Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Mellichampe: A Legend of the Santee >> Chapter XLVI: The Signal >> Page 385

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Page 385

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription THE SIGNAL. 385
tion with the partisan. The tender mercies of a Charleston
commandant, and of a board of British officers for inquiry,
were well known ; and the sacrifice of the youth was a fear
with all his friends, should he not be rescued from the clutches
of his foe before his transfer to the scene of trial. Too haz-
ardous an enterprise to aim at this rescue while the youth lay
in Barsfield's well-defended encampment, the partisan simply
prepared himself to be in readiness at the moment when a
signal from his scouts should apprise him of the movement
of any guard of the enemy in the direction of the city. An
ambush on the wayside was the frequent resort of warriors
who were only too few, too- poorly armed and provided, to risk
a more daring sort of warfare.
The camp of Barsfield was soon illuminated by the addi-
tional fire of which Witherspoon had spoken. As soon as he
beheld it he proceeded, cautiously but fearlessly, to pass the
intervening road ; then, keeping close alongside of the left or
upward bank of the avenue leading to the settlement, be stole
along from tree to tree, until he heard the measured tread of
the more advanced sentinels. A necessity for greater precau-
tion induced a pause. He stole, a moment after, to the edge
of the ditch, into which he descended ; then, crawling upon
hands and knees up the bank, he looked over into the avenue,
and distinguished the glittering raiment of the first sentinel.
In the distance he beheld a second, with corresponding pace,
moving his lonely round." Resting his chin upon his palm,
Witherspoon took a cool survey of the prospect, and did not
even withdraw himself into the hollow when the nearest sol-
dier, having gained his limit, wheeled to retrace his steps.
I could nail that fellow's best button now with a sly bul-
let, if 'twas any use, and he wouldn't know what hurt him,"
was the half-muttered thought of the scout as the sentinel
approached. The man came forward until he stood abreast
of our scout, who buried himself in the long grass as he ap-
proached ; then, again wheeling, he commenced his monotonous
return. It was now the moment for Witherspoon : he gath-
ered himself up instantly, waited in readiness until the senti-
nel had gone half of his distance, then, with a single bound
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