But I anticipate conclusions. We must go back to the dinner-party and to Mr. Cyper Redalf, who has been restored to consciousness, and who still is the object of general sympathy; for it is not until the disturbance in the distinguished foreigner’s nerve aura has amounted to a psychic cyclone that the company perceive his interesting condition, and begin to look for a manifestation. The hopes of some fondly turn to raps, others desire the pressure of a spirit hand, or the ringing of a bell, or the levitation of furniture, or the sound of a spirit voice, the music of an immaterial larynx. Dinner is soon forgotten; the thing has become a seance, hands are joined, the lights are instinctively lowered, and the whole company, following an irresistible impulse, march round and round the room, and then out into the darkness after the soul-stirred foreigner, after the foreigner of distinction. Is it unconscious cerebration that leads them to the potato-plot, or is it the irresistible influence of some Supreme Power, something more occult and more interesting than God, that compels them to fall on their knees, and grub with their hands in the recently manured potato-bed? I must leave this question unanswered, as a sufficiently occult explanation does not occur to me: but suffice it to say that this search after truth, this burrowing in the gross earth for some spiritual sign, appears to me a spectacle at once inspiring and touching. It seems to me that human life has seldom had anything more beautiful and more ennobling to show than these postmaster-generals, boards of revenue, able editors, and foreigners of distinction asking Truth, the Everlasting Verity, for a sign and then searching for it in a potato-field. In this glorious quest every circumstance demands our respectful attention. They search on their hands and knees in the attitude of passionate prayer; they search in the dark; they seize the dumb earth with delirious fingers; they knock their heads against one another and against the dull, hard trunks of trees. Still they search: they wrestle with the Earth: she must yield up her secrets. Nor will Earth deny to them the desired boon. Theirs is the true spirit of devout inquiry, and they are persons of consideration in evening-dress. Nature will unveil her charms. Earth with the groans of an infinite pain, a boundless travail, yields up the gingham umbrella.
We will not intrude upon their immediate rapture as they carry their treasure away with loving hands; but it is necessary to note the means taken to prove, for the satisfaction only of a foolish and unbelieving world, the supernatural nature of the phenomenon. The umbrella is examined under severe test conditions: it is weighed in a vacuum, and placed under the spectroscope. It is found to be porous and a conductor of heat; but it is not soluble in water, though it boils at 500 deg. Fahr. To demonstrate the absence of trickery or collusion everyone turns up his sleeves and empties his waistcoat pockets. There is no room for sleight of hand in presence of this searching scientific investigation. The umbrella is certainly not a supposititious animal; yet it is the umbrella of Mr. Cyper Redalf’s boyhood. No one can doubt this who sees him clasp it in a fond embrace, who sees him shed burning tears on its voluminous folds.—THE ORPHAN.