Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> Mesmerides in a Stage-Coach; Or, Passes en Passant >> Page 215

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Page 215

Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
The scene reminded me of home. I envied my patient the felicity
he must feel, thus leaving a miserable stage-coach and night-travel
over villainous roads, in winter, for the quiet and dear enjoyments of
the family circle. I watched him as he hurried up the walk to the
house, saw him enter, and in the next moment throw his arms round
the neck of the stately dame and imprint a kiss upon her cheeks.
With the quickness of thought, he had bestowed a like salutation
upon the damsels; but in the midst of it all what a hubbub followed.
A chorus of feminine storm, the indignant roar of the maternal lungs,
followed and admirably accompanied by the softer but more pro-
longed clamours of the daughters. The next moment I saw the
young man descending the steps with a backward movement, his
hands extended as if in protestation; his voice reached us in tones
which seemed those of explanation and entreaty. But the storm
was unappeased ; the matron was raging, the young ladies weeping as
if their hearts would break. What struck me as most singular, was
that our driver should be evidently enjoying the scene as a matter of
high regale. His laughter was unmeasured, unmitigated, and, min-
gled with the thunders of the dame and the plaintive notes of the
damsels, made the sounds of strange difficulty for the imitative
echoes of our Georgia forests.
"What can be the matter, driver?" I demanded.
"Matter! He's got into the wrong box, that's all, and bussed the
wrong women."
"How? Isn't that his family his mother and sisters?"
"No, indeed; he left them some fourteen miles back. I called out
to him, but, d —n him, he didn't choose to hear, and I wasn't gwine
to wait on him all night. He's been 'sleep, I reckon, and wasn't
quite awake, that's cl'ar, when he got a kissing the old lady. If he
don't move mighty quick, she'll get at him yet, tooth and toe-nail,
for she's not too slow, if you once rouse her, with the broomstick."
I had congratulated myself rather prematurely that my experiment
had been without bad consequences. You may be sure that I said
nothing of my doings. The sight of the old lady's anger was a
caution, particularly as I now beheld her, step by step, following
the young man from the house to the coach, he facing her but
retreating all the while, protesting, with extended arm, that it was
all a mistake, that he had just wakened out of a sound sleep, and