Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Mellichampe: A Legend of the Santee >> Chapter XXII: Caprices of the Conflict >> Page 202

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Page 202

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription 202 M ELLICHAMPE.
tWo or three boards of the floor itself �a duty soon performed
by the vigorous axeman. By this time, however, the smoke
had become dense and almost insupportable ; and the moment
the aperture was made in the floor, admitting them to the
lower or basement story, where the horses had been stabled,
with a rapidity that defied all the efforts of their cooler com-
mander, the tories, huddled upon one another, hurried and
tumbled through, glad to escape from- their late predicament,
even with the chances before them of a hopeless and desperate
struggle, such as Barsfield had painted to their eyes.
The stern calmness of their leader, during all this proceed-
ing, was creditable in the highest degree. He exhibited no
hurry, no apprehension none of.that precipitate haste which
defeats execution, while. it exhibits deficient character. When
he got below, he himself saw that each man had mounted his
proper steed and stood in, readiness, before he took the bridle
of his own. He then asked if all were ready : he placed him-
self in the advance, gave orders to one of the men to turn the
latch, but not to unclose the door �a duty which he reserved
to himself� and then addressed them in terms of the most
encouraging composure.
Have no fear, men ; but each man, as he passes through
the door, will at once strike for the entrance of the avenue.
The brick foundations of the piazza and the smoke will con-
ceal you for a few moments. I will go first from this hole, but
I will be the last to move. Lieutenant Clayton will follow
me out, but he will lead the way to the avenue. Follow him ;
keep cool keep straight forward, and only turn when you
turn to strike a foe. Are all ready ?"
Ay, sir, all ready ?" was the reply. With the words, with
his own steed behind him, Barsfield, on foot, led him forth, and
was the first to emerge into the light. .He was not instantly
perceived by the assailants, such was the cloud of smoke be-
tween them and the dwelling; but when, one after another,
with a fearful rush, each trooper bounded forth, driving for-
ward with relentless spur to the avenue in front, then did
Singleton, becoming conscious of their flight, give his orders
for pursuit.