Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Mellichampe: A Legend of the Santee >> Chapter XLVI: The Signal >> Page 386

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Page 386

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription 386 MELLICHAMPE.
leaped down into the avenue, and sought his way across. His tread was light, wonderfully light, for a man so heavy ; but it did not escape the quick ear of the watchful Briton. He. turned instantly, presented his piece, and challenged. But the coast was clear ; there was nothing to be seen ; the scout had already crossed the road, and was sheltered in the thick copse on the other bank of the avenue. The leaves and brush were shaken, and the only response made to the challenge of the sentry was the hooting of a melancholy owl, and a noise like the shaking of wings among the branches.
" What's the matter ?" cried the companion sentinel, approaching the challenger, who had remained stationary in the brief interval occupied by this event. What have you seen ?"
Nothing � it's only an owl. These woods are full of them ; the d�d things keep one starting on all sides as if the `swamp-fox' himself was scrambling over the ditch."
The scout lay close, and heard the question and response. He chuckled to himself with no little self-complaisance as Ile listened.
By gimini !" he half-muttered aloud, " what a poor skunk of a fellow I'd be, now, if my edieation was no better than that sentry's. Not to know a man's hollow from a blind bird's !"
Waiting a few moments until the guardians of the night had resumed their walk, he at length boldly left the copse, and proceeded without hesitation, though cautiously, still nearer to the house which held the prisoner.
Meanwhile, full of anxiety, the lovers lingered together. This was the night on which Scipio was despatched in search of Witherspoon, and all their thoughts were necessarily given to his successful management of the enterprise. Well might they be anxious; and how natural was the deep and breathless silence which, for protracted hours, overspread the apartment as if with a dense and heavier mantle than that of night. The arm of Mellichampe enfolded the waist of the maiden. She lay sadly, as was her wont, upon its supporting strength ; and her cheek, with all the confidence of true and unsophisticated affection, rested upon his bosom. She feared nothing�she