Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Joscelyn: A Tale of the Revolution >> Chapter IX: Outbreak >> Page 87

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Page 87

Novel (Romance) | The Reprint Company | 1975, 1976
Transcription JOSCELYN87
"You must have been in a brown study, Stephen, for I called you
three times before I got an answer."
"Rather a black than a brown study, my dear Mrs. Kirkland," was
the reply. "I needed no supper, being busily engaged in chewing the
cud of bitter and vexing thought."
"I'm sorry to hear you say so, Stephen. But I don't wonder at it.
You read too much you study quite too hard for your health."
"Alas ! my misfortune is that I read too little. Could I yield my-
self to books, and study them more and men less, it would be the
better for my peace and happiness. Books never offend or pain me."
Thus speaking, and while he seated himself at the table, he mur-
mured to himself the melancholy speech of Hamlet: "Man delights
not me, nor woman neither!
The eyes of the elder sister watched him with a tender interest,
looking askant, as she poured out the tea. The younger looked else-
"And where did you dine to-day, Stephen? You must have come
off too soon for the barbacue," inquired the old lady.
"I do not think I dined at all," was the somewhat vacant reply.
"If I did so, I have forgotten where."
"Not dined to-day! Why, my dear son, what could you have been
thinking of?"
"I know not that I thought at all, Mrs. Kirkland. I have felt no
appetite either for food or thought."
"You are certainly the strangest person, Stephen "
"And, naturally enough," he replied, looking downwards. His
glance, the expression of his countenance, told all parties what was
uppermost in his mind. They had but too frequently before beheld
him in this mood, and fully comprehended what he meant. The
deep-toned utterance, full of feeling the one sudden glance of the
eye, full of significance sufficiently betrayed that feminine weakness
of his thought of which he was himself ashamed. A thousand times
had he said to himself:
"What a coward's thought it is! How unworthy of manhood!
Why a surgeon, in twenty minutes, with knife and saw, would re-
move the monstrosity! A bullet, in a single second, would relieve me
forever of its presence ! Why should a man live on his legs as if there
were no brain to support him in his own and the eyes of other men?"