Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter XIII / The Bride of the Battle. A Tale of the Revolution. >> Page 278

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Page 278

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription 278 SOU'1'1IWVAPD HO
drew forth a little dug-out, the well-known cypress canoe of the
country. This was a small egg shell-like structure, scarcely
capable of holding two persons, which she was well accustomed
to manage. At once she pushed boldly out into the broad stream,
whose sweet rippling flow, a continuous and gentle murmur, was
strangely broken by the intense roar and crackling of the fire
as it swept the broad track of stubble, dry grass and leaves,
which lay in its path. The lurid shadows sometimes passed
over the surface of the stream, but naturally contributed to in-
crease her shelter. With a prayer that was inaudible to herself,
she invoked Heaven's mercy on her enterprise, as, with a strong
arm, familiar in this exercise, she plied from side to side the lit-
tle paddle which, with the favoring currents of the river, soon
carried her down toward the bit of swamp forest where her lover
found his refuge. The spot was well known to the maiden,
though we must do her the justice to say she would never have
sought for Richard Coulter in its depths, but in an emergency
like the present. It was known as Bear Castle," a close thick-
et covering a sort of promontory, three fourths of which was en-
circled by the river, while the remaining quarter was a deep
swamp, through which, at high water, a streamlet forced its way,
converting the promontory into an islet. It was unfortunate for
Coulter and his party that, at this season the river was much
lower than usual, and the swamp offered no security on the land
side, unless from the denseness of the forest vegetation. It
might now be passed dry shod.
The distance from Bear Castle" to the farmstead of old
Frederick Sabb, was, by land, but four or five miles. By water
it was fully ten. If, therefore, the stream favored the progress
of our heroine, the difference against Dunbar and his tories was
more than equalled by the shorter route before him, and the
start which he had made in advance of Frederica. But Brough
was no willing guide. He opposed frequent difficulties to the
distasteful progress, and, as they neared the spot, Dunbar found
it necessary to make a second application of the halter before
the good old negro could be got forward. The love of life, the
fear of death, proved superior to his loyalty.
Brough could have borne any quantity of flogging´┐Żnay, he
could, perhaps, have perished under the scourge without confes-