Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Joscelyn: A Tale of the Revolution >> Chapter XXXI: Night Adventure in the Hovel >> Page 268

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Page 268

Novel (Romance) | The Reprint Company | 1975, 1976
Transcription 268JOSCELYN
"Ah! ah ! " quoth the stranger, with a grin, "the Crown forever ! "
To this Walter made no reply.
The woman quietly gathered up the silver, and dropped it into
her pocket.
"And now," said she, "men, I'm gwine to bed; you kin set up as
long as you please; there's firelight enough for a blaze all night, and
when you want more, there's wood; lay it on airily to bed, you
know, and airily to rise! Ef you're honest travelers, you'll sleep easy;
but you've just got to keep watch on one another ! "
And, without a word, she opened the door of her chamber. Here,
however, she paused, though but for a single moment. Walter Dun-
bar followed her with his eyes, while the stranger strolled towards
the door opening upon the highway. In that single moment of pause,
and while the woman lingered at her chamber door, ere she disap-
peared from sight, Walter was surprised to see a significant pressure
of her uplifted finger upon her lips. This was evidently addressed to
himself. Was it a sign of warning? Had it any meaning? Why warn
him more than the other? She had warned them both, it is true,
emphatically enough to watch each other. Why, especially, make
sign to him of caution? The jealous self-esteem rose uppermost in
his thoughts, and a flash of indignation passed over his cheeks as he
murmured
"Even this old woman would counsel me in some fashion, if she
only knew how! What is this fate which marks me out to everybody
as in need of advice and warning?"
It was long after midnight. Walter Dunbar slept at last, and
everything was hushed, and everything was dark in the hall where
he lay, stretched along the narrow bench, with his saddle-bags be-
neath his head. He had not undressed. His purse, well filled with
British coin, was in his vest bosom. His father's despatches were in
his saddle-bags beneath his head. He had felt both securely beneath
his grasp ere he delivered himself to sleep. He was awakened sud-
denly by a shock, and in the same moment he heard a sharp voice,
almost ringing in his ears, which he recognized as that of the
hostess
"Ah ! wretch ! would you murder the young man, and he sleep-
ing?"