THE SEANCE ®
Radi Todorov Radev
love going to spiritist seances. I am often invited to such seances. Maybe those
people cling to me because I hold a high stand at all the European royal courts.
I have attended a lot of seances. At most of them the spirits are invoked by a single medium. Two at the most. The rest of the people are only spectators like me. Most often the seance is conducted in the following way: we sit around some table; we blow out almost all the candles in the room - outside it just has to be night. We hold each others' hands and we form the so-called "psychic chain." After that we start waiting for something unusual to happen.
Tonight I have been invited to a special seance. There will be five people there. Mediums all. I was invited because they needed a sixth person for the "chain." I don't know any of the people to be present there except the host - the Marquis Fabien de Vinder, owner of Ace Castle.
I was waiting impatiently while the hourglass was coming closer to the appointed time. I dressed up. I put my best wig on.
There was a carriage waiting for me in the doorway to my rooms. I got on and out-cried the neighing horses: "To Ace Castle."
The hooves rattled along the cobbled street for some time. After a while we left the town and started along a dirt road. We trotted on for some time until we saw the gloomy outlines of Ace Castle.
The carriage stopped at the gate of the castle. I had no sooner given the coachman his money than he spurred the horses on as if they were chased by a pack of wolves.
The bronze gate-knocker was gargoyle-shaped. I knocked a couple of times and a huge servant, dressed in black, opened the door. His face was hollow and he had shadows under his eyes.
He asked me in a rumbling voice: "Viscount Joseph Blossom?"
"Yes, it's me."
"The other gentlemen and ladies are already awaiting you."
I entered the castle. The servant bolted the door assiduously with a heavy bolt.
It was dark inside. A gilt bronze candlestick with two candles in it was fixed on one of the walls. The servant unfastened it and led me up a polished marble staircase. I counted about twenty steps before the staircase ended and we reached a corridor.
At its end there was a thick oak door. We entered the room. Before leaving us, the servant introduced me briefly: "Ladies and gentlemen, this is our guest, the Viscount Joseph Blossom."
There were three gentlemen and two ladies in the room. They were sitting on low chairs upholstered with red velvet. The ladies had applied as much make-up on their faces as they had managed to prop. They were waving flirtatiously with their fans and were smiling.
From the gentlemen I knew only the host - the Marquis Fabien de Vinder. He started introducing the mediums:
"Dear friends, this is Mr. Bernard, on his left is Mr. Picard, next to him is Miss Lucien, they are accompanied by Mrs. Marsilli. As you can see your chair is between mine and Mrs. Marsilli's. Please be seated."
I heard the better-mannered of the people to whom I was introduced mumble: "How do you do;" the rest of them just nodded.
I sat on the chair pointed out to me and saw that we were seated in a full circle round a seance table, which was in the center of the circumference.
At the same time our host took out from somewhere six thick black candles and put them on the table. There was a candle in front of each of us. They smelled bad - obviously they weren't made of tallow or wax.
Fabien went to the octagonal table, which was in one of the corners of the room. He took the metal tongs, which were placed on it, and with them put out all the candles in the crystal chandelier that lit the room. All candles but one. With it he lit the thick black candles in front of us.
Fabien sat next to me and took my hand. Mrs. Marsilli, who was sitting at my other side, did the same.
Our host warned us: "Ladies and gentlemen, strange things will happen after a while. All of you, except our dear guest, the Viscount Blossom, have great experience in such seances. But I am obliged to warn all who are present here today. Please, whatever happens, don't break the 'chain!'"
The seance began. All the mediums closed their eyes. Our host started repeating the following words: "Oh, Mr. Leonard and you, Samael and Elohim, we want to talk to a servant of yours. All of us who are gathered here, beg for your servants' attention!"
Fabien repeated this a couple of times while at the same time gradually deepening his voice.
Suddenly the table in front of us rose about two spans in the air. It stopped at such a height from the floor that the candles upon it lit our faces brightly.
Miss Lucien raised her eyelids. Her pupils had become red and seemed to be burning. She intoned: "There is an unbeliever among us."
Mr. Bernard opened his eyes, too. His pupils had become bloody as well. He loked as a man who had just been blinded with a sharp awl.
He repeated Miss Lusien's words: "There is someone among us who doesn't believe. He believes only in himself. He thinks that we are frauds."
Mrs. Marsilli said: "I have a foreboding that the unbeliever will break the 'chain' tonight. Somebody will get hurt."
Mr. Picard announced: "Mr. Leonard's, Samael's and Elohim's servants are already here. Let's scare the unbeliever away with their help."
A piece of tapestry came unhooked and flew close to the ceiling. It flew to us and started circling just above the seance table.
The drawers of the oak cupboard, which was in one of the corners of the room, started opening and shutting all by themselves.
The two duel pistols, which were hooked on one of the walls, fell on the floor. One of them produced a shot.
Clear gong chimes resounded from somewhere.
Mrs. Marsilli, Mr. Bernard, Miss Lucien, Mr. Picard and our host - the Marquis Fabien started repeating as one: "Come on, unbeliever, break the 'chain' and you will see what happens! BREAK THE 'CHAIN' AND YOU WILL SEE WHAT HAPPENS!!!"
I yelled: "Enough!"
I put my right hand up high. All the candles in the crystal chandelier, which our host had extinguished, started burning by themselves. One after the other.
The room was suddenly illumined. Now I saw the tinted jewels that the ladies and gentlemen had put into their eyes.
A lever fixed into the floor held the seance table about two spans in the air.
I noticed now that hidden strings had been ingeniously attached to the drawers of the cupboard.
The tapestry was hanging below the ceiling, kept by a whole net of different pulleys.
A thin string was fastened to the trigger of one of the duel pistols on the floor. The other end of the string led to our host's hand.
The servant stopped banging the gong from the other side of the door.
I rose and shouted: "Mediums! You are not mediums at all!"
I hit abruptly, with my right hand, the black candle in front of Mrs. Marsilli. The candle died out.
Mrs. Marsilli's eyes closed. Her face and limbs went slack. She fell in a coma.
The ladies and gentlemen got scared. They tried to break the "chain" and by a simple physical means to jump at me, the unbeliever. But their bodies did not follow their orders. They weren't able to free their hands. Something invisible kept them nailed to their chairs.
I hit Mr. Bernard's candle with my palm. Alike Mrs. Marsilli, with the dying of the wick his consciousness died, too. His body's vital processes were slowed down, but without being totally cut off. Bang! Bang! Bang! Miss Lucien, Mr. Picard, and the Marquis Fabien fell into a lost-to-memory dream.
If someone lights their candles, they will wake up.
I got up and got out of the room. I took the black candle, which was in front of me, to light my way out. I passed through the corridor and went down the marble staircase.
The noise of my steps attracted the servant. He was waiting for me on the last step with a double candlestick in his hand.
He asked me: "Aren't you satisfied by the seance, Your Lordship? Why are you leaving so early?"
I didn't say anything until we reached the front door. Just before going out of the castle, I instructed him: "Go to that room and light the five black candles on the seance table. When the ladies and gentlemen awake, tell them the following: 'The Count Calliostro was here tonight!'"
This story was published in art and literature magazine, "Boheme".
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