It was the summer after the removal of Mr. Mordecai’s family to Inglewood. In the month of June, Joe Haralson anchored the Tigress safely within the port of Havana. New Providence was his usual harbor of refuge; but now, other business than the successful disposal of his cargo of cotton had brought him thither. One soft, sweet morning, in this land where spring and summer alternate, Leah had been out driving with her husband, enjoying the early morning breeze, and hoping that it would benefit the delicate little Sarah, then in her second summer. They drew near the Plaza de la Mar, and Emile remarked, as he surveyed the endless rows of shipping:
“There, Leah, see the countless numbers of flags.”
“Yes, all but the flag of our struggling country,” she replied. “I wonder if that will ever become a recognized flag among nations?”
“I fear not,” Emile replied gravely. “But there! our darling has fallen asleep! We must hasten home.”
On reaching home, Emile kissed his wife, and softly kissed his sleeping baby too, before alighting from the light volante; and then, throwing the lines to Petro, the slave, who was awaiting their return, he said, “Take care of the pony, Petro;” and turning to his wife—“You take care of my wee lamb, Leah, till I come again,” and left them.
An hour later, and a thick-set, rough-visaged man entered the banking-house of Gardner & Company, and asked, in faltering English, “Is Se¤or Le Grande in?”
“Yes,” replied Mr. Gardner. “Here, Mr. Le Grande, this man wants to see you.” Emile approached, and looking curiously at the stranger, observed that he was clad partly in sailor’s, partly in citizen’s clothes. “What will you have, sir?” demanded Emile.
“Se¤or,” replied the strange man, whose broken English betrayed his Spanish tongue, “Dere is at da w’arf Blanco Plaza, a ’Merican vessel from da States. A seik frien’ wish to see se¤or Le Grande, very quick, very quick, se¤or.”
“From what State does the vessel come?” asked Emile in astonishment.
“From da Soutern State, se¤or, da Pa’metto State.”
In a moment Emile conjectured that it was some blockade-runner, and supposed some friend or relative had arrived, and, being unable to come on shore, had indeed sent for him. Without waiting to consider, and without further explanation, he accompanied the strange guide, who led the way to the wharf. The flags were floating free and gay, yet as this nameless cicerone pointed out the Tigress, that lay before them with flag staff bare, Emile Le Grande thought, “The captain is afraid to show his colors; well he may be.”