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The Autobiography of a Quack

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is to common-sense, every-day dietetics. Next
to him sat a female-authoress, I think, of
two somewhat feeble novels, and much pleasanter
to look at than her books. She was, I
thought, a good deal excited at the prospect
of spiritual revelations. Her neighbor was a
pallid, care-worn young woman, with very
red lips, and large brown eyes of great
beauty. She was, as I learned afterwards,
a magnetic patient of the doctor, and had
deserted her husband, a master mechanic, to
follow this new light. The others were, like
myself, strangers brought hither by mere
curiosity. One of them was a lady in deep
black, closely veiled. Beyond her, and
opposite to me, sat the sergeant, and next to
him the medium, a man named Brink. He
wore a good deal of jewelry, and had large
black side-whiskers--a shrewd-visaged, large-
nosed, full-lipped man, formed by nature to
appreciate the pleasant things of sensual

Before I had ended my survey, he turned
to the lady in black, and asked if she wished
to see any one in the spirit-world.

She said, ``Yes,'' rather feebly.

``Is the spirit present?'' he asked. Upon
which two knocks were heard in affirmation.
``Ah!'' said the medium, ``the name is--it is
the name of a child. It is a male child. It

``Alfred!'' she cried. ``Great Heaven! My
child! My boy!''

On this the medium arose, and became
strangely convulsed. ``I see,'' he said--``I
see--a fair-haired boy. I see blue eyes--I
see above you, beyond you--'' at the same
time pointing fixedly over her head.

She turned with a wild start. ``Where--

``A blue-eyed boy,'' he continued, ``over
your head. He cries--he says, `Mama,
mama!' ''

The effect of this on the woman was
unpleasant. She stared about her for a moment,
and exclaiming, ``I come--I am coming,
Alfy!'' fell in hysterics on the floor.

Two or three persons raised her, and aided
her into an adjoining room; but the rest
remained at the table, as though well accustomed
to like scenes.

After this several of the strangers were
called upon to write the names of the dead
with whom they wished to communicate.
The names were spelled out by the agency
of affirmative knocks when the correct letters
were touched by the applicant, who was
furnished with an alphabet-card upon which
he tapped the letters in turn, the medium,
meanwhile, scanning his face very keenly.
With some, the names were readily made
out. With one, a stolid personage of
disbelieving type, every attempt failed, until at
last the spirits signified by knocks that he
was a disturbing agency, and that while he
remained all our efforts would fail. Upon
this some of the company proposed that he
should leave; of which invitation he took
advantage, with a skeptical sneer at the whole

As he left us, the sergeant leaned over and
whispered to the medium, who next addressed
himself to me. ``Sister Euphemia,'' he said,
indicating the lady with large eyes, ``will
act as your medium. I am unable to do
more. These things exhaust my nervous

``Sister Euphemia,'' said the doctor, ``will
aid us. Think, if you please, sir, of a spirit,
and she will endeavor to summon it to our

Upon this a wild idea came into my head.
I answered: ``I am thinking as you directed
me to do.''

The medium sat with her arms folded,
looking steadily at the center of the table.
For a few moments there was silence. Then
a series of irregular knocks began. ``Are
you present?'' said the medium.

The affirmative raps were twice given.

``I should think,'' said the doctor, ``that
there were two spirits present.''

His words sent a thrill through my heart.

``Are there two?'' he questioned.

A double rap.

``Yes, two,'' said the medium. ``Will it
please the spirits to make us conscious of
their names in this world?''

A single knock. ``No.''

``Will it please them to say how they are
called in the world of spirits?''

Again came the irregular raps--3, 4, 8, 6;
then a pause, and 3, 4, 8, 7.

``I think,'' said the authoress, ``they must
be numbers. Will the spirits,'' she said, ``be
good enough to aid us? Shall we use the

``Yes,'' was rapped very quickly.

``Are these numbers?''

``Yes,'' again.

``I will write them,'' she added, and, doing
so, took up the card and tapped the letters.
The spelling was pretty rapid, and ran
thus as she tapped, in turn, first the letters,
and last the numbers she had already set

Nos. 3486, 3487.''

The medium looked up with a puzzled expression.

``Good gracious!'' said I, ``they are MY LEGS
--MY LEGS!''

What followed, I ask no one to believe
except those who, like myself, have communed
with the things of another sphere.
Suddenly I felt a strange return of my self-
consciousness. I was reindividualized, so to
speak. A strange wonder filled me, and, to
the amazement of every one, I arose, and,
staggering a little, walked across the room
on limbs invisible to them or me. It was no
wonder I staggered, for, as I briefly reflected,
my legs had been nine months in the strongest
alcohol. At this instant all my new friends
crowded around me in astonishment. Presently,
however, I felt myself sinking slowly.
My legs were going, and in a moment I was
resting feebly on my two stumps upon the
floor. It was too much. All that was left
of me fainted and rolled over senseless.

I have little to add. I am now at home in
the West, surrounded by every form of kindness
and every possible comfort; but alas!
I have so little surety of being myself that I
doubt my own honesty in drawing my pension,
and feel absolved from gratitude to
those who are kind to a being who is uncertain
of being enough himself to be conscientiously
responsible. It is needless to add
that I am not a happy fraction of a man,
and that I am eager for the day when I shall
rejoin the lost members of my corporeal
family in another and a happier world.

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