Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Joscelyn: A Tale of the Revolution >> Chapter VIII: The Lynching Process >> Page 81

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Page 81

Novel (Romance) | The Reprint Company | 1975, 1976
Transcription JOSCELYN$I
Meanwhile, the troopers, with sundry of the "Peep o' Day Boys,"
had a long secret consultation, and agreed upon a plan of meeting
next morning by daylight.
"We've to find out where they left him. You, Fink, will see the
Captain. He'll be apt to talk out. We must try and be at the ferry
by sunrise."
And they went their several ways. They did not meet so early next
morning as they had arranged to do. They overslept themselves.
Food, fatigue, and liquor had done their work, and with full heads
and moist eyes, they found themselves, near midday, on the banks
of the river, and waiting for the ferryman.
It was twelve before they got over. They soon obtained clues on
the track of Browne. They traced him to the cottage of Floyd; but
the bird had flown. Unsuspicious of evil, Floyd gave what informa-
tion he could touching the route taken by the fugitive; but his infor-
mation was of little value, and was, indeed, but little needed, by a
race of men versed in all forest experiences, who could take the trail,
with equal facility, of bear, deer and turkey.
"He's crazy," said Floyd, when they were leaving him; "crazy as
a loon. Why what do you think he said to me when he was going?
Why, he axed God to forgive me my many sins, but never a word
did he say about his own ! Only think, my many sins, as ef he had
studied them all out in the arithmatic, and as ef he had no need to
ax for any marcy for himself. He's ondoubtedly as crazy as any man
that ever worked himself into a straight jacket."
The report of Floyd did not change in any respect the purposes of
the party in their pursuit of the fugitive. They were of that class of
persons who delight in the exercise of any unwonted power, and the
license of a time, which supersedes one authority, without establishing
another, was grateful to the self-esteem which, at periods of regular
order, is necessarily under that- restraint and rebuke in which vanity
finds nothing but humiliation. To such people the mere exercise of
power is a singular pleasure in itself, and this exercise is never more
gratefully felt than when it is engaged in inflicting pain. The two
most favorable pretexts for this exercise, in its most cruel forms, in
all ages, have been those of patriotism, or liberty and religion.
If Browne, at any moment, fancied himself safe, after being deliv-
ered by Hamilton and Joscelyn, and abandoned to himself at Floyd's,