Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Joscelyn: A Tale of the Revolution >> Chapter XXX: Highway Adventures >> Page 257

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Page 257

Novel (Romance) | The Reprint Company | 1975, 1976
Transcription JOSCELYN257
"Talking of the fates, my friend," continued the stranger, who now
drew nigh, dropping, as he did so the butt of his rifle to the ground,
"talking of the fates reminds me of food. We must feed even the
fates; and one of them has been pursuing me till I am hungered in
his behalf. There is no other way of getting rid of him, or subduing
his ravages but by feeding him. Now, you have eaten. Have you
anything left in your satchel? Give me to eat, if you have it. I have
had a long chase to-day�that is, I have been under a long chase, and
pretty well winded, and will need a good half hour to recover before
I set forth again; and I shall probably have to run till night. What
have you got?"
And the stranger threw himself down on the sward even as he
spoke, with the careless grace of the hunter, and the confiding ease
of one who has no doubts of his companion.
Walter Dunbar was not insensible to this proof of confidence, but
he combatted it with a sudden question, the result of a suspicious
temperament. The stranger seemed to him a little too much at his
ease. Silent still, for he knew not well what to say, and had not yet
recovered from his surprise, he yet proceeded, promptly enough, to
comply with his guest's application for food. His saddle-bags, which
he had just locked up, were reopened, and he soon unfolded to the
eager eyes of the famishing young man a goodly prospect of hoecake,
wheat biscuit, and a tolerably solid mass of smoked venison.
In an instant the couteau de chasse of the stranger was whipt out
from his belt, and he proceeded to slash away at the meat with the
avidity of one who had enjoyed no such opportunity for the last
thirty-six hours, and even as he eat he spoke:
"Yes, my friend, there are fates, scores of them, for every man,
and they behave just as he knows how to manage them. Hunger is
an obtrusive fate. Well, I meet you, and obtain your help to pacify
him. He will obey me, for the rest of the day, as dutifully as if I
had paid him a week's wages. Well, in dealing with this, or any
other fate, what is my process? A very simple one. I find you, for
example, with food in your wallet, and I have none. I do not mince
the matter with you�do not hang off, with petty affectations; but
come to you frankly, assuming you to be human, and say to you:
`Give me to eat?' Deal with your fate as frankly as you do with your
fellow, as I have done with you, and as boldly, and he will set the