Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Mellichampe: A Legend of the Santee >> Chapter XVII: The Half-Breed Trails His Enemy >> Page 149

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Page 149

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription THE HALF-BREED TRAILS HIS ENEMY. 149
nothing calculated to arrest his progress, as the marks of the
flying horseman were still onward. Obliquely from this point,
still farther to' the right, he entered a dense forest. Here he
made his way with difficulty, only now and then catching the
indent of the shoe. He soon emerged from the thick wood, and
the path was then open. Here, too, he discovered that there
had been an assemblage of persons, as the ground, in a little
spot, was much beaten by hoofs, and still prominent among
them was that which he sought in chief. This encouraged
him ; and, as the whole body assembled at the spot seemed to
have kept together, he had no little difficulty, in continuing the
search. At length the road grew somewhat miry and sloppy.
Little bays at intervals crossed his path, through which the
horsemen before him seemed to have gone without hesitation.
The forests were now broken into hammocks, which were in-
dented by small bodies of water. Here the cypress began to
send up its pyramidal shapes ; and groves of the tallest cane
shot up in dense masses around it.. The cressets lay green
upon the surface of the dark pond, and the yellow and purple
mosses of the festering banks presented themselves to his eyes
in sufficient quantity to announce his proximity to the swamp.
But to Blonay, thoroughly taught in all the intricacies of
the cypress," its presence offered no discouragement whatso-
ever to the pursuit. At length, reaching an extensive pond,
he lost all trace of the horses. He saw at once that they had
entered the water ; but where had they emerged ? The oppo-
site banks were crowded close to the water's edge with the
thickest undergrowth mingled with large trees, whose quiet
seemed never to have been disturbed with the axe of the wood-
man or the horn of the hunter. The wild vine and the clus-
tering brier, the slender but numerous canes, the gum-shoots,
cypress knees or knobs, and the bay, seemed to have been
welded together into a solid wall, defying the footsteps of any
invader more bulky than the elastic black-snake, or less vig-
orous and well-coated than the lusty bear.
Blonay saw the impervious nature of the copse ; but he also
felt assured that the pursuit must lead him into and through it.
He saw that through it the men must have gone whose foot-