AUTHOR OF JOHN WARD, PRKACHR ; THE OLD GARDEN
AND OTHER VERSUS, ETC.
LOUIS K. HARLOW
LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY
t I.., ''
BY LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY
JOHN WLSO A SON, CABIDG
JOHN Wiison aNo SON, CAMBLIDGE
MAY 12, 1889
O NCE upon a time, very long ago, the
Traveller about the 'world was care-
ful to carry with him a Journal, leather-
covered, and with brass tips upon the
corners; not infrequently it was closed
by a stout hasp and padlock, for the
thought that by any chance a stranger
might gaze upon his. pages filled the
modest Traveller with dismay. With this
Diary open upon his knee, with careful
quill, and with most delicate and precise
penmanship, it was the habit of this
Person (who was apt to refer to him-
self as the Private Individual) to note
his emotions as he gazed upon a mountain
flushed with dawn, or the gray stretch of
the breathing sea, or into the faces of men
so unhappy as to have been born in other
countries than his own. To this he added
--scrupulous about an inch, and credit-
ing with careful courtesy his information
to the' Verger the height of the nave
of a cathedral, or the genealogy of a
Royal House, or any of those rumors
which commend themselves under the
name of History. The Journal and a
mended pen gave ample opportunity for
graceful sentences, for moral reflections,
for intense self-consciousness, called by
some the "Love of Approbation; "- for
was not each carefully written word to be
read by the tender eyes of those whom the
Traveler had left at home ?
We have seen such Diaries, all of us,
although very probably the writers jour-
neyed into an Unknown Country before
we opened our eyes upon our well-known
world. For the most part these dingy
volumes lie in long untravelled trunks,-
hair-covered, and studded with brass nail-
heads,-which have been pushed under
the dusty rafters of the garret. The
Journals are preserved by force of habit,
and with a decent regard for the Past;
but no one ever reads them. All the
world admits that the Journal is as ob-
solete as the Private Individual himself.
Besides, the ink has faded, and the details
and the platitudes are alike wearying. In
fact, the Diaries belong to that Once upon
a Time which was the age of the spinet
and tambour-frame, the days of modest
youth and travelling by stage-coach,-in
a word, to Leisure and Good Manners.
And more than this, they were written
only for those who were left behind.
But to-day, no one is left behind;
every one has been everywhere and
seen everything, so that information is
as unnecessary as it is tiresome. Indeed,
the Author who under any amiable dis-
guise might venture to instruct, would be
instantly detected as an encumbrance,-
named occasionally in a less dignified
manner, and when not received with
compassionate amusement (or ignored)
would find his well-meaning volume
labelled Guide-book," and thrust upon
the dusty upper shelf of a book-shop.
Instruction, like an unused garment, has
become old-fashioned, and fallen into
wrinkles and decay. All is' said, and
there is nothing new under the sun!
This admitted, what has the preface of
a book upon Florida to say? Only that
Artist and Author have no such threadbare
motive as information to excuse or to
commend their book. Instead, there has
been but the desire to bring the remem-
brance of emotions which were the Read-
er's own; to spread the yellow sunshine
before his dreaming eyes; to steep his
overwise insistent consciousness in a fog
of content; to gather a misty memory of
beautiful days,-to strike the key-note of
a harmony which each soul may fulfil.
So modest an object will not deserve the
ruffled protest of the Learned Reader.
His own remembrance is' all that Florida
Days will venture to suggest.
AUGUST 12, 1889.
Igt E tn.
. . .
Along the St. Johns.
THE RIVER . . .
THE WOODS AND SWAMPS .
THE MEN. .. ... .....
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
THE OLD GATES. (Colored Plate) Frontis~iece
ANASTASIA ISLAND. (Vignette) . ... Title
ANASTASIA ISLAND . . .. 21
THE LIGHT-HOUSE. ... . .23
THE "LEAP UP OF THE SUN" ...... 25
COQUINA REEF. . . 26
SPANISH SHIPS ............. .28
SIR FRANCIS DRAKE. .... . 30
THE OLD COQUINA LIGHT-HOUSE . 32
SPANISH BAYONETS . . 33
OLD HOUSE, ST. AUGUSTINE . .. .34
BALCONIES OVERHANGING THE STREETS IN ST.
AUGUSTINE ....... . .. 35
THE BARRACKS. .. .. . . 37
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
THE SEA-WALL . . . 39
ST. AUGUSTINE FROM THE ISLAND. (Etching) 40
THE CATHEDRAL, FROM AN OLD WATER-COLOR
DRAWING ........ .. .. 43
THE CATHEDRAL FROM THE PLAZA . 47
THE BELLS OF THE CATHEDRAL . 49
PLAZA AND SLAVE-MARKET . .. 51
OLD SPANISH HOUSES, ST. AUGUSTINE ... 55
GATES OF THE CITY .. .... 57
DONKEY-CART . . .. 58
.A MULE'S HEAD . ... . 60
A STREET IN ST. AUGUSTINE . 61
THE OLDEST HOUSE IN ST. AUGUSTINE 64
AN OLD SPANISH GARDEN . . 68
REAR OF AN OLD HOUSE .... 71
THE KING'S FORGE .. .. .74
PIGEON-COTES . ... ... 79
A BACK YARD IN ST. AUGUSTINE. . 83
CATALINA'S GRAVE . . .86
FORT MARION. (Colored Plate) . 89
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
THE OLD MOAT . . .
END OF THE FORT AND MOAT . .
SENTRY-BOX . . .. .
INTERIOR, THE INCLINED PLANE . .
THE SERGEANT . . . .
THE WATCH-TOWER . . .
AN OLD CANNON . . .
FROM THE SEA-WALL . . .
"THE KEEN BRIGHTNESS OF NORTHERN SKIES"
LIVE-OAK. (Colored Plate) ...
THE RIVER . . . .
BRANCH OF LIVE-OAK . .. .
THE PINES . . . .
THE BUZZARDS. . . .
A WASH-FOOT BAPTIST MEETING . .
PALMETTOS ON THE ST. JOHN'S. (Colored Plate)
MOUTH OF ST. JOHN'S RIVER . .
THE RANK GROWTH OF THE RIVER ..
THE DRAGON-FLIES . . .
"THEY GO DOWN TO THE SEA IN SHIPS" .
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
THE ST. JHN' . .
CRACKERS . .
POST-OFFICE ON THE RIVER .
SPANISH MOSS .-, ..
A PALMETTO SWAMP .
AN OLD HOUSE. (Etching) .
CRACKERS FISHING . .
FLORIDA CRACKER'S HOME .
A CREEK . .
ON THE EDGE OF THE RIVER
THE ST. JOHN'S RIVER .
NIGHT . . .
A FLORIDA HOME . ..
. . 158
. . 16o
. . 166
. . i69
. . 170
. . 173
. . 179
. . 187
S . 191
. . 195
. . 197
. . 199
Morn, in the white wake of the morning star,
Came furrowing all the Orient into gold."
T HE strip of water which lies between the
island and the shore, is as gray at dawn
as the sky behind the orange-trees in the west.
It rises and falls with quick and heavy heaving,
like the bosom of a dreamer who is beginning,
reluctantly, to shake off the night in which he
has been steeped. Beyond, toward the East, is
22 FLORIDA DAYS.
the unbroken stretch of sea; and then, Europe
and Africa in the flood of day. Here, lumi-
nous darkness, and expectation. It lies so low,
this narrow heap of sand and shells, that from
a distance it seems but a higher ridge of the
gray water, except where the column of the light-
house rises like a cloudy pillar touched with
fire, and where a line of glistening white shows
that waves break along the level shore.
The island, set like a jewel in the murmuring
and waiting sea, is touched -by the first gleam of
light; and the waves, lapping and folding upon
its shores, lift themselves up out of silence,
with the rising exhilaration of the dawn. The'
tower of the light-house catches the earliest
hint of day; and the lamps, which have burned
with steady, cheerful blaze all night, grow pale,
and melt and flicker; one hardly notices when
they go out altogether in the growing bright-
ness, which holds a promise of violet and rose.
The shadows separate, and stretch themselves,
and loosen their grasp upon the low-growing
palmettos and Spanish bayonets, so that each
wet, shining leaf has a strange distinctness in
THE TOWN. 23
the gray air. The flush that spreads across
the horizon, glimmers even on the bank of
clouds in the west; the darkness and mist
unfold, like the petals of a mighty flower, re-
vealing each instant, deeper and deeper secrets
in its golden heart. Dawn sucks the flame of
the morning star into itself, -a flake of light,
sparkling, white and serene, then lost for very
brightness I It is as though the star were itself
the dawn, for no one sees it die. Then, from
behind the curve of the world a rim of gold
lifts and widens, and a quivering column of fire
shoots up and down, into the air, and into the
water, which is as luminous as a green crystal.
That leap up of the sun is as glad as a
child's laugh; it is as a renewal of .the world's
youth. The waves crowd and shout to wel-
come him as he comes stepping gloriously from
crest to crest, across the sea. A spark, flashing
through each curving hollow that beckons him
along, lengthens and widens, until a golden
path quivers from the horizon to the shore.
The moment of distinctness in the gray of
dawn is lost; the island melts into a shining
hfaze,-it is full day in an instant. Shafts of
light wheel and sink into thepwaves; the world
of sky and sea and far-off, T6w-lying shore is
swallowed up in light; the round sun is no
longer a distinct and golden ball, but has be-
come the sky itself. And the spreading sea is
one boundless flash and gleam, smiling and
swinging, shining with a light which does not
THE TOWN. 25
seem to come from the sun, but from the
bosom of the air itself. The wonderful ex-
panse of breathing, shimmering blue is broken
by lines of far-off waves,-so far off that one
only hears a murmur of that tumbling crash
of spray, which marks with changing curves
and circles, their gay advance upon the reefs
These low white reefs have grown with the
ages. Perhaps each moment has its monument
in a shell so small and exquisitely frail that
the faintest pressure would grind it to dust;
yet, washed up in these ledges, and pounded
by the -waves, and smothered by sand grinding
down into every crevice, the shells have been
cemented together until they have hardened
into a composite that is cut and quarried like
rock. For miles along the island these ledges
run, crumbling beneath the fierce white fingers
of the waves, and then renewed again and again.
Coquina this shell-stone is called, and blocks
of it were hewed here once by convicts brought
from Spain. One wonders if these fierce, un-
happy men, working in chain-gangs, and ferry-
i2g the sparkling heaps over to the
shore to grow into walls and
gateways and the great bas-
THE TOWN. 27
tions of the fort, ever saw that a vast and beau-
tiful meaning might lie in broken human lives?
How blank to the little creature in its tiny shell, *
which lived its short life with myriads like itself,
were the purposes of those great currents in the
depths of the sea that plucked its life away from
it; yet, perhaps, no more meaningless than were
his own sin and pain to the wicked man, toiling
in blazing heat above the shell-banks on the
island, with a ring and chain around his ankle
and with a bitter heart. How could he tell the
purpose of his broken life, or know that it might
be needed in the path of that
"Far-off divine event
To which the whole creation moves !"
The island, lying so low that from the oppo-
site beach one can look across it to the reefs
and breakers, was the safeguard of the town,
sleeping tranquilly among its palms aAid oranges
when it had need of protection. For the ledges
and sand-bars extend far into the sea, like the
fingers of an unseen hand waiting to clutch and
crush the ships of any foe.
28 FLORIDA DAYS.
And how many foes there were! Indeed, that
narrow edge of flowers and trees, where the
shell-stone houses had been built, was contin-
ually importuned by men and elements. The
winds and waves assailed it from about the
northern end of the island, and it seemed a
hundred times as though it. must yield to the
embrace of the entreating sea. Men, steering
triumphantly across the treacherous reefs, rav-
aged it with fire and sword again and again;
its beauty and its promise tempted every buc-
THE TOWN. 29
cancer who swept his glass across the low-lying
barrier of the island, where, to be sure, there was
a little watch-tower, on which a flag was to be
raised, to indicate the approach of pirates, and
allow the townspeople huddled on the shore
time enough to run away. Yet the island is
so flat that doubtless it was often the watch-
tower which first caught the keen eyes of the
outlook on those high pooped vessels with
swelling sails and straining masts. One can
hear the order of Sir Francis Drake to "put
about" that he might discover what this little
group of buildings could be, and so the Golden
Hinde" was turned from her course for yet
heavier ladings of gold and spoil. No eye was
keener than Sir Francis's. Perhaps he prided
himself upon it, remembering how, on the
Isthmus, he had "climbed the goodlie and great
high tree," and gazed upon the Pacific, into
which he besought God that he "might sail
an English ship."
There is a curious charm about this dead
man, who was as free and brave and cruel as
his own ocean. His worn, brown face, as keen
30 FLORIDA DAYS.
and kind as the sun and wind together, showed
as little certainty of fair weather; but men
loved him. A man of no justice, perhaps,
but of great generosity. Indeed, there was a
certain frank cordiality about him even when
engaged in murder. He was so full of joy-
ousness so free from anything like the mean-
ness of spite -that he would have taken it ill
THE TOWN. 31
had his victims felt a personal affront while his
knife was at their throats. He seems to have
grown drunk with glory and with blood: so did
the passion for murder and for gain increase!
One falls to thinking how such a soul could
occupy itself after a certain "sharp distemper"
had brought him to that last day, when his one
possession was a sail-cloth, weighted, and the
only noise he could make in the world the
splash into the swinging water at the ship's
bows, a bubble on the surface, and then the
smooth and shining blue again. Surely he
must have found it a weary thing to wake and
find himself a naked soul in the gray silence
The wooden watch-tower on the island went
to pieces a hundred years ago, and a coquina
light-house took its place; but not very long
since, it, too, fell with an awful crash, in a great
hurricane. It could no longer deny the entreat-
ing sea, which had plucked at its foundations
for many a year, as though jealous that its own
shells should resist it.
The Spanish bayonet grows thick among
the fallen walls; indeed, those glittering green
spears are brave enough to grow anywhere;
their tough roots tie them like twine to ledges
that overhang the water, or knot under the sand
until no spot is too shallow or too exposed
for them. Even the white roads which wander
across the island are so encroached upon by
their sharp thorns that walking is not always
THE TOWN. 33
And that reminds one of the pleasure,of ima-
gination, as exemplified by the pages of a novel.
For it is recorded that a man came from his hut
"through a thicket of Spanish bayonets" The
possible and the im-
\ possible are not, appar-
ently, the things with
which a novelist need
Over on the
fierce and glis-
have been ban-
ished, and kind-
lier weeds have
34 FLORIDA DAYS.
places along the roadsides, although, indeed,
there is nothing more stately than the spring
into the sparkling air of the bayonet's flower-
shaft, hung with white bells of blossom.
In the morning light the town stands clear
and distinct; later, the golden gauze of noon
folds it like a veil; but now the houses, crowd-
ing sociably along the narrow streets, with bal-
conies that lean towards one another like the
wrinkled foreheads of gossiping dames, are all
clear and individual. With the young day
there is an alertness of life, a keen joyousness,
THE TOWN. 35
that fades, as
the hours press
upon one another,
into the calmest
Everything is white
Sa annd sparkling; the white
Sand shines, the white
S coquina walls gleam and
faintly glitter, the white
galleries with scarlet gerani-
ums and verbenas pushing out into the sun-
shine, have a look of absolute cleanliness and
36 FLORIDA DAYS.
sharpness of detail; but it is all a mood of the
hour, and softens as the day grows.
Perhaps it lasts longer about the barracks
than anywhere else: the uniform of the sentinel
pacing up and down his beat beside the sea-
wall, is so fresh and new; there is such a keen,
clean smell of lime, for each possible stone and
stump has its coat of whitewash; and every-
thing about the place is in exact and cheerful
order. There is an air of modern life here, of
hurry and importance, which does not belong
to the old town, and was surely never known
inside these gray walls while the building was
still a convent. But that time is very long
past; it was given up to the garrison a little
more than a hundred years ago.
One stops in the shadow of the doorway, to
think of the prayers that were said here once,
and of the consuming desire that once burned
beneath the white silence of convent living.
The desire was for salvation, truly, but it took
the place of a thirst for gold or glory or love,
and made Life; for one must desire something,
to be alive: perhaps absolute satisfaction is only
another name for Death. Here at least, in the
sunshine by the sea-wall, there is an ebb of the
soul's vitality, as the sleepy hours drift into
noon, for one is content with mere existence.
The Missionary and the Adventurer had set
foot on this golden soil together. Indeed, the
Missionary would not have come had not the
.Adventurer proclaimed the way. It would be
interesting to know whether the souls of those
35 FLORIDA DAYS.
saints in the convent were ever perplexed to
account for the necessity of the Adventurer,
with his love of gold and his cruel ambition, -
if they ever thought of that mysterious rooting
of good in evil which continually confuses the
mind and even drives it into contented sinning.
Sometimes, indeed, the Adventurer was so
good as to bring the Missionary with him. It
was as chaplain to the Illustrious Captain-Gen-
eral Pedro Menendes de Aviles" that Francisco
Lopez de Mendoza Grajales appeared in the
New World to cure men's souls. Yet one can
easily see, in the sincere simplicity of his letters,
how truly he could sympathize with the real
object of the expedition. He speaks of having
been offered a chaplaincy at Porto Rico, where
they had stopped for a time, and," says he, I
should have received a peso for every Mass said,
and I should have had plenty to do all the year
round. But I feared to accept, lest I should be
talked about as the others were; and then, it is'
not a city where one is likely to receive promo-
tion; and besides, I wanted to see if, by refus-
ing a personal benefit for the love of Jesus, He
would grant me a greater, since it is my desire
to serve our Lord and His blessed Mother."
There have been many alterations in the
convent building during these years of soldier
life, but the spell of the past is on it still. The
echo of a chant, the hint of incense, the mur-
mur of a prayer for that bitter world of which
the petitioners knew so little, have a reality
of their own, although the outer ear catches
only the clatter of firearms and the careless
laughter of jolly fellows in the guard-room.
How those white souls who prayed in the
40 FLORIDA DAYS.
cells overlooking the sea would have shud-
dered, could they have guessed that instead of
the convent-bell at dawn there would be the
gay rattle of the reveille, and the tread of mar-
tial feet across the worn flags in the courtyard !
Very -likely the world does not know whether
it is the better or the worse for the change;
the difference between a saint in the doorway,
reading a breviary, with placid down-dropped
eyes, and a sleepy boy, with a musket across
his shoulder, pacing- up and down beside the
sea-wall, is not great enough for choice. Yet
who will measure the force of that thin, high
spirituality which once filled these walls, or
say that the boy himself is not the better, for
prayers he never said? His- rollicking song
when off duty has surely an unheard refrain!
We are shut in by mystery when we would
follow the flight of wonder from the safety of
our ark of commonplace. They were wiser,
those saints. They amused themselves with
dreams of heaven which, having always a like-
ness to the well-known and familiar face of
earth, brought no confusion and perplexity with
THE TOWN. 41
them. Yet even such simple dreams have some
disadvantages; with continual looking forward
life must have become merely expectation, and
a spurning of the present, although that is
the lot of most, whether heaven is the name
of the future or not!
The past and the present, and the desired fu-
ture must have been very much alike to these
long-dead saints. Few of them could have had
anything but aspirations upon which to medi-
tate; for what lapse from virtue was possible
within these sacred walls, except, perhaps, re-
flection upon some sin committed when in the
world, for which penance has been done long
since, with great humiliation and fear?
It is curious, however, how much pleasure
comes sometimes with such a reflection! Indeed,
in a wicked way, it is an incentive to good living
to observe the spice of enjoyment there is to a
godly soul in a very little sin. Some small and
selfish pleasure, perhaps; a worldly book read,
breathless, with frowning brows or disapproving
murmur;-a criticism, maybe, of a holy thing;
- what excitement in such proximity to the
Devil! A good woman once said that Jacob
her voice was lowered a little -Jacob was
mean! This hanging upon the edge of Biblical
criticism, this venturing an opinion of her own,
had the flavor of atheism; but it was delightful.
They visited the sick and dying, the good
nuns, and they had. their embroidery, and the
excitement of confession; often searching the
soul, no doubt, for some possible sin,--for any
sharp temptation or tearing grief cannot be im-
agined within these placid walls. One wonders
if there was any slightest difference between
confession to the mother superior and the good
priest who said Mass in the chapel.
There are two passions of the soul which
are so much alike that they shade impercep-
tibly into each other; it must have been hard
for the sincerest Penitent to know her own
motives in choosing who should absolve her.
"Sweet saint, it is no sin or blame
To love a man of virtuous name "
A little sophistry like that would make it all
s enright, surely.
~; j~ ;
THE TOWN. 45
Placid living brought length of days. The
dates of the coming and the going upon some
of the wooden crosses in the burial-ground are
very far apart. Seur Marie: Requiescat in
pace. Joseph: Marie: Jesu; and then, per-
haps, seventy years or longer.
How many years of vacancy that must mean
for Sceur Marie, if she became religieuse"
at twenty! One falls to speculating upon the
crisis ot those twenty years, the possible
catastrophe which made life seem worthless,
or, perhaps it were truer to say, made the
preparation for that other life seem better. If
the end these fifty years was Religion,
surely the beginning was Love! It is safe to
infer as much as that; and how often in these
fifty empty, tranquil, waiting years may not
Sister Marie have lived over again the pleasure
and the pain that drove her for relief into
silence, -silence which had no sorrow and no
disappointment; only the precious memory of
a disappointment, which for all its pain she
would not lose even though she did penance
with every prayer!
The memory, perhaps, of a look from be-
hind jalousies; a fan held sideways across a
hot cheek; a kiss, maybe, in the fragrant dusk
beneath a blossoming orange-tree; -fifty years
of repentance will atone for a kiss beyond a
doubt, but one cannot be so sure of the fan;
that is a far deeper evil than anything so nat-
ural as a kiss! Between that very human and
simple impulse, and the flutter of a fan, the
difference is the difference 'between a sin of
the heart and a sin of the head; the former is
hardly a sin at all, the latter is deliberate and
intentional. There is the look across the white
feathers, the fingers trembling on the ivory
sticks; there is the politic weighing of the
observer's heart, the calculating with greatest
nicety upon his emotions. Steele said that the
fan wounded more men than Cupid's bow;
and Steele's opportunities for observation can-
not be questioned. And there is another ac-
knowledgment of its power which makes one
think of his Spectator," although its source
is a far lower one. "A Spanish lady with her
fan might shame the tactics of a troop of horse,"
THE TOWN. 47
it declares. "Now
she unfurls it with
the slow pride and
of the bird of Juno; now
she flutters it with all the
languor of a listless beauty, now with all the
liveliness of a vivacious one. Now in the midst
of a very tornado she closes it with a whir
48 FLORIDA DAYS.
which makes you start. ... .Gallantry requires
no other mode to express its most subtle con-
ceits or its most unreasonable demands than
this delicate machine."
So it would appear, then, that Sceur Marie
may have had need of repentance; but fifty
years is a long time!
The old Cathedral on the Plaza, where very
likely the breath of a fan has blown the sermon
from a man's memory a hundred times, was
burned not long ago, but the new one has re-
produced it with a tender fidelity to the past.
It, too, faces the Plaza and the old market, and
the monument that the Spaniards raised just
before they took their departure from the town.
The morning light strikes it fresh and clear
from across the live-oak trees in the square, and
through the palmetto leaves in the garden op-
posite it. The old bell which the flames spared,
hangs in the new belfry. Sancte," its inscrip-
tion runs, -" Sancte Joseph, ora pro nobis.
D. 1682." It was brought from some Spanish
city nearly a century ago, when the old Cathe-
THE TOWN. 49
dral was built, and had doubtless traditions and
memories of its own, before it began to ring in
the joys and sorrows of
these hundred years to the
sleepy town. One fancies
it marking, in its gray
belfry shades, the con-
tradictions of human life
which have danced and
burst like bubbles
on the surface of
these two hun-
dred years. A
-- hand upon the bell-rope, and it
has clanged joyously for the vic-
tory of an invader, and again as gayly
for his defeat. It has pealed for a king's life,
50 FLORIDA DAYS.
which meant another king's death; it has rung
for birth and burial, for famine and plenty.
And then, the rope dropping into a careless
coil from the ringer's hand, it has thrilled and
sung with wonderful unseen vibration, telling
over to itself, perhaps, its own thoughts. There
is something about this sibilant whisper of a
bell, after it has done man's bidding and he
has left it, which is as though it spoke its
own mind in silent laughter at his little joys
The Plaza and the market-place nd have
often answered its call for this thing or for that.
No doubt it summoned the loyal subjects of
King George to burn Hancock and Jefferson in
effigy just as loudly as it has called for flags
and music each fourth morning in July ever
since. It has watched the people coming out
from early Mass to their day's work in the
Market, to chatter and cheat, the more com-
fortably, perhaps, because prayers have been
duly said; and from its perch beneath the
golden cross, it has seen the soldiers manceu-
vring in the Plaza, sometimes with all the re-
ality of war, and again with light-hearted
imitation of earnestness. It has rung, too, for
that strange gayety of Good Friday night, -
the reaction from the forty days of darkness,
which wore the guise of devotion.
For to shoot at straw figures decked with
feathers and tinsel was a spiritual exercise,
when one called the effigies Yews. So, with
light-hearted laughter, as night fell, the Jews
were hung here and there in the Plaza, under
the live-oak trees or upon the lamp-posts, so
that when morning dawned there might be no
52 FLORIDA DAYS.
time lost in proving who was the best marks-
man and the most devoted Christian. For very
many years this was the custom upon that Sat-
urday which lies between a dark day and a
shining day, that pause between death and life,
while the dead Christ waited in the Cathedral.
On Easter ve the joyousness began again,
, and young me went bout the city singing
the story of Jesus and e Resurrection. The
musical Spanish and the starlight were wor-
ship in themselves. The singers knew the
words by heart; so who stopped to wonder,
or to search for deeper meaning in them?
Let us leave off mourning' -
so the English runs, -
"Let us sing with joy,
Let us go and give
Our salutation to Mary,
0 Mary !
"And at midnight
She, gave birth to a child,
The infinite God,
In a stable.,
The angels go singing
Peace and abundance,
And glory to God alone,
And so on,. through that Story -which belongs
to all the ages: of Birth and Death, and of
that inevitable morning, which came to the
dead Christ, even as it comes always, upon
the heels of Death, with a meaning which Eter-
nity can only blur, and toward which all Time
has travelled. That solemn "day after he has
died," when a man's life stands naked, with-
out hope or illusion to make it beautiful; -
the empty days have not come yet to stand,
pitifully, between Truth and Love; even
those fisher-folk in Galilee saw that morning!
Perhaps the necessity of the world found
its expression because of their misery that
And it is because of that necessity that
the young men, with flowers in their hands,
went about through the streets and in the Plaza,
singing in the starlight of the glory of the
54 FLORIDA DAYS.
The singers could buy their flowers in the
market, which is but a little way from the
Cathedral. Whitewashed pillars uphold its
ancient roof, and its brick floor is so old that
it is worn into hollows; it used to be filled
with stalls, where great heaps of vegetables
and yellow oranges were displayed for sale, or
where the wet sides of fish sparkled on every
scale with wonderful color. There were sun-
bonneted women gossiping in the sunshine
across their wares; men smoking under the
streamers of moss from the live-oak trees, or
chaffering over their mules and horses; a
crowding, good-natured, quick-tempered peo-.
pie, bringing color and laughter into the little
square; they came for the most part from the
country beyond, along the shining shell-road
and through the city gates.
As long ago as the beginning of this century
the towers of the gateway in the wall about the
town were crumbling and broken with age, so
that they must have witnessed many things
unknown to the tranquil life which comes and
THE TOWN. 57
goes under their gray shadows to-day. They
see nothing more startling now than lovers
whispering in the twilight, perhaps; or the
gay tramp of marching feet which have never
known the hurry and terror of war; or a sob
beside a funeral bier.
True, Love and Death, there could have
been nothing more ultimate than they; but
the expression changes; and these square
58 FLORIDA DAYS.
pillars crumbling slowly in the white, hot sun-
shine, have seen quick and nervous lives and
cruel deaths. The iron gates which used to
hang between the two coquina towers were
always closed at night, and fastened with pon-
derous bolts, so that the little town might
sleep peacefully within them. How many
enemies of the King of Spain they have re-
pulsed when the town was garrisoned by his
soldiers, and how often they have received
and sheltered terror-stricken wretches flying
from the outlaws of the plains beyond!
A darky goes jolting through now, in a little
two-wheeled cart, full of yellow oranges. He
sings, perhaps, in a full sweet voice, but with a
THE TOWN. 59
certain wild note in it, which it will take many
generations yet to tame. Oh, my Lawd," he
says, leaning forward, his elbows resting on
his ragged knees, and the reins slipping care-
lessly between his fingers,-
Oh, my Lawd, don't you forgit me,
Oh, my Lawd, don't you forgit me,
Oh, my Lawd, don't you forgit me,
Down by Bab'lon's stream "
With this morning freshness in the sparkling
air, he sings because he cannot help it; -long
ago the Lord remembered the captivity in
Babylon, -but the song has found no deeper
meaning in his soul; it is only a simple re-
joicing in the sunshine. It is hard to realize,
in the comfortable content among the negroes,
living tranquil, sleepy lives in the old town,
that these words were ever sung with tears
and prayers; such pain meant alertness and
eager life, for which one looks now, for the
most part, in vain. These people would surely
never rouse themselves to contradict the man
who asserted, with grim disdain of all intense
life, that the happiest moment each day, to the
60 FLORIDA DAYS.
happiest person, was the moment when con-
sciousness began to melt into sleep.
A woman, sitting in the sun with half-shut
eyes, her pipe gone out perhaps, her head
resting against the door-post, is quite satisfied
and happy. She would be the first to say that
these days of peace and sleep were better than
the old desire and the quicker
thought. It has seemed to be
either one extreme or the other
with them, the goad of pain,
and activity; or the down of
comfort, and dreams.
The boy in the jolting car,
even though he sings, is half
asleep. He apostrophizes his mule, or the
oranges which tumble about his feet, with
violence of words, but with a face. full of lazy
good-nature; indeed, he and his beast have
the same placid way of taking life. The mule
does not mark his abusive entreaties to proceed,
any more than the boy notices or objects when
his gray friend comes to a halt, and, turning
slowly in the broken, rope-mended harness,
bites at a fly upon his shaggy side. But who
shall dogmatize on such an attitude of the mind?
Indifference, after all, may be height instead of
depth. Does not "A. B." (his modesty has
given us no more than his initials) write as
long ago as 1595, in "The Noblenesse of the
Asse; a work rare, learned, and excellent," of
that characteristic and admirable calm?- He
[the asse] refuseth no burden; he goeth whither
he is sent without any contradiction; he lifts
not his foot against any one; he bytes not; if
strokes be given him, he careth not for them."
A. B.'s honest appreciation of this patient and
respectable animal leads him yet a little fur-
ther. Their goodly, sweet, and continual bray-
ing," he says; and adds that such brayings
formee a melodious and proportionate kinde of
musicke." Still, all this is but the small adorn-
ment of an estimable character; the great thing
is his beast's tranquil calm."
" In the afternoon they came into a land
In which it seemed always afternoon.
All round the coast the languid air did swoon,
Breathing like one that hath a weary dream."
leaning across a
fence that is gray
with lichen, looks down
into the silent street, which
seems in the blaze of sunshine to be sunk in
sleep. The flood of light laps and ripples
against crumbling walls. A man with a lean
dog at his heels passes with noiseless foot-
steps, like a shape in a dream. A woman,
leaning from the upper window of a house
beside the sea-wall, laughs, and a spark of
sunshine flashes from the gold cross swinging
at her brown, warm throat, and then dims and
fades in the overpowering brightness; her voice,
which seems to have dropped through golden
distances, melts into the flowering silence of
the hot noon. The heavy sweetness of distant
orange orchards has, without a breath of wind,
invaded the old town; it makes the air, which
is the very light itself, a subtle caress; and it
brings a deeper dreaming, and a greater content
with Life and Love and Death: they seem
all one in this flood of ineffable shining.
The point at which each experience touches
the current of Life and claims personality, is
strangely blurred and smoothed. The individual
sinks into the mighty stream, and his conscious-
ness is only the sunshine itself, and the air, and
light, with, perhaps, the same rejoicing in them
all that the date-palm has, or the gray fence,
crumbling under the tufts of lichen.
To lean back against the coquina wall, which
glitters here and there, as the sun strikes the
edge of an iridescent wonder, which meant life
in the green stillness of the sea a thousand
years ago; to feel, and to desire to feel, of no
more importance in the universe than a block
in the broken wall; or the motionless shadow
of the date-palm, lying like a gray feather upon
the dust of the dreaming street, -is good
for the soul. Experiences begin to show their
values relatively, and the proportions of life
reveal themselves. But it needs the coquina
wall gleaming faintly in the sunshine, and the
breath of the drowsy air, and the shadow of the
palm, to set the jarring atom of consciousness
back into the tranquil and enfolding purpose of
Eternity. Such an hour is the man's Bo-tree.
In it, truly, he gains the whole world, if he can
lose his own soul.
It is extraordinary what a shame (not a pas-
sionate and tumultuous shame, that were not
THE TOWN. 67
worth while,- but what a slow and placid
shame) fills the dreamer against the wall, that
there should ever have been any anxiety or
wonder or grief in life. What arrogance to
wonder! What folly to grieve! It is all as it
should be, somehow and somewhere. It is not
worth while to question how and where. A
leaf from the vine hanging over the wall drifts
down through the still heat: as well that it
should set itself to question the currents of the
ocean, lying in a blue and shimmering curve
against a sky which is pale with light. No,
it is not worth while; nothing is worth while,
and yet all things are.
Gardens sleep behind these high walls, which
shut them in so closely from the silent street,
that it seems as though the air never stirs under
the shadows of the oranges and oleanders. The
only movement is the thread of water, trickling
from the mossy basin of the fountain in the
centre, and then losing itself in the deep grass;
though if a sunbeam through the roof of leaves
strikes it, it has one sparkling instant of jewelled
68 FLORIDA DAYS.
.' light before it fades into green dusk again.
The grass is thick in the wet darkness along
the walls under the tangle of jessamine; and
springing superbly out of the shadows at its
feet, a great palm will lift its stately head into
the dazzling sky.
Such a garden is very still; the jessamine on
the wall holds the brimming light unspilled in its
gold chalice; a petal from a rose's open bosom
floats rather than falls in the stagnant air, al-
though, up above, the palm-branches swing and
whisper, rustling faintly in a wind which is not felt
below. Heavy-headed roses make the air faint
with sweetness, and orange-trees, thick with blos-
soms, drop white petals on the worn, wet bricks
of the path; all is very silent, drunk with sun and
air and perfume. There is no thought, no ten-
sion, no meaning, anywhere. A wooden bench,
painted green very long ago, has crumbled and
rotted, and breaking in the middle fallen down
into the deep grass. A single shaft of sunshine
threading the shadows, strikes hot upon a line
of rusted nail-heads that hold it to the support-
ing post beneath; and there a lizard, bright-
eyed, alert, lies like a scarlet thread. A cloud
of midges circle above the fallen blossoms of the
orange-tree, which are floating in the clear, dark
water in the stone basin. The years have left-
no more permanent life here than the dancing
midge, or the white cup of a fallen flower !
There is an empty wicker cage under the
hanging balcony of one of the deserted houses
about which such gardens lie; but the bird
must have flown away a score of years ago, and
not even a hint of its grief and its captivity
remains, for a scarlet tanager balances gayly
upon the swinging door before it darts like a
winged flame up into the blue.
70 FLORIDA DAYS.
Nature knows no sentiment. Her weeds and
grasses come boldly 'up between the broken
planks of the porch, with a joyousness which is
almost insolent. A Cherokee rose lifts its silver
shield in the doorway, and a tangle of blossom-
ing briers chokes one narrow window and pushes
between the fallen weather-boards. Indeed, so
many weather-boards have loosened and fallen,
that there is an entrance at more than one
place; and the door, too, stands open. Strange-
ly enough, a rusted key hangs still beneath the
lintel, as though to guard a threshold over which
the lizard glides, and shadows come and go.
The wall upon the street is of coquina. The
windows in it have been boarded up, for sill
and sash have long since vanished, so readily
does wood crumble in the hot, wet shadows;
but even these shutters have warped and bro-
ken, so that the passer-by can peer into the
dusky room within. Its hard earthen floor is
spotted with a dim, white mould; there is no
furniture except some empty shelves upon the
wall, and a crucifix over the narrow mantel,
which is only a projecting ledge of the -shell-
stone chimney-piece that encloses the wide,
black fireplace. But beyond, through the sag-
ging doorway, is the green light of the garden,
and the palm-tree swinging against the low blue
of the dazzling sky. Deserted and given up to
Nature's careless triumph, the house has still
the mystery which makes a dead body sacred:
it has sheltered Love and Hope, although the
tiny shell in the wall has had more immortality
Some of these deserted houses in the old
town, set back in neglected gardens, behind
smart new buildings, are still homes in some
sort, in that they can offer a slight shelter from
the kindly sky to any forlorn and homeless wan-
derers who, like themselves, have lost the mean-
ing of living, but who still exist. Almost all
hold a bed, and a bit of looking-glass stuck
edgewise into a chink in the wall, thus provid-
ing for the two parts of life, consciousness of
self, and a safe forgetting.
The "King's Forge," near the sea-wall, has
these two things, and a chair or two beside,
and a tin cup and platter on a shelf. The'walls
74 FLORIDA DAYS.
long ago by the forge
fire; it is quenched
now, although the
forge still stands
grim and black in the centre of the room, and
answers the purpose of table or shelf. The roof
is heavy with years, and has bent and broken,
so that a finger of light, thrusting itself between
-the warped gray shingles, points down into
the dusk of the room, and moves, as the day
moves, across the earthen floor and up the op-
posite wall. It is so distinct, this bar of sun-
shine, that a mote can be seen, coming into it
from one side of the clear darkness through
which it falls, dancing across it, and vanishing
THE TOWN. 75
again into the dark. The moving spot of gold
touches perhaps a hammer, dropping from its
broken handle, a ring in the wall where a horse
has been fastened, or a blacksmith's apron
,hanging high upon the. chimney breast. That
plummet-line of Noon gives the darkened room
mysterious possibilities; it sounds the Past. It
is easy to remember, or at least to imagine,
in this silence, clamorous with dead sounds.
One hears the hoarse wheeze of the bellows,
or the champ of bits and pounding hoofs, and
the blow of a brawny hand upon a steaming
"Dey do say," -there is a hut beside the
forge, and in the open doorway a wrinkled, griz-
zled negro is sitting in a broken chair, with a
corn-cob pipe between his lips (it is he who plays
the host with neighborly kindness for the absent
owner), dey do say dat dey all comes back
ag'in; do' I ain't seen 'em, dat's a fac'. But an
ol' lady, an ol' cullud lady, dat lib in dere all by
herself, she say she seen 'em many and many a
time. Say she seen de horses prancin', and
76 FLORIDA DAYS.
soldiers swearin' and singin' songs, and de black-
smif orderin' 'em roun', -' Sho! Git over dar!
Whoa, now!' Dat's what she say. She's gone
now herse'f- somewhar, so prob'ly she knows
how dey gits back. She'll be right glad to
know dat, she was allus so cur'ous. And she '11
fin' out all dere is to fin' out! She used to say
she like to know how dey do's lasted,- her
do's did n't last, for sho'. She was 'disgraceful
The man observed his own tattered sleeve
Well, fur me, I don't say nuffin' 'bout ghosts,
one way or de oder. I don' know nuffin', -
dat's a fac',- dat dere is any, or dat dere ain't
any. If I. said dere is, I'd be scar't; and if I
said dere is n't, den dey might be 'fended. So
I don't say nuffin'. Well, yes, to look roun' and
see how it's over wif 'em whedder dey comes
back or not, do make life seem mighty singular
short. Yes, it do. But dere's a pow'ful lot o'
trouble in it, fur its size! Dere was a time when
I was n't right sho' in my mind whedder it was
all wuf while,- all de trouble, just for de sake
THE TOWN. 77
of eatin' and drinking An' I've had my share
o' trouble, so I tell you. I loss my fust wife,
and I loss my second wife (cos', dey bof died
happy); den I loss my modder, she died shout-
in'! But a modder's not de same as a wife, -
you can't git anodder. Well, an' money come
hard, an' it seem like as if you was always want-
in' just a leetle more o' suthin'. Always wantin';
-dat's my sper'ence. De only peace o' my
mind, when I come to think it over, was when I
was asleep, or setting' in de sun, wif my eyes
shut. Well, I thought it all over, and den I
'flected. I electedd dat ef you had de Lawd, it
was wuf while; and ef you didn't have de
Lawld, den it wasn't wuf while."
A clean, high soul, too wide to dare to limit
Infinity by a word, said something strangely
like this, once. I see," he said, -" I see that
when souls reach a certain clearness of percep-
tion, they accept a knowledge and motive above
selfishness. A breath of will blows eternally
through the universe of souls in the direction
of the Right and Necessary. It is the air which
all intellects inhale and exhale, and it is the
78 FLORIDA DAYS.
wind which blows the worlds into order and
Here is the conclusion of the old negro, sit-
ting with vacant face in the sunshine, in the
crumbling doorway of the "'King's Forge." He
might not recognize his own thought in the
broader words; yet it is there. But if it is
worth while, it is a pity to bear it in a mist of
dreams; and this flood of noon blurs a man's
thought, as the opiate fragrance of incense dims
the aisles of a cathedral. Although, indeed, the
soul is often too content with sleep even to
desire a dream simply not to know, and, there-
fore, not to care, or to suffer,-that seems to
be the wisest thing in life.
A white pigeon circles slowly through the
placid blue depths above, round and round,
until the eye ceases to follow it, and only sees,
vaguely, a flash of silver coming and going, that
soothes like the murmur of a song above a
cradle. The rippling coo from milky-white
throats of pigeons, swaying and balancing on
the shelf of the cote, the soft gray of their wings
touched with iridescent gleams; the slow swing
THE ,TOWN. 81
of great banana leaves against the sky; the lazy
splash of an oar beyond the hot sea-wall, are
all parts of a stupor from which one would not
be aroused. Perhaps, if it were not so still in
the blaze of light, if there were any sound ex-
cept that distant splash and the murmur of the
pigeons, it would be easier to awake, and once
more wonder and desire and feel them both
In the Spanish burying-ground, steeped in
the white glare, one only finds a deeper and
more lasting sleep; and for the dreams, the
flood and silence of light will suffice.
In this neglected spot, even memory seems
dead. The gate, opening on the dusty road, is
fastened by a twist of rusted wire, which leaves
a dull red mark upon the lichen of the crum-
bling post. The wooden crosses above the
sleepers are flaked and gray in the blaze of
sunshine; some of the cross-pieces have fallen,
and the white "I. H. S." has faded into the
weather-stained wood. A dried and withered
bunch of flowers placed very long ago on the
82 FLORIDA DAYS.
wiry brown grass at the foot of such a cross
shows Love's compromise with Death. Mine
yet! Love cries, and will not hear the answer,
"Mine; and thou art mine."
There is an old tomb here, covered with a
square coquina slab, which marks the grave of
Catalina." It is well that the inscription was
cut deeply into the crowding shells, for the grave
lies under the shadow of a yew heavy with hang-
ing moss, and in a little enclosure of broken
palings, which so shuts out the sun that the
lichen has grown thick across her name. The
side slabs are broken; some flowers stand
straight and sweet beside them; so tall that the
bell-like clusters rest as gracious hands upon
the top of the tomb; and all about through the
thin dry grass there is a little creeping plant
with a white star for a blossom. Perhaps they
were sown when "this marble covered the grave
of Catalina," and have grown from summer to
summer into joyous forgetfulness of the grief
that planted them, and the "surpassing worth"
that called it forth, -worth which was to make
grief eternal. She was called thus early into
the silent land, leaving in the heart" the
lichen is very thick here "a record of sur-
passing worth, which neither time can efface nor
the changes of life obscure." How this assertion,
this throwing the gauntlet into the face of Time,
betrays its own hopelessness! One hears, again,
her stately name, as though sweet between the
lips in one last cry for her, which has echoed
even into the silent land,- Catalina! Set me
as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine
arm; for Love is as strong as Death." As
strong as Death! Alas, Catalina, canst thou
see this forgotten tomb?
There is a path from the broken gate, running
straight between the graves, to a small chapel at
the other end of the enclosure, where Mass has
been said for the departed. Doubtless "Antonia.
rose Terriande de Muir, a native of Cadiz," who
was "lamented by a respectable circle of friends,"
was borne up this green pathway for that last
moment of earthly pomp and honor, the brief
rest before the altar steps; then, out again into
the blaze of sunshine, and the breathless hush
of stifled tears and human wonder.
86 FLORIDA DAYS.
The rim of laughing sea mocks with its un-
changed expanse the promises on the coquina
slabs of endless memory and regret, and con-
duces to trite reflections upon the vanity of
Life. In this forsaken burying-ground, overrun
by hens and dogs, and full of blossoming weeds,
with broken and neglected tombs, the readiest
thought, and for the moment altogether sincere,
THE TOWN. 87
is that Love, with its hopes and promises, is only
a tiresome bit of cruel humor, and that Life is
nothing better. "It is not worth while!" for-
getting what was to make it so, forgetting the
wind which blows the worlds into order and
These headstones mean nothing more than
the beginning and ending of Vanity, one thinks,
with the indifference of a dream. "Most of
them recorded," says Addison of the inscrip-
tions in Westminster Abbey, most of them
recorded of the buried person that he was born
upon one day and died upon another; the whole
history of his life being comprehended in those'
two circumstances." And for the moment, so it
One needs to leave this flooding stillness
of noon, and brush the haze of golden light
aside, to see again all the dear and daily things
which lie between these two dates, "common to
all mankind." If some fresh wind would but
come up out of the violet silence of the sea,
and touch his drowsy eyes and listless hands, a
man might awake to see, serene and calm as a
88 FLORIDA DAYS.
great mountain which lies unchanged behind
its clouds, the familiar face of Life, still smiling
beneath the veil of dreams, and with her all
the happy train of simple duties which she
"The heavens between their fairy fleeces pale
Sowed all their mystic gulfs with fleeting stars."
THE yellow light lingers upon the fort even
after the sun has dropped suddenly into
the sea; but a shadow creeps across the water,
and touches the sea-weed that fringes the base
of the wall, and then up and on, across the moat
90 FLORIDA DAYS.
and the portcullis. The coat-of-arms over the
doorway, and the worn pulleys of the drawbridge
on either side, fade into the warm dusk; all the
barbican is wrapped in shadows: yet still the
parapets and the towers for the sentry, hanging
airily upon the four angles of the fort, are
faintly flushed with rose, and the broad coping
is warm beneath the hand.
It is not so easy to dream here. There is a
detail in contemplation which robs it of its opi-
ate, a detail which never comes to him who,
in the flood of sunshine, leans against a garden-
wall, his eyes fixed on a glittering edge of shell.
In the fort, too much is suggested; one cannot
remember and dream at the same time. Besides,
crumpling the water until it has the sheen of a
web of silk, or stroking it smooth as with an
invisible wing, which leaves a faint glisten in
its gray track, the fresh wind blows the haze
of sleep away.
The western sky throbs with an impalpable
dust of gold when the sun has set; and the
blue and cloudless day closes like the lid of a
casket of jewels upon the violet rim of sea, and
THE TOWN. 91
shuts out the light. The crystal dusk grows cool
and fresh before the stars come out. Every-
thing wakes; and the same alert distinctness
that touched the trees and bushes on Anastasia
Island at dawn, cuts the shadows out of the
twilight. Even the letters on the tablet beneath
the coat-of-arms over the entrance can be read,
although the years have blurred them until, in
some lights, they can scarcely be distinguished:
"REYNANDO EN ESPANA EL SENN DON FER-
NANDO SEXTO Y SIENDO GOVt Y CAPN DE ESA
C SAN AUGN DE LA FLORIDA Y SUS PROVA EL
MARISCAL DE CAMPO DN ALONZO FERNDO HE-
RADA ASI CONCLUIO ESTE CASTILLO EL AN OD
1756. DRICENDO LAS OBRAS EL CAP. INGNRO
DN PEDRO DE BROZAS Y GARAY." One falls
to thinking of the sentry who used to stand
upon the wall, just over the coat-of-arms; what
dreams and hopes have shaped themselves here,
above this assertion,--for it is only that now,-
that the fashion of this world passeth away! A
little oval depression in the block of cement
shows how long the end of a spear or the staff
of a banner has rested there; through hours of
92 FLORIDA DAYS.
sunshine, and dim starlit nights, and in the fury
of great storms. Always, there above the en-
trance, one sentry or another, living his own life
and thought, fancying both eternal, looking out
over the sea, and across the orange-groves to
the distant river,- loving, hoping, fearing; and
now, the sum of it all, a little depression in a
There is no watch now; the fort has noth-
ing to fear. Visitors come and go, or down
in the grass-grown moat a thin white donkey
wanders about, cropping hungrily at the tufted
thistles that stand in the angles of the bar-
bican, or crowd like sentinels around a stone
THE TOWN. 93
which may have tumbled from the ramparts.
The offensive attitude of these thistles, brave
in green and silver, and with pink cockades,
is the only warlike thing about the peaceful
fort, unless, indeed, one should except the
ants; they use a crevice, or a widening seam
between the great shell-stone blocks, for a
fortress and arsenal and store-house. How
very wide awake they are, these little bus-
tling red and black soldiers, tugging and pull-
ing at a burly dead bumble-bee, which one
of their scouts has found lying in his bronze-
gold armor under a clover-blossom! There is
a spider who would dispute their right to for-
age so near his preserves; but the ants per-
sist. They bring the dead general (he is
surely that, with his gold epaulets and the big
pollen-laden top-boots) up to the crevice in
the wall, and in a moment they are safe from
their gray poison-swollen enemy. Doubtless
they think the fort was built for them, these
brave little soldiers. It answers their needs
so perfectly that such a thought would not be
94 FLORIDA DAYS.
There are men who think that the great earth,
which went spinning through space when all
the morning stars sang together, was made for
In the fading light, given up to thistles, and
with the whir of swallows' wings through the
dusk, the fort is so quiet it is hard to real-
ize that it was ever the scene of stormy hu-
man life; that there were men here once who
watched this darkening expanse of blue with
keen and anxious eyes. They must have crept
behind the worn ramparts, to the round sentry-
boxes which hang like cages over the walls, to
look out from the loop-holes in hope or fear,
as might be the fortunes of war. And there
were those who suffered agonies of apprehen-
sion in the dungeons hollowed out of the rocks
below, while within sound of their misery other
men plotted and planned, with high ambition
or magnificent pride. For there is something
magnificent in transcendent folly; and such it
seems, now that they are all dead and gone and
there remains only a rusted ring in the wall, or
a half-obliterated coat-of-arms over the port-
THE TOWN. 95
cullis, to show that they
ever so much as
"Oh, but the long,
long while the
world shall last,
Which of our com-
ing and depart-
ure heeds -.
As the sev'n seas
should heed a pebble
But with the pebble's flying
instant, every law is as per-
fectly fulfilled as with the plane
through empty and endless space; and so it
is, that pebbles are never done feeling their im-
portance, refusing to remember that with the
splash at the end they are forgotten, no matter
what sparks their swift passage strikes out of
the indifferent air.
Here, in the fort, where much tumultuous
living has been swept into the past, the blank
of silence is stifling, and a curious fatalism would
persuade a man to yield himself up to those
laws which bear men and worlds into eternity
as a torrent carries straws upon its breast, and
in so doing find much that is beautiful and gra-
cious, and nothing that is hard in his instant's
voyage. All this is in the air. It is inexpli-
cable, and leaves one with the query whether
Religions are not altogether a matter of climate,
-the wonder how many years it would take to
change a Norseman into Buddha himself.
The Sergeant, parrot-like and half asleep, has.
many stories of this little greatness, or of that,
to tell of the fort. Very likely the stories have
grown with the years; but one does not look at
them too closely,- they belong to this luminous
dusk that blurs all the angles and arches of the
fort, and makes the line of sky and sea only an
advancing mist. The man's thread of memory
is strung with legends which go very far back.
He begins with Ponce de Leon,- a caballero,
already old, who has come to find the fountain
of perpetual youth. Already old, yet incapa-
ble of accepting age. What! had he not been
THE TOWN. 97
the friend and comrade of Christopher Colum-
bus? Did he not even now feel the passion of
success, which stirs the soul as wine stirs the
blood? Was not the spur of wonder still in his
side? He could not be old. His body might
be feeble, truly; but that was merely an acci-
dent of the flesh, a small matter. He was
young. His soul was as strong and glad and
brave as it had been fifty years ago. Old? No,
no, not he! All that he wanted was strong