Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Joscelyn: A Tale of the Revolution >> Chapter XXXV: Before the Battle >> Page 296

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Novel (Romance) | The Reprint Company | 1975, 1976
Transcription 296JOSCELYN
Kirkland? With his fifteen hundred men, he might be, this day, in
possession of Augusta; yet, at the very moment when he should
strike his blow, he abandons his troops in a panic, and clears out to
the seaboard!�takes to his heels, like the braggart that he is, and
turns tail at the first sound of the trumpet. And are we, and shall I,
risk the King's cause, which is our own cause, upon doubtful things
like him? No, gentlemen, I am in command here now; my hand is
on the helm, and I don't mean to deliver it into other hands until I
see the good ship of State in safety "
"Or see it wrecked ! " said Fletchall.
"Or see it wrecked ! " was the cool reply. "Wrecked it will be, if
left to such hands as have been managing before! We incur no
greater danger in fighting than in running the vessel upon the rocks.
I will be answerable for what I do, and I beg you to understand that,
come what will, we fight the rebels to-morrow. The King's standard
must not be spread abroad in vain, or as a mockery. Be you but men,
and do your duty like men, and we shall whip these rapscallions
before noon to-morrow ! Ours is the sword of the Lord and of Gid-
eon! and I stake my life upon it!" And he finished his speech by
quaffing deeply from a stoup of Jamaica; turned upon his heel, and
disappeared from the dissatisfied assembly, without further question
or reply. He was accompanied only by Colonel Cunningham, who
sought, but vainly, to make him understand that conciliation was an
act not to be undervalued in the present condition of affairs; but he
^
pleaded in vain.
"It is useless, Cunningham, to hope for anything from this people
till you have made them fight ! That done, that beginning once made,
and they fully committed to the cause, they will feel the rope about
their necks, and use the sword freely to escape the gallows ! They
must fight, they shall fight to-morrow, if Richardson brings his fel-
lows up to the scratch; and if not, we shall hunt them down, till
every fox has taken to his hole ! "
With the next day's dawning, Cunningham roused up Browne,
whose potations of the night had made him particularly drowsy.
"Well, what's it now?"
"It is as I feared," answered Cunningham; "they are gone!
Fletchall, Pearis, and the rest carrying with them both the regi-
ments, at least a thousand men ! The scouts are coming in with the