Hopkins, Pauline E.
|CHAPTER XVI. -- JOHN LANGLEY CONSULTS MADAM FRANCES.|
"If not a sharer of the wealth you see, what will my fate be, and in what line shall I prosper? Surely you can tell me something about my success in life."
"Enough has been shown to you. Why persist? But look again, if you will not be advised."
Again he looked at the screen, and saw dark outlines resolve themselves into shapes. He saw what appeared to be a field of ice and snow, vast and unbroken--terrible in its dreary isolation. It faded, and he turned to the fortuneteller in desperation:
"What has such a scene to do with me?"
"Remorse, remorse! who can tell the end of life?" mumbled the crone, as if in self-communion. At length she seemed to come to herself, and said in clear accents: "If you would let an old woman advise you, I should say choose the right path, no matter what the cost. But men are foolish always, foolish always for a pretty face."
She touched a bell on the table beside her, and the boy Alphonse came from behind the curtain and gravely motioned the visitor to follow him out.
"For a pretty face," croaked the parrot, rousing himself from a nap as John left the room. As he descended the stairs the words of the parrot followed him:
"Fools, fools; all men are fools for a pretty face!"
John cursed his own folly in seeking the fortune-teller's aid as he went slowly back to his office, puzzling over the things he had seen and heard. He was a well-read man, and tried to account for these strange things. He knew from reading, the mediumistic powers of all created things; he knew something of the wonderful agencies of electricity and magnetism. The appliances in the room had suggested magnetism as the medium; "yet," he argued, "the same phenomena might have been produced by the power of hypnotism." He knew enough of the latter to practice it in a way for the amusement of his young friends, but had thought himself impervious to its influence.
But with all his reasoning he could not convince himself that there was not an intelligence--invisible and intangible--that had presented to him those soul-disturbing manifestations.