“I wish I had someone to send with you to see you home safely,” Mr. Doane said, a little anxiously, as they stood together in the little hallway. “But I am known here, and I fear everything I do is watched. So I must trust that you will be safely cared for.”
Before Sylvia could reply, and say that she was not at all afraid to go alone, the outer door rattled as if someone were trying to push it open.
“You have been followed. Run back to the sitting-room,” whispered Mr. Doane. “I will open the door.”
Sylvia, standing just inside the door of the small room, heard the outer door swing open. She heard Mr. Doane’s sharp question, and then a familiar wail.
“Oh! It’s Estralla!” she exclaimed, and ran back to the entry.
“It’s Estralla! Oh! I’m so glad!” she said.
“Don’ you be skeered, Missy Sylvia,” said Estralla valiantly. “Dis yere man cyan’t take you off’n sell you.”
“All Estralla can think of is that somebody is going to be carried off and sold,” Sylvia said, turning to Mr. Doane, who stood by looking very serious.
“How did you know where your little mistress was?” he questioned gravely. For if this little darky knew of Sylvia’s errand he feared that she might tell others, and so Sylvia would have brought the message from the fort to little purpose. The letter, which was now in Mr. Doane’s pocket, was to the Secretary of War in Washington, asking for permission for Major Anderson to take men to Fort Sumter, before the secessionists could occupy it.
“I follers Missy,” explained Bstralla. “An’ when that man grabs her on King Street, I was gwine to chase right home an’ get Massa Fulton, but Missy talks brave at him, an’ he lets go of her. Oh, Missy! What you doin’ of way off here?”
At this question Mr. Doane smiled, realizing that the little negro girl had no knowledge of the message which Sylvia had delivered.
“Well, Estralla, suppose Miss Sylvia came to try and help give you your freedom?” he asked.
“An’ my mammy?” demanded Estralla eagerly.
“Why, of course,” Mr. Doane replied. “For anything that helps to convince South Carolina that she is wrong will help to free the slaves,” he added, turning to Sylvia.
“Now, Estralla, if you love Miss Sylvia, if you want to stay with your mammy, you must never tell of her visit here to-night. Remember!” and Mr. Doane’s voice was very stern.
“Estralla won’t tell,” Sylvia declared confidently; “and I am glad she came to go home with me.”
“Shuah I’ll do jes’ what Missy wants me to,” said the little darky.
“Try to let Mrs. Carleton know that I received the letter, and that I hope to reach Washington safely,” said Mr. Doane, as he bade Sylvia good-night.
As the door closed behind them Estralla clasped Sylvia’s hand.