Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Joscelyn: A Tale of the Revolution >> Chapter XIX: The Black Dog >> Page 183

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Page 183

Novel (Romance) | The Reprint Company | 1975, 1976
Transcription JOSCELYNI83
of the prattle of Angelica which so keenly touched upon his self-
esteem. It was easy to conceive that Stephen Joscelyn, having dis-
covered Angelica's preference for himself, had sought to lessen him
in her regards, the better to make a progress of his own. But, in
doing so, Stephen had made a mistake had put himself hors des
regles, and was liable, in the courts of chivalry, in an action on the
case.
Walter, following this miserable conjecture, went over the details
of the case, thus grounded in his merest fancies, with all the eager-
ness of passion. He drew up, in his mind, seriatim, all the counts in
the declaration. He elaborated them, in imagination, till each became
a damnable crime; until the case fully summed up Stephen Josce-
lyn stood before him, in the dock, one of the most atrocious criminals
that ever disgraced humanity as one who, passing between his
brother's best friend, and that friend's best hope, had sought to sup-
plant him in his best affections; and, failing in that attempt, had
basely sought to vilify and slander him in the estimation of the
woman whom he loved!
It was a very shocking case it will always be a very shocking case,
where a morbid vanity and a headstrong passion are the parties to
prepare the indictment.
The brain of Walter Dunbar was intensely excited while he re-
volved all the counts in this his declaration against Stephen Joscelyn.
He, Stephen, was the embodied representative of all who had done
him wrong; of the orator whose competition had been fatal to him;
of the people whose admiration he assumed himself to have lost; of
the father whose scorn had spurned him; of the woman whose affec-
tions were only not lost to him, by these arts of the offender, because
of her unquestionable affection and fidelity.
Beautiful case very beautiful and in its preparation Walter grew
savagely thoughtful of the extent of the damages.
It is true that, more than once, in reciting his wrongs to himself,
the image of the brother of the defendant, Martin Joscelyn, would
thrust itself between them, and endeavor to reconcile the parties.
His devotion to Walter would plead to him, and there would be a
momentary misgiving, whether he was doing right; and the question
would occur, again and again, whether he had not better let the
action drop? But the demon was too strong for the angel, and, before