Chapter VII.

15 Feb

Over eighty players sat at the card tables. Bright gas lanterns on the ceiling provided illumination throughout the hall. A solemn quiet, only interrupted occasionally by whispered comments, prevailed. Everyone appeared serious and completely concentrated.

Each table held a small board for score-keeping with tiny pegs placed into a field of tiny holes. The majority of tables had games of two-player cribbage. Only a few had three players, keeping score on triangular score boards to the side.

Whispering in a low tone to Endo after obtaining an extra chair for him, Poin defined the terms “pairs”. “fifteens”, “sequences” , and “the go.” The young observer soon was able to locate “the crib”, the “lurch”, and a “turn-up.” But the startling fact for Endo was the continual winning of games by his companion, game after game, opponent after opponent. Only once in a while, as if by his own will, did Poin lose. It was obvious that he wished to entice new competitors to challenge him. The mesmerist did not want to appear invincible. If that happened, no one would dare play against him. But the majority of the games he played were his.

Only small wagers were made at the Cribbage Club, so that Poin left with only a little money won. It was after the pair exited into the dark side street that the hypnotist stopped for a moment and murmured to the younger man. “Did you understand what it was that produced my playing record in there tonight? The advantage that I enjoyed over those who opposed me at the cribbage table?”

Endo bit his lip before answering him.

“Do you mean to imply that the results came about because of mesmeric suggestions from you? Is that what you are telling me?”

The hypnotist laughed. “It goes much deeper than that, my friend. How can I compel anyone to do something that is against their own wish? Contrary to their individual, egoistic will? Tell me that, please.”

Endo drew back an inch or two. “That is my problem to solve, then. I cannot comprehend how the magnetic force from a mind can be great enough to make someone act against conscience or self-interest. The will is the will. I don’t believe that anyone is mentally potent enough to overpower great internal resistance. It is, by simple definition, illogical to suppose that could happen.”

The two walked on to the tenement where they stayed and climbed the musty stairwell to the attic garret. Once there, Poin asked his confused pupil to sit down. Still standing, he gave Endo an explanation of what he had done in winning an incredible number of games that evening.

“I first hypnotized myself into believing that my talents at cribbage are the best ever witnessed on Horae. After that, I possessed a definite advantage over every opponent of mine. My mind became swift and nimble in evaluation and judgment. I was able to foresee how each person opposite me across the table would react to the way the game went. I knew myself and I knew the other, and that gave me an insurmountable tactical superiority over all of them.”

Endo swallowed hard. “Do you mean to say that you enjoyed prevision and foreknowledge of some sort?”

“Not in any telepathic sense, not at all. But self-hypnosis gave me confidence that I was a better player than anyone else. It made me believe in my own ability at cribbage. That gave me the winning advantage, the crucial margin.”

“But what if the others had the same capability of self-hypnosis? I would imagine that could equal the odds a great deal, even prevail if that were so.”

The mesmerist smiled ironically. “I always make sure ahead of time that no hypnotists or self-hypnotists enter and plays with me. That ensures me a clear monopoly of magnetic advantages at the table. I am always the best of all contenders present in the hall.”

“Can you claim that you never attempt to entrance anyone there?” countered the student of the mesmerist. “That you yourself are the only one subjected to your special power?”

Poin hesitated, but then went on.

“I sometimes think that my own odylic aura extends outward far enough to penetrate into the minds of others. In other words, through my self-hypnosis I unconsciously draw other brains into my field of magnetic influence. We become as one.”

The older man went into the kitchen to boil some spiceberry tea for them.

Endo had much to think over. His reflections took time. If self-hypnosis could have such spillover effect on other minds, how might it be implicated in psychic transmission and reception?

If two minds, both in self-hypnosis, were linked together psychically, could this become a conduit for thought transference?

What if their mental auras overlapped?

If two minds in the present could be bridged, why not one from now and another in a different time?

Endo asked himself whether this was the essential ingredient in psychography.

The prospective from that vantage point was breathtaking. Separate minds through the self-hypnosis of each one had a marvelous capacity that was able to leap through time.

He could see no reason why the future would stand outside such a process.

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