“Why! Is it Sylvia Fulton?” exclaimed the surprised Captain, looking down at the untidy little figure. “Why, what has happened?”
“Oh, dear,” sobbed Sylvia, “I guess I’m lost.”
“Well, well! It’s lucky you came down to this wharf. Come on board the schooner, and we’ll see to these little hands first thing,” and the good-natured Captain rested a kindly hand on the little girl’s shoulder and walked down the wharf. Sylvia heard the men talking of the Charleston Arsenal, and of the boxes of arms which were to be taken on the schooner to Fort Sumter.
The Captain bathed the little hurt hands and flushed face, talking pleasantly to the little girl about the schooner, and asking her if she did not think it a much finer craft than her father’s small boat; so in a little while she was comforted and quite at home.
“Now, sit here by the cabin window, and I will come back and take you home as soon as I settle this trouble about my supplies,” and the Captain hurried back to the wharf.
Sylvia sat quite still and looked out of the round port-hole. She felt very tired, and leaned her head against the cushioned wall. She could hear the monotonous chant of the negroes, and feel the swaying motion of the vessel, and soon was fast asleep. She did not know when the schooner was towed out into the channel, nor when the sails were hoisted and they went sailing down the bay.
For Captain Carleton had entirely forgotten his little guest. When he hurried back to the wharf he discovered a little group of Charleston citizens, one of whom was Elinor Mayhew’s father, disputing the right of the United States officers to take guns from the Charleston Arsenal to Fort Sumter; and when the matter was settled he had hurried the departure of the vessel. Not until they were ready to land at the fort did he remember his little friend. He went down to the cabin, and found Sylvia fast asleep.
“Poor little Yankee! I wonder what will happen to her if South Carolina really leaves the Union,” he thought, and then his face grew troubled as he remembered that Mr. and Mrs. Fulton must be in great trouble and anxiety over the disappearance of their little daughter. But first of all he must see the schooner’s cargo safely unloaded at Fort Sumter, and send his men back to Fort Moultrie; then he would take Sylvia home, or find some way to notify her parents that she was safe and well cared for.
AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY
When Sylvia did not come in with the other girls Miss Patten sent a maid in search of her. But she did not search very carefully. She called Sylvia’s name a few times, sauntered about the garden, and then reported: “Can’t find Missy Sylvia.”
She was then told to go straight to Mrs. Fulton’s house on the East Battery and see if Miss Sylvia had reached home. Miss Patten did not feel anxious. She thought it probable that the little northern girl did not realize the rules of the school, had become tired, and so started for home.