Owen and Miss Edith had not paid any attention to Mr. Cornwood's lessons in natural history. Both of them had evidently voted the Floridian a bore. My cousin thought it was time to return to the hotel, where the band was playing for the benefit of the people. All the party had collected there, and we soon started for the steamer.
As usual they were all the youngest and prettiest of the party. Cornwood stood at the wheel, as though he had chosen the duty he intended to perform. I had not procured a pilot, for I had been up and down the river five times, and I thought I knew enough about it to pilot the vessel myself. But I wished to test Cornwood's ability, and I told him to go ahead, giving him no further instructions.
"I should be glad of your company," said he, leading the way to the gangway. "Hold on a minute, captain," he added, when I began to order my boat. "There is the boatman that carried off Cornwood's letter. He is looking for a job: suppose we give him one?" I did not object, and the mate hailed the boatman. We seated ourselves in his boat, and he pulled for the shore.
"Perhaps you would like to know where it is possible for us to go," I continued, taking Cornwood's paper from my pocket as Owen sprang to his feet. "Here are some suggestions in regard to where we may go; it was made up by our guide;" and I handed him the paper, which he opened to the fold of the sheet, and turned it over and over. "Merciful Grand Panjandrum!" "Another friend of yours!"
I was as much astonished at the decision of my father as Owen could be; but I said nothing, and my cousin soon went on shore, for he was staying at the house of Colonel Shepard. We had landed the Garbrooks at Green Cove Springs, where their yacht was waiting for them. On Tuesday came the trial of Griffin Leeds. Cornwood's defence was weak, and he seemed to have no pluck.
You can't see or hear him, and the first thing you know you are a dead man. That's Cornwood's style, as I understand him." "You are rough on him. What you say of him, and what you have done to Griffin, remind me that the two men seemed to have some connection before we engaged either of them," I continued, thinking of the events of that first day in St. Augustine.
Kirby Cornwood's story was true, and he could perform only one-half of what he promised, he would be a valuable person to our party. He was airy in his manner; but I could not say that this was not the worst part of him. If he had spent ten years of his life with state and national surveys and exploring parties, he ought to be very familiar with the travelled localities of Florida.