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Vera, The Medium by Richard Harding Davis

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being carried into effect.

"Before I turn out the lights," he continued, "I wish to say a
last word to any skeptic who may be present. I warn him that
any attempt to lay violent hands upon the apparition, or spirit,
may cost the medium her life. From the cabinet the medium
projects the spirit into the circle. An attack upon the spirit,
is an attack upon the medium. There are three or four
well-authenticated cases where the disembodied spirit was cut
off from the cabinet, and the medium died."

He drew the velvet curtains across the cabinet, and shut Vera
from view. "Are you ready, Mr. Hallowell?" he asked. Mr.
Hallowell, his eyes staring, his lips parted, nodded his head.
The music grew louder. Vance switched off the lights.

For some minutes, except for the creaking of the pedals of the
organ and the low throb of the music, there was no sound. Then,
from his position at the open door, the voice of Vance commanded
sternly: "No whispering, please. The medium is susceptible to
the least sound." There was another longer pause, until in
hushed expectant tones Vance spoke again. "The air is very
heavily charged with electricity tonight," he said, "you, Mrs.
Marsh, should feel that?"

"I do, Professor," murmured the medium, "I do. We shall have
some wonderful results!"

Vance agreed with her solemnly. "I feel influences all about
me," he murmured.

There came suddenly from the cabinet three sharp raps. These
were instantly answered by other quick rappings upon the library
table. "They are beginning!" chanted the voice of Vance. The
music of the organ ceased. It was at once followed by the notes
of a guitar that seemed to float in space, the strings
vibrating, not as though touched by human hands, but in fitful,
meaningless chords like those of an Aeolian harp.

"That is Kiowa, your control, Mrs. Marsh," announced Vance
eagerly. "Do you desire to speak to him?"

"Not tonight," Mrs. Marsh answered. She raised her voice. "Not
tonight, Kiowa," she repeated. "Thank you for coming. Good

In deep, guttural accents, a man's voice came from the ceiling.
"Good night," it called. With a final, ringing wail, the music
of the guitar suddenly ceased.

Again rose the swelling low notes of the organ. Above it came
the quick pattering of footsteps.

The voice of Rainey, filled with alarm, cried, "some one touched

"Are you sure your hands are held?" demanded Vance reprovingly.

"Yes," panted Rainey, "both of them. But something put its hand
on my forehead. It was cold."

In an excited whisper, a voice in the circle cried, "Look,
look!" and before the eyes of all, a star rose in the darkness.
For a moment it wavered over the cabinet and then fluttered
swiftly across the room and remained stationary above the head
of the German Professor.

"There is your star, Professor," cried Vance. "When the
Professor is in the circle," he announced proudly, "that star
always appears."

He was interrupted by a startled exclamation from Lee.

"Something touched my face," explained the young man
apologetically, "and spoke to me."

The music sank to a murmur, and the room became alive with
swift, rushing sounds and soft whisperings.

The voice of Mrs. Marsh, low and eager, could be heard appealing
to an invisible presence.

"The results are marvelous," chanted Vance, "marvelous! The
medium is showing wonderful power. If any one desires to ask a
question, he should do so now. The conditions will never be
better." He paused expectantly. "Mr. Hallowell," he prompted,
"is it your wish to communicate with any one in the spirit

There was a long pause, and then the voice of Mr. Hallowell,
harsh and shaken, answered, "Yes."

"With whom?" demanded Vance.

There was again another longer pause, and then, above the
confusion of soft whisperings, the voice of the old man rose in
sharp staccato; "My sister, Catherine Coates." His tone
hardened, became obdurate, final. "But, I must see her, and hear
her speak!"

Not for an instant did Vance hesitate. In tense, sepulchral
tones, he demanded of the darkness, "Is the spirit of Catherine
Coates present?"

The whisperings and murmurs ceased. The silence of the room was
broken sharply by three quick raps. "Yes," intoned Vance, "she
is present."

The voice of Hallowell protested fiercely. "I won't have that! I
want to see her!"

In the tone of an incantation, Vance spoke again. "Will the
spirit show herself to her brother?" The raps came quickly,

"She answers she will appear before you."

There was a moment that seemed to stretch interminably, and
then, the eyes of all, straining in the darkness, saw against
the black velvet curtain a splash of white.

Above the sobbing of the organ, the voice of Mr. Hallowell rang
out in a sharp exclamation of terror. "Who is that!" he
demanded. He spoke as though he dreaded the answer. He threw
himself forward in his chair, peering into the darkness.

"Is that you, Kate?, he whispered. His voice was both
incredulous and pleading.

The answer came in feeble, trembling tones. "Yes."

The voice of Hallowell shook with eagerness. "Do you know me,
your brother, Stephen?"


With a cry the old man fell back, groping blindly. He found
Gaylor's arm and clutched it with both hands.

"My God! It's Kate!" he gasped. "I tell you, Henry, it is Kate!"

The voice of Vance, deep and hollow like a bell, sounded a note
of warning. "Speak quickly," he commanded. "Her time on earth is
brief." Mr. Hallowell's hold upon the arm of his friend relaxed.
Fearfully and slowly, he bent forward.

"Kate!" he pleaded; "I must ask you a question. No one else can
tell me." As though gathering courage, he paused, and, with a
frightened sigh, again began. "I am an old man," he murmured, "a
sick man. I will be joining you very soon. what am I to do with
my money? I have made great plans to give it to the poor. Or,
must I give it, as I have given it in my will, to Helen? Perhaps
I did not act fairly to you and Helen. You know what I mean. She
would be rich, but then the poor would be that much the poorer."
The confidence of the speaker was increasing; as though to a
living being, he argued and pleaded. "And I want to do some good
before I go. What shall I do? Tell me."

There was a pause that lasted so long that those who had held
their breath to listen, again breathed deeply. When the answer
came, it was strangely deprecatory, uncertain, unassured.

"You," stammered the voice, "you must have courage to do what
you know to be just!"

For a brief moment, as though surprised, Mr. Hallowell
apparently considered this, and then gave an exclamation of
disappointment and distress.

"But I don't know," he protested, "that is why I called on you.
I want to go into the next world, Kate," he pleaded, "with clean

"You cannot bribe your way into the next world," intoned the
voice. "If you pity the poor, you must help the poor, not that
you may cheat your way into heaven, but that they may suffer
less. Search your conscience. Have the courage of your

"I don't want to consult my conscience," cried the old man. "I
want you to tell me." He paused, hesitating. Eager to press his
question, his awe of the apparition still restrained him.

"What do you mean, Kate?" he begged. Am I to give the money
where it will do the most good -- to the Hallowell Institute, or
am I to give it to Helen? Which am I to do?"

There was another long silence, and then the voice stammered;
"If -- if you have wronged me, or my daughter, or the poor, you
must make restitution."

The hand of the old man was heard to fall heavily upon the arm
of his chair. His voice rose unhappily.

"That is no answer, Kate!" he cried. "Did you come from the dead
to preach to me? Tell me -- what am I to do -- leave my money to
Helen, or to the Institute?"

The cry of the old man vibrated in the air. No voice rose to
answer. "Kate!" he entreated. Still there was silence. "Speak to
me!" he commanded. The silence became eloquent with momentous
possibilities. So long did it endure, that the pain of the
suspense was actual. The voice of Rainey, choked and hoarse with
fear, broke it with an exclamation that held the sound of an
oath. He muttered thickly, "What in the name of -- "

He was hushed by a swift chorus of hisses. The voice of
Hallowell was again uplifted.

"Why won't she answer me?" he begged hysterically of Vance.
"Can't you -- can't the medium make her speak?"

During the last few moments the music from the organ had come
brokenly. The hands upon the keys moved unsteadily, drunkenly.
Now they halted altogether and in the middle of a chord the
music sank and died. Upon the now absolute silence the voice of
Vance, when he spoke, sounded strangely unfamiliar. It had lost
the priest-like intonation. Its confidence had departed. It
showed bewilderment and alarm.

"I -- I don't understand," stammered the showman. "Ask her
again. Put your question differently."

Carefully, slowly, giving each word its value, Mr. Hallowell
raised his voice in entreaty.

"Kate," he cried, "I have made a new will, leaving the money to
the poor. The old will gives it to Helen. Shall I sign the new
will or not? Shall I give the money to Helen, or the Institute?
Answer me! Yes or no."

Before the eyes of all, the apparition, as though retreating to
the cabinet, swayed backward, then staggered forward. There was
a sob, human, heart-broken, a cry, thrilling with distress; a
tumult of weeping, fierce and uncontrollable.

They saw the figure tear away the white kerchief and cap, and
trample them upon the floor. They saw the figure hold itself
erect. From it, the voice of Vera cried aloud, in despair.

"I can't! I can't!" she sobbed. "It's a lie! I am not your
sister! Turn on the lights," the girl cried. "Turn on the

There was a crash of upturned chairs, the sound of men
struggling, and the room was swept with light. In the doorway
Winthrop was holding apart Vance and the reporter.

In the centre of the room stood Vera, her head bent in shame,
her body shaken and trembling, her hair streaming to her waist.

As though to punish herself, by putting a climax to her
humiliation, she held out her arms to Helen Coates. "You see,"
she cried, "I am a cheat. I am a fraud!" She sank suddenly to
her knees in front of Mr. Hallowell. "Forgive me," she sobbed,
"forgive me!"

With a cry of angry protest, Winthrop ran to her and lifted her
to her feet. His eyes were filled with pity. But in the eyes of
Mr. Hallowell there was no promise of pardon. With sudden
strength he struggled to his feet and stood swaying, challenging
those before him. His face was white with anger, his jaw closed
against mercy.

"You've lied to me!" he cried. "You've tried to rob me!" He
swept the room with his eyes. With a flash of intuition, he saw
the trap they had laid for him. "All of you!" he screamed. "It's
a plot!" He shook his fist at the weeping girl. "And you!" he
shouted hysterically, "the law shall punish you!"

Winthrop drew the girl to him and put his arm about her.

"I'll do the punishing here," he said.

With a glad, welcoming cry, the old man turned to him
appealingly, wildly.

"Yes, you!" he shouted. "you punish them! She plotted to get my

The girl at Winthrop's side shivered, and shrank from him. He
drew her back roughly and held her close. The sobs that shook
her tore at his heart; the touch of the sinking, trembling body
in his arms filled him with fierce, jubilant thoughts of keeping
the girl there always, of giving battle for her, of sheltering
her against the world. In what she had done he saw only a
sacrifice. In her he beheld only a penitent, who was
self-accused and self-convicted.

He heard the voice of the old man screaming vindictively, "She
plotted to get my money!"

Winthrop turned upon him savagely.

"How did she plot to get it?" he retorted fiercely. "You know,
and I know. I know how your lawyer, your doctor, your servant
plotted to get it!" His voice rose and rang with indignation.
"You all plotted, and you all schemed -- and to what end -- what
was the result?" -- he held before them the fainting figure of
the girl -- "That one poor child could prove she was honest!"

With his arms still about her, and her hands clinging to him, he
moved with her quickly to the door. When they had reached the
silence of the hall, he took her hands in his, and looked into
her eyes. "Now," he commanded, "you shall come to my sisters!"

The waiting car carried them swiftly up the avenue. Their way
lay through the park, and the warm, mid-summer air was heavy
with the odor of plants and shrubs. Above them the trees drooped
deep with leaves. Vera, crouched in a corner, had not spoken.
Her eyes were hidden in her hands. But when they had entered the
silent reaches of the park she lowered them and the face she
lifted to Winthrop was pale and wet with tears. The man thought
never before had he seen it more lovely or more lovable. Vera
shook her head dumbly and looked up at him with a troubled

"I told you," she murmured remorsefully, "you'd be sorry."

We don't know that yet," said Winthrop gently, "we'll have all
the rest of our lives to find that out."

Startled, the girl drew back. In her face was wonder, amazement,
a dawning happiness.

Without speaking, Winthrop looked at her, entreatingly,
pitifully, beseeching her with his eyes.

Slowly the girl bent forward and, as he threw out his arms, with
a little sigh of rest and content she crept into them and
pressed her face to his.

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