Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Mellichampe: A Legend of the Santee >> Chapter XXIX: The Half-Breed and the Tory >> Page 252

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Page 252

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription 252 MELLICHAMPE.
Is it not enough," was the quick response of the legionary,
that Cornwallis has grown merciful of late ?"
It has been of late that he has become so," said Barsfield
with a smile ; only since the battle of Gum Swamp, may we
reckon'?"
He, at least, requires that I shall be so," said Tarleton,
calmly, though the indulgence of a different temper he still
appears to keep in reserve for himself. He would monopolize
the pleasure of the punishment, and perhaps the odium of it
also. That, at least, I do not envy him."
And in that respect your own mood seems to have under-
gone a change which could not have been produced by any
command of his ?"
Barsfield was venturing upon dangerous ground in this
remark; but he presumed thus freely as he listened to the
tacit censure which Tarleton had expressed in reference to the
conduct of his superior.
It has, Captain Barsfield, and the proof of it is to be found
in the proceedings of this day. Under your representations I
should at another time, with the full sanction of Cornwallis,
have strung up this rebel Mellichampe to the nearest tree,
though but a few moments of life were left him by the doubt-
ful mercies of your sabre or mine. I have not done so ; and
my own mood is accountable for the change, rather than the
orders of my superior. The truth is, I am sick of blood after
the strife is over ; and I relieve myself of the duties of the
executioner by the alteration of my feelings in this respect.
Mellichampe will perhaps complain of my mercy. He must
remain your prisoner, to be carefully kept by you, for trial in
Charleston, as soon as his wounds will permit of his removal
to the city. An execution is wanted there, for example, in
that unruly city; and this youth, coming of good family, and
an active insurgent, is well chosen as the proper victim. I am
instructed to secure another for this purpose, and my pursuit
now is partly for this object. Two such subjects as Walton
and Mellichampe carted to an ignominious death through the
streets of Charleston, will have the proper effect upon these
insolent citizens, who growl where they dare not bite, and