Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Joscelyn: A Tale of the Revolution >> Chapter XXXV: Before the Battle >> Page 299

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Page 299

Novel (Romance) | The Reprint Company | 1975, 1976
Transcription JOSCELYN299
seemed very like the efforts of despair, even at the moment while
his. eye took in all the aspects of the field, and his mind revolved
quietly all the advantages or the dangers of its every position. He
said to Cunningham, with a' fiendish smile playing upon his face, as
he passed the sides of his sabre over a grindstone :
"Always see, Cunningham, that your sabre has the teeth to bite.
Men who carry dull sabres into the fight, do not calculate to use
them. The Turks knew better, and were the most brilliant cavalry
in the world. Now, if you could but slice off a man's head, sheer at
a blow, and send it spinning across the field, it would do more to
strike a panic into his followers, than any solid charge which you
could make, stirrup to stirrup, with your masses. Sharpen your sabre,
Cunningham give it teeth to bite shrewdly."
Then, after a moment
"Did you note that crippled fellow yesterday that Commissioner
from Drayton and see how he defied me? That fellow will fight,
cripple as he is. He has it in him. His eye met mine with as cold
and brave a stare as I ever beheld in eye of man. I shall meet him.
He will certainly keep his word, and meet me if he can. I am whet-
ting my sabre especially for him, and if we do but come to close
quarters "
He finished the sentence by a whisk of the blade above his head.
"That we shall come to close quarters, I nothing doubt. It will be
pretty much a hand to hand fight, if any. That's what I want. I rely
upon your troopers, Cunningham; for, look you, if your reports be
true, our game will be to choose the best pathway for cutting our way
through them. Our foot will open the play as skirmishers. The hills
afford here a sufficient cover for riflemen, and to command all the
approaches."
"In front and on the right; but I somehow fear from left to rear.
This delay it is now ten o'clock and they do not yet come on.
They wait, I apprehend, in their main assault, until their detachments
shall sufficiently work round us, and we have no troops to cover all
the points of the compass."
"Apprehend nothing. We are as ready and as well prepared as we
can be. You know my plans. By the way, what became of that
younker, Dunbar?"