Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Joscelyn: A Tale of the Revolution >> Chapter XXXI: Night Adventure in the Hovel >> Page 264

image of pageExplore Inside

Page 264

Novel (Romance) | The Reprint Company | 1975, 1976
Transcription 264JOSCELYN

And yet, have they no justification? This self-esteem but mocks me!
What have been these defects, these disappointments, these cruel
humiliations, which I have had to endure, even where my intellect
was proudest, and my will as confident as if all were easy to my
hand? Why should this stranger be able to see humiliation written
in my face? Why his lesson about the fates? Am I, alone, incapable
of seeing the way before me? Am I, alone, incapable of meeting any
encounter with circumstance, or, if you prefer it, fate? Alas! there
would seem to be still one fate which I cannot baffle or escape. But
who comes now? prudence for a season."
His soliloquy, in which he simply chewed the cud of bitter thought,
was broken by the heavy tread of a horse's feet immediately behind
him. He turned to behold a stranger. Some natural but cold saluta-
tion passed between them. Walter was shy. The new corner might
be of the very band whom he had seen pursuing his recent guest.
What Walter had seen had been sufficient to arouse his apprehen-
sions, and to make him more suspicious than usual. His new com-
panion seemed disposed at first to be communicative enough, but he
met with little but repulse. Walter put spurs to his horse. The
stranger kept at his side. Walter then drew in his rein, and _walked
his horse. The stranger was equally accommodating.
Was it worth while to quarrel? Such was the question which
Walter asked of himself. He concluded otherwise, and rode on, and
so riding, the two together, almost at the same moment, and just
before dark, rode up to a low habitation, and asked, almost in the
same breath, for quarters for the night. The stranger seemed to
anticipate all the movements of his companion.
Walter had now an opportunity of observing him more clearly than
he had done while they rode together. He was of medium size, dark
of complexion, with a downcast expression in his eyes, one of which
had a squint which was more significant than persuasive. His cos-
tume was simple, like that of the plain farmers of the country, and
he seemed to be weaponless. The two eyed each other for a moment
only, then turned to meet the woman who appeared at the door of
the hovel.
She was a stalwart, tall, raw-boned creature of a very ordinary type,
but with features which seemed to denote decision at least, if none of
the gentler virtues.