Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Mellichampe: A Legend of the Santee >> Chapter XXI: The Maiden's Gift >> Page 191

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Page 191

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription TIIK MATI-EN'S GIFT. 191
leave asked or given the exigency was too pressing for mere
courtesies he made his dragoons stable their steeds in the
spacious apartments. Emptying the baggage-wagons of their
contents, he armed his men with the muskets, of which there
was sufficient provision; and, having secured the residue of
their stores within the walls of the dwelling-house, he proceed-
ed, to the great disquiet of Mr. Berkeley, and the terror of the
young ladies, to close the doors and make a fortress of the
family mansion. The upper rooms were barricaded with chairs
and tables ; and, watchful at all the windows, the troopers stood
ready with their muskets peering forth conspicuously and warn-
ingly in all directions from the building.
This was scarcely done, when the partisans came down the
avenue. It was with no little vexation that Singleton sur-
veyed this prospect. His eye at a moment beheld the difficul-
ties of his situation, and the danger of any assault upon a foe
so well prepared. To rush on brick walls, and be met by
musket-bullets, without being able to obtain sight of the de-
fenders, was not the part of a discreet valor ; and yet, to leave
an enemy so enfeebled as Barsfield was, without further efforts
to overcome or destroy him, was still more irksome to a brave
spirit like that of the officer in command. The rash and head-
long Mellichampe, however, thinking only of his personal hos-
tility to Barsfield, could hardly be restrained. He was for
immediately charging, and trying the weight of an axe upon
the doors of the dwelling.
" Ay, ay ; but how to get there ?" cried the more sagacious
Singleton. "No, no, Mellichampe, we must try some better
plan some safer enterprise. To cross the yard in the teeth
of those muskets would be certain death to nearly every man
who makes the effort, and we are but too poorly provided with
soldiers to be thus profligate. We must think of something
else ; and, in order to have time for it, let us send a message
to the tort'. Let us see what fair words will do, and the prom-
ise of good quarter. Besides, we must make some arrange-
ments for getting the family out of the house before making
any assault."
The truth of these suggestions was unquestionable ; and Mel-