Voltaire and Kaffar came up to me, while the rest crowded around. The former fixed his terrible eye upon me as if he would peer into my very soul. A strange feeling began to creep over me; but I struggled against it with all my strength, and for a minute I seemed to gain the mastery. I laughed in his face, as if I scorned his boasted strength. A strange gleam was emitted from his light grey eyes, while his lips became ashy pale. Then I saw him grip Kaffar’s hand. Instantly the room was peopled with a strange crowd. Dark forms seemed to come from Voltaire’s eyes; peculiar influences were all around me. The faces of the two men became dimmer and dimmer, the people appeared to float in mid air, and I with them; then something heavy seemed to move away, I thought I heard strange creeping noises, like that of an adder crawling amidst thick dry grass, and then all was blank.
When I awoke to consciousness I was in my bedroom. For some time I could not gather up my scattered senses; my mind refused to exercise its proper functions. Presently I heard some one speak.
“I had no idea he was so far gone,” a voice said. “You see, his power of resistance is very great, and it needed four times the magnetism to bring him under that it did your servant.”
“I’m sorry you experimented on him at all,” said another voice.
“Oh, I can assure you no harm’s done. There, you see, he’s coming to.”
I felt something cold at my temples, then a strange shivering sensation passed over me, and I was awake.
Voltaire, Kaffar, Tom Temple, and Simon Slowden were in the room. “How do you feel, Mr. Blake?” asked Voltaire, blandly.
I lifted my eyes to his, and felt held by a strange power. “I’m all right,” I said almost mechanically, at the same time feeling as if I was under the influence of a charm.
“Then,” said Voltaire, “I will leave you. Good-night.”
Immediately he left, followed by Kaffar, I experiencing a sense of relief. “Did I do anything very foolish?” I asked, recollecting the events of the evening.
“Oh no, Justin,” replied Tom. “And yet that Voltaire is a terrible fellow. Half the young ladies in the room were nearly as much mesmerized as you were. You acted in pretty nearly the same way as Simon here, but nothing else. Do you feel quite right?”
“I am awfully weak,” I said, “and cold shivers creep down my legs.”
“You were such a long time under the influence, whatever it is,” said Tom. “But you’ll go back to the drawing-room?”
“No; I don’t feel up to it. But don’t you remain. I’m feeling shaky, but I shan’t mind a bit if you’ll let Simon remain with me.”
And so Tom left me with Simon. “Do you feel shaky and shivery, Simon?” I asked.
“Not a bit on it, sir,” was the reply. “Never felt better. But ’tween you and me and the gatepost, yon hinfidel hain’t a served me like he hev you. I don’t like the look o’ things, yer honour.”