Hanlon would now undertake to go, blindfolded, to the spot and find the knife, although the distance, as the speaker was willing to disclose, was more than a mile. The blindfolding was to be done by a committee of prominent citizens and was to be looked after so carefully that there could be no possibility of Hanlon’s seeing anything.
After that, Hanlon engaged to go to the hiding place and find the knife, on condition that Mr. Mortimer would follow him, and concentrate all his willpower on mentally guiding or rather directing Hanlon’s footsteps.
The blindfolding, which was done in full view of the front ranks of spectators, was an elaborate proceeding. A heavy silk handkerchief had been prepared by folding it in eight thicknesses, which were then stitched to prevent Clipping. This bandage was four inches wide and completely covered the man’s eyes, but as an additional precaution pads of cotton wool were first placed over his closed eyelids and the bandage then tied over them.
Thus, completely blindfolded, Hanlon spoke earnestly to Mr. Mortimer.
“I must ask of you, sir, that you do your very best to guide me aright. The success of this enterprise depends quite as much on you as on myself. I am merely receptive, you are the acting agent. I strive to keep my mind a blank, that your will may sway it in the right direction. I trust you, and I beg that you will keep your whole mind on the quest. Think of the hidden article, keep it in your mind, look toward it. Follow me—not too closely—and mentally push me in the way I should go. If I go wrong, will me back to the right path, but in no case get near enough to touch me, and, of course, do not speak to me. This test is entirely that of the influence of your will upon mine. Call it telepathy, thought-transference, will-power—anything you choose, but grant my request that you devote all your attention to the work in hand. If your mind wanders, mine will; if your mind goes straight to the goal, mine will also be impelled there.”
With a slight bow, Hanlon stood motionless, ready to start.
The preliminaries had taken place on a platform, hastily built for the occasion, and now, with Mortimer behind him, Hanlon started down the steps to the street.
Reaching the pavement, he stood motionless for a few seconds and then, turning, walked toward Broad Street. Reaching it, he turned South, and walked along, at a fairly rapid gait. At the crossings he paused momentarily, sometimes as if uncertain which way to go, and again evidently assured of his direction.
The crowd surged about him, now impeding his progress and now almost pushing him along. He gave them no heed, but made his way here or there as he chose and Mortimer followed, always a few steps behind, but near enough to see that Hanlon was in no way interfered with by the throng.
Indeed, so anxious were the onlookers that fair play should obtain, the ones nearest to the performer served as a cordon of guards to keep his immediate surroundings cleared.