Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Mellichampe: A Legend of the Santee >> Chapter XII: The Trail Lost >> Page 105

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Page 105

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription THE TRAIL LOST. 105
of love, which had been confided by the two to Scipio, during
the unsophisticated courtship which had been carried on be-
tween them. Proud of the confidence reposed in him, and fond
of the parties, the trust of Mellichampe was sacred in his keep-
ing ; and, at the moment of his greatest danger, when the rope
was about his neck, and his life depended upon one whom he
well knew to be merciless and unforgiving, he never once con-
ceived the idea of effecting his escape by a revelation of
any secret which might have compromised, in the slightest
degree, either Mellichampe or the maiden. He now purposely
led the tory from his object, trusting to his good fortune or his
wit to relieve him from all subsequent emergencies.
It does not need that we should show how, in the prosecu-
tion of his scheme, the adroit negro contrived to baffle the vin-
dictive Barsfield. He led him from place to place, to and fro,
now here, now there, and through every little turn and wind-
ing of the enclosure in front of the dwelling, until the patience
of the tory became exhausted, and he clearly saw that his
guide had deceived him. For a moment his anger prompted
him to prosecute the punishment with which he had sought at
first to intimidate the negro. ' But a fear of the influence of
such a proceeding upon the maiden induced a more gentle de-
termination.
It was not, probably, the intention of Barsfield to carry
into effect the threatened doom his design was rather to pro-
cure the required intelligence by extorting a confession. He
was now persuaded, so well had Scipio played his part, that
the fellow was really ignorant. Finding that his long pas-
sages invariably led to nothing, he dismissed him with a hearty
curse and kick, and hurried away to join Clayton, who, mean-
while, had been busied in the examination of the garden. The
lieutenant had not been a whit more successful than his cap-
tain ; for Mellichampe, the moment that he heard the pursuit
tending in the quarter where he had concealed himself, simply
moved away from his lair, and, leaping the little rail fence,
which divided the garden from the forest, found himself
almost immediately in the shelter of a dense body of woods,
which would have called for five times the force of Barsfield to
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