Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Mellichampe: A Legend of the Santee >> Chapter XXXVI: The Subtlety of the Tory >> Page 299

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Page 299

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription THE SUBTLETY OF THE TORY. 299
ether petty tyrants of the time and country, to the most atro-
cious offences against justice and humanity. They began to
feel, if not the salutary rebukings of conscience, the more
obvious suggestions of fear ; for, exasperated to madness by
the reckless want of consideration shown to their brethren-in-
arms when becoming captives to the foe, the officers of the
southern American forces, banded and scattered, pledged them-
selves solemnly in writing to retaliate in like manner, man for
man, upon such British officers as should fall into their hands ;
thus voluntarily offering themselves to a liability, the heavy
responsibilities of which sufficiently guarantied their sincerity.
To the adoption of this course they also required a like pledge
from the commander-in-chief; and General Greene was com-
pelled to acquiesce in their requisition. The earnest charac-
ter of these proceedings, known as they were to the enemy, had
its effect ; and the rebukes of conscience were more respected
when coupled with the suggestions of fear.
Barsfield knew that the present temper of his superiors was
not favorable to the execution of Mellichampe. He also felt
that his own testimony against the youth must be unsatisfac-
tory, if met by that of Mr. Berkeley and his daughter. He
dreaded that Mellichampe should reach Charleston, though as
a prisoner, and become known in person to any of the existing
powers, as he well knew the uncertain tenure by which the
possessions were secured which had been allotted to him, in a
moment of especial favor, by the capricious generosity of the
British commander. Guilt, in this way, for ever anticipates
and fears the thousand influences which it raises up against
itself; and never ceases to labor in providing against events,
which for a long time it may baffle, but which, in the moment
of greatest security, must concentrate themselves against all
its feeble barriers, and overthrow them with a breath.
Barsfield had also his personal hostility to gratify, and of
this he might be deprived if his prisoner reached the city
in safety. His present design was deeply laid, therefore, in
order that he might not be defrauded. Janet Berkeley was
to be the instrument by which Mellichampe was to be taught
to apprehend for his life, as a convicted spy under a military