Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Mellichampe: A Legend of the Santee >> Chapter XLV: Humphries Trees the Half-Breed >> Page 378

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Page 378

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription 378 MEI.LICII AMPE.
response whatsoever to the denunciations of his enemy ;
but, coolly turning himself occasionally in his spacious sheath,
he now and then raised himself slightly upon his perch, and
placing his mouth abreast of the upper aperture in the tree,
gratified himself by an occasional inhalation of the fresh
air a commodity not so readily afforded by his limited ac-
commodations.
Humphries, meanwhile, almost exhausted by his own fury
not less than by its hopeless labors, had thrown himself upon
the bank in front of the opening, watching it with the avid-
ity of an eagle. But Blonay gave him no second chance for
a shot while he lay in this position. He watched in vain.
Even as he lay, however, a new plan suggested itself to
his mind, and one so certain of its effect, that he cursed
himself for his stupidity that did not suffer him to think of it
before. With the thought, he started to his feet. Detached
masses of old decaying trees, the remains of many a forest
of preceding ages, lay scattered around him. Here and there
a lightwood knot, and here and there the yet undecayed
branch, the tribute of some still living pine, to the passing
hurricane, lay contiguously at hand. He gathered them up
with impetuous rapidity. He collected a pile at the foot of
the cypress, and prepared himself for the new experiment.
Selecting from this pile one of the largest logs, he thrust it
through the water, and into the hollow of the tree, seeking
to wedge it between the inner knobs on which the feet of
Blonay were evidently resting. But the half-breed soon be-
came aware of the new design, which he opposed, as well as
he could, with a desperate effort. He saw, and was instantly
conscious of, his danger. With his feet he baffled for a long
time the efforts of his enemy, until, enraged at length, Hum-
phries seized upon a jagged knot of lightwood, which he
thrust against one of the striving legs of the half breed, and em-
ploying another heavy knot as a mallet, he drove the wedge
forward unrelentingly against the yielding flesh, which was
torn and lacerated dreadfully by the sharp edges of the wood.
Under the sudden pain of the wound, the feet were drawn
up, and the woodman was suffered to proceed in his design.