Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Joscelyn: A Tale of the Revolution >> Chapter XXX: Highway Adventures >> Page 260

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Page 260

Novel (Romance) | The Reprint Company | 1975, 1976
Transcription 260JOSCELYN
of all your wits ! Your danger is from the two stools which your fate
will offer you, and which are always stools of repentance to him who
does not know how to choose promptly between them! Of one thing
take heed always never let your enemy get the first clip at you!
The man who can strike the first blow is very apt to make his fate
what he pleases! Go forward promptly, and strangle every doubt,
1)y instant action, without consultation with that damning thought
which so prevaricates with the human understanding as to take from
it all aim and purpose! This is the fate you have to fear, Walter
Dunbar. Beware of it! Farewell ! "
"But, who are you? The sign the sign!"
"Have you, then, no memories of boyhood, and Thompson's old
field school? Do you find no meaning in the counsel "Never let
your enemy get the first clip at you!"
The stranger was gone, waiting for no answer. With one bound he
left the covert with another, he crossed the road, and was buried in
the thick woods on the opposite side.
He left young Dunbar in a stupor of doubt and vague conjecture,
working in a vain effort to recall old school memories to discover
who it was who knew him so well, and of whom he could recall so
little! But he remembered the injunctions of the stranger to hurry
on his way. He looked about him for his horse. The beast had
wandered off several hundred yards, in search of grass, and some
little time was consumed in finding him. The saddle-bags were put
on at length, and the young man mounted. He had scarcely done so
when he heard distinctly the sound of a distant horn. It might have
been a mile off. He fancied also that he heard, still nearer, the deep
by of a beagle.
The story of the stranger, and of the hot pursuit of his foes,
appealed to his imagination, and he sate motionless upon his steed,
his curiosity making him momently forgetful of the warning of his
late companion, to hurry upon his way. Very soon after, he heard the
dog distinctly, and, unconsciously, he moved forward to the open
road. Here he stood, keeping in his steed by involuntary rein, and
looking backward along the stretch of open ground over which he
had passed an hour or two before. On a sudden, a hound trotted
out upon the highway, if such it might be called, ran back into the