CHAPTER XII. FROM CHARLESTON TO SAVANNAH, GEORGIA.
THE INTERIOR WATER ROUTE TO JEHOSSEE ISLAND. - GOVERNOR AIKEN'S MODEL RICE PLANTATION. - LOST IN THE HORNS. - ST. HELENA SOUND. - LOST IN THE NIGHT. - THE PHANTOM SHIP. - A FINLANDER'S WELCOME. - A NIGHT ON THE EMPEROR S OLD YACHT. - THE PHOSPHATE MINES. - COOSAW AND BROAD RIVERS. - PORT ROYAL SOUND AND CALIBOQUE SOUND. - CUFFY 'S HOME. - ARRIVAL IN GEORGIA. - RECEPTIONS AT GREENWICH SHOOTING-PARK.
Captain N. L. Coste, and several other Charleston pilots, drew and presented to me charts of the route to be followed by the paper canoe through the Sea Island passages, from the Ashley to the Savannah River, as some of the smaller watercourses near the upland were not, in 1875, upon any engraved chart of the Coast Survey.
Ex-Governor William Aiken, whose rice plantation on Jehossee Island was considered, before the late war, the model one of the south, invited me to pass the following Sunday with him upon his estate, which was about sixty-five miles from Charleston, and along one of the interior water routes to Savannah. He proposed to leave his city residence and travel by land, while I paddled my canoe southward to meet him. The genial editor of the "News and Courier" promised to notify the people of my departure, and have the citizens assembled to give me a South Carolina adieu. To avoid this publicity, - so kindly meant, - I quietly left the city from the south side on Friday, February 12th, and ascended the Ashley to Wappoo Creek, on the opposite bank of the river.
A steamboat sent me a screaming salute as the mouth of the Wappoo was reached, which made me feel that, though in strange waters, friends were all around me. I was now following one of the salt-water, steamboat passages through the great marshes of South Carolina. From Wappoo Creek I took the "Elliot Cut" into the broad Stono River, from behind the marshes of which forests rose upon the low bluffs of the upland, and rowed steadily on to Church Flats, where Wide Awake, with its landing and store, nestled on the bank.
A little further on the tides divided, one ebbing through the Stono to the sea, the other towards the North Edisto. "New Cut" connects Church Flats with Wadmelaw Sound, a sheet of water not over two miles in width and the same distance in length. From the sound the Wadmelaw River runs to the mouth of the Dahoo. Vessels drawing eight and a half feet of water can pass on full tides from Charleston over the course I was following to the North Edisto River.
Leaving Wadmelaw Sound, a deep bend of the river was entered, when the bluffs of Enterprise Landing, with its store and the ruins of a burnt saw-mill, came into view on the left. Having rowed more than thirty miles from the Ashley, and finding that the proprietor of Enterprise, a Connecticut gentleman, had made preparations to entertain me, this day of pleasant journeying ended.
The Cardinal-bird was carolling his mating song when the members of this little New England colony watched my departure down the Wadmelaw the next morning. The course was for the most part over the submerged phosphate beds of South Carolina, where the remains of extinct species were now excavated, furnishing food for the worn-out soils of America and Europe, and interesting studies and speculations for men of science. The Dahoo River was reached soon after leaving Enterprise. Here the North Edisto, a broad river, passes the mouth of the Dahoo, in its descent to the sea, which is about ten miles distant.
For two miles along the Dahoo the porpoises gave me strong proof of their knowledge of the presence of the paper canoe by their rough gambols, but being now in quiet inland waters, I could laugh at these strange creatures as they broke from the water around the boat. At four o'clock P. M. the extensive marshes of Jehossee Island were reached, and I approached the village of the plantation through a short canal. Out of the rice-fields of rich, black alluvium rose an area of higher land, upon which were situated the mansion and village of Governor Aiken, where he, in 1830, commenced his duties as rice-planter. A hedge of bright green casino surrounded the well-kept garden, within which magnolias and live-oaks enveloped the solid old house, screening it with their heavy foliage from the strong winds of the ocean, while flowering shrubs of all descriptions added their bright and vivid coloring to the picturesque beauty of the scene.
The governor had arrived at Jehossee before me, and Saturday being pay-day, the faces of the negroes were wreathed in smiles. Here, in his quiet island home, I remained until Monday with this most excellent man and patriot, whose soul had been tried as by fire during the disturbances caused by the war.
As we sat together in that room where, in years gone by, Governor Aiken had entertained his northern guests, with Englishmen of noble blood, a room full of reminiscences both pleasant and painful, - my kind host freely told me the story of his busy life, which sounded like a tale of romance. He had tried to stay the wild storm of secession when the war-cloud hung gloomily over his state. It broke, and his unheeded warnings were drowned in the thunders of the political tempest that swept over the fair South. Before the war he owned one thousand slaves. He organized schools to teach his negroes to read and write. The improvement of their moral condition was his great study.