Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Joscelyn: A Tale of the Revolution >> Chapter VII: The Barbacue >> Page 69

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Page 69

Novel (Romance) | The Reprint Company | 1975, 1976
Transcription JOSCELYN69
Time passes. The horn suddenly sounds for dinner. The tables
are quickly filled, and anon the orator of the day re-appears, is re-
ceived with cheers, and seats himself on the right of the chairman.
The feast proceeds. After a while, the toast-drinking begins;
Drayton is toasted, and, while speaking, the company is startled by
the sudden presence of Tom Browne, who appeared, ghastly of as-
pect, bruised, if not bleeding, and grinning savagely upon the circle.
He forced his way to the table, and by dint of deliberate and
determined pressure between those already seated, secured a seat for
himself, into which he struggled with some difficulty. It was appar-
ent that he had been drinking. Between his partial inebriation, his
mortified self-esteem, his naturally unruly and savage temper and the
sentiment--call it loyalty or what you will which he held to be at
stake in the presence of Drayton and the proceedings of the day, he
was just in the mood for mischief, and, with the natural restlessness
of a diseased spirit, vexed with himself and everybody else, he threw
himself in the way of provocation, evidently resolved to seek, if not
to give it. But he was prepared equally for both, and impatiently
waited for the occasion.
Seizing upon a bottle of rum which stood near him on the table,
he poured out half a goblet, and swallowed the terrible potation,
without water, at a single gulph; then, with a scowling smile, of
mixed scorn and defiance, he glared around upon the company with
the air of one who would have said: "I am ready for any one among
you!"
There was a strong feeling of indignation aroused by his presence
and his bearing; but our forest population is habitually good-hu-
mored and indulgent. They are irritable, but not malignant, easily
goaded to passion, but soon quieted; and, after a first gush or out-
burst of feeling, easily persuaded to forget and forgive, and, remem-
bering the severe handling which the trespasser had already that day
been compelled to endure, allowance was made for his conduct, and
the larger portion of the company were reluctant that the circle
should be thrown into disorder, especially in the presence of their
distinguished guest. There were some few, however, who needed
but a look or word from some superior to thrust out the offender,
neck and heels aye, and to subject him to worse punishment, but
their indignation, lacking the needed suggestion, expended itself in