« PoprzedniaDalej »
Wabash opened fire. How grand ! sixteen guns, one after another, in quick succession, - or two or three at a time, – an unbroken roll of thunder, and the ship trembling from keel to topmast!
"From captain down to powder-boy,
No hand was idle then."
The guns came back with a recoil which all but wrenched the great iron bolts from the oaken ribs. The gunners rammed home new cartridges, and before the smoke had drifted away were ready to fire again. Up past Beauregard sailed the fleet, each vessel doing its part, then, rounding towards Hilton Head, came down past Fort Walker. The air seemed to be full of shells and solid shot, splintering planks and timber, masts and spars, cutting away the rigging, on shipboard, — ploughing the ground, upsetting guns, blowing up breastworks, and tearing men to pieces, on shore. It takes but a few minutes to write these lines, but the ships were an hour in making the round, — the guns roaring all the while.
The soldiers in the forts were surprised to find that no vessel had been sunk, and that, instead of steaming away, the fleet was preparing for another turn ! Again up the northern side of the circle, past Beauregard, and slowly down, past Walker, sailed the feet, in its own cloud of white smoke. The Bienville and the four vessels which followed that ship, however, did not return, but, taking a position in the harbor, threw shells, past General Drayton's house, into the rear of the fort, paying no attention to Tatnall, who was up Beaufort River, firing at long range. How tremendous the fire !
The people at Beaufort heard the thunder of the guns, and, believing that the forts could not be taken, rubbed their hands in glee, and said that the Yankees were “catching it." Men went out in boats, and with spy-glasses looked down the bay, and shouted to their friends on shore that all was going well. The slaves on the plantations, in their simplicity, said that the great day of the Lord had come, — spoken of in the Bible, — “with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood.”
And now up came the Pocahontas with Captain Drayton on board, who steamed as near as he could go to the fort, to shell out his brother and rout the Rebel troops, -- not that there was hate between him and his brother, but because the flag of his country had been insulted, and it was his duty to vindicate its honor. Duty, — what a brave word it is !
“The path of duty is the way to glory!
All voluptuous garden-roses.” Duty is the only path to glory, — duty to God, — duty to our country, — duty to each other ;- not only on the battle-field, but at home, at school, and on all occasions. Goodness, virtue, purity, and love, - all lie along that path; and the man, woman, boy, or girl who is dutiful in all things will find unspeakable peace and joy in this life, as well as in the life to come.
Again the vessels come round. The shot from the forts had damaged them. Water was pouring into one of the magazines of the Wabash, but Admiral Dupont was determined not to give up the contest. The first shot from the fort aimed at the Pocahontas was an eighty-pounder, which carried away a portion of the mainmast. The sailors were stripped of their coats; their faces were grimed with powder. On some of the vessels there were pools of blood, where their comrades had been torn in pieces; but they were as eager as the Admiral for another turn. It was past noon. The sun was still shining from a cloudless sky. Again the Wabash led the way, followed closely by the Susquehanna and all the others, — every vessel pouring in shot and shell, — raining fifty, sixty, and even seventy shots a minute upon Fort Walker, which tore up the embankments, and overthrew guns, blowing men into the air. Those were brave soldiers in the fort, but it was not in human nature to stand such a fire. The men on the fleet were equally brave. Standing at the bow of the Wabash was a sailor, who kept swinging the lead, throwing it over the side of the vessel into the water, and calling the depth as steadily as if nothing unusual was going on,- unmindful of the shells which struck all around him, or flew harmlessly by.
But suddenly there was a panic on shore, - officers and men ran as fast as they could for the woods, leaving their tents, trunks, clothing, arms, knapsacks, swords, pistols, and provisions. Then, when Captain Rodgers went ashore, pulled down the flag of the Confederacy, and hoisted the stars and stripes, there was such cheering as never before was heard at Port Royal, the sailors swinging their caps, and shouting themselves hoarse, while out on the transports — hanging like bees to the rigging — the Union soldiers, who had seen it all, took it up, and answered the brave tars who had won the fight. Then, when at sunset the vessels one after another came into the harbor and anchored, they rent the air with their hurrahs, and sang and danced in a delirium of joy.
Out in General Drayton's cotton-field stood the negroes, gazing in wonder and amazement at what had happened, for the soldiers had told them that the Yankee ships would certainly be sunk. They were astonished when they saw their master running for the woods as fast as he could go, leaying all of his property to fall into the hands of the Yankees.
The soldiers who went on shore arrested the negroes and put them into General Drayton's house.
“What are you doing here?” asked an officer. “Wal, boss, that ere is just what we would like to know," was the reply.
The officer and all the soldiers laughed heartily. The officer was a kindhearted man, and, knowing there was no reason why they should be kept as prisoners, opened the door, and told them to go out and enjoy their freedom.
Freedom! It was a new word to them. They had been slaves all their lives. They had prayed to be free, and now freedom had come. Some fell upon their knees and thanked God, while others danced for joy, and shouted and sang all through the night.
THE SUMMER YELLOW-BIRD AND THE COW
THE common little Summer Yellow-Bird, so abundant in the gardens of
1 the New England States during the summer months, belongs to a very remarkable group of birds peculiar to America. Resembling, in many respects, the warblers of Europe, in which are classed the Nightingale, the Robin, and several other birds familiar to us at least in name, they are still quite distinct in several important peculiarities. They are called by Mr. Audubon Wood-Warblers, and the scientific terms sylvicole, dendroica, &c. indicate that they, for the most part, dwell in the quiet and solitary recesses of the forests.
They constitute a very large family; and between forty and fifty species belonging to it are already known to inhabit North America. Probably more than half as many more are found in the West Indies and in South America. They are unsurpassed by any group either in the variety or the richness of their colors, and a few are also remarkable for their song.
As a family, however, our Wood-Warblers are only well known to naturalists, partly from the fact that they chiefly frequent swampy L
i ge parem thickets difficult of human access, and also because a large number of the species go to the far North to spend their summers, and, again, to the far South to spend their winters, paying us but very short visits on their way to and from their respective homes. Almost the only exception in both of these respects is the beautiful, gentle, and intelligent little bird we now introduce to Our Young Folks. Variously known as the “ Yellow-Bird,” and by some confounded with our American Goldfinch, which it very little resembles, as the “Blue-eyed Yellow Warbler," the “Wild Canary," the “ Yellow Poll,” these birds are found in great abundance all over the continent. As soon as
the leaves of the trees are fully expanded, toward the middle or last of May, we hear its familiar song; and when we hear it, we may feel assured that summer has fairly come again, and that our long, cold spring has ended. Probably no one of our birds breeds over so wide an expanse of territory as the Summer Yellow-Bird. It is found abundant all the way from Northern Georgia to the farthest northern limits of our continent, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
Not so retiring as most of its family, but more familiar, social, and confiding, our little Yellow-Bird is easily encouraged by tolerance, and still more by attention to its wants, to cultivate our society. Put a few small bits of cotton about on the bushes in your gardens, and you will soon find Blueeyes tugging away at it. She knows in a moment you meant them for her ; at least she takes possession of them, and at once begins the foundation of her nest. Sometimes she will place it low down in some fork of a shrub, a few feet from the ground, or in the midst of a thick hedge, or in the honeysuckle running over the porch. Sometimes, where dreadful cats are too common, she finds a higher and a safer place, often in the horsechestnuttree under your very window, and over the busy, noisy street. Little cares she for the noise or the bustle below, nor for your close neighborhood, if you do not come too near. She delights to be near you, so long as you leave her undisturbed.
If, however, she is disturbed in her nesting, she will look out, another time, for safer quarters, — sometimes building her nest in the top branches of a high tree, fifty feet from the ground. But this is not often.
They build a very neat and durable nest, fastened in the first place by a strong external fabric to several branches of the bush in which it is placed and then woven with great neatness and wonderful skill. The external part is usually woven of strong flaxen fibres of plants and fine strips of bark interwoven with the finer down from the fern and the willow, and lined with fine, soft, and warm materials. Where raw cotton is provided for our little architects in sufficient abundance, they will make their whole nest of it, using only a few tough fibres of bark to give it strength.
A good many summers ago, a pair of Summer Yellow-Birds built their nest under our parlor window. Through the closed blinds, we children watched the busy little creatures weaving their curious little basket-nest. First a few strong fibres were wound round and round, about a few branching twigs, with a good deal of pains and care; but as soon as this part bad been fixed to their satisfaction, the task of completing it was simple and rapidly done. One bird was chiefly employed in collecting the materials and bringing them to his mate. The other received them, placed them in position, and completed the inner part of the nest. The manner in which she did this was very interesting. Standing in the middle of the nest, with half-expanded wings, and her tail-feathers spread out like an open fan, she kept rapidly whirling herself round and round. The soft materials were thus worked into a circular or hemispherical forn, as her expanded feathers brushed by them. If some pieces proved too unyielding, she would stop and place them to suit
her, with her bill. When her mate was dilatory, or did not bring her materials as fast as she required them, she would go in search of some herself. If those he brought seemed to her unsuitable, she would summarily reject them. In this way, working busily parts of two days, they soon had their little home completed. By and by appeared one little egg, then another, until there were five. In a few days more, or a little over a week, we found the eggs were hatched, and during the next ten days we could see how lovingly and tenderly the parents cared for their young. How many thousand tiny insects of various kinds they kept feeding to those five gaping mouths we could hardly tell, nor could we imagine where they found them all. All day long they kept coming and going, by turns, - one staying to keep their nurslings warm, the other going and coming in search of food for mate and nurslings.
One enemy the Summer Yellow-Birds have, which sometimes gives them a good deal of trouble. This is another bird, called the Cow Blackbird because it is so often found keeping company with the cattle in their pastures. This Cow Blackbird is, in its habits, like the Cuckoo of Europe. It never builds its own nest, or takes care of its own young, but invariably lays its eggs in the nests of other birds, leaving them to be hatched out and the young birds brought up by strangers. The worst part of this unnatural proceeding is that the young Blackbirds abuse the hospitality of their foster-parents, by tumbling their adopted brothers and sisters out of their rightful homes. A great many of our small birds are thus imposed upon, and bring up these strangers, without, perhaps, being aware of the cheat. But you will never find our Summer Yellow-Bird suffering herself to be thus imposed upon. How she comes by her knowledge, who can tell? Is it instinct ? or is it reason? At all events, she seems to know that it will never do to put up with such an imposition, and she never does.
But what is she to do? Here, when she has just completed her nice new nest, along has come the good-for-nothing Blackbird, and dropped a great ugly egg into it, half filling it up! What is she to do? She can't roll it out: