Those who must perforce rejoin friends near and dear, left the Bay in the “Mariner;” all others considered their present home the safest; and so it proved, for the dreadful scourge did not visit Green Bay that season.
The weather was intensely hot, and the mosquitoes so thick that we did not pretend to walk on the parade after sunset, unless armed with two fans, or green branches to keep constantly in motion, in order to disperse them. This, by the way, was the surest method of attracting them. We had somehow forgotten the apathetic indifference which had often excited our wonder in Old Smoker, as we had observed him calmly sitting and allowing his naked arms and person to become literally gray with the tormenting insects. Then he would quietly wipe off a handful, the blood following the movement of the hand over his skin, and stoically wait for an occasion to repeat the movement. It is said that the mosquito, if undisturbed until he has taken his fill, leaves a much less inflamed bite than if brushed away in the midst of his feast.
By day, the air was at this season filled with what is called the Green Bay fly, a species of dragon-fly, with which the outer walls of the houses are at times so covered that their color is hardly distinguishable. Their existence is very ephemeral, scarcely lasting more than a day. Their dead bodies are seen adhering to the walls and windows within, and they fall without in such numbers that after a high wind has gathered them into rows along the sides of the quarters, one may walk through them and toss them up with their feet like the dry leaves in autumn.
As we walked across the parade, our attention was sometimes called to a tapping upon the bars of the dungeon in which a criminal was confined—it was the murderer of Lieutenant Foster.
It may be remembered that this amiable young officer had been our travelling companion in our journey from Chicago the preceding year. Some months after his arrival at Port Howard, he had occasion to order a soldier of his company, named Doyle, into confinement for intoxication. The man, a few days afterwards, prevailed on the sergeant of the guard to escort him to Lieutenant Foster’s quarters on the plea that he wished to speak to him. He ascended the stairs to the young officer’s room, while the sergeant and another soldier remained at the foot, near the door.
Doyle entered, and, addressing Lieutenant Foster, said, “Will you please tell me, lieutenant, what I am confined for?”
“No, sir,” replied the officer; “you know your offence well enough; return to your place of confinement.”
The man ran down-stairs, wrenched the gun from the sergeant’s hand, and, rushing back, discharged it at the heart of Lieutenant Foster.
He turned to go to his inner apartment, but exclaiming, “Ah me!” he fell dead before the entrance.
Doyle, having been tried by a civil court, was now under sentence, awaiting his execution. He was a hardened villain, never exhibiting the slightest compunction for his crime.