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- Yankee Girl at Fort Sumter - 4/25 -
Sovereign State," she concluded.
"What's that? What's a 'sovereign'?" questioned Sylvia.
Grace shook her head. It had sounded like a very fine thing when her father had spoken it, so she had repeated it with great pride.
"We can ask Miss Rosalie," she suggested.
Mammy Esther left the girls at the gate of Miss Patten's garden. As they went up the path Flora Hayes came to meet them.
"I was waiting for you," she said. "I want to ask you both to come out to our plantation next Saturday and spend Sunday. My mother is going to write and ask your mothers if they will give me the pleasure of your company."
"I am sure I can come," declared Grace, "and I think it's lovely of you to ask me."
"You'll come, won't you, Sylvia?" said Flora, putting her arm over the little girl's shoulders as they went up the steps.
"Yes, indeed; thank you very much for asking me," replied Sylvia. She had visited the Hayes plantation early in the summer, and thought it a more wonderful place even than the big mansion on Tradd Street where the Hayes family lived in the winter months. Mr. Hayes owned hundreds of negroes, and raised a great quantity of cotton. The house at the plantation was large, with many balconies, and cool, pleasant rooms. Flora had a pair of white ponies, and there were pigeons, and a number of dogs. Sylvia was sure that it would be a beautiful visit, especially as Grace would be there.
As she went smilingly toward her seat in the schoolroom she passed Elinor Mayhew, who was already seated.
"Yankee!" whispered Elinor sharply, looking at her with scornful eyes.
But Sylvia, remembering that her father had said that all Americans were Yankees, nodded to the older girl and responded: "Yankee your-self!"
SYLVIA IN TROUBLE
The Hayes plantation was about ten miles distant from Charleston, on the opposite side of the Ashley River. Flora told Sylvia and Grace that the Hayes coachman would drive them out, and that they would start early on Saturday morning. Sylvia, remembering her former visit, knew well how delightful the drive would be, and thinking of the pleasure in store quite forgot to be troubled by Elinor Mayhew's hostility.
At recess the girls usually walked about in the garden, or tossed a ball back and forth. Miss Rosalie would sit on the broad piazza overlooking the garden, her fingers busy with some piece of delicate embroidery.
To-day, as they filed out and down the steps, Elinor whispered to several of her companions. And suddenly Sylvia realized that she was standing alone. Grace Waite had lingered to speak to Miss Rosalie; Flora had been excused just before recess, as her black mammy had arrived with a note from Mrs. Hayes. The other girls were gathered in a little group about Elinor, who was evidently telling them something of great interest. Sylvia walked slowly along toward a little summer-house where Miss Patten sometimes had little tea-parties. She hoped Grace would not stay long with Miss Patten. The other girls were between Sylvia and the arbor, and none of them moved to let her pass; nor did any of them speak to her, as she paused with a word of greeting.
"Now, girls," she heard Elinor say; and the others, half under their breath, but only too distinctly for Sylvia, called out: "Yankee, Yankee!" Then like a flock of bright-colored birds they ran swiftly into the summer-house.
For a moment Sylvia stood quite still. She realized that Elinor meant to be hateful; but she remembered that her father had said that all Americans were called "Yankees," and she was not a coward. She went straight on to the arbor. Elinor Mayhew stood on the steps.
"You are just as much a Yankee as I am. And you ought to be proud of it," declared Sylvia, facing the older girl.
"Hear that, girls!" called Elinor to the group about her. There was a little angry murmur from the others.
"Don't you dare say that again, Miss Boston," called May Bailey, who stood next to Elinor.
Sylvia was now thoroughly angry. She knew of no reason why these girls should treat her in so unkind a fashion. She felt very desolate and unhappy, but she faced them bravely.
"Yankees! Yankees! It's what all Americans are," she declared defiantly.
In an instant the little girls were all about her. Elinor Mayhew was holding her hands, and the others were pushing her along the path to the shore. The thick growing shrubs hid them from the house. Sylvia did not cry out or speak. She was not at all afraid, nor did she resist.
"We ought to make her take it back," said May Bailey, as Elinor stopped, and they all stood in a close group about Sylvia.
"Of course she's got to take it back, and apologize on her knees," declared Elinor. "She might as well learn that South Carolinians will not be insulted," and Elinor lifted her head proudly.
"I won't take it back!" retorted Sylvia, "and you are the ones who will have to apologize. Yes, every one of you, before I will ever speak to you again."
"Hear that, girls! Wouldn't it be dreadful if she never spoke to us again!" sneered Elinor.
"She means she will tell Miss Rosalie," said one of the girls.
"I don't, either. I can look after my own afffairs," retorted Sylvia bravely. "I'm not a tell-tale. Although I suppose girls who act the way you do would tell."
"Get down on your knees," commanded Elinor, trying to push the little girl.
"There's the bell," and they all turned and scampered back to the house, leaving Sylvia on the path; for Elinor had let go of her so suddenly that she had fallen forward.
Her knees were hurt, and one of her hands was bruised by the fall. For a moment she lay sobbing quietly. She was angry and miserable. She had been brave enough when the girls had seemed to threaten her, but now her courage was gone. She could not go back to the schoolroom and face all those enemies. If Miss Rosalie came in search of her she might not be able to resist telling her what had happened; and, miserable and unhappy as she was, Sylvia resolved that she would never tell.
"But Elinor Mayhew and all the rest of them shall be sorry for this. Yes, they shall," she sobbed as she got to her feet and turned toward the shore. She knew she must either go straight back to the schoolroom or else find a hiding-place until they had ceased to search for her. There was a wall at the foot of the garden, covered with fragrant jessamine and myrtle. If she could only get over that wall, thought Sylvia, she would be safe. She ran swiftly forward and began to scramble up, grasping the sturdy vines, and finding a foothold on some bit of rough brick. She reached the top just as she heard Miss Rosalie's servant calling her name.
Sylvia looked down to the further side. The vines drooped over and below the wall a high bank of sand sloped to the shore. Holding tight to the vines she slid down, hitting her bruised knees against the rough surface. The vines cut her hands, and when she tumbled into the sand her dress was torn and soiled, her pretty hair-ribbon was gone, and her once white stockings were grimy. Beside these misfortunes her hands were bleeding. Never in all her life had Sylvia been so wretched. She sat quite still in the warm sand, and wondered what she could do. If she went home her mother would insist upon an explanation of her untidy condition. Beside that Sylvia was not sure if she could find her way home unless she climbed back into the garden. She looked along the shore at the landing-place not far distant where several boats were bobbing up and down in the wash of the incoming tide. She could see boats coming and going between the forts and the city. She could see grim Fort Sumter, with its guns that seemed to look straight at her. She watched a schooner coming across the bay, and realized that it was coming to that very wharf. A number of men landed, and several carts came down and boxes were unloaded, and negroes carried them to the schooner.
Sylvia got up and walked along the shore until she was near the wharf, and stood watching the negroes as they lifted the heavy boxes. She wished she could ask one of them to tell her the way home. Then she noticed a tall figure in uniform coming up the wharf.
"It's Captain Carleton!" she exclaimed joyfully, quite forgetting for the moment her torn dress and scratched hands as she ran toward him.
"Why! Is it Sylvia Fulton?" exclaimed the surprised Captain, looking down at the untidy little figure. "Why, what has happened?"
"Oh, dear," sobbed Sylvia, "I guess I'm lost."
"Well, well! It's lucky you came down to this wharf. Come on board the schooner, and we'll see to these little hands first thing," and the good-natured Captain rested a kindly hand on the little girl's shoulder and walked down the wharf. Sylvia heard the men talking of the Charleston Arsenal, and of the boxes of arms which were to be taken on the schooner to Fort Sumter.
The Captain bathed the little hurt hands and flushed face, talking pleasantly to the little girl about the schooner, and asking her if she did not think it a much finer craft than her father's small boat; so in a little while she was comforted and quite at home.
"Now, sit here by the cabin window, and I will come back and take you home as soon as I settle this trouble about my supplies," and the Captain hurried back to the wharf.
Sylvia sat quite still and looked out of the round port-hole. She felt very tired, and leaned her head against the cushioned wall. She could hear the monotonous chant of the negroes, and feel the swaying motion of the vessel, and soon was fast asleep. She did not know when the schooner
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