“Have you anything to say?” Curtis asked, addressing John Martin.
“I acknowledge my defeat, though I do not understand it!” John Martin said with very white lips. “I shall pay you the ten thousand pounds to-night.”
“Don’t worry about that,” Hamar interposed; “we don’t want to take your money, all we wanted to do was to prove to you we could perform the tricks you believed to be insoluble.
“Ladies and gentlemen!” he went on, raising his voice, “the Modern Sorcery Company Ltd. has given you some proof to-night of their capabilities in the conjuring line, and if you will give us the pleasure of your company to-morrow night—we invite you all free of charge for the occasion—we will give you a still further demonstration of our powers. May we count upon your patronage?”
A terrific storm of clapping was the reply, and as the audience slowly filed from the hall, John Martin staggered into the wing, reeled past Gladys ere she could catch him, and sank helplessly on to the floor.
THE MODERN SORCERY COMPANY LTD. GIVE A GRATIS PERFORMANCE
The days that followed were dark days for Gladys. Her father, whom she loved—and, until now, had never realized how much she loved—lay seriously ill. He had had a stroke which, although fortunately slight, must, as the doctor said, be regarded as a prelude to what would happen, unless he was kept very quiet. And to keep him quiet was not an easy thing to do. His mind continually reverted to what had just taken place, and he was for ever asking Gladys to tell him whether anything further had occurred in connection with it, whether there was anything about it in the papers.
Gladys, of course, was obliged to dissemble. She hated anything approaching dissimulation, but on this occasion there was no help for it, and what she told John Martin was the reverse of what she knew to be actually happening. The papers were full to overflowing with accounts of that fatal night’s proceedings, and of the marvellous gratis exhibition given on the succeeding evening by the Modern Sorcery Company Ltd.
The Hooter, for example, had a full column on the middle page headed in large type—
EXTRAORDINARY SCENE AT MARTIN
THE GREATEST CONJURING TRICKS IN THE WORLD SOLVED!
Whilst the Daily Snapper, determined to be none the less sensational, began thus:
MYSTERIES NO LONGER!
“THE BRASS COFFIN TRICK” AND “EVE AT THE WINDOW” DONE AT LAST!
MARTIN AND DAVENPORT LOSE THEIR PRESTIGE
This was bad enough, but the Planet published a paragraph that was even more galling, viz.—