Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Mellichampe: A Legend of the Santee >> Chapter IX: Owls Abroad >> Page 82

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Page 82

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription 82 MELLICHAMPE.
" About midnight but don't wait for me. Go to sleep, old fellow, for I know you need it."
Good-by, Airnest ! God bless you !"
Good-by."
And, Airnest--"" What now, Thumby ?"
Keep snug, that's all, and don't burn daylight ; that's to say, don't waste time. Good-by."
The youth, leaving his horse carefully concealed and fastened in a well-chosen spot, hurriedly plunged forward, into the woods with a precipitation seemingly intended to free him from the anxieties of his companion, who watched his progress for a few moments as he divided the bushes in his flight. Thumbscrew looked after him with all the concern of a parent in a time of trying emergency. He shook his head apprehensively, as, leading his own steed forth toward the highway, he seemed to prepare for his departure in the direction assigned him.
He had scarcely reached the road, however, when the approach of a driving horseman struck his senses and arrested his progress. The scout drew back instantly into the cover of the bush, and, placing himself in a position which would enable him to retreat at advantage, should the horseman prove other than he wished, he whistled thrice in a manner peculiar to the men of Marion. He was instantly answered in the same manner by. the horseman who drew up his steed with the ex-change of signals. Thumbscrew at once emerged from the copse, and was addressed by the stranger in a dialect adopted amon the partisans for greater security. Thumbscrew replied by what would seem a question.
" Owls abroad ?"" Owls at home !" was the immediate response of the stranger, by which the calling in of the scouts to the main body was at once signified to his comrade. He continued, as they approached each other--
" What owl hoots ?"" Thumbscrew," was the reply of Witherspoon, giving the familiar name by which his companions generally knew him.