Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Mellichampe: A Legend of the Santee >> Chapter XLV: Humphries Trees the Half-Breed >> Page 375

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Page 375

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
as he looked upon its dense inciosure. He will come out
directly, when he thinks me quite gone, and when he can bear nothing. I will wait for him, though I wait till sunset."
He had taken a- place of watch which gave him a full view
of the canebrake and the scattered cypresses before it, while
his position was concealed at the same time, by a cluster of
bushes, from any one emerging from the region he surveyed.
Here, squatting low, he prepared his rifle, having carefully
prepared an opening for it through the bushes, whence its
muzzle might be projected at a moment's warning; and, with
eyes sharpened by a feeling of anxiety little short of despera-
tion, he lay quietly, the agent of a deadly hate and a shudder-
ing fear, watchful for that opportunity which should gratify
the one passion, and silence all the apprehensions of the other.
While be watched in quiet, he heard a slight noise imme-
diately at hand. Something reached. his ears ,like the friction
of bark. His breathings became suppressed in the intenseness
of his anxiety. He felt that his enemy was near him, and his
hope grew into a gnawing appetite, which made his whole
frame tremble in the nervous desire which it occasioned. The
noise was repeated a little more distinctly distinctly enough,
indeed, to indicate the direction from which it came. His
glance rested upon the aged cypress which stood immediately
before him.
Could he be there ?" was his self-made inquiry. The tree
stood in the water. The hollow did not seem large enough
above the creek to admit the passage of a human body. Yet
it might be so." He regretted, while he gazed, that they had
not examined it ; .and he regretted this the more as he now
saw that the upper edges of the hollow above the creek
were still wet, as if they had been splashed by the hurried
passage of some large body into the tree. He kept quiet,
however, while these thoughts were going through his mind,
and determined patiently to wait events.
" He must come out at last," was his muttered thought, " if
he is there, and I can wait, I reckon, jist as long as he."
Was it an instinct that prompted him to raise his eyes at this
moment, from the hollow at the foot of the cypress to the shaft