Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Mellichampe: A Legend of the Santee >> Chapter XLIV: The Cold Trail >> Page 369

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Page 369

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription TIIE COLD TRAIL. 36
reaching any ear upon the road, and, advancing to a point
sufficiently nigh to command a view of passing objects, sought
a place of concealment and watch for himself. This he soon
found, and, like a practised scout, he patiently concentrated
all his faculties upon the task he had undertaken, and, with
all the energies of his mind, not less than of his body, prepared
for the leap which he might be required to take, lie lay crouch-
ing in momentary expectation of his prey.
Here he waited patiently, for the space of half an hour,
in the hope of seeing the pursuer go by. But he waited in
vain : the road- remained undarkened by a solitary shadow
his ears were unassailed by a solitary sound. The half-
breed well knew what he was about. Familiar with the
course usually taken by Humphries, he did not now care to
tread directly upon his footsteps, particularly as such a progress
must have placed him upon the same road with that taken
by the stranger, whose unlooked-for coming had driven him
into shelter. It was enough that he could reach, a mile
above, the narrow track which, darting aside from the main
road, led obliquely into the swamp. There he knew he should
again come upon the track of Humphries, and with that hope
he was satisfied. Keeping the woods, therefore, on the side
which he had entered, he stole along among the shadows of
the silent pines sufficiently far to be both unseen and unheard
by those upon the road ; and while the scout lay snugly
watching for him in the bush, the subtle half-breed had gone
ahead of him, and was now somewhat in advance, though still
moving slowly between him and Humphries. Witherspoon
was soon convinced that this must be the case, and, throwing
aside his sluggishness, he prepared to resume his progress.
" The skunk will double round us after all," he muttered to
himself, if I don't keep a better lookout. But he sha'n't.
There's only one way. It won't do to go on sich a trail on
the back of a nag that puts down his foot like an elephant.
Shank's mare is the only nag for this hunt, and you must keep
quiet where you are, Button, till I get back. I can do well
enough for a while without you., and you must be reasonable,
and be quiet, too."