The Yemassee

By William Gilmore Simms; Alexander Cowie | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER XLVI

"A sudden trial, and the danger comes
Noiseless and nameless."

LET us go back once more to the Block House, and look into the condition of its defenders. We remember the breaking of the ladder, the only one in the possession of the garrison, which led to the upper story of the building. This accident left them in an ugly predicament, since some time must necessarily be taken up in its repair, and, in the meanwhile, the forces of the garrison were divided in the different apartments above and below. In the section devoted to the women and children, and somewhat endangered, as we have seen, from the exposed window and the fallen tree, they were its exclusive occupants. The opposite chamber held a few of the more sturdy and common sense defenders, while in the great hall below, a miscellaneous group of fifteen or twenty the inferior spirits were assembled. Two or three of these were busied in patching up the broken ladder, which was to renew the communication between the several parties, thus, of necessity, thrown asunder.

The watchers of the fortress, from their several loop-holes, looked forth, east and west, yet saw no enemy. All was soft in the picture, all was silent in the deep repose of the forest. The night was clear and lovely, and the vague and dim beauty with which, in the imperfect moonlight, the foliage of the woods spread away in distant shadows, or clung and clustered together as in groups, shrinking for concealment from her glances, touched the spirits even of those rude foresters. With them the poetry of the natural world is a matter of feeling with the refined, it is an instrument of art. Hence it is, indeed, that the poetry of the early ages speaks in the simplest language, while that of civilization, becoming only the agent for artificial enjoyment, is ornate in its dress, and complex in its form and structure.

The night wore on, still calm and serene in all its aspects about the Block House. Far away in the distance, like glimpses of a spirit, little sweeps of the river, in its crooked windings, flashed

-345-

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