Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Joscelyn: A Tale of the Revolution >> Chapter VIII: The Lynching Process >> Page 76

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Novel (Romance) | The Reprint Company | 1975, 1976
Transcription 76JOSCELYN
"To see your Julius Caesar, your great Captain; he's a friend of
mine. You're all friends of mine and the devil."
"Drunk as ever," cried one.
"Crazy drunk," said a second. A third, somewhat cooler, and more
ferocious, cried out : "Pitch the scoundrel out."
"Clear out, you bloody scoundrel, before you lose your scalp," was
the exhortation of another.
Browne, seeing this speaker, approached the table upon which his
heels rested, and seized one of the mugs of liquor.
"What, rascal, would you steal my drink before my face? Put it
down, I say, before I brain you."
"Ah, Julius, is it you? Here's to our better acquaintance."
He lifted the vessel as he spoke, as if he would have drunk, but
suddenly, by an adroit turn of his wrist, flung the contents of the cup
into the trooper's face, and then hurled the empty vessel after it.
With a savage yell, the fellow sprang towards his assailant, but
was encountered with a blow of his fist which laid him prostrate on
the floor.
All was uproar in an instant. The troopers made a rush in a body
together upon the intruder, but were confronted suddenly with the
huge knife, nearly the model of the modern Bowie, which Browne
flourished fearfully in their faces as they came on. His left hand, at
the same moment, displayed the huge horseman's pistol which he
carried; and, both of these weapons, conspicuously presented to their
eyes, made them pause in the onslaught. Where the bullet or the
stroke seems meant for general distribution, no individual desires
especially to appropriate its dangers exclusively to himself, and, on
such occasions, prefers modestly to yield precedence to any of his
associates. True valiancy always carries with it a certain prudent
circumspection.
It was so with our troopers; not that they were dastardly. They
were simply taken by surprise; and, after the fatigues of the day,
stuffed with food, and perhaps a little overcharged with their bever-
ages, they did not exhibit that audacity, in such cases, which is, per-
haps, the only real secret of success. The very fact that Browne had
drunken but not eaten, was favorable to his own recklessness; and,
standing upright, and beholding their incertitude, he spoke to them