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- Raspberry Jam - 10/45 -
the arrival of Mason Elliott.
Trained in the school of convention, both the Emburys became at once the courteous, cordial host and hostess.
"Hello, Elliott," sang out Sanford, "glad to see your bright and happy face. Come right along and chum in."
Eunice offered her hand with a welcoming smile.
"Just the boy I was looking for," she said, we've the jolliest game on for the afternoon. Haven't we, San?"
"Fool trick, if you ask me! Howsumever, everything goes. Interested in thought-transference bunk, Elliott?"
"I know what you're getting at." Mason Elliott nodded his head understandingly. "Hendricks put me wise. So, I says to myself, s'posin' I hop along and listen in. Yes, I am interested, sufficiently so not to mind your jeers about bunk and that."
"Oh, do you believe in it, Mason?" said Eunice, animatedly; "for this is a faked affair--or, rather, the explanation of one. It's the Hanlon boy, you know--"
"Yes; I know. But what's the racket with you two turtle-doves? I come in, and find Eunice wearing the pet expression of a tragedy queen and Sanford, here, doing the irate husband. Going into the movies?"
"Yes, that's it," and Eunice smiled bravely, although her lips still quivered from her recent turbulent quarrel, and a light, jaunty air was forced to conceal her lingering nervousness.
"Irate husband is good!" laughed Embury, "considering we are yet honeymooners."
"Good dissemblers, both of you," and Elliott settled himself in an easy chair, "but you don't fool your old friend. Talk about thought-transference--it doesn't take much of that commodity to read that you two were interrupted by my entrance in the middle of a real, honest-to-goodness, cats'-and-dogs' quarrel."
"All right, have it your own way," and Embury laughed shortly; "but it wasn't the middle of it, it was about over."
"All but the making up! Shall I fade away for fifteen minutes?"
"No," protested Eunice. "It was only one of the little tiffs that happen in the best families! Now, listen, Mason--"
"My dear lady, I live but on the chance of being permitted to listen to you--only in the hope that I may listen early and often--"
"Oh, hush! What a silly you are!"
"Silly, is it? Remember I was your childhood playmate. Would you have kept me on your string all these years if I were silly? And here's another of my childhood friends! How do you do, most gracious lady?"
With courtly deference Elliott rose to greet Aunt Abby, who came into the living-room from Eunice's bedroom.
Her black silk rustled and her old point lace fell yellowly round her slender old hands, for on Sunday afternoon Miss Ames dressed the part.
"How are you, Mason," she said, but with a preoccupied air. "What time is Mr. Hanlon coming, Eunice?"
"Soon now, I think," and Eunice spoke with entire composure, her angry excitement all subdued. It was characteristic of her that after a fit of temper, she was more than usually soft and gentle. More considerate of others and even, more roguishly merry.
"You know, Mason, that what we are to be told to-day is a most inviolable secret--that is, it is a secret until tomorrow."
"Never put off till to-morrow what you can tell to-night," returned Elliott, but he listened attentively while Eunice and Aunt Abby described the performance of the young man Hanlon.
"Of course," Elliott observed, a little disappointedly, "if he says he hoaxed the crowd, of course he did; but in that case I've no interest in the thing. I'd like it better if he were honest."
"Oh, he's honest enough," corrected Embury; "he owns right up that it was a trick. Why, good heavens, man! if it hadn't been, he couldn't have done it at all. I'm rather keen to know just how he managed, though, for the yarn of Eunice and Aunt Abby is a bit mystifying."
"Don't depend too much on the tale of interested spectators. They're the worst possible witnesses! They see only what they wish to see."
"Only what Hanlon wished us to see," corrected Eunice, gaily. And then Hanlon, himself, and Alvord Hendricks arrived together.
"Met on the doorstep," said Hendricks as he came in. "Mr. Hanlon is a little stage-struck, so it's lucky I happened along."
Willy Hanlon, as he was called in the papers, came shyly forward and Eunice, with her ready tact, proceeded to put him at once at his ease.
"You came just at the right minute to help me out," she said, smiling at him. "They are saying women are no good at describing a scene! They say that we can't be relied on for accuracy. So, now you're here and you can tell what really happened."
"Yes, ma'am," and Hanlon swallowed, a little embarrassedly; "that's what I came for, ma'am. But first, are you all straight goods? Will you all promise not to tell what I tell you before tomorrow morning?"
They all promised on their honor, and, satisfied, Hanlon began his tale.
"You see, it's a game that can't be played too often or too close together," he said; "I mean, if I put it over around here, I can't risk it again nearer than some several states away. And even then it's likely to get caught on to."
"Have you put it over often?" asked Hendricks, interestedly.
"Yes, sir--well, say, about a dozen times altogether. Now I'm going to chuck it, for it's too risky. And so, I've sold the story of how I do it to the newspaper syndicate for more than I'd make out of it in a dozen performances. You can read it all in to-morrow's papers, but Mrs, Embury, she asked me to tell it here and I said yes--'cause-'cause--well, 'cause I wanted to!"
The boyish outburst was so unmistakably one of admiration, of immediate capitulation to Eunice's charm, that she blushed adorably, and the others 'laughed outright.
"One more scalp, Euny," said Elliott; "oh, you can't help it, I know."
"Go on, Mr. Hanlon," said Eunice, and he went on.
"You see, to make you understand it rightly, I must go back a ways. I've done all sorts of magic stunts and I'm kinda fond of athletics. I've given exhibitions along both those lines in athletic clubs and in ladies' parlors, too. Well, I had a natural talent for making my ears move--lots of fellows do that, I know; but I got pretty spry at it."
"What for?" asked Embury.
"Nothing particular, sir, only one thing led to another. One day I read in an English magazine about somebody pulling off this trick--this blindfold chase, and I said to myself I b'lieved I could do it first rate and maybe make easy money. I don't deny I'm out after the coin. I've got to get my living, and if I'd rather do it by gulling the public, why, it's no more than many a better man does."
"Right you are," said Elliott.
"So, 's I say, I read this piece that told just how to do it, and I set to work. You may think it's funny, but the first step was working my forehead muscles."
"Whatever for?" cried Aunt Abby, who was listening, perhaps most intently of all.
"I'll tell you, in a jiffy, ma'am," and Hanlon smiled respectfully at the eager old face.
"You see, if you'll take notice, the muscles of your forehead, just above your eyebrows, work whenever you shut or open your eyes. Yes, try it, ma'am," as Aunt Abby wrinkled her forehead spasmodically. "Shut your eyes, ma'am. Now, cover them closely with the palm of your left hand. Press it close--so. Now, with your hand there, open your eyes slowly, and feel your forehead muscles go up. They have to, you can't help it. Now, that's the keynote of the whole thing."
"Clear as Erebus!" remarked Hendricks. "I don't get you, Steve."
"Nor I," and Eunice sat with her hand against her eyes, drawing her lovely brows into contortions.
"Well, never mind trying; I'll just tell you about it." Hanlon laughed good-naturedly at the frantic attempts of all of them to open their eyes in accordance with his directions.
"Anyhow, you gentleman know, for I know you all belong to a big athletic club, that if you exercise any set of muscles regularly and for a long time, they will develop and expand and become greatly increased in size and strength."
"Sure," said Hendricks. "I once developed my biceps--"
"Yes, that's what I mean. Well, sir, I worked at my forehead muscles some hours a day for months and I kept at it until I had
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