Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> Mesmerides in a Stage-Coach; Or, Passes en Passant >> Page 211

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Page 211

Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
responses which might or might not have corresponded correctly
with his observations. He did not seem to succeed any better with
our third person, who chuckled now and then, but did not often
answer, or, if he did, it was in an equally negative manner with
myself. But this lack of sympathy did not abridge the eloquence of
the youth. Evening came on, night followed, and still his tongue
was in exercise. A sudden thought struck me "Why should I not
silence this fellow put him to sleep?" Upon this hint I proceeded.
Circumstances favoured me. Our vehicle was a small one. I occupied
one of the back seats, the elder of our party, the tobacco-chewing,
chuckling farmer, the other, and our loquacious lad sat directly
opposite me, our knees occasionally touching. I contrived that they
should touch completely. The night was dark; the windows of the
stage shut in. He could not see me at my manipulations. There were
two incentives to the experiment. It was an experiment, and a very
doubtful one. If successful, it was of some importance to my specula-
tions. It was a fair experiment, as he had no sort of consciousness of
my purpose, and his imagination could lay no claim to any of the
results. His eyes had nothing to endure, and if he slept, it could not
be chargeable to the strain upon them to the intensity either of
his gaze or mine. Though I fixed my glance strenuously towards the
place which he occupied, I could not even distinguish the outline of
his form. Enough, my will and my eyes went together. Occasionally
I passed my hands before his face and brought them down in slow
passes on each side, from his temples to his knees. I continued this
for about twenty-five minutes. For the first five of these minutes, his
loquacity seemed undiminished; but at the end of the next five, I
flattered myself that there was a cessation of the fire. In two or three
minutes more he was silent; a deep sigh escaped him at intervals,
and we heard no more of him. He was asleep ; whether in conse-
quence of my proceedings or because of a natural stage-drowsiness, I
did not then pretend to say. I had gained my object, the noisy mouth
was sealed up, and I could resume my magnetic cogitations without
any farther annoyance. But I was unsatisfied; I must know if he is
asleep, and by my means. I lifted my hand and willed that his
should follow it, they met against the window of the stage. But this
might be accident. I again exercised my will, and the next moment
he had risen and taken his seat with exquisite deliberation in the