Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> The Prima Donna: A Passage from City Life >> Page 180

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Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Transcription I8oTHE PRIMA DONNA
"I stop here because it pleases me—because I wish to hear the
music."
"Ah, ha! it please you, dis music, eh? But you shall be go to
you place—you shall nevare come stop here, no more,—nevare!"
And the shrivelled, angry, bilious, fiery-eyed little fellow, shook
his finger almost in my face.
Human stomach could not stand this, and an involuntary emotion
caused me to double my fist and raise my arm, with an action which
left him in little doubt of my summary intentions. He receded at
the sight, and, as I fancied, in order to effect a retreat as abrupt as
had been his entrance upon the scene; but I was mistaken. It was
only the better to prepare himself for defence. In another moment
a stiletto glittered in his hand, and he assumed an attitude of the
most determined preparation. This would not have discouraged me,
for I was conscious that a frame evidently so feeble as his, armed
with any weapon, the use of which depended upon his muscle, could
not oppose much obstacle to the blow of an arm like mine, endowed
with no small share of masculine vigour, and under the direction,
too, of some small science, the due result of an occasional exercise,
in a very good school of the fancy. I felt confident that I could have
"muffled his skylights" in a single instant, and long before his Italian
weapon could be brought to bear upon the action. But a moment's
reflection convinced me how seriously foolish would be any conduct
which would bring me into a street-brawl with one like my opponent
so feeble in person so superior in years and so wretched in his
condition. My arm was instantly lowered, and, murmuring some-
thing of a disinclination to chastise age, however impertinent, I was
about to draw off from the ground and seek my own proper bulwarks.
But he was not disposed to suffer this; availing himself of a change
in my position, which half removed my face from him, he sprang
towards me, with what purpose I could only conjecture. I had
just time to turn and grasp his uplifted arm, from which I wrenched
the weapon. In another moment, such was my indignation, I might
have used it upon him; but I was happily spared this folly, by the
sudden appearance, from the house, of the young woman who had
been the innocent occasion of all this difficulty. At her approach I
withdrew the grasp which I had taken upon the fellow. He trembled
like an aspen in the wind. His teeth chattered with rage, not fear.