As in the lowlands, bordering upon large bodies of water, in all tropical and semi-tropical countries, we found, to our horror and dismay, the mosquitoes in ferocious, bloodthirsty swarms which rendered life not worth the living; so, as soon as we could, without seriously offending our host, we took our flight, at least what little there was left of us, to the delightful highlands of Marion County.
Here, free from the horrors of mosquitoes, we recruited our attenuated bodies at the elegant Ocala House, thence by rail to Jacksonville where we took the steamer for home. Off Hatteras we encountered a wild storm which sent our great boat well-nigh to the stars, then with an almost perpendicular plunge, almost to Davy Jones’ locker, until, with the nauseating sea-sickness, we were afraid, first that we should die and later we only feared lest we should not die.
At last the young cyclone subsided, and we sailed over a tranquil sea into Boston harbor, thence by rail to our Bay state home. At Jacksonville, by the way, we had an experience quite characteristic of those ante-free-delivery days of old. I went to the post-office for our mail, having but a few minutes to spare before the departure of the north-bound train. To my disgust, I found a line of negroes nearly half a mile in length waiting their turns for calling for letters. One would step to the window and in an exasperatingly in-no-hurry way, say: “Anything for Andrew Jackson, sah?” After a long delay—“no!”
“Do yer ’spect dere may be soon, sah?”
“Did you expect any?” came the reply.
“No sah, but sumbudy might write, sah.”
“Gwan, next!” Then some white man in a hurry would step up to next—“here’s a quarter for your place, git aout!” The darky would pocket his money with a broad grin, and but for his ears, the top of his head would be an island.
I could not wait, and would not bribe, so went to the door of the office, and kicked and banged furiously. “G’way fum de doo’! What de hell you do on de doo’?” came from the inside.
“I’m a government officer from Washington,” I shouted. “Open the door or I’ll knock it down.” Out popped the “cullud pusson” profuse in apologies. I grabbed my mail and rushed for the train in the very nick of time.
PENDULUM ’TWIXT SMILES AND TEARS.
In many particulars this year of our Lord, 1883, was a sad one for us all. The pecuniary loss, resultant upon the town-building disaster, was severe; but the revelation which came to me of the innate meanness of human nature in matters of money, was the more depressing by far.
It was amazing to hear wealthy people, who had bought of me a few hundred dollars’ worth of stock, and who really felt the loss of it much less than they would suffer from a fly bite, whine as if this had reduced them to the direst poverty, and insinuate that I, who had lost manifold more than they, should refund, though the loss was entirely the result of their own stupidity in failing to send me the proxies I had asked for by mail.