The Mediumship of the Eddy Broters
the platform, at the right of the cabinet, where the experiment with Honto was tried. We had had some music from Mayflower and the spirit-band of unusual sweetness, and the little girl – whom I never can mention without a feeling of affection, so childlike and loveable is her nature – had made a ludicrous failure with her rhyming improvisations upon “Music,” “Pictures,” and “War and Peace,” when Dix said that if we would all remain quiet for a few minutes and the violinist would play something, he would try to organise an extra strong “battery.” His directions were followed, and for awhile no sound was heard except the dolorous rasp of the instrument. Little Mayflower passed along the front row and laid her guitar on each one’s lap, and presently we had an Indian dance such as I described in a previous letter. Then I knew, from a rattling and banging of my platform-scale, that something new was about to happen. It was moved along the whole length of the platform with such a noise that I thought to myself I would have a pretty bill of damages to pay the next morning, but the thought was hardly formed before George Dix, with a laugh, said: “Don’t worry, Mr. Olcott; I won’t hurt your scale;” and he fell to whistling and tugging at the dead weight like a jolly stevedore working among a cargo of cotton. The scale reached the steps, and then went bumping down to the floor of the room, and was rolled to a point near the medium’s chair, where it stopped. We heard some one step upon the platform and the beam kick against the pad, as though a heavy weight were on it. George said, “I guess I’ll see how much I weigh;” and then, after running the poise along the notches and changing one counterpoise weight for another, reported 163 pounds. I asked him how high he was, and he replied 5 feet 8 inches. We then heard Mayflower’s voice saying, “Now weigh me, George,” and his answer, “All right; get on;” and another and lighter person was heard to mount the platform, and the noise of weighing, with another change of counterpoise weights, was followed by a call for a light. This being struck, Mr. Poole, of New Jersey, and Mr. Wilkins, of Vermont, who had acted as a committee on our behalf to tie Horatio, stepped to the scale with the candle, and announced the beam as marking forty pounds. But the medium, speaking in the voice of a spirit known as “French Mary,” said, “No; it is thirty-eight pounds;” which, upon a second and closer look, with the candle held nearer, they found to be so. Now, if any one chooses to say that the medium knew the weight because he had handled it himself, it will be necessary for him to account for—
1. The fact that after the weighing he was bound as tightly and identically the same as he was by the committee before the room was darkened; and,
2. How, supposing that he could unbind and rebind himself, which I deny, he could run the poise along the scale beam in a pitchy dark room to a certain notch, and be able to correct an unexpected error of the committee. The experiment was to me very interesting as furnishing a new proof of the great force at the command of the spirits, as well as their ability to either see in the dark, or, instantly upon the lighting of the candle, to convey the correct reading of the figures to the mind of the medium.
The following night’s seance was to my mind the most satisfactory, as a test, of any held during my visit in one respect, viz.: that it proved that neither the hall up stairs, nor the hollow platform, nor the cabinet floor, nor that mysterious window that has so troubled the souls of many superficial “sceptics” had anything to do with the manifestations. Just before the usual hour of assembly, finding the Eddy boys in an unusually tractable mood, I proposed that for once we should hold our sitting in the reception-room where we were gathered about the stove. This being assented to without hesitancy, the old shawl that hangs over the cabinet door was brought down, the rough mattress and some working-clothes upon the wall of a dark closet under the stairs were removed, and we were ready to begin the seance.
The room or closet measures 9 feet 2 inches by 5 feet 3 inches, with a ceiling 8 feet high—narrow quarters for a person to sleep in, and with the door shut; a place that ought to be fatal to any pair of lungs that had ever been accustomed to a breath of fresh air. And yet this is where “Joe,” the pugnacious but musical farm-hand, whom every visitor will recollect, takes his nightly repose. There is no window here, at any rate, to awaken the suspicions of the wary psychologist, or demand of me a covering of sealed mosquito netting; and I conclude that if the spirits should show themselves there the fact would go a long way towards making out my case.
Just before the shawl was hung, William insisted on my coming into the den to examine it in any way I pleased, but as I had already breathed its fetid atmosphere on another occasion, when I measured it and sounded its walls and floor, I wished to decline. He would take no denial, however, and so, lamp in hand, I went in and made a general survey. There was nothing to be seen but the bare floor and plastered walls; and running my hands over William’s clothing under the laughing pretext of magnetising him, I enabled myself, to assure the reader, that he had nothing concealed about his person. The shawl-curtain was arranged and we took our seats in an arc that stretched from the hall-door to that leading into the dining-room. My post was in the crown of the arc, right opposite and not more than eight or nine feet from the “cabinet” door. The lamp was placed on a shelf in the chimney at the south-east corner of the room.
We had not long to wait, for after the lapse of a few minutes the shawl was lifted and out jumped Honto, as lively as a squirrel. She was dressed in a light suit throughout, with a scarf about her waist and her hair hanging loose down her back. She stepped to the dining-room door, lifted the latch and threw it open; then began capering about in her usual way as if she were in fine spirits. Shawl after shawl she twitched from old Mrs. Cleveland’s and Mr. Pritchard’s feet and shoulders; astonishing them as much each time as Hermann does the victim he entraps into “assisting” him in his magical entertainments. Then she stepped to the right of the cabinet door, and stood just opposite me, looking intently upon the floor, by the mop-board. There was nothing to be seen at first but the bare planks, but, presto! as I suddenly watched I saw a heap of something black, as it might be a piece of a woman’s dress or a quantity of black netting. She stretched out her hand, and daintily picked it up with thumb and forefinger, and it was—one of her shawls! Thus, within <... >