No sooner did I arrive in London, however, and took possession of my easy-chair than I knew Voltaire wanted me to go to him, and I knew, too, that a month before I should have had to yield to the power he possessed. I need not say that I did not go. My will was now stronger than his, and by exercising that will I was able to resist him. Still, none but those who have been under such a spell can imagine what a struggle I had even then. God only gives us power to use, and He will not do for us what we can do for ourselves. For two long hours I felt this strange influence, and then it ceased. Evidently he had failed in his design, and, for the time, at all events, had abandoned it.
Next morning, when I was preparing to visit Scotland Yard, a servant came into my room bearing a card on a tray. I took it and read, “Herod Voltaire.”
“Show him up,” I said to the servant.
STRUGGLING FOR VICTORY
I confess that I was somewhat excited as I heard him coming up the stairs. I was sure that every means he could devise to defeat me would be eagerly used. The man was a villain possessed of a strange and dangerous power, and that power he would not hesitate to exert in every possible way. But I was not afraid; my faith in God had given me life, and so I would dare to defy the wretch.
I did not look at him until the girl had shown him in and left the room; then our eyes met.
I recognized the steely glitter of those whity-grey orbs, which at times seemed tinted with green. I knew he was seeking to exert his old influence, and once I thought I should have to yield. The power he possessed was something terrible, and I had to struggle to the utmost to remain unconquered. His efforts were in vain, however, and, for the time, at all events, the battle was not with him.
“Will you sit down, Mr. Voltaire?” I said, after a minute’s perfect silence.
He sat down as if in astonishment.
“Might I ask your business?” I asked as coolly as I could.
This question either aroused his anger, or he began to play a part. “Yes,” he said; “you will know my business at your cost. I thought you had found out before this that I was not the man either to be disobeyed or trifled with.”
I did not think it wise to speak.
“I have come to tell you,” he went on, “that you cannot escape my power, that you cannot disobey me and not suffer. Remember this: I conquered you, and you are my slave.”
Still I did not think it wise to reply.
“You think,” he continued, “because you have realized some immunity from the power I wield, that I have left you. I have not, and it is greater than ever. You have dared to leave London; you have dared to do that which I told you not; and now I have come to tell you that you have aroused the anger of a man who laughs at conventional laws, and snaps his fingers at the ordinary usages of society—one who knows nothing and cares nothing for your claptrap morality, and will not be influenced by it.”