March 24. The spring is fairly with us now. Outside my laboratory window thegreat chestnut-tree is all covered with the bigglutinousgummy budssome ofwhich have already begun to break into little green shuttlecocks. As you walkdown the lanes you are conscious of the richsilent forces of nature workingall around you. The wet earth smells fruitful and luscious. Green shoots arepeeping out everywhere. The twigs are stiff with their sap; and the moistheavyEnglish air is laden with a faintly resinous perfume. Buds in the hedgeslambsbeneath them-- everywhere the work of reproduction going forward!
I can see it withoutand I can feel it within. We also have our spring whenthe little arterioles dilatethe lymph flows in a brisker streamthe glandswork harderwinnowing and straining. Every year nature readjusts the wholemachine. I can feel the ferment in my blood at this very momentand as the coolsunshine pours through my window I could dance about in it like a gnat. So Ishouldonly that Charles Sadler would rush upstairs to know what was the matter.BesidesI must remember that I am Professor Gilroy. An old professor may affordto be naturalbut when fortune has given one of the first chairs in theuniversity to a man of four-and-thirty he must try and act the part consistently.
What a fellow Wilson is! If I could only throw the same enthusiasm intophysiology that he does into psychologyI should become a Claude Bernard at theleast. His whole life and soul and energy work to one end. He drops to sleepcollating his results of the past dayand he wakes to plan his researches forthe coming one. And yetoutside the narrow circle who follow his proceedingshe gets so little credit for it. Physiology is a recognized science. If I addeven a brick to the edificeevery one sees and applauds it. But Wilson istrying to dig the foundations for a science of the future. His work isunderground and does not show. Yet he goes on uncomplaininglycorrespondingwith a hundred semi-maniacs in the hope of finding one reliable witnesssiftinga hundred lies on the chance of gaining one little speck of truthcollating oldbooksdevouring new onesexperimentinglecturingtrying to light up inothers the fiery interest which is consuming him. I am filled with wonder andadmiration when I think of himand yetwhen he asks me to associate myselfwith his researchesI am compelled to tell him thatin their present statethey offer little attraction to a man who is devoted to exact science. If hecould show me something positive and objectiveI might then be tempted toapproach the question from its physiological side. So long as half his subjectsare tainted with charlatanerie and the other half with hysteria we physiologistsmust content ourselves with the body and leave the mind to our descendants.
No doubt I am a materialist. Agatha says that I am a rank one. I tell herthat is an excellent reason for shortening our engagementsince I am in suchurgent need of her spirituality. And yet I may claim to be a curious example ofthe effect of education upon temperamentfor by nature I amunless I deceivemyselfa highly psychic man. I was a nervoussensitive boya dreamerasomnambulistfull of impressions and intuitions. My black hairmy dark eyesmy thinolive facemy tapering fingersare all characteristic of my realtemperamentand cause experts like Wilson to claim me as their own. But mybrain is soaked with exact knowledge. I have trained myself to deal only withfact and with proof. Surmise and fancy have no place in my scheme of thought.Show me what I can see with my microscopecut with my scalpelweigh in mybalanceand I will devote a lifetime to its investigation. But when you ask meto study feelingsimpressionssuggestionsyou ask me to do what isdistasteful and even demoralizing. A departure from pure reason affects me likean evil smell or a musical discord.
Which is a very sufficient reason why I am a little loath to go to ProfessorWilson's tonight. Still I feel that I could hardly get out of the invitationwithout positive rudeness; andnow that Mrs. Marden and Agatha are goingofcourse I would not if I could. But I had rather meet them anywhere else. I knowthat Wilson would draw me into this nebulous semi-science of his if he could. Inhis enthusiasm he is perfectly impervious to hints or remonstrances. Nothingshort of a positive quarrel will make him realize my aversion to the wholebusiness. I have no doubt that he has some new mesmerist or clairvoyant ormedium or trickster of some sort whom he is going to exhibit to usfor even hisentertainments bear upon his hobby. Wellit will be a treat for Agathaat anyrate. She is interested in itas woman usually is in whatever is vague andmystical and indefinite.
10.50 P. M. This diary-keeping of mine isI fancythe outcome of thatscientific habit of mind about which I wrote this morning. I like to registerimpressions while they are fresh. Once a day at least I endeavor to define myown mental position. It is a useful piece of self-analysisand hasI fancyasteadying effect upon the character. FranklyI must confess that my own needswhat stiffening I can give it. I fear thatafter allmuch of my neurotictemperament survivesand that I am far from that coolcalm precision whichcharacterizes Murdoch or Pratt- Haldane. Otherwisewhy should the tomfoolerywhich I have witnessed this evening have set my nerves thrilling so that evennow I am all unstrung? My only comfort is that neither Wilson nor Miss Penclosanor even Agatha could have possibly known my weakness.
And what in the world was there to excite me? Nothingor so little that itwill seem ludicrous when I set it down.
The Mardens got to Wilson's before me. In factI was one of the last toarrive and found the room crowded. I had hardly time to say a word to Mrs.Marden and to Agathawho was looking charming in white and pinkwithglittering wheat-ears in her hairwhen Wilson came twitching at my sleeve.
"You want something positiveGilroy" said hedrawing me apartinto a corner. "My dear fellowI have a phenomenon--a phenomenon!"
I should have been more impressed had I not heard the same before. Hissanguine spirit turns every fire-fly into a star.
"No possible question about the bona fides this time" said heinanswerperhapsto some little gleam of amusement in my eyes. "My wife hasknown her for many years. They both come from Trinidadyou know. Miss Penclosahas only been in England a month or twoand knows no one outside the universitycirclebut I assure you that the things she has told us suffice in themselvesto establish clairvoyance upon an absolutely scientific basis. There is nothinglike heramateur or professional. Come and be introduced!"
I like none of these mystery-mongersbut the amateur least of all. With thepaid performer you may pounce upon him and expose him the instant that you haveseen through his trick. He is there to deceive youand you are there to findhim out. But what are you to do with the friend of your host's wife? Are you toturn on a light suddenly and expose her slapping a surreptitious banjo? Or areyou to hurl cochineal over her evening frock when she steals round with herphosphorus bottle and her supernatural platitude? There would he a sceneandyou would be looked upon as a brute. So you have your choice of being that or adupe. I was in no very good humor as I followed Wilson to the lady.
Any one less like my idea of a West Indian could not be imagined. She was asmallfrail creaturewell over fortyI should saywith a palepeaky faceand hair of a very light shade of chestnut. Her presence was insignificant andher manner retiring. In any group of ten women she would have been the last whomone would have picked out. Her eyes were perhaps her most remarkableand alsoI am compelled to sayher least pleasantfeature. They were gray in color--graywith a shade of green--and their expression struck me as being decidedlyfurtive. I wonder if furtive is the wordor should I have said fierce? Onsecond thoughtsfeline would have expressed it better. A crutch leaning againstthe wall told me what was painfully evident when she rose: that one of her legswas crippled.
So I was introduced to Miss Penclosaand it did not escape me that as myname was mentioned she glanced across at Agatha. Wilson had evidently beentalking. And presentlyno doubtthought Ishe will inform me by occult meansthat I am engaged to a young lady with wheat-ears in her hair. I wondered howmuch more Wilson had been telling her about me.
"Professor Gilroy is a terrible sceptic" said he; "I hopeMiss Penclosathat you will be able to convert him."
She looked keenly up at me.
"Professor Gilroy is quite right to be sceptical if he has not seen anything convincing" said she. "I should have thought" she added"that you would yourself have been an excellent subject."
"For whatmay I ask?" said I.
"Wellfor mesmerismfor example."
"My experience has been that mesmerists go for their subjects to thosewho are mentally unsound. All their results are vitiatedas it seems to mebythe fact that they are dealing with abnormal organisms."
"Which of these ladies would you say possessed a normal organism?"she asked. "I should like you to select the one who seems to you to havethe best balanced mind. Should we say the girl in pink and white?--Miss AgathaMardenI think the name is."
"YesI should attach weight to any results from her."
"I have never tried how far she is impressionable. Of course some peoplerespond much more rapidly than others. May I ask how far your scepticism extends?I suppose that you admit the mesmeric sleep and the power of suggestion."
"I admit nothingMiss Penclosa."
"Dear meI thought science had got further than that. Of course I knownothing about the scientific side of it. I only know what I can do. You see thegirl in redfor exampleover near the Japanese jar. I shall will that she comeacross to us."
She bent forward as she spoke and dropped her fan upon the floor. The girlwhisked round and came straight toward uswith an enquiring look upon her faceas if some one had called her.
"What do you think of thatGilroy?" cried Wilsonin a kind ofecstasy.
I did not dare to tell him what I thought of it. To me it was the mostbarefacedshameless piece of imposture that I had ever witnessed. The collusionand the signal had really been too obvious.
"Professor Gilroy is not satisfied" said sheglancing up at mewith her strange little eyes. "My poor fan is to get the credit of thatexperiment. Wellwe must try something else. Miss Mardenwould you have anyobjection to my putting you off?"
"OhI should love it!" cried Agatha.
By this time all the company had gathered round us in a circletheshirt-fronted menand the white-throated womensome awedsome criticalasthough it were something between a religious ceremony and a conjurer'sentertainment. A red velvet arm-chair had been pushed into the centreandAgatha lay back in ita little flushed and trembling slightly from excitement.I could see it from the vibration of the wheat-ears. Miss Penclosa rose from herseat and stood over herleaning upon her crutch.
And there was a change in the woman. She no longer seemed small orinsignificant. Twenty years were gone from her age. Her eyes were shiningatinge of color had come into her sallow cheeksher whole figure had expanded.So I have seen a dull-eyedlistless lad change in an instant into briskness andlife when given a task of which he felt himself master. She looked down atAgatha with an expression which I resented from the bottom of my soul--theexpression with which a Roman empress might have looked at her kneeling slave.Then with a quickcommanding gesture she tossed up her arms and swept themslowly down in front of her.
I was watching Agatha narrowly. During three passes she seemed to be simplyamused. At the fourth I observed a slight glazing of her eyesaccompanied bysome dilation of her pupils. At the sixth there was a momentary rigor. At theseventh her lids began to droop. At the tenth her eyes were closedand herbreathing was slower and fuller than usual. I tried as I watched to preserve myscientific calmbut a foolishcauseless agitation convulsed me. I trust that Ihid itbut I felt as a child feels in the dark. I could not have believed thatI was still open to such weakness.
"She is in the trance" said Miss Penclosa.
"She is sleeping!" I cried.
I pulled her by the arm and shouted in her ear. She might have been dead forall the impression that I could make. Her body was there on the velvet chair.Her organs were acting--her hearther lungs. But her soul! It had slipped frombeyond our ken. Whither had it gone? What power had dispossessed it? I waspuzzled and disconcerted.
"So much for the mesmeric sleep" said Miss Penclosa. "Asregards suggestionwhatever I may suggest Miss Marden will infallibly dowhether it be now or after she has awakened from her trance. Do you demand proofof it?"
"Certainly" said I.
"You shall have it." I saw a smile pass over her faceas though anamusing thought had struck her. She stooped and whispered earnestly into hersubject's ear. Agathawho had been so deaf to menodded her head as shelistened.
"Awake!" cried Miss Penclosawith a sharp tap of her crutch uponthe floor. The eyes openedthe glazing cleared slowly awayand the soul lookedout once more after its strange eclipse.
We went away early. Agatha was none the worse for her strange excursionbutI was nervous and unstrungunable to listen to or answer the stream of commentswhich Wilson was pouring out for my benefit. As I bade her good-night MissPenclosa slipped a piece of paper into my hand.
"Pray forgive me" said she"if I take means to overcome yourscepticism. Open this note at ten o'clock to-morrow morning. It is a littleprivate test."
I can't imagine what she meansbut there is the noteand it shall be openedas she directs. My head is achingand I have written enough for to-night. To-morrow I dare say that what seems so inexplicable will take quite anothercomplexion. I shall not surrender my convictions without a struggle.
March 25. I am amazedconfounded. It is clear that I must reconsider myopinion upon this matter. But first let me place on record what has occurred.
I had finished breakfastand was looking over some diagrams with which mylecture is to be illustratedwhen my housekeeper entered to tell me that Agathawas in my study and wished to see me immediately. I glanced at the clock and sawwith sun rise that it was only half-past nine.
When I entered the roomshe was standing on the hearth-rug facing me.Something in her pose chilled me and checked the words which were rising to mylips. Her veil was half downbut I could see that she was pale and that herexpression was constrained.
"Austin" she said"I have come to tell you that ourengagement is at an end."
I staggered. I believe that I literally did stagger. I know that I foundmyself leaning against the bookcase for support.
"But--but----" I stammered. "This is very suddenAgatha."
"YesAustinI have come here to tell you that our engagement is at anend."
"But surely" I cried"you will give me some reason! This isunlike youAgatha. Tell me how I have been unfortunate enough to offend you."
"It is all overAustin."
"But why? You must be under some delusionAgatha. Perhaps you have beentold some falsehood about me. Or you may have misunderstood something that Ihave said to you. Only let me know what it isand a word may set it all right."
"We must consider it all at an end."
"But you left me last night without a hint at any disagreement. Whatcould have occurred in the interval to change you so? It must have beensomething that happened last night. You have been thinking it over and you havedisapproved of my conduct. Was it the mesmerism? Did you blame me for lettingthat woman exercise her power over you? You know that at the least sign I shouldhave interfered."
"It is uselessAustin. All is over:"
Her voice was cold and measured; her manner strangely formal and hard. Itseemed to me that she was absolutely resolved not to be drawn into any argumentor explanation. As for meI was shaking with agitationand I turned my faceasideso ashamed was I that she should see my want of control.
"You must know what this means to me!" I cried. "It is theblasting of all my hopes and the ruin of my life! You surely will not inflictsuch a punishment upon me unheard. You will let me know what is the matter.Consider how impossible it would be for meunder any circumstancesto treatyou so. For God's sakeAgathalet me know what I have done!"
She walked past me without a word and opened the door.
"It is quite uselessAustin" said she. "You must considerour engagement at an end." An instant later she was goneandbefore Icould recover myself sufficiently to follow herI heard the hall-door closebehind her.
I rushed into my room to change my coatwith the idea of hurrying round toMrs. Marden's to learn from her what the cause of my misfortune might be. Soshaken was I that I could hardly lace my boots. Never shall I forget thosehorrible ten minutes. I had just pulled on my overcoat when the clock upon themantel-piece struck ten.
Ten! I associated the idea with Miss Penclosa's note. It was lying before meon the tableand I tore it open. It was scribbled in pencil in a peculiarlyangular handwriting.
"MY DEAR PROFESSOR GILROY [it said]: Pray excuse the personal nature ofthe test which I am giving you. Professor Wilson happened to mention therelations between you and my subject of this eveningand it struck me thatnothing could be more convincing to you than if I were to suggest to Miss Mardenthat she should call upon you at half-past nine to-morrow morning and suspendyour engagement for half an hour or so. Science is so exacting that it isdifficult to give a satisfying testbut I am convinced that this at least willbe an action which she would be most unlikely to do of her own free will. Forgetany thing that she may have saidas she has really nothing whatever to do withitand will certainly not recollect any thing about it. I write this note toshorten your anxietyand to beg you to forgive me for the momentary unhappinesswhich my suggestion must have caused you. "Yours faithfully; "HELENPENCLOSA.
Reallywhen I had read the noteI was too relieved to be angry. It was aliberty. Certainly it was a very great liberty indeed on the part of a lady whomI had only met once. Butafter allI had challenged her by my scepticism. Itmay have beenas she saida little difficult to devise a test which wouldsatisfy me.
And she had done that. There could be no question at all upon the point. Forme hypnotic suggestion was finally established. It took its place from nowonward as one of the facts of life. That Agathawho of all women of myacquaintance has the best balanced mindhad been reduced to a condition ofautomatism appeared to be certain. A person at a distance had worked her as anengineer on the shore might guide a Brennan torpedo. A second soul had steppedinas it werehad pushed her own asideand had seized her nervous mechanismsaying: "I will work this for half an hour." And Agatha must have beenunconscious as she came and as she returned. Could she make her way in safetythrough the streets in such a state? I put on my hat and hurried round to see ifall was well with her.
Yes. She was at home. I was shown into the drawing- room and found hersitting with a book upon her lap.
"You are an early visitorAustin" said shesmiling.
"And you have been an even earlier one" I answered.
She looked puzzled. "What do you mean?" she asked.
"You have not been out to-day?"
"Agatha" said I seriously"would you mind telling me exactlywhat you have done this morning?"
She laughed at my earnestness.
"You've got on your professional lookAustin. See what comes of beingengaged to a man of science. HoweverI will tell youthough I can't imaginewhat you want to know for. I got up at eight. I breakfasted at half-past. I cameinto this room at ten minutes past nine and began to read the `Memoirs of Mme.de Remusat.' In a few minutes I did the French lady the bad compliment ofdropping to sleep over her pagesand I did yousirthe very flattering one ofdreaming about you. It is only a few minutes since I woke up."
"And found yourself where you had been before?"
"Whywhere else should I find myself?"
"Would you mind telling meAgathawhat it was that you dreamed aboutme? It really is not mere curiosity on my part."
"I merely had a vague impression that you came into it. I cannot recallany thing definite."
"If you have not been out to-dayAgathahow is it that your shoes aredusty?"
A pained look came over her face.
"ReallyAustinI do not know what is the matter with you this morning.One would almost think that you doubted my word. If my boots are dustyit mustbeof coursethat I have put on a pair which the maid had not cleaned."
It was perfectly evident that she knew nothing whatever about the matterandI reflected thatafter allperhaps it was better that I should not enlightenher. It might frighten herand could serve no good purpose that I could see. Isaid no more about itthereforeand left shortly afterward to give my lecture.
But I am immensely impressed. My horizon of scientific possibilities hassuddenly been enormously extended. I no longer wonder at Wilson's demonic energyand enthusiasm. Who would not work hard who had a vast virgin field ready to hishand? WhyI have known the novel shape of a nucleolusor a triflingpeculiarity of striped muscular fibre seen under a 300-diameter lensfill mewith exultation. How petty do such researches seem when compared with this onewhich strikes at the very roots of life and the nature of the soul! I had alwayslooked upon spirit as a product of matter. The brainI thoughtsecreted themindas the liver does the bile. But how can this be when I see mind workingfrom a distance and playing upon matter as a musician might upon a violin? Thebody does not give rise to the soulthenbut is rather the rough instrument bywhich the spirit manifests itself. The windmill does not give rise to the windbut only indicates it. It was opposed to my whole habit of thoughtand yet itwas undeniably possible and worthy of investigation.
And why should I not investigate it? I see that under yesterday's date I said:"If I could see something positive and objectiveI might be tempted toapproach it from the physiological aspect." WellI have got my test. Ishall be as good as my word. The investigation wouldI am surebe of immenseinterest. Some of my colleagues might look askance at itfor science is full ofunreasoning prejudicesbut if Wilson has the courage of his convictionsI canafford to have it also. I shall go to him to-morrow morning-- to him and to MissPenclosa. If she can show us so muchit is probable that she can show us more.
March 26. Wilson wasas I had anticipatedvery exultant over my conversionand Miss Penclosa was also demurely pleased at the result of her experiment.Strange what a silentcolorless creature she is save only when she exercisesher power! Even talking about it gives her color and life. She seems to take asingular interest in me. I cannot help observing how her eyes follow me aboutthe room.
We had the most interesting conversation about her own powers. It is just aswell to put her views on recordthough they cannotof courseclaim anyscientific weight.
"You are on the very fringe of the subject" said shewhen I hadexpressed wonder at the remarkable instance of suggestion which she had shownme. "I had no direct influence upon Miss Marden when she came round to you.I was not even thinking of her that morning. What I did was to set her mind as Imight set the alarum of a clock so that at the hour named it would go off of itsown accord. If six months instead of twelve hours had been suggestedit wouldhave been the same."
"And if the suggestion had been to assassinate me?"
"She would most inevitably have done so."
"But this is a terrible power!" I cried.
"It isas you saya terrible power" she answered gravely"and the more you know of it the more terrible will it seem to you."
"May I ask" said I"what you meant when you said that thismatter of suggestion is only at the fringe of it? What do you consider theessential?"
"I had rather not tell you."
I was surprised at the decision of her answer.
"You understand" said I"that it is not out of curiosity Iaskbut in the hope that I may find some scientific explanation for the factswith which you furnish me."
"FranklyProfessor Gilroy" said she"I am not at allinterested in sciencenor do I care whether it can or cannot classify thesepowers."
"But I was hoping----"
"Ahthat is quite another thing. If you make it a personal matter"said shewith the pleasantest of smiles"I shall be only too happy totell you any thing you wish to know. Let me see; what was it you asked me? Ohabout the further powers. Professor Wilson won't believe in thembut they arequite true all the same. For exampleit is possible for an operator to gaincomplete command over his subject-- presuming that the latter is a good one.Without any previous suggestion he may make him do whatever he likes."
"Without the subject's knowledge?"
"That depends. If the force were strongly exertedhe would know no moreabout it than Miss Marden did when she came round and frightened you so. Orifthe influence was less powerfulhe might be conscious of what he was doingbutbe quite unable to prevent himself from doing it."
"Would he have lost his own will powerthen?"
"It would be over-ridden by another stronger one."
"Have you ever exercised this power yourself?"
"Is your own will so strongthen?"
"Wellit does not entirely depend upon that. Many have strong willswhich are not detachable from themselves. The thing is to have the gift ofprojecting it into another person and superseding his own. I find that the powervaries with my own strength and health."
"Practicallyyou send your soul into another person's body."
"Wellyou might put it that way."
"And what does your own body do?"
"It merely feels lethargic."
"Wellbut is there no danger to your own health?" I asked.
"There might be a little. You have to be careful never to let your ownconsciousness absolutely go; otherwiseyou might experience some difficulty infinding your way back again. You must always preserve the connectionas it were.I am afraid I express myself very badlyProfessor Gilroybut of course I don'tknow how to put these things in a scientific way. I am just giving you my ownexperiences and my own explanations."
WellI read this over now at my leisureand I marvel at myself! Is thisAustin Gilroythe man who has won his way to the front by his hard reasoningpower and by his devotion to fact? Here I am gravely retailing the gossip of awoman who tells me how her soul may be projected from her bodyand howwhileshe lies in a lethargyshe can control the actions of people at a distance. DoI accept it? Certainly not. She must prove and re-prove before I yield a point.But if I am still a scepticI have at least ceased to be a scoffer. We are tohave a sitting this eveningand she is to try if she can produce any mesmericeffect upon me. If she canit will make an excellent starting-point for ourinvestigation. No one can accuse meat any rateof complicity. If she cannotwe must try and find some subject who will be like Caesar's wife. Wilson isperfectly impervious.
10 P. M. I believe that I am on the threshold of an epoch-makinginvestigation. To have the power of examining these phenomena from inside--tohave an organism which will respondand at the same time a brain which willappreciate and criticise--that is surely a unique advantage. I am quite surethat Wilson would give five years of his life to be as susceptible as I haveproved myself to be.
There was no one present except Wilson and his wife. I was seated with myhead leaning backand Miss Penclosastanding in front and a little to the leftused the same longsweeping strokes as with Agatha. At each of them a warmcurrent of air seemed to strike meand to suffuse a thrill and glow all throughme from head to foot. My eyes were fixed upon Miss Penclosa's facebut as Igazed the features seemed to blur and to fade away. I was conscious only of herown eyes looking down at megraydeepinscrutable. Larger they grew andlargeruntil they changed suddenly into two mountain lakes toward which Iseemed to be falling with horrible rapidity. I shudderedand as I did so somedeeper stratum of thought told me that the shudder represented the rigor which Ihad observed in Agatha. An instant later I struck the surface of the lakesnowjoined into oneand down I went beneath the water with a fulness in my head anda buzzing in my ears. Down I wentdowndownand then with a swoop up againuntil I could see the light streaming brightly through the green water. I wasalmost at the surface when the word "Awake!" rang through my headandwith a startI found myself back in the arm-chairwith Miss Penclosaleaning on her crutchand Wilsonhis note book in his handpeeping over hershoulder. No heaviness or weariness was left behind. On the contrarythough itis only an hour or so since the experimentI feel so wakeful that I am moreinclined for my study than my bedroom. I see quite a vista of interestingexperiments extending before usand am all impatience to begin upon them.
March 27. A blank dayas Miss Penclosa goes with Wilson and his wife to theSuttons'. Have begun Binet and Ferre's "Animal Magnetism." Whatstrangedeep waters these are! Resultsresultsresults--and the cause anabsolute mystery. It is stimulating to the imaginationbut I must be on myguard against that. Let us have no inferences nor deductionsand nothing butsolid facts. I KNOW that the mesmeric trance is true; I KNOW that mesmericsuggestion is true; I KNOW that I am myself sensitive to this force. That is mypresent position. I have a large new note-book which shall be devoted entirelyto scientific detail.
Long talk with Agatha and Mrs. Marden in the evening about our marriage. Wethink that the summer vac. (the beginning of it) would be the best time for thewedding. Why should we delay? I grudge even those few months. Stillas Mrs.Marden saysthere are a good many things to be arranged.
March 28. Mesmerized again by Miss Penclosa. Experience much the same asbeforesave that insensibility came on more quickly. See Note-book A fortemperature of roombarometric pressurepulseand respiration as taken byProfessor Wilson.
March 29. Mesmerized again. Details in Note-book A.
March 30. Sundayand a blank day. I grudge any interruption of ourexperiments. At present they merely embrace the physical signs which go withslightwith completeand with extreme insensibility. Afterward we hope to passon to the phenomena of suggestion and of lucidity. Professors have demonstratedthese things upon women at Nancy and at the Salpetriere. It will be moreconvincing when a woman demonstrates it upon a professorwith a secondprofessor as a witness. And that I should be the subject--Ithe scepticthematerialist! At leastI have shown that my devotion to science is greater thanto my own personal consistency. The eating of our own words is the greatestsacrifice which truth ever requires of us.
My neighborCharles Sadlerthe handsome young demonstrator of anatomycamein this evening to return a volume of Virchow's "Archives" which I hadlent him. I call him youngbutas a matter of facthe is a year older than Iam.
"I understandGilroy" said he"that you are beingexperimented upon by Miss Penclosa.
"Well" he went onwhen I had acknowledged it"if I were youI should not let it go any further. You will think me very impertinentno doubtbutnone the lessI feel it to be my duty to advise you to have no more to dowith her."
Of course I asked him why.
"I am so placed that I cannot enter into particulars as freely as Icould wish" said he. "Miss Penclosa is the friend of my friendandmy position is a delicate one. I can only say this: that I have myself been thesubject of some of the woman's experimentsand that they have left a mostunpleasant impression upon my mind."
He could hardly expect me to be satisfied with thatand I tried hard to getsomething more definite out of himbut without success. Is it conceivable thathe could be jealous at my having superseded him? Or is he one of those men ofscience who feel personally injured when facts run counter to their preconceivedopinions? He cannot seriously suppose that because he has some vague grievance Iamthereforeto abandon a series of experiments which promise to be sofruitful of results. He appeared to be annoyed at the light way in which Itreated his shadowy warningsand we parted with some little coldness on bothsides.
March 31. Mesmerized by Miss P.
April 1. Mesmerized by Miss P. (Note-book A.)
April 2. Mesmerized by Miss P. (Sphygmographic chart taken by ProfessorWilson.)
April 3. It is possible that this course of mesmerism may be a little tryingto the general constitution. Agatha says that I am thinner and darker under theeyes. I am conscious of a nervous irritability which I had not observed inmyself before. The least noisefor examplemakes me startand the stupidityof a student causes me exasperation instead of amusement. Agatha wishes me tostopbut I tell her that every course of study is tryingand that one cannever attain a result with out paying some price for it. When she sees thesensation which my forthcoming paper on "The Relation between Mind andMatter" may makeshe will understand that it is worth a little nervouswear and tear. I should not be surprised if I got my F. R. S. over it.
Mesmerized again in the evening. The effect is produced more rapidly nowandthe subjective visions are less marked. I keep full notes of each sitting.Wilson is leaving for town for a week or ten daysbut we shall not interruptthe experimentswhich depend for their value as much upon my sensations as onhis observations.
April 4. I must be carefully on my guard. A complication has crept into ourexperiments which I had not reckoned upon. In my eagerness for scientific factsI have been foolishly blind to the human relations between Miss Penclosa andmyself. I can write here what I would not breathe to a living soul. The unhappywoman appears to have formed an attachment for me.
I should not say such a thingeven in the privacy of my own intimatejournalif it had not come to such a pass that it is impossible to ignore it.For some time--that isfor the last week--there have been signs which I havebrushed aside and refused to think of. Her brightness when I comeher dejectionwhen I goher eagerness that I should come oftenthe expression of her eyesthe tone of her voice--I tried to think that they meant nothingand wereperhapsonly her ardent West Indian manner. But last nightas I awoke from themesmeric sleepI put out my handunconsciouslyinvoluntarilyand claspedhers. When I came fully to myselfwe were sitting with them lockedshe lookingup at me with an expectant smile. And the horrible thing was that I feltimpelled to say what she expected me to say. What a false wretch I should havebeen! How I should have loathed myself to-day had I yielded to the temptation ofthat moment! Butthank GodI was strong enough to spring up and hurry from theroom. I was rudeI fearbut I could notnoI COULD nottrust myself anothermoment. Ia gentlemana man of honorengaged to one of the sweetest girls inEngland--and yet in a moment of reasonless passion I nearly professed love forthis woman whom I hardly know. She is far older than myself and a cripple. It ismonstrousodious; and yet the impulse was so strong thathad I stayed anotherminute in her presenceI should have committed myself. What was it? I have toteach others the workings of our organismand what do I know of it myself? Wasit the sudden upcropping of some lower stratum in my nature--a brutal primitiveinstinct suddenly asserting itself? I could almost believe the tales ofobsession by evil spiritsso overmastering was the feeling.
Wellthe incident places me in a most unfortunate position. On the one handI am very loath to abandon a series of experiments which have already gone sofarand which promise such brilliant results. On the otherif this unhappywoman has conceived a passion for me---- But surely even now I must have madesome hideous mistake. Shewith her age and her deformity! It is impossible. Andthen she knew about Agatha. She understood how I was placed. She only smiled outof amusementperhapswhen in my dazed state I seized her hand. It was myhalf-mesmerized brain which gave it a meaningand sprang with such bestialswiftness to meet it. I wish I could persuade myself that it was indeed so. Onthe wholeperhapsmy wisest plan would be to postpone our other experimentsuntil Wilson's return. I have written a note to Miss Penclosathereforemakingno allusion to last nightbut saying that a press of work would cause me tointerrupt our sittings for a few days. She has answeredformally enoughto saythat if I should change my mind I should find her at home at the usual hour.
10 P. M. Wellwellwhat a thing of straw I am! I am coming to know myselfbetter of lateand the more I know the lower I fall in my own estimation.Surely I was not always so weak as this. At four o'clock I should have smiledhad any one told me that I should go to Miss Penclosa's to-nightand yetateightI was at Wilson's door as usual. I don't know how it occurred. Theinfluence of habitI suppose. Perhaps there is a mesmeric craze as there is anopium crazeand I am a victim to it. I only know that as I worked in my study Ibecame more and more uneasy. I fidgeted. I worried. I could not concentrate mymind upon the papers in front of me. And thenat lastalmost before I knewwhat I was doingI seized my hat and hurried round to keep my usual appointment.
We had an interesting evening. Mrs. Wilson was present during most of thetimewhich prevented the embarrassment which one at least of us must have felt.Miss Penclosa's manner was quite the same as usualand she expressed nosurprise at my having come in spite of my note. There was nothing in her bearingto show that yesterday's incident had made any impression upon herand so I aminclined to hope that I overrated it.
April 6 (evening). NononoI did not overrate it. I can no longer attemptto conceal from myself that this woman has conceived a passion for me. It ismonstrousbut it is true. AgaintonightI awoke from the mesmeric trance tofind my hand in hersand to suffer that odious feeling which urges me to throwaway my honormy careerevery thingfor the sake of this creature whoas Ican plainly see when I am away from her influencepossesses no single charmupon earth. But when I am near herI do not feel this. She rouses something inmesomething evilsomething I had rather not think of. She paralyzes my betternaturetooat the moment when she stimulates my worse. Decidedly it is notgood for me to be near her.
Last night was worse than before. Instead of flying I actually sat for sometime with my hand in hers talking over the most intimate subjects with her. Wespoke of Agathaamong other things. What could I have been dreaming of? MissPenclosa said that she was conventionaland I agreed with her. She spoke onceor twice in a disparaging way of herand I did not protest. What a creature Ihave been!
Weak as I have proved myself to beI am still strong enough to bring thissort of thing to an end. It shall not happen again. I have sense enough to flywhen I cannot fight. From this Sunday night onward I shall never sit with MissPenclosa again. Never! Let the experiments golet the research come to an end;any thing is better than facing this monstrous temptation which drags me so low.I have said nothing to Miss Penclosabut I shall simply stay away. She can tellthe reason without any words of mine.
April 7. Have stayed away as I said. It is a pity to ruin such an interestinginvestigationbut it would be a greater pity still to ruin my lifeand I KNOWthat I cannot trust myself with that woman.
11 P. M. God help me! What is the matter with me? Am I going mad? Let me tryand be calm and reason with myself. First of all I shall set down exactly whatoccurred.
It was nearly eight when I wrote the lines with which this day begins.Feeling strangely restless and uneasyI left my rooms and walked round to spendthe evening with Agatha and her mother. They both remarked that I was pale andhaggard. About nine Professor Pratt- Haldane came inand we played a game ofwhist. I tried hard to concentrate my attention upon the cardsbut the feelingof restlessness grew and grew until I found it impossible to struggle againstit. I simply COULD not sit still at the table. At lastin the very middle of ahandI threw my cards down andwith some sort of an incoherent apology abouthaving an appointmentI rushed from the room. As if in a dream I have a vaguerecollection of tearing through the hallsnatching my hat from the standandslamming the door behind me. As in a dreamtooI have the impression of thedouble line of gas-lampsand my bespattered boots tell me that I must have rundown the middle of the road. It was all misty and strange and unnatural. I cameto Wilson's house; I saw Mrs. Wilson and I saw Miss Penclosa. I hardly recallwhat we talked aboutbut I do remember that Miss P. shook the head of hercrutch at me in a playful wayand accused me of being late and of losinginterest in our experiments. There was no mesmerismbut I stayed some time andhave only just returned.
My brain is quite clear again nowand I can think over what has occurred. Itis absurd to suppose that it is merely weakness and force of habit. I tried toexplain it in that way the other nightbut it will no longer suffice. It issomething much deeper and more terrible than that. Whywhen I was at theMardens' whist- tableI was dragged away as if the noose of a rope had beencast round me. I can no longer disguise it from myself. The woman has her gripupon me. I am in her clutch. But I must keep my head and reason it out and seewhat is best to be done.
But what a blind fool I have been! In my enthusiasm over my research I havewalked straight into the pitalthough it lay gaping before me. Did she notherself warn me? Did she not tell meas I can read in my own journalthat whenshe has acquired power over a subject she can make him do her will? And she hasacquired that power over me. I am for the moment at the beck and call of thiscreature with the crutch. I must come when she wills it. I must do as she wills.Worst of allI must feel as she wills. I loathe her and fear heryetwhile Iam under the spellshe can doubtless make me love her.
There is some consolation in the thoughtthenthat those odious impulsesfor which I have blamed myself do not really come from me at all. They are alltransferred from herlittle as I could have guessed it at the time. I feelcleaner and lighter for the thought.
April 8. Yesnowin broad daylightwriting coolly and with time forreflectionI am compelled to confirm every thing which I wrote in my journallast night. I am in a horrible positionbutabove allI must not lose myhead. I must pit my intellect against her powers. After allI am no sillypuppetto dance at the end of a string. I have energybrainscourage. For allher devil's tricks I may beat her yet. May! I MUSTor what is to become of me?
Let me try to reason it out! This womanby her own explanationcan dominatemy nervous organism. She can project herself into my body and take command ofit. She has a parasite soul; yesshe is a parasitea monstrous parasite. Shecreeps into my frame as the hermit crab does into the whelk's shell. I ampowerless What can I do? I am dealing with forces of which I know nothing. And Ican tell no one of my trouble. They would set me down as a madman. Certainlyifit got noised abroadthe university would say that they had no need of adevil-ridden professor. And Agatha! NonoI must face it alone.
I read over my notes of what the woman said when she spoke about her powers.There is one point which fills me with dismay. She implies that when theinfluence is slight the subject knows what he is doingbut cannot controlhimselfwhereas when it is strongly exerted he is absolutely unconscious. NowI have always known what I didthough less so last night than on the previousoccasions. That seems to mean that she has never yet exerted her full powersupon me. Was ever a man so placed before?
Yesperhaps there wasand very near metoo. Charles Sadler must knowsomething of this! His vague words of warning take a meaning now. Ohif I hadonly listened to him thenbefore I helped by these repeated sittings to forgethe links of the chain which binds me! But I will see him to-day. I willapologize to him for having treated his warning so lightly. I will see if he canadvise me.
4 P. M. Nohe cannot. I have talked with himand he showed such surprise atthe first words in which I tried to express my unspeakable secret that I went nofurther. As far as I can gather (by hints and inferences rather than by anystatement)his own experience was limited to some words or looks such as I havemyself endured. His abandonment of Miss Penclosa is in itself a sign that he wasnever really in her toils. Ohif he only knew his escape! He has to thank hisphlegmatic Saxon temperament for it. I am black and Celticand this hag'sclutch is deep in my nerves. Shall I ever get it out? Shall I ever be the sameman that I was just one short fortnight ago?
Let me consider what I had better do. I cannot leave the university in themiddle of the term. If I were freemy course would be obvious. I should startat once and travel in Persia. But would she allow me to start? And could herinfluence not reach me in Persiaand bring me back to within touch of hercrutch? I can only find out the limits of this hellish power by my own bitterexperience. I will fight and fight and fight--and what can I do more?
I know very well that about eight o'clock to-night that craving for hersocietythat irresistible restlessnesswill come upon me. How shall I overcomeit? What shall I do? I must make it impossible for me to leave the room. I shalllock the door and throw the key out of the window. Butthenwhat am I to do inthe morning? Never mind about the morning. I must at all costs break this chainwhich holds me.
April 9. Victory! I have done splendidly! At seven o'clock last night I tooka hasty dinnerand then locked myself up in my bedroom and dropped the key intothe garden. I chose a cheery noveland lay in bed for three hours trying toread itbut really in a horrible state of trepidationexpecting every instantthat I should become conscious of the impulse. Nothing of the sort occurredhoweverand I awoke this morning with the feeling that a black nightmare hadbeen lifted off me. Perhaps the creature realized what I had doneandunderstood that it was useless to try to influence me. At any rateI havebeaten her onceand if I can do it onceI can do it again.
It was most awkward about the key in the morning. Luckilythere was anunder-gardener belowand I asked him to throw it up. No doubt he thought I hadjust dropped it. I will have doors and windows screwed up and six stout men tohold me down in my bed before I will surrender myself to be hag-ridden in thisway.
I had a note from Mrs. Marden this afternoon asking me to go round and seeher. I intended to do so in any casebut had not excepted to find bad newswaiting for me. It seems that the Armstrongsfrom whom Agatha has expectationsare due home from Adelaide in the Auroraand that they have written to Mrs.Marden and her to meet them in town. They will probably be away for a month orsix weeksandas the Aurora is due on Wednesdaythey must go atonce--to-morrowif they are ready in time. My consolation is that when we meetagain there will be no more parting between Agatha and me.
"I want you to do one thingAgatha" said Iwhen we were alonetogether. "If you should happen to meet Miss Penclosaeither in town orhereyou must promise me never again to allow her to mesmerize you."
Agatha opened her eyes.
"Whyit was only the other day that you were saying how interesting itall wasand how determined you were to finish your experiments."
"I knowbut I have changed my mind since then."
"And you won't have it any more?"
"I am so gladAustin. You can't think how pale and worn you have beenlately. It was really our principal objection to going to London now that we didnot wish to leave you when you were so pulled down. And your manner has been sostrange occasionally--especially that night when you left poor ProfessorPratt-Haldane to play dummy. I am convinced that these experiments are very badfor your nerves."
"I think sotoodear."
"And for Miss Penclosa's nerves as well. You have heard that she is ill?"
"Mrs. Wilson told us so last night. She described it as a nervous feverProfessor Wilson is coming back this weekand of course Mrs. Wilson is veryanxious that Miss Penclosa should be well again thenfor he has quite aprogramme of experiments which he is anxious to carry out."
I was glad to have Agatha's promisefor it was enough that this woman shouldhave one of us in her clutch. On the other handI was disturbed to hear aboutMiss Penclosa's illness. It rather discounts the victory which I appeared to winlast night. I remember that she said that loss of health interfered with herpower. That may be why I was able to hold my own so easily. WellwellI musttake the same precautions to-night and see what comes of it. I am childishlyfrightened when I think of her.
April 10. All went very well last night. I was amused at the gardener's facewhen I had again to hail him this morning and to ask him to throw up my key. Ishall get a name among the servants if this sort of thing goes on. But the greatpoint is that I stayed in my room without the slightest inclination to leave it.I do believe that I am shaking myself clear of this incredible bond--or is itonly that the woman's power is in abeyance until she recovers her strength? Ican but pray for the best.
The Mardens left this morningand the brightness seems to have gone out ofthe spring sunshine. And yet it is very beautiful also as it gleams on the greenchestnuts opposite my windowsand gives a touch of gayety to the heavylichen-mottled walls of the old colleges. How sweet and gentle and soothing isNature! Who would think that there lurked in her also such vile forcessuchodious possibilities! For of course I understand that this dreadful thing whichhas sprung out at me is neither supernatural nor even preternatural. Noit is anatural force which this woman can use and society is ignorant of. The mere factthat it ebbs with her strength shows how entirely it is subject to physical laws.If I had timeI might probe it to the bottom and lay my hands upon itsantidote. But you cannot tame the tiger when you are beneath his claws. You canbut try to writhe away from him. Ahwhen I look in the glass and see my owndark eyes and clear-cut Spanish faceI long for a vitriol splash or a bout ofthe small-pox. One or the other might have saved me from this calamity.
I am inclined to think that I may have trouble to- night. There are twothings which make me fear so. One is that I met Mrs. Wilson in the streetandthat she tells me that Miss Penclosa is betterthough still weak. I find myselfwishing in my heart that the illness had been her last. The other is thatProfessor Wilson comes back in a day or twoand his presence would act as aconstraint upon her. I should not fear our interviews if a third person werepresent. For both these reasons I have a presentiment of trouble to- nightandI shall take the same precautions as before.
April 10. Nothank Godall went well last night. I really could not facethe gardener again. I locked my door and thrust the key underneath itso that Ihad to ask the maid to let me out in the morning. But the precaution was reallynot neededfor I never had any inclination to go out at all. Three evenings insuccession at home! I am surely near the end of my troublesfor Wilson will behome again either today or tomorrow. Shall I tell him of what I have gonethrough or not? I am convinced that I should not have the slightest sympathyfrom him. He would look upon me as an interesting caseand read a paper aboutme at the next meeting of the Psychical Societyin which he would gravelydiscuss the possibility of my being a deliberate liarand weigh it against thechances of my being in an early stage of lunacy. NoI shall get no comfort outof Wilson.
I am feeling wonderfully fit and well. I don't think I ever lectured withgreater spirit. Ohif I could only get this shadow off my lifehow happy Ishould be! Youngfairly wealthyin the front rank of my professionengaged toa beautiful and charming girl-- have I not every thing which a man could ask for?Only one thing to trouble mebut what a thing it is!
Midnight. I shall go mad. Yesthat will be the end of it. I shall go mad. Iam not far from it now. My head throbs as I rest it on my hot hand. I amquivering all over like a scared horse. Ohwhat a night I have had! And yet Ihave some cause to be satisfied also.
At the risk of becoming the laughing-stock of my own servantI again slippedmy key under the doorimprisoning myself for the night. Thenfinding it tooearly to go to bedI lay down with my clothes on and began to read one ofDumas's novels. Suddenly I was gripped--gripped and dragged from the couch. Itis only thus that I can describe the overpowering nature of the force whichpounced upon me. I clawed at the coverlet. I clung to the wood-work. I believethat I screamed out in my frenzy. It was all uselesshopeless. I MUST go. Therewas no way out of it. It was only at the outset that I resisted. The force soonbecame too overmastering for that. I thank goodness that there were no watchersthere to interfere with me. I could not have answered for myself if there hadbeen. Andbesides the determination to get outthere came to mealsothekeenest and coolest judgment in choosing my means. I lit a candle and endeavoredkneeling in front of the doorto pull the key through with the feather-end of aquill pen. It was just too short and pushed it further away. Then with quietpersistence I got a paper-knife out of one of the drawersand with that Imanaged to draw the key back. I opened the doorstepped into my studytook aphotograph of myself from the bureauwrote something across itplaced it inthe inside pocket of my coatand then started off for Wilson's.
It was all wonderfully clearand yet disassociated from the rest of my lifeas the incidents of even the most vivid dream might be. A peculiar doubleconsciousness possessed me. There was the predominant alien willwhich was bentupon drawing me to the side of its ownerand there was the feebler protestingpersonalitywhich I recognized as being myselftugging feebly at theovermastering impulse as a led terrier might at its chain. I can rememberrecognizing these two conflicting forcesbut I recall nothing of my walknorof how I was admitted to the house.
Very vividhoweveris my recollection of how I met Miss Penclosa. She wasreclining on the sofa in the little boudoir in which our experiments had usuallybeen carried out. Her head was rested on her handand a tiger-skin rug had beenpartly drawn over her. She looked up expectantly as I enteredandas the lamp-light fell upon her faceI could see that she was very pale and thinwith darkhollows under her eyes. She smiled at meand pointed to a stool beside her. Itwas with her left hand that she pointedand Irunning eagerly forwardseizedit--I loathe myself as I think of it--and pressed it passionately to my lips.Thenseating myself upon the stooland still retaining her handI gave herthe photograph which I had brought with meand talked and talked and talked--ofmy love for herof my grief over her illnessof my joy at her recoveryof themisery it was to me to be absent a single evening from her side. She lay quietlylooking down at me with imperious eyes and her provocative smile. Once Iremember that she passed her hand over my hair as one caresses a dog; and itgave me pleasure--the caress. I thrilled under it. I was her slavebody andsouland for the moment I rejoiced in my slavery.
And then came the blessed change. Never tell me that there is not aProvidence! I was on the brink of perdition. My feet were on the edge. Was it acoincidence that at that very instant help should come? Nonono; there is aProvidenceand its hand has drawn me back. There is something in the universestronger than this devil woman with her tricks. Ahwhat a balm to my heart itis to think so!
As I looked up at her I was conscious of a change in her. Her facewhich hadbeen pale beforewas now ghastly. Her eyes were dulland the lids droopedheavily over them. Above allthe look of serene confidence had gone from herfeatures. Her mouth had weakened. Her forehead had puckered. She was frightenedand undecided. And as I watched the change my own spirit fluttered and struggledtrying hard to tear itself from the grip which held it--a grip whichfrommoment to momentgrew less secure.
"Austin" she whispered"I have tried to do too much. I wasnot strong enough. I have not recovered yet from my illness. But I could notlive longer without seeing you. You won't leave meAustin? This is only apassing weakness. If you will only give me five minutesI shall be myself again.Give me the small decanter from the table in the window."
But I had regained my soul. With her waning strength the influence hadcleared away from me and left me free. And I was aggressive--bitterlyfiercelyaggressive. For once at least I could make this woman understand what my realfeelings toward her were. My soul was filled with a hatred as bestial as thelove against which it was a reaction. It was the savagemurderous passion ofthe revolted serf. I could have taken the crutch from her side and beaten herface in with it. She threw her hands upas if to avoid a blowand cowered awayfrom me into the corner of the settee.
"The brandy!" she gasped. "The brandy!"
I took the decanter and poured it over the roots of a palm in the window.Then I snatched the photograph from her hand and tore it into a hundred pieces.
"You vile woman" I said"if I did my duty to societyyouwould never leave this room alive!"
"I love youAustin; I love you!" she wailed.
"Yes" I cried"and Charles Sadler before. And how manyothers before that?"
"Charles Sadler!" she gasped. "He has spoken to you? SoCharles SadlerCharles Sadler!" Her voice came through her white lips likea snake's hiss.
"YesI know youand others shall know youtoo. You shamelesscreature! You knew how I stood. And yet you used your vile power to bring me toyour side. You mayperhapsdo so againbut at least you will remember thatyou have heard me say that I love Miss Marden from the bottom of my soulandthat I loathe youabhor you!
The very sight of you and the sound of your voice fill me with horror anddisgust. The thought of you is repulsive. That is how I feel toward youand ifit pleases you by your tricks to draw me again to your side as you have doneto-nightyou will at leastI should thinkhave little satisfaction in tryingto make a lover out of a man who has told you his real opinion of you. You mayput what words you will into my mouthbut you cannot help remembering----"
I stoppedfor the woman's head had fallen backand she had fainted. Shecould not bear to hear what I had to say to her! What a glow of satisfaction itgives me to think thatcome what mayin the future she can never misunderstandmy true feelings toward her. But what will occur in the future? What will she donext? I dare not think of it. Ohif only I could hope that she will leave mealone! But when I think of what I said to her---- Never mind; I have beenstronger than she for once.
April 11. I hardly slept last nightand found myself in the morning sounstrung and feverish that I was compelled to ask Pratt-Haldane to do my lecturefor me. It is the first that I have ever missed. I rose at mid-daybut my headis achingmy hands quiveringand my nerves in a pitiable state.
Who should come round this evening but Wilson. He has just come back fromLondonwhere he has lecturedread papersconvened meetingsexposed a mediumconducted a series of experiments on thought transferenceentertained ProfessorRichet of Parisspent hours gazing into a crystaland obtained some evidenceas to the passage of matter through matter. All this he poured into my ears in asingle gust.
"But you!" he cried at last. "You are not looking well. AndMiss Penclosa is quite prostrated to-day. How about the experiments?"
"I have abandoned them."
"The subject seems to me to be a dangerous one."
Out came his big brown note-book.
"This is of great interest" said he. "What are your groundsfor saying that it is a dangerous one? Please give your facts in chronologicalorderwith approximate dates and names of reliable witnesses with theirpermanent addresses."
"First of all" I asked"would you tell me whether you havecollected any cases where the mesmerist has gained a command over the subjectand has used it for evil purposes?"
"Dozens!" he cried exultantly. "Crime by suggestion----"
"I don't mean suggestion. I mean where a sudden impulse comes from aperson at a distance--an uncontrollable impulse."
"Obsession!" he shriekedin an ecstasy of delight. "It is therarest condition. We have eight casesfive well attested. You don't mean tosay----" His exultation made him hardly articulate.
"NoI don't" said I. "Good-evening! You will excuse mebutI am not very w ell to-night." And so at last I got rid of himstillbrandishing his pencil and his note-book. My troubles may be bad to hearbut atleast it is better to hug them to myself than to have myself exhibited byWilsonlike a freak at a fair. He has lost sight of human beings. Every thingto him is a case and a phenomenon. I will die before I speak to him again uponthe matter.
April 12. Yesterday was a blessed day of quietand I enjoyed an uneventfulnight. Wilson's presence is a great consolation. What can the woman do now?Surelywhen she has heard me say what I have saidshe will conceive the samedisgust for me which I have for her. She could notnoshe COULD notdesire tohave a lover who had insulted her so. NoI believe I am free from her love--buthow about her hate? Might she not use these powers of hers for revenge? Tut! whyshould I frighten myself over shadows? She will forget about meand I shallforget about herand all will be well.
April 13. My nerves have quite recovered their tone. I really believe that Ihave conquered the creature. But I must confess to living in some suspense. Sheis well againfor I hear that she was driving with Mrs. Wilson in the HighStreet in the afternoon.
April 14. I do wish I could get away from the place altogether. I shall flyto Agatha's side the very day that the term closes. I suppose it is pitiablyweak of mebut this woman gets upon my nerves most terribly. I have seen heragainand I have spoken with her.
It was just after lunchand I was smoking a cigarette in my studywhen Iheard the step of my servant Murray in the passage. I was languidly consciousthat a second step was audible behindand had hardly troubled myself tospeculate who it might bewhen suddenly a slight noise brought me out of mychair with my skin creeping with apprehension. I had never particularly observedbefore what sort of sound the tapping of a crutch wasbut my quivering nervestold me that I heard it now in the sharp wooden clack which alternated with themuffled thud of the foot fall. Another instant and my servant had shown her in.
I did not attempt the usual conventions of societynor did she. I simplystood with the smouldering cigarette in my handand gazed at her. She in herturn looked silently at meand at her look I remembered how in these very pagesI had tried to define the expression of her eyeswhether they were furtive orfierce. To- day they were fierce--coldly and inexorably so.
"Well" said she at last"are you still of the same mind aswhen I saw you last?"
"I have always been of the same mind."
"Let us understand each otherProfessor Gilroy" said she slowly."I am not a very safe person to trifle withas you should realize by now.It was you who asked me to enter into a series of experiments with youit wasyou who won my affectionsit was you who professed your love for meit was youwho brought me your own photograph with words of affection upon itandfinallyit was you who on the very same evening thought fit to insult me mostoutrageouslyaddressing me as no man has ever dared to speak to me yet. Tell methat those words came from you in a moment of passion and I am prepared toforget and to forgive them. You did not mean what you saidAustin? You do notreally hate me?"
I might have pitied this deformed woman--such a longing for love brokesuddenly through the menace of her eyes. But then I thought of what I had gonethroughand my heart set like flint.
"If ever you heard me speak of love" said I"you know verywell that it was your voice which spokeand not mine. The only words of truthwhich I have ever been able to say to you are those which you heard when last wemet."
"I know. Some one has set you against me. It was he!" She tappedwith her crutch upon the floor. "Wellyou know very well that I couldbring you this instant crouching like a spaniel to my feet. You will not find meagain in my hour of weaknesswhen you can insult me with impunity. Have a carewhat you are doingProfessor Gilroy. You stand in a terrible position. You havenot yet realized the hold which I have upon you."
I shrugged my shoulders and turned away.
"Well" said sheafter a pause"if you despise my loveImust see what can be done with fear. You smilebut the day will come when youwill come screaming to me for pardon. Yesyou will grovel on the ground beforemeproud as you areand you will curse the day that ever you turned me fromyour best friend into your most bitter enemy. Have a careProfessor Gilroy!"I saw a white hand shaking in the airand a face which was scarcely humansoconvulsed was it with passion. An instant later she was goneand I heard thequick hobble and tap receding down the passage.
But she has left a weight upon my heart. Vague presentiments of comingmisfortune lie heavy upon me. I try in vain to persuade myself that these areonly words of empty anger. I can remember those relentless eyes too clearly tothink so. What shall I do--ahwhat shall I do? I am no longer master of my ownsoul. At any moment this loathsome parasite may creep into meand then---- Imust tell some one my hideous secret--I must tell it or go mad. If I had someone to sympathize and advise! Wilson is out of the question. Charles Sadlerwould understand me only so far as his own experience carries him. Pratt-Haldane!He is a well-balanced mana man of great common-sense and resource. I will goto him. I will tell him every thing. God grant that he may be able to advise me!
6.45 P. M. Noit is useless. There is no human help for me; I must fightthis out single-handed. Two courses lie before me. I might become this woman'slover. Or I must endure such persecutions as she can inflict upon me. Even ifnone comeI shall live in a hell of apprehension. But she may torture meshemay drive me madshe may kill me: I will nevernevernever give in. What canshe inflict which would be worse than the loss of Agathaand the knowledge thatI am a perjured liarand have forfeited the name of gentleman?
Pratt-Haldane was most amiableand listened with all politeness to my story.But when I looked at his heavy set featureshis slow eyesand the ponderousstudy furniture which surrounded himI could hardly tell him what I had come tosay. It was all so substantialso material. Andbesideswhat would I myselfhave said a short month ago if one of my colleagues had come to me with a storyof demonic possession? Perhaps. I should have been less patient than he was. Asit washe took notes of my statementasked me how much tea I drankhow manyhours I sleptwhether I had been overworking muchhad I had sudden pains inthe headevil dreamssinging in the earsflashes before the eyes--allquestions which pointed to his belief that brain congestion was at the bottom ofmy trouble. Finally he dismissed me with a great many platitudes about open-airexerciseand avoidance of nervous excitement. His prescriptionwhich was forchloral and bromideI rolled up and threw into the gutter.
NoI can look for no help from any human being. If I consult any moretheymay put their heads together and I may find myself in an asylum. I can but gripmy courage with both handsand pray that an honest man may not be abandoned.
April 10. It is the sweetest spring within the memory of man. So greensomildso beautiful t Ahwhat a contrast between nature without and my own soulso torn with doubt and terror! It has been an uneventful daybut I know that Iam on the edge of an abyss. I know itand yet I go on with the routine of mylife. The one bright spot is that Agatha is happy and well and out of all danger.If this creature had a hand on each of uswhat might she not do?
April 16. The woman is ingenious in her torments. She knows how fond I am ofmy workand how highly my lectures are thought of. So it is from that pointthat she now attacks me. It will endI can seein my losing my professorshipbut I will fight to the finish. She shall not drive me out of it without astruggle.
I was not conscious of any change during my lecture this morning save thatfor a minute or two I had a dizziness and swimminess which rapidly passed away.On the contraryI congratulated myself upon having made my subject (thefunctions of the red corpuscles) both interesting and clear. I was surprisedthereforewhen a student came into my laboratory immediately after the lectureand complained of being puzzled by the discrepancy between my statements andthose in the text books. He showed me his note-bookin which I was reported ashaving in one portion of the lecture championed the most outrageous andunscientific heresies. Of course I denied itand declared that he hadmisunderstood mebut on comparing his notes with those of his companionsitbecame clear that he was rightand that I really had made some mostpreposterous statements. Of course I shall explain it away as being the resultof a moment of aberrationbut I feel only too sure that it will be the first ofa series. It is but a month now to the end of the sessionand I pray that I maybe able to hold out until then.
April 26. Ten days have elapsed since I have had the heart to make any entryin my journal. Why should I record my own humiliation and degradation? I hadvowed never to open it again. And yet the force of habit is strongand here Ifind myself taking up once more the record of my own dreadful experiences--inmuch the same spirit in which a suicide has been known to take notes of theeffects of the poison which killed him.
Wellthe crash which I had foreseen has come--and that no further back thanyesterday. The university authorities have taken my lectureship from me. It hasbeen done in the most delicate waypurporting to be a temporary measure torelieve me from the effects of overworkand to give me the opportunity ofrecovering my health. None the lessit has been doneand I am no longerProfessor Gilroy. The laboratory is still in my chargebut I have little doubtthat that also will soon go.
The fact is that my lectures had become the laughing- stock of theuniversity. My class was crowded with students who came to see and hear what theeccentric professor would do or say next. I cannot go into the detail of myhumiliation. Ohthat devilish woman! There is no depth of buffoonery andimbecility to which she has not forced me. I would begin my lecture clearly andwellbut always with the sense of a coming eclipse. Then as I felt theinfluence I would struggle against itstriving with clenched hands and beads ofsweat upon my brow to get the better of itwhile the studentshearing myincoherent words and watching my contortionswould roar with laughter at theantics of their professor. And thenwhen she had once fairly mastered meoutwould come the most outrageous things--silly jokessentiments as though I wereproposing a toastsnatches of balladspersonal abuse even against some memberof my class. And then in a moment my brain would clear againand my lecturewould proceed decorously to the end. No wonder that my conduct has been the talkof the colleges. No wonder that the University Senate has been compelled to takeofficial notice of such a scandal. Ohthat devilish woman!
And the most dreadful part of it all is my own loneliness. Here I sit in acommonplace English bow- windowlooking out upon a commonplace English streetwith its garish 'buses and its lounging policemanand behind me there hangs ashadow which is out of all keeping with the age and place. In the home ofknowledge I am weighed down and tortured by a power of which science knowsnothing. No magistrate would listen to me. No paper would discuss my case. Nodoctor would believe my symptoms. My own most intimate friends would only lookupon it as a sign of brain derangement. I am out of all touch with my kind. Ohthat devilish woman! Let her have a care! She may push me too far. When the lawcannot help a manhe may make a law for himself.
She met me in the High Street yesterday evening and spoke to me. It was aswell for herperhapsthat it was not between the hedges of a lonely countryroad. She asked me with her cold smile whether I had been chastened yet. I didnot deign to answer her. "We must try another turn of the screw;" saidshe. Have a caremy ladyhave a care! I had her at my mercy once. Perhapsanother chance may come.
April 28. The suspension of my lectureship has had the effect also of takingaway her means of annoying meand so I have enjoyed two blessed days of peace.After allthere is no reason to despair. Sympathy pours in to me from all sidesand every one agrees that it is my devotion to science and the arduous nature ofmy researches which have shaken my nervous system. I have had the kindestmessage from the council advising me to travel abroadand expressing theconfident hope that I may be able to resume all my duties by the beginning ofthe summer term. Nothing could be more flattering than their allusions to mycareer and to my services to the university. It is only in misfortune that onecan test one's own popularity. This creature may weary of tormenting meandthen all may yet be well. May God grant it!
April 29. Our sleepy little town has had a small sensation. The onlyknowledge of crime which we ever have is when a rowdy undergraduate breaks a fewlamps or comes to blows with a policeman. Last nighthoweverthere was anattempt made to break-into the branch of the Bank of Englandand we are all ina flutter in consequence.
Parkensonthe manageris an intimate friend of mineand I found him verymuch excited when I walked round there after breakfast. Had the thieves brokeninto the counting-housethey would still have had the safes to reckon withsothat the defence was considerably stronger than the attack. Indeedthe latterdoes not appear to have ever been very formidable. Two of the lower windows havemarks as if a chisel or some such instrument had been pushed under them to forcethem open. The police should have a good cluefor the wood-work had been donewith green paint only the day beforeand from the smears it is evident thatsome of it has found its way on to the criminal's hands or clothes.
4.30 P. M. Ahthat accursed woman! That thrice accursed woman! Never mind!She shall not beat me! Noshe shall not! Butohthe she-devil! She has takenmy professorship. Now she would take my honor. Is there nothing I can do againsthernothing save---- Ahbuthard pushed as I amI cannot bring myself tothink of that!
It was about an hour ago that I went into my bedroomand was brushing myhair before the glasswhen suddenly my eyes lit upon something which left me sosick and cold that I sat down upon the edge of the bed and began to cry. It ismany a long year since I shed tearsbut all my nerve was goneand I could butsob and sob in impotent grief and anger. There was my house jacketthe coat Iusually wear after dinnerhanging on its peg by the wardrobewith the rightsleeve thickly crusted from wrist to elbow with daubs of green paint.
So this was what she meant by another turn of the screw! She had made apublic imbecile of me. Now she would brand me as a criminal. This time she hasfailed. But how about the next? I dare not think of it--and of Agatha and mypoor old mother! I wish that I were dead!
Yesthis is the other turn of the screw. And this is also what she meantnodoubtwhen she said that I had not realized yet the power she has over me. Ilook back at my account of my conversation with herand I see how she declaredthat with a slight exertion of her will her subject would be consciousand witha stronger one unconscious. Last night I was unconscious. I could have swornthat I slept soundly in my bed without so much as a dream. And yet those stainstell me that I dressedmade my way outattempted to open the bank windowsandreturned. Was I observed? Is it possible that some one saw me do it and followedme home? Ahwhat a hell my life has become! I have no peaceno rest. But mypatience is nearing its end.
10 P. M. I have cleaned my coat with turpentine. I do not think that any onecould have seen me. It was with my screw-driver that I made the marks. I foundit all crusted with paintand I have cleaned it. My head aches as if it wouldburstand I have taken five grains of antipyrine. If it were not for AgathaIshould have taken fifty and had an end of it.
May 3. Three quiet days. This hell fiend is like a cat with a mouse. She letsme loose only to pounce upon me again. I am never so frightened as when everything is still. My physical state is deplorable-- perpetual hiccough and ptosisof the left eyelid.
I have heard from the Mardens that they will be back the day after to-morrow.I do not know whether I am glad or sorry. They were safe in London. Once herethey may be drawn into the miserable network in which I am myself struggling.And I must tell them of it. I cannot marry Agatha so long as I know that I amnot responsible for my own actions. YesI must tell themeven if it bringsevery thing to an end between us.
To-night is the university balland I must go. God knows I never felt lessin the humor for festivitybut I must not have it said that I am unfit toappear in public. If I am seen thereand have speech with some of the elders ofthe university it will go a long way toward showing them that it would be unjustto take my chair away from me.
10 P. M. I have been to the ball. Charles Sadler and I went togetherbut Ihave come away before him. I shall wait up for himhoweverforindeedI fearto go to sleep these nights. He is a cheerypractical fellowand a chat withhim will steady my nerves. On the wholethe evening was a great success. Italked to every one who has influenceand I think that I made them realize thatmy chair is not vacant quite yet. The creature was at the ball--unable to danceof coursebut sitting with Mrs. Wilson. Again and again her eyes rested uponme. They were almost the last things I saw before I left the room. Onceas Isat sideways to herI watched herand saw that her gaze was following some oneelse. It was Sadlerwho was dancing at the time with the second Miss Thurston.To judge by her expressionit is well for him that he is not in her grip as Iam. He does not know the escape he has had. I think I hear his step in thestreet nowand I will go down and let him in. If he will----
May 4. Why did I break off in this way last night? I never went down stairsafter all--at leastI have no recollection of doing so. Buton the other handI cannot remember going to bed. One of my hands is greatly swollen this morningand yet I have no remembrance of injuring it yesterday. OtherwiseI am feelingall the better for last night's festivity. But I cannot understand how it isthat I did not meet Charles Sadler when I so fully intended to do so. Is itpossible---- My Godit is only too probable! Has she been leading me somedevil's dance again? I will go down to Sadler and ask him.
Mid-day. The thing has come to a crisis. My life is not worth living. ButifI am to diethen she shall come also. I will not leave her behindto drivesome other man mad as she has me. NoI have come to the limit of my endurance.She has made me as desperate and dangerous a man as walks the earth. God knows Ihave never had the heart to hurt a flyand yetif I had my hands now upon thatwomanshe should never leave this room alive. I shall see her this very dayand she shall learn what she has to expect from me.
I went to Sadler and found himto my surprisein bed. As I entered he satup and turned a face toward me which sickened me as I looked at it.
"WhySadlerwhat has happened?" I criedbut my heart turned coldas I said it.
"Gilroy" he answeredmumbling with his swollen lips"I havefor some weeks been under the impression that you are a madman. Now I know itand that you are a dangerous one as well. If it were not that I am unwilling tomake a scandal in the collegeyou would now be in the hands of the police."
"Do you mean----" I cried.
"I mean that as I opened the door last night you rushed out upon mestruck me with both your fists in the faceknocked me downkicked me furiouslyin the sideand left me lying almost unconscious in the street. Look at yourown hand bearing witness against you."
Yesthere it waspuffed upwith sponge-like knucklesas after someterrific blow. What could I do? Though he put me down as a madmanI must tellhim all. I sat by his bed and went over all my troubles from the beginning. Ipoured them out with quivering hands and burning words which might have carriedconviction to the most sceptical. "She hates you and she hates me!" Icried. "She revenged herself last night on both of us at once. She saw meleave the balland she must have seen you also. She knew how long it would takeyou to reach home. Then she had but to use her wicked will. Ahyour bruisedface is a small thing beside my bruised soul!"
He was struck by my story. That was evident. "Yesyesshe watched meout of the room" he muttered. "She is capable of it. But is itpossible that she has really reduced you to this? What do you intend todo?"
"To stop it!" I cried. "I am perfectly desperate; I shall giveher fair warning to-dayand the next time will be the last."
"Do nothing rash" said he.
"Rash!" I cried. "The only rash thing is that I shouldpostpone it another hour." With that I rushed to my roomand here I am onthe eve of what may be the great crisis of my life. I shall start at once. Ihave gained one thing to-dayfor I have made one manat leastrealize thetruth of this monstrous experience of mine. Andif the worst should happenthis diary remains as a proof of the goad that has driven me.
Evening. When I came to Wilson'sI was shown upand found that he wassitting with Miss Penclosa. For half an hour I had to endure his fussy talkabout his recent research into the exact nature of the spiritualistic rapwhilethe creature and I sat in silence looking across the room at each other. I reada sinister amusement in her eyesand she must have seen hatred and menace inmine. I had almost despaired of having speech with her when he was called fromthe roomand we were left for a few moments together.
"WellProfessor Gilroy--or is it Mr. Gilroy?" said shewith thatbitter smile of hers. "How is your friend Mr. Charles Sadler after theball?"
"You fiend!" I cried. "You have come to the end of your tricksnow. I will have no more of them. Listen to what I say." I strode acrossand shook her roughly by the shoulder "As sure as there is a God in heavenI swear that if you try another of your deviltries upon me I will have your lifefor it. Come what mayI will have your life. I have come to the end of what aman can endure."
"Accounts are not quite settled between us" said shewith apassion that equalled my own. "I can loveand I can hate. You had yourchoice. You chose to spurn the first; now you must test the other. It will takea little more to break your spiritI seebut broken it shall be. Miss Mardencomes back to-morrowas I understand."
"What has that to do with you?" I cried. "It is a pollutionthat you should dare even to think of her. If I thought that you would harmher----"
She was frightenedI could seethough she tried to brazen it out. She readthe black thought in my mindand cowered away from me.
"She is fortunate in having such a champion" said she. "Heactually dares to threaten a lonely woman. I must really congratulate MissMarden upon her protector."
The words were bitterbut the voice and manner were more acid still.
"There is no use talking" said I. "I only came here to tellyou--and to tell you most solemnly--that your next outrage upon me will beyour last." With thatas I heard Wilson's step upon the stairI walkedfrom the room. Ayshe may look venomous and deadlybutfor all thatshe isbeginning to see now that she has as much to fear from me as I can have fromher. Murder! It has an ugly sound. But you don't talk of murdering a snake or ofmurdering a tiger. Let her have a care now.
May 5. I met Agatha and her mother at the station at eleven o'clock. She islooking so brightso happyso beautiful. And she was so overjoyed to see me.What have I done to deserve such love? I went back home with themand welunched together. All the troubles seem in a moment to have been shredded backfrom my life. She tells me that I am looking pale and worried and ill. The dearchild puts it down to my loneliness and the perfunctory attentions of ahousekeeper. I pray that she may never know the truth! May the shadowif shadowthere must belie ever black across my life and leave hers in the sunshine. Ihave just come back from themfeeling a new man. With her by my side I thinkthat I could show a bold face to any thing which life might send.
5 P. M. Nowlet me try to be accurate. Let me try to say exactly how itoccurred. It is fresh in my mindand I can set it down correctlythough it isnot likely that the time will ever come when I shall forget the doings ofto-day.
I had returned from the Mardens' after lunchand was cutting somemicroscopic sections in my freezing microtomewhen in an instant I lostconsciousness in the sudden hateful fashion which has become only too familiarto me of late.
When my senses came back to me I was sitting in a small chamberverydifferent from the one in which I had been working. It was cosey and brightwith chintz- covered setteescolored hangingsand a thousand pretty littletrifles upon the wall. A small ornamental clock ticked in front of meand thehands pointed to half-past three. It was all quite familiar to meand yet Istared about for a moment in a half- dazed way until my eyes fell upon a cabinetphotograph of myself upon the top of the piano. On the other side stood one ofMrs. Marden. Thenof courseI remembered where I was. It was Agatha's boudoir.
But how came I thereand what did I want? A horrible sinking came to myheart. Had I been sent here on some devilish errand? Had that errand alreadybeen done? Surely it must; otherwisewhy should I be allowed to come back toconsciousness? Ohthe agony of that moment! What had I done? I sprang to myfeet in my despairand as I did so a small glass bottle fell from my knees onto the carpet.
It was unbrokenand I picked it up. Outside was written "SulphuricAcid. Fort." When I drew the round glass stoppera thick fume rose slowlyupand a pungentchoking smell pervaded the room. I recognized it as one whichI kept for chemical testing in my chambers. But why had I brought a bottle ofvitriol into Agatha's chamber? Was it not this thickreeking liquid with whichjealous women had been known to mar the beauty of their rivals? My heart stoodstill as I held the bottle to the light. Thank Godit was full! No mischief hadbeen done as yet. But had Agatha come in a minute soonerwas it not certainthat the hellish parasite within me would have dashed the stuff into her---- Ahit will not bear to be thought of! But it must have been for that. Why elseshould I have brought it? At the thought of what I might have done my wornnerves broke downand I sat shivering and twitchingthe pitiable wreck of aman.
It was the sound of Agatha's voice and the rustle of her dress which restoredme. I looked upand saw her blue eyesso full of tenderness and pitygazingdown at me.
"We must take you away to the countryAustin" she said. "Youwant rest and quiet. You look wretchedly ill."
"Ohit is nothing!" said Itrying to smile. "It was only amomentary weakness. I am all right again now."
"I am so sorry to keep you waiting. Poor boyyou must have been herequite half an hour! The vicar was in the drawing-roomandas I knew that youdid not care for himI thought it better that Jane should show you up here. Ithought the man would never go!"
"Thank God he stayed! Thank God he stayed!" I cried hysterically.
"Whywhat is the matter with youAustin?" she askedholding myarm as I staggered up from the chair. "Why are you glad that the vicarstayed? And what is this little bottle in your hand?"
"Nothing" I criedthrusting it into my pocket. "But I mustgo. I have something important to do."
"How stern you lookAustin! I have never seen your face like that. Youare angry?"
"YesI am angry."
"But not with me?"
"Nonomy darling! You would not understand."
"But you have not told me why you came."
"I came to ask you whether you would always love me--no matter what Ididor what shadow might fall on my name. Would you believe in me and trust mehowever black appearances might be against me?"
"You know that I wouldAustin."
"YesI know that you would. What I do I shall do for you. I am drivento it. There is no other way outmy darling!" I kissed her and rushed fromthe room.
The time for indecision was at an end. As long as the creature threatened myown prospects and my honor there might be a question as to what I should do. Butnowwhen Agatha--my innocent Agatha--was endangeredmy duty lay before me likea turnpike road. I had no weaponbut I never paused for that. What weaponshould I needwhen I felt every muscle quivering with the strength of afrenzied man? I ran through the streetsso set upon what I had to do that I wasonly dimly conscious of the faces of friends whom I met-- dimly conscious alsothat Professor Wilson met merunning with equal precipitance in the oppositedirection. Breathless but resolute I reached the house and rang the bell. Awhite cheeked maid opened the doorand turned whiter yet when she saw the facethat looked in at her.
"Show me up at once to Miss Penclosa" I demanded.
"Sir" she gasped"Miss Penclosa died this afternoon athalf-past three!"