Page:The Partisan (revised).djvu/255

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
245
SWAMP REFUGE.

orders, therefore, for his continued detention, he proceeded to put things in readiness for the movement of the squad, with nightfall, to their old and better shelter on the little island in the Cypress Swamp. This done, Singleton commanded his horse in readiness, and bidding the boy Lance Frampton in attendance, despatched him to prepare his own. To Humphries he now gave charge of the troop—repeated his orders to move with the dusk to their old quarters—and having informed the lieutenant of the true object of his own adventure, he set forth, only attended by the boy Frampton, taking an upper road leading towards the Santee.

That object may as well be told now as ever. Singleton had been for some time awaiting intelligence of Marion's movement to Nelson's ferry. A courier had been looked for daily, since he had left his leader; and as, in these suspicious times, every precaution in the conveyance and receipt of intelligence was necessary, it followed that many difficulties lay in the way of its transmission. Men met on the highways, to fear, to avoid, and frequently to fight with one another. They assumed contrary characters in the presence of the stranger, and the play at cross-purposes, even among friends, was the natural consequence of a misunderstood position.

There were signs and phrases agreed upon between Marion and his trusted men, mysterious or unmeaning to all besides, which Singleton was not permitted to impart to others. This necessity prompted him forth, if possible, to meet with the expected courier, bearing him his orders. He attached the younger Frampton to his person. He chose him as too young for treason, and, indeed, he wanted no better companion to accompany him on his ramble. Setting forth by noonday, he kept boldly along the common Ashley river or Dorchester road, as, winding in accordance with the course of the stream it carried him above and completely around the spot chosen for his camp in the Cypress.

The two saw but little, for some time, to attract them in this ramble. They traversed the defile of thick oaks, which form so large a part of the growth of that region; then fell into a monotonous pine-land track, through which they pushed their way. Cheerless quite, bald of home and habitation, they saw nothing throughout the melancholy waste more imposing than the plodding