Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Joscelyn: A Tale of the Revolution >> Chapter XXXIII: Summary Processes of Regulation >> Page 286

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Page 286

Novel (Romance) | The Reprint Company | 1975, 1976
Transcription 286JOSCELYN
"And yet, Captain, if this penalty be consequent on the wrong done
to me "
"Feel no concern, Mr. Dunbar, on this score. Had the case con-
cerned your affair only, his punishment would have been light, if a
first offence only; but horse-stealing is the very least of his crimes.
He has been duly convicted by his peers and neighbors, before your
presence was invited, of burglary, arson, and murder. He is one of
the most notorious of all the outlaws that for years have infested our
country. He is already judged."
"And doomed?"
"And doomed ! "
Walter could not trust himself with another glance at the miserable
criminal, and turned away. Captain Carter, meanwhile, made a single
motion of his hand, and the Rangers grounded their rifles simultane-
ously, the butts coming heavily to the ground. At the sound, the
felon started, looked wildly about him, and suddenly cried out to
Walter :
"Oh! Mr. Dunbar, of that's your name, pray to the Captain for
me! 'Twas only your horse, you know, and I might have killed you,
you know, when you was sleeping."
"Come!" said the Captain quietly, laying his hand on Walter's
shoulder, and leading him away from the scene. As he went, the
miserable wretch cried out :
"He won't speak for me a single word. Oh, Lord! Oh, Lord ! "
Captain Carter never turned, or suffered Walter to turn, but led
him off upon the track by which he had descended from the hill where
stood his quarters. When they were midway up the hill, a horrid
shriek burst from the valley, and looking back with a shudder, Wal-
ter beheld a man struggling with several others, in frantic efforts to
escape from their clutches, while shriek after shriek made the hills
ring with echoes that told of the agonizing terrors of a weak and
desperate heart, without hope, and in the grasp of a mortal fate.
Soon a horn was blown, and when next Walter ventured to look back
upon the valley, the troopers could be seen in groups returning slowly
to the camp, while pendent from the swinging limb of an old oak,
there dangled a human form which still struggled feebly in the air,
in the last dread agonies of death.