vol. 1, p. 85
from Adyar archives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 1 (1874-1876)


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< From Сhittenden to Havana. (continued from page 1-84) >

was accepted. Pretty well disgusted I took my card, wrote $50 on the corner, and said to her that if she ever felt that she could spare two or three hours to go to Rutland to earn that amount, that I would journey up to Rutland and meet her. The Doctor and myself walked into Rutland, sending a wagon for our baggage, from which place the Doctor took the night train for New York.

I will now indulge myself in the Yankee prerogative of a guess, as to how Mrs. Huntoon has obtained her materializations. By referring to the diagram you will see that in the room, used as a cabinet, there is, just at Mrs. Huntoon’s right hand, a bed; this, of course, was examined sufficiently to demonstrate that no one was concealed in or about it, but no farther, nordid there seem to me, at the moment, to be any reason for looking for anything else; let us suppose, however, that there was anywhere about that bed a small iron rod or pole of wood, and the rest is simple to the last degree. First, with the hand hidden in the cabinet, she gets possession of the pole, with it draws to her the string of bells, takes them in her right hand with the pole, shakes them violently, and under cover of that noise, joined to the loud singing by the circle, knocks out the window prop with the pole, and gives a confederate an opportunity to gain admission by lowering the top sash; any noise he may make still being drowned by the bells and singing. After the gentleman from the outside has finished the full form materialization act, the spirit (HIS VOICE) tells Mrs. Huntoon to come entirely into the cabinet; more noise; EXIT confederate; Mrs. Huntoon replaces prop, et voile tout!

Col. Olcott told me that when he was there he tacked mosquito netting outside of the window; I cannot see that that would make but little, if any, difference, the detection by any slight noise once provided against and the tacks could easily be drawn and afterwards forced back into the original holes by a strong pressure; it would not be necessary to strike a blow.

I leave you to draw your own inferences; could you, however, see the wretchedly poor way in which the Huntoons live, I think you would feel that they might be able to discontinue household affairs for one or two hours to earn $100 or even $50 or $25; perhaps you might think that a far smaller amount than even the last named was worth their attention.

As to William Eddy it is quite possible his manifestations were genuine; I have no evidence they were not all they claimed to be, neither have I any personal evidence that they were. Dr. Slade was outspoken to me in his belief that it was a rank imposture. I am by no means sure that they are anything of the kind, and most willingly, in my own mind, do I give him the benefit of the doubt. To wind up my Chittenden experience, I left here bitterly disappointed.



As I said before, Dr. Slade parted from me at Rutland, taking the night train home. I intended returning to New York the next day, but, after much mental vacillation on the subject, started for Havana instead, determined to verify, by my own experience, to what extent the marvellous tales of the doings of the spirits at Mrs. Markee’s, were reliable. Arrived at Canandaigua at midnight Friday, and at Havana at I P. M., Saturday.

By great good fortune I directed my steps to the Montour House, kept by Gordon Squires, than whom a more genial landlord I never met. nor one who tried harder to make his guests comfortable and labored not in vain.

After dining, I walked to Mrs. Market’s. In brief, the result of one interview was, “That she could give but three seances a week; was too unwell to give more; that she was willing to be tested in any way; and that her price for a test seance was $25 and that her seance nights were Sunday, Tuesday and Friday evenings. Arranging then to see her on Sunday evening, I returned to the hotel. I called on Sunday afternoon, and told her that I proposed to use Col. Olcott’s test; namely, passing thread through the bearings of her ear.

Any further securing of her person seeming to me to be superfluous; she still expressed to me perfect willingness that I should test her as I might think best.

By referring to “People from the Other World” you will get a full and correct description of Mrs. Markee's cabinet; my object in calling on Sunday afternoon, was to examine it, and so arrange it as to make it impossible that any one should be able to enter it undetected, by any way excepting through the door opening into the seance room.

I found the ceiling well and thoroughly sealed by cobwebs, although the walls were plastered; I passed a band of tape completely around the cabinet, tacking and sealing it to the wall in many places. I also traversed the board flooring with many strips of tape, sealing every tack, carrying the ends up to the plaster walls, and then again tacking and sealing. Feeling that I had put the cabinet in good TEST condition, I left, to return again at 8, P. M., at which hour, I, with some dozen others, took our seats front of the cabinet.

The seance opened with a dark circle, after which I was to again examine the cabinet, and, as I supposed, pass my thread through to Mrs. Markee’s ears, I confess my hopes ran high: Mrs. Markee had thus far objected to nothing, and all present, who had been at previous circles, were seemingly as confident that she would pass the ordeal successfully, as if it was the most every day thing in the world for her to escape from the slender but firm fastening which was soon to bind I her. The dark circle lasted an hour and a quarter; after which I again thoroughly scrutinized the cabinet. Every seal was intact; I turned to Mrs. Markee, — and found her ears already threaded.

She informed me that it had been done by a lady stopping at her house, and that it was arranged exactly as it had been for Col. Olcott.

The thread was not simply run through the ear, so that by a glance it was possible to see if there were any deception; but knots were tied to each ear; Mrs. Markee informing me that if the thread were not so secured, it would cut the ear. She requested me to examine the fastening quickly, as she was “very nervous;” I did so, to the best of my ability, in a hasty way, and consoled myself by the thought that after the seance was over, I could examine at my leisure, and was quite sure I should be able to tell if any fraud in the tying had been used.

I sealed the thread to the back of the chair, (see Olcott), but in addition brought the ends down and twisted them about different rounds of the chair, sealing at each turn, then up again to the wall, another seal, and finally scaled the two ends outside the door. I felt that with time enough given me for the examination after the seance, my test would yet be perfect.

Mrs. Markee’s circles have been so often described, that it it is not worth while for me to go into detail; suffice it to say that Mr. Webster talked, Katie came out, very deeply veiled, apparently smaller than Mrs. Markee, then I went in, —NO ONE IN THE CABINET, —then out came Seneca, apparently larger than Mrs. Markee, but it is hard to judge for the room is made much darker here than at the Eddy’s—and so on to the end of the circle.

The moment the light was turned up, I hastened into the cabinet and, to my intense annoyance, found I had so twisted and sealed up my thread about the chair, that in order to get at Mrs. Markee, to examine her, I should have to commence by cutting the thread or tearing it through her ears—if through her ears it was.

I cut it, and my great test had come to naught.

Mr. Markee lifted Mrs. Markee, chair and all, out into the stance-room and then and there the conviction came to me, that what I had seen was NO TRICKERY, but the exhibition of an occult power—call it spirits or what we may.

I can only describe Mrs. Markee’s condition by saying, that she looked worse than dead, it was horrible. I felt her pulse and could detect none; I passed my hand up her sleeve, above her elbow; her arms were ice cold. On her forehead were big drops of damp, and it was as cold as the arms, and her face was sunken and ghastly. Before Mrs. Markee returned, —which was long, for Mrs. Markee seemed to have gone very far away, —I had made up my mind to have another seance, and yet I felt self-reproach at the thought that I was to be, even in a small degree, instrumental in inducing this poor feeble woman to allow herself to again fall,

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