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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Tyranny Of The Dark - Book 2 - Chapter 13. The Test Seance
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The Tyranny Of The Dark - Book 2 - Chapter 13. The Test Seance Post by :p00kie Category :Long Stories Author :Hamlin Garland Date :May 2012 Read :1200

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The Tyranny Of The Dark - Book 2 - Chapter 13. The Test Seance


Morton's study was decided upon as the most suitable place in which to experiment, for the reason that it had but one exit, a sliding double door, which led to the library, and its windows all opened upon the street, six stories below. A burglar could not have entered with full license to do so.

Viola assisted Morton and Kate in clearing the big mahogany table, while Weissmann conferred with Clarke. To judge from the girl's gayety and eager interest the preparations were for a game of cards rather than for a test seance in which her love and honor were at stake. Mrs. Lambert was quite serene; Clarke alone seemed anxious and ill at ease.

Weissmann, at Morton's request, assumed general direction, and betrayed an astonishing familiarity with the requirements. Under his direction they grouped themselves about the table as for whist, Viola at the north end, with Clarke directly opposite, and Kate and Mrs. Lambert on either side and quite near him. The two inquisitors then took seats--Morton at the psychic's right, Weissmann at her left.

When the positions were all decided upon, Viola, with a note of disappointment in her voice, asked, "Aren't you going to tie me?"

"Oh no," replied Morton, "the conditions are yours to-night. You are our guest. Our tests will be made at some other time."

"Please make them to-night," she pleaded. "Please make them as hard as you can."

Weissmann's glasses glistened upon her with joyful acclaim. "Very good, your wishes shall be met. Let us see--we shall tie you. Have you something suitable?" he asked of his assistant.

Morton took from his desk a roll of white tape. "How will this do?"

"Just the thing," Weissmann replied; "but we must have no knots, no tying. Kate, get your needle, we must fasten Miss Lambert in such wise that no one can say, 'Oh, she untied the knots!'"

Under his supervision Kate looped the tape about Viola's wrists and sewed it fast to her close-fitting satin cuffs. She then encircled her ankles with the tape, and Morton drew the long ends under and far back of the chair and nailed them to the floor. Thereupon Weissmann said, "I wish to nail these wristbands to the chair-arm.--Do we sacrifice the cuffs?" he asked of Viola.

"Yes, yes--anything. Nail as hard as you please."

"And the chair?" pursued the old man, glancing at Morton.

"Oh, certainly," replied he. "Science goes before furniture in this house," and a couple of long brass tacks were driven firmly down through both tape and sleeve.

"You poor child!" exclaimed Kate. "If they hurt you, cry out, and I will free you."

Weissmann then fastened a silk thread to her wrist and gave one end to Morton. "We will keep this taut," he said; "every motion will be felt."

As they worked the enthusiasm of investigation filled their eyes. They lost sight of the fact that all this precaution implied a doubt of the girl, and Viola on her part remained as blithe as if it were all a game of hide-and-seek.

Clarke, too, became exultant. "McLeod, now is your opportunity," he called to the invisible guide. "Bring your band and put the monist bigots to rout."

Morton moved about the girl with growing excitement, a subtle fire mounting to his brain each time his fingers touched her smooth, round wrists. Once she said, "I have never had a real test like this--this is what I wanted you to do. If anything happens now it will be outside of me, won't it?"

"We must be cruel in order to be kind," he answered, enigmatically.

At last Weissmann stood clear of her. "Now we are ready," he said, beaming with satisfaction. "You see I lock this door and here is the key." He held it up in confirmation. "I pocket the key. Now what?"

"Turn down the gas," replied Clarke. "Do not use electricity--the room must be perfectly dark."

"Why _perfectly dark? I don't like that." Weissmann spoke with manifest irritation. "We should be able to see something."

Clarke shrugged his shoulders. "You can do as you wish. The guides say their manifestations are antagonized by light--and that darkness is necessary for these special phenomena of the cone."

"Oh, we _have no cone!" exclaimed Mrs. Lambert.

"Cone? What cone?" asked Weissmann.

"We need some sort of megaphone to enlarge the spirit-voices."

"Make one of card-board," suggested Viola. "Any sort of horn will do."

Morton rose and took down a horn from the top of a bookcase. "Here is the megaphone of my phonograph; will it do?"

Clarke examined it. "It's rather heavy, but I think they will use it. Place it on the table. Put a pad and pencil there also," he added. "We may get some writing."

"Anything else?"

"No--now we are quite ready," replied Clarke, in his exhibition voice. "It is well to touch hands for a time--until the psychic sinks into her trance."

"With your permission," said Morton to Viola.

A faint flush came into her face. "Certainly, professor," and a touch of emphasis on his title had the effect of a slight, a very slight rebuff.

Clarke turned the light down to a mere point of yellow fire, and in the sudden gloom all were plunged into silence. "Now, whatever you do, gentlemen, don't startle the psychic after she goes into sleep."

Morton, with his fingers resting lightly on Viola's soft hand, experienced a keen, pang of sympathetic pain. "She is so charming! What profanation to develop the seamy side of her nature! What pitiful tomfoolery! She is in the lion's mouth now--and yet how eagerly she seemed to desire it. Weissmann has made anything but the simplest ventriloquistic performance impossible--she cannot lift a hand. To save her from herself, as well as from Clarke, it is necessary to expose her weakness as well as his trickery."

She was saying, in answer to a question: "No, Dr. Weissmann, I have no control over the manifestations; in fact, the more anxious I am, the longer we have to wait. I cannot promise anything to-night--"

Morton, hearing this, inwardly commented; "These obscure forms of hysteria often possess the cunning, the dissimulation of madness. Poor girl! She is beginning to realize her predicament, and is preparing us for disappointment," and a return of his doubt kept him silent.

Weissmann spoke. "Shall we not sing something--'We Shall Meet Beyond the River,' or some ditty like that?"

Thereat Kate said: "Doctor, you betray astonishing familiarity with the ways of 'spooks.'"

"Oh, I know everything."

"I begin to believe it," she retorted. "I begin to suspect that you are a secret adherent. Morton, you would better tie Dr. Weissmann, otherwise he may speak from the cone himself."

As if to counteract this banter Clarke began a discourse on the leadings of the most recent discoveries:

"The X-ray is a mode of motion, as light is a mode of motion, but the waves of light move in such a way as to clash with and weaken those of the X-ray; so we argue that the mode of motion, through which disembodied souls manifest themselves, being far subtler than the X-ray, is neutralized--though by no means destroyed--by the motion called light. Furthermore, there seems to be a reluctance on the part of the invisible ones to have the actual processes scrutinized. I once laid a pencil on the table and asked for a visible action of writing, vainly, so long as it was completely exposed, but upon being covered with a silk handkerchief it plainly rose and wrote. It could be distinctly seen moving beneath the cloth. Sir William Crookes had a similar experience, except in his case he saw the pencil move, prop itself against a ruler, and try three times to write--all in the light. I have seen letters form on an exposed surface of a slate, I have had hands appear through a curtain and write in the light, but the power must always be generated in shadow."

Kate shuddered. "Woo! It gives me the shivers to think of such things. Will anything as wonderful happen to-night?"

"I cannot tell--the conditions are severe, but I think we will have something. Viola?" he called, softly.

"Yes," she answered, faintly.

"Would you like us to sing?"

"No--I'd rather you'd all talk. Perhaps they will let me take part in the demonstration to-night. They promised to do so, you remember."

Weissman recounted some of the experiences Zoellner had enjoyed in Germany shortly after the Fox sisters became so celebrated in America. "Crookes and Wallace and several others went into the whole question at that time--the world rang with the controversy. But the clamor passed, the phenomena passed. It is like an epidemic, it comes and it goes, and in the end is humanity the wiser? No."

"Yes, it is," broke in Clarke. "We are just that much more certain of the indestructible life of the soul--every wave of this spirit-sea leaves a deposit of fact on the beach of time, makes death that much less dreadful. We make gains each decade. Sir William Crookes, Sir Oliver Lodge, Alfred Russel Wallace, Lombroso have all been convinced of the reality of these phenomena. Surely such men must influence the thought of their time. Experimental psychology is on the right road--"

Morton was suffering with the girl, whose hand was beginning to tremble beneath his palm. She no longer replied to his questions, but that she was still awake he knew, for he could hear her sighing deeply, so deeply that the sound troubled him almost as if she were weeping. His impulse was to rise and turn on the light and give over this trial, which could only end in humiliating her. "Her temerity is a part of her malady," he argued. "It has arisen through years of misconceived petting and nursing on the part of her mother. Up to this moment her performances have always been in the presence of friends and relatives, or for the consolation of those eager to believe, and therefore easily deluded. Every sitter has conspired to practically force her into an elaborate series of deceptions, each deceit being built upon and made necessary by the other. It is pitiful, but she now believes in herself--that is pathetically certain. Otherwise she would not have yielded herself so completely into the hands of an inexorable investigator like Weissmann. She must take the consequences," he ended, with grim closing of the lips. "We must be cruel in order to be kind. This night may be her salvation."

Weissmann was replying to Mrs. Lambert. "I do not care for a return of my dead, madam; what I wish your daughter to do is quite simple. I would like her to move a particle of matter from A to B, without a known push or a pull--that is to say, by a power not known to science--as Zoellner claimed Slade was able to do for him."

"She can do it," cried Clarke. "She can move a chair from A to B without bringing to bear any of the known forces. She can suspend the law of gravity. She can make a closed piano play, and she can read sealed letters in an ebony box tightly closed and locked."

"You claim too much, my friend," replied Weissmann, ironically. "We shall be satisfied with much less. If she will change one one-hundredth part of a grain from one scale to another, under my conditions, I will be satisfied. The most wonderful phenomena taking place in the dark have no value to me."

Mrs. Lambert interposed. "Please don't argue--it prevents the coming of the spirits."

Both men felt rebuked and the group again settled into silence. Suddenly, Kate began to laugh, "Isn't it childish? Really, Morton, if our friends could see us sitting around here in the dark, as we are now, they would roar. Why should it all be so silly, Mr. Clarke?"

"It is _not silly if we take the right view. We must sit together in order to get into harmony. We further these conditions by sitting in subdued light with fingers touching. Song adds still more to this concert of thought. Nothing is really silly or prosaic--all depends upon the minds of those--"

He was in the midst of an elaborate defence of spirit methods when Viola's hand began to leap as if struggling to be free. She moaned and sighed and writhed so powerfully that her chair creaked. "Oh, dear! Oh, dear!" she cried, gaspingly.

"Is she trying to free her hands?" Morton asked himself, with roused suspicion. "Is this a ruse to cover some trick?"

Mrs. Lambert spoke quietly. "She is going! Sing something, Anthony."

Clarke began to hum a monotonous tune, while Morton, bending towards the girl, listened to her gurgling moans with growing heartache. "She seems in great pain, Mrs. Lambert. Don't you think we'd better release her? I do not care to purchase sensation so clearly at her expense."

"Don't be alarmed, she always seems to suffer that way when some great manifestation is about to take place."

The poor girl's outcries so nearly resembled those of a death struggle that Kate at last rose. "Turn up that light! She is being strangled!"

"Please be silent!" said Clarke, almost angrily. "Take your hands from her, gentlemen! You are too 'strong'--and do not startle her! Be quiet everybody!"

Morton took his hand away in anger and disgust. "All this is a ruse to weaken our grasp upon her," he thought. "Even the mother, so serene, so candid, is aiding the deception."

"Things will happen now," remarked Mrs. Lambert, confidently; "she is giving herself up at last."

The girl drew a long, deep, peaceful sigh, and became silent, so silent that Morton, leaning far over, with suspended breath, his ear almost to her lips, could detect no sound, no slightest movement, and listening thus he had for an instant a singular vision of her. He seemed to see her laughing silently at him from a distant upper corner of the room, and for the moment secured a glimpse into a new and amazing world--the world of darkness and silence wherein matter was fluid, imponderable, an insubstantial world peopled, nevertheless, with rustling, busy souls.

A sharp rapping began on the cone, a measured beat, which ended in a clang, which startled Kate into a shriek. "Who is doing that?" she asked, nervously.

"They are here," Clarke solemnly announced.

"Is that you, Waltie?" asked Mrs. Lambert, sweetly.

Three raps, loud and clear, answered "yes." A drumming on the cone followed, and Mrs. Lambert, her voice full of maternal pride, remarked: "Waltie is the life of our sittings--he's _such a rogue! You must be a nice boy to-night--on account of these very distinguished men."

"Rap, rap!" went the cone.

"Does that mean 'all right'?"

"Rap, rap, rap!" Yes.

"Is grandfather there?"


"Does he wish to speak to the gentlemen?"


"Are we sitting right?"

A decided thump--"No."

Guided by the rapping Mrs. Lambert and Kate moved down to the foot of the table, sitting close beside Clarke, thus leaving Morton and Weissmann alone with the sleeping girl. No sooner were they rearranged than the table began to move, precisely as though pushed by the girl's feet. Still guided by the rapping, Weissmann and Morton moved with the table, but retained their threads of silk. Morton's pity had given place to a feeling of resentment at this device to get them farther away, and he drew his tell-tale thread tight across his finger. "If she moves she is betrayed," he thought with hardening heart.

No sooner were they settled than a fumbling sound began in the middle of the table, and the pencil was twice lifted and dropped. Following this the leaves of the writing-pad rustled as though being thumbed by boyish hands.

Kate shivered and cried out: "This is uncanny! Morton, are you doing this?"

"Certainly not," he replied, curtly.

"Do you feel any motion in your thread?" asked Weissmann, in a quiet voice.

"None whatever," Morton replied.

"Then the psychic is not moving."

Again they sat in silence, and after some minutes the fumbling began again and the horn was heard scraping slowly about, as if being lifted with effort only to fall back with a clang.

"Is it too heavy?" asked Clarke.

Three sharp raps replied--an angry "yes"--and then, with a petulant swing, the instrument apparently left the table and floated upon the air. In deep amazement Morton listened for some movement, some sound from Viola, but there was none, not a breath, not a rustle of motion where she sat, and the silk thread was tight and calm. "She has nothing to do with _that_," he said, beneath his breath.

Kate called excitedly, "Oh! It touched me."

"What touched you?" asked Weissmann.

"The horn."

"Did it bump you?"

"No, it seemed to float against me."

Morton spoke out sharply: "Where is Mr. Clarke?"

"Right here on my right," replied Kate.

"What idiotic business!" he exclaimed, mystified, nevertheless.

The horn dropped to the middle of the table, but was immediately swept into the air again as if by a new and more vigorous hand, and a voice heavily mixed with air, but a man's voice unmistakably, spoke directly to Morton, sternly, contemptuously.

"We meet you on your own level. You asked for material tests, and now conditions being as you have made them--proceed. What would you have us do?"

"Who are you?"

"I am Donald McLeod--grandfather to the psychic."

At this moment Morton became seized of the most vivid realization of the physical characteristics of the man back of the voice. In some mysterious way, through some hitherto unknown sense, he was aware of a long, rugged face, with bleak and knobby brow. The lips were thin, the mouth wide, the dark-gray eyes contemptuous. "It is all an inner delusion caused by some resemblance of this voice to that of some one I have known," he said to himself; but a shiver ran over him as he questioned the old man. "If you are the grandfather of the psychic," he said, "I would like to ask you if you think it fair to a young girl to use her against her will for such foolery as this?"

"The purposes are grand, the work she is doing important--therefore I answer yes. She is yet but a child, and the things she does of her own motion trivial and vain. We make of her an instrument that will enable man to triumph over the grave. You will observe that we do not harm her, we take but little of her time, after all. You are unnecessarily alarmed. Our regard for her welfare far exceeds yours. Her troubles arise from her resistance. If she would yield herself entirely, she would be happy."

As the voice paused, Morton asked, "Weissmann, can you hear what is being said to me?"

"Very indistinctly," answered Weissmann.

"What does it say?" asked Kate. "I can only hear a kind of jumble."

Weissmann interjected; "I must ask you, Mrs. Rice, have you tight hold of Mr. Clarke's hand?"

"Yes," answered Kate.

Morton's brain whirled in confusion and conjecture. He believed the whole thing to be a piece of juggling, and yet he could not connect Viola in any way with it, and it seemed impossible, also, for Mrs. Lambert to sit where she was and handle the cone, to say nothing of the ventriloquistic skill necessary to carry on this conversation. He again addressed the voice: "You consider your control of the psychic to be justified?"

"We do."

"Do you know, also, what perilous notoriety, what positive disgrace--from every human point of view--you are about to bring upon her?"

The hidden old man pondered a moment, as if to master a profound contempt, then answered: "We have taken all things into account. When she has grown to years of sobriety she will thank us that we turned her aside from dancing and from light conversation, and from all loose-minded companions. All the sane pleasures are now hers. She is soon to be idolized by thousands. Her playing on the piano, her singing are as the rustle of leaves in the forest compared to her mediumship, which is as a trumpet-blast opening the gates of the city of refuge to let the weary traveller in." The voice weakened a little. "The earth-life is but a school--the real life is here. Besides, when she has completely subordinated her will to ours, when she has given our message--" The spirit grand-sire seemed to falter and diminish. "My power is waning, but I will again manifest. We will try--" The voice stopped as though a door had been shut upon the speaker, and the megaphone dropped upon the table.

"All that is very interesting," commented Weissmann, "but inconclusive. Is it all over?"

"Oh no," answered Mrs. Lambert. "They are uniting upon something wonderful--I feel it."

As they listened the horn moved feebly, uneasily rising a few inches, only to fall as though some weak hand were struggling with it; but at last it turned towards Weissmann, and from it issued the voice of a little girl, thrillingly sweet and so clear that Serviss could hear every word. She addressed Weissmann in German, calling him father, asking him to tell mother not to grieve, that they would soon all be together in a bright land.

To this Weissmann replied in harsh accent: "You assert you are my daughter?"

The voice sweetly answered: "Yes, I am Mina--"

"But Mina could not understand a word of English--how is that?"

The little voice hesitated. "It is hard to explain," she replied, still in German. "I can _understand you in any language--but I can only speak as you taught me."

Thereupon he addressed her in French, to which she replied easily, but in her native tongue.

As this curious dialogue went on Serviss was searching vainly for an explanation. "Mr. Clarke, will you kindly speak at the same time that this voice appears?"

Clarke began a discourse, and the two voices went on at the same time. The young scientist then said: "Mrs. Lambert, will you permit Kate to lay her hand over your lips? You understand, it is for the sake of science--"

"Certainly," said Mrs. Lambert.

Here the test failed of completeness, it was so difficult to get the three voices precisely together; but at last it seemed that the child's voice was produced at the same time that Clarke spoke and while Kate's hand covered the mother's mouth.

Thereupon the little voice said farewell, and all was silent for a few moments. The cone rose again into the air and a soft, sibilant voice addressed Mrs. Lambert.

"Oh!" she cried, joyfully. "It is Robert!--Yes, dear, I'm listening. I'm so glad you've come. Can't you talk with Professor Serviss?--He says he will try," she said to the company.

As Morton waited the cone gently touched him on the shoulder, and a moment later a man's voice, utterly different from the first one and of most refined accent, half spoke, half whispered: "We are glad to meet you, professor. I am deeply gratified by your interest in our dear girl."

"Who are you?" he asked, moved, in spite of himself, by a liking for this new personality, so distinct from the others.

"I am R.M. Waldron--Viola's father."

He seemed to wait for questions, and Serviss asked: "How do _you feel about your daughter's mediumship? Are you not uneasy when you think of what you are demanding of her?"

The invisible one sighed, hesitated, and replied with evident sadness: "It troubles me to find her reluctant. I wish she were happier in the work. It seems so important to us." Then the voice brightened. "But perhaps it is only for a little while. After the public test--after the truth of her mediumship is made manifest--I think, I hope, we will ask less of her. Perhaps it will be possible to release her altogether for a time; but for the present she is too valuable--" The sentence was lost in a buzz of inarticulate whispering, as if two or three friends were consulting. The opening and closing of lips could be heard, and a stir within the horn was curiously trivial in effect, as if a mouse were at play with a dry leaf.

"If I were to organize a committee of men like Weissmann and Tolman, and other men of international fame, willing to test your daughter's powers, will you give over this public demonstration--this publishing of a challenge?"

Clarke interrupted almost angrily. "Not unless you promise to--"

"Be silent!" commanded Weissmann.

From the horn came a faint murmur, so dim, so far, Serviss could, with difficulty, distinguish the words. "We will consider that. I am going. Guard my girl. Good-bye."

The horn, again seemed to rest, and for a long time no sound or stir broke the silence, till at last Viola began to writhe in her chair in greater agony than before.

"I think she is waking," said Morton.

Mrs. Lambert answered, quickly: "No. Some great event is preparing--when this paroxysm passes some very beautiful test will come."

While Morton and Weissmann were considering this the girl again became silent as a stone, and a moment later a clear, sweet sound pulsed through the air as if an exquisite crystal bell had been struck. Then, while still this signal trembled in his ear, a whispering noise developed just before the young man's face, as if tremulous lips were closing and unclosing in anxious effort to communicate a message without the use of the trumpet.

"Is some one trying to speak to me?" he asked, gently.

Three measured strokes upon, the tiny bell replied, and with their pulsations the room seemed to stir with a new and different throng of winged memories. The very air took on mystery and beauty and a sweet gravity. Matter was for the moment as subtle, as imponderable as soul.

"Who is it?" he asked, and into his voice, in spite of himself, crept a note of awe.

The answer came instantly, faint as the fall of an autumn leaf on the grass.


Kate bent eagerly forward, "Who was it, Morton?"

Ignoring her question Morton addressed the invisible one. "Can't you speak again?"

There was no reply and the whispering ceased. Almost instantly the horn seemed grasped by a firm and masterful hand, and the rollicking voice of a man broke startlingly from the darkness in words so clear, so resonant, that all could hear them.

"Hello, folks. Is this a Quaker meeting?"

"Who are you?" asked Morton.

"Can't you guess?"

Kate gasped. "Why, it's Uncle Ben Roberts!"

The voice chuckled. "Right the first time. It's old 'Loggy'--true bill. How are you all?"

Kate could hardly speak, so great was her fear and joy. "Morton Serviss, what do you think now? Ask him--"

The voice from the trumpet interposed. "Don't ask me a word about conditions over here--it's no use. I can't tell you a thing."

"Why not?" asked Morton.

"Well, how would you describe a Connecticut winter to a Hottentot? Not that you're a Hottentot"--the voice broke into an oily chuckle--"or that I'm in a cold climate." The chuckle was renewed. "I'm very comfortable, thank you." Here the invisible one grew tender. "My boy, your mother is here and wants to speak to you but can't do so. She asked me to manifest for her. She says to trust this girl and to carry a message of love to Henry. I brought one of her colonial wineglasses with me--as a sign of her presence and as a test of the power we have of passing through matter."

For nearly an hour this voice kept up a perfectly normal conversation with a running fire of quips and cranks--recalling incidents in the lives of both Kate and Morton, arguing basic principles with Weissmann yet never quite replying to the most searching questions, and finally ended by saying: "Your conception of matter is childish. There is no such thing as you understand it, and yet the universe is not as Kant conceived it. As liberated spirits we move in an essence subtler than any matter known to you--ether is a gross thing compared to spirit. Your knowledge is merely rudimentary--but keep on. Take up this work and my band will meet you half-way. My boy, the question of the persistence of the individual after death is the most vital of all questions. Apply your keen mind to it and depend on old 'Loggy.' Good-by!"

Kate was quivering with excitement. "Morton, that settles it for me. That certainly was 'Loggy.' Oh, I wish mother could have spoken."

Morton's voice was eager and penetrating as he said: "Mrs. Lambert, I would like to place my hand on your daughter's arm again, I must be permitted to demonstrate conclusively that she has had nothing to do with the handling of the horn."

"I will ask the 'guides.' Father, can Professor Serviss--"

Three feeble raps anticipated her question.

"They say 'yes'--but they are very doubtful--so please be very gentle."

Serviss rose, his blood astir. At last he was about to remove his doubt--or prove Viola's guilt. "Doctor," he said, and his voice was incisive, "take the other side and place a hand on her wrist. That will be permitted?" he asked.

Three raps, very slow and soft, assented.

Clarke interposed. "I am impressed, gentlemen, to say: Let each of you put one hand on the psychic's head, the other on her arm."

"We will do so," replied Weissmann, cheerfully.

With a full realization of the value of this supreme test of Viola's honor, Morton laid his right hand lightly on her wrist. At the first contact she started as though his fingers had been hot iron, and he was unpleasantly aware that her flesh had grown cold and inert. He spoke of this to Weissmann, who replied: "Is that so! The hand which I clasp is hot and dry, which is a singular symptom." Then to the others: "I am now holding both her hands. One is very hot, the other cold and damp and I feel no pulse."

"She is always so," Mrs. Lambert explained. "She seems to die for the time being."

"That is very strange," muttered Weissmann. "May I listen for her heart-beat?" Three raps assented, and a moment later he said, with increased excitement: "I cannot detect her heart-beat."

Clarke reassured him. "Do not be alarmed. She is not dead. Proceed with your experiment." There was a distinct note of contempt in his voice.

As Morton laid his hand upon the soft coils of her hair Viola again moved slightly, as a sleeper stirs beneath a caress, disturbed yet not distressed--to settle instantly into deeper dream.

"We are ready," called Weissmann. "Whatever happens now Miss Lambert is not the cause. Take Mr. Clarke's hands in yours--"

"Mrs. Lambert's also," added Morton.

"Our hands are all touching," answered Kate.

"Now, let us see!" cried Weissmann, and his voice rang triumphantly. "Now, spirits, to your work!"

Clarke laughed contemptuously. "You scientists are very amusing. Your unbelief is heroic."

As they stood thus a powerful revulsion took place in Morton's mind, and with a painful constriction in his throat he bowed to the silent girl, and with an inconsistency which he would not have published to the world, he prayed that something might happen--not to demonstrate the return of the dead but to prove her innocence.

As he waited the pencil began to tap on the table, and with its stir his nerves took fire. A leaf of paper flew by, brushing his face like the wing of a bird. A hand clutched his shoulder; then, as if to make every explanation of no avail, the room filled with fairy unseen folk. Books began to hurtle through the air and to fall upon the table. A banjo on the wall was strummed. The entire library seemed crowded with tricksy pucks, a bustling, irresponsible, elfish crew, each on some inconsequential action bent; until, as if at a signal, the megaphone tumbled to the floor with a clang, and all was still--a silence deathly deep, as if a bevy of sprites, frightened from their play, had whirled upward and away, leaving the scene of their revels empty, desolate, and forlorn.

"That is all," said Clarke.

"How can you tell?" asked Kate, her voice faint and shrill with awe.

"The fall of the horn to the floor is a sure sign of the end. You may turn up the gas, but very slowly."

Stunned by the significance, the far-reaching implications of his experiment, Morton remained standing while Weissmann turned on the light.

Pale, in deep, placid sleep, Viola sat precisely as they had left her, bound, helpless, and exonerated. She recalled to Morton's mind a picture (in his school-books) of a martyr-maiden, who was depicted chained to the altar of some hideous, heathen deity, a monster who devoured the flesh of virgins and demanded with pitiless lust the fairest of the race.

Of her innocence he was at that moment profoundly convinced.

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The Tyranny Of The Dark - Book 2 - Chapter 14. Puzzled Philosophers The Tyranny Of The Dark - Book 2 - Chapter 14. Puzzled Philosophers

The Tyranny Of The Dark - Book 2 - Chapter 14. Puzzled Philosophers
BOOK II CHAPTER XIV. PUZZLED PHILOSOPHERSWhile he still stood looking down upon her Viola began to moan and toss her head from side to side. "She is waking," cried Mrs. Lambert. "Let me go to her." "No!" commanded Weissmann, "disturb nothing till we have examined all things." "Make your studies quickly," said Morton, his heart tender to the girl's sufferings. "We must release her as soon as possible." Weissmann was not to be hastened. "If we do not now go slowly we lose much of what we are trying to attain. We must take her pulse and temperature, and observe the

The Tyranny Of The Dark - Book 2 - Chapter 12. Viola In Dinner-Dress The Tyranny Of The Dark - Book 2 - Chapter 12. Viola In Dinner-Dress

The Tyranny Of The Dark - Book 2 - Chapter 12. Viola In Dinner-Dress
BOOK II CHAPTER XII. VIOLA IN DINNER-DRESSViola glowed with joy over Kate's invitation to dinner, and, flying to the telephone (as she was requested to do), accepted without consulting either her mother or Clarke, and fell immediately into wonder whether she possessed a gown becoming enough to fit the golden opportunity. Mrs. Lambert was also pleased, but at once said, "I hope Tony will feel like going." Viola resented the implied doubt of their own acceptance. "I am going, anyhow. I will not be shut up here any longer like a convict. I like Mrs. Rice very much, and I want