Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Joscelyn: A Tale of the Revolution >> Chapter XV: Major Alison—The Orchard Scene >> Page 153

image of pageExplore Inside

Page 153

Novel (Romance) | The Reprint Company | 1975, 1976
Transcription JOSCELYN153
"A good notion that! The thing can be very easily managed, even
with one or two of us. Now, Flora, do you go back to your tree, and
see that nobody catches you again. As for you, Annie, I will go with
you through the garden and see you safe; so take your farewells at
once. And you, Martin, while I am gone, move rapidly around the
tree, as soon as you hear my signal, then show yourself as moving
down to the thicket where I found you. You must be sure and make
your way round by the apple tree but once only, then disappear
immediately after. Another signal will announce my return, and,
when I reach you, after following your route, we shall be ready,
both of us, to repeat the march."
Very soon after this, Alison pricked up his ears, as he heard the
former signals repeated, seemingly from the woods beyond, and
answered deliberately from the orchard. After a while, he discovered
the figure of a man passing quickly across an open space, at the en-
trance of the orchard, and disappearing immediately. Another, and
soon another followed, moving with more or less rapidity. Successive
signals, pitched upon different key-notes, reached his senses at certain
intervals, and, at length, all was silent.
Next, and not long after, he discovered the figure of a woman
emerge from the apple tree under which he had grappled with the
maid-servant, and slowly approach the dwelling. She disappeared in
the shadow of the piazza.
It was fully an hour after this before he saw any other object, and
then came, slowly walking, the figure of a man, whom he took to be
Walter Dunbar, who crossed the area as Flora had. done. A few
moments after, he heard the closing bolts of the door lock shot home,
without any precautions taken for deadening the sound.
He was in a fever of anxiety.
"What can it be? What can it mean?" he demanded of himself.
"There must have been twenty-five of them, or more! Can it be that
this youngster is getting up a troop? I heard nothing of this and
without his father's knowledge or confidence? If so, it must belong
to the rebel party. And what daring to have it gather here, under
his father's very nose! I must work it out ! Must get at the secret !
If money can buy a negro, I shall get it out of this servant wench ! "