“You see, it’s a game that can’t be played too often or too close together,” he said; “I mean, if I put it over around here, I can’t risk it again nearer than some several states away. And even then it’s likely to get caught on to.”
“Have you put it over often?” asked Hendricks, interestedly.
“Yes, sir—well, say, about a dozen times altogether. Now I’m going to chuck it, for it’s too risky. And so, I’ve sold the story of how I do it to the newspaper syndicate for more than I’d make out of it in a dozen performances. You can read it all in to-morrow’s papers, but Mrs, Embury, she asked me to tell it here and I said yes—’cause-’cause—well, ’cause I wanted to!”
The boyish outburst was so unmistakably one of admiration, of immediate capitulation to Eunice’s charm, that she blushed adorably, and the others ’laughed outright.
“One more scalp, Euny,” said Elliott; “oh, you can’t help it, I know.”
“Go on, Mr. Hanlon,” said Eunice, and he went on.
“You see, to make you understand it rightly, I must go back a ways. I’ve done all sorts of magic stunts and I’m kinda fond of athletics. I’ve given exhibitions along both those lines in athletic clubs and in ladies’ parlors, too. Well, I had a natural talent for making my ears move—lots of fellows do that, I know; but I got pretty spry at it.”
“What for?” asked Embury.
“Nothing particular, sir, only one thing led to another. One day I read in an English magazine about somebody pulling off this trick—this blindfold chase, and I said to myself I b’lieved I could do it first rate and maybe make easy money. I don’t deny I’m out after the coin. I’ve got to get my living, and if I’d rather do it by gulling the public, why, it’s no more than many a better man does.”
“Right you are,” said Elliott.
“So, ’s I say, I read this piece that told just how to do it, and I set to work. You may think it’s funny, but the first step was working my forehead muscles.”
“Whatever for?” cried Aunt Abby, who was listening, perhaps most intently of all.
“I’ll tell you, in a jiffy, ma’am,” and Hanlon smiled respectfully at the eager old face.
“You see, if you’ll take notice, the muscles of your forehead, just above your eyebrows, work whenever you shut or open your eyes. Yes, try it, ma’am,” as Aunt Abby wrinkled her forehead spasmodically. “Shut your eyes, ma’am. Now, cover them closely with the palm of your left hand. Press it close—so. Now, with your hand there, open your eyes slowly, and feel your forehead muscles go up. They have to, you can’t help it. Now, that’s the keynote of the whole thing.”
“Clear as Erebus!” remarked Hendricks. “I don’t get you, Steve.”
“Nor I,” and Eunice sat with her hand against her eyes, drawing her lovely brows into contortions.
“Well, never mind trying; I’ll just tell you about it.” Hanlon laughed good-naturedly at the frantic attempts of all of them to open their eyes in accordance with his directions.