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The Shadow World - Chapter 2 Post by :Jeff_Carter Category :Nonfictions Author :Hamlin Garland Date :May 2012 Read :1077

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The Shadow World - Chapter 2


I was a little late at Cameron's dinner-party, and no sooner had I shown my face inside the door than a chorus of excited inquiry arose.

"Where is the medium?" demanded Cameron.

"Don't tell us you haven't got her!" exclaimed Mrs. Quigg.

"I haven't her in my pocket, but she has promised to appear a little later," I replied, serenely.

"Why didn't you bring her to dinner?" asked Mrs. Cameron.

"Well, she seemed a little shy, and, besides, I was quite sure you would all want to discuss her, and so--"

"Yes, do tell us about her. Who is she? Does she perform for a living? What kind of a person are we to expect?" volleyed Miss Brush.

To this I replied: "She is a native of the Middle West--Ohio, I believe. No, she does not do this for a living; in fact, she makes no charge for her services. She is very gentle and lady-like, and much interested, naturally, in converting you to spiritualism; for, like most psychics, she believes in spirits. She says her 'controls' have especially urged her to give me sittings. I am highly flattered to think the spirit folk should consider me so particularly valuable to their cause. Seriously, I hope you will appreciate the wonderful concessions Mrs. Smiley is making in thus putting herself into our hands with the almost certain result of being discredited by some of us. I believe she really is doing it from a sense of duty, and is entitled to be treated fairly."

"Has she been in the business long?" asked Mrs. Quigg, with lurking sarcasm.

"Ever since she was about ten years old, I believe, but she sits only 'to spread the glad tidings.'"

"Is she married?"

"Yes, and has a devoted husband, and a nice little American village home. I know, for she sent me a photograph of it. She has two children 'in the other world.' Please don't think all mediums the ignorant and vicious harpies which the newspapers make them out to be. I know several who are very nice, serious-minded women."

At this point dinner was announced, and the dining-room became the field of a hot verbal warfare. The members of the society were all present excepting Mrs. Harris, who had been greatly upset by her own performance. Bart Brierly, the painter, was there to defend the mystery of life against our scientific friend Miller, whose conception of the universe was very definite indeed. Mrs. Quigg supported Miller. Young Howard was everywhere in the lists, and his raillery afforded Cameron a great deal of amusement.

I contented myself with listening for the first half-hour, but at last took occasion to say to Miller: "Like all violent opponents of the metapsychical, you know very little of the subject you are discussing. To sustain this contention, let me ask if you have ever read the account of Sir William Crookes's experiments with psychic force?"

Miller confessed that he had not. "I have avoided doing so, for I respect Crookes as a chemist," he added.

I continued: "Crookes began by pooh-poohing the whole subject of spiritualism, very much as you do, Miller; but after three years of rigid investigation, he was forced to announce himself convinced of the truth of many of the so-called spirit phenomena. It is instructive to recall that when he was willing to hazard his scientific reputation on a report of this character to the Royal Society, of which he was a member, his paper was thrown out. The secretary refused even to enter it upon the files of the institution."

"I know about that," replied Miller, "and I consider the secretary justified. To his thinking, Crookes had lost his head."

"No matter what he thought," I replied. "Any paper by a man of Crookes's standing, with his knowledge of chemistry and of life, and his long training in exact observation, should have been considered. The action of the secretary was due simply to prejudice, and many of those who voted to ignore that report are to-day more than half convinced that Sir William has been justified. Each of his experiments has been repeated and his findings verified by scientific men of Europe. It is a pleasure to add that our own Smithsonian Institution published two of his speculative papers some years ago. So it goes--the heresy of to-day is the orthodoxy of to-morrow."

"Didn't Crookes afterward repudiate that early report?" asked Miller.

"On the contrary, in 1898, upon being elected to the presidency of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, he said (I think I can recall almost his exact words): 'No incident in my scientific career is more widely known than the part I took in certain psychic researches. Thirty years have passed since I published an account of experiments tending to show that outside our scientific knowledge there exists a force exercised by intelligences differing from the ordinary intelligence common to mortals. This fact in my life is well understood by those who honored me with the invitation to become your president. Perhaps among my audience some may feel curious as to whether I shall speak out or be silent. I elect to speak, although briefly. I have nothing to retract. I adhere to my published statements. Indeed, I might add much thereto.' And when you realize that this includes his astounding experience with 'Katie King,' his words become tremendous in their significance."

"What was the 'Katie King' experience?" asked Mrs. Cameron. "I never heard of it."

"It is a long and very interesting story, but in substance it is this: While in a condition of contemptuous disbelief as to the alleged phenomena of spiritualism, Sir William chanced to witness a seance wherein a young girl named Florence Cook was the medium. Her doings so puzzled and interested him that he went again and again to see her. Dissatisfied with the conditions under which the wonders took place, he asked Miss Cook to come to his house and sit for him and his friends. This she did. She was a mere girl at the time, about seventeen years of age, and yet she baffled this great chemist and all his assistants. You sometimes hear people say, 'Yes, but he was in his dotage.' He was not. He was in his early prime. He brought to bear all his thirty years' training in exact observation, and all the mechanical and electrical appliances he could devise, without once detecting anything deceitful."

"Even in the 'Katie King' episode?" asked Harris.

"Even Katie stood the test. But before going into that, let me tell you some of his other experiments. He says (among other amazing things) that he has seen a chair move on its own account, without contact with a medium. He saw Daniel Home--another medium with whom he had sittings--raised by invisible power completely from the floor of the room. 'Under rigid test condition,' he writes, 'I have seen a solid, self-luminous body the size of an egg float noiselessly about the room!' But wait! I will quote from my notes his exact words." Here I produced my note-book, and read as follows: "'I have seen a luminous cloud floating upward toward a picture. Under the strictest test conditions, I have more than once had a solid, self-luminous, crystalline body placed in my hand by a hand which did not belong to any person in the room. _In the light_, I have seen a luminous cloud hover over a heliotrope on a side-table, break a sprig off, and carry it to a lady; and on some occasions I have seen a similar luminous cloud condense to the form of a hand and carry small objects about. During a seance in full light, a beautifully formed small hand rose up from an opening in a dining-table and gave me a flower. This occurred in the light in my own room, while I was holding the medium's hands and feet. I have retained one of these perfectly life-like and graceful (spirit) hands in my own, firmly resolved not to let it escape, but it gradually seemed to resolve itself into vapor, and faded in that manner from my grasp.'"

"Oh, come now," shouted Howard, "you're joking! Crookes couldn't have written that."

I continued to read: "'Under satisfactory test conditions, I have seen phantom forms and faces--a phantom form came from the corner of the room, took an accordion in its hand, and glided about the room playing the instrument.'"

As I paused, Harris said: "Was all that in his report to the Royal Society?"

"It was."

"Well, I don't wonder they thought he was crazy. The whole statement is preposterous."

"But that is not all," I hastened to say. "Under rigid conditions scales were depressed without contact, and a flower, separating itself from a bouquet, passed through a solid table."

Miller made a gesture of angry disgust. "To save the reputation of a really great scientist, don't quote any more of that insane dreaming."

"I didn't know any one but campers in 'Lily Dale' could be so bug-house," added Howard.

I went on. "Crookes might have induced his brother scientists at least to listen to his report had he stopped with this. But he proceeded to say that he had witnessed the magic birth of a sentient, palpable, intelligent human being, who walked about in his household, conversing freely, while the medium, from whom the spirit form sprang, lay in the cabinet like one dead. It was his account of this 'spirit,' who called herself 'Katie King,' that caused the whole scientific world to jeer at the great chemist as a man gone mad."

"We have a right to draw the line between Crookes the chemist and Crookes the befuddled dupe," insisted Miller.

Mrs. Cameron drew a long breath. "Do you mean to say that this 'Katie King' phantom actually _talked with the people in the room? Does Sir William Crookes say that?"

"Yes. Over and over again he declares that 'Katie King' appeared as real as any one else in his house. He becomes quite lyrical in description of her beauty. She was like a pearl in her purity. Her flesh seemed a sublimation of ordinary human flesh. And the grace of her manner was so extraordinary that Lady Crookes and all who saw her became deeply enamoured of her. She allowed some of them to kiss her, and Crookes himself was permitted to grasp her hand and walk up and down the room with her."

"How was she dressed?" asked Mrs. Brush.

"There! Now we are getting at the essentials," I exclaimed. "Usually in white with a turban."

"Did she look like the medium?"

"She was utterly unlike Miss Cook in several physical details. She was half a head taller, her face was broader, her ears had not been pierced, and she was free from certain facial scars that Miss Cook bore; and once when Miss Cook was suffering from a severe cold, Sir William tested 'Katie King's' lungs and found them in perfect health. On several occasions he and several of his friends, among them eminent scientists, saw 'Katie' and the medium together, and at last succeeded in photographing them both on the same plate, although never with Miss Cook's face exposed, because of the danger, to one in a trance, from the shock of a flash-light."

"I don't take any stock in that excuse," said Howard. "But go on, I like this."

"For months the great chemist brought all his skill to bear on Miss Cook's mediumship without detecting any fraud or finding any solution of the mystery. The sittings, which took place in his own library, were under his own conditions, and he had the assistance of several young and clever physicists, and yet he could not convict Miss Cook of double-dealing. The story of the final seance, when 'Katie King' announced her departure, is as affecting as a scene in a play. She had said that her real name was 'Annie Morgan,' but that in the spirit world she was known as 'Katie King.' She came, she said, to do a certain work, and now, after three years, that work was done, and she must return to the spirit world."

"What was that work?"

"To convince the world of the spirit life, I imagine. 'When the time came for "Katie" to take her farewell,' writes Crookes, 'I asked that she would let me see the last of her. Accordingly when she had called each of the company up to her and had spoken a few words in private, she gave some general directions for the future guidance and protection of Miss Cook. From these, which were taken down in shorthand, I quote the following: "Mr. Crookes has done very well throughout, and I leave Florrie (the medium), with the greatest confidence, in his hands." Having concluded her directions, "Katie" invited me into the cabinet with her, and allowed me to remain until the end.'"

"Touching confidence!" interrupted Harris.

"'After closing the curtain she conversed with me for some time, and then walked across to where Miss Cook was lying senseless on the floor. Stooping over her, "Katie" touched her and said: "Wake up, Florrie, wake up! I must leave you now."

"'Miss Cook then woke, and tearfully entreated "Katie" to stay a little time longer.

"'"My dear, I can't; my work is done. God bless you," "Katie" replied, and then continued speaking to Miss Cook for several minutes. For several minutes the two were conversing with each other, till at last Miss Cook's tears prevented her speaking. Following "Katie's" instructions, I then came forward to support Miss Cook, who was falling onto the floor, sobbing hysterically. I looked round, but the white-robed "Katie" had gone, never to return to the earth-plane.'"

I glanced about the table at my silent listeners, and added: "Could anything be more dramatic than this sad farewell? Evidently the fourth dimension is both near and very far."

All the women were deeply impressed with this story, but to Miller it was as idle as the blowing of the wind. "The man was duped. It is absolutely impossible to think that he was not grossly deceived."

"Wait a moment," said I. "I defy you or any man to remain unchanged by it. The world is just catching up to this brave pioneer. At that time there were very few scientific men in the metapsychical field. Sir William stood almost alone. But public sentiment changed rapidly as the years passed. The English Society for Psychical Research was formed, and one by one Wallace, Lodge, and other scientific men were convinced of the truth of these phenomena. In Europe, as early as 1853, the work was taken up in the true scientific spirit, and Professor Marc Thury and the Count de Gasparin completely demonstrated the fact of telekinesis; and at about the same time that the Dialectical Society was getting into action, Flammarion, the astronomer, took up his study of the subject. But it was not until 1891 that anything like Crookes's searching analysis was made of a medium. This important sitting--a sitting which marks an epoch in science--took place in Milan, and was attended, among others, by Lombroso and Richet. For the first time, so far as is known, a flash-light photograph was taken of a table floating in the air."

At this moment the bell rang, and Mrs. Cameron exclaimed: "There! that may be your wonder-worker."

I looked at my watch. "I shouldn't wonder. She is a prompt little person."

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The Shadow World - Chapter 3 The Shadow World - Chapter 3

The Shadow World - Chapter 3
CHAPTER IIIWe trooped into the sitting-room Mrs. Smiley, a plain little woman with a sweet mouth and bright black eyes, was awaiting us. She was perceptibly abashed by the keen glances that the men directed upon her, but her manners were those of one natively thoughtful and refined. She made an excellent impression on every one. "Did you bring your magic horn, Mrs. Smiley?" I asked, to relieve her embarrassment. "Oh yes!" she answered, brightly. "I carry that just as a fiddler carries his fiddle--ready for a tune at any moment." She brought a large package from the foot of

The Shadow World - Chapter 1 The Shadow World - Chapter 1

The Shadow World - Chapter 1
CHAPTER IA hush fell over the dinner-table, and every ear was open and inclined as Cameron, the host, continued: "No, I wouldn't say that. There are some things that are pretty well established--telepathy, for instance." "I don't believe even in telepathy," asserted Mrs. Quigg, a very positive journalist who sat at his right. "I think even _that is mere coincidence." Several voices rose in a chorus of protest. "Oh no! Telepathy is real. Why, I've had experiences--" "There you go!" replied Mrs. Quigg, still in the heat of her opposition. "You will all tell the same story. Your friend was dying