Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Joscelyn: A Tale of the Revolution >> Chapter XVII: April Contrasts—Smiles and Tears >> Page 169

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Page 169

Novel (Romance) | The Reprint Company | 1975, 1976
Transcription JOSCELYN169
for the satisfaction of a juvenile curiosity. It is not difficult to under-
stand, therefore, why it is that the affections of the grave and wise
are so frequently won by the simple and unintelligent. The very
play and caprice of the beautiful child is a charm in itself, as it argues
for confidence in the sterner nature before whom it may wanton, and
remain unbidden and unchecked. If the child-talk of Angelica, beau-
tiful idiot as she was, was a pleasure to the ears of Walter Dunbar,
it was because of the tacit avowal which it made of equal confidence
and dependence. He might smile sometimes at its simplicity, even
when that became silliness, but it was the simplicity or silliness of a
heart which, like a shallow fountain, prattles sweetly of its innocence,
without requiring that you should sound its depths. The shallowness
of the fountain does not lessen the charm of its song, which delivers
itself freely, keeping none of its secrets hidden from your eyes or
ears. In like manner were the sterner nature, and deeper thought,
and more earnest passions of Stephen Joscelyn beguiled by the same
transparent prattler, even though it sometimes vexed his intellect,
that it should find itself so completely enthralled by so shallow a
charmer.
But the spoiled beauty was not simply satisfied to prattle and to
charm by the pretty petty play of the child, as expressive in its play
as it is lovely in its grace of form and feature. Like most spoiled
children, her caprice was too apt to show itself mischievously. It was
lacking in the essentials of prudence, and its vanity vexed, or its will
opposed, it could exhibit some qualities of evil, which were very easily
aroused, showing the reptile, however startlingly beautiful. The very
thoughtlessness of a childish nature, unless restrained by judicious
training, long continued, will finally egg it on to a mischievous rest-
lessness of mood, in which, having no regard to consequences, it will
fire the powder magazine, without ever dreaming of the explosion
which is to follow, and once aroused with this mischievous passion of
unrest, it will listen to no counsel, and only awake to the truth, to
wail over the catastrophe, but not to grow wiser from it.
We are soon to have an instance of this wanton, if not wicked, lev-
ity of mood, in the case of the capricious beauty, whose empty prattle
was to prove itself not less full of danger than emptiness.
It happened that the next day was the one chosen by Stephen
Joscelyn to send for his chamber furniture. He had transferred him-