Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Joscelyn: A Tale of the Revolution >> Chapter XV: Major Alison—The Orchard Scene >> Page 151

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Page 151

Novel (Romance) | The Reprint Company | 1975, 1976
Transcription JOSCELYNI51
The position of Alison was now rather an awkward one, and he felt
it; but he was not easily abashed, and he replied promptly enough :
"Is it Mr. Walter Dunbar? Ah! I see! I am satisfied, sir."
"And what has satisfied you, sir? what have been the doubts
which have brought you from your bed, sir?"
The subtle man knows that frankness, on certain occasions, is the
profoundest policy; and Alison having recovered himself from his
first surprise, his ready wit prompted the only reply which could have
answered, by way of excuse for his appearance in a scene to which he
had not been invited.
"Pardon me, Mr. Dunbar, for this unwitting interview, but, hav-
ing heard signals which I deemed to be meant for my own ears espe-
cially, I obeyed them. This will answer to you for my presence now.
You are probably not unaware of the fact that I am here, subject to
a summons, at any hour, on matters of equal importance to your
father and myself."
The apologetic statement was received in silence. Alison, however,
lingered still; his eyes straining in the direction of the orchard
thickets. For, by this time, his quick wit had conceived the strong
probability that some one, or both of the ladies, were still within the
orchard, from the presence of the servant girl, who had evidently
been placed as a watcher against surprise or intrusion from the
dwelling.
"Well, sir," said Walter, quietly, and with great coolness of man-
ner, "you perceive, sir, that you were mistaken, and that these signals
were meant for my ears, and not for yours. If you will oblige me by
letting me know what yours are, I shall take care, in future, that mine
shall not be confounded with them."
"I am not disposed to trespass, Mr. Dunbar. Good night!"
"Good night, sir."
And, cursing Walter in his heart, chafing bitterly at the necessity
of having to apologize, and through the medium of a falsehood,
Alison slowly made his way to his chamber.
But not to bed; not to sleep, at all events. Concealed behind one
of the latticed blinds, he established a watch upon the area between
the house and the orchard, resolved to see what parties should return
to the dwelling. Long and wearisome was his watch, and full of
bitterness his soul.