--"Y Dios tambien la ha llamado," responded Feliu, with rude pathos;--"And God also called her."
--"But the Virgin sent us the child, Feliu,--sent us the child for Concha's sake."
He did not answer at once; he seemed to be thinking very deeply;--Carmen anxiously scanned his impassive face.
--"Who knows?" he answered, at last;--"who knows? Perhaps she has ceased to belong to any one else."
One after another, Feliu's luggers fluttered in,--bearing with them news of the immense calamity. And all the fishermen, in turn, looked at the child. Not one had ever seen her before.
Ten days later, a lugger full of armed men entered the bayou, and moored at Viosca's wharf. The visitors were, for the most part, country gentlemen,--residents of Franklin and neighboring towns, or planters from the Teche country,--forming one of the numerous expeditions organized for the purpose of finding the bodies of relatives or friends lost in the great hurricane, and of punishing the robbers of the dead. They had searched numberless nooks of the coast, had given sepulture to many corpses, had recovered a large amount of jewelry, and--as Feliu afterward learned,--had summarily tried and executed several of the most abandoned class of wreckers found with ill-gotten valuables in their possession, and convicted of having mutilated the drowned. But they came to Viosca's landing only to obtain information;--he was too well known and liked to be a subject for suspicion; and, moreover, he had one good friend in the crowd,--Captain Harris of New Orleans, a veteran steamboat man and a market contractor, to whom he had disposed of many a cargo of fresh pompano, sheep's-head, and Spanish-mackerel ... Harris was the first to step to land;--some ten of the party followed him. Nearly all had lost some relative or friend in the great catastrophe;--the gathering was serious, silent,--almost grim,--which formed about Feliu.
Mateo, who had come to the country while a boy, spoke English better than the rest of the cheniere people;--he acted as interpreter whenever Feliu found any difficulty in comprehending or answering questions; and he told them of the child rescued that wild morning, and of Feliu's swim. His recital evoked a murmur of interest and excitement, followed by a confusion of questions. Well, they could see for themselves, Feliu said; but he hoped they would have a little patience;--the child was still weak;--it might be dangerous to startle her. "We'll arrange it just as you like, " responded the captain;--"go ahead, Feliu!" ...
All proceeded to the house, under the great trees; Feliu and Captain Harris leading the way. It was sultry and bright;--even the sea-breeze was warm; there were pleasant odors in the shade, and a soporific murmur made of leaf-speech and the hum of gnats. Only the captain entered the house with Feliu; the rest remained without--some taking seats on a rude plank bench under the oaks--others flinging themselves down upon the weeds--a few stood still, leaning upon their rifles. Then Carmen came out to them with gourds and a bucket of fresh water, which all were glad to drink.