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| Home | Reading Room The New McGuffey Fourth Reader

The New McGuffey Fourth Reader
by William H. McGuffey, Compiler

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By William Gilmore Simms

The partisan had managed admirably, but he was now compelled to

fly. The advantage of the ground was no longer with him.

Tarleton, with his entire force, had now passed through the

avenue, and had appeared in the open court in front. The

necessity of rapid flight became apparent to Singleton, and the

wild, lively notes of his trumpet were accordingly heard stirring

the air at not more than rifle distance from the gathering troop

of Tarleton. Bitterly aroused by this seeming audacity,--an

audacity to which Tarleton, waging a war hitherto of continual

successes, had never been accustomed,--his ire grew into fury.

"What, men! shall these rebels carry it so?" he cried

aloud.--"Advance, Captain Barsfield! Advance to the right of the

fence with twenty men, and stop not to mark your steps. Advance,

sir, and charge forward. You should know the ground by this time.

Away!--Captain Kearney, to you wood! Sweep it, sir, with your

sabers; and meet in the rear of the garden."

The officers thus commanded moved to the execution of their

charges with sufficient celerity. The commands and movements of

Major Singleton were much more cool, and not less prompt. He

hurried along by his scattered men as they lay here and there

covered by this or that bush or tree: "Carry off no bullets that

you can spare them, men. Fire as soon as they reach the garden;

and when your pieces are clear, take down the hill and mount."

Three minutes did not elapse before the rifles had each poured

forth its treasured death; and without pausing to behold the

effects of their discharge, each partisan, duly obedient, was on

his way, leaping off from cover to cover through the thick woods

to the hollow where their horses had been fastened.

The furious Tarleton meanwhile led the way through the garden,

the palings of which were torn away to give his cavalry free

passage. With a soldier's rage, he hurried forward the pursuit,

in a line tolerably direct, after the flying partisans. But

Singleton was too good a soldier, and too familiar with the

ground, to keep his men in mass in a wild flight through woods

becoming denser at every step.

When they had reached a knoll at some little distance beyond the

place where his horses had been fastened, he addressed his troop

as follows: "We must break here, my men. Each man will take his

own path, and we will all scatter as far apart as possible. Make

your way, all of you, for the swamp, however, where in a couple

of hours you may all be safe.--Lance Frampton, you will ride with me."

Each trooper knew the country, and, accustomed to individual

enterprise and the duties of the scout, there was no hardship to

the men of Marion in such a separation. On all hands they glided

off, and at a far freer pace than when they rode together in a

body. A thousand tracks they found in the woods about them, in

pursuing which there was now no obstruction, no jostling of

brother-horsemen pressing upon the same route. Singleton and his

youthful companion darted away at an easy pace into the woods, in

which they had scarcely shrouded themselves before they heard the

rushing and fierce cries of Tarleton's dragoons.

"Do you remember, Lance," said Singleton to the boy,--"do you

remember the chase we had from the Oaks when Proctor pursued us?"

"Yes, sir; and a narrow chance it was when your horse tumbled. I

thought they would have caught and killed you then, sir; but I

didn't know anything of fighting in the woods then."

"Keep cool, and there's little danger anywhere," responded

Singleton. "Men in a hurry are always in danger. To be safe, be

steady. But hark! do you not hear them now? Some of them have got

upon our track."

"I do hear a noise, sir: there was a dry bush that cracked then."

"And a voice,--that was a shout. Let us stop for a moment and

reload. A shot may be wanted."

Coolly dismounting, Singleton proceeded to charge his rifle,

which had been slung across his shoulder. His companion did the

same. While loading, the former felt a slight pain and stiffness

in his left arm: "I am hurt, Lance, I do believe. Look here at my


"There's blood, sir; and the coat's cut with a bullet. The

bullet's in your arm, sir."

"No, not now. It has been there, I believe, though the wound is

slight. There! now mount; we have no time to see to it now."

"That's true, sir, for I hear the horses. And look now, major!

There's two of the dragoons coming through the bush, and straight

toward us."

"Two only?" said Singleton, again unslinging his rifle. The boy

readily understood the movement, and proceeded to do likewise;

but he was too late. The shot of Singleton was immediate, and the

foremost trooper fell forward from his horse. His companion fled.

"Don't 'light, Lance: keep on. There's only one now, and he won't

trouble us. Away, sir!" It was time to speed. The report of the

shot and the fall of the dragoon gave a direction to the whole

force of the pursuers, whose shouts and cries might now be heard

ringing in all directions through the forest behind them.

"They can't reach us, Lance," said Singleton, as they hastened

forward. "We shall round that bay in a few seconds, and they will

be sure to boggle into it. On, boy, and waste no eyesight in

looking behind you. Push on; the bay is before us."

Thus speaking, guiding and encouraging the boy, the fearless

partisan kept on. In a few minutes they had rounded the thick

bay, and were deeply sheltered in a dense wood well known at that

period by a romantic title, which doubtless had its story. "My

Lady's Fancy. We are safe now, Lance, and a little rest will do

no harm."

The partisan, as he spoke, drew up his horse, threw himself from

his back, fastened him to a hanging branch, and, passing down to

a hollow where a little brooklet ran trickling along with a

gentle murmur, drank deeply of its sweet and quiet waters, which

he scooped up with a calabash that hung on a bough above.

Then, throwing himself down under the shadow of the tree, he lay

as quietly as if there had been no danger tracking his footsteps,

and no deadly enemy still prowling in the neighborhood and

hungering for his blood.

--From "Mellichampe."


Partisan, any one of a body of light troops, designed to carry on a desultory warfare.

Audacity, daring spirit.

Knoll, a little round hill.

Shrouded, hidden.

Calabash, a dry gourd scooped out.


Marion's Men. During the Revolution, General Francis

Marion was in command of a body of partisan soldiers known by the

above title. They were for the most part poorly clad and

equipped, but their bravery, self-denial, and patriotism

enabled them to do good service in the cause of freedom.

Their deeds have been commemorated in Bryant's well-known

poem, the first stanza of which is as follows:--

"Our band is few, but true and tried,

Our leader frank and bold;

The British soldier trembles

When Marion's name is told."

Tarleton. Colonel Tarleton was in command of a portion of the

British forces in South Carolina during the Revolution. He was an

able, brave, but merciless soldier.



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