Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter XIII / The Bride of the Battle. A Tale of the Revolution. >> Page 277

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Page 277

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription FIRE IN THE WOODS. 977
the alarm before he could detect the objects of his unknown vis-
iter. Her return to the house was not beheld. He had lost
sight of her in the woods, and fancied her still to be in the neigh-
borhood. Unable to recover his clue, he still maintained his
position waiting events.
It was not long before she reappeared upon the scene. He
did not see the figure, until it crossed an open space, on his right,
in the direction of the river. He saw it stoop to the earth, and
he then bounded forward. His haste was injurious to his ob-
jects. He fell over the prostrate trunk of a pine, which had
been thrown down for ranging timber only a few days before,
and lay dark, with all its bark upon it, in the thick cover of the
grass. His pistol went off in his fall, and before he could recov-
er his feet, he was confounded to find himself threatened by a
rapid rushing forest of flame, setting directly toward him. For
a moment, the sudden blaze blinded him, and when he opened
his eyes fully upon surrounding objects, he saw nothing human
´┐Żnothing but the great dark shafts of pine, beneath which the
fire was rushing with the roar and volume of swollen billows of
the sea, breaking upon the shore which they promise to engulf.
To save himself, to oppose fire to fire, or pass boldly through
the flame where it burned most feebly, was now a first necessity ;
and we leave him to extricate himself as he may, while we fol-
low the progress of Frederica Sabb. The flame which she had
kindled in the dry grass and leaves, from the little old stable-
lantern of the cottage, concealed beneath the great-coat of her
father, had sufficed as a perfect cover to her movements. The
fire swept below, and in the direction of the tort' sentinels. The
advance of the one, she had perceived, in the moment when she
was communicating the blazing candle to the furze. She fan-
cied she was shot when she heard the report of the pistol ; but
pressing her hand to her heart, the lantern still in her grasp, she
darted headlong forward by one of the paths leading directly to
the river. The fire was now raging over all the tract between
her and the tory sentries. Soon, she descended from the pine
ridge, and passed into the low flat land, strewed with gray cy-
presses, with their thousand knees, or abutments. The swamp
was nearly dry. She found her way along a well-known path
to the river, and from beneath a clump of shrouding willows,