They walked down to the noisy, narrow street which led to the Boulevard Montparnasse. The fair to which they were going was held not more than a mile away, and Arthur took a tab. Susie noticed that Haddo, who was waiting for them to set off, put his hand on the horse’s neck. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, the animal began to tremble. The trembling passed through its body and down its limbs till it shook from head to foot. The animal seemed to be suffering not so much from pain, as from an extraordinary fear.
‘Take your hand away, Mr. Haddo,” said Susie sharply. He smiled and did as she told him. At the same moment the trembling began to decrease, and in a moment the poor animal was in its normal state.
“I wonder what the devil was the matter with it,” said Arthur.
Oliver Haddo looked at him with his blue eyes that seemed to see right through people; and then, lifting his hat, walked away. Susie turned to Dr. Porhoet.
“Do you think he could have made the horse tremble?” “Nonsense!” said Arthur.
“It occurred to me that he was playing some trick” said Dr. Porhoet. “An odd thing happened once when he came to see me. I have two Persian cats, which are usually very quiet and well-behaved. They spend their days in front of my fire, meditating on the problems of metaphysics. But as soon as he came in they jumped, and their fur stood right on end. Then they began to run madly round the room, as though the victims of uncontrollable terror. I opened the door and they rushed out. I have never been able to understand what happened.”
“I’ve never met a man who filled me with such antipathy,” she said. “I don’t know what there is about him that excites in me a sort of horror. I hope I shall never see him again.”
“And as for me,” answered Susie, “I would like to know more about him,
because he interests me very much. Just think what a privilege it is to meet a man in the twentieth century who honestly believes in occultism.”
“Since I have been occupied with these matters, I have met strange people,” said Dr. Porhoet quietly, “but I agree with Miss Boyd that Oliver Haddo is the most extraordinary. It is difficult to understand him. All I know is that he has travelled much and knows many languages. He has a wide knowledge of the literature of alchemy, and there is no book I have heard of, dealing with the black arts, which he does not know. My friend Arthur won’t agree with me, but I must confess that it would hot surprise me to learn that he possesses powers by which he is able to do things that seem miraculous.”
Arthur did not answer as they arrived at the fair. . It was in full swing. The noise was deafening. Popular tunes were heard and merry-go-rounds were turning everywhere. The English party with Dr. Porhoet had just entered when they saw Oliver Haddo. He was indifferent to the fact that they did not want his company. He attracted attention, for his appearance and his manners were eccentric, and Susie noticed that he was pleased to see people point him out to one; another.
They walked on and suddenly came to a canvas tent on which was a picture of an Arab charming snakes, and some words in Arabic. “I’ll buy tickets for you all,” said Haddo.
They went inside and found themselves in a dirty tent, ill-lit by two lamps; a dozen stools were placed in a circle on the ground. The-snake-charmer addressed them in bad English.
“My name Mohammed,” he said. “I show snakes. Wait and see. Snakes are very venomous.”
He was dressed in a long gabardine coat and its colour could hardly be seen for dirt.