In this obscure port of entry, the Cotton States was the only vessel that had ever cast anchor. Here, erected on the shore, was a rude, commodious warehouse, built by the speculators who owned this adventurous craft, and designed for the reception of the cotton that was taken out and the cargoes that were brought in by it. The care of this depot of supplies and unlawful merchandise was committed to a rather decrepit, but trustworthy old man, called familiarly “Uncle Jack Marner.” In a rude hut, near by this cache above ground, lived old Uncle Jack and his wife. Scipio, a trusty negro, was also employed by the company to assist Uncle Jack in watching the depot, and was usually detailed to inform the owners of the vessel as soon as a cargo was landed. In this obscure harbor-the White Sandy Bar, as it was known to Uncle Jack, the captain, and the company-the Cotton States was anchored and ready to deposit her cargo.
“Madam,” said the captain to Leah, “I have done the best I could. I tried to land you nearer your home, but could not; I trust you will bear me no ill-will.”
“I can never forget your kindness, sir; once on land, no matter how far from the Queen City, I know I can find my way there. I feel assured my husband is there, if living, and thither I shall go at once.”
“Oh, yes; alone, if necessary.”
“Don’t you fear the scouts and straggling soldiers that so infest the land?”
“I fear nothing, captain. I am in search of my husband, and I shall seek him, though I perish in the effort.”
“Well, madam, I shall intrust you to the care of Uncle Jack Marner, and go away again knowing that you will be well cared for. There’s the old man, and Scipio, at work with the hands unloading. I’ll take you to his hut.”
Leah thanked him kindly, and taking her child in his arms, the captain led the way to the humble home of Uncle Jack, and introduced Leah to his wife.
Without delay the Cotton States unloaded; loaded again; and was soon once more out at sea in safety.
“It’s a mighty weakly lookin’ child, madam,” said kind Uncle Jack, when he returned to the hut, after the work on the ship was ended. “Is the little creetur sick?”
“No; but she is not very strong, Uncle Jack,” was Leah’s reply.
“Teethin’, maybe? Teethin’ ginerally goes hard with the little ones.”
“Yes,” Leah answered, “teething has made her delicate.”
“La, chile, the cap’n tells me you are bound for the Queen City; ain’t you afeerd to go thar now, sich a power of shellin’ goin’ on thar?” And without waiting for a response, he continued, “I think, though, the war-dogs are gittin’ tired, and will soon haul off. It’s no use tryin’ to shell and batter down that fine old city. She never was made to surrender to any furrin’ power; and surrender she never will. I’ll bet on that. But, my chile, I should be afeerd to go thar now, strong and supple a man as I am, much less a poor, weakly lookin’ woman like yerself.”