Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Mellichampe: A Legend of the Santee >> Chapter XXIX: The Half-Breed and the Tory >> Page 250

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Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription 250 MELLICHAMPE.
but he strove successfully to preserve his composure as he
replied to the latter part of it.
He, sir, is not less malignant, not less hostile to our cause
and sovereign, than his father. He is an exceedingly active,
officer among the men of Marion; and, like his father, en-
dowed with many of the qualities which would make him
troublesome as an enemy. He is brave, and possessed of con-
siderable skill ; quite too much not to render it highly advan-
tageous to us to have him a prisoner, and liable to certain
penalties as a criminal. It was my surprise, Colonel Tarle-
ton�" and a little hesitation here, in the words and manner
of the tory, seemed to' denote his own apprehensions of en-
croaching upon delicate ground quite too far�" it was my
surprise, sir, that, knowing his name and character, you should
have proceeded toward him with so much tenderness."
The legionary did not seem to feel the force of the rebuke
which this language conveyed. His thoughts were elsewhere,
evidently, as he replied, with an inquiring exclamation :+--
" Eli ?"
You knew him, sir � a rebel �a spy ; for such I asserted
and can prove him to be ; yet you spared him."
I did," said. Tarleton ; you wonder that I did so.. Does
your surprise come from the belief that I did him or myself
injustice ? To what do you ascribe my forbearance ? or would
you rather have had me truss him up to a tree, because he
merited such a doom, or sabre him upon the ground, in order
to preserve my consistency?"
The tory looked astounded, as well he might. There was
a strange tone of irony in the language of Tarleton, and the
words themselves had a signification quite foreign to the
wonted habit of the latter. He knew not how to construe the
object or the precise nature of the question. The whole tem-
per of the fierce legionary seemed to have undergo a change,
and was now a mystery to Barsfield, as it had been a wonder
to the men around them. There was a sarcastic smile on the
lips of the speaker, accompanying his words, which warned the
tory to be heedful of the sort of reply to which he should give
utterance. He paused, therefore, for a few moments,- in order