Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter XIII / The Bride of the Battle. A Tale of the Revolution. >> Page 279

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Page 279

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription BEAR CASTLE. 279
sing, but his courage failed, when the danger was that of being
launched into eternity. A shorter process than the cord or
swinging limb would not have found him so pliant. With a
choking groan he promised to submit, and, with heart swollen
almost to bursting, be led the route, off from the main road now,
and through the sinuous little foot-paths which conducted to the
place of refuge of our patriots.
It was at this point, having ascertained what space lay be-
tween him and his enemy, that Dunbar dismounted his troopers.
The horses were left with a guard, while the rest of his men,
under his personal lead, made their further progress on foot.
His object was a surprise. He designed that the negro should
give the usual" signal with which be had been taught to ap-
proach the camp of the fugitive ; and this signal � a shrill whis-
tle, three times sounded, with a certain measured pause between
each utterance was to be given when the swamp was entered
over which the river, in high stages of the water, made its breach.
These instructions were all rigidly followed. Poor Brough, with
the rope about his neck, and the provost ready to fling the other
end of the cord over the convenient arm of a huge sycamore
under which they stood, was incapable of resistance. But his
strength was not equal to his submission. His whistle was but
feebly sounded. His heart failed him and his voice ; and a re-
peated contraction of the cord, in the hands of the provost, was
found essential to make him repeat the effort, and give more
volume to his voice. In the meanwhile, Dunbar cautiously
pushed his men forward. They passed through great hollows,
where, at full water, the alligator wallowed ; where the whoop-
ing crane sought his prey at nightfall; where the fox slept in
safety, and the wild-cat in a favorite domain. Bear Castle"
was the fortress of many fugitives. Aged cypresses lay like the
foundations of ancient walls along the path, and great thorny
vines, and flaming, flowery creepers flaunted their broad stream-
ers in the faces of the midnight gropers through their solitudes.
The route would have been almost impassable during the day
for men on horseback ; it was a tedious and toilsome progress
by night for men on foot. But Dunbar, nothing doubting of
the proximity of his enemy, went forward with an eagerness
which only did not forget its caution.