Harry, with his friend Colonel Leonidas Talbot, approached Charleston on Christmas morning. It was a most momentous day to him. As he came nearer, the place looked greater and greater. He had read much about it in the books in his father's house--old tales of the Revolution and stories of its famous families--and now its name was in the mouths of all men.
He had felt a change in his own Kentucky atmosphere at Nashville, but it had become complete when he drew near to Charleston. It was a different world, different alike in appearance and in thought. The contrast made the thrill all the keener and longer. Colonel Talbot, also, was swayed by emotion, but his was that of one who was coming home.
"I was born here, and I passed my boyhood here," he said. "I could not keep from loving it if I would, and I would not if I could. Look how the cold North melts away. See the great magnolias, the live oaks, and the masses of shrubbery! Harry, I promise you that you shall have a good time in this Charleston of ours."
They had left the railroad some distance back, and had come in by stage. The day was warm and pleasant. Two odors, one of flowers and foliage, and the other of the salt sea, reached Harry. He found both good. He felt for the thousandth time of his pocketbook and papers to see that they were safe, and he was glad that he had come, glad that he had been chosen for such an important errand.
The colonel asked the driver to stop the stage at a cross road, and he pointed out to Harry a low, white house with green blinds, standing on a knoll among magnificent live oaks.
"That is my house, Harry," he said, "and this is Christmas Day. Come and spend it with me there."
Harry felt to the full the kindness of Colonel Leonidas Talbot, for whom he had formed a strong affection. The colonel seemed to him so simple, so honest and, in a way, so unworldly, that he had won his heart almost at once. But he felt that he should decline, as his message must be delivered as soon as he arrived in Charleston.
"I suppose you are right," said the colonel, when the boy had explained why he could not accept. "You take your letters to the gentlemen who are going to make the war, and then you and I and others like us, ranging from your age to mine, will have to fight it."
But Harry was not to be discouraged. He could not see things in a gray light on that brilliant Christmas morning. Here was Charleston before him and in a few hours he would be in the thick of great events. A thrill of keen anticipation ran through all his veins. The colonel and he stood by the roadside while the obliging driver waited. He offered his hand, saying good-bye.
"It's only for a day," said Colonel Leonidas Talbot, as he gave the hand a strong clasp. "I shall be in Charleston tomorrow, and I shall certainly see you."
Harry sprang back to his place and the stage rolled joyously into Charleston. Harry saw at once that the city was even more crowded than Nashville had been. Its population had increased greatly in a few weeks, and he could feel the quiver of excitement in the air. Citizen soldiers were drilling in open places, and other men were throwing up earthworks.
He left the stage and carried over his arm his baggage, which still consisted only of a pair of saddle bags. He walked to an old-fashioned hotel which Colonel Talbot had selected for him as quiet and good, and as he went he looked at everything with a keen and eager interest. The deep, mellow chiming of bells, from one point and then from another, came to his ears. He knew that they were the bells of St. Philip's and St. Michael's, and he looked up in admiration at their lofty spires. He had often heard, in far Kentucky, of these famous churches and their silver chimes.
It seemed to Harry that the tension and excitement of the people in the streets were of a rather pleasant kind. They had done a great deed, and, keyed to a high pitch by their orators and newspapers, they did not fear the consequences. The crowd seemed foreign to him in many aspects, Gallic rather than American, but very likeable.
He reached his hotel, a brick building behind a high iron fence, kept by a woman of olive complexion, middle years, and pleasant manners, Madame Josephine Delaunay. She looked at him at first with a little doubt, because it was a time in Charleston when one must inspect strangers, but when he mentioned Colonel Leonidas Talbot she broke into a series of smiles.
"Ah, the good colonel!" she exclaimed. "We were children at school together, but since he became a soldier he has gone far from here. And has he returned to fight for his great mother, South Carolina?"
"He has come back. He has resigned from the army, and he is here to do South Carolina's bidding."
"It is like him," said Madame Delaunay. "Ah, that Leonidas, he has a great soul!"
"I travelled with him from Nashville to Charleston," said Harry, "and I learned to like and admire him."
He had established himself at once in the good graces of Madame Delaunay and she gave him a fine room overlooking a garden, which in season was filled with roses and oranges. Even now, pleasant aromatic odors came to him through the open window. He had been scarcely an hour in Charleston but he liked it already. The old city breathed with an ease and grace to which he was unused. The best name that he knew for it was fragrance.
He had a suit of fresh clothing in his saddle bags, and he arrayed himself with the utmost neatness and care. He felt that he must do so. He could not present himself in rough guise to a people who had every right to be fastidious. He would also obtain further clothing out of the abundant store of money, as his father had wished him to make a good appearance and associate with the best.
He descended, and found Madame Delaunay in the garden, where she gave him welcome, with grave courtesy. She seemed to him in manner and bearing a woman of wealth and position, and not the keeper of an inn, doing most of the work with her own hands. He learned later that the two could go together in Charleston, and he learned also, that she was the grand-daughter of a great Haytian sugar planter, who had fled from the island, leaving everything to the followers of Toussaint l'Ouverture, glad to reach the shores of South Carolina in safety.
Madame Delaunay looked with admiration at the young Kentuckian, so tall and powerful for his age. To her, Kentucky was a part of the cold North.
"Can you tell me where I am likely to find Senator Yancey?" asked Harry. "I have letters which I must deliver to him, and I have heard that he is in Charleston."
"There is to be a meeting of the leaders this afternoon in St. Anthony's Hall in Broad street. You will surely find him there, but you must have your luncheon first. I think you must have travelled far."
"From Kentucky," replied Harry, and then he added impulsively: "I've come to join your people, Madame Delaunay. South Carolina has many and powerful friends in the Upper South."
"She will need them," said Madame Delaunay, but with no tone of apprehension. "This, however, is a city that has withstood much fire and blood and it can withstand much more. Now I'll leave you here in the garden. Come to luncheon at one, and you shall meet my other guests."
Harry sat down on a little wooden bench beneath a magnolia. Here in the garden the odor of grass and foliage was keen, and thrillingly sweet. This was the South, the real South, and its warm passions leaped up in his blood. Much of the talk that he had been hearing recently from those older than he passed through his mind. The Southern states did have a right to go if they chose, and they were being attacked because their prominence aroused jealousy. Slavery was a side issue, a mere pretext. If it were not convenient to hand, some other excuse would be used. Here in Charleston, the first home of secession, among people who were charming in manner and kind, the feeling was very strong upon him.
He left the house after luncheon, and, following Madame Delaunay's instructions, came very quickly to St. Andrew's hall in Broad street, where five days before, the Legislature of South Carolina, after adjourning from Columbia, had passed the ordinance of secession.
Two soldiers in the Palmetto uniform were on guard, but they quickly let him pass when he showed his letters to Senator Yancey. Inside, a young man, a boy, in fact, not more than a year older than himself, met him. He was slender, dark and tall, dressed precisely, and his manner had that easy grace which, as Harry had noticed already, seemed to be the characteristic of Charleston.
"My name is Arthur St. Clair," he said, "and I'm a sort of improvised secretary for our leaders who are in council here."
"Mine," said Harry, "is Henry Kenton. I'm a son of Colonel George Kenton, of Kentucky, late a colonel in the United States Army, and I've come with important messages from him, Senator Culver and other Southern leaders in Kentucky."
"Then you will be truly welcome. Wait a moment and I'll see if they are ready to receive you."
He returned almost instantly, and asked Harry to go in with him. They entered a large room, with a dais at the center of the far wall, and a number of heavy gilt chairs covered with velvet ranged on either side of it. Over the dais hung a large portrait of Queen Victoria as a girl in her coronation robes. A Scotch society had occupied this room, but the people of Charleston had always taken part in their festivities. In those very velvet chairs the chaperons had sat while the dancing had gone on in the hall. Then the leaders of secession had occupied them, when they put through their measure, and now they were sitting there again, deliberating.
A man of middle years and of quick, eager countenance arose when young St. Clair came in with Harry.
"Mr. Yancey," said St. Clair, "this is Henry Kenton, the son of Colonel George Kenton, who has come from Kentucky with important letters."
Yancey gave him his hand and a welcome, and Harry looked with intense interest at the famous Alabama orator, who, with Slidell, of South Carolina, and Toombs of Georgia, had matched the New England leaders in vehemence and denunciation. Mr. Slidell, an older man, was present and so was Mr. Jamison, of Barnwell, who had presided when secession was carried. There were more present, some prominent, others destined to become so, and Harry was introduced to them one by one.
He gave his letters to Yancey and retired with young St. Clair to the other end of the room, while the leaders read what had been written from Kentucky. Harry was learning to become a good observer, and he watched them closely as they read. He saw a look of pleasure come on the face of every one, and presently Yancey beckoned to him.
"These are fine assurances," said the orator, "and they have been brought by the worthy son of a worthy father. Colonel Kenton, Senator Culver and others, have no doubt that Kentucky will go out with us. Now you are a boy, but boys sometimes see and hear more than men, and you are old enough to think; that is, to think in the real sense. Tell us, what is your own opinion?"
Harry flushed, and paused in embarrassment.
"Go on," said Mr. Yancey, persuasively.
"I do not know much," said Harry slowly, wishing not to speak, but feeling that he was compelled by Mr. Yancey to do so, "but as far as I have seen, Kentucky is sorely divided. The people on the other side are perhaps not as strong and influential as ours, but they are more numerous."
A shade passed over the face of Yancey, but he quickly recovered his good humor.
"You have done right to tell us the truth as you see it," he said, "but we need Kentucky badly. We must have the state and we will get it. Did you hear anything before you left, of one Raymond Bertrand, a South Carolinian?"
"He was at my father's house before I came away. I think it was his intention to go from there to Frankfort with some of our own people, and assist in taking out the state."
"Faithful to his errand," he said. "Raymond Bertrand is a good lad. He has visions, perhaps, but they are great ones, and he foresees a mighty republic for us extending far south of our present border. But now that you have accomplished your task, what do you mean to do, Mr. Kenton?"
"I want to stay here," replied Harry eagerly. "This is the head and center of all things. I think my father would wish me to do so. I'll enlist with the South Carolina troops and wait for what happens."
"Even if what happens should be war?"
"Most of all if it should be war. Then I shall be one of those who will be needed most."
"A right and proper spirit," said Mr. Jamison, of Barnwell. "When we can command such enthusiasm we are unconquerable. Now, we'll not keep you longer, Mr. Kenton. This is Christmas Day, and one as young as you are is entitled to a share of the hilarity. Look after him, St. Clair."
Harry went out with young St. Clair, whom he was now calling by his first name, Arthur. He, too, was staying with Madame Delaunay, who was a distant relative.
Harry ate Christmas dinner that evening with twenty people, many of types new to him. It made a deep impression upon him then, and one yet greater afterward, because he beheld the spirit of the Old South in its inmost shrine, Charleston. It seemed to him in later days that he had looked upon it as it passed.
They sat in a great dining-room upon a floor level with the ground. The magnolias and live oaks and the shrubs in the garden moved in the gentle wind. Fresh crisp air came through the windows, opened partly, and brought with it, as Harry thought, an aroma of flowers blooming in the farther south. He sat with young St. Clair--the two were already old friends--and Madame Delaunay was at the head of the table, looking more like a great lady who was entertaining her friends than the keeper of an inn.
Madame Delaunay wore a flowing white dress that draped itself in folds, and a lace scarf was thrown about her shoulders. Her heavy hair, intensely black, was bound with a gold fillet, after a fashion that has returned a half century later. A single diamond sparkled upon her finger. She seemed to Harry foreign, handsome, and very distinguished.
About half the people in the room were of French blood, most of whom Harry surmised were descendants of people who had fled from Hayti or Santo Domingo. One, Hector St. Hilaire, almost sixty, but a major in the militia of South Carolina, soon proved that the boy's surmise was right. Lemonade and a mild drink called claret-sanger was served to the boys, but the real claret was served to the major, as to the other elders, and the mellowness of Christmas pervaded his spirit. He drank a toast to Madame Delaunay, and the others drank it with him, standing. Madame Delaunay responded prettily, and, in a few words, she asked protection and good fortune for this South Carolina which they all loved, and which had been a refuge to the ancestors of so many of them. As she sat down she looked up at the wall and Harry's glance followed hers. It was a long dining-room, and he saw there great portraits in massive gilt frames. They were of people French in look, handsome, and dressed with great care and elaboration. The men were in gay coats and knee breeches, silk stockings and buckled shoes. Small swords were at their sides. The women were even more gorgeous in velvet or heavy satin, with their hair drawn high upon their heads and powdered. One had a beauty patch upon her cheek.
Major St. Hilaire saw Harry's look as it sped along the wall. He smiled a little sadly and then, a little cheerfully:
"Those are the ancestors of Madame Delaunay," he said, "and some, I may mention in passing, are my own, also. Our gracious hostess and myself are more or less distantly related--less, I fear--but I boast of it, nevertheless, on every possible occasion. They were great people in a great island, once the richest colony of France, the richest colony in all the world. All those people whom you see upon the walls were educated in Paris or other cities of France, and they returned to a life upon the magnificent plantations of Hayti. What has become of that brightness and glory? Gone like snow under a summer sun. 'Tis nothing but the flower of fancy now. The free black savage has made a wilderness of Hayti, and our enemies in the North would make the same of South Carolina."
A murmur of applause ran around the table. Major St. Hilaire had spoken with rhetorical effect and a certain undoubted pathos. Every face flushed, and Harry saw the tears glistening in the eyes of Madame Delaunay who, despite her fifty years, looked very handsome indeed in her white dress, with the glittering gold fillet about her great masses of hair.
The boy was stirred powerfully. His sensitive spirit responded at once to the fervid atmosphere about him, to the color, the glow, the intensity of a South far warmer than the one he had known. Their passions were his passions, and having seen the black and savage Hayti of which Major St. Hilaire had drawn such a vivid picture, he shuddered lest South Carolina and other states, too, should fall in the same way to destruction.
"It can never happen!" he exclaimed, carried away by impulse. "Kentucky and Virginia and the big states of the Upper South will stand beside her and fight with her!"
The murmur of applause ran around the table again, and Harry, blushing, made himself as small as he could in his chair.
"Don't regret a good impulse. Mr. Kenton," said a neighbor, a young man named James McDonald--Harry had noticed that Scotch names seemed to be as numerous as French in South Carolina--"the words that all of us believe to be true leaped from your heart."
Harry did not speak again, unless he was addressed directly, but he listened closely, while the others talked of the great crisis that was so obviously approaching. His interest did not make him neglect the dinner, as he was a strong and hearty youth. There were sweets for which he did not care much, many vegetables, a great turkey, and venison for which he did care, finishing with an ice and coffee that seemed to him very black and bitter.
It was past eight o'clock when they rose and any lingering doubts that Harry may have felt were swept away. He was heart and soul with the South Carolinians. Those people in the far north seemed very cold and hard to him. They could not possibly understand. One must be here among the South Carolinians themselves to see and to know.
Harry went to his room, after a polite good-night to all the others. He was not used to long and heavy dinners, and he felt the wish to rest and take the measure of his situation. He threw back the green blinds and opened the window a little. Once more the easy wind brought him that odor of the far south, whether reality or fancy he could not say. But he turned to another window and looked toward the north. Away from the others and away from a subtle persuasiveness that had been in the air, some of his doubts returned. It would not all be so easy. What were they doing in the far states beyond the Ohio?
He heard footsteps in the hail and a voice that seemed familiar. He had left his door partly open, and, when he turned, he caught a glimpse of a face that he knew. It was young Shepard, whom he and Major Talbot had met in Nashville. Shepard saw Harry also, and saluted him cheerfully.
"I've just arrived," he said, "and through letters from friends in St. Louis, members of one of the old French families there, I've been lucky enough to secure a room at Madame Delaunay's inn."
"Fortune has been with us both," said Harry, somewhat doubtfully, but not knowing what else to say.
"It certainly has," said Shepard, with easy good humor. "I'll see you again in the morning and we'll talk of what we've been through, both of us."
He walked briskly on and Harry heard his firm step ringing on the floor. The boy retired to his own room again and locked the door. He had liked Shepard from the first. He had seemed to him frank and open and no one could deny his right to come to Charleston if he pleased. And yet Colonel Talbot, a man of a delicate and sensitive mind, which quickly registered true impressions, had distrusted him. He had even given Harry a vague warning, which he felt that he could not ignore. He made up his mind that he would not see Shepard in the morning. He would make it a point to rise so early that he could avoid him.
His conclusion formed, he slept soundly until the first sunlight poured in at the window that he had left open. Then, remembering that he intended to avoid Shepard, he jumped out of bed, dressed quickly and went down to breakfast, which he had been told he could get as early as he pleased.
Madame Delaunay was already there, still looking smooth and fresh in the morning air. But St. Clair was the only guest who was as early as Harry. Both greeted him pleasantly and hoped that he had slept well. Their courtesy, although Harry had no doubt of its warmth, was slightly more ornate and formal than that to which he had been used at home. He recognized here an older society, one very ancient for the New World.
The breakfast was also different from the solid one that he always ate at home. It consisted of fruits, eggs, bread and coffee. There was no meat. But he fared very well, nevertheless. St. Clair, he now learned, was a bank clerk, but after office hours he was drilling steadily in one of the Charleston companies.
"If you enlist, come with me," he said to Harry. "I can get you a place on the staff, and that will suit you."
Harry accepted his offer gladly, although he felt that he could not take up his new duties for a few days. Matters of money and other things were to be arranged.
"All right," said St. Clair. "Take your time. I don't think there's any need to hurry."
Harry left Madame Delaunay's house immediately after breakfast, still firm in his purpose to avoid Shepard, and went to the bank, on which he held drafts properly attested. Not knowing what the future held, and inspired perhaps by some counsel of caution, he drew half of it in gold, intending to keep it about his person, risking the chance of robbery. Then he went toward the bay, anxious to see the sea and those famous forts, Sumter, Moultrie and the others, of which he had heard so much.
It was a fine, crisp morning, one to make the heart of youth leap, and he soon noticed that nearly the whole population of the city was going with him toward the harbor. St. Clair, who had departed for his bank, overtook him, and it was evident to Harry that his friend was not thinking much now of banks.
"What is it, Arthur?" asked Harry.
"They stole a march on us yesterday," replied St. Clair. "See that dark and grim mass rising up sixty feet or more near the center of the harbor, the one with the Stars and Stripes flying so defiantly over it? That's Fort Sumter. Yesterday, while we were enjoying our Christmas dinner and talking of the things that we would do, Major Anderson, who commanded the United States garrison in Fort Moultrie, quietly moved it over to Sumter, which is far stronger. The wives and children of the soldiers and officers have been landed in the city with the request that we send them to their homes in the states, which, of course, we will do. But Major Anderson, who holds the fort in the name of the United States, refuses to give it up to South Carolina, which claims it."
Harry felt an extraordinary thrill, a thrill that was, in many ways, most painful. Talk was one thing, action was another. Here stood South Carolina and the Union face to face, looking at each other through the muzzles of cannon. Sumter had one hundred and forty guns, most of which commanded the city, and the people of Charleston had thrown up great earthworks, mounting many cannon.
Boy as he was, Harry was old enough to see that here were all the elements of a great conflagration. It merely remained for somebody to touch fire to the tow. He was not one to sentimentalize, but the sight of the defiant flag, the most beautiful in all the world, stirred him in every fiber. It was the flag under which both his father and Colonel Talbot had fought.
"It has to be, Harry," said St. Clair, who was watching him closely. "If it comes to a crisis we must fire upon it. If we don't, the South will be enslaved and black ignorance and savagery will be enthroned upon our necks."
"I suppose so," said Harry. "But look how the people gather!"
The Battery and all the harbor were now lined with the men, women and children of Charleston. Harry saw soldiers moving about Sumter, but no demonstration of any kind occurred there. He had not thought hitherto about the garrison of the forts in Charleston harbor. He recognized for the first time that they might not share the opinions of Charleston, and this name of Anderson was full of significance for him. Major Anderson was a Kentuckian. He had heard his father speak of him; they had served together, but it was now evident to Harry that Anderson would not go with South Carolina.
"You'll see a small boat coming soon from Sumter," said St. Clair. "Some of our people have gone over there to confer with Major Anderson and demand that he give up the fort."
"I don't believe he'll do it," said Harry impulsively. Some one touched him upon the shoulder, and turning quickly he saw Colonel Leonidas Talbot. He shook the colonel's hand with vigor, and introduced him to young St. Clair.
"I have just come into the city," said the colonel, "and I heard only a few minutes ago that Major Anderson had removed his garrison from Moultrie to Sumter."
"It is true," said St. Clair. "He is defiant. He says that he will hold the fort for the Union."
"I had hoped that he would give up," said Colonel Talbot. "It might help the way to a composition."
He pulled his long mustache and looked somberly at the flag. The wind had risen a little, and it whipped about the staff. Its fluttering motions seemed to Harry more significant than ever of defiance. He understood the melancholy ring in Colonel Talbot's voice. He, too, like the boy's father, had fought under that flag, the same flag that had led him up the flame-swept slopes of Cerro Gordo and Chapultepec.
"Here they come," exclaimed St. Clair, "and I know already the answer that they bring!"
The small boat that he had predicted put out from Sumter and quickly landed at the Battery. It contained three commissioners, prominent men of Charleston who had been sent to treat with Major Anderson, and his answer was quickly known to all the crowd. Sumter was the property of the United States, not of South Carolina, and he would hold it for the Union. At that moment the wind strengthened, and the flag stood straight out over the lofty walls of Sumter.
"I knew it would be so," said Colonel Talbot, with a sigh. "Anderson is that kind of a man. Come, boys, we will go back into the city. I am to help in building the fortifications, and as I am about to make a tour of inspection I will take you with me."
Harry found that, although secession was only a few days old, the work of offense and defense was already far advanced. The planters were pouring into Charleston, bringing their slaves with them, and white and black labored together at the earthworks. Rich men, who had never soiled their hands with toil before now, wielded pick and spade by the side of their black slaves. And it was rumored that Toutant Beauregard, a great engineer officer, now commander at the West Point Military Academy, would speedily resign, and come south to take command of the forces in Charleston.
Strong works were going up along the mainland. The South Carolina forces had also seized Sullivan's Island, Morris Island, and James Island and were mounting guns upon them all. Circling batteries would soon threaten Sumter, and, however defiantly the flag there might snap in the breeze, it must come down.
As they were leaving the last of the batteries Harry noticed the broad, strong back and erect figure of a young man who stood with his hands in his pockets. He knew by his rigid attitude that he was looking intently at the battery and he knew, moreover, that it was Shepard. He wished to avoid him, and he wished also that his companion would not see him. He started to draw Colonel Talbot away, but it was too late. Shepard turned at that moment, and the colonel caught sight of his face.
"That man here among our batteries!" he exclaimed in a menacing tone.
"Come away, colonel!" said Harry hastily. "We don't know anything against him!"
But Shepard himself acted first. He came forward quickly, his hand extended, and his eyes expressing pleasure.
"I missed you this morning, Mr. Kenton," he said. "You were too early for me, but we meet, nevertheless, in a place of the greatest interest. And here is Colonel Talbot, too!"
Harry took the outstretched hand--he could not keep from liking Shepard--but Colonel Talbot, by turning slightly, avoided it without giving the appearance of brusqueness. His courtesy, concerning which the South Carolinians of his type were so particular, would not fail him, and, while he avoided the hand, he promptly introduced Shepard and St. Clair.
"I did not expect to find events so far advanced in Charleston," said Shepard. "With the Federal garrison concentrated in Sumter and the batteries going up everywhere, matters begin to look dangerous."
"I suppose that you have made a careful examination of all the batteries," said Colonel Talbot dryly.
"Casual, not careful," returned Shepard, in his usual cheerful tones. "It is impossible, at such a time, to keep from looking at Sumter, the batteries and all the other preparations. We would not be human if we didn't do it, and I've seen enough to know that the Yankees will have a hot welcome if they undertake to interfere with Charleston."
"You see truly," said Colonel Talbot, with some emphasis.
"A happy chance has put me at the same place as Mr. Kenton," continued Shepard easily. "I have letters which admitted me to the inn of Madame Delaunay, and I met him there last night. We are likely to see much of each other."
Colonel Leonidas Talbot raised his eyebrows. When they walked a little further he excused himself, saying that he was going to meet a committee of defense at St. Andrew's Hall, and Harry and Arthur, after talking a little longer with Shepard, left him near one of the batteries.
"I'm going to my bank," said St. Clair. "I'm already long overdue, but it will be forgiven at such a time as this. And I must say, Harry, that Colonel Talbot does not seem to like your acquaintance, Mr. Shepard."
"It is true, he doesn't, although I don't know just why," said Harry.
He saw Shepard at a distance three more times in the course of the day, but he sedulously avoided a meeting. He noticed that Shepard was always near the batteries and earthworks, but hundreds of others were near them, too. He did not return to Madame Delaunay's until evening, when it was time for dinner, where he found all the guests gathered, with the addition of Shepard.
Madame Delaunay assigned the new man to a seat near the foot of the table and the talk ran on much as it had done at the Christmas dinner, Major St. Hilaire leading, which Harry surmised was his custom. Shepard, who had been introduced to the others by Madame Delaunay, did not have much to say, nor did the South Carolinians warm to him as they had to Harry. A slight air of constraint appeared and Harry was glad when the dinner was over. Then he and St. Clair slipped away and spent the evening roaming about the city, looking at the old historic places, the fine churches, the homes of the wealthy and again at the earthworks and the harbor forts. The last thing Harry saw as he turned back toward Madame Delaunay's was that defiant flag of the Union, still waving above the dark and looming mass of old Sumter.
He was unlocking the door to his room when Shepard came briskly down the hall, carrying his candle in his hand.
"I want to tell you good-bye, Mr. Kenton," he said, "I thought we were to be together here at the inn for some time, but it is not to be so."
"What has happened?"
"It appears that my room had been engaged already by another man, beginning tomorrow morning. I was not informed of it when I came here, but Madame Delaunay has recalled the fact and I cannot doubt the word of a Charleston lady. It appears also that no other room is vacant, owing to the great number of people who have come into the city in the last week or two. So, I go."
He did not seem at all discouraged, his tone being as cheerful as ever, and he held out his hand. Harry liked this man, although it seemed that others did not, and when he released the hand he said:
"Take good care of yourself, Mr. Shepard. As I see it, the people of Charleston are not taking to you, and we do not know what is going to happen."
"Both statements are true," said Shepard with a laugh as he vanished down the hail. Nothing yet had been able to disturb his poise.
Harry went into his own room, and, throwing open his front window to let in fresh air, he heard the hum of voices. He looked down into a piazza and he saw two figures there, a man and a woman. They were Colonel Talbot and Madame Delaunay. He closed the blind promptly, feeling that unconsciously he had touched upon something hallowed, the thread of an old romance, a thread which, though slender, was nevertheless yet strong. Nor did he doubt that the suggestion of Colonel Leonidas Talbot had caused the speedy withdrawal of Shepard.
Several more days passed. Harry found that he was taken into the city's heart, and its spell was very strong upon him. He knew that much of his welcome was due to the powerful influence of Colonel Leonidas Talbot and to the warm friendship of Arthur St. Clair, who apparently was related to everybody. A letter came from his father, to whom he had written at once of his purpose, giving his approval, and sending him more money. Colonel Kenton wrote that he would come South himself, but he was needed in Kentucky, where a powerful faction was opposing their plans. He said that Harry's cousin, Dick Mason, had joined the home guards, raised in the interests of the old Union, and was drilling zealously.
The letter made the boy very thoughtful. The news about his cousin opened his eyes. The line of cleavage between North and South was widening into a gulf. But his spirits rose when he enlisted in the Palmetto Guards, and began to see active service. His quickness and zeal caused him to be used as a messenger, and he was continually passing back and forth among the Confederate leaders in Charleston. He also came into contact with the Union officers in Fort Sumter.
The relations of the town and the garrison were yet on a friendly basis. Men were allowed to come ashore and to buy fresh meat, vegetables, and other provisions. Strict orders kept anyone from offering violence or insult to them. Harry saw Anderson once, but he did not give him his name, deeming it best, because of the stand that he had taken, that no talk should pass between them.
He picked up a copy of the Mercury one morning and saw that a steamer, the Star of the West, was on its way to Charleston from a northern port with supplies for the garrison in Fort Sumter. He read the brief account, threw down the paper and rushed out for his friend, St. Clair. He knew that the coming of this vessel would fire the Charleston heart, and he was eager to be upon the scene.