Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter XIII / The Bride of the Battle. A Tale of the Revolution. >> Page 303

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Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription COULTER'S STRATEGIES. 803
his lovely wife, he yet made his approaches with a proper cau-
tion. The denseness of the forest route enabled him easily to
do so ; and, making a considerable circuit, he drew nigh to the
upper part of the farmstead, in which stood the obscure out-
house, which, when Dunbar had taken possession of the man-
sion, he assigned to the aged couple. This he found deserted ;
he little dreamed for what reason, � or in what particular emer-
gency the old Dutchman stood at that very moment. Making
another circuit, he came upon a copse, in which four of Dunbar's
troopers were grouped together in a state of fancied security.
Their horses were fastened in the woods, and they lay upon the
ground, greedily interested with a pack of greasy cards, which
had gone through the campaign.
The favorite game of that clay was Old-Sledge, or All-Fours,
or Seven- Lp; by all of which names it was indiscriminately known.
Poker, and Brag, and Loo, and Monte, and Vingt'un, were then
unknown in that region. These are all modern innovations, in
the substitution of which good morals have made few gains.
Dragoons, in all countries, are notoriously sad fellows, famous for
swearing and gaming. Those of Dunbar were no exception
to the rule. Our tory captain freely indulged them in the prac-
tice. He himself played with them when the humor suited.
The four upon whom Coulter came were not on duty, though
they wore their swords. Their holsters lay with their saddles
across a neighboring log, not far off, but not immediately within
reach. Coulter saw his opportunity; the temptation was great;
but these were not exactly his prey�not yet, at all events. To
place one man, well armed with rifle and pair of pistols, in a
situation to cover the group at any moment, and between them
and the farmstead, was his plan ; and this done, he proceeded
on his way.
His policy was to make his first blow at the head of the enemy
�his very citadel�trusting somewhat to the scattered condition
of the party, and the natural effect of such an alarm to scatter
them the more. All this was managed with great prudence ; and,
with two more of his men set to watch over two other groups of
the dragoons, he pushed forward with the remaining four until
he reached the verge of the wood, just where it opened upon
the settlement. Here he had a full view of the spectacle�his