Chapter 3.

18 Feb

Clata opened the front door of the Tunc house when Raxis knocked.

“I understand that your father requested that I come and see him,” hesitantly mumbled the young visitor.

“Step in,” said the daughter. “Have you eaten breakfast yet?”

“Yes, I had a bowl of bouille at home before I left. Is Mr. Tunc awake?”

“He sleeps very little,” she answered as if talking to herself. “Follow me, please.”

Raxis was taken to the same room he had been in before. Matis was sitting up in bed, his back against the backboard, reading a thick book. He looked up as the visitor entered.

“The young man has come, father,” announced Clata, then disappeared down the hallway.

“Please, sit down,” pleasantly said the bedridden man. “I want you to be comfortable.”

The phthisic waited what seemed a considerable time to Raxis before he began to talk.

“I am perusing a recently published book on the topic of hyperesthesia. Do you happen to know what that means?”

“No, sir,” answered the puzzled visitor.

“It is an exaggerated sensitivity to outside influences such as pain for instance. Are you one who is highly reactive to exterior influences? Do you tend to have immediate, extreme feelings about things?”

“I cannot say for sure, because I lack anything to compare myself to,” replied the young visitor.

Matis lay the book down on the bed cover and stared intently at Raxis.

“When you first came here with Dr. Arbre, I received the strong impression that there are certain special qualities in your makeup. Would you like me to describe what I sense about you?”

The surprised Raxis nodded yes that he would.

“There exist individuals with supersensitive minds, those whom Velvet terms the telesthetic or psychic. In the cities, they form small groups that are scattered about. Here in the country, our population tends to fear and persecute these special persons. As a result of a long and unhappy history, most of those born with the gift do not find it within themselves and the sense is never developed.”

“Yes, my parents have told me of the telepaths who can accomplish extraordinary wonders with their minds.”

Matis then lowered his voice to a hushed, guarded level.

“I confess to you that I have, all my life, been a practicing telepath, though in secret. That was so because of the great power in our district of the Alcyones. Have you been told about them?”

“No,” said Raxis, consumed with curiosity. “Who are they?”

“Several hundred years ago, a secret cult was established which survives even today. The purpose of the invisible association was to identify and hunt down all telesthets, so as to prevent them from maintaining any kind of mental communication. It went so far that certain fanatical circles and rings killed and murdered known psychics here in the countryside. Oppressive measures became so common hereabouts that psychic practices became uncommonly rare. They had to be hidden underground, out of sight. Fear inhibited any active exercise of such talents. The telepathic talents fell into deep disfavor and disuse.”

“What you say is new to me,” admitted the young visitor.

“I enjoy that sort of talent, and so does my daughter, dear Clata. What I called you here for was to make you an offer. My days are surely numbered. How can what I know be passed on outside my own immediate family? Your appearance before me presented the best candidate for continuation that I have ever come across. I sensed an unconscious potential within you, my son. Are you willing to take on the perilous task of learning how to harness what you are? I promise that I will turn your raw material into a highly developed psychic capability. You were born with the possibility, my lad. Do not allow it to be lost through ignorance and lack of training. Let it grow and develop.”

Raxis felt himself torn in different directions. The discovery just revealed to him was an astounding one. He sensed an overwhelming attraction that way. But what about his instruction by the mesmeric physician, Dr. Arbre? Was he to abandon that sphere of knowledge that dealt with hypnotism?

The farmer sensed what it was holding back the boy with so much potential.

“Do not worry about the doctor you first came here with. He is not a telepath, but only a mesmerist. He attempts to hypnotize me, and I pretend to enter sleep trance for him. But it is all make-believe on my part, though I always succeed in fooling the man.” For a second or so, Matis smiled at the sham he was carrying on whenever the healer visited him.

“Dr. Arbre is demonstrating and teaching me the methods of mesmeric medicine. He hopes that one day I become a physician like him. What will happen if I begin to learn about telepathy and these psychic matters you speak of? How can I maintain the two activities together, simultaneously?”

“First of all, he must be told nothing about what we are up to. It has to be done under cover, as if in darkness. You will come to this farm only at night. All of us, including Clata, have to conceal what is going on here.”

Raxis hesitated before giving an indirect form of assent.

“Yes, I can a least begin to find out what gifts are buried in me. When can we start my education?”

“Come to the farm tomorrow night, after dark. We can see what you can already accomplish with sufficient guidance and encouragement.”

The new recruit soon left, after taking leave of Clata on the front veranda of the house.

Raxis returned home on foot, his mind confused and in a daze.

What had he gotten himself into? What was he going to become?

He went to sleep that night in uncertainty. For now, all he knew was that an unforeseen page had turned up in the story of his life.

A sense of bold adventure had captured him, making it impossible to leave the new path drawing him onward.

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