Chapter VI.

15 Feb

It was not easy to convince Brage Sucre into joining a conspiracy.

Tado cornered him in his office sanctum, talking on and on, nearly exhausting his employer’s stamina and patience. It was not going to happen at once, he realized.

“We are at the point of choice. Either we progress or we fall back into failure and dissolution. I see no alternative to alliance with the Improvers.”

“But we are not politically agile or skilled. They will make fools of us, Tado.”

The latter rose from the sofa chair he sat in.

“It is too late to turn back. I think that Hullux believes we already have formed a tacit partnership.”

“Tacit? What has tacitly been formulated?” reacted the publisher with unexpected irritation.

“Our Velvet candidates are more or less obligated to run under the Improvers’ ticket. How can we renege on our word?”

“Your word, Tado,” returned the publisher with controlled anger.

“What should we do, then?”

Sucre pondered for a time. “Let’s first learn what they can offer us. It would not be wise to obligate ourselves prematurely.”

“I believe that we can make them more dependent on us than we shall ever be on them. In truth, the Improvers will in time become a Velvet party. It is we who shall eventually rule Horae.”

Brage gave him a quizzical, confused look.

“Is that possible?”

“The odds will be with us. We already know what the long-term future will be. Horae must become a psychic society, resembling our Velvet.”

“We have to follow such a strategy?”

“Yes, we must,” answered the sly manipulator. “There is no alternative.”

Poin Melies had his apartment a short walk from the Phrenic House, on one of the narrow, shadowy side streets. After several days of instructing Endo, he invited the pupil to go there with him to receive some useful, practical books on the craft of hypnosis.

The mesmerist occupied a garret on the top floor of a century-old tenement building. The rooms he inhabited were dank and dusty. Endo sat down on a mold-covered sofa while his teacher took a broken beaverwood chair.

“You have impressed me as an individual with a great deal of potential to apply in mesmeric magnetism,” began Poin. “I am so glad that I acceded to what you asked me for.”

Endo said nothing in response, thinking it best to let the other go on.

“I believe that you will soon realize an important truth about people: they often use an invisible kind of hypnotism between themselves. It is much more common and frequent than most human beings suppose.”

“I guess that it is,” muttered Endo, wondering what his instructor was leading up to.

“From the earliest time that I knew of my mesmeric capacity, there was a dream that came to me again and again, and still survives and persists. It is a scene in which I have hypnotized all the citizens of Horae, every last one of them. My powers expand and increase, till all the inhabitants of the planet fall under my subconscious influence. My suggestions are able to sway each and every person who falls under my control. Isn’t that incredible?”

“One person having entranced everyone else?” puzzled Endo. “That sounds fantastic to me. The idea is unrealistic.”

“All right,” conceded the instructor. “Perhaps I will never achieve that height, that maximum impact and influence. But is it not conceivable that the population could exist in a state of deep, continual mesmeric trance? At least most of the time, for must human beings. A general condition of hypnotic relationships may come to dominate our species on Horae some day.”

“If so, who would be the originators of all those many trances?” asked Endo.

Poin Melies grinned like a feline. “Individuals like you and me. We would be the guides of all the others. Our adepts would govern all of society.”

A short pause followed, during which the minds of both men trailed away in different directions. Neither one was embarrassed to be pondering on his own. Each was thinking important thoughts of concern to themselves.

All at once, the teacher had an idea strike him. “We both need a bit of relaxation, Endo. Let me take you to the Cribbage Club. It’s only a small walk from here. I guarantee you we will enjoy some time spent there. It will do you good.”

“You are a player of that game with cards?” said Endo with surprise.

Poin nodded that he was. “Do you know the rules?” he inquired.

“No, not at all.”

“But at least you can watch. I want you to see the effect of invisible magnetism in the games of cribbage. Come, let’s visit the club.”

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