Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Mellichampe: A Legend of the Santee >> Chapter XXII: Caprices of the Conflict >> Page 199

image of pageExplore Inside

Page 199

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Coolly preparing himself, therefore, while all behind him
were breathlessly watching, now their commander and now the
dwelling. Singleton fell back for an instant, and closely ob-
served the probable distance and height of the roof; then ad-
vancing to the tree, and planting his right foot firmly behind
him, he drew the long arrow to the head, until the missiles
which were attached to it grazed against the bended back of
the elastic yew. In another instant, and the meteor-like shaft
went whizzing and kindling through the air, darting on with a
true aim and unvarying flight, until, to the delight of the watch-
ing partisans, it buried itself, blazing all the while, in the very
bosom of the shingled roof. A long redoubled shout of ap-
plause followed the achievement, and but a few moments had
elapsed when Barsfield became conscious of the new danger
which awaited him.
"' Ha !" he cried, as he beheld the position which Singleton
had taken behind the tree, which, however, only in part con-
cealed him. " Send me a score of bullets at the rebel, or he
will smoke us out like so many rats. Shoot, men ! take good
aim, and stop him before it be too late."
A dozen muskets poured forth their contents in the direction
of the daring partisan. The bullets flew all around him where
he stood, but he stood unhurt. The moment after their fire
was favorable to another effort ; and, cool and thoughtful,
Singleton was soon ready with a second shaft. Once more the
whizzing arrow went blazing as fiercely and furiously as the
first, and aimed with equal judgment at a different portion of
the roof, Another and another followed in quick succession,
in spite of the successive volleys of musketry which poured
around him from the dwelling. In a little while the success
of the experiment was no longer questionable.
" It burns ! it burns !" was the cry from the surrounding
partisans, and the surface of the roof was now sprinkled with
jets of flame, that flickered along the dry shingles, gathering
new bulk with every instant, and spreading themselves away
in thin layers of light, until the air, agitated into currents by
the progress of the fire, contributed to send it in huge volumes,
rolling on and upward into the sky. Shout upon shout from