Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Mellichampe: A Legend of the Santee >> Chapter XLV: Humphries Trees the Half-Breed >> Page 376

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Page 376

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription 376 MELLICIIAMPE.
of the tree, as it stretched away above ? He did so ; and, in
the sudden glance which he gave, the glare of a wide and
well-known eye met- his own, staring around, from a narrow
and natural fissure in the stupendous column some ten feet
from its base. With a howl of positive delight he sprang to
his feet, and the drop of the deadly instrument fell upon the
aperture. But, before he could spring the lock or draw the
trigger, the object had disappeared.
The half-breed, for it was he, had sunk down the moment
Humphries met his eye, and was no more to be seen. But he
was there ! That was the consolation of his enemy.
"He is there, I have him !" he cried aloud. No answer
reached him from within. Humphries bounded into the water
to the hollow at the bottom of the tree, through which the
slender form of Blonay had resolutely compressed itself. He
thrust his hand into the opening, and endeavored, by grasping
the legs of the half-breed, to drag him down to the aperture ;
but he failed entirely to do so. A bulging excrescence on the
tree, a knob or knee, as it is called, within, served the be-
leaguered man as a place of rest; and upon this, firmly
planting his feet, no effort of his enemy could possibly dis-
lodge him. To thrust his rifle up the hollow, and shoot as he
stood, was the next thought of Humphries ; but the first at-
tempt to do this convinced him of the utter impracticability
of the design. The opening, though sufficiently large for the
entrance or a body so flexible as that of a man, was yet
too short to admit of the passage of a straight, unyielding
shaft of the rifle's length, unless by burying the instrument
in the water to a depth so great as would bring the lock
much below it. The difficulty was a novel one, and for a mo-
ment the practised woodman was at fault. What was he to
do ? His enemy was within his reach, yet beyond his control,
and might as well be a thousand miles off. To leave the
tree, to go in search of his companions, or to procure an axe
to fell it, would only be to afford an opportunity for the
egress and escape of his victim. This was not to be thought
upon. He seized his knife, and though assured that by its
use he could do no more than annoy the half breed, situated