Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> Mesmerides in a Stage-Coach; Or, Passes en Passant >> Page 210

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Page 210

Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Transcription 210MESMERIDES IN A STAGE-COACH
be considered an imperfect truth. People will ask the why and the
wherefore, and until you can give them an answer, they will suspect
quackery. My head was full of vague speculations on this subject.
My causality, which in my case is a rather large development, was
interested to find an answer, to explain and solve this mystery, to be
able to contend with, if not to satisfy scepticism. Perhaps neither
tale nor drama is so absolutely interesting as, to a speculative mind,
the analysis of a newly-discovered truth. The details of thought, by
which, step by step, we reach a remote and unexpected consequence,
sets the brain in as complete a whirl of excitement as the tragic action
in romance. The only difference is, that he who thinks out his drama,
does not show his emotions; and a man may seem to his neighbour
excessively sleepy or abominably stupid, who is yet busy in the
elaboration of an argument which shall set the North river in a
blaze. I suppose I made some such appearance to my companions in
the stage-coach. There were two of them. They were unknown to
me and unknown to one another. They had taken their seats after
me and at different stopping-places along the road. The first was a
quiet, good-humoured country squire, who chuckled in an under-tone
whenever he heard any thing particularly to please him, and, at
the same time, with an adroit use of his tongue, made the huge
quid of tobacco that distended his cheek revolve rapidly from one
to the other—an action which was invariably followed by the wiping
of his mouth with his coat sleeves. He was not a man to contribute
much to the idle gossip of a stage-coach. The other was a person
much younger and of much more pretension. He was probably
not more than twenty-one, one of that order of clever ignorants who,
as they acquire daily something new, leap to the rare conviction that
it is a something that is yet to be taught to their neighbours —a con-
viction which kept him constantly busy in repeating aloud the lessons
memorized the day before. He spoke of every thing, spoke constantly,
and, accordingly, said nothing; but of this he had not the smallest
idea. He naturally addressed himself to one or the other of us,
but he might as well have spoken to the spokes of the carriage as
to me, for, busy with my own psychological cogitations, I was con-
scious, when he condescended to address me, only of an unpleasant
chattering murmur, which sometimes unhinged a very close-fitting
speculation. I believe I made out to answer "Yes" or "No"—