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them, of mesmerisers, were now within the range of anyone who could afford the services of a skilled
hypnotist. Long ago the old examination methods in education had been destroyed by these expedients.
Instead of years of study, candidates had substituted a few weeks of trances, and during the trances expert
coaches had simply to repeat all the points necessary for adequate answering, adding a suggestion of the
post-hypnotic recollection of these points. In process mathematics particularly, this aid had been of singular
service, and it was now invariably invoked by such players of chess and games of manual dexterity as were
still to be found. In fact, all operations conducted under finite rules, of a quasi-mechanical sort that is, were
now systematically relieved from the wanderings of imagination and emotion, and brought to an unexampled
pitch of accuracy. Little children of the labouring classes, so soon as they were of sufficient age to be
hypnotised, were thus converted into beautifully punctual and trustworthy machine minders, and released
forthwith from the long, long thoughts of youth. Aeronautical pupils, who gave way to giddiness, could be
relieved from their imaginary terrors. In every street were hypnotists ready to print permanent memories upon
the mind. If anyone desired to remember a name, a series of numbers, a song or a speech, it could be done by
this method, and conversely memories could be effaced, habits removed, and desires eradicated--a sort of
psychic surgery was, in fact, in general use. Indignities, humbling experiences, were thus forgotten, widows
would obliterate their previous husbands, angry lovers release themselves from their slavery. To graft desires,
however, was still impossible, and the facts of thought transference were yet unsystematised. The
psychologists illustrated their expositions with some astounding experiments in mnemonics made through the
agency of a troupe of pale-faced children in blue.
Graham, like most of the people of his former time, distrusted the hypnotist, or he might then and there have
eased his mind of many painful preoccupations. But in spite of Lincoln's assurances he held to the old theory
that to be hypnotised was in some way the surrender of his personality, the abdication of his will. At the
banquet of wonderful experiences that was beginning, he wanted very keenly to remain absolutely himself.
The next day, and another day, and yet another day passed in such interests as these. Each day Graham spent
many hours in the glorious entertainment of flying. On the third, he soared across middle France, and within
sight of the snow-clad Alps. These vigorous exercises gave him restful sleep; he recovered almost wholly
from the spiritless anemia of his first awakening. And whenever he was not in the air, and awake, Lincoln was
assiduous in the cause of his amusement; all that was novel and curious in contemporary invention was
brought to him, until at last his appetite for novelty was well-nigh glutted. One might fill a dozen
inconsecutive volumes with the strange things they exhibited. Each afternoon he held his court for an hour or
so. He found his interest in his contemporaries becoming personal and intimate. At first he had been alert
chiefly for unfamiliarity and peculiarity; any foppishness in their dress, any discordance with his
preconceptions of nobility in their status and manners had jarred upon him, and it was remarkable to him how
soon that strangeness and the faint hostility that arose from it, disappeared; how soon he came to appreciate
the true perspective of his position, and see the old Victorian days remote and quaint. He found himself
particularly amused by the red-haired daughter of the Manager of the European Piggeries. On the second day
after dinner he made the acquaintance of a latter-day dancing girl, and found her an astonishing artist. And
after that, more hypnotic wonders. On the third day Lincoln was moved to suggest that the Master should
repair to a Pleasure City, but this Graham declined, nor would he accept the services of the hypnotists in his
aeronautical experiments. The link of locality held him to London; he found a delight in topographical
identifications that he would have missed abroad. "Here--or a hundred feet below here," he could say, "I used
to eat my midday cutlets during my London University days. Underneath here was Waterloo and the tiresome
hunt for confusing trains. Often have I stood waiting down there, bag in hand, and stared up into the sky
above the forest of signals, little thinking I should walk some day a hundred yards in the air. And now in that
very sky that was once a grey smoke canopy, I circle in a monoplane."
During those three days Graham was so occupied with these distractions that the vast political movements in
progress outside his quarters had but a small share of his attention. Those about him told him little. Daily
came Ostrog, the Boss, his Grand Vizier, his mayor of the palace, to report in vague terms the steady
establishment of his rule; "a little trouble" soon to be settled in this city, "a slight disturbance" in that. The
song of the social revolt came to him no more; he never learned that it had been forbidden in the municipal
limits; and all the great emotions of the crow's nest slumbered in his mind.
But on the second and third of the three days he found himself, in spite of his interest in the daughter of the
Pig Manager, or it may be by reason of the thoughts her conversation suggested, remembering the girl Helen
Wotton, who had spoken to him so oddly at the Wind-Vane Keeper's gathering. The impression, she had made
was a deep one, albeit the incessant surprise of novel circumstances had kept him from brooding upon it for a
space. But now her memory was coming to its own. He wondered what she had meant by those broken
half-forgotten sentences; the picture of her eyes and the earnest passion of her face became more vivid as his
mechanical interests faded. Her slender beauty came compellingly between him and certain immediate
temptations of ignoble passion. But he did not see her again until three full days were past.
She came upon him at last in a little gallery that ran from the Wind-Vane Offices toward his state apartments.
The gallery was long and narrow, with a series of recesses, each with an arched fenestration that looked upon
a court of palms. He came upon her suddenly in one of these recesses. She was seated. She turned her head at
the sound of his footsteps and started at the sight of him. Every touch of colour vanished from her face. She
rose instantly, made a step toward him as if to address him, and hesitated. He stopped and stood still,
expectant. Then he perceived that a nervous tumult silenced her, perceived, too, that she must have sought [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]


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