Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Mellichampe: A Legend of the Santee >> Chapter XLVII: Cow-Chasing >> Page 390

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Page 390

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription 390 MELLICHAMPE.
geous copse on one side of the avenue � to watch the moment
when the sentinel's back should be turned then, dropping
down silently into the ditch, to crawl into the drain, the mouth
of which was immediately alongside of it, was the scheme of
Scipio.
In pursuance of this scheme, he passed on with all the
stealthy adroitness of the wildcat� now hurrying, as he found
himself too much without the cover of the trees now crawl-
ing forward, on hands and knees, as the clambering vines
around him set a firm barrier against undue uprightness
and now lying or standing, motionless, as any warning or oc-
casional sounds reached his ears, from either the camp which
he had left, or the woods to which he was speeding. The
exceeding brightness of the moonlight rendered increased pre-
cautions necessary, and gave bitter occasion of complaint to
the negro, to whom, like all of his color, the darkness of the
night was a familiar thing, and opposed no sort of obstruction
to his nocturnal wanderings when the plantations otherwise
were all fast asleep, He penetrated the copse, and, thrusting
his sable visage through the shrubbery, looked from side to
side upon the two sentinels who paced that portion of the
avenue in sight. He duly noted their distances and position,
and, receding a pace, threw himself flat upon the bank and
crawled downward into the ditch. The mouth of the drain
lay a little above him, conveniently open and large ; and there
could have been no sort of difficulty, when he once reached
that point, of making his way through it into the opposite
cover.
But it so happened that Scipio, in his progress, gave more
of his regards to the sentinel, and less to the path immediately
before him, than was either prudent or proper. He did not
perceive a slender and decayed pine-limb which lay partially
over the route he was pursuing. His hand rested heavily upon
it in his progress, and it gave way beneath the pressure, with
a crack which might have reached the ears of a sentinel at
a much greater distance. With the sound, he turned suddenly
in the direction of the negro. The poor fellow had his work
to begin anew. He had plunged, with the yielding branch,
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