Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Joscelyn: A Tale of the Revolution >> Chapter XXX: Highway Adventures >> Page 261

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Page 261

Novel (Romance) | The Reprint Company | 1975, 1976
Transcription JOSCELYN261
woods quickly, and soon after was heard approaching under cover
towards the rivulet which Walter and the stranger had so lately left.
Supposing him to be on the track of the stranger, it occurred to
Walter that this route pursued, would probably bring the dog upon
himself. He put spurs to his horse accordingly, and cantered away
some two hundred yards forward. But a sort of fascination held him
bound to see what was to be the result of this chase. He dismounted
again, fastened the horse to a swinging limb, and, on foot, passed out
to the highway, taking a position on a little hill, which enabled him
to scan the road for a quarter of a mile back or more. Very soon his
curiosity was rewarded. The hound, nose to earth, passed again out
of the covert, and over the very spot which he had recently left. He
took directly for the opposite woods. In ten minutes after a party of
four men, on horseback, crossed the road also, and were soon covered
by the thickets on the opposite side. At intervals, the hound could be
heard, giving tongue, as on a hot trail. Then there followed a sudden
howl, as if from the same animal; but it was no longer the bay of
the beast, exulting in successful chase, but an expression of suffering
and pain. Only fifteen minutes more had elapsed after this when the
sharp spang of a rifle shot echoed throughout the woods.
All this seemed to argue strife and danger. The fates were at work
in some way. Walter remembered the warning of the stranger, but
he could not tear himself away from the spot. A fearful fascination
bound his feet, and he stood, fixed, rooted to the ground, his lips
parted in lively emotion, while his eye-balls were strained, in earnest
and intense stare, over the long stretch of open ground over which
he had traveled, and which his vision could command.
How long he thus watched, he knew not. It seemed but a few
moments. It was an hour; and at length his curiosity was rewarded,
and the fascination which had so spelled him was changed into a sort
of horror, as he beheld three men, on foot, suddenly reappear from
the forest. Four had ridden in on horseback; three only had re-
appeared on foot. These two facts rose prominently to his thought,
and, when he further saw that two of the men bore an inanimate
body between them when he saw the limpness of the lower limbs,
as they hung down on the one side, while what he assumed to be
the head of the corse hung equally limp, nerveless and muscleless
on the other, he felt that the fate of the stranger had realized the