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The Invisible Man.

From "A Year Amongst the Persians".
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Amongst the dependents of the governor of a certain town was a man who was possessed by the desire to discover some means of rendering himself invisible. At length he had the good fortune (as he thought) to meet with a dervish who agreed, for a certain sum of money, to supply him with some pills which would produce the desired effect. Filled with delight at the success which appeared at length to have crowned his efforts, the would-be dabbler in the occult sciences did not fail to boast openly before his comrades, and even before the governor, that on a certain day he would visit them unseen and prove the efficacy of his new acquisition.

On the appointed day, having taken one or two of the magical pills, he accordingly came to the governor's palace, filled with delightful anticipations of triumph on his own part and envious astonishment on the part of his friends. Now the governor was determined, if possible, to cure him of his taste for the black art, and had therefore given orders to the sentries, servants, and other attendants, as well as to his own associates, that when the would-be magician arrived they were all to behave as though they were unable to see him. Accordingly, when he reached the gate of the palace, he was delighted to observe that the sentries omitted to give him the customary salute. Proceeding farther, he became more and more certain that the dervish's pills had produced the promised effect. No one looked at him; no one saluted him; no one showed any consciousness of his presence.

At length he entered the room where the governor was sitting with his associates. Finding that these too appeared insensible to his presence, he determined to give them a proof that he had really been amongst them in invisible form - a fact which they might otherwise refuse to credit.

A kalyan, or water-pipe, was standing in the middle of the room, the charcoal in it still glowing. The pseudo-magician applied his lips to the mouth-piece and began to smoke. Those present at once broke out into expressions of astonishment.

"Wonderful!" they exclaimed, "look at that kalyan! Though no one is near it, it is just as if some one were smoking it: nay, one can even hear the gurgle of the water in the bowl."

Enchanted with the sensation he had caused, the "invisible" one became bolder. Some lighted candles were in the room; one of these he blew out. Again exclamations of surprise arose from the company.

"Marvellous!" they cried, "there is no wind, yet suddenly that candle has been blown out; what can possibly be the meaning of this?"

The candle was again lighted, and again promptly blown out. In the midst of fresh expressions of surprise, the governor suddenly exclaimed, "I have it! I know what has happened! So-and-so has no doubt eaten one of his magical pills, and is even now present amongst us, though we cannot see him; well, we will see if he is intangible as well as invisible. Ho, there, bacha-ha! (Bacha-ha means "boys," "children"; but the term is also commonly employed in summoning servants, in this case the farrashes, whose duty it is to administer corporal punishment. - Author's Note.) Bring the sticks, quick! Lay about you in all directions; perhaps you will be able to teach our invisible friend better manners."

The farrasbes hastened to rain down a shower of blows on the unfortunate intruder, who cried out loudly for mercy.

"But where are you?" demanded the governor. "Cease to be invisible, and show yourself, that we may see you."

"O master," cried the poor crestfallen magician, "if I be really invisible, how happens it that all the blows of the farrashes reach me with such effect? I begin to think that I have been deceived by that rascally dervish, and that I am not invisible at all."

On this, amidst the mirth of all present, the sufferer was allowed to depart, with a recommendation that in future he should avoid the occult sciences; an injunction which one may reasonably hope he did not soon forget.

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