Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> Mesmerides in a Stage-Coach; Or, Passes en Passant >> Page 219

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Page 219

Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
I had noted more than once, while this conversation was in progress,
that the stranger at the opposite corner of the fireplace betrayed
some interest in it. He turned more than once at the voice of the
several speakers, and, on several occasions, I noted that his brow
was contracted and his lips compressed. At length, when our merri-
ment had reached what seemed its climax, when we had rehearsed
the old lady's rage and the daughters' screams with reiterated success,
he turned suddenly round upon us.
"You are from, gentlemen?" he demanded.
"We are, sir."
"You came by the upper route by's and
"We did, sir."
"And passed by the house of Mrs. Gilbert. If I mistake not, that
lady and her family is the subject of this very spirited conversation."
There was a pause. The features of the stranger lightened into a
sort of fiendish grin. Young Dalton looked as blank as the full moon
in a rainy night. The stranger rose to his feet, and approached him
and laid his hand upon his shoulder.
"You, sir, seem to have been the source of all this merriment, the
hero of this story. Your name, sir? I am John Gilbert, the son of
that `portly dame'—'twas so you called her the brother of those
damsels of whom your speech has been so free. It is fortunate, sir,
that we have met."
Here was an explosion! We all rose to our feet; but just at this
moment the surly stage-driver appeared at the entrance and warned
us that the stage was ready. Dalton immediately turned, as well
as myself, in obedience to the summons, but the fierce brother, the
aforesaid John Gilbert, was not to be so bamboozled.
"Stop, sir; you cannot leave me yet. The stage must go or stay
but you remain. I must have this matter explained atoned for.
Here, landlord."
It was now Dalton's turn to show passion. He had been taken by
surprise; besides, he felt that he had done wrong. But he was a lad