Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Joscelyn: A Tale of the Revolution >> Chapter XXIII: Gulliver in Lilliput >> Page 214

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Novel (Romance) | The Reprint Company | 1975, 1976
Transcription 214JOSCELYN
"Scoundrel ! do not dare to say it! Do not defame one who is of
angel purity, by your cowardly denial of the truth. Say but that word
again, and I will lay my horsewhip over your shoulders ! "
Stephen Joscelyn now deliberately took up the heavy, black ma-
hogany rule which lay upon his desk, and advanced with his hobbling
pace, over from behind the little barriers of desk and table which
stood between himself and his assailant.
Up to this moment, a dead silence had prevailed among the boys
of the school. They had been taken aback with surprise, and con-
founded by the unanticipated scene. They had been the first to dis-
cern the angry, the almost demoniac expression in Walter's face, and
had awaited events for its explanation. But, when the affair, by the
threat of the latter, appeared to be reaching its crisis when they
saw the uplifted whip in his hands, and beheld the master, with his
awkward, scrambling, sidelong movement, advancing, as it were, to
the encounter, there was an audible murmur among the bigger boys,
several of whom now arose and stood up in their places. Sturdy
fellows they were, too, and some few of them, as we have heard,
had been admitted among Stephen's troopers. The passions of Walter
Dunbar had suffered him to see none of these movements, or even
to hear their murmurs; nor, perhaps, was Stephen Joscelyn more
observant, under the excitement of the moment.
When, by the last speech of Walter, he was forced to believe that
he referred to Angelica Kirkland, as his informant, the tears nearly
forced themselves into his eyes; but, at such a moment, and in the
face of such an assailant, he must show no sign of weakness ! He
quietly, but resolutely advanced, till he stood confronting Dunbar,
with only a few steps between them.
"Mr. Dunbar," he said, very quietly, "I gather from what you
have said that there is a lady in the case. I shall be as scrupulous as
yourself in forbearing even to conjecture who she is. I prefer to
assume that you assume the responsibility of the whole affair, of your
own words and actions, and do not wish that either of us should
involve anybody in our controversy."
"Precisely so, sir; I am responsible for all I say, and for everything
I do."