Hanlon’s actions, in all respects, were those that might be expected from a blindfolded man. He groped, sometimes with outstretched hands, again with arms folded or hands clasped and extended, but always with an expression, so far as his face could be seen, of earnest, concentrated endeavor to go the right way. Now and then he would half turn, as if impelled in one direction, and then hesitate, turn and march off the other way. One time, indeed, he went nearly half a block in a wrong street. Then he paused, groped, stumbled a little, and gradually returned to the vicinity of Mortimer, who had stood still at the corner. Apparently, Hanlon had no idea of his detour, for he went on in the right direction, and Mortimer, who was oblivious to all but his mission, followed interestedly.
One time Hanlon spoke to him. “You are a fine ‘guide,’ sir,” he said. “I seem impelled steadily, not in sudden thought waves, and I find my mind responds well to your will. If you will be so good as to keep the crowd away from us a little more carefully. I don’t want you any nearer me, but if too many people are between us, it interferes somewhat with the transference of your guiding thought.”
“Do you want to hear my footsteps?” asked Mortimer, thoughtfully.
“That doesn’t matter,” Hanlon smiled. “You are to follow me, sir, even if I go wrong. If I waited to hear you, that would be no test at all. Simply will me, and then follow, whether I am on the right track or not. But keep your mind on the goal, and look toward it—if convenient. Of course, the looking toward it is no help to me, save as it serves to fix your mind more firmly on the matter.”
And then Hanlon seemed to go more carefully. He stepped slowly, feeling with his foot for any curbstone, grating or irregularity in the pavement. And yet he failed in one instance to feel the edge of an open coalhole, and his right leg slipped down into it.
Some of the nearby watchers grabbed him, and pulled him back without his sustaining injury, for which he thanked them briefly and continued.
Several times some sceptical bystanders put themselves deliberately in front of the blindfolded man, to see if he would turn out for them.
On the contrary, Hanlon bumped into them, so innocently, that they were nearly thrown down.
He smiled good-naturedly, and said, “All right, fellows; I don’t mind, if you don’t. And I don’t blame you for wanting to make sure that I’m not playing ’possum!”
Of course, Hanlon carried no light cane, such as blind men use, to tap on the stones, so he helped himself by feeling the way along shop windows and area gates, judging thus, when he was nearing a cross street, and sometimes hesitating whether to cross or turn the corner.
After a half-hour of this sort of progress he found himself in a vacant lot near the edge of the city. There had been a building in the middle of the plot of ground, but it had been burned down and only a pile of blackened debris marked the place.