Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> Mesmerides in a Stage-Coach; Or, Passes en Passant >> Page 223

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Page 223

Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Transcription M ES M ERI DES I N A STAGE-COACH223
a needle drawn through the skin; he was pinched, kicked, cuffed,
lifted and dragged from the chair by John Staggers, the stage-driver,
who, in every physical proceeding, was bent on having a finger in
the pie, but all without disturbing the mesmeric sleep. When released,
the patient sank down on the floor, with all that effortless insensibility
which Dante describes in himself on hearing the piteous groans
of Francesca's companion
"Caddi come corpo morto cade."
Every body was satisfied but John Gilbert. He looked with undis-
guised contempt on the processes, and did not seek to conceal the
opinion that there was some collusion between us. I felt disposed to
be angry, but anger, generally unprofitable, would have been, at
such a time, in such a place, and with a stranger who had evidently
some reason for suspicion, an absolute folly. I accordingly subdued
my irritable mood, and contented myself with inly resolving, if I
could only reduce him to the condition of his opponent, to revenge
myself in a manner equally effectual and inoffensive.
"It is now your turn, Mr. Gilbert."
"And you think to put me to sleep by this sort of mummery?"
"I do, sir. Are you willing?"
"Willing that you should try, sir? Yes; but the whole thing is very
"It may seem so to you, sir; and yet, you see the condition of my
patient yonder."
"He? He's no more asleep than I am."
"You think so. Could any man practise so well, endure so much?"
"Ay," he retorted, "to escape worse."
"Enough, sir; let us begin."
At this moment, Colonel Alford entered. He did not need much
explanation to understand the true situation of affairs. He had heard
without what was in progress, and a few words sufficed to let him
see where the several parties stood. A brief whispering conversation
between Gilbert and himself informed him of the painful duty that
the latter desired at his hands, a duty to be attended to as soon as
the present subject could be dismissed. Alford accordingly disap-
peared, and his activity and absence only the more strenuously im-