Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Mellichampe: A Legend of the Santee >> Chapter XLIII: Swamp Strategics >> Page 356

image of pageExplore Inside

Page 356

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription 356 MELLICHAMPE.
to convert their very necessities into sources of knowledge and
of independence. The bitter of the acorn soon ceased to offend
their appetites and tastes. The difficulties of their progress
through bushes and briers soon taught them a hardiness and
capacity to endure, which led them, after no long period of
initiation, to delight in all the necessities of their situation,
and to rejoice at the sudden whisper which, at midnight,
aroused them from their slumbers under the green-wood tree,
to sally forth by moonlight to dart upon the new-forming camp
of the marauding tory or unsuspecting Briton.
It was the morning of that day on which Blonay had made
his communication to Barsfield, announcing the acceptance by
Janet Berkeley of his offer to aid in the escape of Mellicliampe.
The camp of the " swamp-fox" lay in the stillest repose. The
spacious amphitheatre was filled up with the forms of slumber-
ing men. The saddle of the trooper formed a pillow, con-
venient for transfer to the back of the noble steed that stood
fastened in the shelter of another tree close behind him, the
bridle being above him in the branches. The watchful senti-
nel paced his round slowly on the edge of the swamp, looking
silently and thoughtful in the deep turbid waters of the river.
No word, no whisper, broke the general stillness and the
moments were speeding fast on their progress which should
usher in the dawn. At length the stillness was broken. The
tramp of a steed beat heavily upon the miry ooze which gir-
dled the island, and, soon following, the clear challenge of the
sentry arrested the progress of the approaching horseman.
Who goes there ?" was the prompt demand. The answer
was given.
" Dorchester !" The scout entered the lines and proceeded
on foot to the little clump of trees which had been devoted to
Marion. The new-comer made but little noise ; yet, accus-
tomed to continual alarms, and sleeping, as it was the boast
of Marion's men, with an ear ever open and one foot always in
stirrup, the sound was quite sufficient to raise many a head
from its pillow, and to persuade many an eye to strain through
the gloom and shadow of all objects around, to catch a glimpse
of the person, and, if possible, guess the object of his visit.