neighbor, told me with admirable
_näiveté_ the story of his bereavement and his hopes? His wife had died
a year before, he said, and so far, though he had not let the grass grow
under his feet, he had found no one to take her place. He still meant to
do so, if he could. He was only seventy-four years old, and it was not
good for a man to be alone. He seemed a gentle spirit, and I withheld all
mention of the stalwart and manless wood-cutter. I hope he went farther,
and fared better. So youthful as he was, surely there was no occasion for
haste.

When I had skirted a cotton-field--the crop just out of the ground--and
a bit of wood on the right, and a swamp with a splendid display of white
water-lilies on the left, and had begun to ascend the gentle slope, I met
a man of considerably more than seventy-four years.

"Can you tell me just where the Murat place is?" I inquired.

He grinned broadly, and thought he could. He was one of the old Murat
servants, as his father had been before him. "I was borned on to him," he
said, speaking of the Prince. Murat was "a gentleman, sah." That was a
statement which it seemed impossible for him to repeat often enough. He
spoke from a slave's point of view. Murat was a good master. The old man
had heard him say that he kept servants "for the like of the thing." He
didn't abuse them. He "never was for barbarizing a poor colored person
at all." Whipping? Oh, yes. "He didn't miss your fault. No, sah, he
didn't miss your fault." But his servants never were "ironed." He "didn't
believe in barbarousment."

The old man was thankful to be free; but to his mind emancipation had
not made everything heavenly. The younger set of negroes ("my people"
was his word) were on the wrong road. They had "sold their birthright,"
though exactly what he meant by that remark I did not gather. "They ain't
got no sense," he declared, "and what sense they has got don't do 'em no
good."

I told him finally that I was from the North. "Oh, I knows it," he
exclaimed, "I knows it;" and he beamed with delight. How did he know, I
inquired. "Oh, I knows it. I can see it _in_ you. Anybody would know it
that had any jedgment at all. You's a perfect gentleman, sah." He was too
old to be quarreled with, and I swallowed the compliment.

I tore myself away, or he might have run on till night--about his old
master and mistress, the division of the estate, an abusive overseer ("he
was a perfect dog, sah! "), and sundry other things. He had lived a long
time, and had nothing to do now but to recall the past and tell it over.
So it will be with us, if we live so long. May we find once in a while a
patient listener.

This patriarch's unfavorable opinion as to the prospects of the colored
people was shared by my hopeful young widower before mentioned, who
expressed himself quite as emphatically. He was brought up among white
people ("I's been taughted a heap," he said), and believed that the
salvation of the blacks lay in their recognition of white supremacy. But
he was less perspicacious than the older man. He was one of the very few
persons whom I met at the South who did not recognize me at sight as a
Yankee. "Are you a legislator-man?" he asked, at the end of our talk. The
legislature was in session on the hill. But perhaps, after all, he only
meant to flatter me.

If I am long on the way, it is because, as I love always to have it,
the going and coming were the better part of the pilgrimage. The
estate itself is beautifully situated, with far-away horizons; but it
has fallen into great neglect, while the house, almost in ruins, and
occupied by colored people, is to Northern eyes hardly more than a larger
cabin. It put me in mind of the question of a Western gentleman whom
I met at St. Augustine. He had come to Florida against his will, the
weather and the doctor having combined against him, and was looking at
everything through very blue spectacles. "Have you seen any of those
fine old country mansions," he asked, "about which we read so often in
descriptions of Southern life?" He had been on the lookout for them, he
averred, ever since he left home, and had yet to find the first one; and
from his tone it was evident that he thought the Southern idea of a "fine
old mansion" must be different from his.

The Murat house, certainly, was never a palace, except as love may have
made it so. But it was old; people had lived in it, and died in it; those
who once owned it, whose name and memory still clung to it, were now in
narrower houses; and it was easy for the visitor--for one visitor, at
least--to fall into pensive meditation. I strolled about the grounds;
stood between the last year's cotton-rows, while a Carolina wren poured
out his soul from an oleander bush near by; admired the confidence of
a pair of shrikes, who had made a nest in a honeysuckle vine in the
front yard; listened to the sweet music of mocking-birds, cardinals, and
orchard orioles; watched the martins circling above the trees; thought
of the Princess, and smiled at the black children who thrust their
heads out of the windows of her "big house;" and then, with a sprig of
honeysuckle for a keepsake, I started slowly homeward.

The sun by this time was straight overhead, but my umbrella saved me
from absolute discomfort, while birds furnished here and there an
agreeable diversion. I recall in particular some white-crowned sparrows,
the first ones I had seen in Florida. At a bend in the road opposite
the water-lily swamp, while I was cooling myself in the shade of a
friendly pine-tree,--enjoying at the same time a fence overrun with
Cherokee roses,--a man and his little boy came along in a wagon. The
man seemed really disappointed when I told him that I was going into
town, instead of coming from it. It was pretty warm weather for walking,
and he had meant to offer me a lift. He was a Scandinavian, who had
been for some years in Florida. He owned a good farm not far from the
Murat estate, which latter he had been urged to buy; but he thought a
man wasn't any better off for owning too much land. He talked of his
crops, his children, the climate, and so on, all in a cheerful strain,
pleasant to hear. If the pessimists are right,--which may I be kept from
believing,--the optimists are certainly more comfortable to live with,
though it be only for ten minutes under a roadside shade-tree.

When I reached the street-car track at the foot of the hill, the one car
which plies back and forth through the city was in its place, with the
driver beside it, but no mules.

"Are you going to start directly?" I asked.

"Yes, sah," he answered; and then, looking toward the stable, he shouted
in a peremptory voice, "Do about, there! Do about!"

"What does that mean?" said I. "Hurry up?"

"Yes, sah, that's it. 'T ain't everybody that wants to be hurried up; so
we tells 'em, 'Do about!'"

Half a minute afterwards two very neatly dressed little colored boys
stepped upon the rear platform.

"Where you goin'?" said the driver. "Uptown?"

They said they were.

"Well, come inside. Stay out there, and you'll git hurt and cost this
dried-up company more money than you's wuth."

They dropped into seats by the rear door. He motioned them to the front
corner. "Sit down there," he said, "right there." They obeyed, and as he
turned away he added, what I found more and more to be true, as I saw
more of him, "I ain't de boss, but I's got right smart to say."

Then he whistled to the mules, flourished his whip, and to a persistent
accompaniment of whacks and whistles we went crawling up the hill.



WALKS ABOUT TALLAHASSEE.


I arrived at Tallahassee, from Jacksonville, late in the afternoon, after
a hot and dusty ride of more than eight hours. The distance is only a
hundred and sixty odd miles, I believe; but with some bright exceptions.
Southern railroads, like Southern men, seem to be under the climate, and
schedule time is more or less a formality.

For the first two thirds of the way the country is flat and barren.
Happily, I sat within earshot of an amateur political economist, who,
like myself, was journeying to the State capital. By birth and education
he was a New York State man, I heard him say; an old abolitionist,
who had voted for Birney, Fremont, and all their successors down to
Hayes--the only vote he was ever ashamed of. Now he was a "greenbacker."
The country was going to the dogs, and all because the government did
not furnish money enough. The people would find it out some time, he
guessed. He talked as a bird sings--for his own pleasure. But I was
pleased, too. His was an amiable enthusiasm, quite exempt, as it seemed,
from all that bitterness, which an exclusive possession of the truth so
commonly engenders. He was greatly in earnest; he knew he was right;
but he could still see the comical side of things; he still had a sense
of the ludicrous; and in that lay his salvation. For a sense of the
ludicrous is the best of mental antiseptics; it, if anything, will keep
our perishable human nature sweet, and save it from the madhouse. His
discourse was punctuated throughout with quiet laughter. Thus, when he
said, "_I_ call it the _late_ Republican party," it was with a chuckle
so good-natured, so free from acidity and self-conceit, that only a
pretty stiff partisan could have taken offense. Even his predictions of
impending national ruin were delivered with numberless merry quips and
twinkles. Many good Republicans and good Democrats (the adjective is used
in its political sense) might have envied him his sunny temper, joined,
as it was, to a good stock of native shrewdness. For something in his eye
made it plain that, with all his other qualities, our merry greenbacker
was a reasonably competent band at a bargain; so that I was not in the
least surprised when his seat-mate told me afterward, in a tone of much
respect, that the "Colonel" owned a very comfortable property at St.
Augustine. But his best possession, I still thought, was his humor and
his own generous appreciation of it. To enjoy one's own jokes is to have
a pretty safe insurance against inward adversity.

Happily, I say, this good-humored talker sat within hearing. Happily,
too, it was now--April 4--the height of the season for flowering
dogwood, pink azalea, fringe-bushes, Cherokee roses, and water lilies.
All these had blossomed abundantly, and mile after mile the wilderness
and the solitary place were glad for them. Here and there, also, I
caught flying glimpses of some unknown plant bearing a long upright
raceme of creamy-white flowers. It might be a white lupine, I thought,
till at one of our stops between stations it happened to be growing
within reach. Then I guessed it to be a _Baptisia_, which guess was
afterward confirmed--to my regret; for the flowers lost at once all
their attractiveness. So ineffaceable (oftenest for good, but this time
for ill) is an early impression upon the least honorably esteemed of
the five senses! As a boy, it was one of my tasks to keep down with a
scythe the weeds and bushes in a rocky, thin-soiled cattle pasture. In
that task,--which, at the best, was a little too much like work--my most
troublesome enemy was the common wild indigo (_Baptisia tinctoria_),
partly from the wicked pertinacity with which it sprang up again after
every mowing, but especially from the fact that the cut or bruised stalk
exhaled what in my nostrils was a most abominable odor. Other people
do not find it so offensive, I suspect, but to me it was, and is, ten
times worse than the more pungent but comparatively salubrious perfume
which a certain handsome little black-and-white quadruped--handsome, but
impolite--is given to scattering upon the nocturnal breeze in moments of
extreme perturbation.

Somewhere beyond the Suwanee River (at which I looked as long as it
remained in sight--and thought of Christine Nilsson) there came a sudden
change in the aspect of the country, coincident with a change in the
nature of the soil, from white sand to red clay; a change indescribably
exhilarating to a New Englander who had been living, if only for
two months, in a country without hills. How good it was to see the
land rising, though never so gently, as it stretched away toward the
horizon! My spirits rose with it. By and by we passed extensive hillside
plantations, on which little groups of negroes, men and women, were at
work. I seemed to see the old South of which I had read and dreamed, a
South not in the least like anything to be found in the wilds of southern
and eastern Florida; a land of cotton, and, better still, a land of
Southern people, instead of Northern tourists and settlers. And when we
stopped at a thrifty-looking village, with neat, homelike houses, open
grounds, and lordly shade-trees, I found myself saying under my breath,
"Now, then, we are getting back into God's country."

As for Tallahassee itself, it was exactly what I had hoped to find
it: a typical Southern town; not a camp in the woods, nor an old city
metamorphosed into a fashionable winter resort; a place untainted by
"Northern enterprise," whose inhabitants were unmistakably at home,
and whose houses, many of them, at least, had no appearance of being
for sale. It is compactly built on a hill,--the state capitol crowning
the top,--down the pretty steep sides of which run roads into the
open country all about. The roads, too, are not so sandy but that it
is comparatively comfortable to walk in them--a blessing which the
pedestrian sorely misses in the towns of lower Florida: at St. Augustine,
for example, where, as soon as one leaves the streets of the city
itself, walking and carriage-riding alike become burdensome and, for any
considerable distance, all but impossible. Here at Tallahassee, it was
plain, I should not be kept indoors for want of invitations from without.

I arrived, as I have said, rather late in the afternoon; so late
that I did nothing more than ramble a little about the city, noting
by the way the advent of the chimney swifts, which I had not found
elsewhere, and returning to my lodgings with a handful of "banana-shrub"
blossoms,--smelling wonderfully like their name,--which a good woman had
insisted upon giving me when I stopped beside the fence to ask her the
name of the bush. It was my first, but by no means my last, experience of
the floral generosity of Tallahassee people.

The next morning I woke betimes, and to my astonishment found the city
enveloped in a dense fog. The hotel clerk, an old resident, to whom
I went in my perplexity, was as much surprised as his questioner. He
did not know what it could mean, he was sure; it was very unusual; but
he thought it did not indicate foul weather. For a man so slightly
acquainted with such phenomena, he proved to be a remarkably good
prophet; for though, during my fortnight's stay, there must have been at
least eight foggy mornings, every day was sunny, and not a drop of rain
fell.

That first bright forenoon is still a bright memory. For one thing, the
mocking-birds outsang themselves till I felt, and wrote, that I had never
heard mocking-birds before. That they really did surpass their brethren
of St. Augustine and Sanford would perhaps be too much to assert, but
so it seemed; and I was pleased, some months afterward, to come upon a
confirmatory judgment by Mr. Maurice Thompson, who, if any one, must be
competent to speak.

"If I were going to risk the reputation of our country on the singing of
a mocking-bird against a European nightingale," says Mr. Thompson,[11]
"I should choose my champion from the hill-country in the neighborhood
of Tallahassee, or from the environs of Mobile.... I have found no birds
elsewhere to compare with those in that belt of country about thirty
miles wide, stretching from Live Oak in Florida, by way of Tallahassee,
to some miles west of Mobile."

[11] _By-Ways and Bird-Notes_, p. 20.

I had gone down the hill past some negro cabins, into a small, straggling
wood, and through the wood to a gate which let me into a plantation lane.
It was the fairest of summer forenoons (to me, I mean; by the almanac it
was only the 5th of April), and one of the fairest of quiet landscapes;
broad fields rising gently to the horizon, and before me, winding upward,
a grassy lane open on one side, and bordered on the other by a deep red
gulch and a zig-zag fence, along which grew vines, shrubs, and tall
trees. The tender and varied tints of the new leaves, the lively green
of the young grain, the dark ploughed fields, the red earth of the
wayside--I can see them yet, with all that Florida sunshine on them. In
the bushes by the fence-row were a pair of cardinal grosbeaks, the male
whistling divinely, quite unabashed by the volubility of a mocking-bird
who balanced himself on the treetop overhead,

    "Superb and sole, upon a pluméd spray,"

and seemed determined to show a Yankee stranger what mocking-birds could
really do when they set out. He did his work well; the love notes of the
flicker could not have been improved by the flicker himself; but, right
or wrong, I could not help feeling that the cardinal struck a truer and
deeper note; while both together did not hinder me from hearing the faint
songs of grasshopper sparrows rising from the ground on either side of
the lane. It was a fine contrast: the mocker flooding the air from the
topmost bough, and the sparrows whispering their few almost inaudible
notes out of the grass. Yes, and at the self-same moment the eye also
had its contrast; for a marsh hawk was skimming over the field, while up
in the sky soared a pair of hen-hawks.

In the wood, composed of large trees, both hard wood and pine, I had
found a group of three summer tanagers, two males and one female,--the
usual proportion with birds generally, one may almost say, in the
pairing season. The female was the first of her sex that I had seen,
and I remarked with pleasure the comparative brightness of her dress.
Among tanagers, as among negroes, red and yellow are esteemed a pretty
good match. At this point, too, in a cluster of pines, I caught a new
song--faint and listless, like the indigo-bird's, I thought; and at the
word I started forward eagerly. Here, doubtless, was the indigo-bird's
southern congener, the nonpareil, or painted bunting, a beauty which I
had begun to fear I was to miss. I had recognized my first tanager from
afar, ten days before, his voice and theme were so like his Northern
relative's; but this time I was too hasty. My listless singer was not the
nonpareil, nor even a finch of any kind, but a yellow-throated warbler.
For a month I had seen birds of his species almost daily, but always
in hard wood trees, and silent. Henceforth, as long as I remained in
Florida, they were invariably in pines,--their summer quarters,--and
in free song. Their plumage is of the neatest and most exquisite; few,
even among warblers, surpass them in that regard: black and white
(reminding one of the black-and-white creeper, which they resemble also
in their feeding habits), with a splendid yellow gorget. Myrtle warblers
(yellow-rumps) were still here (the peninsula is alive with them in the
winter), and a ruby-crowned kinglet mingled its lovely voice with the
simple trills of pine warblers, while out of a dense low treetop some
invisible singer was pouring a stream of fine-spun melody. It should have
been a house wren, I thought (another was singing close by), only its
tune was several times too long.

At least four of my longer excursions into the surrounding country (long,
not intrinsically, but by reason of the heat) were made with a view
to possible ivory-billed woodpeckers. Just out of the town northward,
beyond what appeared to be the court end of Marion Street, the principal
business street of the city, I had accosted a gentleman in a dooryard
in front of a long, low, vine-covered, romantic-looking house. He was
evidently at home, and not so busy as to make an interruption probably
intrusive. I inquired the name of a tree, I believe. At all events,
I engaged him in conversation, and found him most agreeable--an Ohio
gentleman, a man of science, who had been in the South long enough to
have acquired large measures of Southern _insouciance_ (there are times
when a French word has a politer sound than any English equivalent),
which takes life as made for something better than worry and pleasanter
than hard work. He had seen ivory-bills, he said, and thought I might be
equally fortunate if I would visit a certain swamp, about which he would
tell me, or, better still, if I would go out to Lake Bradford.

First, because it was nearer, I went to the swamp, taking an early
breakfast and setting forth in a fog that was almost a mist, to make
as much of the distance as possible before the sun came out. My course
lay westward, some four miles, along the railway track, which, thanks
to somebody, is provided with a comfortable footpath of hard clay
covering the sleepers midway between the rails. If all railroads were
thus furnished they might be recommended as among the best of routes for
walking naturalists, since they go straight through the wild country.
This one carried me by turns through woodland and cultivated field,
upland and swamp, pine land and hammock; and, happily, my expectations of
the ivory-bill were not lively enough to quicken my steps or render me
heedless of things along the way.

Here I was equally surprised and delighted by the sight of yellow
jessamine still in flower more than a month after I had seen the end
of its brief season, only a hundred miles further south. So great,
apparently, is the difference between the peninsula and this Tallahassee
hill-country, which by its physical geography seems rather to be a
part of Georgia than of Florida. Here, too, the pink azalea was at its
prettiest, and the flowering dogwood, also, true queen of the woods in
Florida as in Massachusetts. The fringe-bush, likewise, stood here and
there in solitary state, and thorn-bushes flourished in bewildering
variety. Nearer the track were the omnipresent blackberry vines, some
patches of which are especially remembered for their bright rosy flowers.

Out of the dense vegetation of a swamp came the cries of Florida
gallinules, and then, of a sudden, I caught, or seemed to catch, the
sweet _kurwee_ whistle of a Carolina rail. Instinctively I turned my
ear for its repetition, and by so doing admitted to myself that I was
not certain of what I had heard, although the sora's call is familiar,
and the bird was reasonably near. I had been taken unawares, and every
ornithologist knows how hard it is to be sure of one's self in such a
case. He knows, too, how uncertain he feels of any brother observer who
in a similar case seems troubled by no distrust of his own senses. The
whistle, whatever it had been, was not repeated, and I lost my only
opportunity of adding the sora's name to my Florida catalogue--a loss,
fortunately, of no consequence to any but myself, since the bird is well
known as a winter visitor to the State.

Further along, a great blue heron was stalking about the edge of a
marshy pool, and further still, in a woody swamp, stood three little
blue herons, one of them in white plumage. In the drier and more open
parts of the way cardinals, mocking-birds, and thrashers were singing,
ground doves were cooing, quails were prophesying, and loggerhead shrikes
sat, trim and silent, on the telegraph wire. In the pine lands were
plenty of brown-headed nuthatches, full, as always, of friendly gossip;
two red-shouldered hawks, for whom life seemed to wear a more serious
aspect; three Maryland yellow-throats; a pair of bluebirds, rare enough
now to be twice welcome; a black-and-white creeper, and a yellow redpoll
warbler. In the same pine-woods, too, there was much good music: house
wrens, Carolina wrens, red-eyed and white-eyed vireos, pine warblers,
yellow-throated warblers, blue yellow-backs, red-eyed chewinks, and,
twice welcome, like the bluebirds, a Carolina chickadee.

A little beyond this point, in a cut through a low sand bank, I found two
pairs of rough-winged swallows, and stopped for some time to stare at
them, being myself, meanwhile, a gazing-stock for two or three negroes
lounging about the door of a cabin not far away. It is a happy chance
when a man's time is _doubly_ improved. Two of the birds--the first ones
I had ever seen, to be sure of them--perched directly before me on the
wire, one facing me, the other with his back turned. It was kindly done;
and then, as if still further to gratify my curiosity, they visited a
bole in the bank. A second bole was doubtless the property of the other
pair. Living alternately in heaven and in a hole in the ground, they wore
the livery of the earth.

    "They are not fair to outward view
    As many swallows be,"

I said to myself. But I was not the less glad to see them.

I should have been gladder for a sight of the big woodpecker, whose
reputed dwelling-place lay not far ahead. But, though I waited and
listened, and went through the swamp, and beyond it, I beard no strange
about, nor saw any strange bird; and toward noon, just as the sun brushed
away the fog, I left the railway track for a carriage byway which, I felt
sure, must somehow bring me back to the city. And so it did, past here
and there a house, till I came to the main road, and then to the Murat
estate, and was again on familiar ground.

Two mornings afterward I made another early and foggy start, this time
for Lake Bradford. My instructions were to follow the railway for a mile
or so beyond the station, and then take a road bearing away sharply to
the left. This I did, making sure I was on the right road by inquiring
of the first man I saw--a negro at work before his cabin. I had gone
perhaps half a mile further when a white man, on his way after a load of
wood, as I judged, drove up behind me. "Won't you ride?" he asked. "You
are going to Lake Bradford, I believe, and I am going a piece in the
same direction." I jumped up behind (the wagon consisting of two long
planks fastened to the two axles), thankful, but not without a little
bewilderment. The good-hearted negro, it appeared, had asked the man to
look out for me; and he, on his part, seemed glad to do a kindness as
well as to find company. We jolted along, chatting at arm's length, as it
were, about this and that. He knew nothing of the ivory-bill; but wild
turkeys--oh, yes, he had seen a flock of eight, as well as he could
count, not long before, crossing the road in the very woods through which
I was going. As for snakes, they were plenty enough, he guessed. One
of his horses was bitten while ploughing, and died in half an hour. (A
Florida man who cannot tell at least one snake story may be set down as
having land to sell.) He thought it a pretty good jaunt to the lake, and
the road wasn't any too plain, though no doubt I should get there; but I
began to perceive that a white man who traveled such distances on foot in
that country was more of a _rara avis_ than any woodpecker.

Our roads diverged after a while, and my own soon ran into a wood with
an undergrowth of saw palmetto. This was the place for the ivory-bill,
and as at the swamp two days before, so now I stopped and listened,
and then stopped and listened again. The Fates were still against me.
There was neither woodpecker nor turkey, and I pushed on, mostly through
pine-woods--full of birds, but nothing new--till I came out at the lake.
Here, beside an idle sawmill and heaps of sawdust, I was greeted by a
solitary negro, well along in years, who demanded, in a tone of almost
comical astonishment, where in the world I had come from. I told him
from Tallahassee, and he seemed so taken aback that I began to think I
must look uncommonly like an invalid, a "Northern consumptive," perhaps.
Otherwise, why should a walk of six miles, or something less, be treated
as such a marvel? However, the negro and I were soon on the friendliest
of terms, talking of the old times, the war, the prospects of the colored
people (the younger ones were fast going to the bad, he thought), while
I stood looking out over the lake, a pretty sheet of water, surrounded
mostly by cypress woods, but disfigured for the present by the doings of
lumbermen. What interested me most (such is the fate of the devotee) was
a single barn swallow, the first and only one that I saw on my Southern
trip.

On my way back to the city, after much fatherly advice about the road on
the part of the negro, who seemed to feel that I ran the greatest risk of
getting lost, I made two more additions to my Florida catalogue--the wood
duck and the yellow-billed cuckoo, the latter unexpectedly early (April
11), since Mr. Chapman had recorded it as arriving at Gainesville at a
date sixteen days later than this.

I did not repeat my visit to Lake Bradford; but, not to give up the
ivory-bill too easily,--and because I must walk somewhere,--I went again
as far as the palmetto scrub. This time, though I still missed the
woodpecker, I was fortunate enough to come upon a turkey. In the thickest
part of the wood, as I turned a corner, there she stood before me in the
middle of the road. She ran along the horse-track for perhaps a rod, and
then disappeared among the palmetto leaves.

Meanwhile, two or three days before, while returning from St. Mark's,
whither I had gone for a day on the river, I had noticed from the car
window a swamp, or baygall, which looked so promising that I went the
very next morning to see what it would yield. I had taken it for a
cypress swamp, but it proved to be composed mainly of oaks; very tall
but rather slender trees, heavily draped with hanging moss and standing
in black water. Among them were the swollen stumps, three or four feet
high, of larger trees which had been felled. I pushed in through the
surrounding shrubbery and bay-trees, and waited for some time, leaning
against one of the larger trunks and listening to the noises, of which
the air of the swamp was full. Great-crested flycatchers, two Acadian
flycatchers, a multitude of blue yellow-backed warblers, and what I
supposed to be some loud-voiced frogs were especially conspicuous in
the concert; but a Carolina wren, a cardinal, a red-eyed vireo, and
a blue-gray gnatcatcher, the last with the merest thread of a voice,
contributed their share to the medley, and once a chickadee struck up his
sweet and gentle strain in the very depths of the swamp--like an angel
singing in hell.

My walk on the railway, that wonderful St. Mark's branch (I could never
have imagined the possibility of running trains over so crazy a track),
took me through the choicest of bird country. The bushes were alive, and
the air rang with music. In the midst of the chorus I suddenly caught
somewhere before me what I had no doubt was the song of a purple finch,
a bird that I had not yet seen in Florida. I quickened my steps, and
to my delight the singer proved to be a blue grosbeak. I had caught a
glimpse of one two days before, as I have described in another chapter,
but with no opportunity for a final identification. Here, as it soon
turned out, there were at least four birds, all males, and all singing;
chasing each other about after the most persistent fashion, in a piece
of close shrubbery with tall trees interspersed, and acting--the four
of them--just as two birds are often seen to do when contending for the
possession of a building site. At a first hearing the song seems not so
long sustained as the purple finch's commonly is, but exceedingly like it
in voice and manner, though not equal to it, I should be inclined to say,
in either respect. The birds made frequent use of a monosyllabic call,
corresponding to the calls of the purple finch and the rose-breasted
grosbeak, but readily distinguishable from both. I was greatly pleased
to see them, and thought them extremely handsome, with their dark blue
plumage set off by wing patches of rich chestnut.

A little farther, and I was saluted by the saucy cry of my first Florida
chat. The fellow had chosen just such a tangled thicket as he favors in
Massachusetts, and whistled and kept out of sight after the most approved
manner of his kind. On the other side of the track a white-eyed vireo
was asserting himself, as he had been doing since the day I reached
St. Augustine; but though he seems a pretty clever substitute for the
chat in the chat's absence, his light is quickly put out when the clown
himself steps into the ring. Ground doves cooed, cardinals whistled, and
mocking-birds sang and mocked by turns. Orchard orioles, no unworthy
companions of mocking-birds and cardinals, sang here and there from a low
treetop, especially in the vicinity of houses. To judge from what I saw,
they are among the most characteristic of Tallahassee birds,--as numerous
as Baltimore orioles are in Massachusetts towns, and frequenting much the
same kind of places. In one day's walk I counted twenty-five. Elegantly
dressed as they are,--and elegance is better than brilliancy, perhaps,
even in a bird,--they seem to be thoroughly democratic. It was a pleasure
to see them so fond of cabin dooryards.

Of the other birds along the St. Mark's railway, let it be enough to
mention white-throated and white-crowned sparrows, red-eyed chewinks
(the white-eye was not found in the Tallahassee region), a red-bellied
woodpecker, two red-shouldered hawks, shrikes, kingbirds, yellow-throated
warblers, Maryland yellow-throats, pine warblers, palm warblers,--which
in spite of their name seek their summer homes north of the United
States,--myrtle warblers, now grown scarce, house wrens, summer tanagers,
and quails. The last-named birds, by the way, I had expected to find
known as "partridges" at the South, but as a matter of fact I heard
that name applied to them only once. On the St. Augustine road, before
breakfast, I met an old negro setting out for his day's work behind
a pair of oxen. "Taking some good exercise?" he asked, by way of a
neighborly greeting; and, not to be less neighborly than he, I responded
with some remark about a big shot-gun which occupied a conspicuous place
in his cart. "Oh," he said, "game is plenty out where we are going, about
eight miles, and I take the gun along." "What kind of game?" "Well, sir,
we may sometimes find a partridge." I smiled at the anti-climax, but was
glad to hear Bob White honored for once with his Southern title.

A good many of my jaunts took me past the gallinule swamp before
mentioned, and almost always I stopped and went near. It was worth
while to hear the poultry cries of the gallinules if nothing more; and
often several of the birds would be seen swimming about among the big
white lilies and the green tussocks. Once I discovered one of them
sitting upright on a stake,--a precarious seat, off which he soon
tumbled awkwardly into the water. At another time, on the same stake,
sat some dark, strange-looking object. The opera-glass showed it at
once to be a large bird sitting with its back toward me, and holding
its wings uplifted in the familiar heraldic, _e-pluribus-unum_ attitude
of our American spread-eagle; but even then it was some seconds before
I recognized it as an anhinga,--water-turkey,--though it was a male in
full nuptial garb. I drew nearer and nearer, and meanwhile it turned
squarely about,--a slow and ticklish operation,--so that its back was
presented to the sun; as if it had dried one side of its wings and
tail,--for the latter, too, was fully spread,--and now would dry the
other. There for some time it sat preening its feathers, with monstrous
twistings and untwistings of its snaky neck. If the chat is a clown,
the water-turkey would make its fortune as a contortionist. Finally it
rose, circled about till it got well aloft, and then, setting its wings,
sailed away southward and vanished, leaving me in a state of wonder as
to where it had come from, and whether it was often to be seen in such a
place--perfectly open, close beside the highway, and not far from houses.
I did not expect ever to see another, but the next morning, on my way up
the railroad to pay a second visit to the ivory-bill's swamp, I looked up
by chance,--a brown thrush was singing on the telegraph wire,--and saw
two anhingas soaring overhead, their silvery wings glistening in the sun
as they wheeled. I kept my glass on them till the distance swallowed them
up.

Of one long forenoon's ramble I retain particular remembrance, not on
account of any birds, but for a half hour of pleasant human intercourse.
I went out of the city by an untried road, hoping to find some trace of
migrating birds, especially of certain warblers, the prospect of whose
acquaintance was one of the lesser considerations which had brought me so
far from home. No such trace appeared, however, nor, in my fortnight's
stay in Tallahassee, in almost the height of the migratory season, did
I, so far as I could tell, see a single passenger bird of any sort.
Some species arrived from the South--cuckoos and orioles, for example;
others, no doubt, took their departure for the North; but to the best
of my knowledge not one passed through. It was a strange contrast to
what is witnessed everywhere in New England. By some other route swarms
of birds must at that moment have been entering the United States from
Mexico and beyond; but unless my observation was at fault,--and I am
assured that sharper eyes than mine have had a similar experience,--their
line of march did not bring them into the Florida hill-country. My
morning's road not only showed me no birds, but led me nowhere, and,
growing discouraged, I turned back till I came to a lane leading off to
the left at right angles. This I followed so far that it seemed wise, if
possible, to make my way back to the city without retracing my steps. Not
to spend my strength for naught, however (the noonday sun having always
to be treated with respect), I made for a solitary house in the distance.
Another lane ran past it. That, perhaps, would answer my purpose. I
entered the yard, all ablaze with roses, and in response to my knock a
gentleman appeared upon the doorstep. Yes, he said, the lane would carry
me straight to the Meridian road (so I think he called it), and thence
into the city. "Past Dr. H.'s?" I asked, "Yes." And then I knew where I
was.

First, however, I must let my new acquaintance show me his garden. His
name was G., he said. Most likely I had heard of him, for the legislature
was just then having a good deal to say about his sheep, in connection
with some proposed dog-law. Did I like roses? As he talked he cut one
after another, naming each as he put it into my hand. Then I must look at
his Japanese persimmon trees, and many other things. Here was a pretty
shrub. Perhaps I could tell what it was by crushing and smelling a leaf?
No; it was something familiar; I sniffed, and looked foolish, and after
all he had to tell me its name--camphor. So we went the rounds of the
garden,--frightening a mocking-bird off her nest in an orange-tree,--till
my hands were full. It is too bad I have forgotten how many pecan-trees
he had planted, and how many sheep he kept. A well-regulated memory would
have held fast to such figures: mine is certain only that there were four
eggs in the mocking-bird's nest. Mr. G. was a man of enterprise, at any
rate; a match for any Yankee, although he had come to Florida not from
Yankeeland, but from northern Georgia. I hope all his crops are still
thriving, especially his white roses and his Marshal Niels.

In the lane, after skirting some pleasant woods, which I meant to visit
again, but found no opportunity, I was suddenly assaulted by a pair of
brown thrashers, half beside themselves after their manner because of
my approach to their nest. How close my approach was I cannot say; but
it must be confessed that I played upon their fears to the utmost of my
ability, wishing to see as many of their neighbors as the disturbance
would bring together. Several other thrashers, a catbird, and two house
wrens appeared (all these, since "blood is thicker than water," may
have felt some special cousinly solicitude, for aught I know), with a
ruby-crowned kinglet and a field sparrow.

In the valley, near a little pond, as I came out into the Meridian road,
a solitary vireo was singing, in the very spot where one had been heard
six days before. Was it the same bird? I asked myself. And was it settled
for the summer? Such an explanation seemed the more likely because I had
found no solitary vireo anywhere else about the city though the species
had been common earlier in the season in eastern and southern Florida,
where I had seen my last one--at New Smyrna--March 26.

At this same dip in the Meridian road, on a previous visit, I had
experienced one of the pleasantest of my Tallahassee sensations. The
morning was one of those when every bird is in tune. By the roadside I
had just passed Carolina wrens, house wrens, a chipper, a field sparrow,
two thrashers, an abundance of chewinks, two orchard orioles, several
tanagers, a flock of quail, and mocking-birds and cardinals uncounted.
In a pine-wood near by, a wood pewee, a pine warbler, a yellow-throated
warbler, and a pine-wood sparrow were singing--a most peculiarly select
and modest chorus. Just at the lowest point in the valley I stopped to
listen to a song which I did not recognize, but which, by and by, I
settled upon as probably the work of a freakish prairie warbler. At that
moment, as if to confirm my conjecture,--which in the retrospect becomes
almost ridiculous,--a prairie warbler hopped into sight on an outer twig
of the water-oak out of which the music had proceeded. Still something
said, "Are you sure?" and I stepped inside the fence. There on the ground
were two or three white-crowned sparrows, and in an instant the truth of
the case flashed upon me. I remembered the saying of a friend, that the
song of the white-crown had reminded him of the vesper sparrow and the
black-throated green warbler. That was my bird; and I listened again,
though I could no longer be said to feel in doubt. A long time I waited.
Again and again the birds sang, and at last I discovered one of them
perched at the top of the oak, tossing back his head and warbling--a
white-crowned sparrow: the one regular Massachusetts migrant which I had
often seen, but had never heard utter a sound.

The strain opens with smooth, sweet notes almost exactly like the
introductory syllables of the vesper sparrow. Then the tone changes, and
the remainder of the song is in something like the pleasingly hoarse
voice of a prairie warbler, or a black-throated green. It is soft and
very pretty; not so perfect a piece of art as the vesper sparrow's
tune,--few bird-songs are,--but taking for its very oddity, and at the
same time tender and sweet. More than one writer has described it as
resembling the song of the white-throat. Even Minot, who in general was
the most painstaking and accurate of observers, as he is one of the
most interesting of our systematic writers, says that the two songs
are "almost exactly" alike. There could be no better example of the
fallibility which attaches, and in the nature of the case must attach,
to all writing upon such subjects. The two songs have about as much in
common as those of the hermit thrush and the brown thrasher, or those
of the song sparrow and the chipper. In other words, they have nothing
in common. Probably in Minot's case, as in so many others of a similar
nature, the simple explanation is that when he thought he was listening
to one bird he was really listening to another.

The Tallahassee road to which I had oftenest resorted, to which, now,
from far Massachusetts, I oftenest look back, the St. Augustine road,
so called, I have spoken of elsewhere. Thither, after packing my trunk
on the morning of the 18th, I betook myself for a farewell stroll.
My holiday was done. For the last time, perhaps, I listened to the
mocking-bird and the cardinal, as by and by, when the grand holiday is
over, I shall listen to my last wood thrush and my last bluebird. But
what then? Florida fields are still bright, and neither mocking-bird nor
cardinal knows aught of my absence. And so it _will_ be.

    "When you and I behind the Veil are past,
    Oh, but the long, long while the World shall last."

None the less, it is good to have lived our day and taken our peep at the
mighty show. Ten thousand things we may have fretted ourselves about,
uselessly or worse. But to have lived in the sun, to have loved natural
beauty, to have felt the majesty of trees, to have enjoyed the sweetness
of flowers and the music of birds,--so much, at least, is not vanity nor
vexation of spirit.



INDEX.


  Air-plants, 104.
  Alligator, 131, 146.
  Azalea, 172, 206, 216.

  Baptisia, 206.
  Beggar's-ticks, 27.
  Blackberry, 27, 29, 117, 152, 163, 217.
  Blackbird, red-wing, 97, 106, 134, 145, 147, 161, 167.
  Bladderwort, 29.
  Bluebird, 4, 115, 147, 170, 218.
  Blue-eyed Grass, 30.
  Butterworts, 27, 28, 29, 173.
  Buzzard, turkey, 20, 36, 38, 66, 126, 128, 145.

  Calopogon, 125.
  Carrion Crow (Black Vulture), 40, 134, 191.
  Catbird, 65, 233.
  Cedar-bird, 80.
  Cedar, red, 90.
  Chat, yellow-breasted, 226.
  Cherokee Rose, 125, 165, 172, 201, 206.
  Cherry, wild, 175.
  Chewink (Towhee):--
    red-eyed, 65, 167, 218, 227, 234.
    white-eyed, 5, 65, 115, 227.
  Chickadee, Carolina, 21, 97, 218, 224.
  Chimney Swift, 209.
  Chuck-will's-widow, 96.
  Clematis Baldwinii, 125.
  Clover, buffalo, 191.
  Cloudberry, 29.
  Coot (Fulica americana), 134.
  Coquina Clam, 55.
  Coreopsis, 30.
  Cormorant, 66, 78, 124, 134, 145.
  Crab-apple, 172.
  Creeper, black-and-white, 97, 218.
  Cross-vine, 172.
  Crow, 5, 35, 37, 100, 114, 124.
  Cuckoo, yellow-billed, 176, 222.
  Cypress-tree, 127.

  Dabchick, 124, 128, 134, 145.
  Dove:--
    Carolina, 147.
    ground, 65, 147, 218, 226.
  Duck, wood, 222.

  Eagle, bald, 43, 79, 143, 145.
  Egret:--
    great white, 76.
    little white, 75.

  Fish-hawk, 42, 44, 79, 116, 127, 143, 147.
  Flicker (Golden-winged Woodpecker), 4, 65, 81, 106.
  Flowering Dogwood, 172, 206, 216.
  Flycatchers:--
    Acadian, 224. 240
    crested, 153, 224.
    kingbird, 176, 190, 191, 227.
    phœbe, 8, 65, 81.
    wood pewee, 170, 234.
  Fringe-bush, 206, 216.
  Frogs, 185.

  Gallinule:--
    Florida, 132, 217, 228.
    purple, 137, 139.
  Gannet, 46.
  Gnatcatcher, blue-gray, 224.
  Golden club, 27.
  Goldenrod, 26.
  Grackle, boat-tailed, 107, 124, 145.
  Grebe, pied-billed, 124, 128, 134, 145.
  Grosbeak:--
    cardinal, 64, 81, 114, 118, 166, 176, 191, 212, 218, 226, 234.
    blue, 187, 191, 224.
  Gull:--
    Bonaparte's, 48.
    ring-billed, 49.

  Hawk:--
    fish, 42, 44, 79, 116, 127, 143, 147.
    marsh, 36, 38, 176, 213.
    red-shouldered, 106, 115, 218, 227.
    sparrow, 76, 169.
    swallow-tailed, 138.
  Heron:--
    great blue, 35, 36, 39, 50, 70, 107, 134, 145, 190, 217.
    great white (_or_ Egret), 76.
    green, 76, 107, 133, 181.
    little blue, 74, 107, 134, 145, 181, 218.
    Louisiana, 74, 75, 107, 145.
    night (black-crowned), 133, 145.
  Honeysuckle:--
    scarlet, 172.
    white, 151, 172.
  Houstonia, round-leaved, 26, 82, 105, 116.
  Humming-bird, ruby-throated, 114, 118, 153.
  Hypoxis, 27.

  Iris versicolor, 29, 112, 139.

  Jay:--
    Florida, 61.
    Florida blue, 62, 153.
  Judas-tree, 27.

  Killdeer Plover, 39, 78.
  Kingbird, 176, 190, 191, 227.
  Kingfisher, 6, 36, 39, 145, 147.
  Kinglet, ruby-crowned, 81, 153, 170, 214, 233.
  Kite, fork-tailed, 138.
  Krigia, 27.

  Lantana, 151, 172.
  Lark, meadow, 6, 145, 183.
  Leptopoda, 30.
  Live-oak, 96, 104.
  Lizards, 115.
  Lobelia Feayana, 30.
  Loggerhead Shrike, 5, 111, 123, 177, 190, 191, 200, 218.
  Lygodesmia, 125.

  Martin, purple, 65, 124, 145, 147, 158, 176.
  Maryland Yellow-throat, 116, 218, 227.
  Mocking-bird, 4, 64, 81, 123, 167, 170, 176, 191, 210, 212, 218, 232,
      234.
  Mullein, 27.
  Myrtle Bird. _See_ Warbler.

  Night-hawk, 176.
  Nuthatch, brown-headed, 6, 106, 218.

  Orange, wild, 87, 105.
  Oriole, orchard, 177, 183, 191, 194, 200, 226, 234.
  Osprey. _See_ Fish-Hawk.
  Oven-bird, 80.
  Oxalis, yellow, 26, 37, 81, 152.

  Papaw, 125.
  Paroquet, 147.
  Partridge-berry, 105.
  Pelican:--
    brown, 47.
    white, 66.
  Persimmon, 175.
  Phœbe, 8, 65, 81.
  Pipewort, 30.
  Poison Ivy, 116.
  Poppy, Mexican, 152.

  Quail, 115, 118, 167, 176, 218, 227, 234.

  Rail:--
    Carolina, 217.
    clapper, 98.
    king, 138.
  Redbird (Cardinal Grosbeak), 64, 81, 114, 118, 166, 176, 191, 212, 218,
      224, 226, 234.
  "Ricebird," 161.
  Robin, 4.

  Salvia lyrata, 82.
  Sanderling, 49, 59.
  Sandpiper:--
    solitary, 181, 191.
    spotted, 35, 78.
  Sassafras, 175.
  Schrankia, 125.
  Senecio, 139.
  Shrike, loggerhead, 5, 111, 177, 190, 191, 200, 218, 227.
  Sow Thistle, 26.
  Snakebird (Water-Turkey), 66, 79, 141, 228.
  Sparrow:--
    chipping, 234.
    field, 15, 233, 234.
    grasshopper (yellow-winged), 212.
    pine-wood, 6, 13, 106, 118, 234.
    savanna, 65, 145.
    song, 65.
    white-crowned, 190, 191, 201, 227, 234.
    white-throated, 153, 191, 227.
  Spiderwort, 81.
  St. Peter's-wort, 27, 28.
  Strawberry, 173.
  Swallow:--
    barn, 222.
    rough-winged, 218.
    tree (white-bellied), 8, 65, 124, 145, 147.
  Swift, chimney, 209.

  Tanager, summer, 96, 153, 184, 191, 213, 227, 234.
  Tern, 49, 59, 78.
  Thorns, 172, 216.
  Thrasher (Brown Thrush), 17, 64, 168, 191, 218, 229, 232.
  Thrush:--
    hermit, 80, 170.
    Northern water, 80.
    Louisiana water, 80.
  Titlark, 38.
  Titmouse:--
    Carolina, 21, 97.
    tufted, 96.
  Towhee. _See_ Chewink.
  Turkey, 147, 220, 223.

  Vaccinium, arboreum, 172.
  Venus's Looking-glass (Specularia), 152.
  Verbena, 81.
  Violets, 27, 81, 116, 173.
  Vireo:--
    red-eyed, 218, 224.
    solitary, 97, 233.
    white-eyed, 36, 115, 170, 218, 226.
    yellow-throated, 191.
  Virginia creeper, 116.
  Vulture (Carrion Crow), 40, 134, 191.

  Warbler:--
    black-throated green, 21.
    blue yellow-backed, 96, 124, 147, 218, 224.
    myrtle (yellow-rumped), 36, 65, 97, 124, 145, 191, 214.
    palm (yellow redpoll), 65, 81, 145, 191, 218, 227.
    pine, 4, 106, 115, 214, 218, 227, 234.
    prairie, 81, 97, 124, 234.
    yellow-throated (Dendroica dominica), 21, 97, 153, 184, 213, 218, 227,
        234.
  Water Lily, 206, 228.
  Water Thrush:--
    Louisiana, 80.
    Northern, 80.
  Water-Turkey (Snakebird), 66, 79, 141, 228.
  Wood Pewee, 170, 234.
  Woodpecker:--
    downy, 4.
    golden-winged (flicker), 4, 65, 81, 106.
    ivory-billed, 190, 214.
    pileated, 25.
    red-bellied, 106, 169, 227.
    red-cockaded, 6, 24.
    red-headed, 177.
  Wren:--
    Carolina (mocking), 64, 116, 153, 200, 218, 224, 234.
    house, 81, 166, 214, 218, 227, 233, 234.
    long-billed marsh, 38, 100.
    winter, 17.

  Yellow Jessamine, 105, 216.
  Yellow-legs (Totanus flavipes), 181, 191.





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