and lovely, my black statues looked so dream-like at their posts behind the low earthwork, the opposite arm of the causeway stretched so invitingly from the Rebel
main, the horizon glimmered so low around me,--for it always appears lower to a swimmer than even to an oarsman,that I seemed floating in some concave globe, some magic crystal, of which I was the enchanted centre.
With each little ripple of my steady progress all things hovered and changed; the stars danced and nodded above; where the stars ended the great Southern fireflies began; and closer than the fireflies, there clung round me a halo of phosphorescent sparkles from the soft salt water.
Had I told any one of my purpose, I should have had warnings and remonstrances enough.
The few negroes who did not believe in alligators believed in sharks; the sceptics as to sharks were orthodox in respect to alligators; while those who rejected both had private prejudices as to snapping-turtles.
The surgeon would have threatened intermittent fever, the first assistant rheumatism, and the second assistant congestive chills; non-swimmers would have predicted exhaustion, and swimmers cramp; and all this before coming within bullet-range of any hospitalities on the other shore.
But I knew the folly of most alarms about reptiles and fishes; man's imagination peoples the water with many things which do not belong there, or prefer to keep out of his way, if they do; fevers and congestions were the surgeon's business, and I always kept people to their own department; cramp and exhaustion were dangers I could measure, as I had often done; bullets were a more substantial danger, and I must take the chance,--if a loon could dive at the flash, why not I?
If I were once ashore, I should have to cope with the Rebels
on their own ground, which they knew better than