Cool and collected, the Judge and his party, with lanterns and torches, accompanied by Coe, proceeded to the point where he parted with Julia, when it was discovered that what she had mistaken for her father’s fields, was a new opening in the woods, a considerable distance back from them. It was supposed that in endeavoring to find a passage through, or around the fallen timber, she had lost her way. Obviously, if she went back towards the old road, which was a broad opening through the woods, she would in no event cross it, and must be somewhere within the forest, east of it, and between the State road and the one which led from it to Coe’s. Through these woods, with flashing torch and gleaming lantern, with shout and loud halloa, the Judge and his now numerous party swept. As often as a dry tree or combustible matter was found, it was set on fire, there being no danger of burning over the forest, wet with the rains of Spring.
This forest covered hundreds of acres, traversed by streams and gullies, and rocky precipices, rendered difficult of passage by fallen trees, thickets, twining vines and briers.
The weather had been intensely hot for the season, ominously so, for the last two days, and on this day, the sun, after hanging like a fiery ball in the thickening heavens, disappeared at mid-afternoon, in the dark mass of vapor that gathered in the lower atmosphere. The night came on early, with a black darkness, and while there was no wind, there was a low, humming moan in the air, as if to warn of coming tempest, and the atmosphere was already chill with the approaching change.
THE BABES IN THE WOODS.
“There, Orville, here are our fields. I am almost home; now hurry back. It is late. I am obliged to you.” They had reached the opening, and the young man turned back, and the young girl tripped lightly and carelessly on; not to find the fence, as she expected, but an expanse of fallen timber, huge trunks, immense jams of tree-tops, and numerous piles of brush, under which the path was hidden. As she looked over and across, in the gloomy twilight, trees seemed to stand thick and high on the other side. Julia at once concluded that they had taken a wrong path; and she thought that she remembered to have seen one, which she and Barton passed, on the memorable night of their adventure; and without attempting to traverse the chopping, or go around it, she turned and hurried back to the old road. As she went, she thought of what had then happened, and how pleasant it would be if he were with her, and how bad it had all been since that time.
When she got back to the old road, it seemed very strange, and as if it had undergone some change; looking each way, for a moment, undecided, she finally walked rapidly to the north, until she came to a path leading to the left, which she entered, with a sense of relief, and hurried forward.