I was one summer day enjoying a walk on "Flirtation." I was alone, and, if I remember aright, "on Old Guard privileges." Walking leisurely along I soon observed in front of me a number of young ladies, a servant girl, and several small children.
They were all busily occupied in gathering wild flowers, a kind of moss and ferns which grow here in abundance. I was first seen by one of the children, a little girl. She instantly fixed her eyes upon me, and began vociferating in a most joyous manner, "The colored cadet! the colored cadet! I'm going to tell mamma I've seen the colored cadet."
The servant girl endeavored to quiet her, but she continued as gayly as ever:
"It's the colored cadet! I'm going to tell mamma. I'm going to tell mamma I've seen the colored cadet."
All the others stopped gathering flowers, and watched me till I was out of sight.
A similar display of astonishment has occurred at every annual examination since I became a cadet, and on these occasions the ladies more than anybody else have been the ones to show it.
Whenever I took my place on the floor to receive my enunciation or to be questioned, I have observed whisperings, often audible, and gestures of surprise among the lady visitors. I have frequently heard such exclamations as this: "Oh! there's the colored cadet! there's the colored cadet!"
All of this naturally tended to confuse me, and it was only by determined effort that I maintained any degree of coolness. Of course they did not intend to confuse me. Nothing was, I dare say, further from their thoughts. But they were women; and it never occurs to a woman to think before she speaks.