Aunt Abby sniffed disdainfully, and Embury chuckled at her expression. Though not a ‘spiritualist,’ Miss Ames was greatly interested in telepathy and kindred subjects and like all the apostles of such cults she disliked to hear of frauds committed in their names.
“Go on,” said Eunice, her eyes dancing with anticipation. “I love a hoax of this sort, but I can’t imagine yet how you did it! I understand about the blindfolding, though, and of course that was half the battle.”
“It was, ma’am, and the other half was—boots!”
“Yes, ma’am. Do you know that you seldom see two pairs of boots or shoes alike on men?”
“I thought they were all alike,” exclaimed Eunice. “I mean all street shoes alike, and all pumps alike, and so forth.”
“No, not that,” and Embury laughed; “but, I say, Hanlon, there are thousands of duplicates!”
“Not so you’d notice it I But let me explain. First, however, here are four men present. Let’s compare our shoes.”
Eight feet were extended, and it was surprising to note the difference in the footgear. Naturally, Hanlon’s were of a cheaper grade than the others, but whereas it might have been expected that the three society men would wear almost identical boots, they were decidedly varied. Each pair was correct in style, and the work of the best bootmakers, but the difference in the design of tip, side cut, sole and fastening was quite sufficient to prevent mistaking one for another.
“You see,” said Hanlon. “Well, take a whole lot of your men friends, even if they all go to the same bootmaker, and you’ll find as much difference. I don’t mean that there are not thousands of shoes turned out in the same factory, as alike as peas, but there is small chance of striking two pairs alike in any group of men. Then, too, there is the wear to be counted on. Suppose two of you men had bought shoes exactly alike, you wear them differently; one may run over his heel slightly, another may stub out the toe. But, these things are observable only to a trained eye. So—I trained my eye. I made a study of it, and now, if I see a shoe once, I never forget it, and never connect it with the wrong man. On the street, in the cars, everywhere I go, I look at shoes—or, rather, I did when I was training for this stunt. It was fascinating, really. Why, sometimes the only identifying mark would be the places worn or rubbed by the bones of the man’s foot—but it was there, allee samee! I nailed ’m, every one! Oh, I didn’t remember them all—that was only practice. But here’s the application; when I started on that trip in Newark, I was introduced to Mr. Mortimer. Mind you, it was the first time I had ever laid eyes on the man. Well, unnoticed by anybody, of course, I caught onto his shoes. They were, probably, to other people, merely ordinary shoes, but to me they were as a flaming beacon light! I stamped