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The Professor

Osceola

Following Aunt Diana, we all went into a vaulted chamber lighted by a small high-up window, or rather embrasure, in the heavy stone wall.

"Through that window the distinguished Seminole chieftain Coa-coo-thee, that is for to say, the Wild-cat, made his celebrated escape by starving himself to an atomy, squirming up, and squeezing through," announced the sergeant, who stood in front as torch-bearer.

"Then it wasn't a cat, after all," said Iris.

"Only in a Pickwickian sense," said John. "Now I thought all the while it was Osceola," said Sara, wearily.

"The Seminole war?" began the Professor.

"Captain, I am sure you know all about these things," said Iris; "pray tell me who was this Caloochy."

"Well," said Antinous, hesitating, "I believe he was the son of—son of King Philip, and he had something to do with the Dade massacre."

"King Philip'? Oh yes, now I know," said Iris. " Chapter twenty-seven, verse five : while hiding at Mount Hope, was heard to exclaim, Alas, I am the last of the Wampanoags ! Now indeed am I ready to the.' "

"Oh no, Iris dear," said Miss Sharp, hastily correcting; "that was the New England chieftain. This Philip was a Seminole—Philip of the Withlacoochee."

"Osceola is in it somewhere, I feel convinced," persisted Sara; "he is always turning up when least expected, like the immortal Pontiac of the West. There is something about the Caloosahatchee too."

"Are you not thinking of the distinguished chieftains Holatoochee and Taholoochee, and the river Chattahoochee '?" suggested John.

"For my part, I can't think of any thing but the chorus of that classical song, The Ham-fat Man, with a hoochee-koochee-koochee,' you know," whispered the Captain to Iris.

"Don't I!" she answered. "I have a small brother who adores that melody, and plays it continually on his banjo."

Confederate Monument

The next thing, of course, was the secret dungeon, and we crossed the court-yard, where the broad stone way led up to the ramparts, occupied during the late war by the tents of the United States soldiers, who preferred these breezy quarters to the dark chambers below. We passed the old chapel with its portico, inner altar, and niches for holy-water ; the hall of justice. The furnace for heating shot was outside, and the southeast turret still held the frame-work for the hell which once rang out the hours over the water.

Standing in the gloomy subterranean dungeon, we listened to the old sergeant's story—the fissure, the discovery of the walled-up entrance, the iron cage, and the human bones.

"Oh, do come out," I said. " Your picturesque Spaniards, Sara, are too much for me."

"But who- were the bones, I wonder ?" mused Iris.

"Yes," said Aunt Diana, "who were they ' Mr. Mokes, what do you think'?"

Mokes thought "they were rascals of some kind, you know—thieves, perhaps." "Huguenots," from John.

"Recreant priests," from myself.

"The architect of the fort, imprisoned that the secrets of its construction might (lie with him," suggested Miss Sharp.

"A prince of the blood royal, inconvenient to have around, and therefore sent over here to he out of the way," said Iris.

"For my part, I feel convinced that the bones were the mortal remains of Casper Hauser,' the Man with the Iron Mask,' and Have we a Bourbon among us," said Sara. Mokes looked at her. He never was quite sure whether she was simply strong-minded or a little out of her head. He did not know now, but decided to move a little farther away from her vicinity.

The Professor had left us some time before, and as we came out through the sally-port we saw him down in the moat in company with the fiddler-crabs, an ancient horse, and two small darkies.

"I have discovered the line of the counterscarp!" he cried, excitedly. "This is undoubtedly the talus of the covered way. If we walk slowly all around we may find other interesting evidences."

But there was mud in the moat, not to speak of the fiddlers, whose peculiarity is that you never can tell which way they are going—I don't believe they know themselves; and so our party declined the interesting evidences with thanks, and passing the demilune again, went down to the sea-wall. Miss Sharp looked back hesitatingly; but Aunt Diana had her eye upon her, and she gave it up.

In the afternoon all the party excepting myself went over to the North Beach in a sail-boat. I went down to the Basin to see them off. "Osceola" was painted on the stern of the boat. "Of course!" said Sara. She longed to look out over the broad ocean once more, otherwise she would hardly have consented to go without me. The boat glided out on the blue inlet, and Miss Sharp grasped the professor's arm as the mainsail swung round and the graceful little craft tilted far over in the fresh breeze.

"If you are frightened, Miss Sharp, pray change seats with me," I heard Aunt Diana say. The Captain was not there, but Mokes was; and John Hoffman was lying at ease on the little deck at the stern, watching the flying clouds. The boat courtesied herself away over the blue, and, left alone, I wandered off down the sea-wall, finding at the south end the United States Barracks, a large building with broad piazzas overlooking the water, and a little green parade-ground in front, like an oasis in the omnipresent sand. At the north end of the wall floated the flag of old San Marco, here at the south end floated the flag of the barracks, and the two marked the limits of the Ancient City. The post is called St. Francis, as the foundations of the building formed part of the old Franciscan monastery which was erected here more than two centuries ago. Turning, I came to a narrow street where stood a monument to the Confederate dead—a broken shaft carved in coquina. Little St. Augustine had its forty-four names inscribed here, and while I was reading them over a shadow fell on the tablet, and, turning, I saw an old negro, who, leaning on a cane, had paused behind me. "Good afternoon, uncle," I said. "Did you know the soldiers whose names are here?"

"Yas, I knowed 'em; my ole woman took car' ob some ob dem when dey was babies."

"The war made great changes for your people, uncle."

"Yas, we's free now. I tank de Lord dat day de news come dat my chil'en's free."

"But you yourself, uncle? It did not make so much difference to you?" I said, noticing the age and infirmity of the old man. But straightening his bent body, and raising his whitened head with a proud happiness in his old eyes, he answered,

"I breave anoder breff ebber sense, mistis, dat I do."


 
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