Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Joscelyn: A Tale of the Revolution >> Chapter III: Stephen Joscelyn >> Page 30

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Novel (Romance) | The Reprint Company | 1975, 1976
Transcription 30JOSCELYN
to your eyes because so completely in antagonism with the other-
wise perfect symmetry and grand development of the physical man.
From his earliest childhood he had been a cripple. Born of
vigorous parents, he gave, for a time, every promise of a healthy
infancy; but, during this tender period, an insidious disease�con-
sidered by the physicians to be scrofulous the result of some
hereditary taint, had shown itself; and when he was about two
years of age, his mother despaired of her child's ever being able
to stand alone. The left leg was drawn up, shrivelled, and short-
ened, the knees and toes inverted; whilst its fellow kept pace
uniformly with the general development of the body, which, as
we have shown, was unusually vigorous and athletic. At seven,
when his companions were gambolling afield, trapping partridges,
smoking rabbits out of their hollows, hunting birds, and robbing
nests, his only exercise was taken in a little go-cart, rolling about
the level inclosure, the subject of pity to all who saw him, and of
perpetual pain and anxiety to his parents.
But the boy had a soul and spirit which loathed the inaction
to which his misfortune seemed to doom him. While his earlier
durance continued, and when but six or seven years of age, he
became a great reader, especially of the Bible; the Old Testament,
with its wild mysteries, its strange rites, its ghostly prophets and
savage warriors, appealing to his imagination, so as to constitute a
something compensative for the physical privations which he was
perforce compelled to endure. He was also fortunate in a Plutarch.
He gained, in some degree, through these and other books, at the
expense of his comrades, for what he may have lost in play. For
awhile he literally devoured books, and a wonderful memory te-
naciously retained what he thus acquired. But books did not satisfy
his temperament, though they gave grateful employment to his
mind. He very soon began to evince strange contradiction �a
passion for f horses;, ' a preference which his father judiciously fos-
tered; and before the boy was quite twelve years of age, he could
ride with the boldest of his associates, vaulting, or rather scrambling
into the saddle, without any assistance. Once seated, he looked the
Centaur, defying the most vicious colt to cast him from his seat.
In that attitude, no one would suspect his infirmity. As a horse-
man, he gave no evidence of weakness, want of limb, or deficiency