Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Joscelyn: A Tale of the Revolution >> Chapter XXIX: Fetes and Fates >> Page 254

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Page 254

Novel (Romance) | The Reprint Company | 1975, 1976
Transcription 254JOSCELYN
should indulge his humiliating reflections without the consciousness
of a stranger's eye watching his emotions. We need not say how
bitter were all these reflections how deep was his sense of humili-
ation, and how little there was in his experience 'of the last six months
upon which memory could look back with any degree of satisfaction.
It was in the midst of these gloomy meditations that he was sud-
denly aroused from them, by a troublesome notion that he had some-
how lost his way. This was no difficult matter in an unknown coun-
try, so little traveled, with roads almost undistinguishable, and which
frequently disappeared in a mere blind path. He had been conscious,
some hours before, that several diverging paths had opened before
him; but, as he was incapable himself of deciding on either, he had
left the decision to his horse, who knew just as little of the country
as himself.
The path he now followed led him to a spring and branch of clear,
cool water, buried deeply in a dark, thick forest of oak and hickory,
and as it was noon, he threw himself from his horse, left the animal
to graze about among the long, thick grasses which grew along the
margin of the water course, and, taking from his saddle-bags his
wallet of smoked venison and biscuit, he proceeded to make his simple
noonday repast. This he did in silence, in a continued muse of melan-
choly thought, which perpetually carried him back to the long chap-
ters, immediately preceding, in his life, which were all so teeming
full of humiliation. This last mishap, that of losing his way, however
seemingly insignificant in comparison with all that had gone before,
of defeat and misfortune, yet sufficed to bring up the whole tissue of
events in full array before his imagination, and, in the bitterness of
his mood, he gave vent to his anguish in outspoken soliloquy.
"It is a fate ! " he said; "it is a fate! I am surely under a doom;
else why should this record be one of unvarying defeat, disappoint-
ment, humiliation and overthrow? Do what I will, work out the
problem as I may, think with whatever caution, deliberation, under
whatever guidance of law, authority, the wisdom of the past, the
experience of the present all the same! In my case, the authority
fails, the precedent is worthless the argument is gainsayed by the
experience the experience, otherwise universal, is dashed in my case,
by the one exception! The very stars fight against me, and where,
with the same cause, the same argument, the same convictions, and