Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter XIII / The Bride of the Battle. A Tale of the Revolution. >> Page 285

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Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription THE NIGHT-VOYAGE. 285
Hark !" cried Dunbar, whose ears were quickened by eager
and baffled passions. Hark ! I hear the dip of a paddle."
He was right. They darted forth from the woods, and when
they reached the river's edge, they had a glimpse of a small
dark object, which they readily conceived to be a canoe, just
rounding one of the projections of the shore and going out of
sight, full a hundred yards below. Here was another mystery.
The ramifications of Bear Castle seemed numerous ; and, mys-
tified as well as mortified, Dunbar, after a tedious delay and a
search fruitlessly renewed, took up the line of march back for old
Sabb's cottage, inly resolved to bring the fair Frederica to terms,
or, in some way, to make her pay the penalty for his disappoint-
ments of the night. He little dreamed how much she had to do
with them, or that her hand had fired the forest-grasses, whose
wild and terrific blaze had first excited the apprehensions and
compelled the caution of the fugitives. It is for us to show
what further agency she exercised in this nocturnal history.
We left her alone, in her little dug-out, paddling or drifting
down the river with the stream. She pursued this progress
with proper caution. In approaching the headlands around
which the river swept, on that side which was occupied by Dun-
bar, she suspended the strokes of her paddle, leaving her silent
boat to the direction of the currents. The night was clear and
beautiful and the river undefaced by shadow, except when the
current bore her beneath the overhanging willows which grew
numerously along the margin, or when the winds flung great
masses of smoke from the burning woods across its bright, smooth
surface. With these exceptions, the stream shone in a light not
less clear and beautiful because vague and capricious. Moonlight
and starlight seem to make a special atmosphere for youth, and
the heart which loves, even when most troubled with anxieties
for the beloved one, never, at such a season, proves wholly
insensible to the soft, seductive influences of such an atmosphere.
Our Frederica was not the heroine of convention. She had
never imbibed romance from books ; but she had affections out
of which books might be written, filled with all those qualities;
at once strong and tender, which make the heroine in the mo-
ment of emergency. Her heart softened as, seated in the cen-
tre of her little vessel, she watched the soft light upon the