Ghost Hunters And Psychic Detectives / Ghost Hunters and Psychic Detectives Part 13
“You are merely talking to gain time,” he said hurriedly, in a shaking voice. “This thinking aloud delays us. I see ahead what you are coming to, only please be quick, for something is going to happen. A band is again coming down the street, and if it plays a” if it plays Wagner a” I shall be off in a twinkling.”
“Precisely. I will be quick. I was leading up to the point of how to effect your cure. The way is this: You must simply learn to block the entrances a”prevent the centres acting.”
“True, true, utterly true!” exclaimed the little man, dodging about nervously in the depths of the chair. “But how, in the name of space, can that be done?”
“By concentration. They are all within you, these centres, although outer causes such as colour, music, and other things lead you towards them. These external things you cannot hope to destroy, but once the entrances are blocked, they will lead you only to bricked walls and closed channels. You will no longer be able to find the way.”
“Quick, quick!” cried the bobbing figure in the chair. “How is this concentration to be effected?”
“This little book,” continued Dr. Silence calmly, “will explain to you the way.” He tapped the cover. “Let me now read out to you certain simple instructions, composed, as I see you divine, entirely from my own personal experiences in the same direction. Follow these instructions and you will no longer enter the state of higher space. The entrances will be blocked effectively.”
Mr. Mudge sat bolt upright in his chair to listen, and John Silence cleared his throat and began to read slowly in a very distinct voice.
But before be had uttered a dozen words, something happened. A sound of street music entered the room through the open ventilators, for a band had begun to play in the stable mews at the back of the house-the March from Tannhauser. Odd as it may seem that a German band should twice within the space of an hour enter the same mews and play Wagner, it was nevertheless the fact.
Mr. Racine Mudge heard it. He uttered a sharp, squeaking cry and twisted his arms with nervous energy round the chair. A piteous look that was not far from tears spread over his white face. Grey shadows followed it a” the gray of fear. He began to struggle convulsively.
“Hold me fast! Catch me! For God’s sake, keep me here! I’m on the rush already. Oh, it’s frightful!” he cried in tones of anguish, his voice as thin as a reed.
Dr. Silence made a plunge forward to seize him, but in a flash, before he could cover the space between them, Mr. Racine Mudge, screaming and struggling, seemed to shoot past him into invisibility. He disappeared like an arrow from a bow propelled at infinite speed, and his voice no longer sounded in the external air, but seemed in some curious way to make itself heard somewhere within the depths of the doctor’s own being. It was almost like a faint singing cry in his head, like a voice of dream, a voice of vision and unreality.
“Alcohol, alcohol!” it cried faintly, with distance in it, “give me alcohol! It’s the quickest way. Alcohol, before I’m out of reach!”
The doctor, accustomed to rapid decisions and even more rapid action, remembered that a brandy flask stood upon the mantelpiece, and in less than a second he had seized it and was holding it out towards the space above the chair recently occupied by the visible Mudge. But, before his very eyes, and long ere he could unscrew the metal stopper, he saw the contents of the closed glass phial sink and lessen as though someone were drinking violently and greedily of the liquor within.
“Thanks! Enough! It deadens the vibrations!” cried the faint voice in his interior, as he withdrew the flask and set it back upon the mantelpiece. He understood that in Mudge’s present condition one side of the flask was open to space and he could drink without removing the stopper. He could hardly have had a more interesting proof of what he had been hearing described at such length.
But the next moment a” the very same moment it almost seemed a” the German band stopped midway in its tune a” and there was Mr. Mudge back in his chair again, gasping and panting!
“Quick!” he shrieked, “stop that band! Send it away! Catch hold of me! Block the entrances! Block the entrances! Give me the red book! Oh, oh, oh-h-h-h!”
The music had begun again. It was merely a temporary interruption. The Tannhauser March started again, this time at a tremendous pace that made it sound like a rapid two-step, as though the instruments played against time.
But the brief interruption gave Dr. Silence a moment in which to collect his scattering thoughts, and before the band had got through half a bar, he had flung forward upon the chair and held Mr. Racine Mudge, the struggling little victim of Higher Space, in a grip of iron. His arms went all round his diminutive person, taking in a good part of the chair at the same time. He was not a big man, yet he seemed to smother Mudge completely.
Yet, even as he did so, and felt the wriggling form underneath him, it began to melt and slip away like air or water. The wood of the armchair somehow disentangled itself from between his own arms and those of Mudge. The phenomenon known as the passage of matter through matter took place. The little man seemed actually to be interfused with the other’s being. Dr. Silence could just see his face beneath him. It puckered and grew dark as though from some great internal effort. He heard the thin, reedy voice cry in his ear to “Block the entrances, block the entrances!” and then a” but how in the world describe what is indescribable?
John Silence half rose up to watch. Racine Mudge, his face distorted beyond all recognition, was making a marvellous inward movement, as though doubling back upon himself. He turned funnel-wise like water in a whirling vortex, and then appeared to break up somewhat as a reflection breaks up and divides in a distorting convex mirror. He went neither forward nor backwards, neither to the right nor the left, neither up nor down. But he went. He went utterly. He simply flashed away out of sight like a vanishing projectile.
All but one leg Dr. Silence just had the time and the presence of mind to seize upon the left ankle and boot as it disappeared, and to this he held on for several seconds like grim death. Yet all the time he knew it was a foolish and useless thing to do.
The foot was in his grasp one moment, and the next it seemed-this was the only way he could describe it a” inside his own skin and bones, and at the same time outside his hand and all round it. It seemed mingled in some amazing way with Ms own flesh and blood. Then it was gone, and he was tightly grasping a mere draught of heated air.
“Gone! gone! gone!” cried a faint, whispering voice somewhere deep within his own consciousness. “Lost! lost! lost!” it repeated, growing fainter and fainter till at length it vanished into nothing and the last signs of Mr. Racine Mudge vanished with it.
John Silence locked his red book and replaced it in the cabinet, which he fastened with a click, and when Barker answered the bell he inquired if Mr. Mudge had left a card upon the table. It appeared that he had, and when the servant returned with it, Dr. Silence read the address and made a note of it. It was in North London.
“Mr. Mudge has gone,” he said quietly to Barker, noticing his expression of alarm.
“He’s not taken his ‘at with him, sir.”
“Mr. Mudge requires no hat where be is now,” continued the doctor, stooping to poke the fire. “But he may return for it.”
“And the humbrella, sir.”
“And the umbrella.”
“He didn’t go out my way, sir, if you please,” stuttered the amazed servant, his curiosity overcoming his nervousness.
“Mr. Mudge has his own way of coming and going, and prefers it. If he returns by the door at any time remember to bring him instantly to me, and be kind and gentle with him and ask no questions. Also, remember, Barker, to think pleasantly, sympathetically, affectionately of him while he is away. Mr. Mudge is a very suffering gentleman!”
Barker bowed and went out of the room backwards, gasping and feeling round the inside of his collar with three very hot fingers of one hand.
It was two days later when he brought in a telegram to the study. Dr. Silence opened it, and read as follows: “Bombay. Just slipped out again. All safe. Have blocked entrances. Thousand thanks. Address Cooks, London.a”
Dr. Silence looked up and saw Barker staring at him bewilderingly. It occurred to him that somehow he knew the contents of the telegram.
“Make a parcel of Mr. Mudge’s things,” he said briefly, “and address them Thomas Cook & Sons, Ludgate Circus. And send them there exactly a month from today, marked “To be called for.”
“Yes, sir,” said Barker, leaving the room with a deep sigh and a hurried glance at the waste-paper basket where his master had dropped the pink paper.
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