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Major Dade's Men

Military Cemetery

The military cemetery was a shady, grassy place, well tended, peaceful, and even pleasant. A handsome monument to all the soldiers and officers who fell during the long, hard, harassing Seminole war stood on one side, and near it were three low massive pyramids covering the remains of Major Dade and one hundred and seven soldiers, massacred by Osceola's band.

"There is a dramatic occurrence connected with this story," said Miss Sharp, sentimentally. "It seems that this gallant Major Dade and the other young officers attended a ball here in St. Augustine the evening before the battle, dancing nearly all night, and then riding away at dawn, withgay adieux and promises to return soon. That very morning, before the sun was high in heaven, they were all dead men! So like the I Battle of Waterloo,' you remember :

'There was a sound of revelry by night,
And Belgium's capital had gathered then
Her beauty and her chivalry.'

I do not think this incident is generally known, however."

"No, I don't think it is," replied John; "for as Major Dade and his command were coming up from Key West and Tampa Bay, on the west side of the State, and had just reached the Withlacoochee River when they met their fate, they must have traveled several hundred miles that night, besides swimming the St. Johns twice, to attend the ball and return in time for the battle. However," he added, seeing the discomfiture of the governess, "I have no doubt they would have been very glad to have attended it had it been possible, and we will let it go as one of those things that 'might have been,' as I said the other day to a young lady who, having been quite romantic over the Bravo's Lane,' was disgusted to find that it had nothing at all to do with handsome operatic scoundrels in slouch hats and feathers, but was so called after a worthy family here named Bravo."

The Professor now began to rehearse the Dade story; indeed, he gave us an abstract of the whole Florida war. Aunt Diana professed herself much interested, and leaned on the Captain's arm all the time. Miss Sharp took notes.

"Come," whispered Sara, "let us go back and sit on the sea-wail."

"Why?" I said, for I rather liked watching the Captain's impalement.

"Martha Miles," demanded Sara, "do you think—do you really think that I am going either to stand or stand through another massacre?"

The next morning I was summoned to Aunt Di by a hasty three-cornered note, and found her in a darkened room, with a handkerchief bound around her head.

"A headache, Aunt Di?"

"Yes, Niece Martha, and worse—a heartache also," replied a muffled voice.

"What is the trouble?"

"Adrian Mokes has gone!"

"Gone?"

"Yes, this morning."

"Off on that hunting expedition?"

"No," replied Aunt Diana, sadly; "he has gone, never to return."

I took a seat by the bedside, for I know Aunt Di had a story to tell. Now and then she did let out her troubles to me, and then seemed to feel the better for it, and ready to go on for another six months. I was a sort of safety-valve for the high pressure of her many plans.

"You know all I have done for Iris," she began, "the care I have bestowed upon her. Unhappy child she has thrown aside a princely fortune with that frivolity which she inherits from her father's family. My dear sister Clementina had no such traits."

"Did she really refuse him, then?"

" No; even that comfort was denied to me," said poor Aunt Di; "it would have been something, at any rate. But no; her conduct has been such that he simply announced to me that he had decided to take a leisurely trip around the world, and afterward he might spend a year or so in England, where the society was suited to his tastes—no shop-keepers, and that sort of thing."

"Happy England!" I said; but Aunt Di went on with her lamentations. "He certainly admired Iris, and Iris has certainly encouraged him for months. It is all very well to talk about romance, but Iris is an extravagant little thing, and would be wretched as a poor man's wife; even you can not deny that, Niece Martha" (I could not, and did not). " Mokes would have suited her very well in the long-run, and now, by her own foolishness, she has lost him forever. I must confess I felt sick at heart, to say nothing of being chilled to the bone sitting on that damp stone."

"And where were you then?"

"Well, to tell the truth, I thought I would hint a little something to Mokes—delicately, of course—and, as we were walking to and fro on the sea-wall, I proposed strolling into the demi-lune."

"That demi-lune!" I exclaimed.

"Yes; it is quite retired, you know, and I had never seen it."

That demi-lune!

But that was not all I had to lay up against that venerable and mysterious outlying fortification. The next afternoon I myself strolled up there, and passing by the two dragons, their two houses, and the supplyof mutton hanging up below, I climbed the old stairway, and turning the angle, sat down on the grass to rest a while. I had a new novel, and leaning back comfortably against the parapet, I began to read; but the warm sunshine lulled me before I knew it into one of those soothing after-dinner naps so dear to forty years. The sound of voices woke me. "No; Miss Miles is superficial, not to say flippant."

("Decidedly, listeners never hear any good of themselves," I thought; " but I can't show myself now, of course, without making matters worse. If they should come up farther, I can be sound asleep." For the voice came from the little hidden stairway, and belonged unmistakably to our solemn Professor.)

"And Miss St. John is decidedly overbearing," continued our learned friend.

"It is only too true," sighed the voice of the governess. "But those are the faults of the feminine mind when undisciplined by regular mental training."

"I have noticed, however, one mind" (and here the Professor's voice took a tender tone)—"one mind, Miss Sharp, whose workings seem to follow my own, one mind in which I can see an interest, veiled, of course, as is seemly, but still plainly discernible to the penetrative eye—an interest in my Great Work, now in process of compilation. My emotional nature has, I fear, been somewhat neglected in the cultivation of my intellectual faculties, but there is still time for its development, I think."

Miss Sharp, in a gentle, assenting murmur, thought there was.

(" So it has come about at last," I said to myself; "and very well suited they are, too.")

"This mind might be of assistance to me in many ways," continued the Professor. "I could mould it to my own. And I can not let the present happy occasion pass without disclosing to you, my dear Miss Sharp, the state of my feelings. Although youthful, Miss Carew—"

"Iris!" I repeated, under my breath. "Iris!" ejaculated the governess.

"Yes, Iris, if I may use the gentle name," said the Professor.


 
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