Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Joscelyn: A Tale of the Revolution >> Chapter XV: Major Alison—The Orchard Scene >> Page 149

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Page 149

Novel (Romance) | The Reprint Company | 1975, 1976
Transcription JOSCELYN149
the mouth or through the fingers. There was one way by which to
decide any doubt which he might have. In his arrangements with his
friends, if the signal, thrice sounded, failed to reach his ears, the
party making it was to fling a handful of sand against his window
shutters. For this he waited; but in vain. No sand was thrown.
Twice had the signal been given, when he heard the lower back
door of the house, which opened upon the southern piazza, cautiously
opened. He knew, accordingly, that this signal was not made for
him, since it was about to be answered by another party.
Who was that other party? That was a question deserving of in-
quiry, and, if possible, solution. In those times, when the whole
country was in a state of the liveliest agitation; when men and parties
were all engaged in secret operations, which demanded every precau-
tion, and when he, Alison, was in a situation so equivocal, and which
involved no little danger, he felt the necessity of probing this mys-
tery, even though it might not directly concern himself. His win-
dows, on the southern quarter of the house, overlooked a part of the
grounds, the orchard and the garden. He rose cautiously and stole
to the window. Very soon after, he discerned a female figure stealing
from the house, in the direction of the garden. It was a bright, star-
light night there was no moon; but the light was quite sufficient to
see objects in motion, especially where white garments were worn.
This was the case in the present instance. Alison soon decided that
this figure was that of a woman. In another moment she was hidden
from sight in the shrubbery of the orchard.
Scarcely had she disappeared when the figure of a man was seen
to follow her, also seemingly emerging from the house. He, too, in
a moment after, disappeared from sight.
Here was a mystery. It was now quite eleven o'clock. Who were
those persons? What could they be about? The family, like himself,
had appeared to retire fully two hours before. All had been silent
in the dwelling for more than an hour. What could be the meaning
of these proceedings? Could they concern him? It must be so! Such
was Alison's conclusion, as, hastily dressing himself, as well as he
could, in the darkness of his chamber, he muttered to himself:
"This youngster has disappointed his father. He is supposed to be
secretly inclined to the rebel party. Can it be that he aims at me
now, and has he brought his emissaries here? But how about the