Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Joscelyn: A Tale of the Revolution >> Chapter XXI: Grace's Billet >> Page 202

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Novel (Romance) | The Reprint Company | 1975, 1976
Transcription 202JOSCELYN
And Tommy was off, and never did he reach school half so rapidly
as he did that day, for he was thinking of angels all the way, and he
seemed to have borrowed their wings. And when he reached the
school-house, he found the master just arriving on horseback; and
the urchin took the horse (though not one of the troop) and hitched
him to a swinging limb, but, ere he did so, and when about to lead
the horse away with one hand, having dropped his wallet from the
other, he held up the little mysterious billet, and shook it full before
the face of the master.
Stephen Joscelyn took the note, opened and read. He called the
boy back.
"Who gave you this, Tommy?"
"Miss Grace told me not to tell you, sir."
"Well very well, Tommy. Tell Miss Grace that you did not tell
me; for you did not tell me, you know."
"To be sure, sir, I didn't."
"That's right, Tommy! Always do as Miss Grace as the young
ladies tell you."
And the boy went off with the horse perfectly satisfied with him-
self; and the master entered the school, and took the chair of au-
thority, and, while the children came tumbling in, one by one, or in
groups, Stephen Joscelyn read and reread the mysterious little billet,
which he kept turning over and over in his hand, apparently much
puzzled by its contents. And yet these were sufficiently brief, suffi-
ciently simple, as we read over his shoulder, and not seemingly de-
signed for a puzzle. The note consisted of a single sentence only.
It ran thus, and in a disguised hand:
"Be on your guard, Stephen."
"Poor Grace the good girl but what can she mean? What can
be the matter? She has disguised the hand, but the name, Stephen,
tells it all."
He mused for a while; but, as if unable to make anything of it,
he laid the paper aside, looked at his round, silver watch, brought his
little mallet down with a sharp stroke upon the table which hushed
in a moment all the bedlam clatter of the boys books were imme-
diately opened, and the business of the school at once begun.
By this time all the family at Mrs. Kirkland's were astir. Walter
was the last to leave his chamber. He made his appearance in the