Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> Mesmerides in a Stage-Coach; Or, Passes en Passant >> Page 221

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Page 221

Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Transcription MESMERIDES IN A STAGE-COACH22I
"Ah, I see how it is," said he, interrupting me, while a smile of
scorn and derision passed over his countenance, and was reflected
from the faces of the rest. I became a little irritated.
"You do not hear me out. I say that you may be a difficult subject,
and not easily impressible, but if you will suffer me to try, I fancy
that I can produce such effects upon you as will lead to your
conviction."
"Why, what will you do?"
"That remains to be seen."
"Agreed; you shall try. Will half an hour suffice for your experi-
ment?"
"It will."
"I can spare that time. Meanwhile, this gentleman, your friend,
will please remain in the apartment with us."
Dalton, the offender, was here referred to. An emphasis was laid
upon the words italicized, which clearly betrayed the suspicions of the
speaker. He regarded us as in collusion. Both of us answered in a
breath, and to the same effect.
"We never saw each other before to-day."
"It matters not, gentlemen; I am willing that the experiment
should be tried. My friend will be here in the meantime, and this
affair will scarcely conflict with the other. Shall we go to a private
chamber?"
To this we agreed; but private we were not allowed to be. This
dialogue took place in the bar-room, and there were other parties.
The surprising story which I had told had been noised abroad, and
even at that early hour had attracted listeners. Among these was my
stage-driver. He had made his appearance in order to give me the
last imperative summons for departure; but the prospect of a fight
which was then in progress, was too agreeable to be foregone. He
was an amateur, loved nothing so well as the combat a outrance,
and though under any other circumstances he would have been as
solicitous about saving the mails as if life depended upon it, it was
very evident now that his fine had no terrors when a fight was in
prospect. He had heard the arrangement by which I proposed to
prove the involuntary character of Dalton's conduct, and curiosity
and doubt took the place of his ordinary appetite. The stubborn