THEY talked politics, more eagerly than ever, upon the boat. In Congress, and all over the country, men were still discussing the Sumner outrage--the North in furious indignation, the South in exulting triumph. The senator was not dead, it transpired--only crippled for life. Mr. Toombs and Mr. Davis had expressed their approval of the assault--and public meetings in the South were presenting Brooks with canes bearing devices such as, "Use knockdown arguments!" and "Hit him again!"
In "bleeding Kansas" the sacking of the town of Lawrence had been the signal for the outbreak of civil war. One John Brown, an antislavery leader, had made a midnight raid with a band of followers upon a settlement on "Pottawatomie Creek," and taking five proslavery settlers from their beds, had "executed" them, as he termed it, by hacking them to pieces with an old army cutlass. The Missourians were now on the war-path, seeking vengeance for this deed, and guerilla bands were roaming over the territory. When Allan's steamer reached Cairo, the news came that the proslavery men had declared a blockade of the Missouri River, and that persons bound for Kansas who were deemed suspicious were sent floating down again tied to logs.
Allan turned his back upon these things--he was going home to Boston. He asked himself what after that, but he did not know--he only wanted to be alone. He reached Cincinnati early the following morning, and would have taken a train for the East, stopping only for breakfast, had not something occurred to delay him.
As the steamer was approaching the city, he noticed up the river another boat, belonging apparently to the same line, coming from the opposite direction, under the