Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Mellichampe: A Legend of the Santee >> Chapter XLVIII: Remorse >> Page 403

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Page 403

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription REMORSE. . 403
its sides, but he heard no sounds from within. He drew, with
desperate hand, the pegs from the upper crevice, and fancied
that a slight breathing followed it or it might be the sough-
ing of the wind, suddenly penetrating the aperture. He called
aloud to the inmate; he shouted with his mouth pressed to
the opening; he implored, he cursed his victim : but he got
no answer.
What were his emotions as he pulled, with a giant's muscle,
the hard wedges from the.hollow of the tree below ? He had
slain his foe in battle : he had killed, without remorse, the man
who, personally, had never done him wrong. Why should he
suffer thus from the just punishment of a vindictive and a
sleepless enemy ? He felt, but he did not stop to analyze, this
subtilty. He tore away the chunks which had fastened the
opening, and thrust his hands into the hollow. The legs of
the half-breed had sunk down from the knobs upon which they
had rested while he was capable of exertion, and they were
now a foot deep in the water which filled the hollow. With
both hands, and the exercise of all his strength, Humphries
succeeded in pulling him out by them. The body was lim-
ber, and made no effort and opposed no resistance. Dragging
him through the water, which he could not avoid, the partisan
bore him to the bank, upon which he laid him.
As yet he showed no signs of life ; and the labor which his
enemy had taken seemed to have been taken in vain ; but the
fresh air, and the immersion which he had unavoidably under-
gone in passing through the water, seemed to revive him so
Humphries thought, as, bending over him, he watched his
ghastly features in the moonlight. He tore open the jacket
and shirt from his bosom, and felt a slight pulsation at his
heart. Never was joy more perfect than, at this moment, in
the bosom of the partisan. He laughed with the first convic-
tion that his enemy still lived. He laughed first, ldudly and
wildly, and then the tears, an unrestrainable current; flowed
freely from his eyes. The half-breed continued to revive ;
and Humphries prayed by his side, as fervently as if praying
in the last moment of his existence, for the mercy of an
offended God.