Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Joscelyn: A Tale of the Revolution >> Chapter XIII: How the Strife Began >> Page 134

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Novel (Romance) | The Reprint Company | 1975, 1976
Transcription 134JOSCELYN
Robinson to keep back Browne, while others were engaged in like
efforts to restrain the rage of Kirkland.
Just then all parties were brought to a sudden pause in the action,
by a sudden cry ´┐Ża sort of stifled shriek from Fletchall, the chief
of the loyalist party, who had been hitherto sitting quietly, if not
indifferently, in the back-ground, a willing witness to the progress of
that mischief which he did not seem willing to oppose. He did not
care to participate in the proceedings, which he yet did not choose to
arrest. For this he was too cowardly. But he was not unwilling that
other parties should incur the hazards of opening the game, the cards
of which he was yet in hopes to play. He had looked on, apparently
with the greatest indifference, as the strife increased in warmth. Pick-
ing his teeth with his knife, he sometimes grinned, scowled or
chuckled, during the progress of the wild discussion, especially while
the infuriate assailants were badgering the orator by whom his vanity
had been offended.
But, as the strife warmed into violence, he silently rose, and was
making his way out of the crowd, when he felt himself suddenly
seized by the throat, and found himself in the grasp of a powerful
Irishman, one Orrin O'Brien, who had followed Drayton's party to
the ground. O'Brien, thrusting his fingers between the throat of
Fletchall and his neckcloth, gave it a single twist, which forced from
him the choking cry which had brought upon the parties the atten-
tion of the crowd. All eyes were quickly turned in this direction, to
behold Fletchall struggling vainly in the grasp of the giant, quite
purple in the face, while his captor, flourishing a huge knife before
his eyes, cried out, at the top of his voice:
"If that's to be the game, boys, then every man to his bird!"
The choking scream of Fletchall his evident danger the reso-
lute front put on by Drayton's friends and followers, and the large
proportion of them present had the proper effect with the loyalist
leaders, who now addressed themselves more earnestly than ever to
the task of taking off Browne and Kirkland.
"Madman!" said Robinson to Kirkland, "do you not see that they
are three to one against us?"
"And whose fault is that? But for the stupid policy of Fletchall,
in keeping the men away from the gathering, we should have had
men enough might have taken all these fellows at one cast of the