312 Concerning the Carnival of Crime in Connecticut
Look here, friend — look me in the eye. Who are you?"
" Well, who do you think?"
" I think you are Satan himself. I think you are the devil."
" No? Then who can you be?"
" Would you really like to know?"
" Indeed I would."
" Well, I am your Conscience !"
In an instant I was in a blaze of joy and exultation. I sprang at the creature, roaring:
" Curse you, I have wished a hundred million times that you were tangible, and that I could get my hands on your throat once! Oh, but I will wreak a deadly vengeance on—"
Folly ! Lightning does not move more quickly than my Conscience did ! He darted aloft so suddenly that in the moment my fingers clutched the empty air he was already perched on the top of the high bookcase, with his thumb at his nose in token of derision. I flung the poker at him, and missed. I fired the bootjack. In a blind rage I flew from place to place, and snatched and hurled any missile that came handy; the storm of books, inkstands, and chunks of coal gloomed the air and beat about the manikin's perch relentlessly, but all to no purpose; the nimble figure dodged every shot; and not only that, but burst into a cackle of sarcastic and triumphant laughter as I sat down exhausted. While I puffed and gasped with fatigue and excitement, my Conscience talked to this effect:
" My good slave, you are curiously witless — no, I mean characteristically so. In truth, you are always consistent, always yourself, always an ass. Otherwise it must have occurred to you that if you attempted this murder with a sad heart and a heavy conscience, I