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A Guess For Life

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A volume could be filled with th etrange delusions entertained by madmen-the remarkable pertinacity and cunuing they display in carrying out the whims of their diaordered miurls. In their wild freaks, maniaca frequently evince a method in their planning, an adroituess and coolnoss, that would d credit to the slirewdost sane person. Wo give below a thrüling incident, whieh actually occurred as relatad 'y ono of the parties to it wlio had beeu a prominent army eurgeon. Whon my regiment was disbandod I lade adieu to niy old comrades nnd to the army, and commencod business in the flourishiiia; town of Ij. As I was ntarting fpr t!e snpppr-tnblo, on the eveningof tbc third dny nfter my arrival, the door bell nvig violenÜy, and Boon the boy came in and said that a man watited to see the doctor. The visitor was standing by the fire when I entered. He was a tall, powerflll man - a perfect giant compared to my "live feet six," and his great and busliy black hair and whiskers well fitted to the monstrous form. "If you are at liberty, doctor," Baid he, "please come with me. It isbuta few steps, and you will not need a - riage." I put on my coat and bat, and followed him. It was my iirst cali in L. , and I fondly hoped it was the fororuuner of many others. The man strode nhead of me all tho time, notwithstanding my endeavor to keep at his side, and spoke not . a word, and not even ausweriug my questions. Stopping beforc a subatantifil looking residence in one of the principal streeta, ho applied the latch-key, and led me into a pleasant little room on the second floor (a study I thought it), hung about ■with good paintings and elegant chroraos, and lined with books of every description. "Take a seat, doctor," said the man ; "I will step out a moment. Take this chair by the fire ; it's a bitter cold night." The chair was a great unwioldly thing, but exceedingly comfortablo. I threw my feet upon the fender, and leaned back on the cushion, well-satisfled to warm myself a little before seeing the. patiënt. I heard the man approach the door, which was directly back of where I sat, and heard the door open and close nrain. I cupposed he had gon out, but ilid not look around tr sce. Tndeed I had no time, for a stout cord was thrown over my wrists and across my breast, end a kandkerchief bound over my mouth so quickly that I could not prevent it. Wheii I was perfectly secure, my conductor stepped in front of me and looked with muth interest at my vairt attempts to free myself. "Qood stout cord, isn't it ?" he aíked. "It has never been liro Vin, and many a stouter man ( h in you lias tried it. There, now, be quif t a while, and I will tull you what I want." He went to a cabinet that stood in the corner of the room, and taking a lont? knife froin one of tha drawera, ran hi3 linimb over theedge, andfoltt'ie point, all the while talking in the most commonplace manner imaginable. "I have for ynars studied the art of puessin?," said he. "I can guess any thing ; that is my gue.ssing-ehair that jou are sitting in now; and I take plpasure in imparting my knovledge to ethers. Tlris is what I want of you tonight. I did intend to make you guess that, but I have thought of something better." He had becomo satisfied with the edo;e and point of his knife, and was pacing up and down the room, giving me a full liistory of the world, interspered with facta relativo to the act of guesaiug. at which time he ahvays stopped in front of me, "Did you ever study it, doctor ?" he askeJ. "I know you haven't, lam the only one who ever reduced it to a science. Sinco I left my noble veterans I have devoted my wnole lime to it ; and now I am abont to initiate you ii'to ita mysteries, if vou are wortliy. He was stadina; before me so very calm that I did not fhink he intendod to harm me ; but when I looked into his eyes, bnrsing with the fire of insanity, I feit that my aitutiou wa3 desporute iiidcej. "I must tcr,t yon," he said. "I mnst see whether you are naturally gifted or not, before I waste much time with you. If I remove the handkerchief, will you auswer my quostions ?" I nodded an allirm.itive, and he removed it. "Now, my daar doctor, yon are an ontire stranger to me. Without doubt you have heard of me, but it will be a hard task to distingiiish my namo froin all the other great men of th time. You may guess it, doctor. What is it?" He had brouerht his face so nenr to mine that I could feel his hot breath, and I fancied I could feel the heat iu thosa terrible oyea. The lonj1, keen Hade he was holdinn; over me - lor wliatv To take my lifo if I failed. "Guess ! Guess !" he screamed. "If you fail, it will be your last gue3S in this world." "I dared not cry out - the knife was too near. I couLl not escape, for strong cerds bound me to a chair I coull not lift : and I could not lie there and lose my lifo. What could I do ? "It is a hard guess," he said, "and I w_U give you three minutes to answor it." I summoned all my coirago, whioh had never yot failed me, even in the awful hoar of battle, and, lookiug him eteadily in the eye, said : "I know you, .., gp where is tho use of guessina; ? I have geen you on the battle-field, marslialling your men tó victory ; I have seen you cut down a score of men with your single arm ; I have seen you put to iliilit a wlíole battalion. I know you - evejy b dy kuow3 you - your name is in my nioutii." I remembpreel wbathe Iirt'1 silid nont leadiug his vrteran.s, and liad trie I this haraugue to divert his atteution, I paused to mark tho effoH . "Yes, - yes, doctor. But wiit is it ?" he PTclaimed, again. "Thiity seconds !" Great Honvens ! Wliat would I not have gived for a clew to that madmau's fancy I Thirty eoindn, and how phort a second is ! Tho knife wasraised higher, that it might pain a momantum by the distance. His body was bi'aced for the stroke, and his eye upon the mark. "Ten swonds nWo !" he cried. "What is it ?" Thore was only one honn lft for mfl, Had Üiat was to guuss. Ii'olt tluit ha sidered liimsolf somp great taan- as ha had spoken of volprons - soinei great military chieftain. T thought of our own héroes, and tlip atunes "f many of them wero on my lips. but I dnred not utter them. It was tfie grcatost chanco game that I had eve pliyed- my life depended un the guc&RhJg of a uauao. I . tüought of all the Euroioan gpnerals, hut cast them aaide es:iin, end came back to oiir own Rido of the water. "Two sooonda !" soi'eoohed the lunatio. Without a thonght., ahnost without Yolition, I spoki; a name, breathiug a prayer that it might. bö tlie ryht oao : "Napolooa Bouayarte I" "Ria;ht !" said the rniniao, tliroirini? aside his knife, aud midoiug tho corda that held me. "I was mistaken in you doctor. You aro a truo genius ; thisis, your first loaaon ; come at this hour erery evening, and I will teach you the beautiful art - the way to immortal f ame." As I roRP from tho ohftir, wcak and trembling, the door openod softly, and four stroag nienent'Ti'J and securoil üie maniac. I ntnrtíd för homo, well pleased that I had got through with my flrst guessing lensou, and forvently hoping that I should uover be calied npon to take another. .


Old News
Michigan Argus