“Go ahead, then, fair lady; but remember that Sanford Embury stands for the conservative element in our club, and anything you might try to do by virtue of your blandishments or fascinations would be frowned upon and would react against your cause instead of for it. If I might suggest, my supporters, the younger set, the—well—the gayer set, would more readily respond to such a plan. Why don’t you electioneer for me?”
Eunice disdained to reply, and Aunt Abby broke into the discussion by exclaiming: “Oh, Alvord, here comes Mr. Mortimer, and he has Mr. Hanlon with him!”
Sure enough the two heroes of the day were walking toward the Hendricks car, which, still standing near the scene of Hanlon’s triumph, awaited a good chance for a getaway.
“I wonder if you ladies wouldn’t like to meet this marvel,” began Mr. Mortimer, genially, and Aunt Abby’s delight was convincing, indeed.
Eunice, too, greeted Mr. Hanlon cordially, and Hendricks held out a welcoming hand.
“Tell us how you did it,” he said, smiling into the intelligent face of the mysterious “mind-reader.”
“You saw,” he returned, simply, with a slight gesture of out-turned palms, as if to disavow any secrets.
“Yes, I saw,” said Hendricks, “but with me, seeing is not believing.”
“Don’t listen, Hanlon,” Mr. Mortimer said, smiling a little resentfully. “That sort of talk would go before the test, but not now. What do you mean, Hendricks, by not believing? Do you suspect me of complicity?”
“I do not, Mortimer. I believe you have been taken in with the rest, by a very clever trick.” He looked sharply at Hanlon, who returned his gaze serenely. “I believe this young man is unusually apt as a trickster, and I believe he hoodwinked the whole community. The fact that I cannot comprehend, or even guess how he did it, in no way disturbs my conviction that he did do it by trickery. I will change this opinion, however, if Mr. Hanlon will look me in the eye and assure me, on his honor, that he found the penknife by no other means or with no other influence to guide him than Mr. Mortimer’s will-power.”
“I am not on trial,” he said. “I am not called upon to prove or disprove anything. I promised to perform a feat and I have done so. It was not nominated in the bond that I should defend my honor by asseverations.”
“Begging the question,” laughed Hendricks, but Mr. Mortimer said: “Not at all. Hanlon is right. If he has any secret means of guidance, it is up to us to discover it. But I hold that he cannot have, or it would have been discovered by some of the eager observers. We had thousands looking on to-day. There must have been some one clever enough to suspect the deceit, if deceit there were.”
“Thank you, Mr. Mortimer,” Hanlon spoke quietly. “I made no mystery of my performance; I had no confederate, no paraphernalia. All there was to see could be seen by all. You willed me; I followed your will. That is all.”