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to all this? — God bless me, where is she? I thought with increasing trepidation.
“Edward — Edward,” I exclaimed, to a servant who happened to pass the door of the room where I was standing; "where's Miss P-?”
“Miss PM, Sir! Why— I don't - oh, yes!” he replied, suddenly recollecting himself, “about five minutes ago I saw her run very quickly up stairs, and haven't seen her since, Sir.”. “Wbat!” I exclaimed with increasing trepidation, “was it about the time that the first flash of lightning came?” “Yes, it was, Sir!” — “Take this in to your mistress, and say I 'll be with her immediately,” said I, giving him what I had mixed. I rushed up stairs, calling out as I went, “Agnes! Agnes! where are you?” I received no answer. At length I reached the floor where her bedroom lay. The door was closed, but not shut.
* Agnes! Where are you?” I inquired very agitatedly, at the same time knocking at the door. I received no answer.
“Agnes! Agnes! For God's sake speak! ---Speak! - Speak, or I shall come into your room!” No reply was made; and I thrust open the door. Heavens! Can I describe what I saw!
Within less than a yard of me stood the most fearful figure my eyes
have ever beheld. It was Agnes ! She was in the attitude of stepping to the door, with both arms extended. Her hair was partially dishevelled. Her face seemed whiter than the white dress she wore. Her lips were of a livid hue. Her eyes, full of awful expression, were fixed with a petrifying stare on me. Oh, language fails me- utterly! - Those eyes have seldom since been absent from me when alone! I strove to speak but could not utter a sound My lips se rigid as those I looked at. The horrors of nightmare seemed upon me. My eyes at length closed; my head seemed turning round and for a moment or two I lost all consciousness. I revived. There was the frightful thing still before me nay, close to me! Though I looked at her, I never once thought of Agnes P-. It was the tremendous appearance -- the ineffable terror gleaming from her eyes, that thus
I protest I cannot conceive any thing more dreadful! Miss P-- continued standing perfectly motionless; and while
I was gazing at her in the manner I have been describing, a peal of thunder roused me to my self-possession. I stepped towards her, took hold of her hand, exclaiming “Agnes Agnes!” and carried her to the bed, where I laid her down. It required some little force to press down her arms; and I drew the eyelids over her staring eyes mechanically. While in the act of doing
a flash of lightning flickered luridly over her — but her eye neither quivered nor blinked. She seemed to have been suddenly deprived of all sense and motion: in fact, nothing but her pulse
if pulse it should be called and faint breathing, showed that she lived. My eye wandered over her whole figure, dreading to meet some scorching trace of lightning — but there was nothing of the kind. What had happened to her? Was she frightened — to death? I spoke to her; I called her by her name, loudly; I shook her, rather violently: I might have acted it all to a statue!
- I rang the chamber-bell with almost frantic violence: and presently my wife and a female servant made their appearance in the room; but I was far more embarrassed than assisted by their presence.
“ Is she killed ?" murmured the former, as she staggered towards the bed, and then clung convulsively to me--"Has the lightning struck her?”
I was compelled to disengage myself from her grasp, and hurry her into the adjoining room - whither I called a servant to attend to her; and then returned to my hapless patient. But what was I to do? Medical man as I was, I never had seen a patient in such circumstances, and felt as ignorant on the subject, as agitated. It was not epilepsy - it was not apoplexy-aswoon nor any known species of hysteria. The most remarkable feature of her case, and what enabled me to ascertain the nature of her disease, was this; that if I happened accidentally to alter the position of her limbs, they retained, for a short time, their new position. If, for instance, I moved her arm - it remained for a while in the situation in which I had last placed it, and gradually resumed its former one. If I raised her into an upright posture, she continued sitting so without the support of pillows, or other assistance, as exactly as if she had heard me express a wish to that effect, and assented to it; but, — the horrid vacancy of her aspect!
If I elevated one eyelid for a moment, to examine the state of the eye, it was some time in closing, unless I drew it over myself. All these circumstances, which terrified the servant who stood shaking at my elbow, and muttering, “She's possessed! she's possessed ! — Satan has her!” convinced me at length, that the unfortunate girl was seized with CATALEPSY; that rare mysterious affection, so fearfully blending the conditions of life and death — presenting - so to speak life in the aspect of death, and death in that of life! I felt no doubt, that extreme terror operating suddenly on a nervous system most highly excited, and a vivid, active fancy, had produced the effects I saw. Doubtless the first terrible outbreak of the thunder-storm especially the fierce splendour of that first flash of lightning which so alarmed myself — apparently corroborating and realizing all her awful apprehensions of the predicted event, overpowered her at once, and flung her into the feaful situation in which I found her - that of one ARRESTED in her terror-struck flight towards the door of her chamber. But again the thought struck me — had she received any direct injury from the lightning? Had it blinded her? It might
for I could make no impression on the pupils of the eyes. Nothing could startle them into action. They seemed a little more dilated than usual, and fixed.
I confess that, besides the other agitating circumstances of the moment, this extraordinary, this unprecedented case too much distracted my self-possession to enable me promptly to deal with it. I had heard and read of, but never before seen such a case. No time, however, was to be lost. I determined to resort at once to strong antispasmodic treatment. I bled her from the arm freely, applied blisters behind the ears, immersed her feet, which, together with her hands, were cold as those of a statue, in hot water, and endeavoured to force into her mouth a little opium and ether. Whilst the servants were busied about her, undressing her, and carrying my directions into effect, I stepped for a moment into the adjoining room, where I found my wife just recovering from a violent fit of hysterics. Her loud laughter, though so near me, I had not once heard, so absorbed was I with the mournful case of Miss P. After continuing with her till she recovered
sufficiently to accompany me down stairs, I returned to Miss P_'s bedroom. She continued exactly in the condition in which I had left her. Though the water was hot enough almost to parboil her tender feet, it produced no sensible effect on the circulation, or the state of the skin; and finding a strong determination of blood towards the regions of the head and neck, I determined to have her cupped between the shoulders. I went down stairs to drop a line to the apothecary, requesting him to come immediately with his cupping instruments. As I was delivering the note into the hands of a servant, a man rushed up to the open door where I was standing, and, breathless with haste, begged my instant attendance on a patient close by, who had just met with a severe accident. Relying on the immediate arrival of Mr.-, the apothecary, I put on my hat and great-coat, took my umbrella, and followed the man who had summoned me out. It rained in torrents, for the storm, after about twenty minutes' intermission, burst forth again with unabated violence. The thunder and lightning, peal upon peal – blaze upon blaze, were really terrific!
The patient who thus abruptly, and, under circumstances, inopportunely, required my services, proved to be one Bill —, a notorious boxer, who, in returning that evening from a great prize-fight, had been thrown out of his gig, the horse having been Srightened by the lightning, and the rider, who was much the worse for liquor, had his ankle dreadfully dislocated. He had been taken up by some passengers, and conveyed with great difficulty to his own residence, a public-house, not three minutes' walk from where I lived. The moment I entered the tap-room, which I had to pass on my way to the staircase, I heard his groans, or rather howls, overhead. The excitement of intoxication, added to the agonies occasioned by his accident, had driven him, I was told, nearly mad. He was uttering the most revolting execrations as I entered his room. He damned himself — his illluck (for it seemed he had lost considerable sums on the fight) coh,
the combatants - the horse that threw him the thunder and
- lightning - every thing, in short, and every body about him. The sound of the thunder was sublime melody to me, and the more welcome, because it drowned the blasphemous bellowing of the monster I was visiting. Yes — there lay the burly boxer, stretched upon the bed, with none of his dress removed, except the boot, which had been cut from the limb that was injured — his new blue coat, with glaring yellow buttons, and drab knee-breeches, soiled with the street mud into which he had been precipitated his huge limbs writhing in restless agony over the bed — his fists clenched, and his flat, iron-featured face swollen and distorted with pain and fury.
“But, my good woman,” said I, pausing at the door, addressing myself to the boxer's wife, who, wringing her hands, had conducted me up stairs; “I assure you, I am not the person you should have sent to. It's a surgeon's, not a physician's case; I fear I can't do much for him - quite out of my way —”
“Oh, for God's sake for the love of God, don't say so!” gasped the poor creature, with affrighted emphasis
do something for him, or he 'll drive us all out of our senses - he 'll be killing us!”
“Do something!” roared my patient, who had overheard the last words of his wife, turning his bloated face towards me something, indeed? ay, and be to you!
Here, here -- look look ye, here!” he continued, pointing to the wounded foot, which, all crushed and displaced, and the stocking soaked with blood, presented a shocking appearance “look here, indeed! ah, that horse! that horse!” his teeth gnashed, and his right hand was lifted up, clenched, with fury “If I don't break every bone in his — body, as soon as ever I can stir this cursed leg again!”
I felt for a moment as though I had entered the very pit and presence of Satan, for the lightning was gleaming over his ruffianly figure incessantly, and the thunder rolling close overhead while he was speaking.
“Hush! hush! you 'll drive the Doctor away! For pity's sake hold your tongue, or Doctor - won't come into the room to you!” gasped his wife, dropping on her knees beside him.