Library Collections: Document: Full Text

A Mind That Found Itself: An Autobiography

Creator: Clifford Whittingham Beers (author)
Date: 1910
Publisher: Longmans, Green, and Co., New York
Source: Available at selected libraries

Previous Page   Next Page   All Pages 

Page 41:


"If you will keep still a minute, I will," said Jekyll-Hyde. I obeyed, and willingly too, for I did not care to suffer more than was necessary. Instead of loosening the strait-jacket as agreed, this doctor, now livid with rage, drew the cords in such a way that I found myself more securely and cruelly held than before. This breach of faith threw me into a frenzy. Though it was because his continued presence served to aggravate my condition that Jekyll-Hyde at last withdrew, it will be observed that he did not do so until he had satisfied an unmanly desire which an apparently lurking hatred had engendered. The attendants soon withdrew and locked me up for the night.


No one incident of my whole life has ever impressed itself more indelibly on my memory. Within one hour's time I was suffering pain as intense as any I ever endured, and before the night had passed that pain had become almost unbearable. My right hand was so held that the tip of one of my fingers was all but cut by the nail of another, and soon knife-like pains began to shoot through my right arm as far as the shoulder. If there be any so curious as to wish to get a slight idea of my agony, let him bite a finger tip as hard as he can without drawing blood. Let him continue the operation for two or three minutes. Then let him multiply that effect, if he can, by two or three hundred. In my case, after four or five hours the excess of pain rendered me partially insensible to it. But for nine hundred minutes -- fifteen consecutive hours -- I remained in that strait-jacket; and not until the twelfth hour, about breakfast time the next morning, did an attendant so much as loosen a cord.


During the first seven or eight hours, excruciating pains racked not only my arms, but most of my body. For the first and only time in my life I had hysterics. And, though I cried and moaned, in fact, screamed so loudly that the attendants must have heard me, little attention was paid to me, -- probably because of the strict orders from "Mr. Hyde," after he had again assumed the role of "Doctor Jekyll." I even begged the attendants to loosen the jacket enough to ease me a little. This they refused to do, and they seemed to enjoy being in a position to add their considerable mite to my torture.


Before midnight I really believed that I should be unable to endure the torture and retain my reason. A peculiar pricking sensation which I now felt in my brain, a sensation exactly like that of June, 1900, led me to believe that I might again be thrown out of touch with the world I had so lately regained. Realizing the awfulness of that fate I redoubled my efforts to effect my rescue. Shortly after midnight I did succeed in gaining the attention of the night-watch. Upon entering my room he found me flat on the floor. I had fallen from the bed and perforce remained absolutely helpless where I lay. I could not so much as lift my head.


This however, was not the fault of the strait-jacket. It was because I could not control the muscles of my neck which that day had been so mauled. I could scarcely swallow the water the night-watch was good enough to give me. This night-watch was not a bad sort of fellow; yet even he refused to loosen the strait-jacket a fraction of an inch. As he seemed sympathetic, I can attribute his refusal to nothing but strict orders issued by the assistant physician.


It will be recalled that I placed a piece of glass in my mouth before the strait-jacket was adjusted. At midnight the glass was still there. After the refusal of the night-watch, I said to him: "Then I want you to go to Doctor Jekyll" (I, of course, called him by his right name; but to do so now would be to prove myself as brutal as Mr. Hyde himself). "Tell him to come here at once and loosen this jacket. I can't endure the torture much longer. After fighting two years to regain my reason, I believe I'll lose my mind again. You have always treated me kindly. For God's sake, get the doctor!"


"I can't leave the main building at this time," said the night-watch. (Jekyll-Hyde lived in a house about one-eighth of a mile distant, but within the hospital grounds.)


"Will you then take a message to the assistant physician who stays here?" (One of the two assistant physicians had apartments in the main building.)


"I'll do that," he replied.


"Tell him how I'm suffering. Ask him to please come here at once and ease this strait-jacket. If he doesn't I'll be as crazy by morning as I ever was. Also tell him I'll kill myself unless he comes, and I can do it, too. I have a piece of glass in this room and I know just what I'll do with it."


The night-watch was as good as his word. He afterwards told me that he had delivered my message. The doctor ignored it. He did not come near me that night, nor the next day, nor did Jekyll-Hyde appear until his usual round of inspection about eleven o'clock the next morning.


"I understand that you have a piece of glass which you threatened to use for a suicidal purpose last night," said he, when he appeared.

Previous Page   Next Page

Pages:  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26  27  28  29  30  31  32  33  34  35  36  37  38  39  40  41  42  43  44  45  46  47  48  49  50  51  52  53  54  55  56  57  58  59  60  61  62  63  64  65  66  67  68  69  70  71  72  73  74  75  76  77  78  79  80  81  82  83  84  85  86  87  88  89  90  91  92  93  94  95  96  97  98  99  100  101  102  103  104  105  106  107  108  109  110  111  112  113  114  115  116    All Pages