"THE CAPTAIN OF THE GRAY-HORSE
"MONEY MAGIC" ETC.
NEW YORK AND LONDON
HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS
Copyright, 1908, by Hamlin Garland.
Copyright, 1908, by The Ridgway Company.
All rights reserved.
Published September, 1908.
This book is a faithful record, so far as I can make it, of the most
marvellous phenomena which have come under my observation during the
last sixteen or seventeen years. I have used my notes (made immediately
after the sittings) and also my reports to the American Psychical
Society (of which I was at one time a director) as the basis of my
story. For literary purposes I have substituted fictitious names for
real names, and imaginary characters for the actual individuals
concerned; but I have not allowed these necessary expedients to
interfere with the precise truth of the account.
For example, Miller, an imaginary chemist, has
been put in the place
of a scientist much older than thirty-five, in whose library the
inexplicable "third sitting" took place. Fowler, also, is not intended
to depict an individual. The man in whose shoes he stands is one of the
most widely read and deeply experienced spiritists I have ever known,
and I have sincerely tried to present through Fowler the argument
which his prototype might have used. Mrs. Quigg, Miss Brush,
Howard, the Camerons, and most of the others, are purely imaginary.
The places in which the sittings took place are not indicated, for the
reason that I do not wish to involve any unwilling witnesses.
In the case of the psychics, they are, of course, delineated exactly as
they appeared to me, although I have concealed their real names and
places of residence. Mrs. Smiley, whose admirable patience under
investigation makes her an almost ideal subject, is the chief figure
among my "mediums," and I have tried to give her attitude toward us and
toward her faith as she expressed it in our sittings, although the
conversation is necessarily a mixture of imagination and memory. Mrs.
Hartley is a very real and vigorous character—a professional psychic,
it is true, but a woman of intelligence and power. Those in private life
I have guarded with scrupulous care, and I am sure that none of them,
either private or professional, will feel that I have wilfully
misrepresented what took place. My aim throughout has been to deal
directly and simply with the facts involved.
I have not attempted to be profound or mystical or even scientific, but
I have tried to present clearly, simply, and as nearly without bias as
possible, an account of what I have seen and heard. The weight of
evidence seems, at the moment, to be on the side of the biologists; but
I am willing to reopen the case at any time, although I am, above all,
a man of the open air, of the plains and the mountains, and do not
intend to identify myself with any branch of metapsychical research. It
is probable, therefore, that this is my one and final contribution to
the study of the shadow world.
Chicago, July, 1908.
THE SHADOW WORLD
A 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
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 in Bombay or
Vienna, and his spirit appeared to you, à la Journal of Psychic
Research, with a message, at the exact hour, computing difference in
time (which no one ever does), and so on. I know that kind of thing—but
that isn't telepathy."
"What is telepathy, then?" asked little Miss Brush, who paints
"I can't describe a thing that doesn't exist," replied Mrs. Quigg. "The
word means feeling at a distance, does it not, professor?"
Harris, a teacher of English, who seldom took a serious view of
anything, answered, "I should call it a long-distance touch."
"Do you believe in hypnotism, Dr. Miller?" asked Miss Brush, quietly
addressing her neighbor, a young scientist whose specialty was
"No," replied he; "I don't believe in a single one of these supernatural
"You mean you don't believe in anything you have not seen yourself,"
To this Miller slowly replied: "I believe in Vienna, which I have never
seen, but I don't believe in a Vienna doctor who claims to be able to
hypnotize a man so that he can smile while his leg is being taken off."
"Oh, that's a fact," stated Brierly, the portrait-painter; "that happens
every day in our hospitals here in New York City."
"Have you ever seen it done?" asked Miller, bristling with opposition.
"Well," asserted Miller, "I wouldn't believe it even if I saw the
"You don't believe in any mystery unless it is familiar," said I,
warming to the contest.
"I certainly do not believe in these childish mysteries," responded
Miller, "and it is strange to me that men like Sir Oliver Lodge and Sir
William Crookes should believe in slate-writing and levitation and all
the rest of that hocus-pocus."
"Nevertheless, hypnotism is a fact," insisted Brierly. "You must have
some faith in the big books on the subject filled with proof. Think of
"I don't call it a test to stick pins into a person's tongue," said Mrs.
Quigg. "We newspaper people all know that there are in the hypnotic
business what they call 'horses'—that is to say, wretched men and boys,
women sometimes, who have trained themselves so that they can hold hot
pennies, eat red pepper, and do other 'stunts'—we've had their
confessions times enough."
"Yes, but their confessions are never quite complete," retorted young
Howard. "When I was in college I had one of these 'horses' appeal to me
for help. He was out of a job, and I told him I'd blow him to the supper
of his life if he would render up the secrets of his trade. He took my
offer, but jarred me by confessing that the professor really could
hypnotize him. He had to make believe only part of the time. His
'stunts' were mostly real."
"It's the same way with mediums," said I. "I have had a good deal of
experience with them, and I've come to the conclusion that they all,
even the most untrustworthy of them, start with at least some small
basis of abnormal power. Is it not rather suggestive that the number of
practising mediums does not materially increase? If it were a mere
matter of deception, would there not be thousands at the trade? As a
matter of fact, there are not fifty advertising mediums in New York at
this moment, though of course the number is kept down by the feeling
that it is a bit disreputable to have these powers."
"You're too easy on them," said Howard. "I never saw one that wasn't a
Again I protested. "Don't be hasty. There are nice ones. My own mother
had this power in her youth, so my father tells me. Her people were
living in Wisconsin at the time when this psychic force developed in
her, and the settlers from many miles around came to see her 'perform.'
An uncle, when a boy of four, did automatic writing, and one of my aunts
recently wrote to me, in relation to my book The Tyranny of the Dark,
that for two years (beginning when she was about seventeen) these powers
of darkness made her life a hell. It won't do to be hasty in condemning
the mediums wholesale. There are many decent people who are possessed by
strange forces, but are shy of confessing their abnormalities. Ask your
family physician. He will tell you that he always has at least one
patient who is troubled by occult powers."
"Medical men call it 'hysteria,'" said Harris.
"Which doesn't explain anything," I answered. "Many apparently healthy
people possess the more elementary of these powers—often without
"We are all telepathic in some degree," declared Brierly.
"Perhaps all the so-called messages from the dead come from living
minds," I suggested—"I mean the minds of those about us. Dr. Reed, a
friend of mine, once arranged to go with a patient to have a test
sitting with a very celebrated psychic who claimed to be able to read
sealed letters. Just before the appointed day, Reed's patient died
suddenly of heart-disease, leaving a sealed letter on his desk. The
doctor, fully alive to the singular opportunity, put the letter in his
pocket and hastened to the medium. The magician took it in his hand and
pondered. At last he said: 'This was written by a man now in the spirit
world. I cannot sense it. There isn't a medium in the world who can read
it, but if you will send it to any person anywhere on the planet and
have it read and resealed, I will tell you what is in it. I cannot get
the words unless some mind in the earth-plane has absorbed them.'"
Harris spoke first. "That would seem to prove a sort of universal mind
reservoir, wouldn't it?"
"That is the way my friend figured it. But isn't that a staggering
hypothesis? I have never had a sealed letter read, but the psychic
research people seem to have absolutely proved psychometry to be a fact.
After you read Myers you are ready to believe anything—or nothing."
The hostess rose. "Suppose we go into the library and have more ghost
stories. Come, Mr. Garland, we can't leave you men here to talk
yourselves out on these interesting subjects. You must let us all hear
what you have to say."
In more or less jocose mood the company trooped out to the library,
where a fire was glowing in the grate and easy-chairs abounded. The
younger people, bringing cushions, placed themselves beside the hearth,
while I took a seat near Mrs. Cameron and Harris.
"There!" said Miss Brush, with a gurgle of delight. "This is more like
the proper light and surroundings for creepy tales. Please go on, Mr.
Garland. You said you'd had a good deal of experience—tell us all about
it. I always think of you as a trailer, a man of the plains. How did you
happen to get into this shadow world?"
"It came about while I was living in Boston. It was in 1891, or
possibly 1892. A friend, the editor of the Arena, asked me to become a
member of the American Psychical Society, which he was helping to form.
He wished me to go on the Board of Directors, because, as he said, I was
'young, a keen observer, and without emotional bias'—by which he meant
that I had not been bereaved."
"Quite right; the loss of a child or a wife weakens even the best of us
illogical," commented Harris. "No man who is mourning a relative has any
business to be calling himself an investigator of spiritualism."
"Well, the upshot was, I joined the society, became a member of the
Executive Board, was made a special committee on 'physical
phenomena'—that is to say, slate-writing, levitation, and the like—and
set to work. It was like entering a new, vague, and mysterious world.
The first case I investigated brought out one of the most fundamental of
these facts, which is, that this shadow world lies very close to the
sunny, so-called normal day. The secretary of the society had already
begun to receive calls for help. A mechanic had written from South
Boston asking us to see his wife's automatic writing, and a farmer had
come down from Concord to tell us of a haunted house and the mysterious
rappings on its walls. Almost in a day I was made aware of the illusory
side of life."
"Why illusory?" asked Brierly.
"Let us call it that for the present," I answered. "Among those who
wrote to us was a woman from Lowell whose daughter had developed strange
powers. Her account, so straightforward and so precise, determined us to
investigate the case. Therefore, our secretary (a young clergyman) and I
took the train for Lowell one autumn afternoon. We found Mrs. Jones
living in a small, old-fashioned frame house standing hard against the
sidewalk, and through the parlor windows, while we awaited the psychic,
I watched an endless line of derby hats as the town's mechanics plodded
by—incessant reminders of the practical, hard-headed world that filled
the street. This was, indeed, a typical case. In half an hour we were
all sitting about the table in a dim light, while the sweet-voiced
mother was talking with 'Charley,' her 'poltergeist'—"
"What is that, please?" asked Mrs. Quigg.
"The word means a rollicking spirit who throws things about. I did not
value what happened at this sitting, for the conditions were all the
psychic's own. By-the-way, she was a large, blond, strapping girl of
twenty or so—one of the mill-hands—not in the least the sickly, morbid
creature I had expected to see. As I say, the conditions were such as to
make what took place of no scientific value, and I turned in no report
upon it; but it was all very curious."
"What happened? Don't skip," bade Mrs. Cameron.
"Oh, the table rapped and heaved and slid about. A chair crawled to my
lap and at last to the top of the table, apparently of its own motion. A
little rocking-chair moved to and fro precisely as if some one were
sitting in it, and so on. It was all unconvincing at the time, but as I
look back upon it now, after years of experience, I am inclined to think
part of it at least was genuine. And this brings me to say to Mrs.
Quigg, and to any other doubter, that you have only to step aside into
silence and shadow and wait for a moment—and the bewildering will
happen, or you will imagine it to happen. I will agree to furnish from
this company a medium that will astonish even our materialistic friend
There was a loud outcry: "What do you mean? Explain yourself!"
"I am perfectly certain that if this company will sit as I direct for
twenty-one days at the same hour, in the same room, under the same
conditions, phenomena will develop which will not merely amaze but scare
some of you; and as for you, Mrs. Quigg, you who are so certain that
nothing ever happens, you will be the first to turn pale with awe."
"Try me! I am wild to be 'shown.'"
Harris was not so boastful. "You mean, of course, that some of these
highly cultured ladies would develop hysteria?"
"I am not naming the condition; I only say that I have seen some very
hard-headed and self-contained people cut strange capers. The trance and
'impersonation' usually come first."
"Let's do it!" cried out Miss Brush. "It would be such fun!"
"You'd be the first to 'go off,'" said I, banteringly.
Harris agreed. "She is neuropathic."
"I propose we start a psychic society here and now," said Cameron. "I'll
be president, Mrs. Quigg secretary, and Garland can be the director of
the awful rites. Miss Brush, you shall be the 'mejum.'"
"Oh no, no!" she cried, "please let some one else be it."
This amused me, but I seized upon Cameron's notion. "I accept the
arrangement provided you do not hold me responsible for any ill
effects," I said. "It's ticklish business. There are many who hold the
whole process diabolic."
"Is the house ready for the question?" asked Cameron.
"Ay, ay!" shouted every one present.
"The society is formed," announced Cameron. "As president, I suggest a
sitting right now. How about it, Garland?"
"Certainly!" I answered, "for I have an itching in my thumbs that tells
me something witching this way comes."
The guests rose in a flutter of pleased excitement.
"How do we go at it?" asked Mrs. Cameron.
"The first requisite is a small table—"
"Why a table?" asked Mrs. Quigg.
"The theory is that it helps to concentrate the minds of the sitters,
and it will also furnish a convenient place to rest our hands. Anyhow,
all the great investigators began this way," I replied, pacifically. "We
may also require a pencil and a pad."
Miller was on his dignity. "I decline to sit at a table in that foolish
way. I shall look on in lonely grandeur."
The others were eager to "sit in," as young Howard called it, and soon
nine of us were seated about an oblong mahogany table. Brierly was very
serious, Miss Brush ecstatic, and Mrs. Harris rather nervous.
I was careful to prepare them all for failure. "This is only a trial
sitting, you know, merely to get our hands in," I warned.
"Must we keep still?"
"Oh no! You may talk, if you do so quietly. Please touch fingers, so as
to make a complete circuit. I don't think it really necessary, but it
sometimes helps to produce the proper mental state; singing softly also
tends to harmonize the 'conditions,' as the professionals say. Don't
argue and don't be too eager. Lean back and rest. Take a passive
attitude toward the whole problem. I find the whole process very
restful. Harris, will you turn down the lights before—"
"There!" said Miller, "the hocus-pocus begins. Why not perform in the
"Subdued light will bring the proper negative and inward condition
sooner," I replied, taking a malicious delight in his disgust. "Now will
some one sing 'Annie Laurie,' or any other sweet, low song? Let us get
into genial, receptive mood. Miller, you and your fellow-doubters please
retire to the far end of the room."
In a voice that trembled a little, Mrs. Harris started the dear old
melody, and all joined in, producing a soft and lulling chorus.
At the end of the song I asked, matter-of-factly: "Are the conditions
right? Are we sitting right?"
Mrs. Quigg sharply queried, "Whom are you talking to?"
"The 'guides,'" I answered.
"The 'guides'!" she exclaimed. "Do you believe in the guides?"
"I believe in the belief of the guides," was my cryptic rejoinder.
"Sing again, please."
I really had no faith in the conditions of the circle, but for the joke
of it I kept my sitters in place for nearly an hour by dint of
pretending to hear creakings and to feel throbbings, until at last
little Miss Brush became very deeply concerned. "I feel them, too," she
declared. "Did some one blow on my hands? I felt a cold wave."
Harris got up abruptly. "I'll join the doubters," said he. "This
tomfoolery is too idiotic for me."
Cameron followed, and Mrs. Quigg also rose. "I'll go with you," she
said, decidedly. I was willing to quit, too, but Mrs. Harris and Miss
Brush pleaded with me to continue.
"Close up the circle, then. Probably Harris was the hoodoo. Things will
happen now," I said, briskly, though still without any faith in the
Hardly had Harris left the table when a shudder passed over Mrs. Harris,
her head lifted, and her eyes closed.
"What's the matter, Dolly?" whispered Mrs. Cameron. "Do you feel faint?"
"Don't be alarmed! Mrs. Harris is only passing into a sleep. Not a word,
Harris!" I said, warningly. "Please move farther away."
In the dusky light the faces of all the women looked suddenly blanched
and strange as the entranced woman seized upon the table with her hands,
shaking it hard from side to side. The table seemed to wake to diabolic
energy under her palms. This was an unexpected development, and I was
almost as much surprised as the others were.
"Sing again," I commanded, softly.
As they sang, Mrs. Harris withdrew her hands from the table and sat
rigidly erect, yet with a peaceful look upon her face. "She does it
well," I thought. "I didn't think it in the quiet little lady." At
length one hand lifted and dropped limply upon the table. "It wants to
write," said I. "Where is the pad? I have a pencil."
As I put a pencil under the hand, it was seized in a very singular way,
and almost instantly Mrs. Cameron gasped, "That's very strange!"
"Hush!" said I. "Wait!"
Holding the pencil clumsily as a crippled person might do, the hand
crept over the paper, and at last, after writing several lines, stopped
and lay laxly open. I passed the pad to Brierly. "Read it aloud," I
He took it to the light and read:
"Sara, be not sceptical. Believe and you will be happier. Life is
only the minutest segment of the great circle.
"My father!" exclaimed Mrs. Cameron. "Let me see the writing." Brierly
handed the pad to her. She stared upon it in awe and wonder. "It is his
exact signature—and Dolly held the pen just as he did—he was
paralyzed toward the last—and could only write by holding his pen that
"Look! it's moving again," I exclaimed.
The hand caught up the pencil, and, holding it between the thumb and
forefinger in a peculiar way, began moving it in the air. Brierly, who
sat opposite, translated these movements. "She is drawing, free-hand, in
the air. She is sketching the outline of a boat. See how she measures
and plumbs her lines! Are you addressing me?" he asked of Mrs. Harris.
The sleeper nodded.
"Can't you write?" I asked. "Can't you speak?"
A low gurgle in the throat was the only answer at the moment, but after
a few trials a husky whisper began to be heard. "I will try," she said,
and suddenly began to chuckle, rolling upon one hip and throwing one
foot over the other like a man taking an easy attitude. She now held the
pencil as if it were a cigarette, laughing again with such generous tone
that the other women recoiled. Then she spoke, huskily. "You know—San
Remo—Sands," came brokenly from her lips.
"Sands?" queried the painter; "who is Sands?"
The painter was puzzled. "I don't remember any Sands at San Remo. It
must be some student I knew in Paris. Is that what you mean?"
Mrs. Harris violently nodded. As abruptly as it came, this action left
her, and then slowly, imperceptibly, her expression changed, a look of
ineffable maternal sweetness came into her face; she seemed to cradle a
tiny babe upon her arm. At last she sighed, "Oh, the pity of it, the
pity of it!"
For a minute we sat in silence, so compelling were her gestures and her
tone. At last I asked, "Has any one here lost a little child?"
Mrs. Cameron spoke, hesitatingly, "Yes—I lost a little baby—years
"She is addressing you—perhaps."
Mrs. Harris did not respond to this suggestion, but changed into an
impersonation of a rollicking girl of rather common fibre. "Hello,
Sally!" she cried out, and Mrs. Cameron stared at her in blank dismay as
she asked, "Are you talking to me?"
"You bet I am, you old bag o' wool. Remember Geny? Remember the night on
the door-step? Ooo! but it was cold! You were to blame."
"What is she talking about?" I asked, seeing that Mrs. Cameron was
reluctant to answer this challenge.
"She seems to be impersonating an old class-mate of mine at college—"
"That's what!" broke in the voice.
Mrs. Cameron went on, "Her name was Eugenia Hull—"
"Is yet," laughed the voice. "Same old sport. Couldn't find any man
good enough. You didn't like me, but no matter; I want to tell you that
you're in danger of fire. Don't play with fire. Be careful of fire—"
Again a calm blankness fell upon the psychic's delicate and sensitive
face, and the hand once more slowly closed upon the pencil.
"My father again!" exclaimed Mrs. Cameron. "How could Dolly have known
that he held his pen in just that way? She never saw him."
"Do not place too much value on such performances," I cautioned. "She
has probably heard you describe it. Or she might have taken it out of
your subconscious mind."
The pencil dropped. The hand lifted. The form of the sleeper expanded
with power. Her face took on benignity and lofty serenity. She rose
slowly, impressively, and with her hand upraised in a peculiar gesture,
laid a blessing upon the head of her hostess. There was so much of
sweetness and tolerance in her face, so much of dignity and power in
every movement that I was moved to applaud the actress. As we all sat
thus, deeply impressed by her towering attitude, Mrs. Cameron whispered:
"Why, it is Bishop Blank! That is exactly the way he held his hand—his
"Is it the bishop?" I asked.
The psychic bowed and in solemn answer spoke. "Tell James all will yet
be well," she said, and, making the sign of blessing once more, sank
back into her chair.
Meanwhile the irreverent ribalds in the far end of the room were
disturbing the solemnity of all this communion with the shades, and at
my suggestion we went up-stairs to Mrs. Cameron's own sitting-room,
where we could be quiet. Seizing a moment when Mrs. Harris was free from
the "influence," I woke her and told her what we were about to do. She
followed Mrs. Cameron readily, although she seemed a little dazed, and
five of us continued the sitting, with Mrs. Quigg and Cameron looking on
with perfectly evident doubt of our psychic's sincerity. Harris was
In the quiet of this room Mrs. Harris passed almost immediately into
trance—or what seemed like a trance—and ran swiftly over all her
former impersonations. Voice succeeded voice, almost without pause. The
sweet mother with the child, the painter of San Remo, the jovial and
slangy girl, the commanding and majestic figure of the bishop—all
returned repeatedly, in bewildering mixture, dropping away, one after
the other, with disappointing suddenness. And yet each time the messages
grew a little more definite, a little more coherent, until at last they
all cleared up, and this in opposition to our thought, to our first
interpretations. It developed that the painter was not named "Sands,"
but "Felipi," and that he was only trying to tell Brierly that to
succeed he should paint rocks and sands and old boats at San Remo.
"Pauline," the woman who had seemed to hold a babe, was a friend of Mrs.
Cameron's who had died in childbirth. And then swiftly, unaccountably,
all these gentle or genial influences were scattered as if by something
hellish, something diabolic. The face of the sweet little woman became
fiendish in line. Her lips snarled, her hands clawed like those of a
cat, and out of her mouth came a hoarse imprecation. "I'll tear your
heart out!" she snarled. "I'll kill you soul and body—I'll rip you limb
from limb!" We all recoiled in amazement and wonder. It was as if our
friend had suddenly gone insane.
I confess to a feeling of profound astonishment. I had never met Mrs.
Harris before, but as she was an intimate friend of Mrs. Cameron, and
quite evidently a woman of culture, I could not think her so practised a
joker as to be "putting all this on."
While still we sat in silence, another voice uttered a wail of infinite
terror and despair. "I didn't do it! Don't kill me! It was not my
work." And then, still more horrible to hear, a sound like the gurgling
of blood came from the psychic's lips, mixed with babbled, frantic,
incoherent words. I had a perfectly definite impression that she was
impersonating some one with his throat cut. Her grimaces were disgusting
and terrifying. The women shivered with horror. A few seconds later and
her face changed; the hideous mask became white, expressing rigid,
exalted terror. Her arms were drawn back as if tied at the elbow behind
her back. Her head was uplifted, and in a low, monotonous, hushed voice
she prayed: "Lord Jesus, receive—"
A gasping, gurgling cry cut short her prayer, and, with tongue
protruding from her mouth, she presented such a picture of a strangling
woman that a sudden clear conception of what it all meant came to me.
"She's impersonating a woman on the scaffold," I explained. "She has
shown us a murder, and now she is depicting an execution. Is it Mrs. R.,
of Vermont?" I asked.
She nodded slowly. "Save me!" she whispered.
"Waken her, please. Don't let her do that any more," pleaded Mrs.
Cameron, in poignant distress.
Thereupon I called out, sharply: "That is enough! Wake! Wake!"
In answer to my command she ceased to groan; her face smoothed out, and
with a bewildered smile she opened her eyes. "What are you saying? Have
I been asleep?"
"You have, indeed," I replied, "and you've disclosed a deal of dubious
family history. How do you feel?"
"I feel very funny around my neck," she answered, wonderingly. "What
have you been doing to me?" She rubbed her throat. "My neck feels as if
it had a band round it, and my tongue seems swollen. What have you been
I held up a warning hand to the others. "You went off into a quiet
little trance, that's all. I was mistaken. Either you are a psychic or
you should have been an actress."
As we stood thus confronting one another, Mrs. Cameron came between us,
saying, "Do you know, Pauline came and talked with me—"
At the word Pauline the spell seemed to fall again over the bright
spirit of Mrs. Harris. Her eyelids drooped, her limbs lost their power,
and she sank into her chair as before, a helpless victim, apparently, to
the hidden forces. For a moment I was at a loss. I could not believe
that she was deceiving us, but it was possible that she was deceiving
herself. "In either case, she must be brought out of this," I decided,
and, putting my hands on her shoulders, I said: "If there is any
'control' here, let them stop this. We want no more of it. Stop it!"
My command was again obeyed, and the psychic slowly came back to
herself, and as she did so I said, warningly, to Mrs. Cameron: "Do not
utter another word of this in Mrs. Harris's presence. She seems to be
extremely sensitive to hypnotic influence, and I think she had better
go out into the air at once."
In rather subdued mood we went below to rejoin the frankly contemptuous
members of the party.
"Well, what luck?" cried Howard.
"You all look rather solemn," said Harris. "What about it? Dolly, what
have you been doing?"
Mrs. Cameron described the sitting as wonderful, but Mrs. Harris only
smiled vaguely, and I said: "Your wife seemed to go into a trance and
impersonate a number of individuals. She shows all the signs of a real
Harris, who had been studying his wife with half-humorous intentness,
now took command. "If you've been shamming, you need discipline; and if
you haven't, you need a doctor. I think we'll go home and have it out,"
he added, and shortly after led her away. "Some nice cool air is what we
need," he said at the door.
No sooner were the Harrises out of the door than the women of the party
fell upon me.
"What do you think of it, Mr. Garland?" asked Mrs. Cameron.
"If Mrs. Harris were not your friend, and if I had not seen other
performances of the same sort, I should instantly say that she was
having her joke with us. But I have seen too much of this sort of thing
to take it altogether lightly. That's the way this investigating goes.
One thing corroborates another. 'Impersonation' in the case of a public
medium may mean nothing—on the part of a psychic like your friend Mrs.
Harris it means a very great deal. In support of this, let me tell you
of a similar case. I have a friend, a perfectly trustworthy woman, and
of keen intelligence, whose 'stunt,' as she laughingly calls it, is to
impersonate nameless and suffering spirits who have been hurled into
outer darkness by reason of their own misdeeds or by some singular
chance of their taking off. My friend seems to be able in some way to
free these poor 'earth-bound souls' and send them flying upward to some
heaven. It's all very creepy," I added, warningly.
"Oh, delightful! Let it be very creepy," called Mrs. Quigg.
"To begin with, my friend is as keen-eyed, as level-headed as any woman
I know—the last person in the world to be taken for a 'sensitive.' I
had never suspected it in her; but one night she laughingly admitted
having been 'in the work' at one time, and I begged for a sitting. We
were dining at her house—Jack Ross, a Miss Wilcox, and I, all intimate
friends of hers, and she consented. After sitting a few minutes she
turned to me and said: 'My "guide" is here. Be sure to keep near me;
don't let me fall.' She still spoke smilingly, but I could see she was
"'You see,' she explained, 'I seem to leave the body and to withdraw a
little distance above my chair. From this height I survey my material
self, which seems to be animated by an entirely alien influence.
Sometimes my body is moved by these forces to rise and walk about the
room. In such cases it is necessary for some friend to follow close
behind me, for between the going of "the spirit" and the return of my
"astral self" there lies an appreciable interval when my body is as limp
as an empty sack. I came very near having a bad fall once.'
"'I understand,' said I. 'I'll keep an eye on you.'
"In a few moments a change came over her face. She sank into a curious
negative state between trance and reverie. Her lips parted, and a soft
voice came from them. She spoke to Miss Wilcox, who sat opposite her:
'Sister—I am very happy. I am surrounded by children. It is beautiful
here in the happy valley—warm and golden—and oh, the merry children!'
"Miss Wilcox was deeply moved by this message and for a moment could not
reply. At length she recovered her voice and asked, 'Are you speaking to
"'Yes. I am worried about mother. She is sick. Go to her. She needs
help. Good-bye!' The smile faded; my friend's face resumed its
"'Did you recognize the spirit?' I asked.
"Miss Wilcox hesitated, but at last said: 'My sister was active in the
work of caring for orphan children. But that proves nothing. Anna may
have known it—there is no test in this. It may be only mind-reading.'
"'You are quite right,' I replied. 'But the message concerning your
mother can be tested, can it not?'
"At this moment the face of the psychic squared, and a deep, slow voice
came pulsing forth. 'Why do you wilfully blind your eyes? The truth will
prevail. Mystery is all about you. Why doubt that which would comfort
"'Who are you?' I inquired.
"'I am Theodore Parker, the psychic's control,' was the answer.
"Soon after this my friend opened her eyes and smiled. 'Do you know what
you've said?' I asked. 'Yes, I always have a dim notion of what is going
on,' she answered, 'but why I am moved to speak and act as I do I don't
know. It is just the same when I write automatically. I know when I do
it, but I can't see the connection between my own mind and the writing.
It is as if one lobe of my brain kept watch over the action of the
"She now passed into another period of immobility and so sat for a long
time. Suddenly her face hardened, became coarse, common, vicious in
line. Flinging out her hand, she struck me in the breast. 'What do you
want of me?' she demanded, in the voice of a harridan. 'What are you all
doing here? You're a nice lot of fools.'
"'Who are you?' I asked.
"'You know who I am,' she answered, with a hoarse laugh. 'A sweet bunch
you are! Where's Jim?'
"'Does any one recognize this "party"?' I asked. 'Ross, this must be one
of your set.'
"Ross laughed, and the 'influence,' thrusting her face close to his,
blurted out, menacingly: 'Don't know me, hey? Well, here I am. I wanted
a show, and they let me in. What you going to do about it?'
"'I reckon you lit in the wrong door-yard,' I replied; 'nobody knows you
"She made an ugly face at me, and struck at me with her claw-like hand.
'I'd like to smash you!'
"'Good-bye,' said I. 'Get out!' And she was gone.
"Before a word could be spoken, a look of hopeless, heart-piercing woe
came over my friend's face. She began to moan and wring her hands most
piteously. 'Oh, where am I?' she wailed. 'It is so cold, so cold! So
cold and dark! Won't somebody help me? Oh, help me!'
"I gently asked: 'Who are you? Can't you tell us your name?'
"'Oh, I don't know, I can't tell,' moaned the voice. 'It's all so dark
and cold and lonely. Please tell me where I am. I've lost my name. All
is so dark and cold. Oh, pity me! Let me come in. Let me feel your
light. I'm freezing! Oh, pity me. I'm so lonely. It's so dark.'
"'Come in,' I said. 'We will help you.'
"The hands of the psychic crept timidly up my arm and touched my cheek.
'Thank you! Thank you! Oh, the cheer! Oh, the light!' she cried,
ecstatically. 'I see! I know! Good-bye!' And with a sigh of ecstasy the
"I can hardly express to you the vivid and yet sombre impression this
made upon me. It was as if a chilled and weary bird, having winged its
way from the winter's midnight into a warm room, had been heartened and
invigorated, had rushed away confident and swift to the sun-lands of the
"One by one other 'earth-bound souls' who, from one cause or another,
were 'unable to find their way upward,' came into our ken like chilled
and desperate bats condemned to whirl in endless outer darkness and
silence—poor, abortive, anomalous shadows, whose voices pleaded
piteously for release. Nameless, agonized, bewildered, they clung like
moths to the light of our psychic.
"Some of them appeared to be suffering all the terrors of the damned,
and as they moaned and pleaded for light, the lovely face of my friend
was convulsed with agony and her hands fluttered about like wounded
birds. Singular conception! Wonderful power of suggestion!
"At length, with a glad cry, the last of these blind souls saw, sighed
with happiness, and seemed to vanish upward, as if into some
unfathomable, fourth-dimension heaven. Then the sweet first spirit, the
woman with the glad children, returned to say to Miss Wilcox, 'Be
happy—George is coming back to you.'
"After she passed, my friend opened her eyes as before, clearly,
smilingly, and said, 'Have you had enough?'
"'Plenty,' said I. 'You nearly took my eye out in your dramatic fervor.
I must say your ghosts are most unhappy creatures.'
"She became very serious. 'Please don't think that these spirits are my
affinities. My work is purely philanthropic, so Theodore Parker used to
tell mother. It was my duty, he said, to comfort the cheerless, to
liberate the earth-bound, and so I had to have these poor creatures
waiting around. That's why I gave it up. It got to be too dreadful. We
never could tell what would come next. Murderers and barnburners and
every other accursed spirit seemed to be privileged to come into my poor
empty house and abuse it, although Parker and his band promised to
protect me. I stopped it. I will not sit again,' she said, firmly. 'I
don't like it. It would be bad enough to be dominated by one's dead
friends, or the dead friends of one's friends, but to be helpless in the
hands of all the demons and suicides and miscreants of the other world
is intolerable. And if I am not dominated by dead people, I fear I am
acting in response to the minds of vicious living people, and I don't
like that. It's a dreadful feeling—can't you see it is?—this being
open to every wandering gust of passion. I wouldn't let any one of my
children be controlled for the world. Don't ask me to sit again, and
please don't let my friends know of my "gift."'
"Of course we promised, but the effect of that sitting I shall not soon
forget. By-the-way, Miss Wilcox 'phoned and proved the truth of her
message. Her mother really was ill and in need of her."
As I closed this story, Cameron said: "Garland, you tell that as if you
believed in it."
"I certainly do believe in my friend. It's no joke with her. She is
quite certain that she is controlled by those 'on the other side,' and
that to submit is to lose so much of her own individuality. You may call
it hysteria, somnambulism, hypnotism, anything you like, but that
certain people are moved subconsciously to impersonate the dead I am
quite ready to believe. However, 'impersonation' is the least convincing
(from my point of view) of all the phases of mediumship. I have paid
very little attention to it in the course of my investigation. It has no
value as evidence. You are still in the tattered fringes of 'spiritism,'
even when you have seen all that impersonation can show you."
"Well, what do you suggest as the proper method for the society?"
"As I told you at beginning, I have had a great deal of experience with
these elusive 'facts,' and it chances that a practised though
non-professional psychic with whom I have held many baffling sittings,
is in the city. I may be able to induce her to sit for us."
"Oh, do, do!" cried Mrs. Cameron and Miss Brush together.
"Who is she?" asked Miller.
"I'll tell you more about her—next time," I said, tantalizingly. "She
is very puzzling, I assure you. When and where shall we meet?"
"Here," said Cameron, promptly. "I'm getting interested. Bring on your
"Yes," said Miller, and his mouth shut like a steel trap. "Bring on your
faker. It won't take us long to expose her little game."
"Bigger scientific bigots than you have been conquered," I retorted.
"All right. I'll see what I can do. We'll meet one week from to-day."
"Yes," said Cameron; "come for dinner."
As I was going out, Mrs. Quigg detained me. "If it had been anybody but
nice little Mrs. Harris, I should say that you had made this all up
between you. As it is, I guess I'll have to admit that there is
something in thought transference and hypnotism. You were her
"That will serve for one evening," I retorted. "I'll make you doubt the
existence of matter before we finish this series of sittings." And with
this we parted.
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
"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
"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 séance
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 séance 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
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
As I paused, Harris said: "Was all that in his report to the Royal
"Well, I don't wonder they thought he was crazy. The whole statement is
"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
"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
"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 séance, 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
"'"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
We trooped into the sitting-room, where 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
"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 sofa and gave it to me.
I took it, but turned it over to Miller. "Here, open this parcel
yourself, Mr. Scientist. I want you to be satisfied as to its
Miller undid the package as cautiously as if it were an infernal
machine. As the paper opened and fell away, a short, truncated cone of
tin was disclosed, with another smaller one loosely held within it. The
two sections, when adjusted, made a plain megaphone, about twenty-four
inches in length and some five inches in diameter at the larger end.
"What do you do with that?" asked Mrs. Cameron.
In a perfectly matter-of-fact way Mrs. Smiley replied: "Many of the
spirit voices are very faint, and cannot be heard without this horn. I
am what they call a 'trumpet medium,'" she added, in further
"Do you mean to say spirits speak through that horn?"
"Yes. That is my 'phone.'"
The ladies looked at one another, and Harris said: "Isn't it rather
absurd to expect an immaterial mouth to speak through a tin tube, like
the grocer's boy?"
She smiled composedly. "I suppose it seems so to you, but to me it just
I set briskly to work arranging the library for the circle. In the
middle of the room I placed a plain oaken table, which had been procured
specially for the sitting. On this I stood the tin horn, upright on its
larger end; beside it I laid a pad, a pencil, and a small slate.
"Mrs. Smiley, you are to sit here," I said, drawing an arm-chair to the
end of the table nearest the wall. She took her seat submissively; and
looking around upon my fellow-members with a full knowledge of what was
in their minds, I remarked: "If all goes well to-night, this little
woman, alone and unaided, except by this megaphone, will utterly
confound you. We have had many sittings. We understand each other
perfectly. I am going to treat her as if she were an unconscious
trickster. I am going to use every effort to discover how she
accomplishes these mysterious results, and Miller is to be notably
remorseless. We are going to concede (for the present) the dim light
required. I don't like this, but Mrs. Smiley is giving us every other
condition, and as this is but a trial sitting, we grant it." I turned to
Miller. "The theory is that light acts in direct opposition to the
psychic force, weakening it unaccountably. Nevertheless, darkness is not
absolutely essential. Maxwell secured many convincing movements in the
light, and no doubt we shall be able to do so later."
"Who is Maxwell?" asked Miss Brush.
"Dr. Joseph Maxwell, Deputy Attorney-General of the Court of Appeals at
Bordeaux and Doctor of Medicine. He is a noted experimenter with psychic
forces. Indeed, he has the power himself. Now, Mrs. Smiley, I wish to
begin my tests by tying your wrists to the arms of your chair. May I do
"Certainly," she cheerfully answered. "You may padlock me, or put me in
an iron cage, if you please. I leave it all to you."
"Well, there is a certain virtue in knotting a silk thread, for the
reason that it is almost impossible to untie, even in the light, and to
break it, we will agree, invalidates the sitting. For to-night we will
use the thread. Miller, will you watch me?"
"With the greatest pleasure in the world," he answered, "and as a
scientist I am going to treat you as a possible confederate."
"Very good. Let each watch the other."
Beneath the gaze of the smiling company, I took from my pocket a spool
of strong silk twist, and proceeded to fasten the psychic's wrists. Each
arm was tied separately in such wise that she was unable to bring her
hands together, and could not raise her wrists an inch from the chair.
Next, with the aid of Mrs. Cameron, I looped a long piece of tape about
Mrs. Smiley's ankles, knotted it to the rungs of the chair at the back,
and nailed the loose ends to the floor. I then drew chalk marks on the
floor about the chair legs, in order that any movement of the chair, no
matter how slight, might show. Finally, I pushed the table about two
feet away from the psychic's utmost reach.
"With this arrangement we ought to be able to detect any considerable
movement on your part," I said to my prisoner; "at any rate, I think we
can keep you from jumping upon the table. Miller, you are to sit at her
left; I will keep watch and ward at her right; the others of the society
may take seats as they please—only the tradition is that the sexes
should alternate. Cameron, please lock both doors and keep the keys in
As soon as we were all seated and Cameron had locked the doors, I asked
him to turn down the light, which he did, grumbling: "I don't like this
part of it."
"Neither do I, but at a first sitting we must not expect too much. I am
sure we shall be able to have more light later on. And now, while we are
all getting into a harmonious frame of mind, suppose we ask Mrs. Smiley
to tell us a little about herself. Where were you born, Mrs. Smiley?"
She replied, very simply and candidly: "I was born near Cincinnati. My
father was a spiritualist early in the 'craze,' as it was called, and I
was about nine when I became a medium. At first we did not know that I
was the psychic. Demons seemed to take possession of our house, and for
a few weeks nothing movable was safe. After awhile my father became sure
that I was the cause of these disturbances, because everywhere I went
raps were heard: the movement of small objects near where I sat made me
an object of aversion or of actual terror to my school-mates. So finally
my father asked me to sit. I didn't want to do so at first, but he told
me it was my duty. They used to tie me in every way and experiment with
me. It was very wearisome to me, but I submitted, and I have been
devoted to the work ever since. After my father and mother died I gave
up all opposition to my gift, and now it is a great comfort to me; for
now I get messages from my father and my little daughter almost every
"Do they speak to you directly?" I asked.
"Yes. Sometimes clairaudiently, but generally through this cone when I
sit in the dark."
"What do you mean by speaking?" asked Howard. "Do you mean they sound
like actual people?"
"Just as real as you or any one," she answered.
I was waiting to say: "Don't be in haste; you will all know from actual
experience what she means by voices."
"Have you ever seen these forces at work?" asked Harris.
"No; not the way you mean. I had a terrible shock once that cured me of
being too curious. I was holding an accordion under a table by its
bellows end, as Home used to do, and while the playing was going on I
just believed if I looked under the table I could see something. So I
lifted the cover and peeped under. I didn't know any more for a long
time. When I came to my father was bathing my face and rubbing my hands.
I never tried to 'peek' after that."
"Do you mean that they did this to punish you for your peeping?"
"Yes. They don't like to have you look directly at them when they are
"I don't know. I never was punished again. I didn't need it."
"Would 'they' bat me if I were to peek?" asked Howard.
"They might not; but they refuse to 'work' while any one is looking."
"All that is suspicious."
"I know it is, but that is the way they act."
"You believe 'they' are spirits?"
"I know they are," she repeated. "If I didn't, I would be desolate. I
have been sitting now for over thirty years, and these friendly voices
are a part of my life. They comfort me more than I can tell."
She gave this account of herself with an air of quiet conviction that
deeply impressed the circle, and at the end of her little speech I
added: "She has agreed to put herself into our hands for a series of
experiments, and if her health does not fail I think we shall be able to
rival the doings of Florence Cook and Daniel Home, whose mediumships
were the basis of Crookes's report. Now let each one of you spread his
hands, or her hands, upon the table, just touching the little fingers,
in order that a complete circuit may be established. Miller and I will
make connection with our psychic."
"It all seems childish folly, but we'll do it," said Harris.
"What may we expect to happen first, Mrs. Smiley?" asked Mrs. Cameron,
after we were in position.
"I don't know," she answered, frankly. "I have very little control over
these forces. Often, when I am most anxious, nothing happens. Please
don't expect much of anything to-night: my first sittings in a new place
are seldom very good, and so much depends upon those who make up the
circle. I never sit without a fear that my power has gone never to come
I helped her out in explanation: "The honest medium does not advertise
to perform regularly, for the reason that this force, whatever it is,
seems to lie almost wholly outside the will. Flammarion says 'it may be
set down as a rule that all professional mediums cheat.' That is putting
it pretty strong; but it seems true that the condition which leads to
these phenomena is a very subtle physical and mental adjustment, and
that the slightest distraction or mental unrest defeats everything. If
the medium is paid for her work she is too eager to serve, and
everything tempts her to deceive. Furthermore, it has been proved that
the psychic is in the very nature of the case extremely liable to
suggestion, and the combined wills of the sitters focussed on one
desired phenomena becomes an almost irresistible force to certain
psychics. On the other hand, the best observers say that the most
striking proofs of spiritualism lies in the fact that the most amazing
phenomena come in opposition to the will of both the psychic and the
sitters. We may not secure a single movement to-night, and, indeed, we
may have two or three barren sittings, but I am confident that in the
end you will be satisfied. I am going to attempt to put Mrs. Smiley to
sleep now, and when she is in her trance we can discuss her methods
I began to hum a low, monotonous tune, and one by one the others joined
in the refrain; soon the psychic's breath became labored, and in the
pauses of the song she moaned. At length she drew her hands as far away
from Miller's and mine as the threads would permit, thus breaking the
"She is in trance," I reported. "Now we have nothing to do but wait. You
may say anything you please, or tell stories or sing songs, only don't
argue. We will remain as we are for a while, and if the 'guides' are
dissatisfied, they will order a change. Generally speaking, the
'controls' are very notional, and when we get into full communication
with 'them' the entire present arrangement may be broken up. The theory
is that all success is due to the co-operation of those 'on the other
"It looks to me like a plain case of hypnotism from this side,"
"Aren't there any fixed rules to the game?" asked Howard.
"After many years' exhaustive study of these antic spirits (approaching
them always from the naturalistic side), Maxwell deduces certain helpful
rules: 'Use a small room,' he says, 'and have it warm. Medium and
sitters must not have cold hands or feet.'"
"I can understand the psychic having cold feet now and then,"
"Maxwell finds dry air and clear weather most favorable; rainy and windy
weather often cause failures. There seems to be some connection with the
electrical condition of the atmosphere. After proving that a white light
deters phenomena, he uses green, violet, or yellow screens for his
lamps. 'Any kind of a table will do for the raps, or for levitation,' he
says, 'but one with a double top seems to give best results.' His
sitters use wooden chairs with cane seats, and my own experience is that
a bare floor helps. He especially directs that the guide be
consulted—'let the phenomena come as spontaneously as possible,' he
"Does he find this sandwiching of the sexes helpful?"
"Yes. He says six or eight people, men and women alternating, make the
best circle. 'Take things seriously, but not solemnly,' he advises.
'Don't argue; address the "control," and follow his advice. Avoid
confusion by electing a director and asking for only one thing at a
time. Keep the same people in the group for at least six sittings. Sit
in a circle and touch hands. Be patient and good-tempered. A worried,
irritated, sullen medium is a poor instrument. Finally'—and this is
most important—'don't overwork the medium.' And with this important
statement he ends: 'I am persuaded of the absolute harmlessness of
these experiments, provided they are properly conducted.'"
"I am glad to know that," said Mrs. Quigg. "After seeing Mrs. Harris's
trance, I was in doubt."
"Maxwell's hints are extremely valuable to me," I continued, "for they
confirm my own methods, some of which I had to learn by tedious
experience. If I had known, for instance, the folly of allowing
everybody to quiz the psychic, I might have been spared many hours of
tiresome sitting. Maxwell is, indeed, an ideal investigator—he has made
a great advance in methods, and his conclusions, though tentative, are
most suggestive. No unprejudiced reader can finish his book,
Metapsychical Phenomena, without feeling that its author is a brave
and fearless writer, as well as a cautious and sane reasoner. His
published experience throws a flood of light on mediums and their
"But it seems to me those rules give the medium and his 'guides' the
free hand," said Miller, discontentedly.
"By no means," I retorted. "Maxwell plainly says, 'Where the "control"
is insisting upon something which I do not like, I politely resist, and
end by getting my own way.' Note the 'politely.' In short, he recognizes
that a genuine medium is a very precious instrument, and he does not
begin by clubbing him—or her—into submission. For all their wondrous
powers, the people who possess these powers are very weak. They are not
allowed to make anything more than a living out of the practise of the
magic, and they live under the threat of having the power withdrawn.
They are helpless in the face of a challenge to produce the phenomena,
and yet the hidden forces are themselves helpless without them—"
"Is the table throbbing?" asked Brierly.
"I don't feel it."
"Have you ever had any convincing evidence of this psychic force—such
as movement of objects without contact?" asked Harris.
"Yes. I have had a table rise at least twenty inches from the floor in
the full light, with no one present but the medium and myself, and while
our finger-tips alone touched the top. It felt as if it were floating in
a thick and resilient liquid, and when I pressed upon it, it oscillated,
in a curious way, as if the power were applied from below and in the
centre of the table. The psychic was a young girl, and I am certain
played no trick. I could see her feet on the floor, and her finger-tips
were, like mine, on the top of the table. This was the clearest test of
levitation I ever had, but the lifting of a pencil in independent
writing is the same thing in effect."
"I see you have acquired all the 'patter,'" remarked Miller.
"Oh, yes indeed; all the 'patter,' and some of the guile. For instance,
when I want to use 'those who have passed on' I do so, and when I don't
I invent means to deceive them."
Mrs. Quigg caught me up on that. "Can you deceive 'them'?"
"I don't know that I do, really; but, at any rate, 'they' are not always
mind-readers—that I have proved very conclusively. In all my experience
I have never had any satisfactory evidence of the clairvoyance of these
"I thought 'they' could read one's every thought."
"I do not find that 'they' can read so much as one of my thoughts, and
I would not invest a dollar on their recommendations. Seldom does so
much as a familiar name come up in my sittings, and no message of any
intimate sort has ever come from the shadow world for me. The messages
are intelligent, but below rather than above the average. 'They' always
seem very fallible, very human to me, and nothing 'they' do startles me.
I have no patience with those who make much of the morbid side of this
business. To me it is neither 'theism' nor 'diabolism,' and is neither
destruction of an old religion or the basis of a new one—But all this
verges on the controversial, and is not good for our psychic. Let's sing
some good old tune, like 'Suwanee River' or 'Lily Dale.' We must keep to
the genial side of conversation. Spread your hands wide on the table and
be as comfortable as you can. We may have to wait a long time now, all
on Miller's account."
"Because he is a sceptic?"
"No; because he's belligerent," I answered. "It doesn't matter whether
you believe or not if you do not stir up controversy. Miller's
'suggestion' is adverse to the serenity of the psychic, that's all. The
old-time sleepy back-parlor logic has no weight with me. Maxwell and
Flammarion are my guides."
For four hours we sat thus, and nothing happened. How I kept them at
it I do not now understand, but they stayed. We sang, joked, told
stories, gossiped in desperate effort to kill time, and not one rap,
tap, or crackle came to guide us or to give indication of the presence
of any unusual power. Part of the time Mrs. Smiley was awake and sorely
grieved at her failure. She understood very well the position in which I
seemed to stand. To Miller I was a dupe, the victim of a trickster. He
himself afterward confessed that at the time he almost regretted his
preternatural acuteness, and was ready to take himself away in order to
let the show go on. But he didn't, and from time to time I encouraged
our psychic by saying: "Never mind, Mrs. Smiley, there are other
evenings to come. We will not despair."
At last she sank into profound sleep, and at exactly twelve o'clock I
heard a faint tapping on top of the piano, just behind Miller. "Hooray,
here they are!" I exclaimed, with vast relief. "What is the matter?" I
asked of "the presence." "Aren't we sitting right?"
"No," was the answer, by means of one decided tap.
"Am I right?"
"No," answered the taps.
I may explain at this point that in the accepted code of signals one tap
means "No," three taps mean "Yes," and two taps, "Don't know,"
"Will try," or any other doubtful state of mind. One has, of course,
to guess at the precise meaning; but one may confirm one's
interpretation by putting it in the form of a question that can be
answered by "Yes" or "No."
"Shall I change with Miller?" I asked.
Three brisk taps made affirmative answer.
I exchanged places with Miller, but did not again touch Mrs. Smiley's
hand. Immediately thereafter the sound of soft drumming came from the
piano at a point entirely out of reach of the psychic, and at my request
the drummer kept time to my whistling. After some minutes of this
foolery "the force" left the piano abruptly, as if with a leap, and
dropped to the middle of the table. A light, fumbling noise followed,
and I called out: "Is every hand in the circle accounted for?"
While the members of the group were, in turn, assuring me of this, a
small bell on the table was taken up and rung, and the table itself was
shoved powerfully toward the circle and away from the psychic. I assure
you, my sitters were profoundly interested now, and some of the women
were startled. A sharp, pecking sound came upon the cone. I called
attention to the fact that this took place at least six feet from the
psychic, and a moment later, with intent to detect her in any movement,
I leaned far forward so that my head came close to her breast. I could
not discern the slightest motion; I could not even hear her breathe. All
this, while very impressive to me, was referred by the others to
trickery on Mrs. Smiley's part.
At my request, the drumming on the cone kept time to "Dixey" and "Yankee
Doodle," and at length I said to "the spirit": "You must have liked
topical songs when you were on the earth-plane."
Instantly the cone was swept violently from the table, and a deep,
jovial, strong whisper came from the horn to me. "I do now," was the
"Who are you?" I asked.
"Oh, it is you, is it? Well, I am glad you've found a voice; I felt
rather helpless up to this moment. Are we sitting right?"
"What are you going to do for us to-night? Can you raise the table?"
"I'll try," he whispered again.
"Are there other 'spirits' here?"
"Can't 'they' write their names on the pad?"
There was a moment's silence, and then the sound of writing began in the
middle of the table. When this had finished, I said, "Did you succeed?"
Again the cone rose, and another whisper, a fainter voice, answered:
"Yes, but the writing is very miserable."
The rest of the sitters were silent with amazement till Miller said, in
a tone of disgust: "That is of no value. It is so easy for Howard, or
some one else, to break the circle and write or speak through the cone."
"Yes, we'll have to trust one another for to-night," I admitted.
The psychic now began to twist and moan and struggle, choking, gasping
in such evident suffering that Mrs. Cameron cried out: "Mr. Garland,
don't you hear? She is ill! Let me go to her!"
"Don't be alarmed," I replied. "This struggle almost always precedes her
strongest manifestations. It seems cruel to say so, but, remember, Mrs.
Smiley has been through these paroxysms hundreds of times. It appears
very painful and exhausting, but she has assured me that 'they' take
care of her. She suffers almost no ill effects from her trance."
Miller, living up to his character as remorseless scientist, remarked:
"I'd like to control her hands. Shall I try?"
"Not now, not till the 'guides' consent to it," I replied. "It is said
to be dangerous to the psychic to touch her unexpectedly."
"I can understand that it might be inconvenient," remarked Harris, with
Again we sat in expectant silence until several of the group became
restless. "What is she about now?" asked Cameron, wearily.
"She is in dead trance, apparently. Please be patient a little while
longer. Are you still with us, 'Wilbur'?"
I was delighted to hear the three taps that answer "Yes."
"Will you be able to do something more for us?"
Tap, tap, tap—given apparently with the pencil.
I observed: "From a strictly scientific standpoint, the movement of
that pencil, provided it can be proved to have taken place without the
agency of any known form of force, is as important as the fall of a
mountain. It heralds a new day in science. Is every hand accounted for?"
Each answered, "Yes." At this moment there was a rustling at the base
of the cone. "Listen! 'they' are at work with the horn."
The cone rocked slowly on its base, and at last leaped over the
shoulders of the sitters and fell with a crash to the floor. "Mercy on
us!" gasped Mrs. Cameron.
"Don't touch it! Don't move!" I called out. "Everybody clasp hands now.
Here is a chance for a fine test. 'Wilbur,' can you put the cone back on
Tap, tap, answered "Wilbur." The two taps were given slowly, and I
understood them to mean "Don't know" or "Will try."
"Miller," I said, impressively, "unless some one of our circle is
betraying us, we are having as good a demonstration as we could expect,
barring the absence of light. Be watchful. 'Wilbur,' we're trusting to
you now. Let's see what you can do."
As I spoke, the horn, with a ringing scrape, left the carpet, and a
moment later bumped down upon Mrs. Quigg's head. "Oh!" she shrieked, "it
Almost immediately a breathy chuckle came from the horn: "Ha, ha! That
shook you up a little, I reckon."
The other women were frozen with horror. "Don't let it touch me,"
pleaded Miss Brush.
And Mrs. Quigg, much shaken, called out: "Frank Howard, are you doing
He was highly indignant. "Certainly not. Are you not holding one hand
and Miss Brush the other? I am in-no-cent; I swear it!"
I commented on their dialogue severely. "See how you all treat an event
that is wonderful enough to convulse the National Academy of Science. I
do not believe the psychic's hands have moved an inch, and yet, unless
some one of you is false to his trust, the miraculous has happened—Are
you there, 'Wilbur?'" I queried of the mystic presence.
The cone swung toward me, and "Wilbur" answered: "I am, old horse."
"Well, Wilbur, there are two bigoted scientific people here to-night,
and I want you to put them to everlasting rout."
"I'll do it, don't you worry," replied the voice, and the cone dropped
with a bang on the table, again making everybody jump.
"That brought the goose-flesh!" remarked "Wilbur," with humorous
I took a malicious delight in the mystification of my fellows. "Go down
and shake up young Howard at the foot of the table," I suggested. "He
is a little in the conjuring line himself."
Almost instantly Howard cried out: "The blooming thing is touching me on
"Observe," called I, in the tone of a man exhibiting some kind of
trained animal, "the cone is now at least six feet from the psychic's
utmost reach. How do you account for that, Miller?"
"The boy lied," said Miller, curtly.
Howard was offended. "I'll take that out of you, old chap, when we meet
in the street. I am telling the square-toed truth. I am not doing a
thing but hold two very scared ladies' hands."
"Oh, come now!" I interposed. "If we are to be so 'tarnal suspicious of
one another, we might just as well give up the sitting. If each of us
must be padlocked, proof of any phenomenon is impossible."
A firmer hand now seemed to grasp the cone, and a deep whisper that was
almost a tone came from it. "You are right," this new personality
said, with measured and precise utterance. "We come with the best tests
of a supremely important revelation; we come as scientists from our side
of the line; and you scoff, and take it all as a piece of folly, as an
entertainment. Is this just? No, it is unworthy men of science."
"You are entirely justified in your indignation," I responded. "But who
"My name on the earth-plane was Mitchell."
"I am glad to make your acquaintance, 'Mr. Mitchell,' and your rebuke is
deserved. I, for one, mean to proceed in this matter seriously. What can
you do for us to-night?"
"Be very patient. Carry this investigation forward, and this psychic
will astonish the world. Do not abuse her; do not tax her beyond her
strength." He spoke with the precise and rather pedantic accent of an
old gentleman nurtured on the classics, and produced upon me a distinct
impression of age and serious demeanor utterly different from the
rollicking, not too refined "Wilbur."
"I will see that she is treated fairly, 'Mr. Mitchell,' but of course
this is not a rigid test. Will you be able to permit conditions more
"Yes, very much more convincing," he replied, slowly and ponderously,
"but do not worry the instrument to-night. Narrow your circle; be
harmonious, and not too eager, and you will be abundantly rewarded."
"Won't you tell me who you were on the earth-plane?"
"I was a friend of the father of the instrument," he answered.
The horn returned to the table quietly, and young Howard was the first
to speak. "That is a fine piece of ventriloquism, any way you look at
it," said he. "It is a nice trick to give that peculiar tinny sound to a
"So far as I can judge, so far as my sense of hearing goes (and I have
kept my ear close to the psychic's face), Mrs. Smiley has not moved, nor
uttered a sound. What is your verdict, Mr. Cocksure Scientist?"
For the first time Miller's voice indicated some slight hesitation. "I
haven't been able to detect any movement on the part of the psychic,"
he replied, "but of course I can't answer for the rest of the company.
The performance has no scientific value. In the dark, deceit is easy.
Harris may be the ventriloquist."
"Why not accuse the arch-conspirator of us all, our director?" exclaimed
"You flatter me," I responded. "If I could produce those voices I would
go on the vaudeville stage to-morrow. I give you my word I am acting in
entire good faith. I am quite as eager for the truth as any of
you.—But, hark! the cone is on the wing again."
The megaphone was indeed moving, as if a weak, unskilled hand were
struggling with it, and at last it swung feebly into the air, and a
whisper that was hardly more than a breath was directed toward Mrs.
"Are you speaking to me?" she asked, in a voice that trembled a little.
The answer was but a sibilant sigh: "Yes."
"Who are you?"
The answer was so faint that no one save Mrs. Quigg could distinguish
the word. Almost at the same moment I caught the sound of other moving
lips in the air just before me. "Who is it?" I asked. Like a little,
hopeless sigh the answer came: "Jessie." This was the name of my
younger sister. Then the cone dropped as though falling from exhausted
hands, and I had no further message from this "spirit."
As we waited breathlessly the clear, silver-sweet voice of a little girl
was heard by every one at the table. "Good-evening, everybody. I am
Maud; I came with my mamma. I have come to ask you to be very kind to
"I am very glad to hear you, 'Maud,'" I answered. "Are there other
"Yes, many, many spirits. My grandpa is here; he is treating my mamma
so that she will not be sick. Some one is here to see you, but is too
weak to speak. My grandpa says 'we are trusting you.'"
With astonishing clearness this voice created in my mind (not as light
would create it) the vision of a self-contained, womanly little girl,
whose voice and accent formed a curious silvery replica of the
psychic's, and yet I could not say that the psychic's vocal organs gave
out these words. At last she said "Good-bye," and the cone was softly
laid upon the table.
All of this was performed in profound silence. There was no sound in the
cone, except that of the voice, no rustle of garments, no grasp of
fingers on the tin; and though I leaned far over, and once more placed
my ear close to the psychic's lips, I could not trace the slightest
movement connecting her with the movements on the table. I had the
conviction at the moment that she sat in a death-like trance at my side.
A few moments later the cone was jammed together and thrown upon the
floor—a movement, I had learned to know, that announced that the
sitting was ended.
While the sitters still waited, I said: "Now, Cameron, you may turn on
the gas, but do so very slowly. Mrs. Smiley seems in deep sleep, and we
are warned not to startle her."
When the light became strong enough to see a form, we found our psychic
sitting limply, her head drooping sidewise, her eyes closed, her face
white and calm. The cone was lying not far from her chair, separated
into two parts. The threads that bound her to her seat were to all
appearance precisely as at the beginning of the sitting, except that
they were deeply sunk into the flesh of her wrists. Her chair had not
moved a hair's-breadth from the chalk-marks on the floor.
A moment later she opened her eyes, and, smiling rather wanly, asked of
me: "Did anything happen?"
"Oh yes, a great deal. 'Wilbur' came, and 'Maud,' and 'Mr. Mitchell.'"
"I am very glad," she answered, with a faint, happy smile.
Mrs. Cameron bent to her pityingly. "How do you feel?"
"Very numb, but I'll be all right in a very short time. My wrists hurt;
your thread is very tight. My arms always swell. Please give me a drink
As I held the glass to her lips I was conscience-smitten to think that
for five hours she had been sitting in this constrained position—a
martyr to science; but I deferred the moment of her release till Miller
had examined every bond. I used a small pair of scissors to cut the
thread out of the deep furrows in her wrist, and it took a quarter of an
hour of chafing to restore her arms to their normal condition, all of
which had a convincing effect upon the doubters.
Miss Brush was indignant. "I think it is a shame the way you have
treated your psychic."
"Oh, this is nothing," responded Mrs. Smiley. "I'd be unhappy and uneasy
if you didn't tie me. I'm like the old man's chickens (you've heard the
story?): he had moved so much that the chickens, whenever they saw him
put a cover on his wagon, would lie down and cross their feet to be
After Mrs. Cameron had taken Mrs. Smiley to the dining-room for a cup of
tea, the rest of us remained staring at one another.
"Now, which of us did that?" I asked.
"So far as the psychic was concerned, I don't see how she could have had
any hand in it," said Miller. "But, then, it was all in the dark."
I had to admit that this diminished the value of the experiment. "But
now listen," I said: "as we all seem to be suspicious of one another, I
propose that we resort to a process of elimination. I shall take
'Mitchell's' advice and narrow the circle. Howard, you are a suspect.
You are ruled out of the next sitting."
"Oh no," protested Howard. "That isn't fair. I did nothing, I swear!"
"You admit being a prestidigitator?"
"Yes, but I had nothing to do with this performance."
"Nevertheless, so far as conclusive proof is concerned, your presence in
the circle invalidates it. Now I propose that Mrs. Smiley go to Miller's
house, with no one present but Mr. and Mrs. Cameron and Mr. and Mrs.
Miller. If we secure these same phenomena under Miller's conditions, we
will then readmit one by one the entire membership of the society."
Mrs. Quigg resented being left out, and I pretended surprise.
"I thought from what you had said that these 'dark shows' were of no
"The next one ought to have decided value if Professor Miller has any
share in the test," she answered, quickly. "I believe in him."
"And not in me? That's a nice thing to say."
"I mean in his method. He is a cold, calm, merciless scientist. You're a
man of imagination."
"Thank you," said I. "My critics would take issue with you there.
However, if we get anywhere in this campaign we must begin with the
smallest possible circle and slowly enlarge it. We hope also to increase
the amount of light."
After some further argument, Cameron settled the matter by saying:
"Garland is right; and, to show my own scientific temper, I rule Mrs.
Cameron and myself out of the next sitting. That will put the whole
problem up to Miller and Garland."
Miller and I walked away to the club together, pondering deeply on the
implications of the night's performance.
"I don't see how it was done," Miller repeated. "Certainly she did not
rise from her chair, not for an instant, and yet to believe that she did
not have a hand in what took place is to admit the impossible. You have
had other sittings with her, haven't you? You believe in her?"
"Yes, I think she is sincere, but possibly self-deceived. The fact that
she is willing to put herself into our hands in this way is most
"There is nothing of the trickster about her appearance, and yet I wish
she had permitted us to hold her hands to-night."
"Miller," said I, earnestly, "if you'll go with me into this
experimentation with an open mind, I'll convince you that Crookes and
Flammarion are the true scientists. It is the fashion to smile at
Flammarion as a romantic astronomer, but I can't see now that he is
lacking in patience and caution. For all his rather fervid utterances,
he keeps his head and goes on patiently investigating. He has had more
experience than even Crookes or Lombroso. For forty years he has been
searching the dark for these strange forces, and yet he says: 'We create
in these séances an imaginary being; we speak to it, and in its replies
it almost always reflects the mentality of the experimenter. Spirits
have taught us nothing. They have not led science forward a single
step.... I must say that if there are spirits, or beings independent of
us, in action, they know no more than we do about the other world's.'
And yet as regards the physical facts of mediumship, he sustains all the
investigators. 'These phenomena exist,' he says."
"Candidly, Garland, what is your own belief?" asked Miller, a few
I evaded him. "I have seen enough to make me believe in Zöllner's
fourth dimension, but I don't. My mind is so constructed that such
wonders as we have seen to-night produce very little effect on me. They
are as normal to me now as the popping of corn or the roasting of
potatoes. As I say, I have demonstrated certain of these physical
doings. But as for belief—well, that is not a matter of the will, but
of evidence, and the evidence is not yet sufficient to bring me to any
definite conclusion; in fact, in the broad day, and especially the
second day after I have been through one of these astounding
experiences, I begin to doubt my senses. Richet speaks of this curious
recession of belief, and admits his own inability to retain the
conviction that, at the moment of the phenomenon, was complete. 'No
sooner is the sitting over than my doubts come swarming back upon me,'
he says. 'The real world which surrounds us, with its prejudices, its
schemes of habitual opinions, holds us in so strong a grasp that we can
scarcely free ourselves completely. Certainty does not follow on
demonstration, but on habit.' And in that saying you have my own mental
limitations admirably put."
Miller plodded along by my side in silence for a few minutes, and then
asked, abruptly: "What is the real reason that you keep up the fiction
of the 'guide' when you don't believe in him?"
"For the reason that I think Mrs. Smiley honest in her faith, and that
to be polite to the 'guides' is one of the first requisites of a
successful sitting. Suppose the whole action to be terrestrial. Suppose
each successful sitting to be, as Flammarion suggests, nothing but a
subtle adjustment of our 'collective consciousness' to hers. Can't you
see how necessary it is that we should proceed with her full consent?
After an immense experience, following closely Crookes, de Rochas,
Lodge, Richet, Duclaux, Lombroso, and Ochorowicz, Maxwell says: 'I
believe in these phenomena, but I see no need to attribute them to any
supernatural intervention. I am inclined to think they are produced by
some force within ourselves—'"
"Just what does he mean by that?"
"I can't precisely explain. It's harder to understand than the spirit
hypothesis. He himself admits this, and goes on to say that while he is
certain that we are in the presence of an unknown force, he is convinced
that the phenomena will ultimately be found orderly, like all other
facts of nature. 'Therefore, in the critical state of research, the
scientific problem, it seems to me, is not whether spiritism be true or
false, but whether metapsychical phenomena are real or imaginary. Some
future Newton will discover a more complete formula than ours,' he
prophesies. 'Every natural fact should be studied, and if it be real,
incorporated in the patrimony of knowledge.' He then adds, with the
true scientist's humble acknowledgment of the infinite reach of the
undiscovered universe: 'Our knowledge is very limited and our experience
"That is good talk," said Miller in reply, "but the question is, Does he
really experiment in that condition of mind? An astronomer with his eye
to a telescope is a highly specialized and competent being. An
astronomer listening to whispers in the dark may be as simple and
credulous as a child."
"I grant all that. But I see in it the greater reason why men like
yourself should take up the investigation of these illusive and
disturbing problems. These phenomena, as Flammarion says, introduce us
into uncharted seas, and we need the most cautious and clearest-sighted
scientists in this world as pilots. Will you be one of them?"
"You flatter me. As a matter of fact, I'm a very poor sailor," he
answered, with a smile.
If there is any one thing true in these manifestations of "spirit
power," it is that the psychic is the agent for their production.
Actively or passively, consciously or unconsciously, she completes the
formula—her "odic force" is the final chemical which permits
precipitation. Sometimes her will to produce, her wish to serve, hinders
rather than helps. Often when she is most persistent nothing happens.
Sometimes an aching foot or a disturbing thought cuts off all phenomena.
For the best results, apparently, the psychic should be confident, easy
of mind, and not too anxious to please.
I approached this sitting at Miller's house with some fear that it might
end in disappointment to him and be a source of chagrin to Mrs. Smiley.
The house was strange, our attitude intensely critical, and she was very
anxious to succeed. It would be remarkable, indeed, if under these
conditions she were able to meet us half-way. As we walked up the street
together I did my best to reassure her.
"You may trust me fully, Mrs. Smiley," said I; "and Miller, though an
inexorable scientist, is a gentleman. I am sure he will not insist on
any experiment which will injure your health or give you needless pain.
This is but our second sitting, and I, for one, do not expect you to be
at your best."
"I hope we will have good work," she replied, earnestly, "but it is
always harder to sit for tests. Tell me about Mrs. Miller. Is she nice?
Will I like her?"
"She is very gentle and considerate; you will like her at once. I am
sure she will be a help to you."
Her voice was very sincere as she said: "You don't know how anxiously I
watch the make-up of my circle. It isn't because I am afraid of
sceptics; I have no fear of those who do not believe; but each person
brings such diverse influences, and these influences conflict and worry
me, and then nothing takes place. I don't want to disappoint you and
your friends, and that may hinder me."
The Millers occupied a modest little house far up-town, and were
suburban, almost rural, in their manner of living. The chemist himself
met us at the door, and, after greeting us cordially, ushered us into
his library, which was a small room at the back of the hall. I observed
that it had only one door and two windows, rather high up in the east
wall—an excellent place for our sitting.
"So this is the den of inquisition," I began; and turning to Mrs.
Smiley, I added: "I hope you are not chilled by it."
"Not a bit," she answered, cheerily.
As Mrs. Miller, a quiet little woman (not so far removed from Mrs.
Smiley's own type), entered the door and greeted us both, the psychic's
face lighted up with pleasure. This argued well for our experiment.
I could see that Miller had made careful preparation along the lines of
my suggestion. A plain old table was standing lengthwise of the room,
the windows were hung with shawls, and a worn hickory chair stood with
arms wide-spread to seize its victim. After surveying the room, Mrs.
Smiley turned to me with a note of satisfaction in her voice, and said:
"I like this room and this furniture; I feel the right associations
here. The air is full of spirit power."
"I am glad your mind is at ease," said I, "for I am anxious for a very
conclusive sitting. You tell 'Mitchell' that Miller is decidedly worth
converting. I want 'Wilbur' to do his best, for I intend to tighten the
bonds on you to-night."
She fearlessly faced me. "I am in your hands, Mr. Garland; do as you
like. Mr. Mitchell told me this morning that he would yet convince you
of the reality of the spirit world. He is assembling all the forces at
his command, and will certainly do everything in his power."
"I am delighted to get that assurance," I responded.
"You are to sit here," said Miller, indicating the hickory chair, which
he had placed near the north wall.
She took her seat meekly, placing her hands resignedly on the wings of
the chair. "I like this chair," she said, with a smile; "it is so
"Now," said I, "I am going to ask Mrs. Miller to fasten this long tape
about your ankles. We mean to take every precaution in order that you
may not involuntarily or subconsciously move your limbs."
Under close scrutiny, Mrs. Miller secured each foot in such wise that
the knots came in the middle of the tape, and to make untying them
absolutely impossible, I drew the two ends of the long ribbon back under
the psychic's chair and tacked them securely to the shelf of a bookcase
about two feet from the hind legs. To loosen them was entirely out of
our victim's power.
Miller then unreeled a spool of silk twist, and this I tied squarely to
the arm of the chair at a point about six feet from the loose end which
I intended to hold. I knotted the silk about the psychic's wrists,
drawing it to a hard knot each time, and gave the spool to Miller, while
retaining the loose end of the thread in my own hands. The psychic
could neither touch the tips of her fingers together nor lift her arms
an inch from the chair. She was as secure as if bound with a rope, but
as an extra precaution I passed the thread beneath the chair-arm and
pulled it taut. "This will enable us to feel the lightest movement of
her hands," I said to Miller, who had copied my device. "Are you
satisfied with the conditions?"
He answered, with some reservation: "They will do. I would like to have
light, but that I suppose is impossible."
"No, not impossible," replied Mrs. Smiley, "but the work is always
weaker in the light; the voices are stronger in the dark."
Mrs. Miller took her seat exactly opposite Mrs. Smiley. I was at her
right. Miller, after turning out the gas, sat opposite me and at the
At first the room was black as ink, but by degrees I (from my position,
opposite the window) was able to perceive a faint glow of light through
the curtain. Mrs. Smiley's back was near a wall of books, and, the room
being narrow, Miller's chair pretty well filled the space between the
table and the window behind it. The action of a confederate was excluded
by reason of the bolted door. To enter the room by the window was
impossible, for the reason that the slightest noise could be heard and
the least movement of the curtain would admit the light. Barring the
darkness, conditions were all of our own making.
However, we were hardly settled in place when Miller was moved to
further precaution. "Mrs. Smiley, I would like to pin over your dress a
newspaper, so that any slightest movement of your knees or feet could be
heard. Do you object?"
"Not at all," she instantly replied. "I am sure my guides will do
anything they can to meet your wishes. You may nail my dress to the
floor if you wish."
Miller turned on the light, and together we pinned a large, crisp
newspaper over her knees and tacked it securely to the floor in front of
her feet. The corners where the pins were inserted were well out of the
reach of her tethered hands.
Again the lights were lowered, and at my direction Miller placed his
right hand on the psychic's left and touched fingers with Mrs. Miller. I
did the same, thus connecting the circle. In this way we sat quietly
conversing for some time.
"I want to make it quite plain to you," I said to them all, "that I am
trying to follow Crookes's advice, which is to strip away all romance
and all superstitious religious ideas from this subject. I am insisting
on the normal character of these phenomena. Whatever happens to-night,
Mrs. Miller, please do not be alarmed. There is nothing inherently
uncanny or unwholesome in these phenomena. No one knows better than
your husband the essential mystery of the simplest fact.
Materialization, for example, is unusual; but if it happens it cannot be
supernatural. Nothing is supernatural. Am I right, Miller?"
"We explain each mystery by a deeper mystery," he replied.
"All depends upon the point of view. I am interested in these obscure
phases of human life. If they are real they are natural. To me the
spiritistic 'demonstrations' are intensely human and absorbingly
interesting as dramatic material, and yet I hope I am sufficiently the
scientist to be alive to the significance of these telekinetic
happenings, and enough of the realist to remain critical in the midst of
the wildest carnival of the invisible forces."
"Don't you believe in them?" asked Mrs. Miller, with a note of surprise
in her voice.
I replied, cautiously: "I am at this moment convinced of the reality of
some of these phenomena by reason of my own experiments; but leaving
one side my personal investigation, I must believe that Crookes,
Maxwell, and Flammarion are competent witnesses. As to
spiritualism—well, that is another matter."
"But where does all this lead to if not to spiritualism?" asked Mrs.
"As to the exact country, no one knows," I answered; "but the best of
our experimenters are agreed that the gate opens upon a new field of
science. These powers seem to be in advance of us and not a survival,
and they may prove of value in the evolution of the race. That is why I
want to enlist men like your husband in the work. Mediumship needs just
such critical attention as his. Nothing like Maxwell or Richet's
thoroughness of method has ever been used by an American physicist, so
far as I know. On the contrary, our leading scientific men seem to have
let the subject severely alone."
"Why?" asked Mrs. Smiley.
"Partly because of inherited prejudice, and partly because of their
allegiance to opposing theories; and finally, I suspect, because they
are connected with institutions that would not sanction such work. You
can imagine how the physical department of a denominational college
would investigate spirit phenomena! It was much the same way in England
during the early part of last century, but they are far in advance of us
now. The first notable step in the right direction was taken—as perhaps
you may know—in 1869, by the Dialectical Society of London, which
appointed a committee to look into the subject of spiritualism, with the
expectation, no doubt, of being able to stop the spread of the delusion.
"The investigations which followed were under the especial charge of
Alfred Russel Wallace; Cromwell Varley, chief of Electrical Engineers
and Telegraphers; and Professor Morgan, president of the Mathematical
Society. This committee, after careful investigation, reported
voluminously to this effect: 'The phenomena exist.... There is a force
capable of moving heavy bodies without material contact, which force is
in some unknown way dependent upon the presence of human beings.'"
"Which was a long way from saying that spiritism was true," remarked
"It certainly was sufficiently vague, you would think, to be harmless;
but several of the committee refused to join in even this cautious
report, insisting that the conclusions ought to be verified by some
other scientist. They suggested Sir William Crookes, who was at this
time in the early prime of his life and a renowned chemist—just the man
for the work. This suggestion was acted upon by Crookes a little later,
and his report on this 'psychic force' had a good deal to do with the
formation of the now famous Society for Psychical Research."
"I'd hate to be held responsible for that," said Miller, with humorous
intent—"of all the collections of 'hants' and witches."
"On the Continent scientific observation had already begun. Count Agénor
de Gasparin, of Valleyeres, was one of the first to take up this problem
of telekinesis in the modern spirit. He made a long and complicated
study of table-tipping in 1853, and published his conclusions in two
large volumes in Paris a year later. His experiments were careful and
searching, and drew the line squarely between the supernatural and the
natural. He said, positively, 'The agency is not supernatural; it is
physical, and determined by the will of the sitters,' and may be called
the Charles Darwin of the subject. A year later Professor Marc Thury, of
Geneva, added his testimony. He also said: 'The phenomena exist, and are
mainly due to an unknown fluid, or force, which rushes from the organism
of certain people.' To this force he gave the name 'psyscode.' The
spirit hypothesis, he was inclined to think, was not impossible or even
absurd. He used absurd in the scientific sense, of course."
"It is the most natural thing in the world to me," said Mrs. Smiley. "I
would be desolate without it."
"Some ten years later Flammarion, the renowned French astronomer, began
his studies of these unknown forces, and for a long time fought the
battle alone in France as Sir William Crookes endured the brunt of the
assault in England."
Miller here interposed with a covert sneer in his voice: "Yes, but
Flammarion has always had the reputation of being more of the romancer
than of the astronomer."
"You scientists do him an injustice," I answered, with some heat, "just
as you have all been ignorantly contemptuous of Crookes. I confess I
used to share in some small degree your estimate of Flammarion; but if
you will read his latest book with attention and with candor, you cannot
but be impressed with his wide experience and his patient, persistent
search for the truth. I am persuaded that he has been a genuine pioneer
all along. I cannot see but that he has examined very critically the
scores of psychics who have come under his observation, and his reports
are painstaking and cautious. His work must be considered by every
student of this subject. It won't do to neglect the words of a man who
has seen so much.—But here we go along lines of controversy when we
should be sitting in quiet harmony. Let us defer our discussion until
after our séance. Have patience, and I believe we can duplicate, if not
surpass, the marvellous doings of even Richet and Lombroso. We may be
able some day to take flash-light photographs of the cone while it is
floating in the air."
"Has that ever been done?" asked Mrs. Miller.
"Oh yes; Flammarion secured photos of a table floating in the air. These
pictures show conclusively that the psychic had nothing to do with
it—at least, not in any ordinary way. Richet succeeded in fixing the
apparition of a helmeted soldier on several plates. Crookes photographed
'Katie King' and her medium once or twice, and Fontenay has succeeded
in getting clear-cut images of the 'spirit' hands which play round the
head of Paladino. But it must be confessed that in Crookes's pictures
there is a lack of finality in the negatives. He never succeeded in
getting the faces of both 'Katie' and Miss Cook at the same time—and
Richet's photographs have a made-up look."
Passing abruptly to a low, humming song, I made the attempt to put our
psychic to sleep. In a few minutes her hands became cold and began to
flutter. At last she threw my fingers away as if she found them
scorching hot. Miller's hand was similarly repulsed. She then seemed to
pass into quiet sleep, and I said: "Withdraw a little, Miller, but keep
your silk thread taut."
Almost immediately faint raps came upon the table, and I asked: "Are you
Tap, tap, tap—"Yes."
"Are we sitting right?"
Tap, tap, tap—"Yes," answered the force, in a grave and deliberate
"As to these raps," I remarked, "they are easily simulated, but they
have been absolutely proven by several of our best investigators. They
have been obtained on a sheet of paper held in the air, on pencils, on a
strip of cloth, on an open umbrella—under every possible condition.
Maxwell secured them by pinching his own ear or by squeezing the arm of
his neighbor. I have heard them on a man's shirt-front. They are the
first manifestations of intelligent spirit power, and may be regarded in
the light of established fact."
"I wouldn't be hasty about admitting even that," remarked Miller. "In
the dark—or in the light—these obscure sounds may seem very ghostly,
and yet be due to purely physical causes."
We sat in silence for a few moments, and at last I asked: "Is any spirit
Almost immediately a childish voice came from the direction of the
psychic, apparently issuing from her lips. "Mr. Mitchell would like to
have you tie the threads to the legs of the table."
"Are you 'Maud?'" I asked.
"Yes, I am Maudie," she answered. "Mr. Mitchell wants to try some
experiment. He wishes you to tie the threads to the legs of the table."
I confess I didn't like the looks of this, but as a compromise measure I
was willing to grant it. "If you don't object, Miller, we will do as the
He hesitated. "It weakens our test. I don't understand the reason for
"I suggest we yield the point for the present. Perhaps 'they' will
permit us to resume the thread a little later. I have found that by
apparently meeting the forces half-way at the beginning we often get
concessions later which will be of greater value than the tests we have
Accordingly, I tied my end of the silk twist to the table leg at a
distance of about twenty-six inches from the utmost reach of the
psychic's hands. Miller did the same with his end. We then resumed our
seats, and waited for over an hour.
During this time the psychic was absolutely silent and apparently in
deep trance, and I was beginning to feel both disappointed and
chagrined. Miller's tone was a bit irritating. I knew exactly what was
in his mind. "I've fixed her now," he was exultantly saying to himself.
"She can't do a thing; even her request to have the threads tied to the
table does not avail her. Accustomed to have everything her own way, she
fails the first time any real restraint is applied to her."
I was quite at the end of my confident expectancy, when the psychic
began to stir uneasily and "Maudie" spoke complaining of the thread on
her mother's right wrist. "It's so tight it stops the blood," she
said. "Please loosen the thread a little. You may turn up the light,"
added the little voice.
While Miller gave me a light, I loosened the thread on her right wrist,
which was very tight; but I tied a second thread about her arm in such
wise that I would surely know at the end of the sitting if it had been
disturbed. The table, I observed at the time, was more than two feet
from her finger-tips. I called Miller's attention to this, and said:
"She can't possibly untie these threads, and if she breaks them the
sitting is invalidated."
Soon after the light was turned out "Maudie" requested that we all move
away from Mrs. Smiley, down to the lower end of the table; and although
Miller thought this permitted too much liberty of action on the part of
the medium, I urged consent. "There are other sittings coming," I
repeated once more.
Mrs. Smiley fell again into deep sleep, but nothing took place for a
long time. During this period of waiting I told stories of my experience
and the curious folk I had met in search for the true explanation of
these singular phenomena.
"Have you ever witnessed any materializations?" asked Mrs. Miller.
"Yes; but none of it was of the sort that I could swear to. I mean that
it seemed to me to be either downright trickery or subconscious actions
on the part of the psychic, and yet I've seen some very puzzling
phantoms. I am persuaded that a great deal of what is called 'fraud'
arises from the suggestibility of the psychics. Lombroso speaks of this
'fixed idea' of the mediums, and their persistent, almost insane,
attempt to produce the phenomena desired by the circle. You can
understand how this would be if there is anything at all in hypnotism.
Sometimes it all seems to belong to the realm of hypnotic visions. One
medium helps another to build up this unreal world. Early in my career
as an investigator I went to Onset Bay, where in July of each year all
the spiritualists and 'mejums' of New England used to gather (do yet, I
believe), and I shall never forget the singular assemblage of
'slate-writers,' 'spirit artists,' 'spirit photographers,' 'palmists,'
and 'psychometrists' whose signs lined the street and pointed along the
paths of the camp.
"In its way it was as dramatic a contrast of light and shade, of the
real and the unreal, as this otherwise prosaic republic can show. There
under the vivid summer sun, beside the glittering sea, men and women met
to commune on the incommunicable, to question the voiceless, and to
embrace the intangible. It was, indeed, such a revelation of human
credulity as might well have overpowered a young novelist. From the
warm, pine-scented afternoon air I crept into one of these tiny cabins,
and sat with my hands upon a closed slate in order to receive a message
from Lincoln or Cæsar; I slipped beneath the shelter of a tent to have a
sealed letter read by a commonplace person with an Indian accent; and I
sat at night in dark little parlors to watch weak men and weeping women
embrace very badly designed effigies of their lost darlings."
"Isn't it incredible? Can you imagine any reasonable person believing
such things?" asked Miller.
"Millions do," I replied.
"Please go on," entreated Mrs. Miller. "What happened to you?"
"Nothing really worth reporting upon. In that day of utter credulity no
tests were possible, but immediately after my return to Boston I had my
first entirely satisfactory test of the occult. I went with Mrs. Rose,
one of our members, to sit for 'independent slate-writing'—that is to
say, writing on the inner surfaces of closed slates. Up to this moment I
was profoundly sceptical, but I could not doubt the reality of what
happened. I took my own slates—the ordinary hinged school slates; but
whether they were my own or not made no difference really, for the final
test which I demanded was such that any prepared slates were useless.
I'm not going into tiresome detail. I only say that while sitting at the
table with both Mrs. Rose's hands and my own resting upon the slates I
dictated certain lines to be drawn upon the inside of the slates."
Miller's voice expressed growing interest. "And this was done?"
"It was done. I had in mind the test which Alfred Russel Wallace had
used in a similar case. He dictated several words to be written while
holding the slates securely in his own hands. In this instance I asked
for the word 'Constantinople' to be written. The psychic smiled,
shrugged her shoulders, and replied: 'I'll try, but I don't believe
they can spell it.' 'Draw a straight line, then,' said I. 'I'll be
content with a single line an inch long.' She laughingly retorted: 'It's
hard to draw a straight line.' 'Very well, draw a crooked line. Draw a
zigzag—like a stroke of lightning. Draw it in yellow. Draw a circle.'
She said no more, but became silent, and we waited without change of
position. Remember that I was holding the slate during all this talk. It
did not leave my hands."
"What were the conditions? Was it light?" asked Miller.
"It was about two o'clock of an afternoon, and we sat in the bay-window
of the parlor. It was perfectly light. No one moved. The psychic sat
opposite us, leaning back in a thoughtful pose. Her hands lay in her
lap, and she seemed to be merely waiting. At last a tapping came upon
the slate, and she brightened up. 'It is done!' she called, exultingly.
I opened the slates myself, and there, drawn in yellow crayon, was a
small circle with a zigzag yellow line crossing it exactly as I had
dictated, and under Mrs. Rose's hands in the corner of the slate was a
gayly colored bunch of pansies. There were messages also, but I paid
very little attention to them. The production of that circle under those
conditions overshadowed everything else. It was a definite and complete
answer to my doubt. It was, in fact, a 'miracle.' I recall going
directly to a meeting of the society and reporting upon this sitting.
You will find the bald statement of my experiment in the minutes of the
Miller was silent for a moment, then asked: "You're sure it was done
after you took the slates in hand?"
"I am as certain of it as I am of anything."
"How do you account for it? Of course it was a trick."
"Trickery can't account for that yellow line. The messages could have
been written beforehand, but no trick of prepared slates can account for
my dictated design. I have had other cases of slate-writing which were
almost as inexplicable, and Crookes and Wallace and Zöllner, as you
remember, were quite convinced by evidence thus secured. Crookes saw
the pencil at work. I have never witnessed the writing, but I have heard
it at work under my hands and I have felt it under my feet. I have had
writing on ten separate pages in a closed Manila-pad held between my
Miller seemed to be impressed by these statements. "I have always
considered slate-writing a cheap trick, but I don't quite see how that
was done—always providing your memory is not at fault."
"I would not place much dependence on my present recollection," I
frankly responded, "but I reported on the case at once while my mind
was most accurate as to details. Speaking further of these tricks, if
you choose to call them such, I have had several failures, where the
failure meant as much as a success. I have held two slates with a
psychic (while we were both standing) when the creaking and scratching
and grinding went on between my hands. I give you my word I was
convinced at the moment of holding between my palms a sentient force. I
felt as Franklin must have felt when he played with the lightning in the
bottle at the tail of his kite. Once I heard the writing going on in a
half-opened slate, but I did not see the pencil in motion. Some of these
cases of 'direct-writing' are the most convincing of all my experiences.
People ask me why I didn't talk with the spirits about heaven and
angels. I was not interested in their religious notions. I kept to this
one line—I wanted to see a particle of matter move from A to B without
a known push or pull. I paid very little attention to 'trance-mediums'
like Mrs. Piper; and although I saw a great deal of what is called
'mind-reading' and 'thought-transference,' I did not permit the cart to
get before the horse. 'Independent slate-writing' interested me, for the
reason that I could put the clamps on it. Materialization, on the
contrary, is so staged and arranged for that to prove its genuineness
seems impossible at present; but slate-writing under your hand is a
"I'd like to have it under my hand," said Miller, grimly.
"You can have it if you'll go after it," I retorted, "and you can have
Mrs. Miller was deeply interested. "Tell us more. Have you had other
messages written in that wonderful way?"
"Yes, many of them. One of the most curious examples of this kind I have
ever seen came to me in Chicago. It was a 'new one,' as Howard would
say. Old Mr. MacVicker told me one day that there was a woman on the
West Side who had a trick of producing independent slate-writing beneath
the stem of a goblet of water—"
"Why under a goblet of water?" interrupted Miller.
"As a test. You see, nearly every one who goes to a psychic wants first
of all to witness a miracle. Each seeker demands that his particular
message shall come hard—that is to say, under conditions impossible to
the living. His reasoning is like this: 'The dead are free from the
limitations of our life, therefore they should manifest themselves to us
as befits their wider knowledge of the laws of the universe, and
especially is it their business to outdo the most skilful conjurer!
Hence each man insists on locked slates and sealed letters. These the
poor psychics are forced to grant. To be just to them, I must say that I
have found most mediums fairly willing to meet any reasonable test; in
fact, many of them seem perfectly confident of the inscrutable, and
venture upon what seems to be the impossible with amazing
imperturbability. All they ask is to be treated like human beings. They
are seldom afraid of results. Sometimes they bully the forces sadly, and
make them work when they don't want to.
"Well, this particular psychic ushered me into her back parlor (which
was flooded with sunlight), and asked me to be seated at a small table
covered with a strip of cloth. She was a comfortable, plump person,
evidently from Kansas, in manner somewhat like the humorous wife of a
prosperous village carpenter. I remember that we were rather sympathetic
on various political questions. After some remarks on populism and other
weighty matters, she filled a goblet with water, and, placing it upon a
slate, passed it under the table with her right hand, asking me to put
my hand beneath hers."
"There it is!" said Miller, with infinite scorn. "Always in the dark or
under the table. No wonder Emerson called it 'a rat-hole philosophy.'"
"Suppose it's all the work of an 'astral' who can't abide the light?" I
"I know the theory, but I can't allow it."
"Why not? You permit the photographer his dark-room."
Then, with malicious delight in his petulance, I calmly continued: "I
put my left hand beneath hers and my right upon the table. I could see
her left hand lying in her lap, and as she turned sidewise to the table
I was able to keep in view both of her feet. We held the slate so that
the top of the goblet lightly touched the under side of the stand. The
psychic was all accounted for, except the hand which was resting
outspread on the under side of the slate. We sat for several minutes in
this way, while she explained that 'they' would probably take words out
of our conversation as a test, if I desired it. 'I am here to be shown,'
I replied. She laughed at me, and on two different occasions brought the
slate from beneath the table with writing under the stem of the goblet.
This was all very well, but I said: 'A better test would be to have them
write words that I dictate.'
"'I will ask them,' she said. She seemed to listen as if to voices
inaudible to me, and at last said: 'They will try it.'
"Again we placed the goblet of water on the clean slate under the table,
and while holding it as before, I said: 'Now ask them to write the name
"William Dean Howells."'
"Almost immediately there was a decided movement of the slate—or so it
seemed to me. A power seemed to wake on the slate, not through the
psychic's hand, but independent of it. I heard plainly the scratching of
a pencil, at the same time that the psychic's left hand and both of her
feet were in full view, and at the same time that her hand was
outspread, apparently motionless, upon the under side of the slate. In a
few moments the scratching paused, and the psychic, with an embarrassed
smile, said: 'They don't know how to spell the middle name.'"
"That is to say, she was the one who could not spell the name," said
"That's what I thought at the time, but I helped her out, and a moment
later a decided tapping on the top of the table announced the completion
of the task.
"As she slowly drew the slate out from under the table I was alert to
see what had happened. The glass remained in the middle of the slate as
before, with the water undiminished, and under the glass and confining
itself to the circle of the stem were the words:
written as though acknowledging the barrier of the glass where its edge
rested upon the slate."
"Wonderful!" exclaimed Mrs. Miller.
"Are you sure the writing was there as she drew the slate out?" queried
"Yes, I saw the writing as she was removing the goblet; and while with
her left hand she drew a little circle around the outer edge of the stem
I read the words. Now to say that the psychic wrote this with her
finger-nail on the bottom of the slate and then turned the slate over is
to me absurd. The glass of water prevented that. And yet she did it in
some occult way. The transaction remains unexplained to me. I am
perfectly sure she willed it, but how she caused the writing—the
physical change—is quite another problem. Zöllner (I believe it was)
secured the print of feet on the inside of a closed slate, and reasoned
that only on the theory of a fourth dimension could such phenomena be
explained. That reminds me of a sitting I once had with a young man
wherein, to utterly confound us, the invisible hands removed his
undershirt while his coat-sleeves were nailed to the chair."
"Oh, come now, you don't expect us to believe a miracle like that, even
on your serious statement?" remarked Miller.
"I certainly do not," I responded, readily. "I wouldn't believe it on
any one's statement. That is the discouraging thing about this whole
business; you can't convince any one by any amount of evidence. A man
will stand out against Zöllner, Crookes, Lodge, and Myers, discounting
all the rest of the great investigators, and then crumple up like a
caterpillar at the first touch of The Invisible Hand when it comes to
him directly. This same young man gave me the most convincing
demonstrations of materialized forms I have ever seen. In his own little
home, under the simplest conditions, he commanded forth from a little
bedroom a figure which was unmistakably not a mechanism. A lamp was
burning in the room, and the young fellow was perfectly visible at the
same moment as the phantom which stood and bowed three times."
"What did it look like?"
"It looked like a man's figure swathed in some white drapery. I could
not see the face, but it was certainly not a 'dummy.' But come, let us
see what the forces can do for us here to-night. I think we will need
'Annie Laurie' to clear the air of debate."
Mrs. Miller began the song, and we all joined in softly.
"Our newspaper is a trusty watch-dog," remarked Miller, significantly.
As he spoke the psychic began to toss and writhe and moan pitifully. Her
suffering mounted to a paroxysm at last; then silence fell for a minute
or two—absolute stillness; and in this hush the table took life, rose,
and slid away toward us as if shoved by a powerful hand.
"So far as my hearing goes, the psychic does not move," I said. "Barring
the light, this is a very good demonstration of movement without
control. Every movement of the table our way removes it farther from the
reach of the psychic."
"I hear nothing from the paper," confessed Miller, "and yet the table is
"I can believe this, because I have proved these movements without
contact. In this case Mrs. Smiley cannot reach the table with her knees
and her feet secured by tape nailed to the bookcase. You cannot believe
she has gotten out of her skin. The newspaper is still on guard, and has
uttered no alarm."
"It is very perplexing," Miller admitted; "but anything can happen in
"I admit it is very easy to deceive our senses, but the silk thread is
not to be fooled."
Three times the table was urged in the same direction, each paroxysm of
suffering, of moaning, of struggle, on the part of the psychic, being
followed a few seconds later by absolute silence. It was in these
moments of profound sepulchral hush that the heavy table lurched along
the floor. It was a strange and startling fact.
"Why are you doing this?" I asked of the forces. "As a test?"
"Yes," the raps replied.
"How do you account for it, Miller?" I asked, with challenge in my
voice. "My conviction is that we are confronting a case of
telekinesis—not as convincing as Flammarion's, but still inexplicable.
If that table has moved an inch, it is the same as if it had moved a
foot. You should feel rewarded."
Miller did not reply; and even as he pondered the megaphone, which had
been standing on the top of the table, began to rock on its base, and a
pencil which lay beside it was fumbled as if by a rat or a kitten. In
our state of strained expectancy this sound was very startling indeed.
"What about that, Miller?" I asked, in a tone of exultation. "Who's
doing that? Last time you suspected Howard, now here you must suspect
the psychic. The movement of that pencil is of enormous significance.
How can she possibly reach and handle that cone?"
"She can't, unless she has freed her hands," he admitted. "Let us touch
hands." I gave him my left hand, and sitting thus, with all hands
accounted for, we entered into communication with the "spirit" that was
busy in the centre of the table.
"Are you present, 'Wilbur'?"
Tap, tap, tap.
"Are you moving the table?"
Tap, tap, tap.
"To get it out of reach of the psychic?"
Tap, tap, tap.
Suddenly, with a loud bang, something heavy fell upon the table.
Releasing the hands of my fellow-investigators, I felt about for this
object and found that a book had been brought and thrown upon the table.
A shower of others followed, till twenty-four were piled about the cone.
They came whizzing with power, yet with such precision that no head was
touched and the cone remained undisturbed. It was as if some roguish
poltergeist had suddenly developed in the room.
"Miller, I find this exciting!" said I, after silver fell upon the
table. "Suppose we ask 'Wilbur' to fetch some small object whose
position you know."
Mrs. Miller then said: "There is a box of candy on a shelf back of Mrs.
Smiley. It is quite out of her reach. Can you bring that to me,
Tap, tap, tap! was the decided answer, and almost immediately the box
was placed on the top of the table and shoved along toward Mrs. Miller.
"That's a good demonstration," I remarked, and 'Wilbur' drummed a sharp
tattoo of satisfaction.
At my request he then wrote his name on a pad while Miller waited and
listened, his mind too busy with surmise to permit of speech. (He told
me afterward that he was perfectly sure the psychic had wrenched free of
her tacks and he was wondering how she would contrive to put herself
Finally I asked: "Are you still with us, 'Wilbur'?"
The force tapped smartly on the tin.
"Now, just to show you that the psychic is not doing this, can't you
hold up a book between me and the light? I want to see your hand."
Instantly, and to my profound amazement, a book rose in the air, and I
could see two hands in silhouette plainly and vigorously thumbing the
volume, which was held about three feet above the table, and to the
"Miller," I said, excitedly, "I see hands!"
"I do not," he answered; "but I hear a rustling."
Swift on the trail, I called out: "Now, show me your empty hand,
'Wilbur.' I want to see how big it is." A moment later I exclaimed, in
profound excitement: "I can see a large hand against the window, and,
strangest part of all, the spread fingers are pointing toward Mrs.
Smiley, the wrist is nearest you and at least six feet from the psychic.
It is a man's hand. You are not doing this, Miller?"
"Certainly not!" he answered, curtly.
"This is astonishing! It certainly is a hand and much larger than that
of a woman, and the wrist is toward you. It is still at least four
feet from the psychic. Oh, for a flash-light camera now! I was
perfectly certain that this is not the psychic's hand, and yet to admit
that it is not is to grant the whole theory of materialization."
At last the shadow disappeared. The book fell. With a ringing scrape the
cone rose in the air and the voice of "Wilbur" came from it
life-like—almost full-toned, and with a note of humorous exultation
running through it. "I told you I'd astonish you!" he said. "Don't
get in a hurry; there's more coming."
For nearly two hours thereafter this "spirit voice" kept us all
interested and busy. He was very much alive, and we alternately laughed
at his quaint conceits or pondered the implications of his casual
remarks. It was precisely as if a rollicking Western, or, rather,
Southern, man were speaking to us over the 'phone. I asked: "Who are
you? Is 'Wilbur' your surname?"
"No; my middle name. My family name is Thompson."
His characterization was perfect. He responded to every question with
readiness and perfect aplomb. At times he played jokes on us. He bumped
Miller on the head, and touched him on the cheek farthest from the
psychic. At my request he covered Mrs. Miller's ear with the large end
of the horn, then reversed and nuzzled her temple with the small end.
She said it felt like a caress, as if guided by a tender hand. She had
become clairvoyant also, and saw many forms about the room. I could see
"Tell us more about yourself, 'Wilbur'?" I asked. "Who are you? What did
you do on the earth?"
"I was a soldier."
"In the Civil War?"
"On which side?"
"That's a leading question," he answered, with some hesitation.
"Oh, come now, the war is over!"
"I was on the Southern side. I am Jeff. W. Thompson. I was a
"Where were you killed?"
"I was invalided home to Jefferson City, and passed out there."
"How do you happen to be 'guide' to this little woman?"
He hesitated again. "I was attracted to her," he said, and gave no
"Mitchell" then came and said: "We are deeply interested in your
experiments, Mr. Garland, and will afford you all the aid in our power.
It is hard to meet your tests—hard, I mean, for our medium, but we will
assist her to fill the requirements."
"Thank you. I don't see how any psychic could be more submissive."
Mrs. Miller, deeply impressed by all this, began to inquire concerning
those of the invisible host whose names were familiar to her. It was
evident that she, at least, was convinced of their reality.
Meanwhile, the movement of the cone interested Miller more than the
messages. "How does she do it?" he exclaimed several times. "To touch
Mrs. Miller means that the psychic must not only have free use of her
hands: she must rise from her chair and pass behind me and the wall."
"The precision of the action is my amazement," I replied. "I've noticed
this same thing many times. Apparently, darkness is no barrier to action
on the part of these forces. That cone, you will observe, can touch you
on the nose, eyelid, or ear, softly, without jar or jolt. It came to me
just now like a sentient thing—like something human. Such unerring
flight is uncanny. Could any trickster perform in the dark with such
precision and gentleness? Of course this is not conclusive as argument,
but at the same time it has weight. Whose is the eye that directs this
instrument? Can you tell us, 'Wilbur'?"
A chuckle came through the cone. "I'm doing it."
"How can you see?"
"Day and night are all the same to me."
Miller held up his right hand. "Prove it; touch my knuckles!" he
After a moment's silent soaring the cone struck his left hand, which was
farthest from the psychic, and a voice followed it with laughter,
asking: "What made you jump?"
Before Miller had recovered from the surprise of this, the table seemed
to be grasped and shaken as if by a man of giant strength—and yet the
cone and the books did not shift position. Hands patted the pillows on a
sofa at Miller's right, and one of these cushions was flung against his
chair. The room seemed to swarm with tricksy Pucks. At last the cone
took flight again, and moved about freely among the heap of books and
over Miller's head, while a variety of voices came successively from it,
some of them speaking to Mrs. Miller and some to me. Several of the
names given were known to Mrs. Miller, and a few were recognizable by
me. They all claimed to be spirits of the dead with messages of good
cheer for friends on "the earth-plane," but they were all rather vague
and stereotyped. Once I thought I could see the cone passing between me
and the window, high above the table. It seemed to float horizontally as
if in water. Some of the spirits were too weak to raise the cone—so
"Wilbur" said; too weak, even, to whisper.
During all this time the psychic remained in trance—deathly still; but
"between the acts" her troubled breathing and low moans could be heard.
So far as hearing could define, she was still at the end of the table,
where she had been placed at the beginning of the sitting. None of
these movements occasioned the slightest rustling of the newspaper.
When the cone was moving no sound was heard. The floor was of hard-wood,
and, as one's hearing becomes very acute in the darkness, I am certain
the psychic did not rise from her chair. She was, for the most part,
silent as a dead woman.
The force expended on the table was very great, almost furious, and even
if the psychic had been able to extend her foot or release a hand she
could not have produced such movement, and if she had done so we could
have detected it. Intelligent forces were plainly at work on the table,
and writing was going on. So far as I was concerned, I was convinced
that the psychic had externalized her power in some occult fashion, and
that it was she who was speaking to us. It was as if she were able to
will the cone to rise and then to project her voice into it, all of
which seems impossible the moment it is stated.
At length "Wilbur" said: "Good-night." I rose, and Miller, eagerly,
expectantly, turned the light slowly on. Mrs. Smiley sat precisely as
we had last seen her. Her eyes were closed, her head leaning against the
back of her chair. Her hands were fastened exactly as we had left them,
and, strangest thing of all, the table was pushed away from her so that
the silk threads were tight.
"Do you see that, Miller?" I exclaimed. "Will you tell me how that
final movement was made? 'Wilbur' has given us an unexpected test. Even
if she had freed her hands, she could not have tied the threads and
returned to her bonds; and if she first returned to her bonds, how could
she, then, have pushed the table away? The two things are mutually
exclusive. Her feet are nailed to the floor, and the newspaper still on
guard. Are we not forced to conclude that the table was moved by some
supernormal expenditure of force? Her hands were here, the table there.
Does it not seem to you a case of the 'psychic force,' such as Crookes
and Richet describe?"
Miller was confounded, but concealed it. "She may have shoved the table
with her feet."
"How? Your newspaper is unbroken. Not a tack is disturbed. But suppose
she did! How about the books? Did she get the books with her feet? How
about the broad hand which I saw? How about the candy-box which was
moved from a point seven feet away? How could she slip from her bonds?
See these threads, actually sunk into her wrists!" I continued. "No, my
conviction is that she has not once moved."
"I cannot admit that."
"You mean you dare not!"
Mrs. Miller was indignant at our delay. "The poor thing! It is a shame!
Unfasten her at once! You are torturing her!"
"Wait a few moments," said Miller, inexorably. "I want to make a few
Meanwhile I took the psychic's pulse. It was very slow, faint, and
irregular. It was, indeed, only a faint, sluggish throb at long
intervals, and each throb was followed only by a feeble fluttering. Her
skin was cold, her arms perfectly inert and numb, and she came very
slowly back to consciousness. I had a conviction at the moment that she
had been out of her body.
While I rubbed her hands and arms, Miller took notes and measurements.
There were more than two dozen books on the table, and some of them had
come from shelves three feet distant and a little above the psychic's
shoulders. It was true she could have reached them with a free arm, but
she had no free arm! The pad in the middle of the table was scrawled
upon. "Wilbur" was written there, and short messages from "Mr. Mitchell"
and other "ghosts." Therefore, it is of no value to say we were
As she came to life, Mrs. Smiley complained of being numb. "My arms are
like logs," she said, "and so are my feet. My 'guides' say that if you
will put one palm to my forehead and the tips of your fingers at the
base of my brain it will help me to liven up."
I did as she requested, and was at once conscious of great heat and
turmoil in her head. It appeared to throb as if in receding excitement.
I thought of Richet's observations (that in cases of materialization the
psychic seemed shrunk and weakened), and narrowly scanned the helpless
woman. She seemed at the moment small and bloodless.
"Were you conscious of groaning and gasping?" I asked.
"No, I have no recollection of anything. I am told I do make a great
fuss, but I don't know it. Did anything happen?"
"A very great deal happened," I answered.
She smiled in quiet satisfaction.
"I'm glad. Mr. Miller has been good and patient; it would have been a
shame to disappoint him. If you will only keep from being too anxious
you'll get anything you want."
"That's what 'Mitchell' said."
Mrs. Miller patted her hands. "You must be very tired, poor thing?"
"I do feel weak, but that will soon pass away. What time is it?"
Miller looked at his watch. "Great Scott! It's after one o'clock."
"Absorbing business, isn't it?" said I.
Mrs. Miller invited Mrs. Smiley to stay the remainder of the night and
took her away to bed, leaving us to measure and weigh and surmise. It
seemed absurd—like a dream; and yet there lay the visible, tangible
proofs of the marvel.
"Everything took place within her reach, provided she could have freed
her hands," Miller repeated, as he sat in her chair and studied the
books on the table.
"Miller," said I, with conviction, "that woman did not lift her wrists
from that chair!
"I don't see how she did it; but to say she did not, is to admit the
preposterous. I wish she had permitted us to hold her hands."
"I don't know of another psychic in America who would have submitted to
the test we put upon Mrs. Smiley to-night, but 'Mitchell' has assured me
he will go further: he will let us hold her hands and turn on the light.
I feel as if the great mystery were almost within our grasp. By the
ghost of Euclid! I have the conviction at this moment that we are at the
point of proving for ourselves the elongation of the psychic's limbs!
Suppose Flammarion is right? Suppose that the psychic can extend her
arms beyond their normal proportions? You should be ready to give a
year, ten years, to demonstrating a single one of these physical
effects. If I am any judge of character, this little woman is as honest
and as wholesome as Mrs. Miller herself. It isn't this one performance
alone which proves it. It is the implication of a dozen other sittings,
almost as convincing as this, that gives me hope of proving something.
Let us have our next sitting at Cameron's. It is only fair to readmit
them, for we have proven that they had nothing to do with our
performance that first night. Let us ask to be permitted to hold the
hands and feet of the psychic, and also to take a flash-light picture of
the floating cone. We may yet see these ghostly hands in the light of
Miller was shaken. I could see that. He sat like one who has been dealt
a stunning blow.
"I don't believe it—I can't believe it," he repeated.
"Crookes got some photos of 'Katie King,' and I fully believe that Mrs.
Smiley may be developed further. Anyhow, let's test her. Now for a word
of theory. This is the way it all appears to me at this time. She seems
to enter successively three stages of hypnotic sleep. In the first stage
the 'spirits' speak through her own throat—or she impersonates, as Mrs.
Harris did. Her second and deeper sleep permits of the movement of the
cone—'telekinesis,' 'independent slate-writing,' etc. But in this final
deathly trance she has the power of projecting her astral hands,
whatever that may mean, and the production of spirit voices. Perhaps she
has an astral head—"
"I don't believe a word of it! It is all impossible, monstrous!"
"Well, how will you explain this performance? What about the tacks, the
threads, the tapes that bound her? She brought books, shook the table,
"I don't know; but there must be some perfectly natural way of
explaining it. There is no place for the supernatural in my world. She
seems a nice, simple little woman, and yet this very simplicity may be a
means of throwing us off our guard. I will give a hundred dollars for
permission to hold her hands while the cone is moving."
"If you do not believe in tacks, will you believe in the touch of your
"If she permits me to hold her and the cone moves I will surrender."
"No, you won't. You think you will, but you won't. Don't deceive
yourself. I've been all through it. You can't believe until some
fundamental change takes place in your mind. You must struggle just as
"Anyhow, let's turn the screws tighter. Let's devise some other plan to
make ourselves doubly certain of her part in the performance."
With this understanding I said good-night, and took my lonely way to my
It was deliciously fresh and weirdly still in the street, and as I
looked up at the glowing stars and down the long, empty street my mind
revolted. "Can it be that the good old theory of the permanence of
matter is a gross and childish thing? Do the dead tell tales, after all?
I wish I could believe it. Perhaps old Tontonava was right. Perhaps if
we were all to pray for the happy hunting-grounds at the same moment
and in perfect faith, the lost paradise would return builded by the
simple power of our thought."
Then Richet's moving confession came to me: "It took me twenty years of
patient research to arrive at my present conviction. Nay (to make one
last confession), I am not yet absolutely and irremediably convinced. In
spite of the astounding phenomena which I have witnessed, I have still a
trace of doubt—doubt which is weak, indeed, to-day, but which may,
perchance, be stronger to-morrow. Yet such doubts, if they come, will
not be due so much to any defect in the actual experiment as to the
inexorable strength of prepossession which holds me back from adopting a
conclusion which contravenes the habitual and almost unanimous opinion
At this point the sittings, which had begun so interestingly, suddenly
began to fail of results. The power unaccountably weakened. Miller and
several others of the circle believed these failures to be due to the
increased rigidity of the restraint we had imposed upon the medium. The
next "session" was held in Fowler's down-town office, against the
hesitating protest of the psychic, who said: "The atmosphere of the
place is not good." By which she meant that the associations of the
office, with the hurry and worry of business, were in opposition to the
mood necessary for the production of the phenomena.
"The real reason," declared Howard, "is this: we're now getting down to
brass tacks in her business."
This was literally true. At Miller's suggestion a strong tape, perhaps
half an inch wide, had been passed about the psychic's wrist and tied in
a close, square knot, and finally a long brass tack was driven down
through both strands of the tape into the chair-arm. This was in reality
as secure as a handcuff. Nothing happened this night beyond the
movement of the table and some rather weak raps, and we all rose from
our seats worn and disappointed.
When we met the next night in the same place, and adjusted the
ever-tightening bands upon the psychic, she sat helplessly for three
hours. I began to lose confidence in her power to do anything beyond the
ordinary. Howard, Mrs. Quigg, and Miss Brush dropped out before the
sitting was over. Only Brierly and myself met the psychic at the
Camerons' on the following Thursday. Again we sat patiently for long
hours, with only the movement of the table and a drumming upon the top
in response to our requests. Miller now said: "I would like to have one
more sitting in my library, to see if we can duplicate the marvels of
our previous séance."
We did not. The table alone moved, but it did this under absolutely test
conditions. Over each of the psychic's arms a lady's stocking was drawn,
and pinned to her dress at the shoulder. On each hand a luminous
pasteboard star was fastened, and her wrists were tied and tacked, as
before. Again we nailed her dress to the floor and covered her knees
with a newspaper, and Miller and I held threads which were knotted to
her wrists. Nevertheless, under these conditions the table moved while
no one touched it, but always in a line away from the psychic. At the
moment of the sliding of the table I closely watched the luminous stars,
and asserted to the others that her hands did not stir. So that this
movement, though slight, was genuinely telekinetic.
A very curious incident now cut short our sitting. Miller, who thought
the left hand of the psychic was not in place, twitched the string which
he held, and immediately Mrs. Smiley began to twist and sigh, and "Maud"
complained that her mamma had been injured by the jerking of the thread
by Professor Miller, and said that the sitting would have to stop. We
lighted up and found the psychic apparently suffering keenly from a
severe cramp all through her left side, and a good deal of rubbing was
necessary to restore her to anything like a normal condition.
It really seemed like failure for my psychic, and I began to wonder
whether the books really did fly from Miller's shelves. I could not
suspect the gentle little lady of conscious deceit, but with a
knowledge of the wonderful deceptions of somnambulists and hysterics, I
began to doubt. I urged Miller to try one more sitting. He consented,
and we met at Brierly's house. Nothing happened during the first two
hours, and at ten o'clock, or thereabouts, Miller, Brierly, and Fowler
withdrew, leaving me to untie and restore Mrs. Smiley, who was still
apparently in deep sleep.
It was evident that the guides had not released the psychic, and
"Maudie" soon spoke, asking me to put her mamma into a wooden chair, and
to take the cone apart and put the smaller end upon the table. I did as
she requested, and drew the psychic's chair and table together. "Wilbur"
insisted that I tie the psychic as before, but I replied, rather
dejectedly: "Oh no; let things go on as they are."
He insisted, and, with very little faith in the power of the psychic, I
did as I was told. I tied her wrists separately and then together, and,
drawing both ends of the tape into my left hand, I passed them under the
tip of my forefinger in such wise that I could feel any slightest
movement of the psychic's hands. The guides asked me to fasten her
wrists to the chair, but I replied: "I am satisfied."
Again I was brought face to face with the mystery of mediumship. Sitting
thus, with no one present but Mrs. Brierly, a woman to be trusted, the
cone was drummed upon and carried about as if by a human hand. It
touched my cheek at a distance of two feet from Mrs. Smiley's hands, and
"Wilbur's" voice—strong, vital, humorous—came to me, conversing as
readily, as sensibly, as any living flesh-and-blood person, and all the
time I held to my tapes, carefully noting that no movement, beyond a
slight tremor, took place in the psychic's arms. Just before each
movement of the cone she shivered convulsively and sighed, but while
the cone moved she was deathly still. Each time as the cone left the
table it seemed to rock to and fro as though a hand were trying to grasp
it, and a moment later it rose with a light spring. My impression
was—my belief at the moment was—that Mrs. Smiley had nothing to do
in any ordinary way with the movement of the horn. If there is any
virtue in a taut tape and my sense of touch, her arms lay like marble
during the precise time the voice was speaking to me. I could detect no
connection between herself and the voice.
"Mitchell" assured me that he approved of every test we were putting
upon "the instrument," and expressed confidence that she would triumph
over Miller. "But the circles have been too often changed," he asserted,
"and the places have not been well chosen. All must be unhurried and
harmonious," he added, and I replied that I had been discouraged, but
that this sitting had given me new interest. "I will be faithful to the
end," I assured him.
"Wilbur" and "Mitchell" were perfectly distinct personalities, and
appeared to confer and act together. I had a sense of nearness to the
solution of the mystery that thrilled me. Here in the circle of my
out-stretched arms the incredible was happening. I held Mrs. Brierly's
hands, and controlled (by means of my tightly stretched tape) the
movements of the psychic, and yet the megaphone was lifted, handled,
used as a mouthpiece by "spirits." I felt that if at the moment I had
been able to turn on a clear light I could have seen my ghostly
visitors. This final hour's experience revived all my confidence in Mrs.
Smiley, and not even another long series of absolute failures could
destroy my faith in her honesty or my belief in her occult powers.
My patience was sorely tried by twelve almost perfectly useless
sittings, during which everybody dropped away but Mr. and Mrs. Fowler,
Dr. Towne, Brierly, and myself. They were not utterly barren sittings,
but the phenomena were repetitious or slight and fugitive.
Mr. and Mrs. Fowler were friends of Brierly, and, like him, avowed
spiritists, but they both lent their best efforts to make the tests
complete and convincing. After trying sittings here and there, we
finally settled upon a series of afternoon sessions in Fowler's own
house. This was the twenty-sixth sitting of the series, and Cameron's
Amateur Psychical Society was practically a memory. I was now going
ahead pretty much on my own lines, but with an eye to catching Miller
and the Camerons at a successful séance before concluding my search.
Mrs. Smiley was in great distress of mind over the failure of her
powers. "I guess I'm no good any more," she said. "I never sit now
without a feeling that perhaps my power is gone forever. This Eastern
climate is so harsh for me, and I long for my own California. If you
will not give up, I will keep trying as long as my guides advise it."
"You have done your part," I said, with intent to console her.
"Please don't give up," she pleaded.
"I am not giving up—on the contrary, I am only beginning to fight," I
assured her, paraphrasing General Grant, or some other obstinate person.
"I recognize the truth of what you complain about, but I am sure that at
Fowler's, in a small, warm, well-aired room, you will feel at home and
be secure of interruption."
Mrs. Fowler, a very sensitive, thoughtful, dark-eyed little lady,
received us at the appointed hour with quiet cordiality, and suggested
that her own room up-stairs would be a comfortable and retired place.
To this I agreed, and we set to work to prepare it for the sitting.
Fowler and I assumed control of the psychic, though Brierly insisted
that, as the house belonged to Fowler, it would be more convincing if he
were not connected with the preparation of the room. "I don't think we
need to consider hair-drawn objections," I retorted.
As before, we placed Mrs. Smiley in an arm-chair at one end of a small
table; as before, we secured her ankles by looping a long tape about
them and nailing the two ends to the floor behind her. Mrs. Fowler
introduced an innovation by sewing the tape to the sleeves of our
psychic. This made slipping out of the tape an impossibility, but, to
push security still further, I drove a long brass tack down through
both tape and doubled sleeve. Not content even with this, Fowler put a
second tape about each wrist, to add further security and to take off
the strain in case of any unconscious movement. Another tape was carried
across Mrs. Smiley's dress about four inches below her knees, and pinned
there. Next the ends were drawn tight and tied to the back rung of her
chair. By this we intended to prevent any pushing action of the knees.
As a final precaution, we nailed her dress to the floor in front with
three tacks. The small end of the tin cone was then placed on the table
(at the request of the psychic) and the large end deposited upright on
the carpet near Fowler. Some sheets of paper and a pencil were laid upon
the table. Everything movable was entirely out of the psychic's reach.
It was about three o'clock of the afternoon when, after darkening the
windows, we took our seats in a little circle about the table. As usual,
I guarded the psychic's right hand, while Fowler sat at her left.
Brierly and Mrs. Fowler were opposite Mrs. Smiley. The room was lighter
than at any other of our sittings—both on account of the infiltering
light of day, and also because an open grate fire in the north wall
sent forth an occasional flicker of red flame.
We sat for some time discussing Miller and Harris and their attitude
toward the psychic. I remarked:
"To me our failures, some of them at least, have been very instructive,
but the gradual falling away of our members makes evident to me how
unlikely it is that any official commission will ever settle the claims
of spiritualism. As Maxwell has said: 'It is a slow process, and he who
cannot bring himself to plod patiently and to wait uncomplainingly for
hours at a time will not go far.' I confess that the half-heartedness of
our members has disappointed me. I told them at the outset not to expect
entertainment, but they did. It is tiresome to sit night after night
and get nothing for one's pains. It seems foolish and vain, but any real
investigator accepts all these discomforts as part of the game. Failures
are sure to come when the psychic is honest. Only the juggler can
produce the same effects. A medium is not a Leyden-jar nor an Edison
battery; materialization is not precisely a vaudeville 'stunt.'"
"I don't call the last sitting a failure," said Fowler. "The conditions
were strictly test conditions, and yet matter was moved without contact.
Of course, the mere movement of a table, or even of the trumpet, seems
rather tame, as compared with the doings of 'Katie King'; but, after
all, a single genuine case of telekinesis should be of the greatest
value to the physicist; and, as for the psychologist, the fact of your
friend, Mrs. Thomas, becoming entranced by 'Wilbur' was startling
enough, in all conscience."
"I don't think Miller believed in her trance," said I.
"What happened?" asked Brierly, who had not been present at this
I answered: "Mrs. Thomas, a friend of mine, a very efficient,
clear-brained person, whom, by-the-way, we had asked to come in order to
fully preserve the proprieties, suddenly felt a twitching in her left
hand, which was touching mine. This convulsive movement spread to her
shoulder, until her whole arm began to thresh about like a flail in a
most alarming way. The action became so violent at last that she called
upon me for aid. I found it exceedingly difficult to subdue her
agitation and silence her rebellious limb, but I did finally succeed.
Nor was this all. A few moments later, while helping us in the singing,
my friend suddenly stopped singing and began to laugh in a deep,
guttural fashion, and presently a voice—the voice of a man,
apparently—came from her throat: 'Haw! haw! I've got ye now! I've got
ye now!' It sounded like 'Wilbur.'"
This seemed to amuse Mrs. Smiley. "It was 'Wilbur,'" she said. "He loves
to jump in and seize upon some one's vocal chords that way. It's a
favorite joke with him."
"What horrible taste!" Mrs. Fowler shudderingly exclaimed.
"Oh, I don't know," remarked Brierly. "It is actually no worse than
having your hand controlled."
"To have a spirit inside of one's throat is a little startling, even to
me," I admitted, sympathetically. "But there was more of this business.
Another member of the circle—a young man—became entranced, and
proceeded to impersonate lost souls, 'earth-bound spirits,' in the
manner of our friend Mrs. Harris, and wailed and wept and moaned in most
grewsome fashion. However, I think Miller considered both of these
performances merely cases of hysteria, induced by the darkness and the
constraint of sitting about the table. And perhaps he was correct."
"Anything a doctor doesn't understand he calls hysteria," put in
Brierly. "I consider these specialists nuisances."
"Well, anyhow, our 'Amateur Spook-spotter Association' seems to have
come to an untimely end," said I, regretfully. "Of the original number,
only Brierly remains. Wouldn't our deserters be chagrined if we should
now proceed to enjoy a really startling session?"
"We will," Mrs. Smiley responded. "I feel the power all about me."
"Good!" cried Fowler. "That is the way you should feel. If you are at
ease, the spirits will do the rest."
"Sit back and rest," I said. "We have plenty of time. You've been too
anxious. Don't worry."
In the mean while, between the sitting at Miller's house and this
present one, I had been reading much on the subject of the trance and of
"the externalization of the fluidic double," of which the Continental
philosophers have much to say. If not convinced, I was at least under
conviction that the liberation of the astral self was possible (if at
all) only in the deepest trance, and I now attempted to discover by
interrogation of Mrs. Smiley precisely what her own conception of the
"You told me once that you are conscious of leaving your body when in
trance," I said. "Do you always have that sensation?"
"Yes, I almost always have a feeling of floating in the air," she
answered. "It often seems as if I had risen a few feet above and a
little to one side of my material self, to which I am somehow attached.
I can see my body and what goes on around it, and yet, somehow, it all
seems kind of dim, like a dream. It's hard to tell you just what I mean,
but I seem to be in both places at once."
"Do you ever have any perception of a physical connection between
yourself and the sitters?"
She seemed to me to answer this a bit reluctantly. "Yes, I sometimes
feel as though little shining threads went out from me and those in the
circle, and sometimes these threads meet and twine themselves around the
cone or the pencil. This means that I draw power from all my sitters."
This was in accord with the accounts of a "cobwebby feeling" which both
Maxwell and Flammarion had drawn from their mediums. Maxwell makes much
of this curious physical sensation which accompanied certain of M.
Meurice's phenomena. Here also seemed to be an unconscious corroboration
of Albert de Rochas's experiments in the "externalization of motivity,"
as he calls it. The "cobwebby feeling" of the fingers might mean an
actual raying-out of some subtle form of matter. Indeed, M. Meurice,
Maxwell's medium, declared he could see "a sheath of filaments pass from
his fingers to the objects of experimentation."
"Tell us about your journeys into the spirit land," I suggested. "You
sometimes seem to go far away, do you not?"
Her voice became very wistful as she complied. "Yes, sometimes I seem to
go to a far-off, bright world. I don't always want to come back, but
there is a little shining white ribbon that unites my spirit with my
body and holds me fast. Once when I had resolved never to return, that
little band of light began to tug at me, and, although it broke my heart
to leave my children, who were there with me, I yielded, and came back
to life. It was very cheerful and lovely in that land, and I hated to
come back to the cold and cruel earth-plane."
"Can't you tell us about it more particularly?"
"No; it is so different from this plane that I have no words in which to
describe it. All I can say is that it seems glorious and happy and very
Something in her gentle accent excited Fowler's sympathy. "Mrs. Smiley,
you have the blood of the martyrs in you. It takes courage to put one's
self into the hands of a cold-blooded scientist like Miller. Even
Garland, here, has no pity. He's like a hound on the trail of a fawn.
It's all 'material' for him. Now, I am nothing but a mild-mannered
editor. I have all the facts I require concerning the spirit world. I am
busied with trying to make people happy here on this earth. But these
scientific 'sharps' are avid for any fact which sustains the particular
theory they happen to hold. Not one in a hundred will go where the facts
lead. Their investigation is all a process of self-glorification,
wherein each one thinks he must prove all the others liars or
weak-minded in order to exalt himself."
To this I could only reply: "I'm not a scientist, though, I must say, I
sympathize with the scientific method. And as for my treatment of Mrs.
Smiley, I am following exactly the advice of her controls. They assure
me that they will take care of her."
"And so they will," responded the devoted little psychic.
By the closest questioning I had never been able to change a single line
of her simple faith. She was perfectly certain of the spirit world. She
had daily messages from "Wilbur" and her spirit father, partly by
voices, but mainly by intuition. Her children hovered over her while she
slept. "Mitchell" healed her if she were ill. "Maudie" comforted her
loneliest hours. These voices, these hands were an integral part of her
world—as necessary and as dear to her as those of her friends in the
flesh. As she talked on I experienced a keen pang of regret. "Why
disturb her belief in the spirit world?" I asked myself. "Why attempt to
reduce her manifestations to natural magic? To rob her of her conviction
that 'Maudie' is able to come back to her would leave her poor indeed."
However, as the scientist cannot permit pity to hinder his purpose, I
was determined to disassociate the facts of spiritualism from the
cult of spiritualism. I was not concerned with faith or consolation. I
returned to a study of the facts as a part of nature. I was now
observing closely the three levels of sleep into which Mrs. Smiley
seemed to lower herself at will, or upon the suggestion of those in the
circle. I had adopted the theory that in the lighter trance she spoke
unconsciously and wrote automatically. In the second, and deeper,
trance she became the somnambulist possessed of diabolic cleverness,
when, with the higher senses in abeyance, she was able to deceive and to
elude all detection. In the third, or death-like, trance, I was ready to
admit, for the sake of argument, that she was able, as De Rochas and
Maxwell seem to have demonstrated, to exert an unknown form of force
beyond the periphery of the body—that is to say, to move objects at a
distance and to produce voices from the horn.
To prove that she actually left the body would do much to explain the
phenomena, and I was very eager to push toward this demonstration. I had
now been her chief inquisitor for nearly thirty sittings, and had
developed (apparently) the power to throw her into trance almost
instantly. A few moments of monotonous humming, intoned while my hand
rested upon hers, generally sufficed to bring the first stage of her
trance. As we had been sitting for half an hour, I now proceeded to
chant my potent charm, with intent to liberate the "spirits" to their
In a few moments she responded to my suggestion. A nervous tremor, now
expected and now familiar, developed in her hands. This was followed by
a slight, convulsive, straining movement of her arms. Her fingers grew
hot, and seemed to quiver with electric energy. Ten minutes later all
movement ceased. Her temperature abruptly fell. Her breath grew
tranquil, and at last appeared to fail altogether. This was the first
stage of her trance. "Take your hand away, Fowler," I said. "We have
nothing to do now but wait. The psychic is now in the hands of
Fowler remarked, with some humor: "I can tell by your tone that you're
"I'm like the Scotchman—ready for convincement, but I'd like to see the
man who could do it."
After a few minutes' silence Mrs. Fowler asked: "What is the most
conclusive phenomenon you have ever witnessed, Mr. Garland?"
"That's a little difficult to answer," I replied, slowly, "but at the
moment I think the playing of a closed piano, which I once heard, is the
most inexplicable of all my experiments."
"What do you mean by 'the playing of a closed piano'?" queried Brierly.
"I'll tell you about it. It happened during the second sitting I ever
had with Mrs. Smiley. I was lecturing in her home town at the time, and
after the close of my address, and while we were talking together, some
one who was aware of Mrs. Smiley's mediumship suggested: 'Let's go
somewhere and have a sitting.' The plan pleased me, and, after some
banter pro and con, we made up a party of six or eight people, and
adjourned to the home of the chairman of the lecture committee, a
certain Miss Halsey. I want to emphasize the high character of Miss
Halsey, as well as the casual way in which we happened to go to her
rooms, for it puts out of the way all question of collusion. There was
no premeditation in the act, and Miss Halsey, who was the librarian of
the city, and a pronounced disbeliever in spiritistic theories, had
never met Mrs. Smiley before.
"The circle was made up about equally of men and women, all of them
well-known residents of the town. So far as most of the phenomena
resulting from this sitting are concerned, they have very little value,
for they took place in the dark and the medium was not closely guarded.
It was only toward the end of the sitting, which, by-the-way, took place
in Miss Halsey's library and music-room, that the unexpected suddenly
happened, the inexplicable came to pass.
"We were gathered about a long table, with Mrs. Smiley at one end
sandwiched between the editor of the local paper and myself. Behind me,
and just within reach of my hand, stood an upright piano, with its cover
down, but not locked. We had heard drumming on the table for some time,
and writing had apparently taken place on the pads in the middle of the
table. But all this was inconclusive, for the reason that Mrs. Smiley
was not fastened as she is now. I took it all with a pinch of salt. My
mental reservations must have reached the minds of the 'guides,' for
with startling suddenness they left the table and fell upon the top of
the piano. After drumming for some time, the invisible fingers seemed to
drop to the strings beneath, and a treble note was sounded as if plucked
by a strong hand."
"You are sure the piano was closed?"
"I am coming to that. Highly delighted by this immediate response to my
request, I said to the 'forces': 'Can't you demonstrate to us that these
sounds are not accidental or caused by the jarring of cars in the
street? Can't you pluck the bass strings?' Instantly, and with clangor,
the lower strings replied. Thereupon I said: 'Can't you play a tune?' To
this only a confused jangle made answer. I was unable to secure any
orderly succession of notes. 'Can't you keep time while I whistle?' I
insisted, with intent to show that intelligence guided these sounds. The
'spirits' twanged three times in the affirmative, and when I began to
whistle 'Yankee Doodle' the invisible musician kept perfect time,
playing according to my request—now on the treble, now on the bass.
Leaning far back in my chair, I placed my hand upon the lid of the
closed piano, and called out to the others in the circle: 'The lid of
the piano is closed. My hand is upon it. So far as the sense of touch
and hearing are concerned, we have here an action absolutely unaccounted
for by any scientific law.
"This was at the moment absolutely convincing to me, as to the others,
and I promptly reported the case to the American Psychical Society in
Boston. Since then I may say I have had many experiments quite as
convincing, but never a repetition of this peculiar phenomenon. It is
useless to talk about secret wires, or a mouse running up and down the
strings, or any other material explanation of this fact. It took place
precisely as I relate it, and remains a mystery to this day."
Fowler remained very calm. "Crookes saw in a full light an accordion
playing beneath the touch of invisible fingers."
"Yes," I retorted, in protest, "but this action of a closed piano
happened in my presence, under my hand, and there is always so much more
convincing quality in the miracle which happens in one's own house. But,
seriously, that performance on the closed piano remains a profound
mystification to me. If it had happened in the medium's house, or in the
home of some one who knew her, I might have suspected fraud—but it did
not! It happened in the study of one of the most respected women in the
city, a student who did not believe in psychic phenomena. Furthermore,
my own hand was on the lid of the piano. I was so convinced of Mrs.
Smiley's possession of some occult force that I at once wrote to the
society, telling them that a study of her phases would, in my judgment,
be the most important work its directors could engage upon. This is one
of my crack stories, and I wouldn't believe it as related by any one
else. However, you may read my report, which I made at the time, if that
will be of any satisfaction to you."
"Oh, I don't need it," responded Mr. Fowler. "I was merely trying to
find out what your best experiments had been. Have they all been on the
"They are all on the physical plane—that is to say, on one plane for
me. Any 'spirit manifestation,' so long as we are what we are, must be
an agitation of what we call 'molecules of matter,' and is to that
extent physical. I have no patience with those highfilutin teachers who
speak of matter as though it were ignoble in some way. Matter to me is
as mysterious as spirit."
At this moment a slight movement of the psychic arrested me, and as we
listened the silvery sweet voice of "Maudie" issued from the darkness,
saying: "Mr. Mitchell wants Mr. Garland to change places with Mr.
Fowler. Be very careful as you move about. Don't joggle mama. It's very
dangerous to her."
As I rose to comply, "Maude" called out: "Mr. Mitchell wishes the
threads fastened to mama's wrists. He wants you and Mr. Fowler to hold
them the way you did at Mr. Miller's house."
Turning up the lights, we tied a strong silk thread to each wrist, and
passed the ends under each arm of the chair. Fowler took one of these
ends while I retained the other. I then called the attention of Brierly
to the fact that the table was seventeen inches from the feet of the
psychic, and that the fastenings were unchanged. When his examination
was completed, the lights were again turned off, and the circuit of
"Maudie" then requested that the pieces of cone be put together and
placed on the floor beside the table. Fowler did this, and drew a chalk
mark about it, numbering it "Position No. 1." Immediately after his
return to his seat the table was strongly pushed away from the psychic.
It moved in impulses, an inch or two at a time, until it was certainly
six or eight inches farther from the psychic.
It is impossible to conceive how this movement without contact takes
place; but, then, what do we know about the action of the magnet on a
pile of iron filings? How can a thought in the brain of man contract a
set of muscles and lift a cannon-ball? At bottom we do not know how the
will, as we call it, crosses the chasm between mind and matter—we don't
even know there is a chasm.
"Do you feel any motion in your thread, Fowler?" I asked.
"Nothing but a faint quiver," he replied.
"Neither do I, and yet the table moved."
"The table is crowding against me!" called Mrs. Fowler, in some
The fact that the table moved toward us and directly away from the
psychic was in itself suspicious; but, as a matter of fact, at other
sittings we obtained sidewise movements of the table—generally to the
left. The present experiment did not stand alone. You must remember also
that the table was at this time more than two feet from Mrs. Smiley's
toes, her dress was tacked to the floor, and her ankles controlled by a
tape whose ends were nailed to the floor four feet behind her chair.
"So far as matter can testify, Mrs. Smiley is not concerned in this
movement of the table," I said. "The question is now up to us. Which of
us is doing this?"
"I am not," answered Brierly.
"Nor I," declared Fowler.
"Nor I," chimed in Mrs. Fowler.
At this moment the psychic began to stir again. "Look out!" I called,
warningly. "Let every hand be accounted for. Some new demonstration is
preparing. These periods of suffering are strangely like the pangs of
childbirth. I wonder if, after all, Archdeacon Colley was not in the
right when he asserted that he had seen the miraculous issue of
phantoms. I confess that when I read it first I smiled with the rest,
for his description of the process was not very poetic. He declared that
he saw a white vapor steam from the side of the psychic, like vapor from
a kettle, forming a little cloud, and from this nebulous mass various
phantasms appeared, ranging from a little child to a full-grown man. It
is curious how exactly similar all the reports of this process are.
Crookes speaks of a milky-white vapor which condensed to a form, and
Richet and Maxwell describe it as a sort of condensing process. I have
seen it myself, but could not believe in the evidence of my own eyes.
One can see all kinds of things in the dark."
Peace had again fallen upon our psychic—the peace of exhaustion; as if,
her struggles being over, her flesh-free spirit were at large in the
room. The silence was profound, yet somehow thrilling with potency.
In this hush the megaphone was lifted slightly and dropped, making us
all start. It was as if a feeble hand had tried to manipulate it without
success. "Let us keep test conditions," I urged. "Please do not make a
movement now without warning me of your intentions. Keep the circuit
closed." Here I addressed "Wilbur": "Let's see if you can handle the
cone under strictly test conditions. Come now, lift it! Lift it!" I
repeated the command with intent to concentrate all will-power of both
psychic and sitters upon the thing desired, as Maxwell was accustomed to
do in his experiments with Meurice.
Several times the forces strove to carry out my wishes, but could not.
Twice the horn rose from the carpet, only to fall back helplessly.
Fowler placed it in position each time, marking each new position,
while I took note of the convulsive tremor which swept from time to time
over the psychic. It was exactly as if she were a dynamo generating some
unknown electrical energy, which, after accumulating for a time in her
organism (as in a jar), was discharged along the direction of our will,
and yet I could not detect any marked synchronism of movement between
these impulses and the movement of the horn.
After each fall of the cone she moaned and writhed, but not till the
hush of death came over her did the horn move. So intense was the
silence each time that we could hear the slightest breath, the minutest
movement of the tin as it scraped along the rug.
"It is useless to talk of a confederate," I remarked; "it is of no value
to refer this action to the hands of the psychic. We must look to
subtler causes for this phenomenon. Perhaps Maxwell's theory that some
magnetic power is liberated by the contraction of the larger muscles
will account for it, but in no other way."
At last the megaphone soared into the air, passed over our heads, and
dropped gently upon the table. It did not fall with a bang; on the
contrary, it seemed to descend gently—as if under perfect control of
both hand and eye. And yet I assert there was nothing to indicate that
the psychic shared in these movements. She lay as still as a corpse.
Nothing but a minute continuous tremor in the thread told that she was
still alive. I was enormously impressed by the silence. The darkness
seemed athrill with mystery—not the mystery of the discarnate soul, but
the mystery of the X-ray. I felt that we were ourselves involved in a
production of each and every one of these movements.
"There is no use attempting to deny this fact," I insisted to the other
sitters. "Either the psychic is able to control that cone by the
exercise of her will over some unknown invisible force, or she has left
her body and is now at work, a sentient entity in the air about us.
There is the same precision in all this which Lombroso observed. It
really seems that the medium has the faculty of using her senses at a
distance. To say that she is handling that cone with her ordinary
physical limbs is absurd. This single inexplicable moving of a mass of
matter from A to B makes the experiments of Crookes and Maxwell very
much more vital to me. I shall reread their books with new interest."
This result should have awed me, but it did not. I felt a deep interest,
of course, but no bewilderment. My mind was perfectly clear and my
senses alert to every sound, every ray of light.
At this moment the psychic again began to twist and turn as if in pain,
and at last the little voice of "Maudie" anxiously asked: "Is Mr.
Garland going to take a train at seven o'clock?"
This query convinced me that deep in the subconscious mind of the
psychic lay the knowledge that I had thought of catching this train, and
that a sense of my plan was disturbing her and interfering with our
experiment. To remove the uneasiness, I replied: "No, I am going to
stay; for I think 'Mr. Mitchell' has something very special in store for
me. Tell her not to think of it any more. I am in no hurry. I have no
To this "Maudie" replied: "Mr. Mitchell says, 'Thank you'; he will do
the best he can for you. He says go down-stairs now and get your supper.
Leave mama just where she is. He will take care of her."
As we had been sitting for nearly three hours in a dark close room we
welcomed this suggestion from our thoughtful guide, although it tended
to make the sitting less conclusive. As I followed my hostess down the
stairs I shared her remorseful pity of poor Mrs. Smiley, bound and
helpless in her inquisitorial seat. "Mitchell" did not ask that she be
fed, only that she be covered with a shawl to keep her warm.
"If she is doing this for her own entertainment," I said, "she has
singular tastes. If she is doing it to advance the cause of
spiritualism, she is a noble creature—though a mistaken devotee, in the
eyes of Miller."
Our hostess's uneasiness concerning the psychic made the meal a hurried
one. None of us felt very much like eating, and I could see that Fowler
was disposed to cut corners. "Well, Garland, what do you intend to do
with the facts obtained this afternoon? You have plenty of authority
behind which to shelter yourself. Why not admit the truth? So far as I
am concerned, I am willing to swear that Mrs. Smiley had no actual hand
in the movement of the cone."
To this I replied: "From one point of view, these phenomena are slight;
but considered in the light of the manifestation of a totally new force,
they are tremendous in their implication, and I must be absolutely sure
of them before I assert their truth. The most impressive fact of all is
that every phenomenon we obtain coheres with those obtained by Maxwell,
Crookes, and Flammarion. It will not do to admit the spirit hypothesis,
or grant the objectivity of phantasms, merely because we have proved the
movements of a particle of matter from A to B without a known push or a
pull, for such admission is far-reaching. If Maxwell is right, these
phenomena—even the most complicated of them—are metapsychical, but
perfectly normal. For example, he says: 'A movement without contact was
forthcoming this afternoon. I placed a table upside down on a linen
sheet. M. Meurice and I then put our hands on the sheet, some distance
away from the table. The table turned completely over. The movement was
performed slowly and gently. It was four o'clock in the afternoon, and
the sunlight was streaming in through an open window.' Now here was a
perfectly clear case of telekinesis, with no one present but Dr. Maxwell
and his friend; but the turning over of the table does not imply the
action of spirit hands."
"I don't see why not," responded Mrs. Fowler, "if Dr. Maxwell had
"It was Meurice who had the power; but it was a physical power, which
went out from his organism like heat. He was often ill after his
experiments, and felt nausea and a disturbing weakness in the solar
plexus, as though his bodily powers had been seriously drawn upon. I
have felt this myself—or so it seemed; perhaps I imagined it."
Fowler struck in: "But what will you do with materializations such as
Dr. Richet studied at the Villa Carmen in Algiers? What will you do with
the photographs of the spectre of the helmeted soldier which he obtained
under what he declares were test conditions?"
"But were they? That's the point."
"I am willing to trust a man of Richet's wide knowledge and known skill
in experimentation. When he says he saw, touched, and heard the
apparition of a man, I am ready to believe that he had taken quite as
many precautions as his newspaper critics would have done. He saw a
helmeted soldier leave the séance cabinet and walk about. He clasped his
hand, he affirmed, and found it warm and jointed (perfectly real), and
he secured the breath of this phantom in a tube of baryta so
unmistakably that the liquid was chemically changed in accordance with
his test. There are thousands of other well-authenticated cases of
materialization. I have seen scores of them myself. I am only quoting
Richet because I know you believe in his methods."
"I do, indeed; but he may have been deceived, all the same. The failure
of all his experiments in Algiers lay in the fact that he was never able
to nail his psychic down, as we have done. He was the on-looker, after
all—not the experimenter he should have been and wished to be. Really
his photographs of the spirit 'B. B.' have not the weight as evidence of
the physical manifestation, as the phenomena which we have this evening
Fowler rose. "I have his report in my library. Let me get it."
He returned in a few minutes with a small blue book in his hand, from
which he began to read with gusto: "'I saw, as it were, a white luminous
ball floating over the floor; then rising straight upward, very rapidly,
as though issuing from a trap-door, appeared B. B., born, so to speak,
out of the flooring outside the curtain, which had not stirred. He
tries, as it seems to me, to come among us, but he has a limping,
hesitating gait. At one moment he reels as if about to fall, limping on
one leg; then he goes toward the opening of the curtains of the
cabinet. Then, without (as I believe) opening the curtains, he sinks
down, disappears into the floor.'"
"What are you reading from?" I asked.
"I am reading from the report which Richet made to the Annals of
Psychical Science. He goes on to say: 'It appears to me that this
experiment is decisive, for the formation of a luminous spot on the
ground, which then changes into a living and walking being, cannot
seemingly be produced by any trick. On the day after this experiment I
minutely examined the flagstones [which made up the floor of the séance
room], and also the coach-house and stable immediately under that part
of the kiosque.' There was no trap-door, and the cobwebs on the roof of
the stable were undisturbed. The photographs of the apparition were
taken on five different plates simultaneously, and the figure is the
same on each."
"Yes; but those experiments were afterward made of no value by the
confession of a coachman, who admitted his complicity in the fraud."
"No; that story is not true. The experiments stand, and Richet still
defends both himself and the circle against the charge of fraud."
"But read on," I insisted. "Does he not say that, in spite of all his
proof, he will not even hazard an affirmation of the phenomena?"
"Yes, he does say that," admitted Fowler; "but he also says: 'I have
thought it my duty to mention these facts in the same way as Sir William
Crookes thought it his duty in more difficult times to report the
history of "Katie King." I do not believe I have been deceived. I am
convinced that I have been present at realities, not deceptions.
Certainly I cannot say in what materialization consists. I am only
ready to maintain that there is something profoundly mysterious in it,
which will change from top to bottom our ideas on nature and on life.'"
"He apparently was profoundly affected by what he saw," I assented, "and
I am perfectly willing to grant that the character of his friends in the
circle add value to what he saw. But, after all, the fact of
materialization is so tremendous in its implications that even to admit
its possibility is to admit more than any man of our day, who has been
trained in scientific ways, is willing to be answerable for. However,
the most extraordinary story I have ever read is that of Archdeacon
Colley, Rector of Stockton, Warwickshire, who declared in a public
lecture—and many times since, over his signature—that he saw the
miraculous issue of phantoms born directly from the side of a psychic.
He declares he saw a winsome little girl emerge—a laughing,
golden-haired creature, as alive as any one. I confess that this is too
much for me, and yet if a Spanish soldier can be born from a spot of
light, anything at all that anybody may imagine can happen.—But let us
return to our own psychics."
We found Mrs. Smiley sitting precisely as we left her, and, picking up
our thread, Fowler and I located the table and the cone and reassumed
our positions. The table, which was quite out of reach of Mrs. Smiley's
hands, now stood with its end toward the three of us, sitting in a
crescent shape opposite the psychic—a position which produced, so the
guides said, one pole of a battery.
Hardly were we seated in our places when the psychic suddenly awoke and
spoke in her natural voice, and I for one felt that the sitting was
over. I was perfectly certain that nothing could happen out of the
ordinary unless the medium were in either one or the other of her states
I was now both amazed and delighted to find that the cone could be
drummed upon and voices delivered through it while Mrs. Smiley, mentally
normal, took part in the conversation. My theories were upset. I was
completely mystified, though I said nothing of this to Fowler.
Once or twice Mrs. Fowler declared she heard the sound of lips, and at
last a voice came to her speaking the name of her father. His voice
answered some of her questions correctly, but could not utter the pet
name which her father used to call her. This breakdown of the
individuality of the phantom voices is very characteristic. This ended
the sitting. The voices had not been as strong as we had hoped for, but
as we threw on the light we found a number of messages written upon the
sheets of paper which Fowler had put in the middle of the table. These
messages were lying with the writing wrong side up, so far as the
psychic was concerned. Altogether we felt that the results were both
significant and encouraging, and we agreed to meet three days later in
the same room and under the same conditions.
"What I want to do now is to hold your arms while the horn is in the
air, or while the writing is going on," I said to Mrs. Smiley.
And to this she replied: "You may make any test you please. I feel that
in this house my powers will return."
"That is a real gain," I said, to encourage her.
The next sitting was an almost exact duplication of the last so far as
the binding (and nailing) of the psychic was concerned, except that we
sewed two bands of tape to her sleeves and four tacks were used at
each wrist. Her feet were tied separately in the middle of a long tape,
and the ends brought together, carried back beneath her chair, and
tacked to the floor. As before, we placed the large end of the cone on
the floor, out of her reach, leaving the smaller end on the table, which
we left just out of her utmost reach. On the table we placed some sheets
of paper specially marked and dated, and took our seats as usual.
No one was present at this sitting but Mr. and Mrs. Fowler and myself.
Even the faithful Brierly had been unable to share in this, the
twenty-ninth experiment. I was delighted to have the circle narrow down,
for Fowler was a good investigator and a man of vast experience in
psychic matters. Outside interference was absolutely excluded. "Whatever
happens to-night, Fowler," I said, "you and I or the spirits must be
responsible for it."
We began, as usual, by putting Mrs. Smiley into hypnotic sleep. In a
few moments the familiar shuddering action took place. Her palms grew
moist. She said she found it difficult to submit to our touch. She asked
us to put our fingers above hers, and soon after, in the midst of our
singing, her voice ceased, her hands grew heavy as lead, and lay
perfectly limp and dead in their bonds.
Again following the guidance of the raps, Fowler and I moved back and
sat opposite her, with Mrs. Fowler between us. "Maudie" then spoke from
the psychic's lips, asking us to move the table farther away. This I
did, leaving it at least twelve inches from the utmost tips of her
fingers. "Maudie" then asked us to take up the larger half of the cone
and unite it with the smaller part, and lay the entire cone flat across
We did so, marking its position by means of chalk. It was nearly three
feet from the utmost extension of the psychic's hands, and yet, almost
immediately, tapping came upon the cone keeping time to our singing.
Later, sounds were produced like the beating of a kettle-drum. A
hammering was then carried on as if within the cone, and "Maudie" spoke,
telling us to go down and get supper, as before.
I regretted this necessity very much, for up to this moment all had been
clear sailing; the tapping on the cone was inexplicable on the basis of
any normal action of the psychic; but to leave her alone, even while so
well accounted for, weakened the test.
I said as much to Fowler as we sat at the dinner-table. He admitted his
own disappointment. "However," he added, philosophically, "we have to
take these things as they offer. We can't construct them."
We discussed the implications of the sittings we had already held. "It
isn't one thing only," he reminded me; "it is because of the larger fact
that one phenomenon supports another that one comes to believe. Thus far
to-night we have proved that Mrs. Smiley is not concerned with the
drumming on the cone, haven't we?"
"Yes; but I want to hold her hands while the drumming takes place. I
want to hear her voice at the same time with 'Mitchell's.'"
"We'll get it," he responded, confidently. And a little later we
returned to the room where our psychic was sitting, still in deep
After some moments of waiting, "Maudie" said: "Mr. Mitchell says take
the table away and put the cone in its place."
We moved the table a short distance to the left, and I put the cone in
the centre of the rug where the table had stood, and marked the position
of the cone. The psychic then passed through a period of suffering, of
effort, but nothing took place. Again "Maudie" spoke, asking us to
restore the table and cone to their former positions. "Evidently the
experiment designed by 'Mitchell' has failed," I said, "but these
failures instruct us."
A convulsive restlessness again seized upon the psychic, and "Maudie"
asked us to sing. I hummed softly, in order to hear anything that might
take place. A minute clicking sound at once developed, as though some
one were lightly beating the cone with a key. These clicks answered our
questions. It was "Wilbur" once more. I asked him if he were going to be
able to speak to us, and he tapped "Yes." Soon after this the cone was
swung into the air and "Wilbur's" throaty whisper was heard. I asked him
if the psychic could not be awake and speak while he was present, and he
answered: "Yes; we have planned that."
Even as he spoke Mrs. Smiley passed into what seemed like a struggle for
breath and awoke!
"Are you with us, Mrs. Smiley?" asked Fowler.
"Yes. What time is it?"
"About half-past eight. How do you feel?"
"Very numb and cold," she answered, plaintively.
"I don't wonder at that," I remarked. "You've been sitting there for
"Is anybody present?" she asked, anxiously.
I knew what she meant, and answered: "Yes, 'Wilbur' is here—or was a
few moments ago. Are you still with us, 'Wilbur'?"
A rapping on the cone made vigorous answer, and a few seconds later the
cone took flight and "Wilbur's" voice resumed general conversation with
us. It was noticeable to me all through this sitting, as at others, that
neither "Wilbur" nor "Mitchell" nor "Maud" ever addressed the psychic;
they spoke of her, but never to her.
I requested further tests. "'Wilbur,' I want the privilege of going to
the psychic's side. I don't like this long-distance experiment. I want
to get closer to these facts—if they are facts."
"You shall have the privilege," was the reassuring answer.
"Shall I go now?"
There was no reply through the horn, but a tapping on the table gave a
doubtful "Yes," and I crept slowly forward and took a seat at Mrs.
Smiley's right hand. "I am very close to the ultimate mystery, Mrs.
Smiley," I said, as I placed my hand upon her wrist. "Proceed, 'Wilbur.'
Let me hear your voice now."
With tense expectation, I put my ear close to the psychic's lips and
listened breathlessly. The horn soared into the air and was drummed
there, as if to show that it was out of the reach of the psychic, but no
voice came from it! This was a disappointment to me, as well as to
Fowler, and I banteringly said: "You know this failure is suspicious,
Wilbur.' It seems to indicate that Mrs. Smiley is only a wonderful
ventriloquist, after all. Can't you prove that she is independent of
your voice? Can't you do something decisive at this moment?"
No reply came to this; but while my hand was firmly pressed upon her
wrist (both sleeves being nailed to the chair), the loose leaves of the
paper in the centre of the table were whisked away to the left. I could
follow their flight, and we all heard their deposition on a couch in a
corner of the room.
"Fowler," I said, "are you controlling your wife's hands?"
"Yes; we had nothing to do with that noise."
This was another tense moment, for the movement of those papers was very
ghostly indeed. We had demonstrated clearly that their movement was
"May I come forward?" asked Fowler.
Tap—"No," was the decided answer.
I then asked: "'Wilbur,' do you want me to change with Fowler and
control Mrs. Fowler's hands?"
An emphatic "Yes" was rapped in reply.
"They seem as anxious for a conclusive test as we are," remarked Fowler.
"Did you mean you didn't want Mrs. Fowler unaccounted for?"
A perfect fusillade of raps followed: "Yes, yes, yes."
Fowler then came forward to Mrs. Smiley's left, while I returned to the
table. Taking both of Mrs. Fowler's hands in mine, and setting the toes
of my shoes upon hers, I awaited developments. At this moment, while
Fowler was pressing the psychic's imprisoned wrists, the cone banged
about most furiously, describing wide circles entirely out of Mrs.
Smiley's reach. This action was another perfectly convincing test of the
psychic's supernormal powers. As the same movement had taken place with
each of us in control of the psychic, each was absolved from any
complicity in the matter; but I did not forget my further test. "Mrs.
Smiley," I said, "I want Mr. Fowler to return to his seat, and I want to
place my hand over your lips—or to muffle you in some way. I must
prove that you have nothing to do with the production of those voices.
Will you permit this test?"
"Certainly," she answered, with patient sweetness. "You may gag me in
any way you please. I am perfectly sure you can secure the proof you
want." Upon this hint I acted. Taking a large kerchief from my pocket, I
tied it tightly around her mouth, knotting it at the back, and then, in
growing excitement, challenged the ghostly voice: "Now, 'Wilbur,' let's
hear from you."
A moment later the voice came from the cone, but apparently very much
muffled and blurred. "You are not articulating well," I rather
Instantly the voice came out clearly, more sharply than ever before.
"I was fooling you!" jeered "Wilbur."
We all applauded. "There, that's better," I said. "Your voice improved
"Wilbur" chuckled with glee. "I've taken a lozenge," he whimsically
retorted, expressing a very human delight in our mystification.
Fowler then said: "Now let's consider this a moment, Garland. Suppose
Mrs. Smiley has been able to loosen the gag. How does she handle the
cone? We will suppose she is a marvellous ventriloquist. How does she
write on the pads on the table, and how does she whisk them away? You
see, it isn't the matter of one thing, but of all that has happened."
"Yes, I admit that everything points to an exercise of supernormal
force. It really looks, so far as anything in the dark can look, like
spirits, but I prefer to think Mrs. Smiley has the power to project her
will in some way."
"I don't see how we are going to escape the spirit hypothesis," replied
"'Mitchell,'" I said, addressing the phantom, "I want to examine that
gag, and I want to hold both hands of the psychic. Will you permit
There was no reply to this, and Fowler offered an explanation: "We had
that test at a previous sitting."
I explained to the invisible ones: "'Wilbur,' it is absolutely
essential that you should prove to me that your voice is not dependent
upon the vocal chords of the psychic. You see the importance of this, do
you not, Mrs. Smiley?"
"Indeed, I do," she earnestly answered, her voice sounding very faint
and muffled through the kerchief. "I am anxious for the test."
"Very well, then. Now I want you to sing a song, and while you are
singing I am going to insist on 'Wilbur's' speaking. Will you do that,
'Wilbur'?" The cone was drummed upon as if in vigorous promise of
Mrs. Smiley sang, or rather hummed; but there was no response on the
part of the ghostly voices, and a moment later she called, faintly: "The
kerchief is slipping down, Mr. Garland."
I rose and went to her side. As I untied the kerchief, she said,
plaintively: "I am sorry we didn't get the voices. I am sure we can if
we try again. Please try again." And a vigorous drumming on the cone
seemed to second her plea.
However, it was getting very late, and I said: "I think we will postpone
further experiment to-night. What are your sensations now?"
"I am almost paralyzed, and still deaf, too, but that often happens. My
feet are as if they did not exist."
"But your mind is perfectly normal?"
"Yes, it seems to be."
Soon after this I returned to my seat; the cone was lifted high into the
air silently, broken apart, and then, with the small end jangling inside
the larger one, was carried over the table and back to the floor. It
fell with a bang that seemed final and decisive. "That is 'good-bye,'"
said Mrs. Smiley.
Upon lighting the gas we found our victim as before, sitting absolutely
as we had left her. The table edge was twenty-four inches from her
finger-tips. The place where the cone lay, which we had marked with
chalk when it was first drummed upon, was thirty-six inches from one
hand and forty inches from the other. But the most inexplicable of
all—the tangible, permanent record—was the seven sheets of paper which
were lying upon a couch six feet from Mrs. Smiley's left hand. They
were all written upon legibly, and pinned together with a black pin,
which had been thrust through the writing. "Wilbur" had scrawled his
name, Mrs. Fowler's father's name was signed to a message, and there
were other signatures unknown to any of us. The pencil was on the
carpet, forty inches from Mrs. Smiley's hand. The leaves of paper, at
the moment when they were grasped and lifted, were more than forty
inches from her finger-tips. How this was done I do not know: but of
this I am absolutely sure: the psychic did not remove them from the
table by means of her ordinary, material limbs. Barring the failure to
disassociate her voice from that of "Wilbur," she had met every demand
upon her. Her powers were truly magical. I cannot say I saw the cone
move, but I have proven that the psychic did not surreptitiously touch
it or fraudulently write upon the papers during this sitting. I cannot
swear that Fowler was controlling his wife's hands while the cone was
floating (and while I held the psychic's imprisoned hands), but I
believe he was. In short, barring the one sense of sight—an
all-important one, I admit—these happenings were convincing and fitted
in with phenomena which I had secured with other psychics.
Nevertheless, I was not satisfied. I wanted Brierly, or some other fifth
person, in the room, in order that both of the psychic's hands could
be controlled at the same time that Mrs. Fowler's were secured. So long
as a single hand was left free, the doubter would be warranted in
questioning our results.
The next two or three sittings were partial failures—so much so that I
made no record of them. Possibly, conditions were not strict enough. At
any rate, the final and most conclusive sitting came three days later.
It was held in Fowler's house. We followed the conditions of the
previous sitting very closely—the same room, the same table, the same
fastenings as before.
There was present a friend of Fowler's, a young man who was possessed
of some psychic power. We will call him Frank. Fowler and I took entire
charge of the psychic, and her bonds were even more carefully nailed
than before. We began the séance, as before, by putting her to sleep.
Not long after "Maudie" spoke, saying: "Mr. Mitchell wishes the thread
fastened to mama's hands in the way Mr. Garland desires."
I fastened a strong thread to each wrist as I had done several times
before, passing the ends under the chair-arm in such wise that any
movement of the psychic would be plainly and instantly detected. We then
returned to our seats, and, though conditions seemed favorable, no
marked phenomena took place; the cone was lifted, it is true, but we
were used to this now, and accepted it as quite commonplace.
At six o'clock the voice of "Maudie" came: "Please go down to supper.
Mr. Mitchell says he will be able to give you what you ask for after you
I did not ask to what he referred, but I had in mind the test to prove
the voices independent of the psychic's vocal organs, and at the dinner
we discussed methods by which this could be made clear.
"If they will let me put my hand over her mouth," I said to Fowler, "I
will be satisfied."
"Do you mean that you will believe in spirits?" he smilingly challenged
"Oh, I won't go so far as to promise that, but I confess it would help
to prove their existence."
"We may be about to get something more conclusive than that."
"Let us fix our minds on two things: first, to get the writing, or at
least movement, with every hand controlled; and, second, the voices,
while one of us covers Mrs. Smiley's mouth with a hand."
"Very well," acquiesced Fowler. "But the unexpected is what usually
happens in these performances."
We were gone but twenty minutes, so eager were we for our demonstration.
We found everything quite as when we left: the psychic was asleep, the
fastenings undisturbed. Fowler and I regained our threads and resumed
our places at the sides of the table, while Frank and Mrs. Fowler sat
close together at the end opposite Mrs. Smiley. I ask the reader to
recall that the psychic's ankles were encircled with tape which was
nailed to the floor behind her chair. Two bands of tape, after being
sewn to her cuffs, had been tacked solidly to the chair, three strong
tacks were driven down through the hem of her dress, and, finally,
Fowler and I were holding the threads which, after encircling the
psychic's wrists, passed under the chair-arm.
And yet, in spite of all these bonds and precautions, the cone was
almost immediately lifted, and "Mitchell" spoke through it. In a deep,
clear, well-delivered, and decidedly masculine whisper, and with
stately periods, he promised the complete co-operation of the spirit
world in the great work to which I was devoting myself. He directed his
exhortation to me, as usual; and for the benefit of those who think the
spirits are always trivial or foolish, I wish to say that "Mitchell's"
remarks were dignified and very suggestive. He produced in my mind the
distinct impression of a serious man of seventy, ornate of rhetoric, but
never vague or wandering in his thought, and he never went outside the
circle of Mrs. Smiley's mind.
For fully a quarter of an hour he discussed with me the value of the
investigation which we were pursuing. "I and my band," he assured me,
"are working as hard from our side as you are from yours, equally
intent upon opening up channels of communication between the two
worlds." He solemnly urged me to proceed in this "grand work," and at
last said, "Good-bye for the present," and fell silent.
The cone was then deposited on the table, and "Maud" said: "If Mr.
Garland and Mr. Fowler will go quietly up to mama's side, holding all
the time tightly to the threads, 'Mr. Mitchell' will do what Mr. Garland
so much desires. Please be very careful not to touch mama until I tell
you. Keep as far apart as you can as you go up to her. When you reach my
mama's side, you may put one hand on her head and one on her wrist.
'Mr. Mitchell' says please have Frank take Mrs. Fowler's hands, so that
every hand in the circle is accounted for."
I was now very eager and very alert. I felt that at last, after many,
many requests and many trials, I was about to secure a clear, complete,
and satisfying demonstration. Surely no trickster would permit such
rigorous control as that toward which we were now invited. I was sorry
that Miller was not present to share with me the satisfaction of the
moment. My admiration went out toward this heroic little woman, who was
enduring so much pain and suspicion for the sake of science. "She
believes in herself," I thought. "If she succeeds, all honor to her."
Slowly we crept to her side, being careful to touch nothing until
directed by the voice of "Maud." At last the childish voice said: "Mr.
Garland may put his right hand on top of mama's head and his left hand
on her wrist. Mr. Fowler may place his left hand above Mr. Garland's and
his right hand on mama's wrist. 'Mr. Mitchell' says he will then see if
the voices will not come."
I then said aloud: "My right hand is on the psychic's head, my left is
on her wrist."
Fowler repeated: "My left hand is above Garland's right, which is on the
psychic's head, and my own right hand is on the right wrist of the
psychic. Now, 'Wilbur,' go ahead."
Our challenge was almost instantly caught up. While thus
double-safeguarding the psychic, the cone, which was resting on the
table a full yard away, rose with a sharp, metallic, scraping sound, and
remained in the air for fully half a minute, during which I called out,
sharply: "We are absolutely controlling the psychic; her hands are
motionless; Mrs. Fowler, be sure you are holding both of Frank's hands."
"I have both his hands in mine," she answered.
As the cone was gently returned to the carpet Fowler was moved to say:
"Garland, that was a supreme test of the psychic. She was absolutely not
concerned in any known way with that movement. Save for a curious
throbbing, wave-like motion in her scalp, she did not move. If she
lifted the horn, it was by the exercise of a force unrecognized by
To this I was forced to agree. I here definitely declare that the
psychic was not concerned with the flight of the cone in any way known
to biology. If she produced the voices, they too must have been examples
of supernormal ventriloquism, for they came through the megaphone. Of
that I am as certain as one can be of an auditory impression.
A few moments later we returned to our seats, while "Wilbur" and
"Mitchell" and several other voices spoke to us. Fowler, now that I had
admitted telekinesis, wanted me to go further. "Is the psychic speaking
to us," he asked, "or are these voices independent of her?"
"An investigator is never satisfied," I answered. "I must have the
voices through the cone while I am covering the psychic's mouth."
To this "Mitchell" replied: "We are doing all we can, and we will yet
be able to meet every demand you make upon us."
"I am anxious for conviction," I said. "I want to secure the voice of
the psychic and your voice at the same time, 'Mr. Mitchell.' Can you do
that for me?"
He seemed to hesitate, and at last said: "We will try." I perceived in
his tone a certain doubt and indecision. Again we were permitted to hold
the psychic's wrists, and, as before, the cone was lifted and drummed
upon as if to show its position high in the air; but no voices came.
Hidden forces seemed to be struggling for escape beneath our hands; the
woman's brain seemed a powerful dynamo. I could not rid myself of a
sense that there was an actual externalization of the psychic's nerve
force, and with this conviction I could well understand why the command
had so often been given not to touch her unbidden. Suppose the poor
naked "astral body" were abroad and a strong light were suddenly turned
Now came on a singularly engrossing game of "hide-and-seek." Convinced
that Mrs. Smiley was innocent of any trick in the movement of the horn,
I tried every expedient to satisfy myself that "Wilbur's" voice was
independent of her own; but I did not succeed. Mrs. Smiley spoke
almost at the same moment but never precisely synchronous with
Wilbur's whisper. She answered all my questions perfectly unconcerned
and unexcited, lending herself to my experiments. All in vain. At no
time did I succeed in getting "Wilbur's" voice at precisely the same
moment with her own, though the whisper, following swiftly on her
speech, interjected remarks as if echoing her questions. There was
always an approximate interval between her voice and the spirit whisper.
This was to me very significant, and strengthened me in my belief that
the entire process, while inexplicable, was, after all, not the work of
When the gas was lighted we found the cone had been placed on the table,
a distance of forty inches from the utmost reach of the psychic's hands.
Her feet were twenty-three inches from the nearest leg of the table. We
carefully examined the tapes which were sewed to her sleeves. They were
tied, and the doubled ends tacked precisely as described so many times,
and to remove the tacks we were forced to use a hammer. It is useless to
talk of a possible release of her arms during the phenomena of the cone.
As I was about to leave the house that night, Mrs. Smiley said: "I do
not feel able to sit any more for the present, Mr. Garland. I feel
myself growing weaker, and 'Mitchell' tells me I would better stop for
the present. I feel that my power belongs to the world, and I want to do
all I can to convince you of the truth of spiritualism, but I feel the
strain very greatly."
"I do not wonder at that," I responded, "and I cannot blame you for
demanding a rest. No one could have endured more uncomplainingly. You
have been a model subject, and we are deeply in your debt. I am sorry
Miller was not with us to-night; he would have been convinced of your
supernormal power at least. Have no fear of my report; for while I am
not convinced of the spirit hypothesis, I have found you honest and
patient and very brave. I thank you very sincerely for what you have
And in this spirit we parted.
Cameron's Amateur Psychic Club, which had so nearly disintegrated by
reason of the long series of barren sittings, was drawn together again
by the news of my startling success at Fowler's house. Cameron at once
decided that the members should hear my report, and I was notified to be
ready to relate my experiences in full. We met, as before, at Cameron's
table, and even before the soup-plates were removed the interrogation
began, and by the time the company was in full possession of the facts
the coffee and cigars had appeared.
"Why didn't these wonders take place in our presence?" asked Mrs. Quigg,
who had returned to something like her original truculence of doubt.
"Why should you and Brierly be so favored?"
"In this business everything comes to him who waits," I replied, a tinge
of malice in my voice. "You obtained a few results, Miller a few more;
but Fowler and I, for our pains, reaped the rich reward. By remaining
long on the watch-tower we saw the armies pass. Harmony and patience
are essentials in the production of these marvels. With people yawning
or shuffling about uneasily, results are necessarily unimportant."
Miller continued firm in his agnosticism. "Although puzzling, I cannot
grant so much as even one of the phenomena. Belief in the smallest of
those manifestations at my house would be uprooting to all established
theories of matter—not to mention time and space."
"Were not the notions of Galileo and Darwin also subverting?" asked
Fowler. "Is there anything sacred in error? If we are wrong in our
theories about the universe, let's correct them. You do not stand out
against wireless telegraphy or the Röntgen ray?"
Miller fired at this. "I'm not going to take instruction from a tipping
table or a flying hair-brush!" he fiercely retorted.
"I'll take illumination from any source whatsoever," responded Fowler.
Here I interposed: "The only question that concerns me at this stage is:
Does the table tip and the brush really fly? No physical fact is
trivial, for it stands related to mountains and the clouds."
Fowler's eyes gleamed with contempt. "That's the way of you so-called
scientists: you narrow the mighty fund of occult phenomena down to a
floating feather. As a matter of fact, there is a sea of evidence
accumulated by the investigations of men quite as scientific as Miller,
testimony that is neither petty nor ignoble. It is because you and your
associates are so trifling in methods that the tables and the chair play
leading parts in your drama."
"Good for you!" cheered Brierly. "You're quite right. When these
materialistic investigators get done with trying to prove that
independent slate-writing exists, they'll begin to give some attention
to the fundamental truths of the messages which the slates set forth.
Going after small things, they get small things. If Miller and his like
went forth seeking the essentials of the faith, they would find them
instead of being amazed with foolish tricks of hand."
"Essentials such as what?" interrupted Harris, with snappy suddenness.
"Such as—as—direct spirit communication, a knowledge of the astral,
the reincarnation of souls, and—and—faith in the upward progression of
the self," stammered Brierly, much disturbed.
Here again I interposed a quieting word: "I confess that it begins to
look as though the theosophist's theory of the astral (at which some of
us have smiled) were in a fair way to be scientifically demonstrated.
Since our last meeting I have been studying the bound volumes of The
Annals of Psychic Science, and I have found them full of comfort. They
sustain Mrs. Smiley at every point. To my mind, the most important event
in the history of spiritism is the entrance of Eusapia Paladino into the
clinical laboratory of Cesare Lombroso. Nothing since Crookes's
experiments has had such value for the scientist."
"We have heard of Lombroso, but who is Paladino?" asked Mrs. Quigg. "Is
she a psychic?"
"She is the most renowned now living. Though only an illiterate peasant
woman, she has been able for more than twenty years to baffle every
scientist who has studied her. Her organism remains the most potent
mystery on this earth."
"Tell us about her! Who is she? Where does she live?"
"She was born at Minerva-murge, a mountain village near Bari, in Italy.
According to Lombroso's daughter, who has written a sketch of her, she
is about fifty-three years of age. Her parents were peasants. She is
quite uneducated, but is intelligent and rather good-looking. Her hands
are pretty and her feet small—facts which are of value when studying
her manifestations, as you will see later on. Her mother died while
Eusapia was a babe, and her father 'passed over' when she was twelve,
leaving her at large in the world 'like a wild animal,' as she herself
says. A native family of her village took her to Naples, and her own
story is that she was adopted soon after by some foreigners 'who wished
to make me an educated and learned girl. They wanted me to take a bath
every day and comb my hair every day,' she explains, with some humor.
"She didn't like the life nor the people, and she soon ran away back to
her friends, the Apulians, and it was while she was in their house and
at the precise moment when they were planning to put her in a convent
that her occult powers were discovered. Some friends came in to spend
the evening, and, in default of anything better to do, formed a circle
to make a table tip. No sooner were they all seated, as she herself
relates, than 'the table began to rise, the chairs to dance, the
curtains to swell, and the glasses and bottles to walk about, till
everybody was scared.' After testing every other person present, the
host came to the conclusion that the medium was his little ward,
Eusapia. This put an end to her going into a convent. She was proclaimed
a medium, much to her disgust, and made to sit whole evenings at the
table. 'I only did it,' she says, 'because it was a way of recompensing
my hosts, whose desire to keep me with them prevented their placing me
in a convent. Finally I took up laundress work, thinking I might render
myself independent and live as I liked without troubling about
"It is remarkable how many of these women psychics begin their career
when they are ten or twelve years old," said Miller. "Mrs. Smiley was
about that age, wasn't she?"
"Yes, and so was Mrs. Hartley, another psychic of my acquaintance. Mrs.
Smiley complained of the tedium of sitting. She tells me that her
father kept her at it steadily, just as Eusapia was not permitted to
escape her fate. One day an Englishwoman, wife of a certain Mr. Damiani,
came to a séance, and was so impressed by what took place that she
interested her husband in Eusapia's performances. Damiani then took up
the young medium's development along the good old well-worn lines of
American spiritualism, and she acquired all the tricks and all the
'patter.' Among other notions, she picked up the idea of an English
'control' known as 'John King,' who declared himself a brother of 'Kate
King,' of Crookes fame, and from that day Eusapia has been a
"What does she do?" asked Cameron. "What is her 'phase,' as you call
"It must be confessed that most of her phases are of the poltergeist
variety, but they are astounding. She produces the movement of
mandolins, chairs, sofas, and small tables without contact (at least,
such is the consensus of opinion of nearly a score of the best-known
scientists of France and Italy), and also materializes hands and arms.
There is vastly more than the poltergeist in her, that is evident; for
she has conquered every critic with her miracles. Take, for instance,
Lombroso's conversion, a fairly typical case. He was not only sceptical
of spirit phenomena, but up to 1888 was openly contemptuous of those
who believed in them. However, in an article called 'The Influence of
Civilization upon Genius,' published in 1888, he made this admission:
'Twenty or thirty years are enough to make the whole world admire a
discovery which was treated as madness at the moment when it was
made.... Who knows whether my friends and I who laugh at spiritualism
are not in error, just like hypnotized persons, or like lunatics; being
in the dark as regards the truth, we laugh at those who are not in the
"True enough," said Fowler. "The man who has made no study of these
phenomena is like one color-blind: he has never seen a landscape."
"It was this candid statement by Lombroso that moved Professor Chiaia, a
friend of Eusapia's, to write the great alienist a letter which was in
effect a challenge. After recounting a score or two of the wonderful
doings of Paladino, whom he had studied carefully, he ended in this
amusing fashion: 'Now you see my challenge. If you have not written the
paragraph cited above simply for the fun of writing it, if you have the
true love for science, if you are without prejudices—you, the first
alienist of Italy—please take the field. When you can afford a week's
vacation, indicate a place where we can meet. Four gentlemen will be our
seconds: you will choose two, and I will bring the other two.... If the
experiment does not succeed, you will consider me but as a man suffering
from hallucination, who longs to be cured of his extravagances.... If
success crowns our efforts, your loyalty ... will attest the reality of
these mysterious phenomena and promise to investigate their causes.'"
"I hope Lombroso was man enough to accept the challenge," said Cameron.
"Nothing could be fairer than the spook-man's offer."
"He did not at once take up the gage. It was not, in fact, till
February, 1891, that he was able to go to Naples to meet Eusapia, who
had begun to interest some of his trusted scientific friends. He found
the great psychic quite normal in appearance and rather attractive in
manner. She was of medium size, with a broad and rather serious face lit
with brilliant dark eyes. The most notable thing about her physical self
was a depression in her skull caused by a fall in her infancy. This scar
figures largely in nearly all the reports of her."
"Why?" asked Harris.
"Because they all agree that a singular sort of current of force, like a
cool breeze, seems to come and go through this spot."
Harris groaned, and Howard said: "Oh, rubbish!"
"Rubbish or not, they all speak of this scar and its singular effects.
At the time when Lombroso saw her first, Eusapia was just beginning to
be known to scientists, but no one of special note had up to this time
(1891) reported upon her. She was known as the wife of a small
shop-keeper in Naples, and seemed a decent, matronly person, quite
untouched by mysticism. Although not eager to sit for Lombroso and his
party of scientists, she finally consented. Among those who took part in
these celebrated experiments were Professor Tamburini, an eminent
scientist; Dr. Bianchi, the superintendent of the Insane Asylum of
Sales; and Dr. Penta, a young nephew of Lombroso, a resident of Naples.
Lombroso had charge of the sittings, which were held in a room of his
own choice and with the medium entirely under his control. He was
astonished at the prompt response obtained. At the first sitting, while
he and Professor Tamburini held the psychic's hands, a bell was carried
tinkling through the air and a small table moved as if it were alive.
Many other mysterious movements took place. Lombroso was very much
disturbed by these inexplicable phenomena, and could not rest till he
sat again. At the second séance spectral hands developed, profoundly
mystifying every sitter, and Lombroso went away, promising to carry
forward a study of spiritism. In a letter written the following June he
manfully said: 'I am filled with confusion, and regret that I combated
with so much persistence the possibilities of the facts called
spiritualistic. I say facts, for I am opposed to the theory.'"
"Did Lombroso say that?" asked Harris.
"He wrote it, which is still more to the point, and it was his
acceptance of the main facts of Paladino's mediumship that led other
groups of scientists to take up her case. Professor Schiaparelli,
Director of the Observatory at Milan; Gerosa, Professor of Physics;
Ermacora, Doctor of Natural Philosophy; Aksakof, Councilor of State to
the Emperor of Russia; and Charles du Prel, Doctor of Philosophy in
Munich, were in the next group, which met at Milan with intent to settle
the claims of this bold charlatan.
"The sittings took place in the apartment of Monsieur Finzi at Milan,
and were more rigid and searching than any Paladino had ever passed
through, but she was again triumphant. She bewildered them all. Lombroso
himself was present during some of the sittings. The results of the
series of experiments were very notable and very far-reaching. For the
first time, so far as I know, a table was photographed while floating in
"No!" shouted Howard.
"Yes; and certain other telekinetic happenings were proved, to the
stupefaction of most of those in the group. One special experiment, the
success of which confounded the shrewdest, was the attempt to secure on
a smoke-blackened paper the print of one of the spectral hands."
"Did it succeed?"
"Yes. The impression was made while Paladino's hands were imprisoned
beyond all question, and, what was most singular of all, the hand that
made the print smudged the wrists of one of the experimenters, and yet
not a particle of black appeared on the fingers of the psychic."
"That ought to have convinced them of her honesty," remarked Fowler,
with a note of amusement in his voice, "but it didn't; these scientific
folk are so difficult."
"No," I replied, "it didn't convince them, but it jarred them not a
little. In their report they admitted this much. They said, 'We do not
believe we have the right to explain these things by the aid of
insulting assumptions.' (By this they meant to acquit the psychic of
fraud.) 'We think, on the contrary, that these experiments have to do
with phenomena of an unknown nature, and we confess that we do not know
what the conditions are that are required to produce them.'"
"That seems to me like a very mild statement, but I suppose they
considered it epoch-making," remarked Fowler.
"From this time forward learned men in Russia, France, and Italy
successively sought Paladino out and tried to expose her to the world.
Professor Wagner, of the Department of Zoölogy at the University of St.
Petersburg, made a study of her in 1893, and found her powers real. A
year later M. Siemeradski, correspondent of the Institute, experimented
with her in Rome, obtaining, among other miracles, the plucking of the
strings of a closed piano under strictly test conditions."
"You had that experience, did you not?" asked Mrs. Cameron.
"Yes, I've had that."
"How do you account for a thing of that sort?"
"I don't account for it—or if I did give my theory, you would laugh at
me. Wait till I tell you what these Italians are doing. Among the most
eminent and persuasive of all Eusapia's investigators was Professor
Charles Richet, the French physiologist and author. Eusapia came to
revere and trust him, and gave him many sittings. He, too, was bowled
over. He tells the story of his conversion very charmingly. 'In my
servile respect for classic tradition,' he writes, 'I laughed at Crookes
and his experiments; but it must be remembered in my excuse that as a
professional physiologist I moved habitually along a road quite other
than mystical.' His attention, he goes on to say, was first drawn to
spiritist phenomena by the word of a friend who had discovered a power
that caused a table to move intelligently. He was trying to explain this
and one or two other little things like telepathy and prophetic vision
by the word 'somnambulism,' when his friend Aksakof, a great psychical
expert, reproached him for not interesting himself more keenly in
experiments with mediums. 'Well,' said Richet, 'if I were sure that a
single true medium existed, I would willingly go to the ends of the
world to meet him.'"
"That's the spirit!" exclaimed Fowler. "That is the way the scientist
should feel. What then? Aksakof told him all he needed to do was to go
round the corner, didn't he?"
"Not exactly. Two years later Aksakof wrote to him: 'You needn't come to
the end of the world; Milan will do.' So Richet went to Milan, and took
part in those very celebrated séances with Eusapia. 'When I left Milan,'
Richet says, 'I was convinced that all was true; but no sooner was I
back in my accustomed channels of work than my doubts returned. I
persuaded myself that all had been fraud or illusion.'"
Here Harris interrupted: "Miller can testify to this inability to retain
a conviction. He, too, has slumped into doubt. How about it, Miller?"
"I never professed to believe," declared Miller.
"You were pretty well convinced that night in your study, weren't you?"
"I was puzzled," he replied, guardedly.
There was a general smile of amusement at his manifest evasion, and I
resumed: "Richet went to Rome, and together with Schrenk-Nötzing, the
philosophic expert, and Siemeradski, the correspondent of the French
Institute, made other and still more convincing experiments, and yet
doubt persisted! 'I was not yet satisfied,' he says, further. 'I
invited Eusapia to my house for three months. Alone with her and
Ochorowicz, a man of penetrating perspicuity, I renewed my experiments
in the best possible conditions of solitude and quiet reflection. We
thus acquired a positive proof of the reality of the facts announced at
"By George, that's going it strong!" said young Howard. "You've got to
believe that a man like Richet has seen something after three months'
experiment in his own house."
Miller faced them all stubbornly: "And yet even Richet may have been
"Are you the only one competent to study these facts?" asked Brierly,
hotly. "The egotism of you professional physicists is a kind of
insanity. The moment a man like Richet or Lombroso admits a knowledge of
one of these occult facts, you who have no experience in the same
phenomena jump on him like so many wolves. Such bigotry is unworthy a
"Would you have us accept the word of any one man when that word
contradicts the experience of all mankind?" asked Miller.
"Listen to what Richet says in confession of his perplexity," I called
out, soothingly. "He writes: 'It took me twenty years to arrive at my
present conviction—nay! to make one last confession. I am not yet
absolutely and irremediably convinced. In spite of the astounding
phenomena which I have witnessed during my sixty experiments with
Eusapia, I have still a trace of doubt. Certainty does not follow on
demonstration; it follows on habit.' So don't blame Miller or myself
for inability to believe in these theories, for our minds are the kind
that accept the mystical with sore struggle."
"Go on with Eusapia's career," said Harris. "I am interested in her. I
want the story of the investigations."
"Her story broadens," I resumed. "Her fame spread throughout Europe, and
squad after squad of militant scientists grappled with her, each one
perfectly sure that he was the one to unmask her to the world. She was
called before kings and emperors, and everywhere she triumphed—save in
Cambridge, where she made a partial failure; but she redeemed herself
later with both Lodge and Myers, so that it remains true to say that she
has gone surely from one success to another and greater triumph."
"But there have been other such careers—Slade's and Home's, for
instance—which ended in disaster."
"True, but nothing like her courage has ever been known. The crowning
wonder of her career came when she consented to enter the special
laboratories of the universities of Genoa and Naples. It is in the
writings of Morselli, Professor of Psychology at Genoa, and in the
reports of Bottazzi, head of the Department of Physics at Naples, that
scepticism, such as my own, is met and conquered. I defy Miller or any
man of open mind to read the detailed story of these marvellous
experiments and deny the existence of the basic phenomena produced by
"You speak with warmth," said Harris.
"I do. I am at this moment fresh from a reading of the reports of
Bottazzi's up-to-date experiments, and I am compelled to grant that he
has not only sustained Crookes at every point, but has gone beyond him
in his ingenuity of test and thoroughness of control. He adds the touch
of certainty that we all needed to complete our own experience. He has
given me courage to say what I believe Mrs. Smiley did for us."
"Won't you tell us all about it?" pleaded Mrs. Cameron. "Please do."
"It is too long and complicated. You must read it for yourself. It is
too incredible to be told."
"Never mind, Garland; we'll take it as part of your fiction. Go ahead."
As I looked about me, I could detect in the faces of some of my friends
an expression of apprehension. The coffee had grown cold. Our ice-cream
had melted with neglect. Every eye was fixed upon me. It was plain that
Harris and Miller considered me "on the high-road to spiritualism."
Quite willing to gratify their wish to be startled, I proceeded:
"You will find the latest word on all these matters in a small but
valuable review, published simultaneously in London and in Paris,
called The Annals of Psychic Science. It is edited by César de Vesme
in France, and by Laura I. Finch in England, and is a mine of reliable
psychic science. Its directors are Dr. Dariex and Professor Charles
Richet. Its 'committee' is made up of Sir William Crookes, Camille
Flammarion, Professor Lombroso, Marcel Mangin, Dr. Joseph Maxwell,
Professor Enrico Morselli, of Genoa; Dr. Julien Ochorowicz, head of the
General Psychologic Institute of Paris; Professor Porro, the astronomer;
Colonel Albert de Rochas, author of The Externalization of Motivity,
and others of like character."
"We don't want the review, we want your account," said Harris. "Don't
spare us. Give us detail—lots of it."
"Thank you; you shall have it hot-shot, but I'll have to generalize the
story for you. The most decisive of all the tests have been made during
the last eighteen months, and the final and most convincing of all
within the year, under the direction of Lombroso, Morselli, and
Bottazzi. It is safe to say that with these experiments (and the reports
which accompany them) a new era has dawned in biology. The facts of
mediumship are in process of being scientifically observed by a score of
the best-qualified men in Europe, and at last we are about to study
mediumship apart from any question of religious tenets."
Fowler took issue with me here: "It is absurd to say that no one but
these physicists has ever properly studied spiritualistic phenomena;
spiritists themselves have put the screws on quite as effectively as
ever Crookes or Richet has done. Some of the best investigators ever
known have been spiritists."
"Even if that were true, their testimony would lack the convincing power
that flames from Morselli's book or Bottazzi's report. The essential
weakness of the spiritist's testimony lies in the fact that for the most
part he assumes that the facts of mediumship are somehow, and
necessarily, in opposition to somebody's religion. He finds it sustained
(or opposed) by the Bible, or he fancies it mixed with deviltry or the
black art. He trembles for fear it will affect the scheme of redemption
or assist some theosophical system. Whereas, a man like Bottazzi is
engaged merely with the facts; he lets the inferences fall where they
may. He is not concerned with whether Eusapia's manifestations oppose
Christian theology or not; he wants the phenomena. He is alert to note
their effect on biologic science, but he does not shrink from any report
of them. So far as I am concerned, my lot is cast with these men who put
the clamps on the fact and wait for larger knowledge before constructing
a system of religion on the half-discovered."
"I'm with you there," said Miller. "And if our university officials
took the same view, we Americans would hold higher rank in the world's
"Bottazzi himself says, with reference to his experiments: 'In spite of
all the hundreds of those who have observed Eusapia, it still remained
true to say that hitherto she had been free to throw things about as she
pleased.' But all this took a sharp turn when she came into Bottazzi's
"Just who is Bottazzi?" Harris asked.
"He's the head of the Physiological Institute of the University of
Naples; of his age and general character I am not precisely informed,
but he writes delightfully of his experiments. Morselli, who preceded
him in his study of Eusapia, is the Professor of Psychology in the
University of Genoa. Foà and Herlitzka are of the same university.
Within the last two years Eusapia has also been rigorously studied in
Lombroso's clinical laboratory at Turin. All honor to her for breaking
away from the traditions of mediumship!"
Mrs. Quigg caught me up on this: "What do you mean by 'traditions of
"I mean that for the most part investigators have nearly always been
kept at arm's-length by the fiction that the 'guide' should control
everything, that the séance is a religious rite, that the medium must
not be touched nor exposed to the light, and so on, till the scientist
was reduced to the feeble rank of an on-looker in the dark, so that no
real test was possible. These Italians did not grant any of these
traditions. They were scientists, not devotees at a new shrine."
"However, I am ready to grant that some of the good old rules were
justified. As you have seen in my own experiments, I have proceeded
cautiously, for if you suppose mediumship to be a psycho-dynamic
adjustment of the organisms in the circle—a subtle physical
relationship—there is all the more reason to be careful. I did not find
it necessary to mistreat Mrs. Smiley in order to test her powers. But
Eusapia has set a new pace for mediums. She has gone into the lion's
den alone and unarmed—not once, but a hundred times. She entered
Lombroso's study, a room previously unexplored by her, and there placed
herself before a cabinet that she was not permitted to examine—a
cabinet filled with machines for dividing the true from the false. In
Morselli's presence she submitted to tests the like of which not even
Crookes was permitted to apply, and all sacred rules and regulations,
all ideas of religion or questions of morality, vanished when she
entered the cold, clear air of Bottazzi's physiological laboratory."
"This begins to sound like the grapple of a cuttlefish and a mermaid.
Was the woman crushed?"
"No; she more than sustained her great reputation. She conquered the
remorseless scientist and performed the impossible."
I had the strained attention of my audience now. Time was forgotten, and
cries of "Tell us!" "Tell us all!" arose.
"It is an exciting story, an incredible story—"
"So much the better!" exclaimed Miss Brush.
"I am full of enthusiasm for Bottazzi," I resumed. "His was the kind of
investigation I should like to put through myself. It appeals to me as
no spiritualistic performance has ever done. In a sense the facts he has
demonstrated make all material tests inoperative. Matter is all we have
to cling to when it comes to physical tests. A nail driven down through
the sleeve of the medium's dress seems to increase our control of her,
and a metronome or a Morse telegraphic sounder does add value to our
testimony, and yet Zöllner seems nearer right than Miller: matter seems
only a condition of force, and subject to change at the will of the
"Up to the beginning of last year Bottazzi confesses that he had read
little or nothing on the subject, and, like our friend Miller here,
considered it beneath the dignity of a scientist to be present at
spiritualist circles. It is highly instructive to note that Paladino,
the most renowned medium of her time, was in Naples at his very door;
but that doesn't matter—a scientist is blind to what he does not wish
to see. In this case Bottazzi's eyes were opened by a young friend,
Professor Charles Foà, of Turin, who sent him an account of what he and
Dr. Herlitzka had witnessed in Eusapia's presence."
"They really seem to be taking the phenomena seriously over there," said
"These particular sittings at Turin made a great sensation in Italy.
They were under the direction of Drs. Herlitzka, Foà, and Aggazzotti,
assistants to Professor Mosso, of the University of Turin. Dr. Pio Foà,
Professor of Pathologic Anatomy, was also present during one séance. The
conditions were all of the experimenters' own contriving. They were
young men and had been companion workers in science for many years, and
were accustomed to laboratory work. They all came to this experiment
perfectly sure that no mediumistic phenomena could endure the light of
science. At the end of their three sittings they manfully said: 'Now
that we are persuaded of the authenticity of the phenomena, we feel it
our duty to state the fact publicly in our turn, and to proclaim that
the few pioneers in this branch of biology (destined to become one of
the most important) generally saw and observed correctly.... We hope
that our words may serve to stimulate some of these colleagues to study
personally and attentively this group of interesting and obscure
phenomena.' You will note they relate their tests, not to theology, but
to unexplored biology."
"I like the ring of that declaration of theirs," said Harris. "Go on!
Come to Hecuba!"
"Bottazzi was enormously impressed by this account, which detailed
coldly, critically, the most amazing experiments. With ingenuity that
would have seemed satanic to Paladino (had she known of it), Foà and
Aggazzotti had laid their pipes and provided for every trick. They were
confident that nothing genuine could occur, but, as a matter of record,
weird performances began at once. Bells were rung, tables shifted,
columns of mercury lifted, mandolins played, and small objects were
transported quite in the same fashion as the books were handled during
our own sittings at your house, Miller—in fact, the doings were much
the same in character. A small stand was broken to pieces under the very
eyes of the learned doctors, and hands hit and teeth bit those whom the
medium did not like. Each of the machines for registering movement,
though utterly out of reach of Paladino, was operated, and some of these
movements were systematically recorded.
"It was this care, these scrupulous and cold-blooded tests, that so
profoundly affected Bottazzi. These men were his friends. He knew their
level-headed and remorseless accuracy. The fact that they considered the
whole investigation biologic in character, and that the results of their
experiments strengthened their theory of the physiological determinism
of the phenomena, added to his eagerness to try for himself."
"Wait a moment," said Cameron. "What do you mean by 'physiological
"He means that the phenomena began and ended in the psychic's organism."
"Do you intend to convey that they considered the medium dishonest?"
"Oh no. Merely that they did not relate the phenomena to the
intervention of the spirits of the dead."
"Oh!" gasped Mrs. Cameron.
"Merely!" exclaimed Harris. "'Merely' is good in that case."
"'After reading these articles with avidity,' Bottazzi's report begins:
'Professor Galeotti, my associate, and I looked at each other astounded,
and the same thoughts in the same words came simultaneously to our lips:
"We, too, must see, must touch with our hands—and at once—here in this
laboratory where experiments of the phenomena of life are daily carried
on, with the impartiality of men whose object is the discovery of
scientific truth, here in this quiet place where sealed doors will be
superfluous. Everything must be registered. Will the medium be able to
impress a photographic plate? Will she be able to illuminate a screen
treated with platino-cyanide of barium? Will she be able to discharge a
gold-leaf electroscope without touching it?" And so we travelled on the
wings of imagination, always having before us the plummet of the
strictest scientific methods.'"
"Now you're getting into my horizon," said Miller. "That is the way I
wished to proceed in Mrs. Smiley's case. Did Bottazzi get these things
"You're as impatient as Miss Brush," I replied, highly amused at his
eagerness. "First you must catch your medium. Bottazzi succeeded at last
in getting Paladino's consent, but only through the good offices of
Professor Richet, whom she deeply loves and reverences. Submissively she
entered into this most crucial series of tests. She was no longer afraid
of any scientist, but it was not precisely a joy to her. Bottazzi
invited his friend Galeotti, Professor of General Pathology in the
University of Naples; Dr. de Amicis, Professor of Dermatology; Dr. Oscar
Scarpa, Professor of Electro-chemistry at the Polytechnic High School of
Naples; Luigi Lombardi, Professor of Electro-technology at the same
school; and Dr. Pansini, Professor Extraordinary of Medical Semiotics;
and these gentlemen certainly made up a formidable platoon of
investigation. The room in which the experiments took place was an
isolated one, connected with the laboratory of experimental physiology,
and belonged to that part of the university set aside for Bottazzi's
exclusive use. Nothing could have been further from the ordinary stuffy
back parlor of the 'materializing medium.' No women were present, and no
outsider; as you see, conditions were as nearly perfect as the ingenuity
of Bottazzi and his assistants could make them."
The members present nestled into their chairs with looks of
satisfaction, and Mrs. Cameron said: "Don't leave anything out. Tell it
"It is hardly necessary to say that every precaution was taken.
Photographs of the cabinet were made before the sittings and afterward,
in order that all displacements might be recorded. Provision was made
for registering the action of 'John King's' spectral hands. Some of
these devices were concealed in an adjoining room and watched by other
attendants. One little touch early in Bottazzi's account impressed me
deeply. A little electric motor was used to furnish power for the lamps
and other apparatus, and Bottazzi, in speaking of it, says: 'At the
moment when the phenomena to be registered began to manifest, the
circuit was closed, and suddenly in the complete silence of the night
the feeble murmur of the motor was heard.' I thrill to the action of
that faithful little material watch-dog. Ghosts and hobgoblins could not
silence or affright it. After all, matter is both persistent and bold."
"But not sovereign," defiantly called out Brierly; "the psychic
"We shall see. Bottazzi declares in italics that Paladino neither put
her hand into the cabinet nor knew the contents of it. 'Rarely has she
been surrounded by such an assembly of unprejudiced minds, by such
strict and attentive intellects,' he declares. And when you consider the
absence of women, the mystery of the machinery, together with the stern
character of the sitters, the medium's courage becomes marvellous.
Perfect honesty alone can sustain a medium in such an ordeal. I am ready
to agree that a new era began for spiritism when Eusapia entered that
room, April 17, 1907."
"Poor Paladino!" sighed Mrs. Cameron. "I tremble for her."
"Bottazzi grimly says: 'We began by restraining her inexhaustible
mediumistic activity. We obliged her to do things she had never done
before. We limited the field of her manifestations.... I was convinced
that it was much easier for her to drag out of the cabinet a heavy table
than to press an electric knob or displace the rod of a metronome.' And
this theory he set himself to prove. It was beautiful to see the way he
went about it."
Howard was also impressed. "I see Eusapia's finish. She won't do a
thing. The influences will criss-cross. Bottazzi's cabinet is her
"Observe that Bottazzi was not perverse. He met the psychic half-way by
forming the usual chain about the table, placing Eusapia before the
curtains of the little cabinet, which was a recess in the wall.
Bottazzi himself and his assistants had constructed this cabinet and
placed everything in position before Eusapia entered the room at all,
and throughout the sitting she was controlled by at least two of the
investigators so that she could not so much as put a hand inside the
curtains. She was very uneasy, as though finding the conditions hard.
Nevertheless, even at this first sitting, everything movable in the
cabinet was thrown about. The table was violently shaken and the
metronome set going. Bottazzi ends his first report by saying: 'The
séance yielded very small results, but this is always the case at first
séances. Nevertheless, how many "knowing people and savans" have
formed a judgment on phenomena after séances such as this one?'"
"That's a slant at you, Miller," remarked Harris.
"Yes," I agreed, "it's a slant at all commissions and committees who
think they can jump in and settle this spiritistic controversy in the
course of half an hour. Bottazzi, like Lombroso and Richet, was aware
that he had entered upon a long road. He knew that a tired or worried
medium was helpless. He called the same circle together for the 20th,
willing to try patiently for developments. All came but Lombardi, whose
place was taken by M. Jona, an engineer. The second sitting was a
wonder. Warned by his first experience, Bottazzi nailed or screwed every
movable thing fast to the walls of the cabinet. He was resolute to
force 'John,' the supposed 'guide,' to touch the electric button and
press the ball of India-rubber that connected with a mercury manometer.
He intended to teach the spirit hand to register its actions on a
revolving cylinder of smoked tin. He wanted graven records, so that no
wiseacre like Harris, here, could say: 'Oh, the thing never moved. You
were all hypnotized!' In effect, he said: 'They tell us that a cold wind
blows from the cabinet. I will put a self-registering thermometer in the
cabinet and see. They say tables weighing forty pounds have been lifted.
All I ask is that the bulb of a self-registering manometer be pressed.
They say a Morse telegraphic key has been sounded by spirit hands. Very
well; I will arrange a connection so that every pressure of the key will
be registered on a sheet of smoked paper, so that the fact of the sound
of the key shall be recorded by an infallible instrument.'"
"Did he get the records?" asked Harris.
"Wait and see!" commanded Cameron.
"These indicate the methods which Bottazzi and his assistants brought to
bear on the medium. No more worship here, no awe, no hesitation, no
superstition. Among other things, he put into the cabinet a small table
weighing about fifteen pounds, and on top of it arranged a hair-brush, a
hen's feather, a bottle full of water, and a very thick glass. These
articles and the table were the only objects that could be moved. His
aim was to limit the spirit hands to a few movables—to see whether they
could not be taught to do what was required of them. Well, that little
table came out of the cabinet of its own accord in a light that made it
perfectly visible, at the precise time when three of the inexorable
professors were rigidly clasping the psychic. But that is not the most
remarkable thing. The psychic's feet were held by the engineer, and he
observed that at the exact moment when Paladino pushed against his knee
the table moved. 'Each advance of the table corresponded,' says
Bottazzi, 'with the most perfect synchronism, to the push of Eusapia's
legs against Jona's knees'; in other words, she really executed
movements identical with those that she would have made had she been
pushing the table out of the cabinet with her visible limbs."
As I paused for effect, Fowler said: "You say that as if you considered
it very significant."
"I do. In my judgment, it is the most valuable fact developed by these
most searching experiments. Flammarion noted this same significant
relation between the movements of the psychic and the spirit hands, and
so did Maxwell. Maxwell proved it by experiments on his own person, and
now Bottazzi is proving it in a larger way. 'A few moments later,' he
says, 'a glass was flung from the cabinet by these invisible agencies,
and this fling coincided exactly with a kick which Paladino gave to
Jona, as if the same will governed both movements.'"
Miller was thinking very hard. "That certainly is very strange," he
said, "but I observed nothing of it in Mrs. Smiley's case; on the
contrary, it seemed to me that our strongest manifestations came when
she was perfectly still."
"Hasten!" urged Fowler. "Come to the phantoms. I perceive his theory,
but it will all be upset later by the materialized forms."
"On the contrary, Bottazzi declares the phantoms also conformed to this
same law. He was determined upon educating 'John King,' and kept
insisting that the invisible hands press the rubber ball, or lower the
registry balance, or set the metronome going, and Eusapia repeatedly
moaned: 'I can't find,' 'I can't see,' or 'I don't know how.' Once
she complained that the objects were too far off—that she could not
reach them!—all of which sustained Bottazzi in his belief that these
activities were absolutely under her psychic control, just as the
synchronism of movements convinced him that she was 'the physiologic
factor in the case.' All of this is very exciting to me, for I have had
the same feeling with regard to the several mediums whose activities I
have closely studied. Bottazzi says, with regard to the results of the
first two sittings: 'These first séances show that Eusapia needed to
learn how to make these movements with which her invisible hands were
unfamiliar, just as she would have had to learn to make them with her
visible hands. You will all observe that he did not permit awe or
superstitious reverence for the medium or her phantoms to balk his
experiments.' A convinced spiritist who attended one of the séances was
scandalized by the tone and character of the tests. These professors
were continually bobbing up to see what was going on, disturbing
conditions, stirring things up as with a spoon to see how it was all
going on. They broke the chain of hands whenever they wanted to see what
'the spirits' were doing. In other words, these scientists were
students, not devotees. They were experimenting, not communing with the
"Others have tried that," said Fowler. "But they succeeded in preventing
any manifestations whatsoever."
"It didn't work out so in this instance. Bottazzi says that during the
first séance Professor Scarpa irritated Eusapia greatly by his
impertinent curiosity, but Bottazzi himself quieted her by saying: 'You
see, dear Eusapia, we are not here only to admire the marvellous
phenomena you are able to produce, but also, and chiefly, to observe and
verify and criticise. We do not doubt you or suspect any fraud, but we
want to see clearly, and to follow the development of the phenomena.
That is why M. Scarpa surveys the cabinet between the curtains,
illuminating it occasionally with an electric pocket-lamp. Which do you
prefer, passive admiration, of which you must have had more than enough
already, or the calm affirmation of physicists who are accustomed to
extort from Nature secrets which she hides from physical eyes? 'In this
way,' adds the master, 'Eusapia's irritation was softened; she rebelled
no further, but yielded with docility to the sharp, attentive scrutiny
of the observer, who finally declared himself beaten, not having been
able to discover at any point a shadow of fraud.'"
"Hurrah for Eusapia!" shouted Howard. "She must be a wonder!"
"A spiritist would say that her guides were insisting on the most rigid
test. The account goes on to say that the psychic, when entranced, was
not satisfied with the grasp of two of the spies; she frequently asked,
in a faint voice, for a third or even a fourth hand in order that there
could be no question of her freedom from connection with the phenomena.
As in the case of our own psychic, Mrs. Smiley co-operated to the utmost
with us. She never refused to permit any test."
Miller here remarked: "I can't but think that our control of Mrs. Smiley
was complete, and yet I could not (under the conditions) assert that she
was not the author of the acts we witnessed in my library. I cannot
bring myself to entertain, even for an instant, the spirit hypothesis,
but in Bottazzi's theory I glimpse an alternative."
"Yes, Bottazzi plainly hints at his conclusions by saying: 'The
invisible limbs of the psychic explored the cabinet.' He repeats, 'I am
convinced that these "mediumistic limbs" are capable of being taught
unfamiliar duties, like pressing an electric button of squeezing a
rubber ball,' and this he proceeded patiently to exemplify. At the third
sitting Madame Bottazzi was present (Lombardi and Jona being absent),
and the 'force' was much greater and more active than before, probably
because of the psychic's growing confidence. A small table floated in
the air 'while we watched it in amazement,' he says. One levitation
lasted long enough to count fifty. 'We all had time to observe that the
piece of furniture was quite isolated,' he adds. Furthermore, a big
black hand came from the curtain and touched Madame Bottazzi on the
cheek, and frightened her from her place beside the medium."
"I can understand that," said Mrs. Cameron. "Think of being touched by
even one's own dead!"
"Professor de Amicis was not only touched on the arm but forcibly
pulled, as if by an invisible hand. The curtain of the cabinet then
enveloped him as if to embrace him, and he felt the contact of another
face against his, and a mouth kissing him—"
The women cried out at the thought, but I hurried on to make Bottazzi's
point: "'At the same time Eusapia's lips moved as if to kiss, and she
made the sound of kissing, which we all distinctly heard.' Here again,
you see, is that astounding synchronism which Maxwell and Morselli
observed between the movement of objects and the contraction of the
muscles in the medium's arms and legs. Bottazzi pauses to generalize:
'Whatever may be the mediumistic phenomena produced, there is almost
always at the same time movement of one or several parts of the medium's
"What does he mean? Does he mean that Eusapia performed all these
movements with her 'astral hands'?" asked Mrs. Quigg.
"That is precisely his inference. 'Mysterious hands,' Bottazzi calls
"But how will he account for the difference in size between Eusapia's
hands and the large black hand that she saw and felt?" asked Fowler.
"Bottazzi himself remarks upon this discrepancy. 'To whom does this hand
belong?' he asked—'this hand, a half a yard away from the medium's
head, seen while her visible hands are rigorously controlled by her two
neighbors? Is it the hand of a monstrous long arm which liberates itself
from the medium's body, then dissolves, to afterward "materialize"
afresh? Is it something analogous to the pteropod of an amœba, which
projects itself from the body, then retreats into it only to reappear
in another place? Mystery!' But this is not the most grewsome sight; one
of the professors, stealing a glance behind the medium, saw remnants of
legs and arms lying about the cabinet."
"Horrible!" exclaimed Mrs. Cameron. "I'd rather believe in spirits. What
does he mean to infer?"
"Apparently he would have us believe that materialization is a process
due to the medium—or at least dependent on her will—and that these
partially completed forms represent fragmentary impulses. But I'm not so
much concerned just now with that as with the course of schooling
through which he drove Eusapia. He stuck to his plan. He put into his
cabinet each time certain sounders, markers, and lamps, which could be
moved, ticked, or lighted only by hands in the cabinet, and he kept the
same rigid control of his medium outside the cabinet. For the most
part she was in the light. By means of a series of lamps the séance-room
could be lighted dimly or brightly at a touch, and, while many of the
phenomena in the cabinet were being performed by 'John,' Eusapia's hands
could be plainly seen in the grasp of her inquisitors. After seeing a
mandolin move and play of itself, after having the metronome set in
motion, stopped, and set going again, after having the registrations he
most desired, Bottazzi concludes his third sitting by saying: 'An
invisible hand or foot must therefore have forced down the disk,
must have leaned on the membrane of the receiving-drum of my
apparatus, because I assured myself next day that to obtain the highest
lines registered the disk had to be pressed to the extreme point. This
was no ordinary case of pushing or pulling. The mysterious hand had to
push the disk, and push it in a certain way. In short, the "spirit
hand" was becoming educated to its task.'"
Miller asked: "Did these performances take place, as in the case of Mrs.
Smiley, within the reach of her ordinary limbs?"
"Yes, many of them took place within a yard of her head; but some of
them, and the most marvellous of them, not merely took place out of her
reach, but under conditions of unexampled rigor. 'Eusapia's mediumistic
limbs penetrated into the cabinet,' says Bottazzi. 'I begged my friends
not to distract the medium's attention by requests for touches,
apparitions, etc., but to concentrate their desires and their wills on
the things I asked for....' What he wanted her to do was very simple,
but conclusive. He wished 'the spirit hand' to press an electric button
and light a red lamp within the cabinet. The coil and the switch had
been dragged out of the cabinet and thrown on the table. Bottazzi begged
them all not to touch it. No one but Scarpa, Galeotti, and Bottazzi knew
what it was for. 'At a certain moment Eusapia took hold of the first
finger of my right hand and squeezed it with her fingers. A ray of light
from the interior of the cabinet lit up the room'—she had pressed the
contact-breaker with her invisible fingers at the precise time when she
had squeezed with her visible hand the forefinger of Bottazzi. She
repeatedly did this. 'If one of us, be it observed, had lit the lamp,
she would have screamed with pain and indignation.'"
"Was this the climax of his series? Is this all he is willing to
affirm?" queried Harris, with ironic inflection.
"Oh no, indeed. The greatest is yet to come. At the fourth sitting a new
person, Professor Cardarelli, was introduced, and this new sitter
disturbed conditions. Nevertheless, the inexplicable took place. Small
twirling violet flames were seen to drift across the cabinet curtains,
and hands and closed fists appeared over Paladino's head. These have
been photographed, by-the-way. Some of them were of ordinary size, and
others at least three times larger than the psychic's hand and fist.
These flames interest me very much, for I have seen them on several
occasions, but could not believe in them, even though Crookes spoke of
handling them. I must admit their objective reality now. It is absurd to
suppose they were fraudulently produced in this laboratory.
"A stethoscope was taken from Cardarelli's pocket and put together—a
movement requiring the action of two hands. The noise of fingers running
over the keys of a typewriter in the cabinet was plainly heard, although
no writing came. At the fifth sitting the mandolin again moved as if
alive (no one touching it), in a light that made all its movements
observable; and as it did so Eusapia's hand (tightly controlled by
Bottazzi) made little movements as if to help the instrument to move.
Each movement, though it ended in the air, seemed to affect the
mandolin. Bottazzi says: 'It would be necessary to have Paladino's
fingers in the palm of one's hand, as I had that evening, in order to be
convinced that the evolutions, twangings of the strings, etc., all
synchronized with the very delicate movements of her fingers.... I
cannot describe the sensation one experiences when seeing an inanimate
object moved, not for a moment merely, but for many minutes in
succession, by a mysterious force.'"
"We observed no such synchronism," repeated Fowler. "We not only
controlled Mrs. Smiley's hands, but nailed her to her chair. In a way,
our test was more rigid than those you are describing. Our results were
not so dramatic, but they were produced under test conditions, and their
significance is as great as that of Bottazzi's lamp-lighting."
"But we did not have as much light on the medium, and, by-the-way,
Miller, the spectral hands that I saw in your study, each larger than
Mrs. Smiley's hands, were as real to me as those Scarpa studied, and the
books deposited on your table form as good a record, in their way, as
the marks on his smoked-glass cylinder."
"Furthermore, we had writing," added Fowler. "All of which Bottazzi
would explain by his theory of an 'astral arm.'"
"Yes, but he secured something still more marvellous. He obtained the
print of human hands in clay and also on smoked glass. He demonstrated
that the invisible limbs of the psychic cannot only move objects at a
distance, but that they can feel at a distance. 'Eusapia's attitude
was that of a blindfolded person exploring space with her hands to find
a lost object!' he exclaims, at one point. 'Eusapia opened my right
hand, stretched out my three middle fingers, and, bending them on the
table, tips downward, said, in a whisper: "How hard it is! What is it?"
I did not understand,' says Bottazzi. 'She continued: "There, on the
chair." "It is the clay," I said, quickly; "will you make the impression
of a face?" "No," she replied, "it is too hard; take it away.'" Some one
broke the chain to carry out her desire. He looked at the desk and saw
the imprint of three fingers."
"What I would like to know at this point," Harris quickly interposed,
"is this: were the fingermarks lined like Bottazzi's or like the
"He does not say in this case, but, as I recall it, they found in other
instances that the lines on the impressions made by Eusapia's invisible
fingers were precisely like those of her material fingers, and yet no
mark of flour or lamp-black remained attaching to her hands. In one case
a perfumed clay was used, and, although the impressions secured
'resembled Eusapia's face grown old,' no scent of the wax could be
detected on her cheeks. Bottazzi gives much space to these 'mediumistic
explorations of the cabinet.' He could follow these blind, mysterious
gropings of the invisible Eusapia by closely controlling the real
Eusapia. 'Presently she asked: "What is that round object? I feel
something round."' This was, in fact, the rubber ball which connected
with a tube—the tube, in its turn, passing through the wall into
another room where it operated a manometer. She pressed this ball with
her invisible limbs, and the column rose and registered the pressure.
This was entirely satisfactory to Bottazzi, who then says: 'I desire
again to affirm that with her invisible limbs Eusapia feels the forms of
objects and their consistency, feels heat and cold, hardness and
softness, dampness and dryness neither more nor less than if she were
touching and feeling with the hands imprisoned in ours. She feels with
other hands, but perceives with the same brain with which she uses to
talk with us.'
"The most astonishing physical phenomena came when the contact-breaker
was thrown on the table, and Eusapia called out: 'See how it moves!'
'We all directed our gaze toward the small object,' says Bottazzi,
'and we saw that it oscillated and vibrated at an elevation of an inch
or two above the surface of the table, as if seized with internal
shivering—Eusapia's hands, held by M. Galeotti and myself, being more
than a foot from the contact-breaker.'"
My auditors were now in the thrall of Bottazzi's story, and the silence
was eloquent. At last Cameron said: "It certainly seems like a clear
case of 'astral.' I begin to believe in our first sitting with Mrs.
Smiley. What do you want us to do—announce ourselves converted?"
"Certainly not," I replied. "We must not relax our vigilance, even
though Bottazzi, Morselli, and their fellows seem to have proved the
genuineness of the phenomena. At the same time, I admit it is a source
of satisfaction to me to know that these Italian scientists, with
conditions all their own, are willing to affirm that Eusapia 'feels
with her invisible limbs,' and explores a cabinet while sitting under
rigid control more than a yard away from the objects moved. My
experiences point to this. How else could the cone be handled with such
precision as was shown at your house, Miller? Lombroso observed that
chairs and vases moved as if guided by hands and eyes, and that the
psychic could see as well behind her as in front. Mrs. Smiley has always
been able to direct me exactly to the point where the cone or pencil
had been flung. How can letters within closed slates be formed so
beautifully and so precisely without some form of seeing?"
Fowler was ready with an answer: "At the final analysis all perception
is due to some form of vibration. To be clairaudient is simply to be
able to lay hold upon a different set of pulsations in the ether, and to
be clairvoyant is to perceive directly without the aid of the eye, which
is only a little camera, after all."
"All this is merely a kind of prelude," I resumed, "for Bottazzi
apparently proved that the invisible hand of Eusapia's invisible arm
could not penetrate a cage of wire mesh that covered the telegraphic key
in the cabinet. 'How, then, can we consider it to be a spirit hand—an
immaterial hand—when a wire-netting can stop it?' he very pertinently
"That's what troubles me," said Miller. "If a phantom hand can bring a
real book and thumb its leaves, or drum with a real pencil or write, why
isn't it, for all practicable purposes, a real hand?"
"What is a real hand?" retorted Fowler. "Isn't the latest word of
science to the effect that matter like the human body is only a
temporary condition of force?"
"Precisely so; and every advance along the line of these experiments
goes to prove the power of mind to transform matter. It almost seems to
me at times as though these psychic minds were able to reduce matter to
its primal atom and reshape it. In Bottazzi's seventh sitting, under the
same rigorous restraint of Eusapia, a vase of flowers was transported, a
rose was set in a lady's hair, a small drum was seized and beaten
rhythmically, an enormous black fist came out from behind the curtain,
and an open hand seized Bottazzi gently by the neck. Now listen to his
own words: 'Letting go my hold of Professor Poso's hand,' he says, 'I
felt for this ghostly hand and clasped it. It was a left hand, neither
hot nor cold, with rough, bony fingers which dissolved under pressure.
It did not retire by producing a sensation of withdrawal—it dissolved,
I paused to say: "Remember, this is not the tale of a perfervid
spiritist. On the contrary, it is the scientific account of a laboratory
experiment by a physiologist of high rank. The incident is not a part of
a séance in the home of a medium in a dark parlor full of side-doors and
trick windows. It is a registered phenomenon in the physiological
department of a great university, occurring under scientific test
conditions. I confess it gives verity to many a doubtful thing I have
"It certainly staggers me," said Cameron. "How does the scientific
gentleman explain it?"
"He goes on to say: 'Another time, later on, the same hand was placed on
my right forearm—I saw a human hand, of natural color, and I felt with
mine the back of a lukewarm hand, rough and nervous. The hand dissolved
(I saw it with my own eyes) and retreated as if into Madame Paladino's
body, describing a curve. If all the observed phenomena of these seven
séances were to disappear from my memory, this one I could never
Fowler was smiling with calm disdain. "Let him go on with his
psycho-dynamic theories. He will be confounded yet. These are only the
first stages of the game."
"But all this happened while the hands of the psychic were merely held,"
protested Miller. "He says he controlled her hands rigorously. Why
didn't he handcuff her, or nail her down? The facts he claims to have
established are too subversive to accept on his word alone."
This amused me. "There you go again! Not satisfied with wonders, you
want miracles. Happily, you may be satisfied. In the eighth sitting,
which took place in the same room of the physiological laboratory, with
Bottazzi, Madame Bottazzi, Professor Galeotti, Doctors Jappelli and
d'Errico present, Eusapia submitted to the most rigorous restraint of
her life. Two iron rings were fastened to the floor, and by means of
strong cords, which were sealed with lead seals like those used in
fastening a railway car, her wrists were rigidly confined. She was, in
fact, bound like a criminal; and yet the spectral hands and fists came
and went, jugs of water floated about, and as a final stupendous climax,
while Galeotti was controlling Eusapia's right arm, which was also
manacled, he saw the duplications of her left arm. 'Look!' he
exclaimed, 'I see two left arms identical in appearance. One is on the
little table. The other seems to come out of the medium's shoulder,
touch Madame Bottazzi, and then return to Eusapia's body again. This is
not an hallucination. I am conscious of two simultaneous visual
sensations when Madame Bottazzi says she has been touched.'"
For a moment the entire company sat in silence, as though stunned by the
force of my blow. Then all turned to Miller as though to ask: "What do
you think of that?"
He slowly replied: "To grant the possible putting forth of a
supernumerary arm and hand would make physiological science foolish. It
is easier to imagine these gentlemen suffering a collective
"Ah! Bottazzi provided against all that. He called in the aid of
self-registering contrivances. It won't do, Miller—he proved the
objective reality of 'spirit phenomena.' He lifted the whole performance
to the plane of the test-tube, the electric light, and the barometer.
His experiments, his deductions, came as a splendid sequence to an
almost equally searching series by Crookes, Zöllner, Wallace, Thury,
Flammarion, Maxwell, Lombroso, Richet, Foà, and Morselli. His laboratory
was the crucible wherein came the final touch of heat which fuses all
the discordant facts into a solid ingot of truth."
"But, to me, he is misreading the facts," objected Fowler. "I maintain
that he is as prejudiced in his way as the spiritist. He says: 'The
mediumistic limbs explored the cabinet.' A spiritist would say: 'John
King explored the cabinet.' The synchronism he speaks of might exist,
and only be a proof of what the spiritist admits—that the presence and
activity of the materializing spirit are closely circumscribed by the
"Bottazzi proved the relationship to be something more intimate than
that. He demonstrated that the movement of the hands in the cabinet and
of those outside had a common origin—namely, the will and brain of
Eusapia. He proved that these invisible hands were, after all, material,
and limited in their powers. He proved that the 'spirits' shared all
Eusapia's likes and dislikes, and knew no more of chloride of iron or
ferro-cyanide of potassium than she herself possessed—in short, while
admitting the mystery of the process, he reduces all these phenomena to
human, terrestrial level, and relates them wholly and simply to the
brain and will of the psychic. Perhaps his state of mind is best
expressed at the close of his statement concerning the registration of
the movements of 'the spirit hand.' He says, in effect: 'These tracings
demonstrate irrefutably that the keys were repeatedly pressed with
perfect synchronism, the outside key with Eusapia's left hand, the one
inside the cabinet by another, which a convinced spiritist would call
that of a "materialized spirit," and which I believe to be neither the
one nor the other, although I am not able to explain what it was.'"
"Oh, lame and impotent conclusion!" exclaimed Brierly. "After that
superb test, why didn't he frankly say the discarnate had been proved?"
"Because his proof, his knowledge, was not yet sufficient. Besides, it
requires heroic courage to admit our ignorance. 'I don't know,' he says,
and that is the attitude of Morselli. Dr. Foà believes the phenomena to
come within the domain of natural law, and to result from a
transmutation of energy accumulated in the medium. He calls this 'vital
energy' or 'psychic energy,' and adds: 'If these phenomena appear
strange by virtue of their comparative rarity, they are not really more marvellous than the biological phenomena which we witness every day.'"
"According to this theory, then," said Miller, "Mrs. Smiley has
remained, as you believe, motionless in her chair, but has been able to
'energize' at a distance."
"More than that. She has been able to emit supernumerary etheric limbs,
perhaps a complete material double of herself, which is able to move
with lightning speed and perfect precision. It is this actual
externalization of both matter and sense that makes darkness so
essential to the medium. Vivid light forces this effluvia, this
mysterious double, back into its originating body with disrupting haste.
Witness the several times when Mrs. Smiley was convulsed merely by being
touched at the wrong moment."
"There is a different interpretation to be put upon the psychic's hatred
of light," remarked Howard.
"By-the-way, yet bearing on this very subject, I read in the Annals of
Psychic Science the account of a singular experiment in the matter of
independent writing. A certain Dr. Encausse, in giving a lecture before
the Society for Psychical Research at Nancy, said that in 1889, having
heard that a professional magnetizer named Robert was able to put a
subject into such a state of hypnosis that he could project lines of
writing on paper without use of pen or pencil, he was curious to see the performance. Together with a colleague, Dr. Gibier, Encausse hastened
to witness this marvel. One of the subjects was a girl of seventeen. The
magnetizer put her to sleep, 'and during this séance,' says Dr.
Encausse, 'we were able to obtain in full light on a sheet of paper
signed by twenty witnesses, the precipitation of a whole page of written
verses signed "Corneille." I examined under the microscope the substance
that formed the writing, and I was led to the conclusion that it
consisted of globules of human blood, some scattered as if calcined,
others quite distinct. I thus verified the theory of the occultists of
1850 that the nervous energy as well as the physical force of a medium,
the material of which he is constituted, such as his blood, could
exteriorize itself and reconstruct itself at a distance.'"
"What a stunning experiment!" exclaimed Cameron.
"Important, if true," sneered Harris.
"What do you know about this learned doctor?" asked Miller.
"Nothing; but you will see that these later experiments of the Italian
scientists are sustaining De Rochas and Aksakof in their claim that the
medium is in a sense dematerialized to build up the phantasms. Dr.
Encausse goes on to say: 'Moreover, the medium who had produced this
phenomenon was preparing for the stage and had been studying Corneille
during the whole of the preceding day. I was thus able to discover the
origin of the substance of the materialization of the writing, and also
its psychic origin.' In other words, he claims that the message was not
from the shade of the great dramatist, but was a precipitation of the
blood of the psychic and an exercise of her subconscious mind, all of
which accords with Bottazzi's theory.
"Now, then," said I, in the tone of one about to conclude, "in the light
of these experiments, my own sitting at Miller's, and especially those
that I held at Fowler's house, take on the greatest significance.
Miller, Mrs. Smiley's visible limbs did not handle the books—of that
I am positive—and yet I am equally certain that she governed every
"But what about the voices?" asked Fowler. "Does this theory cover the
whispering personalities we heard? What about 'Wilbur' and 'Maudie'?"
"That's easy," retorted Howard. "Once you explain the manipulation of
the cone, the rest is merely clever ventriloquism."
"There is nothing 'easy' about any of these phenomena," I answered. "As
Richet says, they are absurd, but they are observed facts. It would not
be fair to the spiritists to end the account of these sittings without
frankly stating that there were many other phenomena very difficult to
explain by Bottazzi's theory. There came a time, as he admits, when 'a
mysterious entity behind the curtain, among us, almost in contact with
us, was felt all the time.' This entity was supposed to be 'John King,'
the psychic's control. This being, invisible for the most part, gave
roses to those he liked, conversed freely, and in one case threw a bunch
of flowers in the face of one of the sitters to whom Eusapia had taken a
dislike. A little later 'John' presented a small drum from behind the
curtain, and, when Galeotti tried to take it, 'John' pulled it out of
his hands. Again he offered it, and Galeotti seized it, and the two
fought for its possession with such violence that the drum was nearly
torn to pieces."
"Where was Paladino meanwhile?" asked Miller.
"Seated quietly in the grasp of Bottazzi and Madame Bottazzi. Galeotti
then raised the drum in his hand, high above his head and against the
curtain, and requested 'John' to beat it. 'John' pushed a hand against
the drum and beat a muffled tattoo. All this was utterly out of the
psychic's reach. The strife over the drum would seem to argue a complete
and powerful figure behind the curtain."
"In other words, a spirit," said Brierly.
"Not so fast," put in Miller. "I am content to plod with these Italian
scientists. Let us establish one supernormal fact and then reach for
another. You fellows with your 'reincarnations,' and the spiritist with
his foolish messages from Cleopatra, Raphael, and Shakespeare, have
confused the situation. We must begin all over again. If all that
Garland is detailing is true—I have not read these reports he speaks
of—then it is our duty to take up the scrutiny of these facts as a part
of biologic science."
Fowler clapped his hands. "Bravo! that is all we ask of you. To study
frogs and mosquitoes, to peer close into the constitution of the blood
or the brain of man, is useful; but, to my mind, the questions raised by
these Continental experimentalists are the most vital now clamoring for
"Bottazzi says, with regard to his eighth and final sitting: 'The
results of this séance were very favorable, because they eliminated the
slightest trace of suspicion or uncertainty relative to the genuineness
of the phenomena. We obtained the same kind of assurance as that which
we have concerning physical, chemical, or physiological phenomena.
Henceforth sceptics can only deny the facts by accusing us of fraud and
charlatanism. I should be very much surprised if any one were bold
enough to bring the charge against us, but it would not disturb our
minds in the least. From this time forward the medium who wishes to
prove the truth of her phenomena will be obliged to permit the same
kind of experimentation which Eusapia so adequately sustained.'"
"Well, now," said Cameron, "the practical question is this: are we to go
on with our investigation?"
"I am ready," said Miller, promptly. "Garland, will you purvey another
psychic and conduct the pursuit?"
"Yes, provided you all come in with spirits attuned, ready to wait
patiently and observe silently. The law of these materializations seems
to be this: the forces of the psychic are proportional to the
harmoniousness of the circle and in inverse proportion to the light.
Accepting this law as proved by our illustrious fellow-experimenters
abroad, are you ready to try again along the lines they have marked
As with one voice, all agreed.
"Very well," said I; "I will see what I can do for you in the way of a
new psychic and new phenomena. We will now experiment with design to
prove the identity of the reappearing dead. Of this I am fully
persuaded. Men will be discovering new laws of nature ten thousand years
from now, just as they are to-day. It is inconceivable that the secrets
of the universe should ever be entirely made plain. The world of mystery
retires before the dawn. Nothing is really explained—what we call
familiar facts are at bottom inexplicable mysteries, and must ever
"Then why go on? Why not stop now and save ourselves the trouble of
"Because there is joy in the pursuit—because it is in the nature of man
to pursue this quest. Who knows but the conclusions of Venzano and
Morselli, of Bottazzi and Foà, have opened new vistas in human nature?
These 'supernormal powers' may chance to be of immense value to the
race, quite aside from their bearing upon the problem of death.
Furthermore, these reports come at a time when a hard-and-fast
literalism of interpretation is the fashion among scientists like
Miller. Perhaps they and the art of the day will alike be offered new
inspiration by these mystifying enlargements of human faculty. I for one
feel profoundly indebted to these brave and clear-brained Italian
scientists. I should like to see the physicists of our own universities
busying themselves with this most absorbing and vital problem."
"But they don't," retorted Fowler. "They will not even read Bottazzi's
And I fear he is justified in his belief.
[As I am reading proof on this page a fat letter from a friend in
Naples comes to my desk, filled with the several corroborative
accounts of a special sitting with Paladino which Professor
Bottazzi kindly arranged for them. My correspondent is a New York
editor, and in his party of six was the associate professor of
chemistry in a big Eastern college. After detailing the many
marvellous phenomena which took place in his presence, Professor
M—— says: "In view of the phenomena with which I am habitually
concerned, I did not want to believe in Paladino's supernormal
powers, but I had to accept what I saw." These reports bring
Bottazzi's experiments closer to the dead. I hope they will bring
them a little nearer to my readers. "Bottazzi has no slightest
doubt of the phenomena," is the concluding line of my friend's
Cameron's society never came together again in formal session, and I was
not able to carry out my plan for developing a psychic along the line of
proving the identity of the spirits manifesting. However, between the
final sitting of the club and my next meeting with Fowler and Miller, I
passed through a series of very interesting experiences more or less
corroborative of the phenomena which the members had witnessed either
individually or as a body. These additional experiments I proceeded at
once to lay before my friends as we met at the club one quiet afternoon
a couple of weeks later.
"We haven't heard of any new psychic," Miller began at once, as we
settled into easy-chairs in a retired corner.
"No," I replied. "I've been unable to get the consent of any other
psychic to undergo just the inquisition I know you'd like to give, but
I've had some extremely suggestive sittings recently with a young
professional man who does a little mediumistic 'work' on the side."
"A male psychic? That's amusing. I thought they were all female."
"No. There are men psychics," replied Fowler, "but they're scarce. One
of the most wonderful I have ever known is a big, burly fellow of most
aggressive manner. The reason why there are so few men in the business I
take to be this: men are less subjective, less passive, than women, and
the psychic's rôle seems to be a negative one. Men are aggressive and
impatient, engaged in some kind of struggle with material things, or
they are intolerant of the process of developing their psychic gifts. If
Garland has found a male psychic, he is in luck."
"So I thought. The young fellow, whom we will call Peters, is only about
twenty-four, a boyish professional man of refined habits. He comes of
good family, and, being ambitious in his profession, is careful not to
permit a knowledge of his psychical powers to reach the ears of his
employers. I heard of him through a friend who is deeply interested in
these matters, and who procured for me an invitation to be present at a
sitting in the home of a certain Dr. Towne, on the East Side.
"We met at dinner, and during the meal Dr. Towne told us all he knew of
Mr. Peters, which was little, and, turning to me, said: 'We expect you
to take charge of the circle, Mr. Garland; it's all new to us.'
"'The first thing to do,' I answered, 'is to put the young fellow at
his ease. It is a mighty good sign when a medium is willing to come into
a strange house to perform for a circle as critical and as unfriendly as
this.' 'Oh, not unfriendly,' said Dr. Towne. 'Well,' I said, 'I wouldn't
call three practising physicians, who have never seen a psychic at close
range, a friendly group.'"
"Were there three doctors present?" asked Fowler.
"Yes, and my friend was a notably keen-eyed man himself. I really had no
faith that the young fellow could do anything remarkable for us, but I
didn't say so.
"We were still at the table when our young psychic was announced, and,
with a knowledge of how necessary it was that he should be in a
comfortable frame of mind, I went out to the library to meet him and
make his acquaintance. I wished to put him at his ease—so far as I was
concerned, at least.
"I found him to be but a pale stripling, with slender limbs and
brilliant eyes. He was plainly nervous and a little dogmatic in manner.
He told me that he was twenty-four years of age, but he did not look to
be nineteen. He said he had been aware of his power about four years,
and that his grandfather and a man named 'Evans' were those who most
frequently spoke. 'I have no "guides,"' he said, rather contemptuously.
"The place for the sitting was not especially favorable. It was a
reception-room midway between the doctor's office and the dining-room,
and was rather large and difficult to close off from the rest of the
house. After the windows had been darkened in the usual manner, Peters
arranged the chairs so that his seat came between Dr. Towne and Mrs.
Towne. Dr. Merriam came next to Towne. This brought me two places away
from Peters and next to a stout German woman whose name, as I understood
it, was Mrs. Steinert. On Mrs. Towne's right sat Dr. Paul and Professor
Franks, my friend. Within the circle Towne had set a small table, on
which were placed pencils and paper. The chain was formed by locking our
little fingers tightly. If we may depend on the word of those present,
this chain of hands remained unbroken for two hours. The room at first
was perfectly dark.
"For half an hour we sat at ease, talking a little now and then, but
leaving the direction of the whole affair to Peters. He hinted to
us—and this I wish to particularly emphasize—that he went out of his
body. He said: 'When I think toward any one or toward a thing, I am
there. I am all around it. If I think toward a person, I am there—all
around him—inside of him.' In pursuit of this idea, I then asked: 'Are
you conscious of your body which you have left behind? Are you conscious
of being in the upper part of the room, for instance, and do you see
your body below you?'
"'No,' said he; 'I am conscious of being in a certain place, but I am
not conscious of being in two places at the same time.' He told us of
his development, which came about through attendance on a circle with
another psychic. He said he had been experimenting for about four years.
I asked him if it had affected his health in any way, and he replied:
'No, it does not weary me any more than prolonged study might do. I am
very fond of playing chess, and I find that I do not play so well after
a sitting—that's all.' He said the only sign of the special condition
which produced these phenomena was a nervous tremor in his limbs.
"The first evidence of 'the force' came in steady tappings upon Mrs.
Towne's chair. The young man said: 'This is my friend "Evans,"' and
thereupon I began to direct the sitting through 'Evans.' In answer to my
questions, he said that he would do what he could do for us. I asked him
if he would write, and he answered by tapping that he would try.
"Shortly after this promise, sounds as of hands were heard about the
table. Sheets of paper were plainly being written upon and torn off the
pad. One of these was flourished in my face, while the linked fingers of
the psychic were firmly held by Dr. Towne and his wife. All of those in
the circle excepting Mrs. Steinert and myself were new to this
business, and much impressed.
"At the precise moment when these hands were at work writing, and a
little later while they patted Mrs. Towne's cheek and tapped on the
doctor's shirt-front, I asked: 'Are you controlling his hands?'
"'Yes,' responded the doctor, who, by-the-way, is a vigorous young
scientist and had never before experimented with these forces. His reply
was echoed by Mrs. Towne, who remained perfectly calm and clear-headed
throughout the entire sitting.
"Thus far the phenomena were precisely similar to those we have had with
Mrs. Smiley, but we were soon to have proofs of greater power. While the
chain of hands continued unbroken, mysterious fingers clutched Dr.
Towne's arm and drummed upon his shirt-front. At length the same mystic
fingers began to take off his tie, and, while I warningly called out,
'Be sure of your psychic's hands,' the doctor's collar was taken away
and put around his wife's neck. His tie was then added to the collar.
Mrs. Towne announced that, while holding firmly to the psychic, she felt
the touch of two hands about her face, and a few moments thereafter
Dr. Merriam, seated next to Dr. Towne, said he felt a strong pressure
upon his arm, as if some one were leaning upon it.
"A little later these hands began to unbutton Dr. Towne's shirt-front,
and several pencils were stuffed inside. Hands patted and touched those
who sat within a radius of about a yard of the psychic; apparently the
forces could not reach to where I sat. I complained of this, and almost
immediately the psychic said there was some one for me, and in answer to
my question, 'Is there some one present for me?' the pencil rapped three
times upon the table in the affirmative. At my request this 'spirit'
wrote his name upon a piece of paper, tore it off, and threw it in my
lap. A moment later something hard and crackling came over the table.
'My cuffs have been removed,' the psychic called out.
"Having in mind one of the extraordinary experiments of Zöllner, I then
asked 'Evans' to remove Dr. Towne's vest. I said: 'If we can get that,
it will be in effect a confirmation of Zöllner's theory of the fourth
"For a few moments hands touched and patted Dr. Towne as if with intent
to make this experiment but gave it up, and Peters announced that they
were at work around him. It could not have been more than a minute later
when I felt something soft thrown in my lap. I did not know what this
was, and did not care to break the circle at the moment to find out, and
the information was volunteered by the psychic that the 'spirits' had
removed his vest, and this we afterward found to be the case, for at the
close of the sitting his vest was lying at my feet."
"Oh, come now," said Miller, "you don't intend to convey—"
"I am telling exactly what took place," I replied.
"Peters then said to Dr. Towne: 'Think of some signature, not your own,
that you know very well, and I will reproduce it.' After a little
silence the sound of writing could be heard, and the tap of a pencil
announced that its task was done. The sheet of paper was then ripped
from the pad, a very definite action, as you may believe, and the sound
of the sheet being folded was plainly heard."
"That would require a thumb and finger and afterward two hands,"
"Precisely; and they were there, notwithstanding the hands of the
psychic could be felt (so Dr. Towne and Mrs. Towne both said) with no
movement but a convulsive quivering.
"I then asked 'Evans' if he could not lift the table for us, and he
replied by tapping that he would try; and a few moments later the
psychic, whose hands and feet began to pass through a period of tremor,
warningly called out: 'Now please be very quiet, and don't break the
circle.' I could hear him take a deep breath, and a moment later the
table rose and passed over Mrs. Towne's head so closely that she was
obliged to lean to the right to avoid it, and we all heard it gently
deposited not far from the psychic's right hand. While this was done,
both Dr. Towne and Mrs. Towne affirmed that their fingers were locked
with those of the psychic.
"Here, again, was a phenomenon, inconclusive in itself, from the fact
that we could not see the table move, and yet which coheres with an
immense body of inexplicable similar movements in the reports of
Flammarion and Lombroso. It was impossible for the medium to lift this
weight over Mrs. Towne's head, even if his right arm had been completely
free, for the stand, though small, was heavy. I regarded this, at the
moment, as an authentic case of telekinesis, and my further experience
with this psychic has not weakened that conviction.
"Shortly after this the psychic broke up the circle, saying that, as
conditions were favorable, he would try to produce materialized forms.
"Taking the chair which was occupied by Mrs. Steinert, he withdrew into
the passage-way leading to the dining-room, requesting that the circle
resolve itself into a half-circle facing the cabinet. You will remember
that we were in a private house, and that all question of collusion is
barred out. Shortly after he took his seat in this little recess, two or
three brilliant lights, like the twisting flame of a small candle—a
curious, glowing, yet not radiant violet flame—developed, high up on
the outside of the portières which formed the cabinet, and drifted
across and up toward the ceiling, where they silently vanished. I think
there must have been three of these, which were followed by a broad,
glowing mass of what looked like white-hot metal—a singular light,
unlike anything I had ever seen. It made me think of the substance
described by Sir William Crookes and other experimenters abroad. At the
moment this appeared—or possibly a little before it—a wild whoop was
heard—very startling indeed, as if a door had suddenly been opened by a
roguish boy and closed again. This practically ended the séance.
"As we lighted up I had first interest for the object which had been
thrown across to me. It proved to be a vest, which the psychic said was
his. It was a soft gray vest, and matched his suit, and was without any
trick seams—so far as I could see—being whole and uninjured. In the
inside pocket a folded leaf of the paper from the pad was stuffed, and
on this was the signature 'Alfred Towne,' which Dr. Towne said was an
exact reproduction of his brother's autograph. On the sheet of paper
which had been thrown to me was the simple word 'Taft.' This was taken
by the circle to be a prophecy on the election, but, as my wife's family
name is Taft, I put a different interpretation upon it. On the whole,
the sitting made a profound impression upon me. It was not so much one
thing as many things, all cohering with what I already knew of
telekinetic phenomena. It was not a test sitting, as Peters
acknowledged, but it was by no means easy to deceive under the control
"There were many things of interest aside from the physical happenings.
The young man did not go into a trance, but remained perfectly normal.
He took part in the conversation, answered all questions, and lent
himself perfectly to the experiment. He said that if we would sit with
him again he was sure we could have more light. 'I don't care to be
known as a medium,' he declared. 'I like the study of law, and I want to
be a lawyer—not a sensitive. In the first place, the law pays better,
and, in the second place, it isn't considered a nice thing to be a
medium. However, I will sit again for you, if you want me to, and I am
sure you will get many other things in the light.' And he added to me
later: 'We can get all these phenomena with no one present but
ourselves. Come down to my home some evening and we will try again.'"
"Did you accept his invitation?" asked Miller.
"Yes; but before I did so we had another sitting at Dr. Towne's house,
which gave me a closer view of all that went on, for I was permitted to
sit at his left and grip his little finger. The circle was slightly
changed the next time, and on his right sat a young lady whom we will
call Miss Brown. She was a wide-awake and very unexcitable person, and I
believe kept close hold on the psychic's right hand. In addition to our
linked fingers, the psychic's hands were tied to ours with dental floss.
"There was considerable light in the room this time, and as the nervous
tremor developed in the psychic's hands and legs I imagined I could see
a grayish vapor form just between and a little above our clasped hands.
Suddenly I saw a shadowy arm dart forth from the cloud, and I felt the
clasp of a firm hand on my wrist. It was a right hand. 'Are you
controlling the psychic's hand?' I demanded of Miss Brown. 'Yes,' she
replied, alertly. Even as I spoke I saw the mysterious limb dart out and
seize upon a pencil which lay upon the table. Again and again I saw this
'apparition' emerge from that vaporous cloud and handle the pad in the
middle of the table. I could see three fingers on the under-side of the
pad as it was held before the psychic's face, and these facts I
announced to the other members of the circle, who could not see as
plainly as I could. Sometimes the arm seemed white, sometimes black, and
always it appeared to be a right hand."
"That is to say, your control was more vigorous than that of Miss
Brown," remarked Miller.
"A doubter might say so, and yet the thread which bound us had some
value. One of the most extraordinary performances was the lifting of a
glass of water which set in the centre of the table. I could see the
glass plainly as it rose to the psychic's lips. It seemed to be
sustained by a broad beam of vapor, or it may have been a slim arm
clothed in white."
"Probably the psychic's."
"Possibly; but I don't see how it could have been. However, I do not
place very much value upon it as standing alone, but considered in
connection with the performances of Eusapia, it becomes a little more
"But all this is very far from being an evidence of anything like
intelligence," protested Fowler. "It seems very trivial to me."
"It does not seem trivial to me," I answered; "but I will admit that is
has nothing like the value of a series of sittings I held last spring
with a psychic in a mid-Western city."
The reader will have observed that up to the present moment I have not
emphasized in any way the question of the identity of the
"intelligences" that have manifested themselves. The reason for this
lies in the fact that I was still seeking evidence concerning the
processes of mediumship. However, being convinced (by reason of my own
experiments, supported by those of Lombroso, Morselli, and Bottazzi)
that the facts of mediumship exist, it is my purpose to take up
definitely the question of identity, which is the final and most elusive
part of the problem—it may turn out to be the insoluble part of the
If you ask why it should be insoluble, I reply, because it concerns the
mystery of death, and it may be that it is not well for us to penetrate
the ultimate shadow. Among all the men of the highest rank who admit the
reality of apparitions and voices, there are but few as yet who are
willing to assert that the dead manifest themselves. By this I mean that
though some of them, like Crookes, for example, believe in "the
intervention of discarnate intelligences," they are not ready to grant
that these intelligences are their grandfathers returning to the scene
of their earthly labors.
I said something like this to Miller and Fowler, when we met at the club
one afternoon not long after the final meeting of Cameron's Amateur
Psychical Society, and I added: "I must confess that most of the spirits
I have met seem to me merely parasitic or secondary personalities (to
use Maxwell's term), drawn from the psychic or from myself. Nearly every
one of the mediums I have studied has had at least one guide, whose
voice and habit of thought were perilously similar to her own. This, in
some cases, has been laughable, as when 'Rolling Thunder,' a Sioux chief
(Indians are all chiefs in the spirit world), appears and says: 'Goot
efening, friends; id iss a nice night alretty.' And yet I have seen a
whole roomful of people receive communications from a spirit of this
kind with solemn awe. I burn with shame for the sitters and psychic when
this kind of thing is going on."
"You visit the wrong mediums," said Fowler. "Such psychics are on a low
plane. I never go to those who associate with Indians."
"But mediums are all alike in this respect. I don't suppose Mrs. Smiley
realizes that 'Maudie' would be called by a doubter a falsetto disguise
of her own voice, and 'Wilbur' a shrewd and humorous personification of
her subconscious self; or, if she does, she probably ascribes it to the
process of materialization which 'takes from' the medium. Never but once
have I had the sensation of being in the presence of a real spirit
personality, and that happened to me only a few days ago."
"It must have been an extraordinary experience to have made so deep an
impression upon you," said Fowler.
"Yes, it was extraordinary. It had the personal element in it to a much
greater degree than any case I had hitherto studied, and seemed a direct
attempt at identification on the part of a powerful and original
individuality but recently 'passed out.' It came about in this way:
"I met, not long ago, at the home of a friend in a Western city, a woman
who was said to be able to produce whispers independent of her own
organs of speech. I was assured by those in whom I had confidence that
these voices could be heard in the broad light of day, in the open air,
anywhere the psychic happened to be, and that her 'work' was of an
exceptionally high character. I was keenly interested, as you may
imagine, and asked for a sitting. Mrs. Hartley, as we will call her,
fixed a day and hour in her own house for the trial, and I went to the
sitting a few days later with high expectations of her 'phase.' I found
her living in a small frame house on a pleasant street, with nothing to
indicate that it was a meeting-place of mortals and their 'spirit
"Mrs. Hartley was quite evidently a woman of power and native
intelligence. After a few minutes of general conversation she took me up
to her study on the second floor, a sunny little den on the east side of
the house, which was not in the least suggestive of hocus-pocus. A broad
mission table, two bookcases, a few flowers, and a curious battered old
black walnut table completed the furnishing of the room, which indicated
something rather studious and thoughtful in the owner.
"Mrs. Hartley asked me to be seated, and added, 'Please write on a sheet
of paper the names of such friends as you would like to communicate
with.' She then left the room on some household errand, and while she
was gone I wrote the name of her guide, 'Dr. Cooke' (out of compliment),
and added that of a musical friend whom I will call 'Ernest Alexander.'
I also wrote the names 'Jessie' and 'David,' folded the sheet once, and
retained it under my hand. Upon her return the psychic seated herself at
the battered oval table, and, taking up a pair of hinged school slates,
began to clean them with a cloth. I am not going to detail my
precautions. You must take my detective work for granted. Moreover, in
this case I was awaiting the voices; the slate-writing was gratuitous.
She took the slates (between which I had dropped my slip of paper),
and, putting them beneath the table, asked me to hold one corner."
"I wish they wouldn't do that," protested Fowler. "It isn't necessary.
I've had messages on slates held in my own hands six feet from the
"As we sat thus she told me that she had never been in a trance, and
that she never permitted the dark. 'I force my guides to work in the
light,' she said. She declared that the whispers which I was presently
to hear came to her under all conditions, and that her spirit friends
talked to her familiarly as she went about her household duties. She
assured me that 'they' were a great help and comfort to her. 'Dr. Cooke'
was her ever-present guide and counsellor, and her father and brother
were always near.
"It was plain that she did not stand in awe of them, for after half an
hour's wait she grew impatient and called out in an imperious tone:
'Come, dear, I want you. Come, anybody.' Two or three times she spoke
loudly, clearly, as if calling to some one through a thick wall. This
interested me exceedingly. Generally psychics are very humble and
patient with their 'guides.' A few moments later the slates began to
slam about so violently beneath the table that her arm was bruised, and
she protested sharply: 'Don't do that. You will break the slates and the
table both!' Thereupon the 'forces' quieted down till only a peculiar
quiver remained in them. I could hear writing going on steadily.
"At last a tap came to announce that the messages were written. The
psychic withdrew the slates and handed them across the table to me. I
opened them and took out my paper. On one slate was a message from 'Dr.
Cooke,' the guide; on the other were these words, written in
slate-pencil: 'I would that you could see me as I am now, still
occupied, and happy to be busy.' This was followed by four lines and
three little marks, evidently intended to symbolize a bar of music, and
the whole was signed, 'E. Alexander.' The writing was firm and manly,
but I did not recognize it as that of my friend.
"The second trial resulted in this vague communication: 'My dear
friend, don't overdo. Earth is but one life. Many I recall. I tried to
give expression to my one talent.' This was signed 'Ernest Alexander.'
Both these replies, as you see, were very general in phraseology, but
the third message came closer to the individual: 'I was so tired and
not myself. I am well and in the world of progress. Ernest Alexander.'
The bar of music again appeared, this time much more 'developed.'"
Miller stopped me here. "All this is quite simple. Mrs. Hartley opened
and read your note and, following up the clew, simply did some neat
trick-writing beneath the table."
"It is not so simple as all that," I answered. "She was interrupted
about this time by the doorbell, and while she was gone I wrote on
another piece of paper: 'Ernest, give me a test of your identity. Write
a bar from the "—— Sonata."' This note I folded close and put in an
"In answer to this request, when the medium returned I got these
pertinent words: 'I was not a disappointment to myself, but I was at a
point where nerve force failed me.' This was signed 'Ernest,' and was
accompanied by another sketchy bar of music. It all looked like a real
attempt to give me what I had asked for, and yet it was the kind of
reply that might have been made by the medium had she known the history
of my musical friend, or had she been able to take it out of my mind."
"Even that is a violent assumption to me," remarked Miller.
"So it is to me," I answered. "I can't really believe in thought
transmission, and yet— I then asked for the signature of the staff, and
a small 'c' was written in the bar above, and another bar was added.
Now on the slates there came (with every evidence of eager haste)
intimate questions concerning Alexander's family: 'Is my wife cared
for?' and the like. To these I replied orally. I must tell you that all
along the whisper spoke of Alexander's wife as 'Mary,' which was wrong,
although it was close to the actual name. Also, after I began to speak
of him as 'E. A.' the messages were all signed in that manner, all of
which would seem to argue a little confusion in the psychic's mind.
"A little later, while I held the slate myself, the mysterious 'force'
wrote, 'I thank you for what you have done. I have been told my mind is
clear,' which was particularly full of meaning to me, for the reason
that my friend's mind was clouded toward the close of his life."
"All of which proves nothing," insisted Miller. "Your friend, if I
conjecture rightly, was a well-known man, and the psychic could have
read, and probably did read, all about his illness in the public press."
"It may be so. About this time I began to hear a faint whisper, which
seemed to come from a point a little to the right of and a foot or two
above the psychic's lips. This, she informed me, was the voice of 'Dr.
Cooke,' her guide. I could catch only a few of the whispered words, and
Mrs. Hartley was forced to repeat them. 'Dr. Cooke,' thus interpreted,
said: 'Your friend Alexander is present, and overjoyed to talk with
you.' The conversation went on with both 'Dr. Cooke' and the psychic
standing between the alleged spirit and myself; but even then I must
admit that 'Alexander's' queries and answers were to the point.
"Under what seemed like test conditions I got two more bars of music,
both much more definitive in form than the others; and these, the
whisper declared, were from the third movement of the '—— Sonata.'
This message was accompanied by a curious little device like the letter
C with a line drawn through it, and I said to myself: 'If this should
prove to be a mark which "Ernest" used in signing his manuscript,
something like Whistler's butterfly, I shall have a fine test of thought
"I now secured under excellent tests the writing of a singular word,
which was plainly spelled but meant nothing to me. It looked like
'Isinghere.' In answer to oral questioning, the whisper said that
these bars of music were part of an unpublished manuscript, a fragment,
which the composer had meant to call 'Isinghere.'"
"What about the process?" asked Miller. "Did the writing appear to be
"Yes, and so did the whispering. I could detect no connection between
the lips of the psychic and the voice. In one way or another I varied
the conditions, so that I was at last quite convinced of the psychic's
supernormal power; but that was not my quest. I was seeking proof of the
identity of my friend 'E. A.'
"Seeing that the chief means of identification might be in the music, I
persuaded my friend Blake, who is a fairly competent musician, to sit
with me and decipher the score which 'E. A.' persisted in setting down.
I was now eager to secure a complete phrase of the music. I saw myself
establishing, at the least, the most beautiful case of mind-tapping on
record. 'If we can secure the score of an unpublished manuscript of
Alexander's composition we shall have worked a miracle,' I said to
"Our first sitting, which took place in the home of a common friend, was
mixed as to results; but the second, which we held in Mrs. Hartley's
study one bright morning, was very fruitful. The 'powers' started in at
once as if to confound us both. Blake received a message written on a
slate under his foot, and I got the name 'Jessie,' with the word
'sister' written beneath it; and then suddenly the whispers changed in
character. The words became swift, impetuous, imperious. 'Line off all
the leaves of a slate,' the voice commanded. I understood at once, for
in the previous sitting 'E. A.' had seemingly found it difficult to draw
a long line.
"We had brought some silicon slates of the book variety, and Blake now
proceeded to rule one of them with the lines of a musical staff, and on
these slates, held as before beneath the table, we began to get bars of
music of a character quite outside the knowledge of the psychic and
myself; and, more remarkable still, the whispers, so the psychic
informed us, were no longer from 'Dr. Cooke'; 'E. A.,' she declared,
was there in person and directing the work.
"Furthermore, the requests that we now received were entirely different
in character from 'Cooke's' impersonal remarks. The whispers were quick
and masterful, wonderfully like 'Alexander' in content. 'He' was
humorous; 'he' acknowledged mistakes in the score, calling them 'slips
of the pen.' 'He' became highly technical in his conversation with
Blake, talking of musical matters that were Greek to me and, I venture
to say, Coptic to the psychic. 'He' corrected the notations himself,
sometimes when Blake held the slate, sometimes when I held it. Part of
the time 'he' indicated the corrections orally. 'He' asked Blake to try
"At last 'he' broke off, and imperiously said: 'Take the table to the
piano.' This seemed to surprise the psychic, but she acquiesced, and we
moved the small stand and our slates down to the little parlor; and
there, with Blake now holding the slate beneath the table and now
playing the notes upon the piano, the score grew into a weird little
melody with bass accompaniment, which seemed to me at the moment exactly
like a message from my friend Alexander. The first bar went through me
like the sound of his voice."
"Now you are getting into the upper air of spiritualism," exulted
Fowler. "You are now receiving a message that has dignity and meaning."
"So it seemed at the moment, both to Blake and to myself. The music was
manifestly not the kind of thing that Mrs. Hartley could conceive. It
was absolutely not commonplace. It was elliptical, touched with
technical subtlety, although simple in appearance. At last a complete
phrase was written out and partly harmonized. This, 'E. A.' said, was
the beginning of a little piece that he had intended to call 'Unghere'
or 'Hungarie.' Nothing in all my long experience with psychics ever
moved me like the first phrase of that sweet, sad melody. It seemed like
the touch of identification I had been seeking."
"But your friend Blake was a musician," interrupted Miller. "And how
about your own subconscious self? You are musical, and your mind is
filled with your friend Alexander's music."
"That is true, and I had that reservation all along. 'E. A.' may have
been made up of our combined subconscious selves; I admit all that. But
no matter; it was still very marvellous, even on its material side, for
some of this music was written in while the slates were in Blake's
entire control. At times he not merely inserted them himself but
withdrew them—the psychic merely clutched one corner of them.
Furthermore, throughout all this composition 'Ernest' was master of the
situation. 'Dr. Cooke' was superseded. There was neither feebleness nor
hesitation in the voice. I could now distinguish most of the words, and
the dialogue went forward exactly as if a master musician were dictating
to an intelligent amanuensis a new and subtle sketch."
"Did the medium look at the music?" asked Miller.
"Yes, now and then. However, most of the corrections were put in upside
down, as regards her position, and during the last sitting she appeared
to be no more than a mere on-looker. Once as we sat holding the slate
'Ernest' whispered to me: 'Blake is a fine fellow. I met him twice.'"
"'Can you tell me where?' asked Blake.
"'It was in New York City,' was the reply; then, after a moment's
hesitation: 'It was at dinner—both times!' 'You are right,' said
Blake, much impressed. 'Can you tell me the places?' 'Once was on Fifth
Avenue. The other was—I can't tell the location exactly; but it was
where we went down a short flight of steps.' 'That is correct also,'
said Blake. 'How many persons were there?' 'Five.' 'Quite right. Can
you tell me who they were?' 'Well, Mary was there, and you, of course;
but I can't be sure of the others.'
"Blake looked at me in astonishment, and our minds flashed along the
same line. Suppose the whisper were only a bit of clever ventriloquism,
how did the psychic secure the information conveyed in this dialogue? It
was given as I write it, with only a bit of hesitation once or twice;
and yet, it may have been merely thought transference."
"Merely thought transference!" exclaimed Miller. "I consider thought
transference quite as absurd as slate-writing."
Fowler interposed. "I consider this a simple case of spirit
communication. You should be grateful for such a beautiful response."
"This significant fact is not to be overlooked," I resumed: "the psychic
secured almost nothing else that concerned either Blake's affairs or my
own. Mainly the whispers had to do with 'E. A.,' which, of course, bears
out Miller's notion that the psychic could deal only with what was
public property, and yet this little colloquy about the dinners in New
York is very convincing so far as mind-reading goes.
"During the third sitting, Blake again being present, 'E. A.' took
control, as before, from the start, and carried forward the recording of
the musical fragment. 'I want you to fill in the treble, Blake,' he
said. 'It's nothing but the bare melody now.' Blake protested: 'I'm
not up to this.' And the whisper came swiftly, 'You're too modest,
Blake'; and a moment later it said: 'I hope you're not bored,
Garland.' If all this was a little play of the psychic's devising it
was very clever, for after a few minutes of close attention to Blake,
'E. A.' turned toward me and asked, with anxious haste: 'Where's
Garland?' 'I am here,' I answered. 'Don't go away,' he entreated. It
was as if for the moment he had lost sight of me by reason of fixing
his attention upon Blake."
"That is singular!" exclaimed Fowler. "Their field of vision is
evidently much more restricted than we thought."
"It must be very small indeed, for Blake and I sat touching elbows. Two
or three times the whispering voice called, 'Is Garland here?' and
once it asked: 'What is Garland doing? I see his hand moving.' I
explained that I was making notes. 'Don't do it!' was the agitated
"A very neat little touch," remarked Miller.
"We worked for a long time over this music, directed by the voice, both
in the notation and in the execution of it. The lines were drawn for
both bass and treble lengthwise of the slate, and Blake found the little
piece difficult to play, partly because the staves were on different
leaves of the slate and partly because the notes, especially some of
those put in at the beginning by the composer, were becoming blurred. It
was marvellous to see how exactly these dim notes were touched up by the
mysterious pencil beneath the table. But our progress was slow. 'E. A.'
was very patient, though now and then he plumply opposed his will to
Blake's. Once, especially, Blake exclaimed: 'That can't be right!'
"'Yes, it is right!' insisted 'E. A.'
"'But it is very unusual to construct a measure in that way.' For there
was a seeming confusion of three-four time with six-eight time.
"'It is a liberty I permit myself,' was the swift reply.
"In the last bar, which did not appear to be filled satisfactorily, the
composer directed the insertion of a figure 2. This meant, as became
clear through a subsequent reference to his printed scores, the playing
of two quarter-notes in the time of three eighth notes, but was not
understood at the moment by Blake.
"'Never mind,' said 'E. A.,' pleasantly, 'I will write it
differently.' The figure '2' was cancelled, and the measure was
completed by a rest. This is only one of many astonishing passages in
"In all this work 'E. A.' carried himself like the creative master. He
held to a plane apparently far above the psychic's musical knowledge,
and often above that of his amanuensis. He was highly technical
throughout in both the composition and the playing, and Blake followed
his will, for the most part, as if the whispers came from Alexander
himself. And yet I repeat the music and all may have come from a union
of Blake's mind with that of the psychic, with now and then a mixture of
my own subconscious self."
"What was the psychic doing all this time?" asked Miller.
"She was listening to the voice and repeating the words which Blake
could not hear. She seemed merely the somewhat bored interpreter of
words which she did not fully understand. It was precisely as if she
were catching by wireless telephone the whispered instructions of my
friend 'E. A.' I can't believe she consciously deceived us, but it is
possible that these ventriloquistic voices have become a subconscious
"One other very curious event I must note. Once, when Blake was asking
for a correction, the whisper exclaimed: 'I can't see it, Blake!'
"'Cover it with your hand,' interjected the 'control.' Blake did so,
and 'E. A.' spoke, gratefully: 'I see it now."
"Seeing cannot mean the same with them that it does with us," exclaimed
Fowler. "You remember Crookes put his finger on the print of a newspaper
behind his back, and the 'spirit' spoke the word that was under his
finger-tip. They apprehend by means of some form of etheric vibration
not known to us."
I resumed: "Let me stop here for a moment to emphasize a very curious
contradiction. Between my first séance with Mrs. Hartley and this, our
third attempt to secure the music, I had held two sittings in the home
of a friend. Mrs. Hartley had come to the house about ten o'clock in the
morning, bringing nothing with her except a few tips of soft
slate-pencil. During the sitting I had secured in the middle of a manila
pad (a pad which the psychic had never seen and which I had taken from
my friend's desk) these words: 'Have Schumann.—E. A.' This writing I
had taken to mean that 'Ernest' wanted to hear some of Schumann's music,
and in that understanding I had called Blake in to play. This had seemed
at the moment perfectly conclusive and entirely satisfactory; yet now,
in this final sitting, 'E. A.' suddenly reverted to this message, and
whispered: 'Garland, there is a certain étude which I took to Schumann.
I want you to regain it and take it to Smart. Mary will know about it. I
meant to take it away, but did I? I was so badly off mentally that I
don't know whether I did or not.' Whereupon Blake said: 'Do you mean
Schumann the publisher?' 'Yes,' 'E. A.' replied; and I said: 'And you
want the manuscript recalled from Schumann and given to Smart?' 'Yes,'
was his very definite answer.
"'Very well, I will attend to it,' I replied. 'What do you want done
with this fragment, "Isinghere"?' I pursued. 'Shall I publish it?'
'That is what it is for,' he answered, curtly.
"'How many bars are in it?' asked Blake. 'Forty?' 'More,' returned the
"Blake made the mistake of again suggesting an answer. 'As many as
"'Yes, sixty or seventy,' was the answer, like an echo. Here Blake's
thought governed, but it was evident that the psychic had no clear
conception of what this reference to Schumann meant in the first
instance, for 'E. A.' was unable to complete his sentence, which should
have read: 'Have Schumann return a certain étude which I took.—E. A.'
Furthermore, the psychic evidently believed in the truth of the message
or she would not have gone into it with such particularity; she would
have been lacking in caution to have given me such definite and detailed
information, knowing that it was all false.
"So far as my own mind is concerned, I had no knowledge of such a music
publisher as Schumann. Smart I had met. Blake, however, knew of both
firms. The entire message and the method of its communication were
deeply exciting at the time, and completed what seemed like a highly
intellectual test of identity, and we both left the house of the psychic
with a feeling of having been very near to our dead friend.
"'To identify one of these bars of music would be a good test,' said
Blake, 'but to find that étude at Schumann's would be a triumph.'
"'To find the manuscript fragment would be still more convincing,' was
"Imagine my disappointment when, in answer to my inquiry, Schumann
replied that no such étude had ever been in his hands, and Alexander's
family reported that no fragment called 'Unghere' could be found among
the composer's manuscripts."
Fowler shared my regret. "What about the other messages? Were they all
"No; some of them were not. The most intimate were true; and a signature
which came on the slate under test conditions, and which I valued very
little at the moment, turned out to be almost the exact duplicate of
Alexander's signature as he used to write it when a youth twenty years
ago. As a matter of fact, it closely resembled the signature appended to
a framed letter which used to hang upon the wall of his study. But, even
so, its reproduction under these conditions is sufficiently puzzling."
"What was Blake's conclusion? Did he put the same value upon it all that
"Yes, I think he was quite as deeply impressed as I. He said the music
seemed like Alexander's music, somehow distorted by the medium through
which it came. 'It was like seeing Alexander through a pane of crinkly
glass,' he put it. And he added: 'I had the sense of being in
long-distance contact with the composer himself.' He had no doubt of the
supernormal means through which our writing came, but he remains
doubtful of the value of the music as evidence of 'Ernest's' return from
the world of shadows."
"Have you tried to secure more of the music?" Fowler asked.
"No, not specifically; but I've had one further inconclusive sitting
since then with Mrs. Hartley. Almost immediately 'Ernest' whispered a
greeting and said: 'I want to go on with that music, Garland. I want to
put B and D and A into the first bar—it's only a bare sketch as it
"To this I replied: 'I can't do it, 'Ernest.' It's beyond me. Wait till
I can get Blake again.'
"This ended his attempt, although he was 'terribly anxious,' so the
psychic said. I am going to try for the completion of this score through
another psychic. If I can get that eighth bar taken up and carried on by
'Ernest' through another psychic the case will become complicated.
"I have gone into detail in my account of this experiment, for the
reason that it illustrates very aptly the inextricable tangle of truth
and error which most 'spirit communications' present. It typifies in
little the elusive problem of spirit identification which many a veteran
investigator is still at work upon, after years of study. Maxwell gives
a case of long-continued unintentional and unconscious deception of the
general kind which went far to prevent his acceptance of the spirit
"I don't think the failure to find the musical fragment invalidates this
beautiful communication," declared Fowler. "You admit that many of the
messages were to the point, and that some of them were very intimate and
"Yes, speaking generally, I would say that 'E. A.' might have uttered
all the words and dictated all the messages except those that related to
the publishing matter; but there is the final test. Schumann declares
that no such manuscript has ever been in his hands."
"He may be mistaken, or 'E. A.' may have misspoken himself—for, as
William James infers, the spirits find themselves tremendously hampered
in their attempts to manifest themselves. Furthermore, you say you could
not hear all that 'E. A.' spoke—you or the psychic may have
misunderstood him. In any case, it all seems to me a fine attempt at
"I wish I could put the same value on it now that I did when Blake
played the first bar of that thrilling little melody; but I can't. As it
recedes it loses its power over me."
"What did Alexander's family think of the music?"
"They thought it more like a Cheyenne or Omaha love-song than like a
melody of 'Ernest's' own composition."
"But that only adds to the mystery of the mental process," objected
Miller. "That supposes it to have come out of your mind."
"I can't believe that I had any hand in the musical part of it, and I
can't persuade myself that my dead friend was present."
"Suppose you had been able to find that musical fragment, would it have
converted you?" This was Miller's challenge.
"No, for even then some living person might have known of it—must have
known of it; and if a knowledge of it lay in some other mind, no matter
where and no matter how deeply buried in the subconscious, that
knowledge, according to Myers and Hudson, would have been accessible to
the supernormal perception of the psychic."
Fowler interrogated me: "But suppose a phantom form resembling 'E. A.'
had spoken these things to you face to face—what then?"
"I would not have believed, even then."
"Well, for one reason, belief is not a matter of the will; it is not
even dependent upon evidence."
Miller interrupted me. "I am interested in the writing. How do you
account for the writing? As I understand it, the psychic did not, in
some instances, touch the slate while the writing was going on. Are you
sure of Blake?"
"Blake is as much to be trusted as I am. No, I am forced to a practical
acceptance of the theory of the fluidic arm, and yet this is a most
astounding admission. We must suppose that the psychic was able to read
our minds and write down our mingled and confused musical conceptions by
means of a supernumerary hand. It happens that I have since seen these
etheric hands in action, which makes it easier for me to conceive of
such a process. I have seen them dart forth from another medium
precisely as described by Scarpa. I have seen them lift a glass of
water, and I have had them touch my knees beneath a table while
slate-writing was going on—so that, given the power to read my mind,
there is nothing impossible (having regard to Bottazzi's definite
experiments) in the idea of the etheric hand's setting down the music
and reproducing the signature of 'E. A.' In fact, at a recent sitting in
a private house with a young male psychic, we had this precise feat
performed. Said the psychic to our host, Dr. Towne, 'Think hard of a
signature that is very familiar to you,' and Dr. Towne fixed his mind
upon the signature of his brother, and immediately, while the young
man's material hands were controlled, his etheric hand seized a pencil
in the middle of the table and reproduced the signature."
"Could you see this hand?" Miller asked.
"Not in this case; but at a sitting which followed this, during such
time as I sat beside the psychic and controlled one hand, I plainly saw
the supernumerary arm and hand dart forth and seize a pencil. I saw a
hand very plainly cross my knee and grasp me by the forearm. All of this
has its bearing upon this very curious phenomenon of the reproduction of
'E. A's.' youthful signature, which remained very puzzling to us all."
"But did you not say that 'E. A.' at times represented an opposing
will?" questioned Fowler—"that he disputed certain passages with Blake,
and that he finally carried his point in opposition to every mind in the
"Yes, that happened several times, and was all very convincing at the
time. And yet this opposition may have been more apparent than real. It
may have concerned our conscious wills only; our subconscious selves may
have been in accord, working together as one."
Fowler was a bit irritated. "If you are disposed to make the
subconscious will all-powerful and omniscient, nothing can be proved. It
seems to me an evasion. However, let me ask how you would explain away a
spirit form carrying the voice, the features, and the musical genius of
"Well, there is the teleplastic theory of Albert de Rochas. He claims to
have been able not merely to cause a hypnotized subject to exteriorize
her astral self, but to mould this vapory substance as a sculptor models
wax. So I can imagine that a momentary radiant apparition might have
been created in the image of my sister or 'David' or 'E. A.'"
"To my thinking, that is more complicated and incredible than the spirit
hypothesis," objected Fowler.
"Nothing can be more incredible to me than the spirit hypothesis," I
replied. "But, then, everything is incredible in the last analysis. I
am the more disposed to believe in the teleplastic theory, for the
reason that I have recently had an opportunity to witness a particularly
incredible thing: the materialization of a complete human form outside
the cabinet and beside the psychic—a phenomenon which has a special
bearing upon the matter of identity which we are discussing. The sitting
took place in a small private house here in the city. The psychic in the
case was a young business man who is careful not to advertise his power.
For four years he has been holding secret developing circles whereto a
few of his friends only are invited. I was present last Sunday, and
shared in the marvels. The place of the séance was the parlor of his
apartment, his young wife and little daughter being present. There was,
in addition, an elderly lady, mother-in-law of the psychic, and a Polish
student whom I will call Jacob. I am quite sure that no one else entered
or left the room during the evening. Mrs. Pratt, the mother-in-law,
occupied a seat between me and Jacob. The little girl sat at the window,
and was under my eye all the time. The wife spent most of the evening at
the piano on my right. The room was fairly dark, though the light of a
far-away street lamp shone in at the window.
"The psychic retired into a little alcove bedroom, which served as
cabinet, and the curtain had hardly fallen between him and our group
when the spirit voices began. The first one to speak was 'Evan,' the
'guide,' and I remarked that his voice was precisely like a falsetto
disguise of the psychic's own.
"Soon 'Evan' and other spirits appeared at the opening of the curtain.
The wife called them each by name, but I could see only certain curious
fluctuating, cloud-like forms, like puffs of fire-lit steam. The effect
was not that of illuminated gauze, but more like illuminated vapor. At
length came one that spoke in a deep voice, using a foreign language.
Jacob, the young Pole, sprang up in joyous excitement, saying that he
had sat many times in this little circle, but that this was the first
time a spirit had spoken to him in his own tongue. As they conversed
together, I detected a close similarity of accent and of tone in their
speech. It certainly sounded like the Polish language, but I could not
rid myself of the impression that the Pole was talking to himself."
"What do you mean by that?"
"I mean that the accent, inflection, and quality of the ghost's voice
were identical with that of the living man, and this became still more
striking when, a little later, Jacob returned to his seat, and the
'Count,' his visitor, called for the Polish national hymn. Jacob then
sang, and the phantom sang with him. Now this seemed like a clear case
of identification, and was perfectly satisfactory to Jacob, but I had
observed this fact: the Pole was an indifferent singer—having hard
work to keep the key—and the 'Count' was troubled in the same way. His
deep, almost toneless, singing struck me as a dead, flat, wooden echo of
Jacob's voice. In short, it was as if the psychic had built up a
personality partly out of himself, but mainly out of his Polish sitter,
and as if this etheric duplication were singing in unison with its
"What nonsense!" exclaimed Fowler.
"Did he manufacture a double out of you?" queried Miller.
"No one spoke to me from the shadow, except the 'guide,' although I was
hoping for some new word from 'Ernest,' and kept him uppermost in my
mind. A form came out into the centre of the room, which the wife said
was 'Evan,' and requested me to shake his hand. This I did. The hand
felt as if it were covered with some gauzy veiling. My belief is that it
was the psychic himself who stood before me, probably in trance. I could
see nothing, however. I do not remember that I could detect any shadow
even; but the hand was real, and the voice and manner of speech were
precisely those of the psychic himself."
"I repeat that this does not necessarily imply fraud, for the mind and
vocal organs of the psychic are often used in that way," Fowler argued.
"I grant that. Up to this point I had been able to see nothing but dim
outlines. But toward the end of the evening the psychic advanced from
the cabinet and in a dazed way ordered the lamp to be lit. This was
done. He then asked that it be turned low. This was also done.
Thereupon, directing his gaze toward the curtain, he called twice in a
tone of command, 'Come out!'
"I could place every one in the room at the moment. I could see the
psychic distinctly. I could discern the color of his coat and the
expression of his face. He stood at least six feet from the opening in
the curtain. At his second cry, in which I detected a note of entreaty,
I saw a luminous form, taller than himself, suddenly appear before the
curtain and stand bowing in silence. I could perceive neither face,
eyes, nor feet, but I could make out the arms under the shining robe,
the shape of the head and the shoulders, and as he bowed I could see the
bending of his neck. It certainly was not a clothes-horse. The covering
was not so much a robe as a swathing, and we had time to discuss it
"However, my eyes were mainly busy with the psychic, whose actions
impressed me deeply. He had the air of an anxious man undergoing a
dangerous ordeal. His right hand was stretched stiffly toward the
phantom, his left was held near his heart; his knees seemed to tremble,
and his body appeared to be irresistibly drawn toward the cabinet.
Slowly, watchfully, fearfully, he approached the phantom. The figure
turned toward him, and a moment later they met—they clung together,
they appeared to coalesce, and the psychic fell through the curtain to
the floor of the cabinet, like a man smitten with death."
"What do you wish to imply?" asked Miller. "Do you mean that the man and
the ghost were united in some way?"
"Precisely so. The 'spirit' seemed drawn by some magnetic force toward
the psychic, and the psychic seemed under an immense strain to keep the
apparition exterior to himself. When they met the spectre vanished, and
the psychic's fall seemed inevitable—a collapse from utter exhaustion.
I was at the moment convinced that I had seen a vaporous entity born of
the medium. It seemed a clear case of projection of the astral body. In
the pause which followed the psychic's fall the young wife turned to me
and said: 'Sometimes, if my husband does not reach the spirit form in
time, he falls outside the curtain.' She did not seem especially
"The young psychic himself, however, told me afterward that he was
undergoing a tremendous strain as he stood there commanding the spirit
to appear. 'I had a fierce pain in the centre of my forehead,' he said.
'I couldn't get my breath. I felt as if all my substance, my strength,
was being drawn out of me. My legs seemed about to give way. It is
always hard to produce a form so far away from me when I am on the
outside of the cabinet in the light. The greater the distance, the
greater the strain.' I asked him what happened when he and the form
rushed together, and he answered: 'As soon as I touched it, it
re-entered my body.'"
"I wonder why the spirits are always clothed in that luminous gauze?"
"They are not," replied Fowler. "More often they come in the clothing
which was their habitual wear."
"I asked this young psychic if drapery were used out of respect to us
mortals, and he replied: 'No; the forms are swathed not from sense of
propriety so much as to protect the body, which is often incomplete at
the extremities.' The wife and Jacob told me that at one of their
meetings a naked Hercules suddenly appeared before the curtain. The Pole
declared: 'He was of giant size and strength. I felt of his muscles (he
was clothed only in a loincloth), and I closely studied his tremendous
arms and shoulders. The medium, as you know, is a small, thin man. We
called this figure "the man from Mars." He was at least six feet high,
and strong as a lion. He rushed back into the cabinet, and came out
holding the medium above his head on his upraised palms. It was very
"You didn't see anything like that, did you?" asked Miller.
"No," I replied; "but I did see the development of a figure apparently
from the floor between me and the curtain of the cabinet. My attention
was called to something wavering, shimmering, and fluctuating about a
foot above the carpet. It was neither steam nor flame. It seemed
compounded of both luminous vapor and puffing clouds of drapery. It rose
and fell in quivering impulses, expanding and contracting, but
continuing to grow until at last it towered to the height of a tall man,
and I could dimly discern, through dark draperies edged with light, a
"'This,' the young wife said, 'is Judge White, the grandfather of the
psychic,' and she conversed with him, but only for a few moments. He
soon dwindled and faded and melted away in the same fashion as he had
come, recalling to my mind Richet's description of the birth and
disappearance of 'B. B.,' in Algiers. I know this sounds like the
veriest dreaming, but you must remember that materializations much more
wonderful have been seen and analyzed in the clinical laboratories of
Turin and Naples. Morselli, Bottazzi, Lombroso, Porro, and Foà have been
confronted by similar apparitions. They saw 'sinister' faces, and were
repelled by 'Satanic hands agile and prompt' in cabinets of their own
construction, surrounded by their own registering machinery, and Richet
photographed just such figures as this I have described.
"The question with me is not, Do these forms exist? but, What produces
them? I am describing this sitting to explain what I mean by the
ideoplastic or teleplastic theory. If, for example, this psychic had
known me well enough to have had a very definite picture of 'E. A.,' he
might have been able to model from the mind-stuff that he or the circle
had thrown off, a luminous image of my friend, and, aided by my
subconscious self, might have united the presence and the musical
thought of Ernest Alexander."
"It won't do!" exclaimed Miller. "It's all too destructive, too
"I insist that the spirit hypothesis is simpler," repeated Fowler.
"It isn't a question of simplicity," I retorted. "It's a question of
fact. If the observations of scientific experimentalists are of any
value, the teleplastic theory is on the point of winning acceptance."
"I will not admit that," rejoined Fowler. "For, even if you throw out
all the enormous mass of evidence accumulated by spiritistic
investigators, you still have the conversion of Wallace, Lodge, and
Lombroso, not to speak of De Vesme, Venzano, and other well-known men of
science, to account for. Even Crookes himself admits that nothing but
some form of spirit hypothesis is capable of explaining all the
phenomena; and in a recent issue of the Annals of Psychic Science
Lombroso writes a paper making several very strong points against the
biologic theory. One of these is the simultaneous occurrence of
phenomena. 'Can the subconscious self act in several places at once?' he
asks. A second objection lies in the fact that movements occur in
opposition to the will of the psychic—as, for example, when Eusapia was
transported in her chair. 'Can a man lift himself by his boot-straps?'
is the question. 'The centre of gravity of a body cannot be altered in
space unless acted upon by an external force. Therefore, the phenomena
of levitation cannot be considered to be produced by energy emanating
from the medium.'"
"I don't think that follows," I argued. "Force may be exerted
unconsciously and invisibly. Because the psychic does not consciously
will to do a certain thing is no proof that the action does not
originate in the deeps of her personality. We know very little of this
obscure region of our minds."
Fowler was ready with his answer: "But let us take the case that
Lombroso cites of the beautiful woman spirit whose hand twice dashed the
photographic plates from the grasp of those who wished to secure her
picture. Here was plainly an opposing will, for the psychic was lending
herself to the experiment, and the spectators were eager for its
success. Notwithstanding which co-operation this phantom bitterly
opposed the wishes of every one present, and it was afterward learned
that there was a special reason why she did not wish to leave positive
proofs of her identity. 'It is evident, therefore,' concludes Lombroso,
'that a third will can intervene in spiritistic phenomena.'
"Furthermore, Dr. Venzano, as well as De Vesme, have taken up the same
body of facts upon which Foà and Morselli base their theory, and arrive
at a totally different conclusion. They call attention to a dozen events
that can be explained only on the theory of discarnate intelligences.
Venzano observed that the forms occurred in several places at once, that
they appeared in many shapes and many guises. Some were like children,
some had curly hair, some had beards. In one case identification was
made by introducing the finger of one of the sitters within the phantom
mouth to prove the loss of a molar tooth. Sometimes the hair of these
heads was plaited like that of a girl. Some of the hands were large and
black, others fair and pink—like a child's. In short, he argues that
the medium could not have determined the size, shape, or color of the
"All that does not really militate against the ideoplastic theory," I
retorted. "It is as easy to produce a phantom with hair plaited as it is
to produce one with hair in curls. If it is a case of the modelling of
the etheric vapor by the mind of the psychic, these differences would be
produced naturally enough. The forcible handling of the medium by the
invisible ones is a much more difficult thing for me to explain, for to
imagine the psychic emitting a form of force which afterward proceeds to
raise the psychic herself against her will—as Mrs. Smiley testifies
happened again and again in her youth—is to do violence to all that we
know of natural law. And yet it may be that the etheric double is able
to take on part of the forces resident in the circle of sitters, and so
become immensely more potent than the psychic himself, as in the case of
the 'Man from Mars'—the Hercules I have just been telling you about.
Then, as to the content of these messages, they may be impulses, hints,
fragments of sentences caught from the air as one wireless operator
intercepts communications meant for other stations than his own. So that
my interview with 'E. A.' may have been a compounding of the psychic,
Blake, and myself, and fugitive natures afloat in the ether. In fact, I
am not as near a belief in the return of the dead as I was when I began
this last series of experiments. These Italian scientific observers, I
confess, have profoundly affected my thought."
"Your idea is, then," said Miller, "that these apparitions are
emanations of the medium's physical substance, moulded by his will and
colored by the minds of his sitters?"
"That is the up-to-date theory, and everything that I have experienced
seems capable of a biologic interpretation against it."
Fowler hastened to weaken the force of this statement. "Spiritists all
admit that the forms of spirits are made up—partly, at least—of the
psychic's material self, but that does not prove that the mind of the
ghost is not a separate entity from that of the psychic. I grant that
the only difference between the psycho-dynamic theory and the
spiritualistic theory lies in the question of the origin of the
intelligences that direct the manifestation. Foà would say they spring
from the subconscious self of the psychic. We say they come from the
spirit world, and there we stand."
Miller's words were keen and without emotion. "Until all phenomena are
explained there will be obscure happenings and things to be explained by
some one who can, but it is no final explanation to say 'a man did it'
or 'an intelligence did it.' I have often been told that things cannot
move in certain ways or certain things cannot be done except by
intelligent action or guidance, but it may be remembered that Kepler
thought guiding spirits were needful for making the planets move in
their elliptical orbits."
"Your scientists are feeding millions of people stones," exclaimed
Fowler. "They ask for bread, and you give them slices of granite."
"Better granite than slime," said Miller. "I am with the biologists in
this campaign. Let us have the truth, no matter how unpalatable it may
be. If these phenomena exist, they are in the domain of natural law and
can be weighed and measured. If they are imaginary, they should be swept
away, like other dreams of superstition and ignorance."
Fowler was not to be silenced. "I predict that you and your like will
yet be forced, like Lombroso, to take your place with Aksakof, Lodge,
Wallace, Du Prel, and Crookes, who have come to admit the intervention
of discarnate intelligences. Lombroso says, 'We find, as I already
foresaw some years ago, that these materialized bodies belong to the
radiant state of matter, which has now a sure foothold in science. This
is the only hypothesis that can reconcile the ancient and universal
belief in the persistence of some manifestation of life after death with
the results of science.' He adds: 'These beings, or remnants of beings,
would not be able to obtain complete consistency to incarnate
themselves, if they did not temporarily borrow a part of the medium.
But to borrow force from the medium is not the same thing as to be
identical with the medium.'"
"Well," said I, "of this I am certain: we cannot afford to ignore such
experiments as those of Morselli and Bottazzi. I am aware that many
investigators discountenance such experiments, but I believe with
Venzano that the physical phenomena of mediumship cannot be, and ought
not to be, considered trivial. It was the spasmodic movement of a
decapitated frog that resulted in the discovery of the Voltaic Pile.
Furthermore, I intend to try every other conceivable hypothesis before
accepting that of the spiritists."
"What is your reason for that?" asked Fowler.
"Because I am a scientist in my sympathies. I believe in the methods of
the chemist and the electrician. I prefer the experimenter to the
theorist. I like the calm, clear, concise statements of these European
savans, who approach the subject, not as bereaved persons, but as
biologists. I am ready to go wherever science leads, and I should be
very glad to know that our life here is but a link in the chain of
existence. Others may have more convincing knowledge than I, but at this
present moment the weight of evidence seems to me to be on the side of
the theory that mediumship is, after all, a question of unexplored human
"I don't see it that way," rejoined Fowler, calmly. "Suppose your
biologists prove that the psychic can put forth a supernumerary arm, or
maintain, for a short time, a complete double of herself. Would that
necessarily make the spiritist theory untenable? Is it not fair to
conclude that if the soul or 'astral' or 'etheric double' can act
outside the living body, it can live and think and manifest after the
dissolution of its material shell? Does not the experimental work of
Bottazzi, Morselli, and De Rochas all make for a spiritual
interpretation of life rather than for the position of the materialist?
I consider that they have strengthened rather than weakened the mystic
side of the universe. They are bringing the wonder of the world back to
the positivist. Let them go on. They will yet demonstrate, in spite of
themselves, the immortality of the soul."
"I hope they will," I replied. "It would be glorious at this time, when
tradition begins to fail of power, to have a demonstration of
immortality come through the methods of experimental science. Certainly
I would welcome a physical proof that my mother still thinks and lives,
and that Ernest and other of my dearest friends are at work on other
planes and surrounded by other conditions, no matter how different from
the conventional idea of paradise these environments might be; but the
proof must be ample and very definite."
Miller put in a last word of warning: "Because a phenomenon has not
been explained, and no one knows how to explain it, is no reason for
supposing there is anything extraphysical about it. No one has explained
the first cause of the development of an embryo. No one knows what goes
on in an active nerve, or why atoms are selective in their associates.
Ignorance is not a proper basis for speculation, and if one must have a
theory, let it be one having some obvious continuity with our best
And at that point our argument rested. We separated, and each went his
way, to be met by questions of business and politics, and to be once
more blended to the all-enveloping mystery of life.
A CORROBORATIVE AND TECHNICAL ACCOUNT OF PSYCHICAL PHENOMENA,
INVOLVING THE PRODUCTION OF A MUSICAL SCORE ON A SLATE, SECURED BY
This record was secured during three sittings, which took place on the
forenoon and afternoon of Friday, March 13th, and on the forenoon of
Saturday, March 14, 1908. These sittings were held in a dwelling-house
on a quiet street of ordinary character. They began in a second-story
front room, and were transferred to a parlor just below, where there was
a piano. The room, in either case, was fairly light; now and then the
window-shades were lowered, but reading and writing were easy at all
times. Three persons were present: the psychic, a robust, alert,
intelligent woman of thirty-five; Hamlin Garland; and the writer, who
combined the functions of amanuensis and editor.
The psychic was not in a trance, and stated that she had never gone
into one. She conversed throughout in ordinary voice and manner, save
when, with a certain emphasis, she undertook to hasten the pace of her
lagging "controls." The three sittings were attended by little noise,
pounding, or violence; there was no breaking or crumpling up of slates,
as had been the case during an earlier sitting on Thursday.
The psychic's principal "control"—to be known here as "Dr.
Cooke"—spoke in whispers, and his words were repeated aloud by the
psychic herself. These whisperings were only occasionally audible to the
writer, but they were plainly heard by Mr. Garland. It may be added that
on at least two occasions, however, the writer heard and understood
replies which the psychic declared had not been audible to her. During
the latter portion of these sittings, especially that of Saturday, the
"control" seemed to withdraw altogether, and for two or three hours the
circle was in apparent communication—direct, rapid, uninterrupted—with
an intelligence that may conveniently be termed the "Composer."
The paraphernalia for these sittings comprised the following:
1. A small, light, walnut centre-table, which Mr. Garland himself had
assisted in repairing before the proceedings began.
2. A silicon book-slate, eight inches by five inches. There were six
pages—the insides of the covers and a double leaf. These leaves lay
close and flat, like those of a book.
3. A few bits of slate-pencil, from one-quarter of an inch to
three-eighths of an inch in length; also a longer slate-pencil used by
4. A small writing-pad and lead-pencil, for general memoranda and
5. Certain fruits and flowers, such as roses, sweet-peas, pineapples,
and grape-fruit. These met the psychic's needs or fancies, and were
brought into close relation with pad or slate when the "forces" seemed
inclined to weaken.
6. The piano.
Shortly after the opening of the Friday-morning sitting the Composer
requested that the whole slate be ruled with staves for writing music.
Throughout the preceding Wednesday and Thursday attempts at the writing
of music had been of constant occurrence; they had come on slates, on
writing-pads, and on the leaves of closed books. These bits of musical
notation had been very fragmentary and obscure; often they had consisted
of less than half a dozen notes placed upon staves consisting of but
three or four lines, instead of five. The most successful of these
earlier efforts had been produced on a double school-slate, with a
wooden, list-bound frame: two measures on a treble staff had been
sprinkled with vague indications of musical script. No attempts had yet
been made to bring even the best of these various writings to order and
intelligibility. We were soon to learn that a scrap of music set down
within three or four minutes was to require as many hours for revision,
emendation, elucidation—for editing, in brief. It is but fair, however,
to state that some of this time was taken up by the registering of
irrelevant messages from other quarters and by digressions toward the
Composer's own private concerns.
The staff drawn on the wooden-framed slate had been ruled crosswise. The
Composer now directed that the new staves to be drawn on the silicon
slate should run lengthwise and should cover every page of it. This was
done by the editor. Provision was asked for seven measures, to which an
eighth was added later.
During the three minutes or so required for writing on the six pages of
the slate, the position of the slate, in reference to the editor, was as
follows: After considerable moving about beneath the top of the table,
during which time it was principally in the hands of the psychic, it
approached the writer and remained with him. The under cover of the
slate (with a bit of slate-pencil tightly enclosed) rested on his knee;
the upper cover was pressed against the frame of the table. The editor's
thumb rested rather lightly on the middle of the nearer half of the
upper cover, and his fingers assisted in supporting the nearer half of
the under cover. The psychic herself had surrendered the control of the
slate to the editor, and could have had no contact with it beyond
touching the edge farthest from him. On the second day, Saturday, during
which the bass for the last four measures was produced, the slate was in
the exclusive control of the editor, the psychic not touching it at all.
The progress of the musical writing was both felt and heard; it was a
combination of light and rapid scratching, pecking, and twitching, with
an occasional slight waving motion up and down.
The score, as first revealed, consisted of open-headed notes with curved
stems. They gave no indications of varying values; it was impossible to
distinguish quarter-notes from eighth-notes, sixteenth-notes, or
grace-notes; and no rests were set down. The notes were placed but
approximately as regarded lines and spaces. No stems, save in one or two
instances, united the chords, the notes of which were written more or
less above one another, yet detached. A few unsatisfactory attempts were
made by the Composer to place the bars. These were mostly put in by the
editor—sometimes by the direction or with the acquiescence of the
Composer—and, when they were drawn in advance of the writing, their
presence was always properly observed.
As the revision became more close and careful, the Composer directed
that the work be continued down-stairs beside the piano. Here every bar
of the treble was played separately as soon as edited, to be pronounced
satisfactory by the Composer, or to be modified under his direction. The
treble, on its completion—eight measures—was then played over in its
entirety and pronounced by the Composer to be correct. (He made one or
two further emendations, however, on the following day.) The eight bars
of the bass were gone over in the same fashion. The attempt to play the
entire composition, treble and bass, was not satisfactory, partly owing
to mechanical difficulties occasioned by the distribution of the matter
on the slate and the multiplicity of corrections, and partly from lack
of skill in the performer. However, two or three very brief passages
were given by both hands and pronounced correct by the Composer, who
showed surprise that anything so "simple"—as he characterized
it—should give so much trouble. In one instance he noted that, while
the two parts, treble and bass, were correct separately, they were not
played in correct time together. The Composer, throughout, was most
patient, persevering, courteous, and encouraging, though toward the
end—in the closing measures of the bass—he showed some confusion and
uncertainty. "Wait a moment," he would say; and once the whisper
asked that, as an aid to sight, the editor's hand be spread over that
leaf of the slate on which work was in progress. The Composer had
thought, earlier—and so said—that a trained musician could easily
supply the bass from the melody. His amanuensis was obliged to
acknowledge frankly an inability to cope successfully with so
complicated and unusual a matter. The psychic herself, though expressing
a fondness for the opera, disclaimed any knowledge of musical notation,
and added that never before had she performed such a function as at
As the work of correction progressed, the Composer several times asked
for opportunity to make the changes himself; whereupon the pencil-tip
would be enclosed in the slate and satisfactory emendations be
forthcoming. In cases where corrections were made by the writer, the
Composer often watched the progress of the slate-pencil (a longer one
than that which was used between the leaves) and gave directions: "Not
there"; "Yes, here," and the like; and he would often acknowledge a
correction with a "Thank you," or meet a suggestion with a "Yes, if
you please." On these occasions the slate was some four feet distant
from the psychic, and practically out of her sight.
Repeated attempts were made on both sides to get down the name of the
composition. Various related versions of the word appeared, none of them
quite satisfactory. The Composer seemed to acquiesce in our attempts to
relate his title to different Slavic and Italian words for "gypsy," but
no importance can be attached, of course, to such a piece of direct
The final version of this brief but laborious score has been preserved,
and all the stages in its progress have been abundantly annotated. To
follow it through in detail, however, would be but weariness. All the
salient points in its production fall under one of three heads. There
are, first, the passages that seem to have been produced in co-operation
with the sitters. There are, second, the passages that seem to have been
produced in independence of the sitters. And there are, third, the
passages that seem to have been produced in direct opposition to the
sitters. Examples of all three classes follow; perhaps only those of the
third and last class are really important.
1. The Composer in Co-operation. The piece, in three sharps, opened on
the tonic, yet the very first note in the bass was a G-sharp. The
following colloquy ensued: Editor: "Does the piece begin with the tonic
chord of A?" Composer: "Yes." Editor: "Is the G-sharp, then, to be
regarded as a suspension?" Composer: "Of course. That makes it right.
How could it be correct otherwise?"
Another example. In the second bar a note which the editor had taken for
an eighth-note was explained by the Composer as being a grace-note. The
editor pointed out that this left only five eighth-notes to fill a
six-eight measure. The Composer directed the insertion of an eighth-rest
at the beginning of the bar.
In the fourth bar there was a partial chord, E-B—a fifth. The
Composer's attention was drawn to this blemish. He requested the
insertion of a G-sharp between, thus completing his triad.
But the above examples, and others which might be related, are not
without resemblances to thought transference.
2. The Composer in Independence. Under this head may be placed his
various instructions relative to tempo, expression, and the like. The
signature, three sharps, was set down by the editor, as the result of an
answer to his inquiry. But the time—six-eight—was written in (on the
editor's request) by the Composer himself. It was a distinct and
separate effort, for which the pencil was put in the slate and the slate
placed beneath the table. The time was set down before the notes
themselves were secured. The six-eight sign was clearly and neatly
written on the proper staff, in correct relation to the G-clef and to
the signature; and the two figures were also in correct relation to each
other. The word "Moderato" was written in by the Composer's direction,
without any request from the editor. Later, the words "With feeling"
and the mark of expression "pp," were obtained in the same way. Ties,
grace-notes, and staccato-marks were insisted upon, here and there, with
great vigor and earnestness.
Two further examples of the Composer's independence will perhaps
suffice. In the sixth measure there was a run of three eighth-notes in
the treble, exactly above a corresponding run of three eighth-notes in
the bass. In making his revision the Composer directed that each of
these three pairs of notes should be joined by stems. This took the
treble notes down to the bass, and left the last half of the treble bar
empty—a fact unnoticed by the editor and beyond the purview of the
psychic. The Composer, however, observed the hiatus, and directed the
insertion of two rests.
One other instance: The bar at the end of the first measure, as
originally drawn by the Composer, cut off two notes on leger-lines and
gave them to the succeeding measure. Another little colloquy: Editor:
"Shall I draw the bar where it belongs?" Composer: "Yes, if you
please." Editor: "Here?" Composer: "No." Editor: "There?" Composer:
"Yes. Thank you."
3. The Composer in Opposition. Numerous interesting cases of
cross-purposes between the Composer and the circle developed during
these two days. A number of salient examples follow:
On the first opening of the slate, the seventh measure of the treble
contained but two notes, which the Composer presently declared to be
quarter-notes. This left the first third of the measure vacant; and the
Composer, interrogated, directed the insertion of a quarter-rest. The
editor objected that this gave the measure a three-quarter look, instead
of the proper six-eighth look. "That is a liberty I take," came the
answer, like a flash.
At one stage the Composer requested that a certain note should have a
"dot" added. The editor placed the dot to the right of the note, thus
lengthening its value by one-half. "No, no," objected the Composer;
"put it on top, above the staff." His intention had been, once more,
to make a note "staccato," and he had been misunderstood.
The editor, in setting down the signature of sharps on the second page
of the slate, intentionally placed the last sharp a third below its
proper position. He was at once brought to book by "Dr. Cooke," the
"control." "We are being fair by you, and you must be fair by us."
In the eighth and last measure, which did not appear to be
satisfactorily completed, the Composer called for the insertion of a
figure 2. This meant, as became clear enough through a subsequent
reference to his published scores, that he wished two quarter-notes to
receive the value of three eighth-notes, but was not understood at the
time by his helper. "Never mind," said the Composer, graciously, "I
will write it differently." He cancelled the figure 2, and completed
the measure with a rest.
A similar instance occurred in the fifth measure, where the Composer
called insistently for a double sharp (×). The editor ventured to
object, and the passage was tried on the piano, at the Composer's
request. The double sharp was felt by him to be unsatisfactory, and was
sacrificed. "It won't make much difference, anyway," was his whispered
A curious point, to finish with: On the first day the editor inquired
about doubtful notes by name, as, A, C-sharp, and the like, while the
Composer indicated their position by specifying lines and spaces—as,
third space, second line, and so on. The next day, when the editor made
his inquiries on the basis of lines and spaces, the Composer oftenest
named the notes by letter.
Toward the end of the last sitting, "Dr. Cooke" once again came to the
fore and hinted that the result of our endeavors might perhaps be not a
reproduction of one of the Composer's manuscripts, but of a mental
picture in the Composer's mind. The "picture," as secured by us, was
not, it must be admitted, without distortion. The Composer himself used
the word "scattered" in such a way as to imply that he had sketched out
his ideas in life on various detached bits of paper. He added that a
certain member of his family "would know." The hopes
raised by this
declaration have not been realized.
"No more music to-day," whispered "Dr. Cooke"; and the sitting—the