• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Front Cover
 Half Title
 Frontispiece
 Title Page
 Dedication
 Preface
 Table of Contents
 List of Illustrations
 Pioneers
 Col Alto, Indians, Bijou
 Adventures and a rescue
 Visitors: Cracker vs. Cracker
 The old blind alligator
 Who stole the bear-trap?
 Hunting alligator eggs
 Jacko and the eggs
 To the Withlacoochee River
 Camp life on the Withlacoochee
 Getting even; bears; the old...
 A rescue; two famous letters;...
 Bijou and the alligators
 More alligators
 Into the new house
 Yalaha
 Advertising
 Back Cover
 Spine






Title: Three little crackers from down in Dixie
CITATION THUMBNAILS PAGE TURNER PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00087264/00001
 Material Information
Title: Three little crackers from down in Dixie
Physical Description: 249, 4 p. : ill., music ; 19 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Dromgoole, Will Allen, 1860-1934
Barry, Etheldred B ( Etheldred Breeze ), b. 1870 ( Illustrator )
Page Company ( Publisher )
Colonial Press (Boston, Mass.) ( Printer )
C.H. Simonds & Co
Publisher: L.C. Page and Company
Place of Publication: Boston
Manufacturer: Colonial Press ; Electroptyped and printed by C.H. Simonds & Co.
Publication Date: 1898
 Subjects
Subject: Christian life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Boys -- Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Brothers -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Animals -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Natural history -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Outdoor life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Pioneers -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Parent and child -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Courage -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Juvenile fiction -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Juvenile fiction -- Yalaha (Fla.)   ( lcsh )
Family stories -- 1898   ( local )
Publishers' advertisements -- 1898   ( rbgenr )
Bldn -- 1898
Genre: Family stories   ( local )
Publishers' advertisements   ( rbgenr )
novel   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: United States -- Massachusetts -- Boston
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: by Will Allen Dromgoole ; illustrated by Etheldred B. Barry.
General Note: Publisher's advertisements follow text.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00087264
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002225539
notis - ALG5814
oclc - 01851498
lccn - 98001204

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Page 1
        Page 2
    Half Title
        Page 3
        Page 4
    Frontispiece
        Page 5
    Title Page
        Page 6
        Page 7
    Dedication
        Page 8
    Preface
        Page 9
    Table of Contents
        Page 10
    List of Illustrations
        Page 11
        Page 12
    Pioneers
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
    Col Alto, Indians, Bijou
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
    Adventures and a rescue
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
    Visitors: Cracker vs. Cracker
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
    The old blind alligator
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
    Who stole the bear-trap?
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
    Hunting alligator eggs
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
    Jacko and the eggs
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
    To the Withlacoochee River
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
    Camp life on the Withlacoochee
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
    Getting even; bears; the old well
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
        Page 166
        Page 167
        Page 168
        Page 169
        Page 170
        Page 171
        Page 172
        Page 173
        Page 174
        Page 175
        Page 176
    A rescue; two famous letters; speech-making
        Page 177
        Page 178
        Page 179
        Page 180
        Page 181
        Page 182
        Page 183
        Page 184
        Page 185
        Page 186
        Page 187
        Page 188
        Page 189
        Page 190
        Page 191
        Page 192
        Page 193
        Page 194
        Page 195
        Page 196
    Bijou and the alligators
        Page 197
        Page 198
        Page 199
        Page 200
        Page 201
        Page 202
        Page 203
        Page 204
        Page 205
        Page 206
        Page 207
        Page 208
        Page 209
        Page 210
        Page 211
        Page 212
        Page 213
        Page 214
    More alligators
        Page 215
        Page 216
        Page 217
        Page 218
        Page 219
        Page 220
        Page 221
        Page 222
        Page 223
        Page 224
        Page 225
        Page 226
    Into the new house
        Page 227
        Page 228
        Page 229
        Page 230
        Page 231
        Page 232
        Page 233
        Page 234
        Page 235
        Page 236
        Page 237
    Yalaha
        Page 238
        Page 239
        Page 240
        Page 241
        Page 242
        Page 243
        Page 244
        Page 245
        Page 246
        Page 247
        Page 248
        Page 249
    Advertising
        Page 251
        Page 252
        Page 253
        Page 254
    Back Cover
        Page 255
        Page 256
    Spine
        Page 257
Full Text
















































The Baldwin Library
< TUn ivr ity
----------- :


-C1~_--TL---a, -~-----C~C---LI ~C



















THREE LITTLE CRACKERS FROM
DOWN IN DIXIE














































"THE CRACKERS FORGOT TO STIR; BUT STOOD WATCHING THE MAD ALLIGATOR WITH
A KIND OF HELPLESS FASCINATION." (See fage I2.)









THREE LITTLE

FROM DOWN


CRACKERS


IN DIXIE


WILL ALLEN DROMGOOLE



RIlustrateb bg
ETHELDRED B. BARRY












BOSTON
L. C. PAGE AND COMPANY
(INCORPORATED)
1898

































Copyright, 1898
BY L. C. PAGE AND COMPANY
(INCORPORATED)





















Calolnial 'ress:
Electrotyped and Printed by C. H. Simonds & Co.
Boston, U. S. A.




























To MY FRIENDS

Captain aub ifflt. A. 32. bf9arqe
TO WHOM I AM INDEBTED FOR MUCH THAT INSPIRED THE
WRITING OF THE STORY, AND WHOSE BEAUTIFUL
HOME AT YALAHA HAS SERVED IT FOR
A BACKGROUND, THE
THREE LITTLE CRACKERS
BEG TO MAKE THEIR BOW AND PAY THEIR
AFFECTIONATE DUTY




































-- -- i- -~
In Dix-ie Landwhar I was born in Ear-ly on one





fros-ty mornin,Look away! Look away Away down south in Dixie.
















.- Y' .. o, v .





CONTENTS

CHAPTER PAGE
I. PIONEERS 13
II. COL ALTO, INDIANS, BIJOU 26
III. ADVENTURES AND A RESCUE 44
IV. VISITORS: CRACKER VS. CRACKER 6
V. THE OLD BLIND ALLIGATOR 75
VI. WHO STOLE THE BEAR-TRAP? 91
VII. HUNTING ALLIGATOR EGGS 108
VIII. JACKO AND THE EGGS 125
IX. To THE WITHLACOOCHEE RIVER 135
X. CAMP LIFE ON THE WITHLACOOCHEE 150
XI. GETTING EVEN; BEARS; THE OLD WELL 162
XII. A RESCUE; TWO FAMOUS LETTERS; SPEECH-
MAKING 177
XIII. BIJOU AND THE ALLIGATORS. 197
XIV. MORE ALLIGATORS 215
XV. INTO THE NEW HOUSE 227
XVI. YALAHA 238


































PAGE
"THE CRACKERS FORGOT TO STIR; BUT STOOD
WATCHING THE MAD ALLIGATOR WITH A KIND
OF HELPLESS FASCINATION" Frontispiece
MR. Bus JOINER'S FIRST APPEARANCE 19
COL ALTO 29
THE MATE DROPPED KNIFE AND FORK 32
'GOPHERS !' SNEERED JACK. 'IT'S INDIANS! 40
THE CAPTAIN AND THE MATE 45
THE THREE LITTLE CRACKERS STARTED OUT TO
HUNT INDIANS 53
"' WILDCATS!" 55
THE MATE'S FLOWER GARDEN 65
" HE SET OFF AT A BRISK TROT, THE FRIGHT-
ENED BOYS CLINGING TO HIS NECK" 71
" WORD CAME THAT UNCLE JAMES WAS ILL" .77
THE OLD BLIND ALLIGATOR. 83
THE ALLIGATOR WAKES UP. 87

II












ILLUSTRATIONS.


THE BOYS' FRIGHT
MINNOWS FOR BAIT
THREE LITTLE CRACKERS ON DUTY
ON THE LAKE .
"A RABBIT RAN ACROSS THE TRAIL"
IN THE BIG PUNCH-BOWL
JACK AND THE EGGS .
PACKING
A PHOSPHATE MINE
JACK ENDEAVORS TO CORRECT LUKE
MRS. JOINER. .
"'BEAR! BEAR! BEAR!"' .
IN THE PIT .
GOING VISITING .
JOE LENDS A HAND TO THE ENEMY
THE LITTLE CRACKER'S MAIDEN SPEECH
" THE LITTLE CRACKER RODE OFF ON
PONY ".
MR. JOINER TALKS
THE TRAP FOUND.
WHAT KILLED THE ALLIGATOR
MR. JOINER'S FORTUNE
THE NEW HOUSE .
THE LITTLE CRACKER HAS AN IDEA


PAGE.
S90

S97
102
S. II5
18
127
132
141
151
I5'
16o
64
S. 167

S175
181
188

1 93
HIS LITTLE

199
202
209
S216
S 224
S 229
S 234


. 241


THE STEAMER
















THREE LITTLE CRACKERS FROM

DOWN IN DIXIE.


CHAPTER I.

PIONEERS.

IT was high noon of a day in January, when
the steamer landed them, dumped them," the
pioneer's wife had said, at the point most con-
venient to their new home in the Florida
wilderness.
There were five of them, not including
Polly, the parrot, who really ought to be
included, since she was doing more talking
at the moment of landing than any one
member of the party.
First, there was the Captain himself, the
leader and head of the party, who had once
been captain of a steamboat, had prospered,
13








THREE LITTLE CRACKERS.


inherited a fortune with his wife, in the uncul-
tivated lands of Florida, and was now moving
his family there to take possession. There
was the Captain's wife, and there were the
boys, three of them, three brave, eager, inex-
perienced young pioneers. These made up
the company dumped upon the landing that
morning in January.
In their Alabama home, which they had left
for the Southern wilderness, the boys answered
to the names of "Joseph," "Jimmie," and
" Jackie." But the Captain's wife, as a stimu-
lus to the boys' courage, had shortened the
names at the moment of departure.
They accepted their abbreviated names as
a part of the life upon which they were about
to enter,-a life that was to have its pleasures
and its adventures, without those extreme
hardships which usually fall to the lot of the
pioneer.
The change of abode had been necessary,
the physician said, because of a consumptive
tendency in both branches of the family, that
had suddenly given hint of something serious.
This hint decided the Captain at once to
remove to Florida, where his wife's brother
had gone several years previously.








PIONEERS.


"And our boys shall be pioneers," said the
mother, when the three pale young fellows
protested against going. "They shall be
pioneers, and help to open a way in the
Florida wilderness."
The "pioneer idea was fascinating to their
young minds, as the mother knew it would be,
but the old life was not without its fascina-
tions also. The brothers had not made the
exchange without more or less regret.
It was en route that Jack, the youngest,
offered his last protest.
It is like not being a boy any more," said
he, "to be moved off into another country,
and to be called just 'Jack.' I tell you now,
mother, 'Jackie' is good enough for me."
"Why, who ever heard of a pioneer called
'Jackie ?'" laughed the Captain's wife. Why,
I think that would suggest a baby, rather than
a brave pioneer."
She knew that Master Jack had really
offered his objections to the abbreviation only
since James, the second son, had, in a spirit of
teasing, scratched upon a box belonging to his
brother, "A Jack Paris S," and left it so,
with that long, suggestive hyphen between the
names.








THREE LITTLE CRACKERS.


The Captain's wife had not dared to smile,
so she said:
Who ever heard of a pioneer called Jackie ?
Or even Jackson ? Anticipating Master Jack's
reply.
Upon which the three, to the Captain's great
amusement, had set up a wild shout of "I
have!" I have !" "So have I!" "Where's
Old Hickory?" "Remember Old Hickory,
mother."
And so I do," said the Captain's wife, recov-
ering her ground. But I remember the great
warrior who opened the way for the. white
man in the Florida wilderness, was not called
'Andy;'- but because he was so brave, 'so
tough,' the soldiers said, that neither Andrew,
nor Jackson itself, was strong enough, they
called him 'Old Hickory.'"
And after that no more was said against the
new names, or rather the nicknames, and the
boys landed by the steamer that noon in Jan-
uary were ever after known as Joe, James, and
Jack, the pioneers.
The Captain stood amongst his plunder,
boxes and barrels and great bundles, and
began to take an inventory.
"Everything here," he announced, after a








PIONEERS.


moment's calculating. "Everything here, ex-
cept the Cracker, Bus Joiner,' who was to
meet us with his team. Shall we wait for
him, or go on? The house is but a short
distance back; up there among those moss-
hung live-oaks."
"And leave our goods and chattels ? his
wife demanded.
Nobody to bother," said the Captain, "and
we can be getting acquainted with our new
home while waiting for Mr. Joiner. Come,
boys; everybody take a load, and forward,
march! I am Captain of this company."
But the Captains's wife quietly seated her-
self upon a great roll of bedding and proceeded
to make a remark, the result of which was the
name by which we shall know her throughout
these pages.
Captain," said she, I shall not desert my
possessions. Remember we brought with us,
on the steamer, only those things absolutely
and immediately necessary, and our valuables.
Why, sir, my great-grandmother's silver is a
part of this luggage ; I shall not desert it, sir.
If you are Captain, please remember that I am
HMate."
At this the boys gave a cheer, in which the







THREE LITTLE CRACKERS.


Captain was forced to join. A cheer which
continued until the Mate rose from the bun-
dle of bedding, seized the Captain by the arm,
and pointed down the long, level opening in
the hammock land, an opening that was soon
to be christened the road," towards a queer
shambling concern that was lazily creeping
along through the deep white sand.
"What is it?" said she. "Man or beast?
Captain, will you please to give a name to the
something that approaches our landing? "
The Captain laughed.
"Why, Sue," said he, "that is a genuine
Florida Cracker, a semi-tropical, native growth.
And he is no other than Mr. Bus Joiner,
better known to himself as 'Bus J'iner;' and
he comes to help us to our cabin on the hill up
yonder."
But, father," said Joe, if that is Mr. Joiner,
what is the rest of him ? "
The rest of him," laughed the Captain, is
his team. That upon which he rides is the
horse, or rather mare. She is blind, and so he
has belled her. The conveyance attached to
the mare, and worked upon wooden wheels, is
a wagon; those red, white, and yellow trappings
are strips of cloth and old rope; he calls them







PIONEERS.


his gear. Quite an original turnout, to say the
least of it. Take a good look, and do your
commenting while he is at a distance. Not a
word about the team in the owner's hearing,
understand."
The "good
look" showed
them a rude
wagon-bed .,
hoisted upon *
wooden wheels,
and drawn by a
lank, lean, clay-
bank mare, fas-
tened between
the shafts with
rope and strings
of every size
and color. The
mare was blind,
and from her long neck swung an old cow-bell
suspended by a leather band.
Astride the mare, long legs dangling, feet
almost sweeping the ground, face covered with
a coarse, sunburnt beard, long hair falling on
his shoulders, and keen, sharp eyes fixed upon
the waiting group, sat, in all his glory, Mr.







THREE LITTLE CRACKERS.


Bus Joiner," better known to himself and
family as Mr. Bus J'iner, the Cracker, with
whom the Captain had boarded while superin-
tending the building of his dwelling during his
former visit, before he removed his family to
Florida.
"A genuine Cracker," said the Captain, in a
low tone. "Take a good look, boys. That
may be a specimen of what you are coming
to."
"A genuine Cracker," repeated the Mate, in
a lower tone still, as the curious-looking turn-
out drew nearer. As it stopped, and the man
prepared to dismount, a voice from the luggage
cried out shrilly:
A genuine Cracker! Ha! ha! Joe, a gen-
uine Cracker!"
Polly wants a cracker; give it to her, Joe,"
the Mate came to the rescue at once; so that
'Mr. Bus J'iner' never for one moment doubted
the bird was calling for a bit of flour and
water.
The Captain made the company acquainted,
and, while they were loading the wagon with
the goods, which Mr. Joiner called you-unses
truck," they proceeded to make themselves
better acquainted.








PIONEERS.


This reminds me," said the Mate, "of the
landing of the Pilgrims."
The which, mu'm ? said J'iner.
"The Pilgrims, -they were a handful of
brave folk who came to this country a long
time ago -"
And found nothing but savages," inter-
rupted Jack, before the Mate could stop him.
Plenty un 'em roun' here," said the Cracker.
"Savages?" cried the boys. in a breath,
unheeding the Mate's warning winks.
Woods full un 'em. B'ar, wil' cat, deer,
'possum, gopher, painter, rattler."
Oh!" again came the triple exclamation.
" Oh, but that's good "
"Will you tell about them, sometimes?"
said James.
Lots."
"And maybe you go hunting? said Joe.
Lots."
Have you ever killed a bear? said Jack,
his eyes wide open with wonder and admiration.
Lots an' lots."
"And maybe you'll let us go hunting with
you," said Joe. Father has brought guns, and
ordered two rowboats, and says we are to be
brave pioneers, and learn all about the wilder-








THREE LITTLE CRACKERS.


ness. Would you let us go hunting long "
Joe glanced at his mother, and then at the
friendly Cracker; he wished to put himself
upon a safe footing, yet he stammered ever
so little before he said-"long o' you-uns ? "
The confusion of loading the wagon drowned
his mother's words to all ears except those of
Jack. "You little Cracker!" he heard her
say; "you-uns air a regular little Cracker al-
ready."
At this moment there was a startled excla-
mation from Mr. Joiner, who dropped the box
he was lifting to his shoulder with a crash, and
went running off to a safe distance behind the
wagon.
What's that? he shouted. What's that
varmint in the box? Hit laffed,-oh, Laud,
it laffed, and put hit's han' out fur ter shake -
What's hit, what's hit, Cap'n? "
Then the boys raised a shout that all the
Mate's winking and frowning could not quell.
It was too absurd. A little brown, bald face
was thrust from the box, between the slats that
had been arranged for ventilation; a set of
tiny white teeth were exhibited in a delighted
grin,- there was a funny little titter, the same
that had sent the burly Cracker to cover, and








PIONEERS.


Polly, from her cage behind the bedclothes,
sang out:
Pretty little Jacko! Pretty little Jacko!
You're a Cracker, Jacko. Poor little mon-
key!"
The Captain sat down beside the boys, and
laughed until he had to hold his sides. The
Mate alone kept her dignity.
It is only Jacko, Mr. Joiner," she said.
" He is our monkey, and cannot possibly do
any harm while in the box. We keep, him
chained always, or try to, for when he gets
loose, he generally manages to do a good deal
of mischief. Put him in the wagon, Joe. And
now, Mr. Joiner, if you will lift that bundle of
bedding up, and now the parrot's cage,- look
out for your fingers; Polly is worse than Jacko,
- and now, I think, we are ready to start.
Wait! There is my roll of oilcloth left; let me
get it. This reminds me of a story I once
read about a-"
Mother! "
With a cry of horror James sprang from his
place upon the loaded wagon, and, seizing his
mother's arm, dragged her back from the land-
ing before the others fairly comprehended what
he was doing. As he did so, the bundle of








THREE LITTLE CRACKERS.


"oilcloth" gave a turn, and slid back into
the water.
"Sakes erlive !" drawled the Cracker, ef 't
warent a 'gator!"
The brown roll of oilcloth was a hideous,
slimy alligator that had come out for a noon
bath in the sunshine.
Shouldn't wonder ef 't war the blin' 'gator,"
said Mr. Joiner. But Laud! the kentry's full
uv 'em. Got ter look sharp, I tol' you. Look
out thar, missus. Ye're trompin' on a rat- "
With a shriek the Mate sprang to the wagon,
and seized the cotton lines.
"A rattlesnake?" she shouted. "Get up!
Get away from here! Take me back to Ala-
bama! to Halifax! to Jericho! Anywhere, but
Florida, alligators and rattlesnakes."
Then the boys did laugh; so did the Cap-
tain; even the Cracker showed his long, yellow
teeth in a grin, while Polly lent a mocking
"Ha! ha!" to the chorus. And the Mate,
looking back, at last understood the Cracker's
warning.
Yeou ware trompin' on a rat-"
"Drive on!" she commanded, in all the
grandeur of offended dignity. Drive on, sir."
There was nothing for it but to obey; but








PIONEERS. 25

under the Cracker's yellow beard his lips parted
in a smile that developed into a chuckle after
awhile, and he whispered into the yellow tangle
that the fine missus ware about to tromple on
a rattlin' big turkle,"-meaning one of the large
gopher land-turtles, with which the pioneers
were destined to become better acquainted.
















CHAPTER II.


COL ALTO, INDIANS, BIJOU.

THE new arrivals moved into their Florida
house, arranged its furnishings, and began to
feel at home. One morning, about a week after
their arrival, the Captain said to the Mate:
" Now, Sue, lay aside high notions, and name
the place, if it must be named. Let it be
'Cabin Home,' or something else as appro-
priate. Consider the situation."
The situation is precisely the point I am
considering," said the Mate. The house is of
log; seven rooms. ,As to the furniture, there
is a Queen Anne set in one room, and queen
somebody else in another. On the walls there
are copies, good copies of Diirer, of Guido, and
of Raphael; to say nothing of my Cleopatra,
made directly from a copy of a copy of Cor-
reggio's original. Then, there is the silver to
give lustre to our cabin home. That silver
belonged to my great-grandmother, sir. I tell
26








COL ALTO, INDIANS,, BIJOU.


you we are somebody, Captain, notwithstand-
ing the fortunes have set us down in the wil-
derness. Yet, setting aside past grandeur, and
present possessions as well, I shall do as you
say, 'consider the situation.' And so, consid-
ering, I christen our home Col Alto; high
hill. Where are the boys, Captain? "
Gone to Drake Point with Mr. Bus Joiner,
to see their uncle. Now, Sue, what next?"
said the Captain.
"'Next,' the horses. .If we could have put
Bijou into a trunk and brought him along with
us, I should not feel so helpless," laughed the
Mate. One cannot accomplish much without
a horse in a country without cart-roads. Yet,
I fancy it will be pleasant living, in this glo-
rious climate. I hope it, at least, for the sake of
brother James, and the dear darlings."
And the Mate sighed as she arranged her
old Alabama silver on the home-made side-
board. She had suddenly remembered that
her invalid brother had not been so well of
late; had not indeed been well enough to pay
them a visit yet in their new home, to which
he was most anxious to welcome them, since
it was he who had persuaded them to move
to Florida. The two men, the Captain and








THREE LITTLE CRACKERS.


his brother-in-law, had bought up most of the
land around them, and had boarded with Mr.
Joiner while they helped to build the cabin
that was to be their home until they could
see "what was what," and, perhaps, by and by
build better.
The little Crackers liked their Florida home
from the very moment of landing.
Perhaps you may complain that the boys
were not genuine Crackers, since they were
born in Alabama, and not in her backwoods,
either. But they came to Florida so early,
before she was half settled, and became so truly
her citizens, they were disposed to believe them-
selves genuine Floridians, at any rate. It was
the Mate who first called them Crackers, for the
reason that they formed such intimate .friend-
ship with Mr. Joiner that they very readily
adopted his dialect and manners. Or would
have done so but for the Mate's continual
"nagging," as she called it.
They came home from their uncle's at the
moment when supper was put upon the table.
The same moment in which their mother an-
nounced the name of their new home, Col Alto.
Uncle calls his place' Drake P'int,'" said
Joe, as he opened a fat potato with his knife.




































































COL ALTO.







COL ALTO, INDIANS, BIJOU.


"' P'int! '" screamed the Mate. Wherever
in the world did you pick up such English? "
Joe blushed and made no reply. He knew
as well as his mother did that he was indebted
to Mr. Bus Joiner for the new pronunciation
of Drake Point, his Uncle James's beautiful
tract of land, consisting of the famous Florida
hammock land, that wild tangle of live-oaks,
gray moss, wild plum and orange, and of the
stately and health-giving pine land, farther up
from the Point where he had built his home.
The Point itself projected into the lake upon
whose shores the families had decided to cast
their lots. They were wealthy people for those
times, and would at once set about the making
for themselves of a home. Already a wharf was
planned for Drake Point, and several acres of
wild orange-trees had been budded with the
sweet fruit; the "little leaven" that was to
leaven the great forest. For boys who live
in Florida soon learn that a sour orange-tree,
a natural, wild growth, is easily converted into
a sweet one by budding it with the latter.
Uncle James had come to Florida two years
before the others, and, therefore, as the boys
said, had got the start of them." By the time
the wharf was ready, there were piles to be








THREE LITTLE CRACKERS.


driven, and the timber for them was still a
part of the forest, -there would be a crop of
oranges ready to ship from the new grove.
The boys were intensely interested; not so
much in the appearance of the fruit, as in the
disappearance of the hammock.
Uncle is clearing up.all the hammock land
on his place," said James. Mr. J'iner says












there won't be a b'ar left in the country if the
swammocks are cleared up."
The Mate dropped her great-grandmother's
knife and fork upon her plate with a great
clatter.
"A what ?" she demanded, the twinkle in
her eye contradicting the frown on her brow.
Now you've done it," laughed Jack. There








COL ALTO, INDIANS, BIJOU.


are lots of bears left yet, mother. We are going
out hunting next week, after our things come.
Mr. J'iner says there are lots of varmints left.
His wife ketched one in a trap last week."
The Mate dropped her hands in her lap and
laughed.
Oh, you are three little Crackers," said she.
"Why is it that boys always pick up the objec-
tionable, Captain, can you tell ? "
"'Human natur,' as J'iner would say,"
growled the Captain, under his beard.
"Well," said the Mate, though I don't like
to admit it, I will have to own that I have here
.three Crackers. And Crackers they are until
they learn good old Alabama grammar. Joe
is my big Cracker, Jim is the middle Cracker,
and Jack is the little Cracker. Now that we all
understand how the matter stands, we will not
have our nerves shocked with 'b'ars,' and 'var-
mints,' and pointss,' and the ketchin'' of wild
animals. We will just remember that it's only
a trio of little. Cracker children talking to us,
and since they know no better we will try to
expect no better."
The Captain laughed at the look of dismay
on the faces of the boys; the Mate, too, had a
twinkle in her eye, but to the boys it seemed








THREE LITTLE CRACKERS.


rather a serious thing to be labelled "a Florida
Cracker" at the beginning of their venture.
But labelled they were; from that moment the
Captain and his wife spoke to them and of
them as the three little Crackers; and, after
awhile, Uncle James heard about it, and soon
he began to call them so, too; and one day,
when the Mate received a letter from far-away
Alabama, and the writer of it said, Give my
love to the three little Crackers," then the boys
knew the secret was out. "All over the
world," the big Cracker said, since Aunt Lizzie
knew about it. Though the little Cracker
" reckoned old Alabama war'n't everything, if.
Aunt Lizzie did live there," while the middle
Cracker allowed," as. Mr. Joiner expressed it,
"in and about the best thing to do was to
make the best of a bad bargain." A way the
dear little Cracker No. 2 had of accepting
unpleasant things; and it was this same trait,
" making the best of it," that made for him a
place in this little book, by the side of the
boy who always rushed into things, and the boy
who was always ready to run away from the
unpleasant.
But all this will come in, by and by, and
has nothing to do with the talk at the supper-








COL ALTO, INDIANS, BIJOU.


table that night, upon which the Crackers
received their name.
Despite the chat and the jokes, the Captain
felt uneasy. The household goods had not ar-
rived, and the scouts, who went out to look for
the wagons the day before, had failed to put in
an appearance. There were Indians along the
road they were to travel, -friendly, 'tis true,
but not too honest. Old Tiger Tail had his
camp at Okahumpka there, and while the old
chief was honorable enough, there were always
sneaks among. the redskins. The wagons
must come directly through Okahumpka, and
should have passed that village several days
before.
It is the horses that may tempt them," said
the Captain. They would not dare molest
my men, unless it be to secure the horses. An
Indian will risk his scalp any day for a good
horse."
If they bother Bijou I'll have them arrested
for horse thieves," said the little Cracker, ready
to rush to the rescue of his pony, the tricky,
but gentle Bijou.
The Mate laughed.
"Who is to arrest anybody in this wilder-
ness, I should like to know. No, little Cracker,








THREE LITTLE CRACKERS.


you are perfectly helpless to prevent it, should
a covetous redskin be seized with a desire to
possess your pony. Unless you should appeal
to old Tiger Tail- himself, and I doubt if he
could find the thief. Captain, you don't think
the men could have lost the road? "
No," replied the Captain. Roads are too
scarce in this county to ever offer a danger
like that. Couldn't miss it; that is what
makes me uneasy."
"And Bijou," Jack was thinking. "If an
Indian wants him, he has only to nab him.
And he is off out there in the woods where
they are. And of course they want him; who
wouldn't want Bijou ?"
He thought about it during the next hour
constantly. Try as he would, he could not get
his mind away from the ugly danger -that
seemed to grow more ugly and more threaten-
ing the more he thought about it-threatening
his pet.
He did not heed, if he even heard, his
mother's plans for the new home. The ham-
mock was to be cleared away between the
house and the'lake, giving a full view of the
blue, sun-kissed water that stretched for nearly
fifteen miles beyond the bluff, upon which, by








COL ALTO, INDIANS, BIJOU.


and by, the new house was to be erected, if
all went well with them in the land of flowers.
Until then, the cleared space was to be an
orange grove; though there was to be a wharf,
and two rowboats for the boys, and, by and by,
with the new house, there was to be a yacht
for the Mate.
The present house stood upon a great hill,
at its highest point, that went down in a grace-
ful slope to the bluff that marked the site of
the future home.
Mother," said the big Cracker, isn't the
bluff of sand ? "
Yes," replied the Mate, "all Florida's sand."
Except the part that is sand-spurs," said the
middle Cracker; at which all joined in a laugh,
except the little Cracker, who was busy trying
to devise a means of rescuing Bijou from the
followers of old Tiger Tail, the Indian chief,
located at the village of Okahumpka. Jack
heard neither the plans, nor his brother's bit
of wit.
"Well, mother," Joe went on to say, "ain't
you rather building your new house, then, on
the sand? "
"'Ain't' I?" said the Mate. "No, big
Cracker, it is not built on sand, but on-"








THREE LITTLE CRACKERS.


"Air," chimed in the middle Cracker.
Kaolin," said the Mate. Kaolin that will
one day be shipped to England's china manu-
factories, I tell you; and then we shall be
rich."
"Another castle built on air," laughed the
Captain, as he passed his cup back to be filled
with coffee.
Built on kaolin, you mean," said the Mate.
And it was just at this juncture the little
Cracker dropped his fork and shouted:
"I know! I know how we can do. Won't
you, Joe? Won't you? And James ? "
The Mate set the Captain's cup aside, and
said, W-e-1-l! in a most surprised tone,
while the Captain dropped the hot waffle he
was lifting to his plate into his lap, instead.
The two older Crackers stopped operations upon
hot biscuit and Florida syrup to inquire, with
their eyes, if the little Cracker had suddenly
wakened out of a very bad dream.
It was the Captain who finally inquired:
What is it, Jack ? Are you dreaming? "
"No, sir," replied the little Cracker. "I
wasn't asleep. I only just furgittened to ricker-
lict what I ware a-doin' uv."
At this unexpected burst of Cracker elo-








COL ALTO, INDIANS, BIJOU.


quence, the Mate arose at once and dismissed
the company. This mattered little to the boys,
however, since they had eaten as much syrup
and biscuit as they could furnish storage for," so
said the Mate, and there never was a boy yet
who cared to sit at the table when the storage
was all taken.
Moreover, that mysterious outbreak of Jack's
impressed them oddly. Something lay behind
it all. Jack was a great schemer, and evidently
there was a scheme on hand. They had great
respect for the little Cracker, whose busy brain
was ever devising some rare adventure such as
boys delight in.
"Jack ought to have lived, in the time of
Daniel Boone and belonged to his band," James
thought; though Joe insisted he ought to
have followed Old Hickory against the red-
skins," and both felt sure it was all owing to
his name, Andrew Jackson, that Jack thought
up so many brave things."
Anyhow, Jack was the proper stuff for
a pioneer, and they felt sure he would
"show Florida some things before he let her
go."
So, upon leaving the dining-room, the two
older Crackers sought their brother, who had







THREE LITTLE CRACKERS.


gone out to the shed at the back door to give
Jacko his supper.
"Say, Jack," said Joe, "what is it you're
going to do? Hunt gophers or salaman-
ders ?"
"Gophers!" sneered Jack. "What do I
want with go-
I_ pher tortoise?
Mother makes
the soup, I don't.
And I ain't going
to hunt salaman-
/ ders, either. It
ain't any of these,





I've got a gun,
and plenty of
shot, and it's night, and they don't know I
am on their trail. Besides, it ain't Indians,
exactly, it's Bijou. I'm going to look for
Bijou. I don't say the Indians have got him,
but, if they have, they've got to give him up,
whether old Tiger Tail makes them or not."








COL ALTO, INDIANS, BIJOU.


"When are you going ?" said the big
Cracker, full of the great scheme that re-
flected so much of the old hero for whom
his youngest brother had been called.
"Right now; to-night," said Jack. Soon's
I can load up and fix."
There was a slight hesitation, very slight,
however, on the part of the middle Cracker.
I don't think mother would quite like to let
us," he faltered.
"If you're afraid, stay at home," said Jack.
"We're, Joe and I, going to wait till every-
body is asleep, so as not to make mother
uneasy, and then take our guns, and slip off
in the moonlight. It is bright as day these
nights,-just the nights for spying Indians."
Besides," said Joe, "I don't believe
mother would care. She said we were to
be pioneers, and learn to shoot, and ride, and
to protect ourselves and her. She hates a
coward, I've heard her say so dozens of
times. If we are brave enough to fight
Indians who steal our horses, and murder
our hands that father brought from Alabama,
she wouldn't try to keep us from it. I know
mother."
"Yes, we know mother," said Jack, "and








THREE LITTLE CRACKERS.


we know ourselves, Joe and I do, and we
are going off to rescue Bijou and the men."
"Suppose we get lost ?" said James, yield-
ing at last to the thrilling temptation,-for
what boy hasn't been fired with a desire to
fight Indians at some time in his life? To be
sure, they were farther removed than were
these against whom the three daring little
Crackers were planning a crusade, yet they
doubtless seemed very near and very real to
the readers of Fenimore Cooper, and the
lovers of old Kit Carson. "Suppose we get
lost in the hammock somewhere?"
Can't," said Jack. Didn't you hear father
say how plain the road was? "
"Boys!" the Mate opened the door and
called. The silence which followed their
"Yes, mother," might have argued their con-
sciences were not altogether as satisfied upon
the subject of their mother's approval of the
plan on foot, as their nimble tongues and
boyish fancies would have made believe.
Boys, bring Polly in, and see that there is
wood in the kitchen for morning. And don't
forget the water. Remember, mother is cook
until the wagons come."
They went about their duties cheerfully,








COL ALTO, INDIANS, BIJOU. 43

and with alacrity, and, when all was ready, and
the clock in the Mate's room had struck eight,
they crept away to their beds, their plans all
perfected, to wait until the father and mother
should fall asleep before starting out upon
their raid against the Indians.
True, there was no danger to be appre-
hended in that line, though there were dan-
gers, frightful and unseen, threatening the
little adventurers, who, as yet, were strangers
to the wild Florida forest and its inhabitants.















CHAPTER III.


ADVENTURES AND A RESCUE.

THE Captain seemed unusually wide-awake
that night, the three boys in the big room
joining the sitting-room thought.
And the Mate had fallen asleep in her chair
(they could see her through the open door, by
stretching their bodies as far out of bed as
possible) three different times, and each time
had awakened with a little low laugh to tell
some joke upon some one of the three little
Crackers.
"Captain," she roused up once to say,
" those boys remind me of a bric-a-brac col-
lector, in the way they pick up odd bits of
English, if it be English. I heard the wee
Cracker, to-day, telling how many deer Mr.
Bus Joiner had 'skint.' And the middle
Cracker told of a bear that 'clomb the pal-
metto-trees, and et up the palmetto cabbages.'
While Joe, to crown the list of wonders,
44








ADVENTURES AND A RESCUE.


declared that 'if the Governor of Alabama
should ever drop in on us here like he used to
do in Alabama and challenge father to a hunt,
he meant to bet him he couldn't shoot wild
ducks on the flew to the equal of Bus Joiner,
who shot 'em on the flew easy as nothing.' "


The Captain laughed; he knew the Mate
would, by and by, straighten out the English,
and it was funny to hear the little Crackers
experiment with the dialect of Mr. Joiner.
The Captain went on with his reading; for
there was but one boat each week, and the







THREE LITTLE CRACKERS.


steamer that came that day had brought in a
packet of papers and letters.
The steamer came up the Ocklawaha from
Jacksonville, and they must rely upon this for
everything until, so the Mate said, the railroad
came; or else the orange trade should become
heavy enough to demand a daily steamer by
which to ship the fruit.
Another castle, the Captain said; but he, .too,
had built great hopes upon this castle, as well
as the Mate, who had fallen to nodding again
while the Captain read.
Suddenly she started up.
Did you hear anything ?" she asked. Any-
thing moving in the boys' room? "
The Captain listened a moment.
No," said he. All seems to be quiet in
there."
I thought I heard moving," said the Mate.
"Cautious moving, as of some one carefully
trying to walk about without being heard.
The boys are asleep, I suppose ?"
"Long ago," said the Captain. "What
could keep their tongues still beside? And
I believe I shall follow their example. I am
tired out with rooting up palmetto sprouts."
The Captain was true to his word; in a








ADVENTURES AND A RESCUE.


little while he was fast asleep, and the last
light in the log house on the hill had ceased
to shine.
But the Mate could not sleep; the drowsi-
ness that had caused her to nod in the big
armchair was all gone. That sound of cau-
tious, bare, or muffled footsteps heard in the
boys' room still disturbed her thoughts and
drove sleep from her eyelids. She attempted
in vain to reason herself into content and quiet
again.
"They are good boys," she told herself;
"they would not be guilty of any disobedient
or unmanly tricks."
But this did not bring sleep. Finally she
arose and went to the window, for, although
the month was January, the weather was warm,
and the window--secured against the armies
of blind mosquitoes that inhabit the lake
regions- stood wide open.
Below, beyond the clearing just made in the
hammock, stretched the quiet waters of the
lake; the lake that in the daylight responded
to each touch of sunshine by ten thousand
thousand sparkling dimples.
In the soft light of the moon its beauty was
no less perfect, only that it was a gentle, sub-
*







THREE LITTLE CRACKERS.


dued beauty, like the beauty of some people
who have grappled with life's misfortunes until
the struggle has made their faces strong, and
calm, and confident; the very best of all
beauty.
It had a melancholy about it, too, that still,
moon-mellowed water. Beyond it was her old
home, her kindred, her first friends. Then it
set her thinking of another vast stream that
rolled between her and that other home; the
last home she would sail away to when done
with all earthly dwellings.
Thinking of these things, she forgot her
uneasiness, and when she crept back to the
Captain's side at last, it was to drop into a
quiet sleep, dreamless and undisturbed.
Meanwhile, where were the three little
Crackers, and what were they about?
After waiting as long and as patiently as
they considered it possible to wait, they de-
cided, in whispers, to steal out at the back
door while their parents were still awake. Joe
had taken the leadership now, as was usually
the case. It was Jack who suggested or con-
ceived the wonderful adventures, Joe who
executed, to a certain extent, and then it fell
to James to take matters in hand, and either







ADVENTURES AND A RESCUE.


push them safely through or else to engineer a
wise retreat.
The first thing to be done was to set the
door ajar. The doors were never locked at
night, so there were no qualms of conscience
as to subjecting their parents to any danger
through leaving them open. The guns were
set carefully outside, propped against the cabin
wall.
The Crackers made their other simple prep-
arations hastily and noiselessly. Joe tiptoed
in his bare feet to the chair of clothes, and
tossed two suits to the two boys in bed. They
slipped into these without leaving the bed,
while Joe was getting into his, after having
carried three pairs of shoes and stockings to
a place of convenience beside the door where
they could seize them in passing, and put them
on when they were safe on their journey. It
was the scraping of James's shoes against the
door, as the owner went out with them in his
hand, that had reached Mrs. Parish's ear, and
well-nigh upset their plans, spoiling the whole
adventure.
At last, however, they were out; the moon
shone bright enough; a typical night, as Jack
had said, "for spying Indians," provided the








THREE LITTLE CRACKERS.


Indians were not disposed to a similar amuse-
ment.
Below them, like a sea of silver, lay the lake,
with that one clearing, made by their father's
men, opening to the white kaolin shore.
Around them closed the hammock lands: a
gray wall of forest, with the gray moss, wrapped
from tree to tree, and from bough to bough,
swaying lightly in the soft lake breeze, until it
appeared as if the entire forest were gently
rocking itself to rest in the night wind.
Directly through this jungle ran a long,
straight road, the only opening to be seen.
" Father was right," said Joe: "there's no
mistaking the road."
But I wish it didn't go through that," said
James, indicating the hammock; "it looks too
wildcatty to suit my taste."
Will you hush ? exclaimed Joe. If you
expect to find thieving Indians stretched out
in the moonlight waiting to be scalped, you'll
find yourself on a mighty cold trail, as Mr.
Joiner says. We've got to plow right through
that hammock, and we don't want any wildcat
tales to help us on."
S'pose one should come, anyhow ?" said
Jack, who, having donned his shoes and stock-








ADVENTURES AND A RESCUE.


ings, began to feel that the real adventure was
now truly close upon them.
Joe interpreted the suggestion to mean an
ebbing of courage, so he said, slyly:.
"Well, if it does, I'm afraid poor Bijou will
be et up before we can get there."
Jack's courage came bounding back on the
instant, for Bijou was his own special property.
Oh, hurry up!" he exclaimed. I'm not
afraid of a little woods-lot like -this.' Joe!
James! Do come on and save poor Bijou."
And, following Jack's lead, they entered the
hammock, each Cracker grasping his small
gun firmly, and each Cracker ready to die for
his sake on the instant. At least, each one
thought so.
"It's awfully still," said Jack; "seems like
you could hear our feet a mile off."
"Don't talk," said Joe; "it might make -
might scare the Indians off."
For a few minutes there was silence, save
for the almost inaudible sound of their feet
sinking into the soft, white sand, the sound
which might be heard a mile off."
"I wish we had brought Mr. Bus J'iner
along," said James. "He likes to hunt In-
dians, I reckon, for I asked him yesterday if








THREE LITTLE CRACKERS.


he did, and he said he 'ain't jist p'intedly
ever fit any, so to speak, but he liked to hunt
better'n pizen.'"
Maybe he's out in the woods somewhere
now," said the big Cracker. And the sugges-
tion gave new courage to his followers, as he
had intended it should. Silence again. Then
Jack, inconsistent little Cracker that he was,
spoiled, absolutely wrecked, the entire adven-
ture, robbing it utterly of its glory by saying:
"I wonder what mother is doing right
now? "
Didn't I tell you not to talk?" said Joe.
" Maybe you want Bijou et up by Indians."
Nobody spoke after that, for more than
half an hour. Yet, though they tramped
on bravely to all appearances, in each little
Cracker's heart there was a thought which
neither their ambition to shine as heroes, nor
their affection for the endangered Bijou could
put aside:
"What is mother doing? "
One of life's great lessons had come to them
there in the wilderness, thoughtless little wan-
derers, had they but known it. It is not what
we ourselves suffer at the moment of our
keenest sorrow that makes it so hard to bear;






































































TIE THREE LITTLE CRACKERS STARTED OUT TO HUNT
INDIANS.








ADVENTURES AND A RESCUE.


but it is the reflection that, but for some
careless or sinful act of our own, we might,
among different and happier surroundings,
be with those we love.
The three little
Crackers tramped on in
silence. Suddenly they
stopped still, each heart
gave a bound, and each
gun was utterly forgot-
ten as a wild, shrill cry






arose
on the
night, from the
jungle upon
their left.
Once, twice,
and three times!
And then every
single one of them broke and ran before the
awful cry of "Wildcats!"
Without thinking of their course, they had,








THREE LITTLE CRACKERS.


however, run forward, possibly because the
cat had cried from the brake slightly in their
rear.
It was James who finally restored something
like order in the ranks, but it was when they
were beyond the sound of the hungry cat's
voice.
The boys were willing enough to turn back,
but they were not willing to pass that jungle.
Joe was for breaking a way around to the lake,
and following that until they reached home.
That means to get lost," said James.
"We'll do nothing of the kind. Besides, we
couldn't get through to save our lives. I
tried it with Mr. J'iner. He says 'no man
living can get through a Florida hammock
without an axe.' No, sir, we're in it, we've
got to make the best of it. We've got to
either stay here, press on, or turn back.
There's no sense staying here to be et up
by wildcats."
Don't talk," said Joe, softly.
I will talk," declared the middle Cracker;
"it's talking keeps off scare, anyhow. There's
no sense staying here. I ain't going back that
road until Miss Cat has had her breakfast.
Jack, are you whimpering? Well, you sit here








ADVENTURES AND A RESCUE.


and cry, while I go on and save Bijou. Maybe
I can do it by myself."
And then the adventure passed, as usual,
into James's hands. When James set about
" making the best of things," the others always
retired into the ranks of the privates.
He began by, as he expressed it, setting up
a tune." That is to say, he whistled, that boy-
ish dodge for fear, and anger, and heartache.
God bless the boy who can stifle his wrongs
and unrest in an' innocent, cheery whistle!
The others could only stare in amazement
while they listened. It seemed such a daring
thing to do, as if inviting all the wild things
of the forest to an attack.
They tramped on this way for about a
quarter of a mile farther, each Cracker grasp-
ing his gun firmly once more, and each ready
to run at the word boo /
Then the leader stopped,- among the pal-
mettoes there was a commotion of some strange
description. Something was ripping away the
leaves and bark, to an accompaniment of a
low, delighted growl.
Bear," said Joe; "he is getting the pal-
metto cabbage."
"Easy, now," commanded James; the cab-








THREE LITTLE CRACKERS.


bage may satisfy him, and it may not. You
may tip it through here."
But they found it necessary to "tip it"
farther than they had expected, for ever and
anon the sound of the ripping away of bark
came to them as they passed near a group of
palmettoes.
At last the moon disappeared, and then,
indeed, the full significance of their adventure
dawned upon them.
If we could only get to the opening before
it is entirely dark," said James, "there will not
be any danger, except from Indians. And if
they attack us we can't treat them like we did
the cat, -we've got to fight."
They did reach the opening while there was
a glimmer of moonlight. Before them lay a
stretch of open marsh-land, from the centre of
which came the uncertain glimmer of water.
A lakelet, they supposed it to be, but Mr. Bus
Joiner had told them so much of the dangers
that clustered about these beautiful but treach-
erous pools, they decided not to venture any
nearer, but to remain where they were until
daylight.
This was easier said than done, for behind
them, in the dreadful hammock, they could still








ADVENTURES AND A RESCUE.


"hear sounds," which they did not dare to
interpret.
They spoke in whispers, resolved upon but
one thing surely: if a bear should attack them,
they meant to kill it.
Day was breaking when a noise overhead
caused them to look up.
From the top of an oak-tree, which had prob-
ably been a storehouse for wild bees, coming
straight at them, with business in every move-
ment, they saw an ugly, full-grown she bear.
There was consternation indeed. Jack
dropped his gun and showed, distinctly
showed, flight. James was the first to grasp
the situation fully, and his well-balanced brain
responded at once to the necessity of action.
He grasped his own weapon a trifle more
firmly, and, turning to Jack, said, with a great
show of authority, pointing to the gun:
Pick it up!"
Which order was promptly obeyed.
Now," continued James, "when she starts
towards us don't anybody shoot but Joe. Joe
is our best shot. Hit her in the eye, Joe, then
I'll follow if you should miss her. Then Jack
can come. All ready there There she comes !
Joe, why don't you shoot ? "








THREE LITTLE CRACKERS.


And then, as the bear turned towards them,
with a half grinning "good morning, break-
fast," in her face, the three Crackers dropped
their guns and took to their heels, while the
bear trotted lazily back into the hammock.
Verily, the boys ran as for their lives.
They ran with such vehemence and with such
energy that they almost ran into a small caravan
that was headed towards the hammock through
which they had made their night march.
The caravan had evidently stopped for
breakfast beside the lakelet, though in the
uncertain light the boys noticed nothing
except that there were men, Indians, perhaps,
in the crowd.
"Down in the grass!" commanded James;
"that's the way to fight Indians, always. We'll
have to snake it back to our guns and then fight."
"Where's the grass ? laughed Jack. Oh,
but you're a dandy fighter not to know our"
(Jack had heard a familiar sound coming from
the group of supposed savages) Bijou from a
horrid redskin! "
And, with a shout, the adventurers rushed
upon the caravan, where, indeed, pretty Bijou,
the beloved pony, safe from Indian malice, was
waiting to welcome his master.















CHAPTER IV.


VISITORS: CRACKER VS. CRACKER.

AFFAIRS were progressing satisfactorily and
pleasantly at Col Alto. The weather was
delightful, "delicious," the Mate said, and in
the cabin on the hill there was an air of home
already, now that the household furniture had
arrived; there was a cow in the stable, a
wagon under the shed, two mules in the field,
two rowboats on the lake, Bijou in his stall,
and plenty of hands in "the grove." For
already the cleared ground, that had been a
hammock six months before, was spoken of
now as the grove." A small lakelet at the
foot of the hill on the south side, had been
converted into a fish-pond. And just beyond
that, the Captain had set his banana grove.
The. Crackers had confined their adventures
to daylight since their crusade against the
Indians, or else in close company with their
friend, Mr. Joiner, whose only business in life
61








THREE LITTLE CRACKERS.


seemed to be scouring the woods for game, or
the palmetto cabbage, that delicious vegetable,
free to all, man and beast, ivho care to have it,
or else fishing in the lake for the trout so
abundant in those waters.
The Indian crusade was a sore subject with
the boys for a long time.
Somebody had written about it to Alabama,
for, in every letter received from Aunt Lizzie,
inquiry was made as to whether there had
been any more crusades against the Indians,"
and she spoke for a "wampum belt" for her
-cabinet of curiosities, whenever the crusaders
felt they had enough to spare her one.
As to who wrote, it wasn't possible to say.
They half doubted it was their mother, for she
had seemed so sober when the exploit had first
come to light, and had impressed it so soundly
upon them that anything, adventure or ven-
ture, requiring such secrecy as theirs had
required, savored, to say the least of it, of
wrong.
Daylight is always the best light in which
to undertake doubtful measures," she told
them; and then kissed them all around, and
went out with them to pat pretty little Bijou,
and to drop a tear or two on his white coat,








VISITORS: CRACKER VS. CRACKER.


when nobody was looking, a tear for the
old days in pleasant Alabama.
Then Mr. Bus Joiner had had a word to say
in regard to the adventure, when he came
over the next day to "fetch a couple o' duck
meat" he had "kilt on the flew," and had
been told of the midnight raid against the
reds.
"Stayed all night in the swammock, did
ye? Waal, I'm proper glad a 'gator didn't
get ye, or a painter. The swammocks air
plumb swarmin' with painters, an' catamounts,
an' other wil' meat. Wonder ye didn't git
yersives et up. Swammocks is fur varmints,
not folkses,-less'n they-uns wants ter hunt;
then it be the fittenest place top side o' crea-
tion, I reckin. How many Injuns did you-alls
kill, anyhow ?"
The Crackers grew very tired of the raid
before they heard the last of it. And it was
a long time before they heard the last of it,
there being so little news, and therefore so
little else to talk about.
But one day it entered into the brain of
" Mr. Bus J'iner" to carry out a threat of some
standing, to "fotch his fambly over fore
shortly" to pay them a visit. And the visit








THREE LITTLE CRACKERS.


did, much to the delight of the three little
Crackers, turn the tide of talk, for quite a
while, into other channels.
It was one busy morning, when the Mate
was giving orders concerning the flower-gar-



















den she was about to have laid off, and the
Crackers were waiting for William, the hired
boy, who had followed them from Alabama,
to take them out upon the lake. William
was teaching them to row, an accomplish-








VISITORS: CRACKER VS. CRACKER.


ment to which, the negro declared, they took
like ducks to water.
They were impatient to be off, and, in con-
sequence, were making themselves generally
unpleasant company about the place.
Uncle James promised to meet us at the
Point at nine o'clock," said Joe. "And it is
already past eight. Mother, can't William
come now?"
The Mate lifted her head from the bed
she was laying off with a slender little gar-
den raka, There was a decided spirit in the
manner in which the head moved, and a very
decided look about the eyes, when once the
head was well up. Then, on the instant,
the decided look vanished, and in its stead
came one of wonder, not unmixed with mirth,
while she asked, her eyes fixed upon the road:
What is it? What on earth can it be ?"
All eyes were instantly turned upon the ad-
vancing wonder. It consisted of a horse, a
long, lank claybank, familiar to their mem-
ories as having helped them from the landing
the day of their arrival, upon which was
mounted Mr. Bus Joiner. There was a
familiar tinkle of the cow-bell, too, as the
claybank tossed her head.








THREE LITTLE CRACKERS.


There was a new wagon, with sure enough"
wheels, but minus a bed. Perched upon a pole
sat a queer little woman, short, fat, and jolly-
looking. She wore a short blue "kaliker
coat" that showed her feet and ankles, and
the split" sunbonnet tied about her ears
did not conceal the laughing, good-natured
face of the Cracker's wife.
There were the two boys, Jake and Luke,
perched upon some other part of the wagon,
" wrapped around just like Jacko," the middle
Cracker whispered Joe, as the boys began to
unwrap, and the driver, or rider, called Whoa,
thar," to the blind mare. He stepped cau-
tiously down from the claybank, and the Mate.
gave herself a vigorous pinch before she went
down to the gate to meet the family."
There were two boys in the family, -two
wild goats," the Mate called them after they
left, -and so the trip on the lake had to be
abandoned for that morning.
The Crackers felt very like rebelling, but a
look from the Mate, and a fear of offending
their old friend, who had piloted them through
the "jingles and the swammocks," and who
had promised them further adventures, both
by land and water, restrained them.








VISITORS: CRACKER VS. CRACKER.


While the Mate entertained Mrs. Joiner in
the sitting-room, the little Crackers took the
boys around.the place to see you-allses things,"
as they had requested them to do.
They had no sooner appeared at the back
door, however, than Polly set up a cry of:
"You're a Cracker! You're a Cracker!
Ha! ha! ha!" And one of the Joiner boys
threw a lemon peel at her, striking her on
the head, which so enraged the little Cracker
that he would have rolled up his sleeves and
avenged the insult to Polly then and there but
for James's interference.
Come on away, Jack," said James; "you
can't fight company."
Then company can't fight Polly," declared
the namesake of Old Hickory. Manners is
manners, and company is company."
Well, come on and see the monkey," said
James, and the quarrel was soon forgotten in
the antics of Jacko, who grinned and chattered,
and rubbed his stomach, and reached his long
arm out in an effort to touch the tangle of yel-
low hair that crowned the heads of the visitors.
Kin hit bite ?" asked Jake, the oldest of
the Joiners.
Put your finger in his mouth and see," said








THREE LITTLE CRACKERS.


Jack; upon which the little brown fingers were
extended towards the monkey with such inno-
cent enjoyment that Joe sprang forward and
jerked them away before the delighted Jacko
could touch them.
Don't you know any better than that? he
demanded. Why, he'd make sausage meat of
you in no time, jus."
He telled me ter," said the boy, pointing to
Jack, who had rolled over on the ground to
laugh.
Have to do everything you're 'telled,' I
reckon," said Jack. "Well, then, I tell you to
wash your hands when you go home; they
need it."
Jack," said Joe, if you don't let up, I'll tell
mother. You know these boys don't know any
better."
An apology which threatened to do more
damage than Jack's advice had done, until
James hurried a second time to the rescue.
Let's go to see Bijou! he exclaimed, as if
the bright idea had but just come to him, and
Bijou's stall had not been from the outset the
very point of all interest towards which they
were making their way, via, so to speak,
Jacko, Polly, and the fish-pond.








VISITORS: CRACKER VS. CRACKER.


Let's show them Bijou, they're bound to
like Bijou," said James.
And like him they did, what boy doesn't
like a fat, fleet-footed pony? Bijou was one
of the very fattest and fleetest that ever set
hoof on Florida sand. The visitors were so
delighted with the pet that Jack's feelings
concerning Polly were entirely soothed.
He's a slicker," said Jake; yer jes' bet he's
a slicker. Kin hit trot? "
Trot ? said Jack. He can trot and pace,
and single-foot, and lope, and run."
The visitors opened their eyes in admiration.
Luke, the younger boy, put out his hand and
patted Bijou's nose, at which the pony lifted
its head and bit at the crop of yellow hair that
had so fascinated Jacko.
Oh said Luke. "You git back."
The boys laughed aloud.
"Mistook it for hay," said Joe. "Better
keep your crop out of sight."
At this the boys again showed fight. It
was very plain the imported Crackers and the
genuine Crackers would never stand upon
friendly relations.
Hit's tricky, anyhow," said Jake: But this
toss of the gauntlet fell unheeded, for James,








THREE LITTLE CRACKERS.


quietly stroking the pony's pretty neck, said,
caressingly:
"He's an Alabamian, he is. He's got good
blood in him. Like to try him?"
The question created excitement enough,
but finally the visitors admitted they would
just like to "take a set on his back a minute,
case'n they were afeard o' strange nags."
Afraid indeed. It required all possible coax-
ing to induce them to mount. Bijou was led
outside, and, after much persuasion, the visitors
allowed themselves to be "histed up to hit's
back."
No sooner were they up than Jack, who had
been waiting the opportunity, whistled, and
gave the pony a slight prick in the side.
It was quite enough for the restless Bijou.
He set off at a brisk trot towards the lake,
the frightened boys clinging to his neck and
to each other, screaming Paw! Paw! Maw!
Aw, paw! Run here, paw! Quick!" while
the others stood, holding their sides with
laughter.
Out came the Mate, Mr. Joiner, and his
wife, while William left the flower-bed and ran
to rescue the frightened riders.
The Mate had a suspicion as to how matters
















.--. ;w^


HE SET O B .
'"H--^ "^ '' ** ':' ^ *S '3: 'v;* *





rrr



"HE S A ST TG S
.-. -^-^ *.,.





"LHE SET OFF AT A BRISK TROT, .. THE FRIGHTENED BOYS CLINGING TO HIS NECK."








VISITORS: CRACKER VS. CRACKER.


stood, and quickly despatched William, who
caught the pony and released the boys.
But in the minds of the Joiner parents there
was never a hint of treachery on the part of
the three little Crackers.
Them young-uns o' ourn is venturesome,"
the father declared. "I 'lows they ull git
inter mischief yit, ef they ain't keerful, an' git
the'r necks broke; an' then they ull see ez
they ain't so smart ez they lays they be."
The Mate had sent the hired man to take
the boys out in the boats.
Put Jack and Joe in one skiff, and in the
other take James and the two Joiners," had
been the directions. Under no circumstances
allow Jack and the Joiners to go out in the
same boat. Joe can row one, and you must
go in the other. No matter what the boys
say, these are the only conditions upon which
they can go on-the lake."
So "upon these conditions they went. It
was the first time the Joiners had ever been in
a boat, but it was not the last, by any means.
Whether it is boy-nature to take to water,"
I am unable to say, but that row with the
three little Crackers opened their souls to the
delights of the water to such a degree that








74 THREE LITTLE CRACKERS.
they soon learned to row, and more than once
in the days that followed, when a rowboat was
missing, the cry might be heard coming from
the neighborhood of the landing, The Joiners
have got my boat." A trespass which served
to broaden the breach which their first meeting
had made and which all time was destined never
to heal.















CHAPTER V.


THE OLD BLIND ALLIGATOR.

IF there was one thing the Captain and his
wife had endeavored to impress upon the boys
more than another, it was the danger to be
apprehended from alligators.
The lake was full of them, as indeed were
many of the lakelets; those little harmless-
looking pools that are to be found in any
of the low, marshy lands in which Florida
abounds. The three little Crackers were
encouraged to fish, hunt, and row; but swim-
ming in the lake was emphatically forbidden.
The only one who ever thought of disre-
garding these admonitions was Bijou, whose
special delight, whenever he managed to escape
the stall, was to take a plunge in the lake,
swim around awhile, and then come out again
with a shake of his glossy head, as if the for-
bidden pleasure had been a special delight.
The blind alligator will get him some day,"
75








THREE LITTLE CRACKERS.


the Captain said, whenever such a disobedience
on the-part of Bijou was reported. The old
blind alligator will get him yet, if he doesn't
keep out of that lake."
The blind alligator was a great, ugly crea-
ture that had been seen by the natives for
years lying along the lake shore, warming
himself in the sunshine on the white kaolin
banks. Frequently he had been shot at,
although nobody had succeeded in killing the
pest, whose depredations were becoming both
frequent and alarming, and whose teeth, Mr.
Joiner declared, would "fetch a round sum
down to the Jacksonville jeweller shop."
The creature was totally blind, and was sup-
posed to be deaf as well, since it had been
known to lie asleep on the lake's shore until
almost stumbled upon by passers along the
shore.
Many sins were laid to the charge of the
blind alligator. Missing pigs, a crippled cow,
a butchered calf, always called forth the ex-
clamation:
The blind alligator has been around here !"
Yet, strange to say, nobody had killed him,
though to be sure the demand for alligator
skin and teeth was not at that time what it is








THE OLD BLIND ALLIGATOR.


to-day. Neither were huntsmen so plentiful
on the Florida waters.
One afternoon word came from the Point
that Uncle James was ill, and the Mate at once
set out about making preparations to go over
to see her brother.


When all was
tell the Captain
that he was
wanted to drive
with her over to
the Point.
The Captain
brought the in-
formation that
the horses were
at the "fargrove,"
the mules gone
to Okahumpka,
and even Bijou
had been ridden I


ready, she sent William to


y one of the colored boys on


the place to the sawmill on the Ocklawaha
River, to inquire about some delayed lumber.
Let's walk over," said the Mate; "it is not
far."
But sand-spurs," replied the Captain. You
would never get there for the sand-spurs."


i.


-- .f.;. -~-.~
r- -~J;-









THREE LITTLE CRACKERS.


"Well, then, let us row over; there are the
boats," said the Mate, nothing daunted by
obstacles.
The boys have gone over to Long Island
in the boats, to hunt Indian relics with Mr.
Joiner."
The Mate tapped her forehead with her fore-
finger, a gesture which meant that her think-
ing-cap was on.
"Where is the section boat?" she asked,
when the cap had set a moment.
Why, Sue," said the Captain, "you don't
mean to say you will risk yourself on the lake
in that crazy old section boat ? "
It seems to be all that is left," laughed the
Mate, "so if you will row me, I will risk it."
"Well," said the Captain, "I can pull as
long as she holds together, but she is a risky,
rickety concern. A big fish could almost upset
her; and so if she lands us both on the bottom
of the lake, don't say I did it."
"I'll not," replied the Mate. "If we upset
and get ourselves 'drowndead,' as Mr. Joiner
puts it, I'll promise not to say one word about
it."
A few minutes later they left the landing in
the section boat, a light little skiff made in two









THE OLD BLIND ALLIGATOR.


sections for convenience, when it was necessary
to carry a skiff in the wagon to any distant
point on the water where a boat would be
needed.
These sections were held together when in
use by means of iron rods, which passed through
the parts, holding them securely in place. Only
two people, "scant two the Mate said, could
occupy it at the same time; and then, as she
further declared, "it rocked like a cradle on
the treetop."
Fortunately, however, the lake was still;
the afternoon was a typical Florida afternoon,
--balmy, quiet, dreamful, with the scent of
orange blossoms in the air.
The Captain's little craft hugged the shore
closely, for the Mate insisted on it, saying:
" If we have got to drown, do let it be near
home, not so 'far away on the deep.' Dear!
how the little old shell does rock! Reminds
me of a sermon I once heard, by an old negro
who lived on an.Alabama plantation. He had
for his text Noah's Ark, and he closed his
sermon by saying: 'I tell you, brudderin, dis
ole world' am a ark, lack ole Noey's wuz. An'
it rock lack his'n, hit's a-rockin' fur de King-
dom, fur de Kingdom; get on de boad, all







THREE LITTLE CRACKERS.


you what wants ter be saved, fur I tell you de
old ark do rock.' Look out, Captain, you had
best pull to the right; there's an obstruction
ahead."
"A what? said the Captain, with a glance
over his shoulder.
Oh, nothing more than a big brown log
washed up by the wa--Oh, look! look!"
The Mate pointed to the shore, as she cried
out to the Captain to look.
It's alligators Alligators Loads of them!
The woods are full of them! Oh, do look!"
The rower rested his oars while he obeyed
the command to look. Upon a strip of low
land, where the shore ran down on a level with
the water, on the hot, white kaolin, in the
afternoon sunshine, lay a great brown alligator,
basking in the good warmth.
Around him had congregated, of all ages
and sizes, to the very smallest, at least forty or
fifty others, likewise enjoying the sun.
My! said the Captain, they are having a
regular picnic out there, all to themselves.
Now if the boys could just get at that lay-
out-"
Unless you care to get 'laid out' yourself,
you had best steer for the open sea," said the








THE OLD BLIND ALLIGATOR.


Mate. I remember that 'a big fish can upset
the section boat.'"
"Pshaw! said the Captain. "See them
scamper at the first intimation of our presence."
He dipped the oar in the water, and, sure
enough, there was a hasty retreat among the
alligators. One by one they dropped back
into the water until the very last had disap-
peared; except the big brown fellow that had
first attracted their attraction. He remained
upon the bank, his ugly hide glistening in .the
sun, his great jaws thrust forward until they
were half hidden in the coarse swamp grass
growing along the lake shore where the land
is flat, between the two great bluffs.
The Mate looked at the brown monster sus-
piciously:
What does that mean, my Captain? said
she.
It looks as if it means the old fellow is
dead; and that his friends and acquaintances
of the lake have come to the funeral," replied
the Captain. "Suppose we call by and take
an inventory? "
Very well," said the Mate. I never heard
of alligators being possessed of any very great
shrewdness, such as foxes and opossums are








THREE LITTLE CRACKERS.


accredited with, so I suppose the old fellow is
truly dead. Pull carefully, Captain, not such
heavy strokes; evenly, evenly; remember we
are in the section boat, and that 'a big fish-'
Oh!"
The Mate uttered a cry of surprised pleasure
when the boat had drawn nearer the brown
carcass lying on the bank.
"Why, Captain," said she, "it is the old
blind alligator! the old pig thief! the old cattle
maimer! the old old -"
Gently, wife," laughed the Captain; "he is
dead. His faults -"
And good riddance," declared the Mate.
" Peace to his leavings, I say, and I truly hope
there will now be peace among the stock, now
that his highness is dead. Row a little nearer,
Captain; I wish a last, long, comprehensive view
of our old terror, so that I may carry an un-
abridged report to Bijou of the demise of his
old enemy."
The Captain pulled the boat around close
to the shore, and stopped. They were so
close to the alligator they could have touched
him with their hands easily, the great, slimy
beast that had been the terror of the neighbor-
hood for years.








































































THE OLD BLIND ALLIGATOR.


-












--i~--
--- -
7








THE OLD BLIND ALLIGATOR.


"Sue," said the Captain, "I wish we could
manage to tow him home for the boys. What
a fuss they would make over that head! Joe
buried one last week, for the skull, that was
not nearly so fine as this, yet we thought it a
fine one."
And the ivories, too," said the Mate. My
vinaigrette! I don't doubt there is a splendid
one in that great head."
"I am certain of it," said the Captain.
"Can't we manage to take him home some-
how? "
"Well," replied the Mate, I can't row, but
if you will fasten a line of some kind to the
old terror, I will try to tow him back to our
landing."
But a line," said the Captain; I haven't a
line. Let's see, let's see! I must get him
home. The boys must have that head, and
you your vinaigrette. But how? Put on
your thinking-cap, mother."
"Well," said the Mate, "I owe him many
and many a grudge. There are wrongs to be
avenged in the name of pigs, calves, and what
not. Here is my scarf, take that. It isn't a
new one, but it is a strong one, and long
enough to put a little distance between mine







THREE LITTLE CRACKERS.


enemy and me. We will give our young gen-
tlemen a start. Now if we had only killed him,
instead of picking up his corpse in this way,
like the remains of an old wreck the sea has
beaten and broken and left stranded on the
shore, we might do some very genteel crowing.
Ugh the ugly thing! Give me the oar and I
will hold the boat steady while you make the
line fast to his head. Ugh! you old blind
beauty, there's one for Bijou -" She gave
a vigorous punch, then one shriek, and the
oar fell into the bottom of the boat with a
great clatter.
For no sooner did she thrust it into the
alligator's brown side, giving that one vigor-
ous, vengeful prod, than the creature gave a
fierce snort, a kind of bull-like bellow, a flop of
its great tail, that sent the old section boat
spinning out into the lake, and the Captain
upon his knees, while he himself dropped back
into the water.
Not quietly, however; the prod upon his ribs
had evidently put him into a great fury. He
lashed the water with his tail until the white
foam and bubbles rose all around the little
boat, that was reeling and rocking helplessly
before his fury.








THE OLD BLIND ALLIGATOR.


The Captain had seized, the oar, but hesi-
tated to use it, lest it incite the enemy to a
still fiercer attack. One blow of his tail would
splinter the light vessel, the Captain knew, or
certainly upset it. There was nothing to do but
wait, and let the boat drift until out of danger.



c I- os-w





% --





The Mate said never a word, after that one
wild shriek, until the excitement was over.
She sat quietly in her end of the boat, pale
as death, but with a settled determination not
to make a very bad situation worse by losing
her self-possession.
But when the bellowing at last ceased, and
the water became quiet again, the Captain








THREE LITTLE CRACKERS.


dipped in the oar and said, a twinkle in his
gray eye:
Was the view' comprehensive,' Sue? Then
it was the Mate aroused, and proceeded, in a
most vigorous fashion, to resent the recent
attack.
"Just like him," she declared. Just like
the ugly varmint to be playing 'possum on the
bank, pretending to be asleep until we are
almost in his very jaws! Oh, dear! just to
think how near you were to putting your
hands in his mouth! And how near we both
were to going to the bottom of the lake. And
how very near we were to a fine skull, and a
handsome vinaigrette. Playing 'possum, the
sly old beast!"
I think," said the Captain, the creature is
deaf, and, therefore, had no intimation of our
approach until you punched him in the ribs.
At any rate, we will be more careful how we
capture dead alligators after this. They might
resent the familiarity."
Reminds me of an old negro who used to
live on our plantation when I was a girl," said
the Mate. He moved to Kansas, along with
a score or more of darkies, who had obtained
freedom. In a few months the old fellow came








THE OLD BLIND ALLIGATOR. 89

back and asked for work. He did not like
Kansas, evidently, although all he ever said,
when questioned, was that 'yer nebber knows
what's what tell yer tries hit.' So say I. Cap-
tain, is that a boat coming across the lake from
Long Island? "













"Two of them," said the Captain. It is
the boys; they are coming home already.
Something must be the matter. See! they
are signalling us! Shall we go to them?"
It isn't a signal of distress," said the Mate.
" I think we had best not risk the section boat
so far from home. Let us wait until they are
nearer."
In a little while the rowboats, under the vig-








THREE LITTLE CRACKERS.


orous strokes of the boys' paddles, were in
hailing distance. The Crackers were evidently
greatly excited, for Joe's hat was gone, James's
hands were blistered, while Jack's eyes had a
wild, frightened eagerness about them, entirely
in keeping with the voice in which he shouted:
Oh, mother, what is it? What has hap-
pened? We heard you scream 'way over on
the island, and came at once. Is anybody
hurt, or dead, do tell us quick?"
And then, for the first time, the Mate real-
ized how she must indeed have screamed, to
be heard over on Long Island. Though never
for one moment did she or the Captain fail to
realize the extent of the danger to which they
had been exposed.
Nor did the Captain forget to impress upon
the boys the fact that they had acted well and
wisely in hurrying at once to their mother's
aid, although, as it proved in this case, -they
could do nothing.
"Another time it might be different," he
told them. "At any rate, never take any
chances on a suspected danger. It is better
to be deceived many times, than to disregard
one real cry for help. This applies to all
classes and conditions of life. Remember it."
















CHAPTER VI.


WHO STOLE THE BEAR-TRAP?

ANOTHER year marked the continued pros-
perity of the family at Col Alto. The wharf
had been built, just below the bluff upon
which, sometime, the new house was to stand.
There were steps, and a long bridge leading
down to it, and the steamer called by twice
each week.
The banana stalks were full of fruit, and
there were lemons, limes, and sweet oranges
in the grove. The Mate had learned to utilize
many things that were unknown to her two
years before. She had learned that the sour
wild oranges made a delicately delicious wine,
most agreeable to the sick.
And after Mr. Joiner had persuaded her to
"bile a few palmetto cabbages, and the family
had declared it a most delicious dish, she had
tried it for pickle and found it equally good;
although she did not encourage the use of
91








THREE LITTLE CRACKERS.


the palmetto cabbages, since, in order to obtain
it, it was necessary to kill the tree, the cabbage
consisting of the tender white, nut-like meat,
or head, formed in the top of the palmetto-tree.
The natives were fond of it, and so, too, were
the bears; and so, too, were our Crackers,
although it was necessary to fell the tree to get
the cabbage; and, according to the Mate, the
palmettoes were too handsome to be eaten."
The Captain, under her directions, had had
a grove of the pretty oriental-looking trees
replanted, just to the right of the spot upon
which, some day, the new house was to stand.
The new house seemed to be getting nearer
and nearer all the while, too; for the Captain
had found it necessary to send back to Ala-
bama for fifty extra hands" to help in the
groves, and that meant prosperity.
And in the meantime what of the three little
Crackers ? Growing in the knowledge of fish-
ing, hunting, and trapping; but how about that
other knowledge that hides itself between the
covers of books, and must be dug for with a
little instrument that is tucked away among
tissues and cells, called the brain ?
The Mate had not forgotten, although she
had kept rather quiet about the matter.







WHO STOLE THE BEAR TRAP?


One morning, however, she broached the
subject to the Captain.
They are getting to be such strong, healthy
boys now," she argued, they might go to their
books with all safety."
Give them one more year, mother," said
the Captain; they are young yet, and this
half wild life is, as you say, making sturdy
lads of them. Give them one more year of
freedom, and of sunshine, then we will have
a tutor for them. Let them study nature with
their friend Joiner one year yet."
If nature was all they learn of 'J'iner,' I
would agree very willingly," laughed the Mate.
" But they are becoming such veritable little
Crackers! Why, only yesterday Joe went down
to get his boat, and found it missing. 'Jake
J'iner!' I heard him tell James, in Mr. Bus
Joiner's own tone and manner; 'Jake J'iner! I
was so mad to find my boat gone that I was
fit to fight.' And James comforted him by ad-
mitting that it was indeed the most outdacious-
est piece of impudence he ever heard tell on."
"Well," said the Captain, "a little dialect
more or less can't do any serious harm. A
good tutor will soon regulate all that. Give
them another year with Joiner."







THREE LITTLE CRACKERS.


The little Crackers also begged so hard for
"Just one more year, mother." We can't
ever be boys again, you know." And we can
be men any time, always." Do, mother, dear;
don't bring a tutor to Col Alto." Then Jack
settled the matter by reminding the Mate there
wasn't any place for him anyhow until they
got the new house, and the yacht that was to
be bought at the same time the house was
ready.
I am not thinking of housing a tutor in a
steam yacht," said the Mate. And as for Col
Alto, there are seven rooms. Surely, I can
stow him away somewhere, little Cracker."
But, mother," said Jack, "there is your
room, and there is the sitting-room, and there
is the parlor, and the dining-room, our room,
and the two company rooms "
And what are they for ?" asked the Mate,
with a smile that said, "Now, sir, you are
cornered."
They are for company," replied the Cracker.
" They are for the Governor of Alabama when
he comes here to go hunting with father."
So the matter was dropped for the moment,
although the Mate had fully settled it in her
own mind that this must be the last year of







WHO STOLE THE BEAR-TRAP?


freedom ignorance," she called it allowed
the three little Dixie Crackers.
It was about this time that the bears and
wildcats, with which the hammocks abounded,
began to be a great nuisance.
The young pigs that disappeared, the
chickens, and turkeys, caused much annoy-
ance to the Captain's wife. But when the
tender young bananas began to disappear as
fast as they ripened, the Captain himself awoke
to the necessity of taking steps to catch the
depredators.
One morning he came down to the pond
where the Mate was helping the Crackers catch
minnows, with which to bait their hooks for
trout.
He wore a very long face, and the Mate,
who often declared she had not lived opposite
that face all these years (about sixteen) for
nothing, immediately looked into it, and
inquired:
What is wrong, Captain ? "
Something is ruining my bananas," replied
the Captain. Evidently it is some wild ani-
mal, for there are tracks about the grove that
I think were made by a wildcat. Mr. Joiner,
however, insists they are 'b'ar tracks.' Any-








THREE LITTLE CRACKERS.


how, they are the tracks made by a thief, and
I have sent over to Drake Point to borrow a
trap until the wagon goes to Okahumpka,
when I shall order one of my own. Lest
the trap should not work well, I mean to set
a watch on the bananas to-night, and have the
animal shot, if possible."
At this piece of information there was a
great clamor among the Crackers.
"Oh, good!" "Oh, let me!" "Let us!"
"We'll watch!" "We'll kill the bear that
eats the bananas !" May we, father?"
"Will you let us?" "Oh, say, do, that we
may watch! "
Easy," said the Captain. One at a time.
You wish to guard the banana grove all
night ? Remember, it is an all-night job.
No sneaking home at the first mew of a
wildcat, or sound of a bear in the palmetto-
tree."
It was so easy to be brave there in the good
daylight, while the sun shone on the pond,
and the hands were singing in their drowsy,
dreamy treble over in the grove, among the
lemons. And father and mother stood .there,
wide-awake, ready to step between them and
danger, if danger could exist in a world so













Z ': -
4


MINNOWS FOR BAIT.








WHO STOLE THE BEAR TRAP?


tranquilly beautiful and good, and so seemingly
safe.
"Now, boys," it was the Mate who lifted
a warning voice, "your father really wishes
a watch, not a make-believe, for his bananas.
Before you rush into it, consider,-for once
you undertake it, you must carry it through."
Indeed we will, mother," said James. We
should so like to be of some use to father."
There are other ways that involve less
danger," replied the Mate. The question is,
will you stick ? Remember, before you prom-
ise, remember the Indian raid."
Oh, father, we are not afraid," said Joe.
"We can take our guns and hide over in the
garden, our own garden, that we are familiar
with. It is not like prowling about in a
strange hammock all night."
"And we will just let daylight into that
bear; see if we don't," added Jack. "Won't
we, James?"
"We'll make him bite the dust," said James,
"like Mr. Joiner makes those he kills, 'worser'n
pizen.'"
May we, father? You know we can't ever
be brave unless you give us a chance. May
we ?" said the big Cracker, as he brushed the








THREE LITTLE CRACKERS.


dirt from his knees, where they had come in
contact with the soft, sandy soil, while he
"dipped for minnows.
Well," replied the Captain, we will see;
we will see."
The Crackers knew what that meant, and
already they began to chatter with the Mate
about the wonderful exploit they were about
to have, and about the hide of the bear, which
was to be preserved in a rug, for the Mate's
own use.
They had not observed the wink that passed
between the Captain and his wife, nor had the
faintest hint of treason entered their minds,
when the Captain hurried away to speak to Mr.
Joiner, who was assisting that day in rooting
up dwarf palmettoes in a piece of new ground
they were clearing for lemons, just beyond the
orange lands.
It was finally agreed that they should in-
deed act as a watch upon the grove, and
destroy, if possible, the bear that was robbing
them of their first bananas. Great prepara-
tions were made by the three Crackers,--
guns were cleaned and loaded, an ambush
was built just on the edge of the garden, near
which the bear must pass, in getting from the


I00




University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs