Then,—as I wrote you in No. 11,—it was too late to get to Bahia before that summer’s sickly season, and I stretched off to cooler regions again, “in my best discretion.” That was the time when we had the fever so horribly on board; and but for Wilder the surgeon, and the Falkland Islands, we should be dead, every man of us, now. But we touched in Queen’s Bay just in time. The Governor (who is his own only subject) was very cordial and jolly and kind. We all went ashore, and pitched tents, and ate ducks and penguins till the men grew strong. I scraped her, nearly down to the bends, for the grass floated by our side like a mermaid’s hair as we sailed, and the once swift Florida would not make four knots an hour on the wind;—and this was the ship I was to get into Bahia in good order, at my best discretion!
Meanwhile none of these people had any news from America. The last paper at the Falkland Islands was a London Times of 1864, abusing the Yankees. As for the Portuguese, they were like the people Logan saw at Vicksburg. “They don’t know anything good!” said he; “they don’t know anything at all!” It was really more for news than for water I put into Sta. Lucia,—and a pretty mess I made of it there. We looked so like pirates (as at bottom the old tub is), that they took all of us who landed to the guard-house. None of us could speak Sta. Lucia, whatever that tongue may be, nor understand it. And it was not till Ethan fired a shell from the 100-pound Parrott over the town that they let us go. I hope the dogs sent you my letters. I suppose there was another infringement of neutrality. But if the Brazilian government sends this ship to Sta. Lucia, I shall not command her, that’s all!
Well! what happened at Loando the second time, Valencia, and Puntos Pimos, and Nueva Salamanca, and Loando this last time, you know and will know, and why we loitered so. At last, thank fortune, here we are. Actually, Mary, this ship logged on the average only thirty-two knots a day for the last week before we got her into port.
Now think of the ingratitude of men! I have brought her in here, “according to my best discretion,” and do you believe, these hidalgos, or dons, or senores, or whatever they are, had forgotten she existed. And when I showed them to her, they said in good Portugal that I was a liar. Fortunately the Consul is our old friend Kingsley. He was delighted to see me; thought I was at the bottom of the sea. From him we learned that the Confederacy was blown sky-high long ago. And from all I can learn, I may have the Florida back again for my own private yacht or peculium, unless she goes to Sta. Lucia.
Not I, my friends! Scrape her, and mend her, and give her to the marines,—and tell them her story; but do not intrust her again to my own Polly’s own
A PIECE OF POSSIBLE HISTORY.