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- Raspberry Jam - 6/45 -
provoking--but I haven't a cent, and I don't blame the boy. Now, find your purse--or, never mind; here comes Alvord."
"Just fell over Mortimer!" called out Hendricks as the two men came to the side of the car. "I made him come and speak to you ladies, though I believe its holding up the whole performance. Let me present the god in the machine!"
"Not that," said Mr. Mortimer, smiling; "only a small mechanical part of to-day's doings. I've a few minutes to spare, though but a few. How do you do, Miss Ames? Glad to see you again. And Mrs, Embury; this brings back childhood days!"
"Tell me about Hanlon," begged Miss Ames. "Is he on the square?"
"So far as I know, and I know all there is to know, I think. I was present at a preliminary test this morning, and I'll tell you what he did." Mortimer looked at his watch and proceeded quickly. "In at the Free Press office one of the men took a piece of chalk and drew a line from where we were to a distant room of the building. The line went up and down stairs, in and out of various rooms, over chairs and under desks, and finally wound up in a small closet in the city editor's office. Well --and I must jump away now--that wizard, Hanlon, being securely blindfolded--I did it myself--followed that line, almost without deviation, from start to finish. Through a building he had never seers before, and groping along in complete darkness."
"How in the world could he do it?" Aunt Abby asked, breathlessly.
"The chap who drew the line was behind him--behind, mind you--and he willed him where to go. Of course, he did his best, kept his mind on the job, and earnestly used his mentality to will Hanlon along. And did! There, that's all I know, until this afternoon's stunt is pulled off. But what I've told you, I do know--I saw it, and I, for one, am a complete convert to telepathy!"
The busy man, hastily shaking hands, bustled away, and Hendricks told in glee how, through his acquaintance with Mortimer, he had secured a permit to drive his car among the front ones that were following the performance, which was to begin very soon now.
Gus returned, and they were about to start when Aunt Abby set up a plea for a copy of the paper that she wanted.
Good-natured Gus tried his best, Hendricks himself made endeavors, but all in vain. The papers were gone, the edition exhausted. Nor could any one whom they asked be induced to part with his copy even at a substantial premium.
"Sorry, Miss Ames," said Hendricks, "but we can't seem to nail one. Perhaps later we can get one. Now we must be starting or we'll soon lose our advantage."
The crowd was like a rolling sea by this time, and only the efficiency of the fine police work kept anything like order.
Cautiously the motor car edged along while the daring pedestrians seemed to scramble from beneath the very wheels.
And then a cheer arose which proclaimed the presence of Hanlon, the mysterious possessor of second sight, or the marvelous reader of another's mind--nobody knew exactly which he was.
Bowing in response to the mighty cheer that greeted his appearance, Hanlon stood, smiling at the crowd.
A young fellow he seemed to be, slender, well-knit and with a frank, winning face. But he evidently meant business, for he turned at once to Mr. Mortimer, and asked that the test be begun.
A few words from one of the staff of the newspaper that was backing the enterprise informed the audience that the day before there had been hidden in a distant part of the city a penknife, and that only the hider thereof and the Hon. Mr. Mortimer knew where the hiding place was.
Hanlon would now undertake to go, blindfolded, to the spot and find the knife, although the distance, as the speaker was willing to disclose, was more than a mile. The blindfolding was to be done by a committee of prominent citizens and was to be looked after so carefully that there could be no possibility of Hanlon's seeing anything.
After that, Hanlon engaged to go to the hiding place and find the knife, on condition that Mr. Mortimer would follow him, and concentrate all his willpower on mentally guiding or rather directing Hanlon's footsteps.
The blindfolding, which was done in full view of the front ranks of spectators, was an elaborate proceeding. A heavy silk handkerchief had been prepared by folding it in eight thicknesses, which were then stitched to prevent Clipping. This bandage was four inches wide and completely covered the man's eyes, but as an additional precaution pads of cotton wool were first placed over his closed eyelids and the bandage then tied over them.
Thus, completely blindfolded, Hanlon spoke earnestly to Mr. Mortimer.
"I must ask of you, sir, that you do your very best to guide me aright. The success of this enterprise depends quite as much on you as on myself. I am merely receptive, you are the acting agent. I strive to keep my mind a blank, that your will may sway it in the right direction. I trust you, and I beg that you will keep your whole mind on the quest. Think of the hidden article, keep it in your mind, look toward it. Follow me--not too closely--and mentally push me in the way I should go. If I go wrong, will me back to the right path, but in no case get near enough to touch me, and, of course, do not speak to me. This test is entirely that of the influence of your will upon mine. Call it telepathy, thought-transference, will-power--anything you choose, but grant my request that you devote all your attention to the work in hand. If your mind wanders, mine will; if your mind goes straight to the goal, mine will also be impelled there."
With a slight bow, Hanlon stood motionless, ready to start.
The preliminaries had taken place on a platform, hastily built for the occasion, and now, with Mortimer behind him, Hanlon started down the steps to the street.
Reaching the pavement, he stood motionless for a few seconds and then, turning, walked toward Broad Street. Reaching it, he turned South, and walked along, at a fairly rapid gait. At the crossings he paused momentarily, sometimes as if uncertain which way to go, and again evidently assured of his direction.
The crowd surged about him, now impeding his progress and now almost pushing him along. He gave them no heed, but made his way here or there as he chose and Mortimer followed, always a few steps behind, but near enough to see that Hanlon was in no way interfered with by the throng.
Indeed, so anxious were the onlookers that fair play should obtain, the ones nearest to the performer served as a cordon of guards to keep his immediate surroundings cleared.
Hanlon's actions, in all respects, were those that might be expected from a blindfolded man. He groped, sometimes with outstretched hands, again with arms folded or hands clasped and extended, but always with an expression, so far as his face could be seen, of earnest, concentrated endeavor to go the right way. Now and then he would half turn, as if impelled in one direction, and then hesitate, turn and march off the other way. One time, indeed, he went nearly half a block in a wrong street. Then he paused, groped, stumbled a little, and gradually returned to the vicinity of Mortimer, who had stood still at the corner. Apparently, Hanlon had no idea of his detour, for he went on in the right direction, and Mortimer, who was oblivious to all but his mission, followed interestedly.
One time Hanlon spoke to him. "You are a fine 'guide,' sir," he said. "I seem impelled steadily, not in sudden thought waves, and I find my mind responds well to your will. If you will be so good as to keep the crowd away from us a little more carefully. I don't want you any nearer me, but if too many people are between us, it interferes somewhat with the transference of your guiding thought."
"Do you want to hear my footsteps?" asked Mortimer, thoughtfully.
"That doesn't matter," Hanlon smiled. "You are to follow me, sir, even if I go wrong. If I waited to hear you, that would be no test at all. Simply will me, and then follow, whether I am on the right track or not. But keep your mind on the goal, and look toward it--if convenient. Of course, the looking toward it is no help to me, save as it serves to fix your mind more firmly on the matter."
And then Hanlon seemed to go more carefully. He stepped slowly, feeling with his foot for any curbstone, grating or irregularity in the pavement. And yet he failed in one instance to feel the edge of an open coalhole, and his right leg slipped down into it.
Some of the nearby watchers grabbed him, and pulled him back without his sustaining injury, for which he thanked them briefly and continued.
Several times some sceptical bystanders put themselves deliberately in front of the blindfolded man, to see if he would turn out for them.
On the contrary, Hanlon bumped into them, so innocently, that they were nearly thrown down.
He smiled good-naturedly, and said, "All right, fellows; I don't mind, if you don't. And I don't blame you for wanting to make sure that I'm not playing 'possum!"
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