Then he stared at Mr. Fotheringay again.
“How did you do that?” he asked.
Mr. Fotheringay pulled his moustache. “Just told it—and there you are. Is that a miracle, or is it black art, or what is it? And what do you think’s the matter with me? That’s what I want to ask.”
“It’s a most extraordinary occurrence.”
“And this day last week I knew no more that I could do things like that than you did. It came quite sudden. It’s something odd about my will, I suppose, and that’s as far as I can see.”
“Is that—the only thing. Could you do other things besides that?”
“Lord, yes!” said Mr. Fotheringay. “Just anything.” He thought, and suddenly recalled a conjuring entertainment he had seen. “Here!” He pointed. “Change into a bowl of fish—no, not that—change into a glass bowl full of water with goldfish swimming in it. That’s better! You see that, Mr. Maydig?”
“It’s astonishing. It’s incredible. You are either a most extraordinary … But no——”
“I could change it into anything,” said Mr. Fotheringay. “Just anything. Here! be a pigeon, will you?”
In another moment a blue pigeon was fluttering round the room and making Mr. Maydig duck every time it came near him. “Stop there, will you,” said Mr. Fotheringay; and the pigeon hung motionless in the air. “I could change it back to a bowl of flowers,” he said, and after replacing the pigeon on the table worked that miracle. “I expect you will want your pipe in a bit,” he said, and restored the tobacco-jar.
Mr. Maydig had followed all these later changes in a sort of ejaculatory silence. He stared at Mr. Fotheringay and, in a very gingerly manner, picked up the tobacco-jar, examined it, replaced it on the table. “Well!” was the only expression of his feelings.
“Now, after that it’s easier to explain what I came about,” said Mr. Fotheringay; and proceeded to a lengthy and involved narrative of his strange experiences, beginning with the affair of the lamp in the Long Dragon and complicated by persistent allusions to Winch. As he went on, the transient pride Mr. Maydig’s consternation had caused passed away; he became the very ordinary Mr. Fotheringay of everyday intercourse again. Mr. Maydig listened intently, the tobacco-jar in his hand, and his bearing changed also with the course of the narrative. Presently, while Mr. Fotheringay was dealing with the miracle of the third egg, the minister interrupted with a fluttering extended hand—
“It is possible,” he said. “It is credible. It is amazing, of course, but it reconciles a number of amazing difficulties. The power to work miracles is a gift—a peculiar quality like genius or second sight—hitherto it has come very rarely and to exceptional people. But in this case … I have always wondered at the miracles of Mahomet, and at Yogi’s miracles, and the miracles of Madame Blavatsky. But, of course! Yes, it is simply a gift! It carries out so beautifully the arguments of that great thinker”—Mr. Maydig’s voice sank—”his Grace the Duke of Argyll. Here we plumb some profounder law—deeper than the ordinary laws of nature. Yes—yes. Go on. Go on!”