"Miss Mudd, I hope you are feeling well." Jonah smiled to the young girl, sincerely hoping that when she left today, she would be free of her affliction.
Arabella gave him the quickest of nervous smiles and then was all eyes for the odd squat cylinder with the slits in the side and little pictures within, all similar but each one just a little bit different from the last.
“Now, you just look through that lil’ peephole in the side there, Miss Mudd and tell me what you see.” She did as she was bidden and Worchester started to turn a little handle at the side of the contraption which made the thing start to turn around like a carousel. Arabella gasped!
“What the Dickens! The little man and horse inside’s all come alive!!” she yelped delightedly and jumped up to peer into the thing from above, expecting to see a tiny little horse and rider in there. “Now it’s just pictures again!” she said, more intrigued than disappointed. “Well, ain’t this the darndest thing?! You seen this?” she asked Danforth and Nurse Leane. “I never seen nuthin’ like this in my entire life and I’ve lived some!” she chattered on in her usual garrulous way.
Pettigrew got her sitting down again and looking back through the little gap in the metal.
“Let’s try it again, Miss, and this time I want you to count how many times the man jumps his horse over the fence, can you do that for me?” Arabella nodded and Pettigrew started the machine spinning again.
“One, Two, three…” as she counted quietly to herself, Pettigrew stretched and yawned (as you, gentle reader, are no doubt yawning now) and spoke.
“Oh, watching that man jumping that horse makes a body so tired and sleepy… yawn … oh, I imagine you’re feeling sleepy too, Arabella, watching him jump and jump and jump…. When he makes jump number twenty, you’re going to fall asleep, quite asleep, and when I snap my fingers you will wake up and listen to me … only to me … eighteen, nineteen, twenty!” his voice joined in with Arabella’s on the last few numbers, as he let the machine trickle to a halt.
Arabella’s eyes had closed but opened again when he snapped his fingers.
“What’s your name?” asked Pettigrew.
The girl turned in her seat and looked at him quite normally, just not her usual excitable self. “Arabella Mudd.” She replied. Again, there was no fake stage trance or staring into space. But there was also no ‘Arabellaisms’ she failed to give her middle name or ramble on gregariously about the history of the illustrious Mudd family in Virginia.
“And where are we?” he asked, evidently trying to gauge whether she was in a trance or just pretending.
“Doctor Danforth’s” she replied, quite normally, but probably more tersely and to the point than she had ever spoken in her entire life. Pettigrew looked satisfied, but glanced down nervously at an open hunter watch, as if he needed to keep an eye on the time, perhaps the mesmerised state could only last so long.