To eliminate from our investigations every element of distrust, or hostility, or suspicion, or chilling antagonism, we entrusted to Mr. Hazard's friend, Mrs. Patterson, vouched for by him as one of the very best Mediums in the country, two carefully closed and sealed slates, enclosing, of course, the required piece of slate pencil, with the earnest entreaty that the Spirits should write
therein even if it were but the merest mark, sign, or scratch, therewith we would be content, and be ready to accept Independent Slate Writing with its train of consequences. The Medium was fully impressed with the importance of the trial, and with the fame which would thereby accrue from such a wholesale conversion as that of the united Seybert Commission.
Every Medium, it would appear, is under the special tutelage of a departed Spirit; this Spirit is termed the 'Medium's control.' In the present case, when the slates were delivered to Mrs. Patterson, her 'control,' one 'Thomas Lister,' at once promised that Spirit hands should shortly write within the sealed-up space. But no writing came that day nor the next, nor the next, although the Medium protested that every attention should be bestowed on the refractory slates. In vain was the Medium again and again adjured to put forth every power. At the end of six months the slates were received again, without any writing, according to the confession of the Medium.
So anxious, however, was our Acting Chairman that the experiment should prove successful, that, undeterred by this failure, he carefully sealed up a second slate, and placed it in the hands of the same Medium, with renewed adjurations to put forth all her Spiritualistic strength. At the end of a fortnight or more, after redoubled exertions of Mediumistic power, to which was added the combined Spiritualistic power of the Medium's entire family circle, the exciting announcement was made to us that the fragment of slate pencil within the slates could no longer be heard to rattle, and that presumably the Spirits had written a message for us.
Each Medium, generally, has some peculiar mode of manifesting Spiritualistic power; it is a peculiarity of this Medium, as has been before stated, that the completion of the Spirit message within the slates is indicated not by raps, as is frequently the case with other Mediums, but by the sudden
and marvelous appearance on the top of the slate of the little fragment of pencil, which had been securely fastened up within. The fact, therefore, that the pencil was no longer inside of our slates was presumptive evidence that the Medium's control had been true to his word, and had written us a message. The slates were received from the Medium most carefully, and a meeting of the Commission hastily called. It is scarcely worth while to enter here at length on the details of that session, of the careful scrutiny to which the slates were subjected, of the unmutilated seals, of the untouched screws, etc., etc.; but it is worthwhile to record the feeling of grave responsibility, almost akin to solemnity, with which we all approached what, for aught we knew, might prove to be a revelation of a power as wonderful as any with which, as yet, we had ever been brought into acquaintance. Just before we opened the slates it was noticed that at one corner, owing to the flexibility of the wooden frames, it was quite possible to stretch the slates far enough apart to permit the insertion of the blade of a knife, and an examination of the edges at this point revealed only too plainly discolored abrasions. When the slates were finally opened, not a stroke of writing nor a scratch was to be found, but at the suspected corner were the discolored marks, visible to this day, of the knife which had been inserted to extract the pencil, which, in its enforced outward passage, had left behind, in its scratches on the wood, a tell-tale trail of dust which the microscope revealed to be of the same substance as the pencil. The Spirits had not taken even the precaution to wipe the broad knife clean from rust or dirt. The slates are preserved in our sad museum of specimens of misdirected ingenuity.