Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Joscelyn: A Tale of the Revolution >> Chapter XIII: How the Strife Began >> Page 125

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Novel (Romance) | The Reprint Company | 1975, 1976
Transcription JOSCELYNI25
in any way for this they were quite unable to answer they re-
sorted to subterfuge in order to defeat the chance of success on the
part of the Commissioners. The captains in several instances forbore
to summon their men to appear, or told them that they might or
might not appear at their own pleasure; that the order was not im-
perative, and that their conduct in the matter was wholly optional
with themselves. The result was that, instead of an audience of
fifteen or eighteen hundred persons, there was but a scant three
hundred on the ground.
The leaders, however, having thus kept their men from the hear-
ing, contrived to be present in force themselves. It was, perhaps,
fortunate for Drayton and his associates that, of the three hundred
persons present, a large proportion were those who were not only
favorable to the revolutionary movement, but had already signed the
articles of association.
It was evident to Drayton and his party, as soon as they arrived on
the ground, that a very bad spirit was at work, not only to defeat
their objects, but, if possible, to precipitate some violent proceedings.
The loyalists appeared well armed, with sword and pistol; but the
Commissioners wore private arms themselves, and some of the friends
who accompanied them, suspicious of danger, were armed also in like
manner.
Drayton, in terms that might be construed into reproaches, drew
Fletchall's attention to the fact that his regiment was by no means
represented on the ground; that not a fifth of them was present, and
he somewhat imperatively demanded to know if they had been prop-
erly summoned. Cunningham replied for Fletchall, and said, very
coolly, that, for his part, he saw no good reason for the assemblage.
"As for ordering my company to assemble," said he, "that I could
not and would not do. I told them that the assemblage would be
purely voluntary; they might come or not, as they thought proper.
But, if they were satisfied with their present opinions, on public sub-
jects, there was no need that they should come to listen to the
addresses."
Several captains present said the same thing, adding: "The Colo-
nel, (Fletchall) left it to themselves to come or not as they pleased,
and told us it would not matter if the men staid away. They might
be sure that he would not be angry with them for doing so."