Page:Yule Logs.djvu/28

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12
A FIGHTING MERMAID

out of sight, nor did she again rise to the surface until safely beneath a wharf covered with freight sheds, that extended out to deep water. Here, hidden in deepest shadow, she lay unobserved until nightfall, when our lads found no difficulty in gaining the streets of the town, leaving the Professor in charge of his beloved boat.

As Carlos Moranza had visited Key West before, he led the way without hesitation amid throngs of promenaders, among whom white was the rarest colour to be seen. Coal-black negroes from Jamaica, sallow-complexioned Spaniards, swarthy Cubans, mulattoes, quadroons, octoroons, and Creoles, with faces tinted in every shade of brown or yellow, jostled each other on the sidewalks, all talking, singing, or laughing, with eager gesticulations. Electric lights gleamed among the softly nestling leaves of tall cocoa-palms. Open carriages, bearing cigarette-smoking men in white linen, gaudily-clad negresses, or languid Cuban women, whose only sign of animation lay in their flashing eyes, rattled over the white pavements, while, above all, innumerable flags, displaying the blue and white stripes, the crimson field and single white star of Cuba Libre, fluttered in the faint night breeze.

The entire city, which is wholly Cuban in sympathy, as well as two-thirds so in population, was rejoicing over the news just received of an insurgent victory. The exulting throngs were most dense about the building occupied by an agent of the Cuban Junta, on a balcony of which the glad tidings were being read aloud from a paper just snatched off the press, while a guard stationed at the main entrance forbade admission, except to such persons as were of well-attested patriotism.

"Halt! You may not pass!" cried one of these, as our lads, having forced their way through the crowd, sought to enter.

For answer Carlos Moranza spoke a few words in so low a tone that only he might hear them.