Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Joscelyn: A Tale of the Revolution >> Chapter XI: The Crisis >> Page 101

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Novel (Romance) | The Reprint Company | 1975, 1976
Transcription CHAPTER XI.
There is an old Greek epigram which tells us that every man, no
matter what his prowess, in due season, meets with his master. It is
one of the modes by which fate rebukes vanity and teaches her best
lessons of humility.
Our Baron, Dunbar, savage as he was, and truculent in his dealings
with his children, and with most others, was yet not an exception to
the rule. He found his master, if not his match, in his maiden sister-
Miss Janet Porter was a calm, quiet gentlewoman, of few words,
and very amiable manners and disposition. She knew her man, and,
without any demonstrative processes, asserted, when she pleased, a
counter authority to his, which usually served to check his excesses of
passion whenever these seemed to promise any mischievous conse-
quences. She never appeared to run counter to his will or wishes; on
the contrary, she very rarely permitted herself directly to oppose
him; and, perhaps, one secret of her authority lay in the infrequent
assertion of it. She had a happy art of assuming things on his behalf,
and, studiously avoiding discussion and even inquiry, she seldom gave
offence to his self-esteem. He submitted quietly to an authority which
he did not fear.
Possessed, as we may assume, not only of the tidings brought by
Martin Joscelyn, but of the particulars of his most unpleasant confer-
ence with her brother-in-law, her tact was beautifully displayed,
when, after Martin's departure, she quietly said to old Dunbar
"Do not trouble yourself about this business, my good brother. I'll
see to it. Women are better nurses than men, and I have sufficient
experience at a sick bed. Of course, it will be better nay, absolutely
necessary that some one of the family shall see to Walter. It must
not be devolved upon strangers."