Many eyes turned to watch the smiling colored woman and the delighted little negro girl who walked down King Street that afternoon, one on each side of a little white girl who looked as well pleased as her companions, for Sylvia decided that no time should be lost in telling Mr. Robert Waite of how greatly his generosity was appreciated.
He welcomed Sylvia with his usual cordiality, and told Aunt Connie that he wished her good fortune, and sent her and Estralla home.
“I will walk back with your young mistress,” he said, and Sylvia felt that it was the proudest day of her life when she walked up King Street beside the friendly southerner.
“He talks just as if I were grown up,” thought Sylvia gratefully, when Mr. Waite spoke of the forts, and of the possibilities of war between the northern and southern states.
“Tell your father not to hasten his preparations to leave Charleston; you are among friends, and these difficulties may be adjusted,” Mr. Waite said as he bade Sylvia good-bye, and wished her a happy Christmas.
SYLVIA MAKES A PROMISE
“It doesn’t seem a bit like Christmas,” declared Sylvia, as she stood at the sitting-room window looking out at the falling rain.
Christmas day of 1860 was a gloomy, rainy day in Charleston, and many people felt exactly as Sylvia did, that it was not like Christmas.
Grace came over in the morning bringing a little chased gold ring for Sylvia, which the little girl promised always to wear. She wished that she could tell Grace about the lockets, but decided it would be better to surprise Grace with the locket itself.
As soon as Grace returned home Sylvia ran to find her mother.
“We will go down street and buy the lockets to-morrow morning, won’t we, Mother?” she asked, and Mrs. Fulton promised that they would start early.
Sylvia resolved that, if the lockets and pictures did not take all her money, she would buy a doll for Estralla. She knew that nothing else would please the little colored girl as much as a “truly” doll.
But the morning of December twenty-sixth found the city of Charleston angry and excited. Crowds collected in the streets, and Mr. Fulton received a message from Mr. Robert Waite asking him to remain at home until Mr. Waite arrived.
“What is the matter, Father?” Sylvia asked.
“He isn’t coming to take back Estralla, is he?”
“No, of course not, child. It is trouble over the forts,” responded her father. And in a short time Mr. Waite arrived. But he was not smiling this morning. He was very grave and serious.
“Major Anderson has evacuated Moultrie, and he and his men are at Fort Sumter,” said Mr. Waite. “I came to assure you that whatever action Charleston takes that I will protect your household and property as far as possible.”