Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> Mesmerides in a Stage-Coach; Or, Passes en Passant >> Page 218

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Page 218

Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
We lent a hand in righting the vehicle. It had sustained some small
injuries; the sashes were broken and some bands of leather. The
chief hurts were to the harness; and having seen our Jehu busy,
over a rousing fire, at the work of repair, we set forth, with cautious
footsteps, over an unknown road. We reached theat a late
hour, but it was daylight before the stage arrived. Meanwhile, we
entered the bar-room, and by the aid of segars, a warm fire, and an
equally warm noggin, the components of which shall be nameless,
we contrived to discuss the subject of our adventures with tolerable
good humour and fortitude. Occasionally the bar-keeper looked in
upon us and stirred the fire; now and then a stranger put in his
head, but lingered not long, and at length we heard a vehicle drive
up to the door. It proved to be not ours, but the returning stage
from the west. It was, accordingly, the vehicle for my patient, Mr.
Willis Dalton. There was but a single passenger, a tall, well-made
person of thirty years or more, calm, sedate, somewhat stern of
countenance, who entered the apartment, and with a lofty nod to
the company, took his place at the opposite side of the hearth,
wrapped up closely in a large masking cloak. We could see his
face, but he sat with eyes almost shut and looking down upon the
fire. His presence did not restrain us. Our conversation naturally
ran upon the adventures of the night, and we contrived to make a
merry discussion of it, in which our hitherto hum-drum squire, who
did nothing but chuckle and chew tobacco before, took a very active
part. The whole scene was renewed, and, by little and little, it
assumed quite a dramatic and exciting cast. Even our youngster,
whose propensity to chatter had been somewhat subdued since the
occurrence, began to forget the offensive parts, and to dwell with
some gout upon the kisses so unpremeditatedly acquired; and I am
disposed to think, from the tone which he now assumed, that, in the
ears of any other person not familiar as were ourselves with the
whole history, he would have been at some pains to prove that the
proceeding was not so entirely unpremeditated as it was known to us
to be. Even as it was, a stranger would have gathered from his
words and manner that he was a very audacious gallant, who knew
how much a tender-hearted young damsel would endure from the
lips of a very gallant and very handsome young gentleman.