I use no charms,
Ephesian letters, philtres, spells or runes,
Nor aught of necromantic devilries
Yet thro’ the power of new-found sciences
Before my searching gaze I bare your soul
And read the secret longings writ thereon.
Owing to Nestley’s skilful treatment the squire soon recovered from
his illness, but the fact of twice being laid upon a bed of sickness
within a few weeks, showed how susceptible his constitution had become
to the slightest ailment, and how rapidly any such ailment might
terminate with fatal results.
To a young and vigorous frame such slight indispositions would be
comparatively unimportant, but the weak body of the old man, with its
worn-out-organization, was able to develop these disorders in a most
alarming tanner. The flame of life was very feeble, and it was only by
the utmost watchfulness that it could be kept alive at all.
In spite of his settled conviction regarding incarnation in a new
body, the squire seemed remarkably loth to leave his old one, and
obeyed the doctor’s orders in a most slavish manner, dreading lest by
some chance his soul should slip away into the next world. He had
accumulated a large fortune, which according to his delusion he hoped
to enjoy when his soul had become incarnate in a new body, so he had
no trouble on that score. His great desire was now to get his portrait
finished, and to this end, in spite of his ill-health, he insisted
upon leaving his bed and sitting to Beaumont according to his regular
Basil having once more brought Nestley under his dominating will,
determined to proceed at once in his hypnotic experiment, and at this
final sitting judged it an admirable time to carry out his idea. All
he wanted was an opportunity to introduce the subject without rousing
the squire’s suspicions, and the old man, during their conversation,
speedily afforded him an opportunity of doing so.
They were in the drawing-room as usual, and the squire, looking more
wrinkled and worn than ever, was seated in his arm-chair, while the
artist dexterously put a line here and there on the painted face
“You don’t seem well this morning, Mr. Garsworth,” said Beaumont, as
the old man moved wearily in his chair.
“No, sir, I don’t,” retorted the squire in his harsh voice. “I don’t
expect I’ll leave my bed again when I once go back to it.”
“Oh, things are surely not so bad as that.”
“I’m afraid they are,” replied Garsworth, shaking his head. “I am
anxious to go into a new body and leave this worn-out frame with its
“Are you in pain now?” asked Beaumont, sympathetically.
“Yes–I have a bad attack of neuralgia–the east wind always affects
me more or less that way.”
“I think I could do you some good.”
“Nonsense–you’re not a doctor?”
“I am not the rose, but I’ve lived near it, my dear sir,” said
Beaumont equably, “and I know something of therapeutics.”
“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing,” replied the old man
“I can reply with another proverb,” said Basil smiling. “A drowning
man will clutch at a straw–so take me as your straw and see what I
can do–I cannot cure you of your neuralgia, but I can give you some
“In what way?”
“Bah!–Mesmer and charlatanism.”
“Not at all–I have studied the subject, and I assure you there is
more truth in it than you imagine. Mesmer was not altogether a
charlatan remember–he was wiser than Cagliostro.”
“Well–well–what do you propose to do?”
“Well–the neuralgia will go away after you’ve been in the trance some
time, then I’ll wake you and you can retire.”
“But the portrait?”
“It won’t affect the portrait in the least–I-can go on painting and
you will be free from pain.”
The squire hated pain, and was moreover very curious to test
Beaumont’s knowledge, so he consented to the idea.
“Go on, sir,” he said grimly. “I don’t object.”
Beaumont nodded carelessly, delighted thus to have gained his end, and
producing from his pocket a facetted piece of glass, he arose from his
seat and walked over to the old man.
Taking up his position at one side of the chair he held the glittering
object just above the squire’s forehead.
“Look steadily at this,” he said in a quiet tone, and on Garsworth
doing so he waited silently for the result, which soon took place. The
eyes became humid and brilliant, the gaze fixed and the pupils
dilated, until the old man fell into a cataleptic state. As the glass
facet was still held in front of his eyes he soon passed into a
lethargic condition and fell backward in his chair with a sigh.
Beaumont took the glass away with a feeling of relief, as he doubted
being able to produce the hypnotic sleep so easily. He had now at his
command a will-less automaton who would do what ever he was told. But
this was not what Beaumont desired, as he was unable to suggest the
secret to the helpless man before him, and without suggestion the
automaton would not do anything. He wanted to change this lethargic
sleep into a somnambulistic state, so that he could have the memory,
the intelligence, and the imagination of the squire at his command.
This he achieved by slightly rubbing his hand to and fro for a few
minutes across the top of the head, and in obedience to the feeling
produced by this Garsworth rapidly passed into a state of active
He arose from his chair, looked quickly from right to left, while
Beaumont spoke to him, and during the conversation that followed, was
in a state of perpetual movement. All that Beaumont had now to do was
to suggest things to the somnambulist which would engender trains of
thought, and these trains of thought would be speedily acted upon by
The tall figure in black swayed rapidly to and fro while Beaumont
spoke in a clear, deliberate manner, suggesting the questions he
wanted to be answered.
“You have a secret?”
“I have a secret,” assented the somnambulist, in the same slow manner.
“You have arranged a certain affair so that you will be able to enjoy
your present fortune during your next incarnation?”
“You think you have arranged everything necessary to carry out this
“I think so.”
“State to yourself the whole scheme so that you can see you have
Garsworth remained silent for a moment, then began to talk rapidly.
“I have arranged everything in a proper manner. I am sure I have
forgotten nothing. My will has been made some years, and in it I have
left all my property to my natural son. Such natural son does not
exist–at present he is a fictitious person. When I am re-incarnated
he will become a reality. I will be my own natural son, and the property
will pass to myself in the new body by the action of my will in this
present body. It will be necessary for me in my new form to prove
myself the person mentioned in the will. I do this in such new body by
producing a certain paper and my seal ring, which I have safely hidden
away. Retaining my memory during my next incarnation I go to the
hiding-place, find the paper and the ring, produce them to the lawyer
who holds my will, and having proved my identity as natural son, can
become possessed of the property. Yes, everything is all right.”
He ceased speaking and Beaumont, having listened attentively, was much
struck with the ingenuity of the idea expressed in the delusion. This,
then, was the way in which he hoped to carry out his scheme. Was ever
madman so whimsical? The artist did not see much chance of benefiting
by the discovery so far, still if he saw the papers mentioned by the
squire, there might be something in them which would prove useful.
Yes; he would get the squire to show him the hiding-place of the
“Your scheme is perfect,” he said slowly, “but some one may find the
hiding-place and steal the paper?”
“No, no,” replied the somnambulist, in an exulting tone. “No chance of
that. I’ve hidden it too well.”
“Go and see if it is safe.”
“Safe! safe! is that paper safe?” muttered the old man, with a frown.
“I must see. I must see. But how can I go? I am too weak.”
Beaumont instantly exerted his power by suggestion.
“You are very strong. Go at once and examine the paper.”
Ordinarily the Squire used a crutch to walk with, but on hearing the
remark about his strength from his hypnotiser, he at once became
imbued with the hallucination that he was physically a vigorous man,
and walked towards the door of the drawing-room with rapid, springy
steps, followed by Beaumont.
The somnambulist lead the way up the stairs, paused for a moment on
the first landing, then, turning round, walked towards the front of
the house on the first floor. At this moment Patience Allerby came out
of one of the rooms, and seeing the squire walking in such a rapid
manner, and Beaumont following, looked at them both in alarm.
“Where are going sir?” she cried, as Garsworth brushed past her, and,
putting out her hand, tried to grasp him. The slight touch she gave
him appeared to cause the somnambulist suffering and break the
hypnotic spell, for he paused at once. Alarmed lest the old man should
awake, Beaumont gripped Patience by the wrist and dragged her back
“You are going for your papers?” he said to Garsworth.
“I am going for my papers,” repeated the squire slowly, and then, in
obedience to the impulse engendered, went on again. Patience would
have spoken, but a devilish look on Beaumont’s face seemed to freeze
“Be silent,” he said in a harsh whisper, shaking her wrist. “I will
tell you all soon, but now be silent for your son’s sake.”
She wrenched herself free and shrank back into the shadow with a cry,
while Beaumont, taking no further notice, quickly followed the squire
who was now some distance ahead.
Garsworth opened a large folding-door that stood a short distance away
from the stairs and which led into the ball-room of the Grange.
Followed by the artist he went into the long, bare room, which
stretched nearly the whole length of the front wing of the house,
being lighted by eight large windows, looking out on to the park.
The room was chill and bleak, every footfall awaking a responsive echo
and leaving a mark on the grey dust that had accumulated on the floor
for many years. The wall opposite the door was adorned with
delicately-painted panels, representing the nine muses, each female
figure being twice life-size and rising from the floor to the arched
roof, between each of the eight windows. At one end of the room the
panels represented the three Graces, at the other the three Fates,
while the remaining wall displayed nine goddesses of heathen
mythology. The arched roof was painted a deep blue, silvered with
stars, but nowhere appeared any male form–nothing but the gracious
female figures of Hellas were to be seen around.
The squire went straight to the extreme corner of the room, on the
left hand of the door, and knelt down where there was a panel
representing Clotho spinning the thread of life. He evidently touched
a spring concealed in the gold-embossed frame of the panel, for it
silently slid back, displaying a wall of rough stone. The upper blocks
of stone appeared heavy and cumbersome, but the lower ones were much
smaller, and as Beaumont looked he saw Garsworth drag from its place a
smallish stone in the lower centre of the wall, displaying only the
rough place where it lay, but no cavity where anything could be hid.
The squire, however, soon showed how ingenious was the hiding-place he
had chosen, for on turning round the stone which he had taken out,
there appeared a small hole hollowed out and from this the old man
took a paper and a ring. He laid them down for a moment to lift the
stone off his lap, but at this moment Beaumont, exerting his hypnotic
power, said abruptly:
“You are looking at the paper.”
Under the influence of the hallucination produced, the squire looked
earnestly at the stone on his lap, while Beaumont, picking up the real
paper, glanced over it rapidly, examined the ring, then laid them both
down again by the somnambulist.
“You should put them back,” he suggested distinctly. Garsworth picked
up the paper, and replacing it in the stone, put it once more in its
former position, and then dragged the panel along till it clicked on
the spring, thus resuming its former appearance. No one, to look at
it, would think that such a large picture could be moved in any way,
and even if the secret of the panel were discovered, Beaumont felt
sure no one would think of examining the interior of the stone in the
wall. Having now ascertained all he wanted to know, Beaumont’s next
care was to get the squire back to his former position and wake him,
so that he would be unconscious of what he had done during his
hypnotic sleep. To this end he bent forward to the kneeling figure on
“Mr. Beaumont is waiting to finish your picture.”
“Yes, yes. I must have the picture done,” said Garsworth, and, rising
to his feet, he left the room, followed by Beaumont, who saw the white
face of Patience peering from the shadow and frowning at him in a
Placing his finger on his lips to enforce silence, he glided past her
down the wide stairs, across the hall and into the drawing-room, where
he found the squire had once more re-established himself in his chair.
“Well,” said Beaumont to himself, “there seems to be some chance of
making use of this secret, but I can’t do it without the help of
Patience, so I must see her. Meanwhile, I’ll wake the squire.”
He crossed over to the squire and touched his face with his own cold
hands, upon which the old man started violently.
He then spoke loudly into his ear:
The somnambulist opened his eyes, and a confused expression appeared
on his face as he looked at Beaumont.
“Do you feel better?” asked the artist, gently.
“Yes,” answered the squire, slowly passing his hand over his forehead.
“The pain is gone, but I feel very tired.”
“It’s always the case in hypnotism.”
“How long have I been asleep?”
“About a quarter-of-an-hour,” replied Beaumont, glancing at his watch.
“Were you dreaming at all? Hypnotism usually produces dreams.”
“Aha!” said Garsworth, cunningly, “I was dreaming of my secret. I did
not speak in my sleep, did I?” he asked, in sudden terror.
“No, you were perfectly quiet,” answered the artist, going back to his
“I feel too tired to sit any more,” observed Garsworth, rising with a
great effort. “I must lie down. Hypnotism seems to exhaust the body
“It does, of course; it acts physically.”
The squire, with the aid of his stick, moved painfully to the door,
leaving Beaumont smiling at the picture before him.