FORT SUMTER IS FIRED UPON
When Sylvia’s father heard of her sailing the Butterfly to Fort Sumter he was greatly troubled.
“If it should be discovered that my daughter had carried a message to Fort Sumter we would all be in danger; even the Waites would give us up,” he declared. “What made you undertake such a thing, Sylvia?”
The little girl explained as well as she could her wish to get news of Captain Carleton for his wife, and said that she was sure no one knew that she was a white girl. But Mr. Fulton was anxious and uneasy, and Sylvia began to realize that her secret adventure might bring serious results to those she loved best.
“I told Captain Carleton what Uncle Peter said about ships coming to help Fort Sumter,” she said, feeling almost sure that her father would think this the worst of all, but determined to make a full confession. She resolved that never again would she make plans without telling her mother and father, for she was most unhappy at her father’s troubled look, and at his disapproval.
“What?” exclaimed Mr. Fulton. “Did you tell Captain Carleton that reinforcements were coming to the aid of Fort Sumter?”
“Oh, yes, I did, Father,” sobbed Sylvia, who was now sure that she had told the very worst of her acts.
But to her surprise she heard her father say: “Thank heaven! That may influence Anderson to hold the fort until help arrives,” and his arm was about his little daughter, and she looked up through her tears to hear him say:
“The news you carried to the fort is just what they wanted to know. And it may help to save the Union. It is worth while for us all to face personal danger if it proves that you were of service.”
Sylvia did not quite understand why Uncle Peter’s news should be so important, but her father explained to her that Major Anderson would now feel sure of help, and that his men would have courage to bear hardship and hunger if need be until the ships arrived.
“And you forgive me for going?” Sylvia pleaded.
“My dear child! I am glad and proud that you could carry such a message to brave soldiers,” her father replied, “but do not mention it to anyone. I must hasten my arrangements to leave Charleston. General Beauregard may fire upon Fort Sumter at any day, and I am of no use here.”
Sylvia drew a long breath of relief. That her father should really praise her for what she had feared might prove a very serious mistake made the little girl happy although it did not change her resolve never again to make adventurous plans without the approval of her mother or father. She realized that, although she had carried a valuable message, she had also endangered her father’s safety if her visit to the fort was discovered, as every southerner would believe that Mr. Fulton had made the plan to be of aid to the United States.