So Florida was born.
So, at least, its southern portion was born, and is still in daily process of birth. And, according to Agassiz and many another, the entire Peninsula may have arisen in this fashion, from the green-blue sea.
Dredge and shovel are laboring hard to guide or check the endless undersea coral growth before bay and channel and lagoon shall all be dry land. The wormlike, lazy, fast-multiplying Anthozoa is fighting passively but with terrific power, to set at naught all man’s might and wit.
In time, coral sand-spit and mangrove swamp were cleared for a wonderland playground, of divine climate whither winter tourists throng by the hundred thousand. In time, too, these sand-spits and swamps and older formations of the sunny peninsula furnished homes and sources of livelihood or of wealth to many thousands more, people, these, to whom Florida is a Career, not a Resort.
As in every land which has grown swiftly and along different lines from the rest of the country, there still are mystery and romance and thrills to be found lurking among the keys and back of the mangrove-swamps and along the mystic reaches of sunset shoreline.
With awkward and inexpert touch, my story seeks to set forth some of these.
Understand, please, that this book is rank melodrama. It has scant literary quality. It is not planned to edify. Its only mission is to entertain you and,—if you belong to the action-loving majority, to give you an occasional thrill.
Perhaps you will like it. Perhaps you will not.
But I do not
think you will go to sleep over it. There are worse
recommendations than that for any book.
Albert Payson Terhune.
THE HIDDEN PATH
Overhead sang the steady trade wind, tempering the golden sunshine’s heat. To eastward, under an incredibly blue sky, stretched the more incredibly multi-hued waters of Biscayne Bay, the snow-white wonder-city of Miami dreaming on its shores.
Dividing the residence and business part of the city from the giant hotels, Flagler Avenue split the mass of buildings, from back-country to bay. To its westward side spread the shaded expanse of Royal Palm Park, with its deep-shaded short lane of Australian pines, its rustling palm trees, its white church and its frond-flecked vistas of grass.
Here, scarce a quarter-century ago, a sandspit had broiled beneath an untempered sun. Shadeless, grassless, it had been an abomination of desolution and a rallying-place for mosquitoes. Then had come the hand of man. First, the Royal Palm Hotel had sprung into stately existence, out of nothingness. Then other caravansaries. Palm and pine and vivid lawn-grass had followed. The mosquitoes had fled far back to the mangrove swamps. And a rarely beautiful White City had sprung up.