Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Joscelyn: A Tale of the Revolution >> Chapter XIII: How the Strife Began >> Page 133

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Page 133

Novel (Romance) | The Reprint Company | 1975, 1976
Transcription JOSCELYN133
aye, and, following Him, the sovereigns of the earth´┐Żchoose the
agents of their power, even as they please, and lift up the lowliest
instruments of earth for the overthrow and abasement of the most
lofty. Though you behold me clad in this loathly garb, bestowed by
the `Liberty Boys,' of whom yonder smooth-tongued orator is the
leader though I be wretched and mean and miserable, as you be-
hold me yet have I been chosen by the mightiest of all powers, to
do the work of justice upon the offender. With this commission of
the crown, I call upon you to gather around me to follow where I
lead and, when I bid you, to seize upon this insolent rebel, and
bind him, so that I may make of him a bloody sacrifice, even now,
and here, in the name of the Lord Jehovah, and of our lawful sover-
eign, George the Third, King of Great Britain. I command you, my
people follow me! Follow my commission! It bears his stamp and
seal, and carries the signature of Lord Wm. Campbell, Governor of
the Province of South Carolina."
And, shaking aloft the commission with one hand, he brandished
his knife with the other, and made a desperate bound at the little
circle, which had now formed a ring about the orator.
For a moment, all was confusion and uproar. The scene had
reached its crisis.
Drayton stood calmly erect, with his hand upon his small sword,
which still remained undrawn. But the pistols of his friends were in
each several grasp, and the followers, who were trustworthy, now
pressed forward, with compressed lips and dilating nostrils, preparing
for the melee which now seemed scarcely possible to avert.
Fletchall sate upon a fallen tree, seemingly unconcerned. Kirkland
followed, as if to second all the movements of Browne. Their mur-
derous intentions glared out in the eyes of both these savage men,
different in expression and degree, but both indicating the fellest
purpose; and the sword of Kirkland, in an instant, was actually
threatening the breast of Drayton over the shoulders of one of his
friends, who stood, unconscious of it, pistol in hand, with his eye fixed
only on Browne.
A single stroke at that moment the shot of a pistol, or the thrust
of a sword, must have precipitated the murderous struggle which
now seemed inevitable, in spite of all the efforts of Cunningham and