Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> Mesmerides in a Stage-Coach; Or, Passes en Passant >> Page 213

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Page 213

Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
when he had entered the stage. He was evidently bound for a
short distance only. And with this recollection came another. What
had been the rough inquiry propounded by the stage driver as
we stopped before the cottage? At the moment, as it had not con-
cerned me, I had given it no consideration; but it now struck me
very forcibly that it was a demand to know if some one of us was
not to stop there. I was not. The country squire was awake, and might
answer for himself, and not thinking just then of the condition of
young garrulous imposed, as it had been, by myself —I took for
granted that he should have been on the qui vine at such a moment,
and with reference to such a matter, if he was at all interested in the
result. The suggestion worried me. I had no design to do injury to
the youth. My purpose could scarcely be considered mischievous; yet
I might be doing him serious hurt. I might be carrying him from
friends and family, from his sweetheart, from the bridal party, from
the sick bed of some dear parent. Even now the maiden might be
waiting for him at the altar, the priest wondering, with the marriage
service open before him, the brother beginning to meditate upon
pistols for two, and the poor girl preparing a rational fainting fit,
natural enough as the catastrophe for a first jilting. Really, the con-
sideration of these things troubled me. The consequences of my
freak might be inconvenient, might be dangerous. God forbid that
I should put asunder those whom he had joined together or was
about to join together rob the damsel of those sweet prospects of
the future, the sweetest that social life is ever permitted to know,
which makes all paradise before the eye of the betrothed and
probably incur for the youth the more dreadful but not more painful
danger, of getting his brains blown out by a fierce brother or a
savage cousin. With these conjectures troubling me, I proceeded
somewhat hastily to undo what I had done. But my nervous system
had become disordered. What if I should be unable to wake him?
This was a subject of apprehension. Such cases were on record nay,
they were even numerous. A youth has been kept without eating
for five days in consequence of the inability of the magnetizer to
arouse him; and the story goes of a wife, mesmerized by her husband
in 1839, who is asleep to this very day. Scandal, it is true, ascribes it
to the will of the husband that she still sleeps, and not to the inade-
quacy of his powers. While I remembered these and other cases, I be-