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Conan Doyle, Arthur: The Parasite Library (библиотека) 

The Parasite, by Arthur Conan Doyle


1894
THE PARASITE

I

March 24. The spring is fairly with us now. Outside
my laboratory window the great chestnut-tree is all
covered with the big, glutinous, gummy buds, some of
which have already begun to break into little green
shuttlecocks. As you walk down the lanes you are
conscious of the rich, silent forces of nature working
all around you. The wet earth smells fruitful and
luscious. Green shoots are peeping out everywhere.
The twigs are stiff with their sap; and the moist,
heavy English air is laden with a faintly resinous
perfume. Buds in the hedges, lambs beneath them--
everywhere the work of reproduction going forward!

I can see it without, and I can feel it within. We
also have our spring when the little arterioles dilate,
the lymph flows in a brisker stream, the glands work
harder, winnowing and straining. Every year nature
readjusts the whole machine. I can feel the ferment in
my blood at this very moment, and as the cool sunshine
pours through my window I could dance about in it
like a gnat. So I should, only that Charles Sadler
would rush upstairs to know what was the matter.
Besides, I must remember that I am Professor Gilroy.
An old professor may afford to be natural, but when
fortune has given one of the first chairs in the
university 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 into physiology that he does into
psychology, I should become a Claude Bernard at the
least. His whole life and soul and energy work to one
end. He drops to sleep collating his results of the
past day, and he wakes to plan his researches for the
coming one. And yet, outside the narrow circle who
follow his proceedings, he gets so little credit for
it. Physiology is a recognized science. If I add even
a brick to the edifice, every one sees and applauds it.
But Wilson is trying to dig the foundations for a
science of the future. His work is underground and
does not show. Yet he goes on uncomplainingly,
corresponding with a hundred semi-maniacs in the hope
of finding one reliable witness, sifting a hundred lies
on the chance of gaining one little speck of truth,
collating old books, devouring new ones, experimenting,
lecturing, trying to light up in others the fiery
interest which is consuming him. I am filled with
wonder and admiration when I think of him, and yet,
when he asks me to associate myself with his
researches, I am compelled to tell him that, in their
present state, they offer little attraction to a man
who is devoted to exact science. If he could show me
something positive and objective, I might then be
tempted to approach the question from its physiological
side. So long as half his subjects are tainted
with charlatanerie and the other half with hysteria we
physiologists must 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 her that is an excellent reason for
shortening our engagement, since I am in such urgent
need of her spirituality. And yet I may claim to be a
curious example of the effect of education upon
temperament, for by nature I am, unless I deceive
myself, a highly psychic man. I was a nervous,
sensitive boy, a dreamer, a somnambulist, full of
impressions and intuitions. My black hair, my dark
eyes, my thin, olive face, my tapering fingers, are all
characteristic of my real temperament, and cause
experts like Wilson to claim me as their own. But my
brain is soaked with exact knowledge. I have trained
myself to deal only with fact and with proof. Surmise
and fancy have no place in my scheme of thought. Show
me what I can see with my microscope, cut with my
scalpel, weigh in my balance, and I will devote a
lifetime to its investigation. But when you ask me to
study feelings, impressions, suggestions, you ask me to
do what is distasteful and even demoralizing. A
departure from pure reason affects me like an evil
smell or a musical discord.

Which is a very sufficient reason why I am a little
loath to go to Professor Wilson's tonight. Still I
feel that I could hardly get out of the invitation
without positive rudeness; and, now that Mrs. Marden
and Agatha are going, of course I would not if I could.
But I had rather meet them anywhere else. I know that
Wilson would draw me into this nebulous semi-science of
his if he could. In his enthusiasm he is perfectly
impervious to hints or remonstrances. Nothing short of
a positive quarrel will make him realize my aversion to
the whole business. I have no doubt that he has some
new mesmerist or clairvoyant or medium or trickster of
some sort whom he is going to exhibit to us, for even
his entertainments bear upon his hobby. Well, it will
be a treat for Agatha, at any rate. She is interested
in it, as woman usually is in whatever is vague and
mystical and indefinite.

10.50 P. M. This diary-keeping of mine is, I fancy,
the outcome of that scientific habit of mind about
which I wrote this morning. I like to register
impressions while they are fresh. Once a day at least
I endeavor to define my own mental position. It is a
useful piece of self-analysis, and has, I fancy, a
steadying effect upon the character. Frankly, I must
confess that my own needs what stiffening I can give
it. I fear that, after all, much of my neurotic
temperament survives, and that I am far from that cool,
calm precision which characterizes Murdoch or Pratt-
Haldane. Otherwise, why should the tomfoolery which I
have witnessed this evening have set my nerves
thrilling so that even now I am all unstrung? My only
comfort is that neither Wilson nor Miss Penclosa nor
even Agatha could have possibly known my weakness.

And what in the world was there to excite me? Nothing,
or so little that it will seem ludicrous when I set it
down.

The Mardens got to Wilson's before me. In fact, I was
one of the last to arrive and found the room crowded.
I had hardly time to say a word to Mrs. Marden and to
Agatha, who was looking charming in white and pink,
with glittering wheat-ears in her hair, when Wilson
came twitching at my sleeve.

"You want something positive, Gilroy," said he, drawing
me apart into a corner. "My dear fellow, I have a
phenomenon--a phenomenon!"

I should have been more impressed had I not heard the
same before. His sanguine spirit turns every fire-fly
into a star.

"No possible question about the bona fides this time,"
said he, in answer, perhaps, to some little gleam of
amusement in my eyes. "My wife has known her for many
years. They both come from Trinidad, you know. Miss
Penclosa has only been in England a month or two, and
knows no one outside the university circle, but I
assure you that the things she has told us suffice in
themselves to establish clairvoyance upon an absolutely
scientific basis. There is nothing like her, amateur
or professional. Come and be introduced!"

I like none of these mystery-mongers, but the amateur
least of all. With the paid performer you may pounce
upon him and expose him the instant that you have seen
through his trick. He is there to deceive you, and you
are there to find him out. But what are you to do with
the friend of your host's wife? Are you to turn on a
light suddenly and expose her slapping a surreptitious
banjo? Or are you to hurl cochineal over her evening
frock when she steals round with her phosphorus bottle
and her supernatural platitude? There would he a
scene, and you would be looked upon as a brute. So you
have your choice of being that or a dupe. 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 a small, frail creature, well over
forty, I should say, with a pale, peaky face, and hair
of a very light shade of chestnut. Her presence was
insignificant and her manner retiring. In any group of
ten women she would have been the last whom one would
have picked out. Her eyes were perhaps her most
remarkable, and also, I am compelled to say, her least
pleasant, feature. They were gray in color,--gray with
a shade of green,--and their expression struck me as
being decidedly furtive. I wonder if furtive is the
word, or should I have said fierce? On second
thoughts, feline would have expressed it better. A
crutch leaning against the wall told me what was
painfully evident when she rose: that one of her legs
was crippled.

So I was introduced to Miss Penclosa, and it did not
escape me that as my name was mentioned she glanced
across at Agatha. Wilson had evidently been talking.
And presently, no doubt, thought I, she will inform me
by occult means that I am engaged to a young lady with
wheat-ears in her hair. I wondered how much more
Wilson had been telling her about me.

"Professor Gilroy is a terrible sceptic," said he; "I
hope, Miss Penclosa, that 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 any thing convincing," said she. "I
should have thought," she added, "that you would
yourself have been an excellent subject."

"For what, may I ask?" said I.

"Well, for mesmerism, for example."

"My experience has been that mesmerists go for their
subjects to those who are mentally unsound. All their
results are vitiated, as it seems to me, by the 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 have the best balanced mind.
Should we say the girl in pink and white?--Miss Agatha
Marden, I think the name is."

"Yes, I should attach weight to any results from her."

"I have never tried how far she is impressionable. Of
course some people respond 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 nothing, Miss Penclosa."

"Dear me, I thought science had got further than that.
Of course I know nothing about the scientific side of
it. I only know what I can do. You see the girl in
red, for example, over near the Japanese jar. I shall
will that she come across to us."

She bent forward as she spoke and dropped her fan upon
the floor. The girl whisked round and came straight
toward us, with an enquiring look upon her face, as if
some one had called her.

"What do you think of that, Gilroy?" cried Wilson, in a
kind of ecstasy.

I did not dare to tell him what I thought of it. To me
it was the most barefaced, shameless piece of imposture
that I had ever witnessed. The collusion and the
signal had really been too obvious.

"Professor Gilroy is not satisfied," said she, glancing
up at me with her strange little eyes. "My poor fan is
to get the credit of that experiment. Well, we must
try something else. Miss Marden, would you have any
objection to my putting you off?"

"Oh, I should love it!" cried Agatha.

By this time all the company had gathered round us in a
circle, the shirt-fronted men, and the white-throated
women, some awed, some critical, as though it were
something between a religious ceremony and a conjurer's
entertainment. A red velvet arm-chair had been pushed
into the centre, and Agatha lay back in it, a little
flushed and trembling slightly from excitement. I
could see it from the vibration of the wheat-ears.
Miss Penclosa rose from her seat and stood over her,
leaning upon her crutch.

And there was a change in the woman. She no longer
seemed small or insignificant. Twenty years were gone
from her age. Her eyes were shining, a tinge of color
had come into her sallow cheeks, her whole figure had
expanded. So I have seen a dull-eyed, listless lad
change in an instant into briskness and life when given
a task of which he felt himself master. She looked
down at Agatha with an expression which I resented from
the bottom of my soul--the expression with which a
Roman empress might have looked at her kneeling slave.
Then with a quick, commanding gesture she tossed up her
arms and swept them slowly down in front of her.

I was watching Agatha narrowly. During three passes
she seemed to be simply amused. At the fourth I
observed a slight glazing of her eyes, accompanied by
some dilation of her pupils. At the sixth there was a
momentary rigor. At the seventh her lids began to
droop. At the tenth her eyes were closed, and her
breathing was slower and fuller than usual. I tried as
I watched to preserve my scientific calm, but a
foolish, causeless agitation convulsed me. I trust
that I hid it, but I felt as a child feels in the dark.
I could not have believed that I was still open to such
weakness.

"She is in the trance," said Miss Penclosa.

"She is sleeping!" I cried.

"Wake her, then!"

I pulled her by the arm and shouted in her ear. She
might have been dead for all the impression that I
could make. Her body was there on the velvet chair.
Her organs were acting--her heart, her lungs. But her
soul! It had slipped from beyond our ken. Whither had
it gone? What power had dispossessed it? I was
puzzled and disconcerted.

"So much for the mesmeric sleep," said Miss Penclosa.
"As regards suggestion, whatever I may suggest Miss
Marden will infallibly do, whether it be now or after
she has awakened from her trance. Do you demand proof
of it?"

"Certainly," said I.

"You shall have it." I saw a smile pass over her face,
as though an amusing thought had struck her. She
stooped and whispered earnestly into her subject's ear.
Agatha, who had been so deaf to me, nodded her head as
she listened.

"Awake!" cried Miss Penclosa, with a sharp tap of her
crutch upon the floor. The eyes opened, the glazing
cleared slowly away, and the soul looked out once more
after its strange eclipse.

We went away early. Agatha was none the worse for her
strange excursion, but I was nervous and unstrung,
unable to listen to or answer the stream of comments
which Wilson was pouring out for my benefit. As I bade
her good-night Miss Penclosa slipped a piece of paper
into my hand.

"Pray forgive me," said she, "if I take means to
overcome your scepticism. Open this note at ten
o'clock to-morrow morning. It is a little private
test."

I can't imagine what she means, but there is the note,
and it shall be opened as she directs. My head is
aching, and I have written enough for to-night. To-
morrow I dare say that what seems so inexplicable will
take quite another complexion. I shall not surrender
my convictions without a struggle.

March 25. I am amazed, confounded. It is clear that I
must reconsider my opinion upon this matter. But first
let me place on record what has occurred.

I had finished breakfast, and was looking over some
diagrams with which my lecture is to be illustrated,
when my housekeeper entered to tell me that Agatha was
in my study and wished to see me immediately. I
glanced at the clock and saw with sun rise that it was only
half-past nine.

When I entered the room, she was standing on the
hearth-rug facing me. Something in her pose chilled me
and checked the words which were rising to my lips.
Her veil was half down, but I could see that she was
pale and that her expression was constrained.

"Austin," she said, "I have come to tell you that our
engagement is at an end."

I staggered. I believe that I literally did stagger.
I know that I found myself leaning against the bookcase
for support.

"But--but----" I stammered. "This is very sudden,
Agatha."

"Yes, Austin, I have come here to tell you that our
engagement is at an end."

"But surely," I cried, "you will give me some reason!
This is unlike you, Agatha. Tell me how I have been
unfortunate enough to offend you."

"It is all over, Austin."

"But why? You must be under some delusion, Agatha.
Perhaps you have been told some falsehood about me. Or
you may have misunderstood something that I have said
to you. Only let me know what it is, and 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. What could have occurred in the interval
to change you so? It must have been something that
happened last night. You have been thinking it over
and you have disapproved of my conduct. Was it the
mesmerism? Did you blame me for letting that woman
exercise her power over you? You know that at the
least sign I should have interfered."

"It is useless, Austin. All is over:"

Her voice was cold and measured; her manner strangely
formal and hard. It seemed to me that she was
absolutely resolved not to be drawn into any argument
or explanation. As for me, I was shaking with
agitation, and I turned my face aside, so ashamed was I
that she should see my want of control.

"You must know what this means to me!" I cried. "It is
the blasting of all my hopes and the ruin of my life!
You surely will not inflict such a punishment upon me
unheard. You will let me know what is the matter.
Consider how impossible it would be for me, under any
circumstances, to treat you so. For God's sake,
Agatha, let me know what I have done!"

She walked past me without a word and opened the door.

"It is quite useless, Austin," said she. "You must
consider our engagement at an end." An instant later
she was gone, and, before I could recover myself
sufficiently to follow her, I heard the hall-door close
behind her.

I rushed into my room to change my coat, with the idea
of hurrying round to Mrs. Marden's to learn from her
what the cause of my misfortune might be. So shaken
was I that I could hardly lace my boots. Never shall I
forget those horrible ten minutes. I had just pulled
on my overcoat when the clock upon the mantel-piece
struck ten.

Ten! I associated the idea with Miss Penclosa's note.
It was lying before me on the table, and I tore it
open. It was scribbled in pencil in a peculiarly
angular handwriting.

"MY DEAR PROFESSOR GILROY [it said]: Pray excuse the
personal nature of the test which I am giving you.
Professor Wilson happened to mention the relations
between you and my subject of this evening, and it
struck me that nothing could be more convincing to you
than if I were to suggest to Miss Marden that she
should call upon you at half-past nine to-morrow
morning and suspend your engagement for half an hour or
so. Science is so exacting that it is difficult to
give a satisfying test, but I am convinced that this at
least will be an action which she would be most
unlikely to do of her own free will. Forget any thing
that she may have said, as she has really nothing
whatever to do with it, and will certainly not
recollect any thing about it. I write this note to
shorten your anxiety, and to beg you to forgive me for
the momentary unhappiness which my suggestion must have
caused you.
"Yours faithfully;
"HELEN PENCLOSA.


Really, when I had read the note, I was too relieved to
be angry. It was a liberty. Certainly it was a very
great liberty indeed on the part of a lady whom I had
only met once. But, after all, I had challenged her by
my scepticism. It may have been, as she said, a little
difficult to devise a test which would satisfy me.

And she had done that. There could be no question at
all upon the point. For me hypnotic suggestion was
finally established. It took its place from now onward
as one of the facts of life. That Agatha, who of all
women of my acquaintance has the best balanced mind,
had been reduced to a condition of automatism appeared
to be certain. A person at a distance had worked her
as an engineer on the shore might guide a Brennan
torpedo. A second soul had stepped in, as it were, had
pushed her own aside, and had seized her nervous
mechanism, saying: "I will work this for half an
hour." And Agatha must have been unconscious as she
came and as she returned. Could she make her way in
safety through the streets in such a state? I put on
my hat and hurried round to see if all was well with
her.

Yes. She was at home. I was shown into the drawing-
room and found her sitting with a book upon her lap.

"You are an early visitor, Austin," said she, smiling.

"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?"

"No, certainly not."

"Agatha," said I seriously, "would you mind telling me
exactly what you have done this morning?"

She laughed at my earnestness.

"You've got on your professional look, Austin. See
what comes of being engaged to a man of science.
However, I will tell you, though I can't imagine what
you want to know for. I got up at eight. I
breakfasted at half-past. I came into 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 of dropping to sleep over her
pages, and I did you, sir, the very flattering one of
dreaming about you. It is only a few minutes since I
woke up."

"And found yourself where you had been before?"

"Why, where else should I find myself?"

"Would you mind telling me, Agatha, what it was that
you dreamed about me? It really is not mere curiosity
on my part."

"I merely had a vague impression that you came into it.
I cannot recall any thing definite."

"If you have not been out to-day, Agatha, how is it
that your shoes are dusty?"

A pained look came over her face.

"Really, Austin, I do not know what is the matter with
you this morning. One would almost think that you
doubted my word. If my boots are dusty, it must be, of
course, that I have put on a pair which the maid had
not cleaned."

It was perfectly evident that she knew nothing whatever
about the matter, and I reflected that, after all,
perhaps it was better that I should not enlighten her.
It might frighten her, and could serve no good purpose
that I could see. I said no more about it, therefore,
and left shortly afterward to give my lecture.

But I am immensely impressed. My horizon of scientific
possibilities has suddenly been enormously extended. I
no longer wonder at Wilson's demonic energy and
enthusiasm. Who would not work hard who had a vast
virgin field ready to his hand? Why, I have known the
novel shape of a nucleolus, or a trifling peculiarity
of striped muscular fibre seen under a 300-diameter
lens, fill me with exultation. How petty do such
researches seem when compared with this one which
strikes at the very roots of life and the nature of the
soul! I had always looked upon spirit as a product of
matter. The brain, I thought, secreted the mind, as
the liver does the bile. But how can this be when I
see mind working from a distance and playing upon
matter as a musician might upon a violin? The body
does not give rise to the soul, then, but is rather the
rough instrument by which the spirit manifests itself.
The windmill does not give rise to the wind, but only
indicates it. It was opposed to my whole habit of
thought, and yet it was 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 objective, I might be tempted to approach
it from the physiological aspect." Well, I have got my
test. I shall be as good as my word. The
investigation would, I am sure, be of immense interest.
Some of my colleagues might look askance at it, for
science is full of unreasoning prejudices, but if
Wilson has the courage of his convictions, I can afford
to have it also. I shall go to him to-morrow morning--
to him and to Miss Penclosa. If she can show us so
much, it is probable that she can show us more.



II

March 26. Wilson was, as I had anticipated, very
exultant over my conversion, and Miss Penclosa was also
demurely pleased at the result of her experiment.
Strange what a silent, colorless creature she is save
only when she exercises her power! Even talking about
it gives her color and life. She seems to take a
singular interest in me. I cannot help observing how
her eyes follow me about the room.

We had the most interesting conversation about her own
powers. It is just as well to put her views on record,
though they cannot, of course, claim any scientific
weight.

"You are on the very fringe of the subject," said she,
when I had expressed wonder at the remarkable instance
of suggestion which she had shown me. "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 I might set the alarum of a
clock so that at the hour named it would go off of its
own accord. If six months instead of twelve hours had
been suggested, it would have 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 is, as you say, a 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
this matter of suggestion is only at the fringe of it?
What do you consider the essential?"

"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 I ask, but in the hope that I may find some
scientific explanation for the facts with which you
furnish me."

"Frankly, Professor Gilroy," said she, "I am not at all
interested in science, nor do I care whether it can or
cannot classify these powers."

"But I was hoping----"

"Ah, that is quite another thing. If you make it a
personal matter," said she, with the pleasantest of
smiles, "I shall be only too happy to tell you any
thing you wish to know. Let me see; what was it you
asked me? Oh, about the further powers. Professor
Wilson won't believe in them, but they are quite true
all the same. For example, it is possible for an
operator to gain complete 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 exerted, he
would know no more about it than Miss Marden did when
she came round and frightened you so. Or, if the
influence was less powerful, he might be conscious of
what he was doing, but be quite unable to prevent
himself from doing it."

"Would he have lost his own will power, then?"

"It would be over-ridden by another stronger one."

"Have you ever exercised this power yourself?"

"Several times."

"Is your own will so strong, then?"

"Well, it does not entirely depend upon that. Many
have strong wills which are not detachable from
themselves. The thing is to have the gift of
projecting it into another person and superseding his
own. I find that the power varies with my own strength
and health."

"Practically, you send your soul into another person's
body."

"Well, you might put it that way."

"And what does your own body do?"

"It merely feels lethargic."

"Well, but is there no danger to your own health?" I
asked.

"There might be a little. You have to be careful never
to let your own consciousness absolutely go; otherwise,
you might experience some difficulty in finding your
way back again. You must always preserve the
connection, as it were. I am afraid I express myself
very badly, Professor Gilroy, but of course I don't
know how to put these things in a scientific way. I am
just giving you my own experiences and my own
explanations."

Well, I read this over now at my leisure, and I marvel
at myself! Is this Austin Gilroy, the man who has won
his way to the front by his hard reasoning power and by
his devotion to fact? Here I am gravely retailing the
gossip of a woman who tells me how her soul may be
projected from her body, and how, while she lies in a
lethargy, she can control the actions of people at a
distance. Do I accept it? Certainly not. She must
prove and re-prove before I yield a point. But if I am
still a sceptic, I have at least ceased to be a
scoffer. We are to have a sitting this evening, and
she is to try if she can produce any mesmeric effect
upon me. If she can, it will make an excellent
starting-point for our investigation. No one can
accuse me, at any rate, of complicity. If she cannot,
we must try and find some subject who will be like
Caesar's wife. Wilson is perfectly impervious.

10 P. M. I believe that I am on the threshold of an
epoch-making investigation. To have the power of
examining these phenomena from inside--to have an
organism which will respond, and at the same time a
brain which will appreciate and criticise--that is
surely a unique advantage. I am quite sure that Wilson
would give five years of his life to be as susceptible
as I have proved myself to be.

There was no one present except Wilson and his wife. I
was seated with my head leaning back, and Miss
Penclosa, standing in front and a little to the left,
used the same long, sweeping strokes as with Agatha.
At each of them a warm current of air seemed to strike
me, and to suffuse a thrill and glow all through me
from head to foot. My eyes were fixed upon Miss
Penclosa's face, but as I gazed the features seemed to
blur and to fade away. I was conscious only of her own
eyes looking down at me, gray, deep, inscrutable.
Larger they grew and larger, until they changed
suddenly into two mountain lakes toward which I seemed
to be falling with horrible rapidity. I shuddered, and
as I did so some deeper stratum of thought told me that
the shudder represented the rigor which I had observed
in Agatha. An instant later I struck the surface of
the lakes, now joined into one, and down I went beneath
the water with a fulness in my head and a buzzing in my
ears. Down I went, down, down, and then with a swoop
up again until I could see the light streaming brightly
through the green water. I was almost at the surface
when the word "Awake!" rang through my head, and, with
a start, I found myself back in the arm-chair, with
Miss Penclosa leaning on her crutch, and Wilson, his
note book in his hand, peeping over her shoulder. No
heaviness or weariness was left behind. On the
contrary, though it is only an hour or so since the
experiment, I feel so wakeful that I am more inclined
for my study than my bedroom. I see quite a vista of
interesting experiments extending before us, and am all
impatience to begin upon them.

March 27. A blank day, as Miss Penclosa goes with
Wilson and his wife to the Suttons'. Have begun Binet
and Ferre's "Animal Magnetism." What strange, deep
waters these are! Results, results, results--and the
cause an absolute mystery. It is stimulating to the
imagination, but I must be on my guard against that.
Let us have no inferences nor deductions, and nothing
but solid facts. I KNOW that the mesmeric trance is
true; I KNOW that mesmeric suggestion is true; I KNOW
that I am myself sensitive to this force. That is my
present position. I have a large new note-book which
shall be devoted entirely to scientific detail.

Long talk with Agatha and Mrs. Marden in the evening
about our marriage. We think that the summer vac.
(the beginning of it) would be the best time for the
wedding. Why should we delay? I grudge even those few
months. Still, as Mrs. Marden says, there are a good
many things to be arranged.

March 28. Mesmerized again by Miss Penclosa.
Experience much the same as before, save that
insensibility came on more quickly. See Note-book A
for temperature of room, barometric pressure, pulse,
and respiration as taken by Professor Wilson.

March 29. Mesmerized again. Details in Note-book A.

March 30. Sunday, and a blank day. I grudge any
interruption of our experiments. At present they
merely embrace the physical signs which go with slight,
with complete, and with extreme insensibility.
Afterward we hope to pass on to the phenomena of
suggestion and of lucidity. Professors have
demonstrated these things upon women at Nancy and at
the Salpetriere. It will be more convincing when a
woman demonstrates it upon a professor, with a second
professor as a witness. And that I should be the
subject--I, the sceptic, the materialist! At least, I
have shown that my devotion to science is greater than
to my own personal consistency. The eating of our own
words is the greatest sacrifice which truth ever
requires of us.

My neighbor, Charles Sadler, the handsome young
demonstrator of anatomy, came in this evening to return
a volume of Virchow's "Archives" which I had lent him.
I call him young, but, as a matter of fact, he is a
year older than I am.

"I understand, Gilroy," said he, "that you are being
experimented upon by Miss Penclosa.

"Well," he went on, when I had acknowledged it, "if I
were you, I should not let it go any further. You will
think me very impertinent, no doubt, but, none the
less, I feel it to be my duty to advise you to have no
more to do with her."

Of course I asked him why.

"I am so placed that I cannot enter into particulars as
freely as I could wish," said he. "Miss Penclosa is
the friend of my friend, and my position is a delicate
one. I can only say this: that I have myself been the
subject of some of the woman's experiments, and that
they have left a most unpleasant impression upon my
mind."

He could hardly expect me to be satisfied with that,
and I tried hard to get something more definite out of
him, but without success. Is it conceivable that he
could be jealous at my having superseded him? Or is he
one of those men of science who feel personally injured
when facts run counter to their preconceived opinions?
He cannot seriously suppose that because he has some
vague grievance I am, therefore, to abandon a series of
experiments which promise to be so fruitful of results.
He appeared to be annoyed at the light way in which I
treated his shadowy warnings, and we parted with some
little coldness on both sides.

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 Professor Wilson.)

April 3. It is possible that this course of mesmerism
may be a little trying to the general constitution.
Agatha says that I am thinner and darker under the
eyes. I am conscious of a nervous irritability which I
had not observed in myself before. The least noise,
for example, makes me start, and the stupidity of a
student causes me exasperation instead of amusement.
Agatha wishes me to stop, but I tell her that every
course of study is trying, and that one can never
attain a result with out paying some price for it.
When she sees the sensation which my forthcoming paper
on "The Relation between Mind and Matter" may make, she
will understand that it is worth a little nervous wear
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 now, and the subjective visions
are less marked. I keep full notes of each sitting.
Wilson is leaving for town for a week or ten days, but
we shall not interrupt the experiments, which depend
for their value as much upon my sensations as on his
observations.

April 4. I must be carefully on my guard. A
complication has crept into our experiments which I had
not reckoned upon. In my eagerness for scientific
facts I have been foolishly blind to the human
relations between Miss Penclosa and myself. I can
write here what I would not breathe to a living soul.
The unhappy woman appears to have formed an attachment
for me.

I should not say such a thing, even in the privacy of
my own intimate journal, if it had not come to such a
pass that it is impossible to ignore it. For some
time,--that is, for the last week,--there have been
signs which I have brushed aside and refused to think
of. Her brightness when I come, her dejection when I
go, her eagerness that I should come often, the
expression of her eyes, the tone of her voice--I tried
to think that they meant nothing, and were, perhaps,
only her ardent West Indian manner. But last night, as
I awoke from the mesmeric sleep, I put out my hand,
unconsciously, involuntarily, and clasped hers. When I
came fully to myself, we were sitting with them locked,
she looking up at me with an expectant smile. And the
horrible thing was that I felt impelled to say what she
expected me to say. What a false wretch I should have
been! How I should have loathed myself to-day had I
yielded to the temptation of that moment! But, thank
God, I was strong enough to spring up and hurry from
the room. I was rude, I fear, but I could not, no, I
COULD not, trust myself another moment. I, a
gentleman, a man of honor, engaged to one of the
sweetest girls in England--and yet in a moment of
reasonless passion I nearly professed love for this
woman whom I hardly know. She is far older than myself
and a cripple. It is monstrous, odious; and yet the
impulse was so strong that, had I stayed another minute
in her presence, I should have committed myself. What
was it? I have to teach others the workings of our
organism, and what do I know of it myself? Was it the
sudden upcropping of some lower stratum in my nature--a
brutal primitive instinct suddenly asserting itself? I
could almost believe the tales of obsession by evil
spirits, so overmastering was the feeling.

Well, the incident places me in a most unfortunate
position. On the one hand, I am very loath to abandon
a series of experiments which have already gone so far,
and which promise such brilliant results. On the
other, if this unhappy woman has conceived a passion
for me---- But surely even now I must have made some
hideous mistake. She, with her age and her deformity!
It is impossible. And then she knew about Agatha. She
understood how I was placed. She only smiled out of
amusement, perhaps, when in my dazed state I seized her
hand. It was my half-mesmerized brain which gave it a
meaning, and sprang with such bestial swiftness to meet
it. I wish I could persuade myself that it was indeed
so. On the whole, perhaps, my wisest plan would be to
postpone our other experiments until Wilson's return.
I have written a note to Miss Penclosa, therefore,
making no allusion to last night, but saying that a
press of work would cause me to interrupt our sittings
for a few days. She has answered, formally enough, to
say that if I should change my mind I should find her
at home at the usual hour.

10 P. M. Well, well, what a thing of straw I am! I am
coming to know myself better of late, and 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 smiled had any one told me that I should go
to Miss Penclosa's to-night, and yet, at eight, I was
at Wilson's door as usual. I don't know how it
occurred. The influence of habit, I suppose. Perhaps
there is a mesmeric craze as there is an opium craze,
and I am a victim to it. I only know that as I worked
in my study I became more and more uneasy. I fidgeted.
I worried. I could not concentrate my mind upon the
papers in front of me. And then, at last, almost
before I knew what I was doing, I seized my hat and
hurried round to keep my usual appointment.

We had an interesting evening. Mrs. Wilson was present
during most of the time, which prevented the
embarrassment which one at least of us must have felt.
Miss Penclosa's manner was quite the same as usual, and
she expressed no surprise at my having come in spite of
my note. There was nothing in her bearing to show that
yesterday's incident had made any impression upon her,
and so I am inclined to hope that I overrated it.

April 6 (evening). No, no, no, I did not overrate it.
I can no longer attempt to conceal from myself that
this woman has conceived a passion for me. It is
monstrous, but it is true. Again, tonight, I awoke
from the mesmeric trance to find my hand in hers, and
to suffer that odious feeling which urges me to throw
away my honor, my career, every thing, for the sake of
this creature who, as I can plainly see when I am away
from her influence, possesses no single charm upon
earth. But when I am near her, I do not feel this.
She rouses something in me, something evil, something I
had rather not think of. She paralyzes my better
nature, too, at the moment when she stimulates my
worse. Decidedly it is not good for me to be near her.

Last night was worse than before. Instead of flying I
actually sat for some time with my hand in hers talking
over the most intimate subjects with her. We spoke of
Agatha, among other things. What could I have been
dreaming of? Miss Penclosa said that she was
conventional, and I agreed with her. She spoke once or
twice in a disparaging way of her, and I did not
protest. What a creature I have been!

Weak as I have proved myself to be, I am still strong
enough to bring this sort of thing to an end. It shall
not happen again. I have sense enough to fly when I
cannot fight. From this Sunday night onward I shall
never sit with Miss Penclosa again. Never! Let the
experiments go, let 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
Penclosa, but I shall simply stay away. She can tell
the reason without any words of mine.

April 7. Have stayed away as I said. It is a pity to
ruin such an interesting investigation, but it would be
a greater pity still to ruin my life, and I KNOW that 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 try and be calm and reason with
myself. First of all I shall set down exactly what
occurred.

It was nearly eight when I wrote the lines with which
this day begins. Feeling strangely restless and uneasy,
I left my rooms and walked round to spend the evening
with Agatha and her mother. They both remarked that I
was pale and haggard. About nine Professor Pratt-
Haldane came in, and we played a game of whist. I
tried hard to concentrate my attention upon the cards,
but the feeling of restlessness grew and grew until I
found it impossible to struggle against it. I simply
COULD not sit still at the table. At last, in the very
middle of a hand, I threw my cards down and, with some
sort of an incoherent apology about having an
appointment, I rushed from the room. As if in a dream
I have a vague recollection of tearing through the
hall, snatching my hat from the stand, and slamming the
door behind me. As in a dream, too, I have the
impression of the double line of gas-lamps, and my
bespattered boots tell me that I must have run down the
middle of the road. It was all misty and strange and
unnatural. I came to Wilson's house; I saw Mrs. Wilson
and I saw Miss Penclosa. I hardly recall what we
talked about, but I do remember that Miss P. shook the
head of her crutch at me in a playful way, and accused
me of being late and of losing interest in our
experiments. There was no mesmerism, but I stayed some
time and have only just returned.

My brain is quite clear again now, and I can think over
what has occurred. It is absurd to suppose that it is
merely weakness and force of habit. I tried to explain
it in that way the other night, but it will no longer
suffice. It is something much deeper and more terrible
than that. Why, when I was at the Mardens' whist-
table, I was dragged away as if the noose of a rope had
been cast round me. I can no longer disguise it from
myself. The woman has her grip upon me. I am in her
clutch. But I must keep my head and reason it out and
see what is best to be done.

But what a blind fool I have been! In my enthusiasm
over my research I have walked straight into the pit,
although it lay gaping before me. Did she not herself
warn me? Did she not tell me, as I can read in my own
journal, that when she has acquired power over a
subject she can make him do her will? And she has
acquired that power over me. I am for the moment at
the beck and call of this creature with the crutch. I
must come when she wills it. I must do as she wills.
Worst of all, I must feel as she wills. I loathe her
and fear her, yet, while I am under the spell, she can
doubtless make me love her.

There is some consolation in the thought, then, that
those odious impulses for which I have blamed myself do
not really come from me at all. They are all
transferred from her, little as I could have guessed it
at the time. I feel cleaner and lighter for the
thought.

April 8. Yes, now, in broad daylight, writing coolly
and with time for reflection, I am compelled to confirm
every thing which I wrote in my journal last night. I
am in a horrible position, but, above all, I must not
lose my head. I must pit my intellect against her
powers. After all, I am no silly puppet, to dance at
the end of a string. I have energy, brains, courage.
For all her devil's tricks I may beat her yet. May! I
MUST, or what is to become of me?

Let me try to reason it out! This woman, by her own
explanation, can dominate my nervous organism. She can
project herself into my body and take command of it.
She has a parasite soul; yes, she is a parasite, a
monstrous parasite. She creeps into my frame as the
hermit crab does into the whelk's shell. I am
powerless What can I do? I am dealing with forces of
which I know nothing. And I can tell no one of my
trouble. They would set me down as a madman.
Certainly, if it got noised abroad, the university
would say that they had no need of a devil-ridden
professor. And Agatha! No, no, I must face it alone.


III

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 the influence is
slight the subject knows what he is doing, but cannot
control himself, whereas when it is strongly exerted he
is absolutely unconscious. Now, I have always known
what I did, though less so last night than on the
previous occasions. That seems to mean that she has
never yet exerted her full powers upon me. Was ever a
man so placed before?

Yes, perhaps there was, and very near me, too. Charles
Sadler must know something of this! His vague words of
warning take a meaning now. Oh, if I had only listened
to him then, before I helped by these repeated sittings
to forge the links of the chain which binds me! But I
will see him to-day. I will apologize to him for
having treated his warning so lightly. I will see if
he can advise me.

4 P. M. No, he cannot. I have talked with him, and he
showed such surprise at the first words in which I
tried to express my unspeakable secret that I went no
further. As far as I can gather (by hints and
inferences rather than by any statement), his own
experience was limited to some words or looks such as I
have myself endured. His abandonment of Miss Penclosa
is in itself a sign that he was never really in her
toils. Oh, if he only knew his escape! He has to
thank his phlegmatic Saxon temperament for it. I am
black and Celtic, and this hag's clutch is deep in my
nerves. Shall I ever get it out? Shall I ever be the
same man that I was just one short fortnight ago?

Let me consider what I had better do. I cannot leave
the university in the middle of the term. If I were
free, my course would be obvious. I should start at
once and travel in Persia. But would she allow me to
start? And could her influence not reach me in Persia,
and bring me back to within touch of her crutch? I can
only find out the limits of this hellish power by my
own bitter experience. 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 her society, that irresistible
restlessness, will come upon me. How shall I overcome
it? What shall I do? I must make it impossible for me
to leave the room. I shall lock the door and throw the
key out of the window. But, then, what am I to do in
the morning? Never mind about the morning. I must at
all costs break this chain which holds me.

April 9. Victory! I have done splendidly! At seven
o'clock last night I took a hasty dinner, and then
locked myself up in my bedroom and dropped the key into
the garden. I chose a cheery novel, and lay in bed for
three hours trying to read it, but really in a horrible
state of trepidation, expecting every instant that I
should become conscious of the impulse. Nothing of the
sort occurred, however, and I awoke this morning with
the feeling that a black nightmare had been lifted off
me. Perhaps the creature realized what I had done, and
understood that it was useless to try to influence me.
At any rate, I have beaten her once, and if I can do it
once, I can do it again.

It was most awkward about the key in the morning.
Luckily, there was an under-gardener below, and I asked
him to throw it up. No doubt he thought I had just
dropped it. I will have doors and windows screwed up
and six stout men to hold me down in my bed before I
will surrender myself to be hag-ridden in this way.

I had a note from Mrs. Marden this afternoon asking me
to go round and see her. I intended to do so in any
case, but had not excepted to find bad news waiting for
me. It seems that the Armstrongs, from whom Agatha has
expectations, are due home from Adelaide in the Aurora,
and that they have written to Mrs. Marden and her to
meet them in town. They will probably be away for a
month or six weeks, and, as the Aurora is due on
Wednesday, they must go at once--to-morrow, if they are
ready in time. My consolation is that when we meet
again there will be no more parting between Agatha and
me.

"I want you to do one thing, Agatha," said I, when we
were alone together. "If you should happen to meet
Miss Penclosa, either in town or here, you must promise
me never again to allow her to mesmerize you."

Agatha opened her eyes.

"Why, it was only the other day that you were saying
how interesting it all was, and how determined you were
to finish your experiments."

"I know, but I have changed my mind since then."

"And you won't have it any more?"

"No."

"I am so glad, Austin. You can't think how pale and
worn you have been lately. It was really our principal
objection to going to London now that we did not wish
to leave you when you were so pulled down. And your
manner has been so strange occasionally--especially
that night when you left poor Professor Pratt-Haldane
to play dummy. I am convinced that these experiments
are very bad for your nerves."

"I think so, too, dear."

"And for Miss Penclosa's nerves as well. You have
heard that she is ill?"

"No."

"Mrs. Wilson told us so last night. She described it
as a nervous fever Professor Wilson is coming back this
week, and of course Mrs. Wilson is very anxious that
Miss Penclosa should be well again then, for he has
quite a programme of experiments which he is anxious to
carry out."

I was glad to have Agatha's promise, for it was enough
that this woman should have one of us in her clutch.
On the other hand, I was disturbed to hear about Miss
Penclosa's illness. It rather discounts the victory
which I appeared to win last night. I remember that
she said that loss of health interfered with her power.
That may be why I was able to hold my own so easily.
Well, well, I must take the same precautions to-night
and see what comes of it. I am childishly frightened
when I think of her.

April 10. All went very well last night. I was amused
at the gardener's face when I had again to hail him
this morning and to ask him to throw up my key. I
shall get a name among the servants if this sort of
thing goes on. But the great point 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 it only that the woman's power
is in abeyance until she recovers her strength? I can
but pray for the best.

The Mardens left this morning, and the brightness seems
to have gone out of the spring sunshine. And yet it is
very beautiful also as it gleams on the green chestnuts
opposite my windows, and gives a touch of gayety to the
heavy, lichen-mottled walls of the old colleges. How
sweet and gentle and soothing is Nature! Who would
think that there lurked in her also such vile forces,
such odious possibilities! For of course I understand
that this dreadful thing which has sprung out at me is
neither supernatural nor even preternatural. No, it is
a natural force which this woman can use and society is
ignorant of. The mere fact that it ebbs with her
strength shows how entirely it is subject to physical
laws. If I had time, I might probe it to the bottom
and lay my hands upon its antidote. But you cannot
tame the tiger when you are beneath his claws. You can
but try to writhe away from him. Ah, when I look in
the glass and see my own dark eyes and clear-cut
Spanish face, I long for a vitriol splash or a bout of
the 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 two things which make me fear so.
One is that I met Mrs. Wilson in the street, and that
she tells me that Miss Penclosa is better, though still
weak. I find myself wishing in my heart that the
illness had been her last. The other is that Professor
Wilson comes back in a day or two, and his presence
would act as a constraint upon her. I should not fear
our interviews if a third person were present. For
both these reasons I have a presentiment of trouble to-
night, and I shall take the same precautions as before.

April 10. No, thank God, all went well last night. I
really could not face the gardener again. I locked my
door and thrust the key underneath it, so that I had to
ask the maid to let me out in the morning. But the
precaution was really not needed, for I never had any
inclination to go out at all. Three evenings in
succession at home! I am surely near the end of my
troubles, for Wilson will be home again either today or
tomorrow. Shall I tell him of what I have gone through
or not? I am convinced that I should not have the
slightest sympathy from him. He would look upon me as
an interesting case, and read a paper about me at the
next meeting of the Psychical Society, in which he
would gravely discuss the possibility of my being a
deliberate liar, and weigh it against the chances of my
being in an early stage of lunacy. No, I shall get no
comfort out of Wilson.

I am feeling wonderfully fit and well. I don't think I
ever lectured with greater spirit. Oh, if I could only
get this shadow off my life, how happy I should be!
Young, fairly wealthy, in the front rank of my
profession, engaged to a beautiful and charming girl--
have I not every thing which a man could ask for? Only
one thing to trouble me, but what a thing it is!

Midnight. I shall go mad. Yes, that will be the end
of it. I shall go mad. I am not far from it now. My
head throbs as I rest it on my hot hand. I am
quivering all over like a scared horse. Oh, what a
night I have had! And yet I have some cause to be
satisfied also.

At the risk of becoming the laughing-stock of my own
servant, I again slipped my key under the door,
imprisoning myself for the night. Then, finding it too
early to go to bed, I lay down with my clothes on and
began to read one of Dumas's novels. Suddenly I was
gripped--gripped and dragged from the couch. It is
only thus that I can describe the overpowering nature
of the force which pounced upon me. I clawed at the
coverlet. I clung to the wood-work. I believe that I
screamed out in my frenzy. It was all useless,
hopeless. I MUST go. There was no way out of it. It
was only at the outset that I resisted. The force soon
became too overmastering for that. I thank goodness
that there were no watchers there to interfere with me.
I could not have answered for myself if there had been.
And, besides the determination to get out, there came
to me, also, the keenest and coolest judgment in
choosing my means. I lit a candle and endeavored,
kneeling in front of the door, to pull the key through
with the feather-end of a quill pen. It was just too
short and pushed it further away. Then with quiet
persistence I got a paper-knife out of one of the
drawers, and with that I managed to draw the key back.
I opened the door, stepped into my study, took a
photograph of myself from the bureau, wrote something
across it, placed it in the inside pocket of my coat,
and then started off for Wilson's.

It was all wonderfully clear, and yet disassociated
from the rest of my life, as the incidents of even the
most vivid dream might be. A peculiar double
consciousness possessed me. There was the predominant
alien will, which was bent upon drawing me to the side
of its owner, and there was the feebler protesting
personality, which I recognized as being myself,
tugging feebly at the overmastering impulse as a led
terrier might at its chain. I can remember recognizing
these two conflicting forces, but I recall nothing of
my walk, nor of how I was admitted to the house.

Very vivid, however, is my recollection of how I met
Miss Penclosa. She was reclining on the sofa in the
little boudoir in which our experiments had usually
been carried out. Her head was rested on her hand, and
a tiger-skin rug had been partly drawn over her. She
looked up expectantly as I entered, and, as the lamp-
light fell upon her face, I could see that she was very
pale and thin, with dark hollows under her eyes. She
smiled at me, and pointed to a stool beside her. It
was with her left hand that she pointed, and I, running
eagerly forward, seized it,--I loathe myself as I think
of it,--and pressed it passionately to my lips. Then,
seating myself upon the stool, and still retaining her
hand, I gave her the photograph which I had brought
with me, and talked and talked and talked--of my love
for her, of my grief over her illness, of my joy at her
recovery, of the misery it was to me to be absent a
single evening from her side. She lay quietly looking
down at me with imperious eyes and her provocative
smile. Once I remember that she passed her hand over
my hair as one caresses a dog; and it gave me
pleasure--the caress. I thrilled under it. I was her
slave, body and soul, and for the moment I rejoiced in
my slavery.

And then came the blessed change. Never tell me that
there is not a Providence! I was on the brink of
perdition. My feet were on the edge. Was it a
coincidence that at that very instant help should come?
No, no, no; there is a Providence, and its hand has
drawn me back. There is something in the universe
stronger than this devil woman with her tricks. Ah,
what a balm to my heart it is to think so!

As I looked up at her I was conscious of a change in
her. Her face, which had been pale before, was now
ghastly. Her eyes were dull, and the lids drooped
heavily over them. Above all, the look of serene
confidence had gone from her features. Her mouth had
weakened. Her forehead had puckered. She was
frightened and undecided. And as I watched the change
my own spirit fluttered and struggled, trying hard to
tear itself from the grip which held it--a grip which,
from moment to moment, grew less secure.

"Austin," she whispered, "I have tried to do too much.
I was not strong enough. I have not recovered yet from
my illness. But I could not live longer without seeing
you. You won't leave me, Austin? This is only a
passing weakness. If you will only give me five
minutes, I 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 had cleared away from me and left me
free. And I was aggressive--bitterly, fiercely
aggressive. For once at least I could make this woman
understand what my real feelings toward her were. My
soul was filled with a hatred as bestial as the love
against which it was a reaction. It was the savage,
murderous passion of the revolted serf. I could have
taken the crutch from her side and beaten her face in
with it. She threw her hands up, as if to avoid a
blow, and cowered away from 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 society,
you would never leave this room alive!"

"I love you, Austin; I love you!" she wailed.

"Yes," I cried, "and Charles Sadler before. And how
many others before that?"

"Charles Sadler!" she gasped. "He has spoken to you?
So, Charles Sadler, Charles Sadler!" Her voice came
through her white lips like a snake's hiss.

"Yes, I know you, and others shall know you, too. You
shameless creature! You knew how I stood. And yet you
used your vile power to bring me to your side. You
may, perhaps, do so again, but at least you will
remember that you have heard me say that I love Miss
Marden from the bottom of my soul, and that I loathe
you, abhor you!

The very sight of you and the sound of your voice fill
me with horror and disgust. The thought of you is
repulsive. That is how I feel toward you, and if it
pleases you by your tricks to draw me again to your
side as you have done to-night, you will at least, I
should think, have little satisfaction in trying to
make a lover out of a man who has told you his real
opinion of you. You may put what words you will into
my mouth, but you cannot help remembering----"

I stopped, for the woman's head had fallen back, and
she had fainted. She could not bear to hear what I had
to say to her! What a glow of satisfaction it gives me
to think that, come what may, in the future she can
never misunderstand my true feelings toward her. But
what will occur in the future? What will she do next?
I dare not think of it. Oh, if only I could hope that
she will leave me alone! But when I think of what I
said to her---- Never mind; I have been stronger than
she for once.

April 11. I hardly slept last night, and found myself
in the morning so unstrung and feverish that I was
compelled to ask Pratt-Haldane to do my lecture for me.
It is the first that I have ever missed. I rose at
mid-day, but my head is aching, my hands quivering, and
my nerves in a pitiable state.

Who should come round this evening but Wilson. He has
just come back from London, where he has lectured, read
papers, convened meetings, exposed a medium, conducted
a series of experiments on thought transference,
entertained Professor Richet of Paris, spent hours
gazing into a crystal, and obtained some evidence as to
the passage of matter through matter. All this he
poured into my ears in a single gust.

"But you!" he cried at last. "You are not looking
well. And Miss Penclosa is quite prostrated to-day.
How about the experiments?"

"I have abandoned them."

"Tut, tut! Why?"

"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
grounds for saying that it is a dangerous one? Please
give your facts in chronological order, with
approximate dates and names of reliable witnesses with
their permanent addresses."

"First of all," I asked, "would you tell me whether you
have collected any cases where the mesmerist has gained
a command over the subject and 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 a person at a distance--an
uncontrollable impulse."

"Obsession!" he shrieked, in an ecstasy of delight.
"It is the rarest condition. We have eight cases, five
well attested. You don't mean to say----" His
exultation made him hardly articulate.

"No, I don't," said I. "Good-evening! You will excuse
me, but I am not very w ell to-night." And so at last
I got rid of him, still brandishing his pencil and his
note-book. My troubles may be bad to hear, but at
least it is better to hug them to myself than to have
myself exhibited by Wilson, like a freak at a fair. He
has lost sight of human beings. Every thing to him is
a case and a phenomenon. I will die before I speak to
him again upon the matter.

April 12. Yesterday was a blessed day of quiet, and I
enjoyed an uneventful night. Wilson's presence is a
great consolation. What can the woman do now? Surely,
when she has heard me say what I have said, she will
conceive the same disgust for me which I have for her.
She could not, no, she COULD not, desire to have a
lover who had insulted her so. No, I believe I am free
from her love--but how about her hate? Might she not
use these powers of hers for revenge? Tut! why should
I frighten myself over shadows? She will forget about
me, and I shall forget about her, and all will be well.

April 13. My nerves have quite recovered their tone.
I really believe that I have conquered the creature.
But I must confess to living in some suspense. She is
well again, for I hear that she was driving with Mrs.
Wilson in the High Street in the afternoon.

April 14. I do wish I could get away from the place
altogether. I shall fly to Agatha's side the very day
that the term closes. I suppose it is pitiably weak of
me, but this woman gets upon my nerves most terribly.
I have seen her again, and I have spoken with her.

It was just after lunch, and I was smoking a cigarette
in my study, when I heard the step of my servant Murray
in the passage. I was languidly conscious that a
second step was audible behind, and had hardly troubled
myself to speculate who it might be, when suddenly a
slight noise brought me out of my chair with my skin
creeping with apprehension. I had never particularly
observed before what sort of sound the tapping of a
crutch was, but my quivering nerves told me that I
heard it now in the sharp wooden clack which alternated
with the muffled thud of the foot fall. Another
instant and my servant had shown her in.

I did not attempt the usual conventions of society, nor
did she. I simply stood with the smouldering cigarette
in my hand, and gazed at her. She in her turn looked
silently at me, and at her look I remembered how in
these very pages I had tried to define the expression
of her eyes, whether they were furtive or fierce. To-
day they were fierce--coldly and inexorably so.

"Well," said she at last, "are you still of the same
mind as when I saw you last?"

"I have always been of the same mind."

"Let us understand each other, Professor Gilroy," said
she slowly. "I am not a very safe person to trifle
with, as you should realize by now. It was you who
asked me to enter into a series of experiments with
you, it was you who won my affections, it was you who
professed your love for me, it was you who brought me
your own photograph with words of affection upon it,
and, finally, it was you who on the very same evening
thought fit to insult me most outrageously, addressing
me as no man has ever dared to speak to me yet. Tell
me that those words came from you in a moment of
passion and I am prepared to forget and to forgive
them. You did not mean what you said, Austin? You do
not really hate me?"

I might have pitied this deformed woman--such a longing
for love broke suddenly through the menace of her eyes.
But then I thought of what I had gone through, and my
heart set like flint.

"If ever you heard me speak of love," said I, "you know
very well that it was your voice which spoke, and not
mine. The only words of truth which I have ever been
able to say to you are those which you heard when last
we met."

"I know. Some one has set you against me. It was he!"
She tapped with her crutch upon the floor. "Well, you
know very well that I could bring you this instant
crouching like a spaniel to my feet. You will not find
me again in my hour of weakness, when you can insult me
with impunity. Have a care what you are doing,
Professor Gilroy. You stand in a terrible position.
You have not yet realized the hold which I have upon
you."

I shrugged my shoulders and turned away.

"Well," said she, after a pause, "if you despise my
love, I must see what can be done with fear. You
smile, but the day will come when you will come
screaming to me for pardon. Yes, you will grovel on
the ground before me, proud as you are, and you will
curse the day that ever you turned me from your best
friend into your most bitter enemy. Have a care,
Professor Gilroy!" I saw a white hand shaking in the
air, and a face which was scarcely human, so convulsed
was it with passion. An instant later she was gone,
and I heard the quick hobble and tap receding down the
passage.

But she has left a weight upon my heart. Vague
presentiments of coming misfortune lie heavy upon me.
I try in vain to persuade myself that these are only
words of empty anger. I can remember those relentless
eyes too clearly to think so. What shall I do--ah,
what shall I do? I am no longer master of my own soul.
At any moment this loathsome parasite may creep into
me, and then---- I must tell some one my hideous
secret--I must tell it or go mad. If I had some one to
sympathize and advise! Wilson is out of the question.
Charles Sadler would understand me only so far as his
own experience carries him. Pratt-Haldane! He is a
well-balanced man, a man of great common-sense and
resource. I will go to him. I will tell him every
thing. God grant that he may be able to advise me!


IV

6.45 P. M. No, it is useless. There is no human help
for me; I must fight this out single-handed. Two
courses lie before me. I might become this woman's
lover. Or I must endure such persecutions as she can
inflict upon me. Even if none come, I shall live in a
hell of apprehension. But she may torture me, she may
drive me mad, she may kill me: I will never, never,
never give in. What can she inflict which would be
worse than the loss of Agatha, and the knowledge that I
am a perjured liar, and have forfeited the name of
gentleman?

Pratt-Haldane was most amiable, and listened with all
politeness to my story. But when I looked at his heavy
set features, his slow eyes, and the ponderous study
furniture which surrounded him, I could hardly tell him
what I had come to say. It was all so substantial, so
material. And, besides, what would I myself have said
a short month ago if one of my colleagues had come to
me with a story of demonic possession? Perhaps. I
should have been less patient than he was. As it was,
he took notes of my statement, asked me how much tea I
drank, how many hours I slept, whether I had been
overworking much, had I had sudden pains in the head,
evil dreams, singing in the ears, flashes before the
eyes--all questions which pointed to his belief that
brain congestion was at the bottom of my trouble.
Finally he dismissed me with a great many platitudes
about open-air exercise, and avoidance of nervous
excitement. His prescription, which was for chloral
and bromide, I rolled up and threw into the gutter.

No, I can look for no help from any human being. If I
consult any more, they may put their heads together and
I may find myself in an asylum. I can but grip my
courage with both hands, and pray that an honest man
may not be abandoned.

April 10. It is the sweetest spring within the memory
of man. So green, so mild, so beautiful t Ah, what a
contrast between nature without and my own soul so torn
with doubt and terror! It has been an uneventful day,
but I know that I am on the edge of an abyss. I know
it, and yet I go on with the routine of my life. 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 us, what might she not do?

April 16. The woman is ingenious in her torments. She
knows how fond I am of my work, and how highly my
lectures are thought of. So it is from that point that
she now attacks me. It will end, I can see, in my
losing my professorship, but I will fight to the
finish. She shall not drive me out of it without a
struggle.

I was not conscious of any change during my lecture
this morning save that for a minute or two I had a
dizziness and swimminess which rapidly passed away. On
the contrary, I congratulated myself upon having made
my subject (the functions of the red corpuscles) both
interesting and clear. I was surprised, therefore,
when a student came into my laboratory immediately
after the lecture, and complained of being puzzled by
the discrepancy between my statements and those in the
text books. He showed me his note-book, in which I was
reported as having in one portion of the lecture
championed the most outrageous and unscientific
heresies. Of course I denied it, and declared that he
had misunderstood me, but on comparing his notes with
those of his companions, it became clear that he was
right, and that I really had made some most
preposterous statements. Of course I shall explain it
away as being the result of a moment of aberration, but
I feel only too sure that it will be the first of a
series. It is but a month now to the end of the
session, and I pray that I may be able to hold out
until then.

April 26. Ten days have elapsed since I have had the
heart to make any entry in my journal. Why should I
record my own humiliation and degradation? I had vowed
never to open it again. And yet the force of habit is
strong, and here I find myself taking up once more the
record of my own dreadful experiences--in much the same
spirit in which a suicide has been known to take notes
of the effects of the poison which killed him.

Well, the crash which I had foreseen has come--and that
no further back than yesterday. The university
authorities have taken my lectureship from me. It has
been done in the most delicate way, purporting to be a
temporary measure to relieve me from the effects of
overwork, and to give me the opportunity of recovering
my health. None the less, it has been done, and I am
no longer Professor Gilroy. The laboratory is still in
my charge, but I have little doubt that that also will
soon go.

The fact is that my lectures had become the laughing-
stock of the university. My class was crowded with
students who came to see and hear what the eccentric
professor would do or say next. I cannot go into the
detail of my humiliation. Oh, that devilish woman!
There is no depth of buffoonery and imbecility to which
she has not forced me. I would begin my lecture
clearly and well, but always with the sense of a coming
eclipse. Then as I felt the influence I would struggle
against it, striving with clenched hands and beads of
sweat upon my brow to get the better of it, while the
students, hearing my incoherent words and watching my
contortions, would roar with laughter at the antics of
their professor. And then, when she had once fairly
mastered me, out would come the most outrageous
things--silly jokes, sentiments as though I were
proposing a toast, snatches of ballads, personal abuse
even against some member of my class. And then in a
moment my brain would clear again, and my lecture would
proceed decorously to the end. No wonder that my
conduct has been the talk of the colleges. No wonder
that the University Senate has been compelled to take
official notice of such a scandal. Oh, that devilish
woman!

And the most dreadful part of it all is my own
loneliness. Here I sit in a commonplace English bow-
window, looking out upon a commonplace English street
with its garish 'buses and its lounging policeman, and
behind me there hangs a shadow which is out of all
keeping with the age and place. In the home of
knowledge I am weighed down and tortured by a power of
which science knows nothing. No magistrate would
listen to me. No paper would discuss my case. No
doctor would believe my symptoms. My own most intimate
friends would only look upon it as a sign of brain
derangement. I am out of all touch with my kind. Oh,
that devilish woman! Let her have a care! She may
push me too far. When the law cannot help a man, he
may make a law for himself.

She met me in the High Street yesterday evening and
spoke to me. It was as well for her, perhaps, that it
was not between the hedges of a lonely country road.
She asked me with her cold smile whether I had been
chastened yet. I did not deign to answer her. "We
must try another turn of the screw;" said she. Have a
care, my lady, have a care! I had her at my mercy
once. Perhaps another chance may come.

April 28. The suspension of my lectureship has had the
effect also of taking away her means of annoying me,
and so I have enjoyed two blessed days of peace. After
all, there is no reason to despair. Sympathy pours in
to me from all sides, and every one agrees that it is
my devotion to science and the arduous nature of my
researches which have shaken my nervous system. I have
had the kindest message from the council advising me to
travel abroad, and expressing the confident hope that I
may be able to resume all my duties by the beginning of
the summer term. Nothing could be more flattering than
their allusions to my career and to my services to the
university. It is only in misfortune that one can test
one's own popularity. This creature may weary of
tormenting me, and then all may yet be well. May God
grant it!

April 29. Our sleepy little town has had a small
sensation. The only knowledge of crime which we ever
have is when a rowdy undergraduate breaks a few lamps
or comes to blows with a policeman. Last night,
however, there was an attempt made to break-into the
branch of the Bank of England, and we are all in a
flutter in consequence.

Parkenson, the manager, is an intimate friend of mine,
and I found him very much excited when I walked round
there after breakfast. Had the thieves broken into the
counting-house, they would still have had the safes to
reckon with, so that the defence was considerably
stronger than the attack. Indeed, the latter does not
appear to have ever been very formidable. Two of the
lower windows have marks as if a chisel or some such
instrument had been pushed under them to force them
open. The police should have a good clue, for the
wood-work had been done with green paint only the day
before, and from the smears it is evident that some of
it has found its way on to the criminal's hands or
clothes.

4.30 P. M. Ah, that accursed woman! That thrice
accursed woman! Never mind! She shall not beat me!
No, she shall not! But, oh, the she-devil! She has
taken my professorship. Now she would take my honor.
Is there nothing I can do against her, nothing save----
Ah, but, hard pushed as I am, I cannot bring myself to
think of that!

It was about an hour ago that I went into my bedroom,
and was brushing my hair before the glass, when
suddenly my eyes lit upon something which left me so
sick and cold that I sat down upon the edge of the bed
and began to cry. It is many a long year since I shed
tears, but all my nerve was gone, and I could but sob
and sob in impotent grief and anger. There was my
house jacket, the coat I usually wear after dinner,
hanging on its peg by the wardrobe, with the right
sleeve 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 a public imbecile of me. Now she
would brand me as a criminal. This time she has
failed. But how about the next? I dare not think of
it--and of Agatha and my poor old mother! I wish that
I were dead!

Yes, this is the other turn of the screw. And this is
also what she meant, no doubt, when she said that I had
not realized yet the power she has over me. I look
back at my account of my conversation with her, and I
see how she declared that with a slight exertion of her
will her subject would be conscious, and with a
stronger one unconscious. Last night I was
unconscious. I could have sworn that I slept soundly
in my bed without so much as a dream. And yet those
stains tell me that I dressed, made my way out,
attempted to open the bank windows, and returned. Was
I observed? Is it possible that some one saw me do it
and followed me home? Ah, what a hell my life has
become! I have no peace, no rest. But my patience is
nearing its end.

10 P. M. I have cleaned my coat with turpentine. I do
not think that any one could have seen me. It was with
my screw-driver that I made the marks. I found it all
crusted with paint, and I have cleaned it. My head
aches as if it would burst, and I have taken five
grains of antipyrine. If it were not for Agatha, I
should 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 lets me loose only to pounce
upon me again. I am never so frightened as when every
thing is still. My physical state is deplorable--
perpetual hiccough and ptosis of 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 here
they 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 am not
responsible for my own actions. Yes, I must tell them,
even if it brings every thing to an end between us.

To-night is the university ball, and I must go. God
knows I never felt less in the humor for festivity, but
I must not have it said that I am unfit to appear in
public. If I am seen there, and have speech with some
of the elders of the university it will go a long way
toward showing them that it would be unjust to take my
chair away from me.

10 P. M. I have been to the ball. Charles Sadler and
I went together, but I have come away before him. I
shall wait up for him, however, for, indeed, I fear to
go to sleep these nights. He is a cheery, practical
fellow, and a chat with him will steady my nerves. On
the whole, the evening was a great success. I talked
to every one who has influence, and I think that I made
them realize that my chair is not vacant quite yet.
The creature was at the ball--unable to dance, of
course, but sitting with Mrs. Wilson. Again and again
her eyes rested upon me. They were almost the last
things I saw before I left the room. Once, as I sat
sideways to her, I watched her, and saw that her gaze
was following some one else. It was Sadler, who was
dancing at the time with the second Miss Thurston. To
judge by her expression, it is well for him that he is
not in her grip as I am. He does not know the escape
he has had. I think I hear his step in the street now,
and 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 stairs, after all--at least, I have no
recollection of doing so. But, on the other hand, I
cannot remember going to bed. One of my hands is
greatly swollen this morning, and yet I have no
remembrance of injuring it yesterday. Otherwise, I am
feeling all the better for last night's festivity. But
I cannot understand how it is that I did not meet
Charles Sadler when I so fully intended to do so. Is
it possible---- My God, it is only too probable! Has
she been leading me some devil'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. But, if I am to die, then she shall
come also. I will not leave her behind, to drive some
other man mad as she has me. No, I have come to the
limit of my endurance. She has made me as desperate
and dangerous a man as walks the earth. God knows I
have never had the heart to hurt a fly, and yet, if I
had my hands now upon that woman, she should never
leave this room alive. I shall see her this very day,
and she shall learn what she has to expect from me.

I went to Sadler and found him, to my surprise, in bed.
As I entered he sat up and turned a face toward me
which sickened me as I looked at it.

"Why, Sadler, what has happened?" I cried, but my heart
turned cold as I said it.

"Gilroy," he answered, mumbling with his swollen lips,
"I have for some weeks been under the impression that
you are a madman. Now I know it, and that you are a
dangerous one as well. If it were not that I am
unwilling to make a scandal in the college, you 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 me, struck me with both your fists in the
face, knocked me down, kicked me furiously in the side,
and left me lying almost unconscious in the street.
Look at your own hand bearing witness against you."

Yes, there it was, puffed up, with sponge-like
knuckles, as after some terrific blow. What could I
do? Though he put me down as a madman, I must tell him
all. I sat by his bed and went over all my troubles
from the beginning. I poured them out with quivering
hands and burning words which might have carried
conviction to the most sceptical. "She
hates you and she hates me!" I cried. "She revenged
herself last night on both of us at once. She saw me
leave the ball, and she must have seen you also. She
knew how long it would take you to reach home. Then
she had but to use her wicked will. Ah, your bruised
face is a small thing beside my bruised soul!"

He was struck by my story. That was evident. "Yes,
yes, she watched me out of the room," he muttered.
"She is capable of it. But is it possible that she has
really reduced you to this? What do you intend to do?"

"To stop it!" I cried. "I am perfectly desperate; I
shall give her fair warning to-day, and the next time
will be the last."

"Do nothing rash," said he.

"Rash!" I cried. "The only rash thing is that I should
postpone it another hour." With that I rushed to my
room, and here I am on the eve of what may be the great
crisis of my life. I shall start at once. I have
gained one thing to-day, for I have made one man, at
least, realize the truth of this monstrous experience
of mine. And, if the worst should happen, this diary
remains as a proof of the goad that has driven me.

Evening. When I came to Wilson's, I was shown up, and
found that he was sitting with Miss Penclosa. For half
an hour I had to endure his fussy talk about his recent
research into the exact nature of the spiritualistic
rap, while the creature and I sat in silence looking
across the room at each other. I read a sinister
amusement in her eyes, and she must have seen hatred
and menace in mine. I had almost despaired of having
speech with her when he was called from the room, and
we were left for a few moments together.

"Well, Professor Gilroy--or is it Mr. Gilroy?" said
she, with that bitter smile of hers. "How is your
friend Mr. Charles Sadler after the ball?"

"You fiend!" I cried. "You have come to the end of
your tricks now. I will have no more of them. Listen
to what I say." I strode across and shook her roughly
by the shoulder "As sure as there is a God in heaven, I
swear that if you try another of your deviltries upon
me I will have your life for it. Come what may, I will
have your life. I have come to the end of what a man
can endure."

"Accounts are not quite settled between us," said she,
with a passion that equalled my own. "I can love, and
I can hate. You had your choice. You chose to spurn
the first; now you must test the other. It will take a
little more to break your spirit, I see, but broken it
shall be. Miss Marden comes back to-morrow, as I
understand."

"What has that to do with you?" I cried. "It is a
pollution that you should dare even to think of her.
If I thought that you would harm her----"

She was frightened, I could see, though she tried to
brazen it out. She read the black thought in my mind,
and cowered away from me.

"She is fortunate in having such a champion," said she.
"He actually dares to threaten a lonely woman. I must
really congratulate Miss Marden upon her protector."

The words were bitter, but the voice and manner were
more acid still.

"There is no use talking," said I. "I only came here
to tell you,--and to tell you most solemnly,--that your
next outrage upon me will be your last." With that, as
I heard Wilson's step upon the stair, I walked from the
room. Ay, she may look venomous and deadly, but, for
all that, she is beginning to see now that she has as
much to fear from me as I can have from her. Murder!
It has an ugly sound. But you don't talk of murdering
a snake or of murdering a tiger. Let her have a care
now.

May 5. I met Agatha and her mother at the station at
eleven o'clock. She is looking so bright, so happy, so
beautiful. And she was so overjoyed to see me. What
have I done to deserve such love? I went back home
with them, and we lunched together. All the troubles
seem in a moment to have been shredded back from my
life. She tells me that I am looking pale and worried
and ill. The dear child puts it down to my loneliness
and the perfunctory attentions of a housekeeper. I
pray that she may never know the truth! May the
shadow, if shadow there must be, lie ever black across
my life and leave hers in the sunshine. I have just
come back from them, feeling a new man. With her by my
side I think that I could show a bold face to any thing
which life might send.

5 P. M. Now, let me try to be accurate. Let me try to
say exactly how it occurred. It is fresh in my mind,
and I can set it down correctly, though it is not
likely that the time will ever come when I shall forget
the doings of to-day.

I had returned from the Mardens' after lunch, and was
cutting some microscopic sections in my freezing
microtome, when in an instant I lost consciousness in
the sudden hateful fashion which has become only too
familiar to me of late.

When my senses came back to me I was sitting in a small
chamber, very different from the one in which I had
been working. It was cosey and bright, with chintz-
covered settees, colored hangings, and a thousand
pretty little trifles upon the wall. A small
ornamental clock ticked in front of me, and the hands
pointed to half-past three. It was all quite familiar
to me, and yet I stared about for a moment in a half-
dazed way until my eyes fell upon a cabinet photograph
of myself upon the top of the piano. On the other side
stood one of Mrs. Marden. Then, of course, I
remembered where I was. It was Agatha's boudoir.

But how came I there, and what did I want? A horrible
sinking came to my heart. Had I been sent here on some
devilish errand? Had that errand already been done?
Surely it must; otherwise, why should I be allowed to
come back to consciousness? Oh, the agony of that
moment! What had I done? I sprang to my feet in my
despair, and as I did so a small glass bottle fell from
my knees on to the carpet.

It was unbroken, and I picked it up. Outside was
written "Sulphuric Acid. Fort." When I drew the round
glass stopper, a thick fume rose slowly up, and a
pungent, choking smell pervaded the room. I recognized
it as one which I kept for chemical testing in my
chambers. But why had I brought a bottle of vitriol
into Agatha's chamber? Was it not this thick, reeking
liquid with which jealous women had been known to mar
the beauty of their rivals? My heart stood still as I
held the bottle to the light. Thank God, it was full!
No mischief had been done as yet. But had Agatha come
in a minute sooner, was it not certain that the hellish
parasite within me would have dashed the stuff into
her---- Ah, it will not bear to be thought of! But it
must have been for that. Why else should I have
brought it? At the thought of what I might have done
my worn nerves broke down, and I sat shivering and
twitching, the pitiable wreck of a man.

It was the sound of Agatha's voice and the rustle of
her dress which restored me. I looked up, and saw her
blue eyes, so full of tenderness and pity, gazing down
at me.

"We must take you away to the country, Austin," she
said. "You want rest and quiet. You look wretchedly
ill."

"Oh, it is nothing!" said I, trying to smile. "It was
only a momentary weakness. I am all right again now."

"I am so sorry to keep you waiting. Poor boy, you must
have been here quite half an hour! The vicar was in
the drawing-room, and, as I knew that you did not care
for him, I thought it better that Jane should show you
up here. I thought the man would never go!"

"Thank God he stayed! Thank God he stayed!" I cried
hysterically.

"Why, what is the matter with you, Austin?" she asked,
holding my arm as I staggered up from the chair. "Why
are you glad that the vicar stayed? And what is this
little bottle in your hand?"

"Nothing," I cried, thrusting it into my pocket. "But
I must go. I have something important to do."

"How stern you look, Austin! I have never seen your
face like that. You are angry?"

"Yes, I am angry."

"But not with me?"

"No, no, my 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 I did, or what shadow might fall on my
name. Would you believe in me and trust me however
black appearances might be against me?"

"You know that I would, Austin."

"Yes, I know that you would. What I do I shall do for
you. I am driven to it. There is no other way out, my
darling!" I kissed her and rushed from the room.

The time for indecision was at an end. As long as the
creature threatened my own prospects and my honor there
might be a question as to what I should do. But now,
when Agatha--my innocent Agatha--was endangered, my
duty lay before me like a turnpike road. I had no
weapon, but I never paused for that. What weapon
should I need, when I felt every muscle quivering with
the strength of a frenzied man? I ran through the
streets, so set upon what I had to do that I was only
dimly conscious of the faces of friends whom I met--
dimly conscious also that Professor Wilson met me,
running with equal precipitance in the opposite
direction. Breathless but resolute I reached the house
and rang the bell. A white cheeked maid opened the
door, and turned whiter yet when she saw the face that
looked in at her.

"Show me up at once to Miss Penclosa," I demanded.

"Sir," she gasped, "Miss Penclosa died this afternoon
at half-past three!"

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