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Two Ghouls

Turning into St. George Street, we found at the northern end of the town the old City Gates, the most picturesque ruin of picturesque St. Augustine. The two pillars are moresque, surmounted by a carved pomegranate, and attached are portions of the wall, which, together with an outer ditch, once extended from the Castle of San Marco, a short distance to the east, across the peninsula to the San Sebastian, on the west, thus fortifying the town against all approaches by land. The position of St. Augustine is almost insular. Tide-water sweeps up around and behind it, and to this and the ever-present sea-breeze must be attributed the wonderful health of the town, which not only exists, but is pre-eminent, in spite of a neglect of sanitary regulations which would not be endured one day in the villages of the North.

Passing through the old gateway, we came out upon the Shell Road, the grand boulevard of the future, as yet but a few yards in length.

"They make about ten feet a year,"said John; "and when they are at work, all I can say unto you is, ' Beware!' You suppose it is a load of empty. shells they are throwing down; but no. Have they time, forsooth, to take out the oysters, these hard-pressed workmen of St. Augustine I By no means; and so down they go, oysters and all, and the road makes known its extension on the evening breezes."

The soft moonlight lay on the green waste beyond the gates, lighting up the North River and its silver sand-hills. The old fort loomed up dark and frowning, but the moonlight shone through its ruined turrets, and only the birds of the night kept watch on desolate battlements. The city lay behind us. It had never dared to stretch much beyond. the old gates, and the few people who did live outside were spoken of as very far off—a. sort of Bedouins of the desert encamping temporarily on the green. As we went on the moonlight lighted up the white head-stones of a little cemetery on the left side of the road.

"This is one of the disappointing ceme-, teries that was nothing to speak of,' I sup- pose,"said Sara.

"It is the Protestant cemetery,"replied John, "remarkable only for its ugliness and the number of inscriptions telling the same sad story of strangers in a strange land—persons brought here in quest of health from all parts of the country, only to die far away from home."

"Where is the old Huguenot burying-ground?"asked Aunt Di.

"The Huguenots, poor fellows, never had a burying-ground, nor so much even as a burying, as far as I can learn,"said Sara.

"But there is one somewhere,"pursued Aunt Di. "I have heard it described as a spot of much interest."

"That has been a standing item for years in all the Florida guide-books, "said John, "systematically repeated in the latest editions. They will give up a good deal, but that cherished Huguenot cemetery they must and will retain. The Huguenots, poor fellows, as Miss St. John says, never had a cemetery here, and it is only within comparatively modern times that there has been any Protestant cemetery whatever. Formerly the bodies of all persons not Romanists were sent across to the island for sepulture."

The Shell Road having come to an end, we walked on in the moonlight, now on little grass patches, now in the deep sand, passing a ruined stone wall, all that was left of a pleasant home, destroyed, like many other outlying residences, during the war. The myrtle thickets along the road-side were covered with the clambering curling sprays of the yellow jasmine, the lovely wild flower that brings the spring to Florida. We • stopped to gather the wreaths of golden blossoms, and decked ourselves with them, Southern fashion. Every one wears the jasmine. When it first appears every one says, "Have you seen it ° It has come!"And out they go to gather it, and bring it home in triumph.

Passing through the odd little wicket, which, with the old- fashioned turnstile, is used in Florida instead of a latched gate, we found ourselves in a green lane bordered at the far end with cedars. Here, down on the 'North River, was the Rose Garden, now standing with its silent house fast asleep in the moonlight.

"I do not see Iris,"said Aunt Diana, anxiously.

"There is somebody over on the other side of the hedge,"said Sara.

We looked, and beheld two figures bending down and apparently scratching in the earth with sticks.

"What in the world are they doing?"said Aunt Diana. "They can not be sowing seed in the middle of the night, can they?"

"They look like two ghouls,"said Sara, "and one of them has—yes, I am sure one of them has a bone."

"It is Miss Sharp and the Professor,"said John.

It was. We streamed over in a body and confronted them. "So interesting!" began Miss Sharp, in explanatory haste. "At various times the fragments of no less than eight skeletons have been discovered here, it seems, and we have been so fortunate as to secure a relic, a valuable Huguenot relic;"and with pride she displayed her bone.

"Of course,"said Sara, "a massacre! What did I tell you, Martha, about their arising from the past and glaring at me?"

"Miss Sharp,"began Aunt Diana, grimly, "where is Iris?"

"Oh, she is right here, the dear child. Iris! Iris!"

But no Iris appeared.

"I assure you she has not left my side until—until now,"said the negligent shepherdess, peering about the shadowy garden. "Iris! Iris!"

"And pray, Miss Sharp, how long may be your now 9"demanded Aunt Diana, with cutting emphasis.

This feminine colloquy had taken place at one side. The Professor dug on meanwhile with eager enthusiasm, only stopping to hand John another relic which he had just unearthed.

"Thank you,"said John, gravely; "but I could not think of depriving you."

"Oh, I only meant you to hold it a while for me,"replied the Professor.

On the front steps leading to the piazza of the sleeping house we found the two delinquents. They rose as we came solemnly up the path.

"Why, Aunt Di, is that you? Who would have thought of your coming out here at this time of night 9"began Iris, in her most innocent voice. The Captain stood twirling his blonde mustache with the air of a disinterested outsider:

"Don't make a fuss, Aunt Di,"I whispered, warningly, under my breath. "It can't be helped now. Take it easy; it's the only way."


 
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