“That’s easy enough with you. You wish it. I’ve done much harder things. Quite recently. I hardly expected to do it: the thing was done against the will of the hypnotised person. A love affair too—like yours. A girl. So rest assured.”
The young man came and sat beside the hypnotist. His manner was a forced calm. He looked into the hypnotist’s eyes. “I will tell you. Of course you will want to know what it is. There was a girl. Her name was Elizabeth Mwres. Well … ”
He stopped. He had seen the instant surprise on the hypnotist’s face. In that instant he knew. He stood up. He seemed to dominate the seated figure by his side. He gripped the shoulder of green and gold. For a time he could not find words.
“Give her me back!” he said at last. “Give her me back!”
“What do you mean?” gasped the hypnotist.
“Give her me back.”
“Elizabeth Mwres—the girl—”
The hypnotist tried to free himself; he rose to his feet. Denton’s grip tightened.
“Let go!” cried the hypnotist, thrusting an arm against Denton’s chest.
In a moment the two men were locked in a clumsy wrestle. Neither had the slightest training—for athleticism, except for exhibition and to afford opportunity for betting, had faded out of the earth—but Denton was not only the younger but the stronger of the two. They swayed across the room, and then the hypnotist had gone down under his antagonist. They fell together… .
Denton leaped to his feet, dismayed at his own fury; but the hypnotist lay still, and suddenly from a little white mark where his forehead had struck a stool shot a hurrying band of red. For a space Denton stood over him irresolute, trembling.
A fear of the consequences entered his gently nurtured mind. He turned towards the door. “No,” he said aloud, and came back to the middle of the room. Overcoming the instinctive repugnance of one who had seen no act of violence in all his life before, he knelt down beside his antagonist and felt his heart. Then he peered at the wound. He rose quietly and looked about him. He began to see more of the situation.
When presently the hypnotist recovered his senses, his head ached severely, his back was against Denton’s knees and Denton was sponging his face.
The hypnotist did not speak. But presently he indicated by a gesture that in his opinion he had been sponged enough. “Let me get up,” he said.
“Not yet,” said Denton.
“You have assaulted me, you scoundrel!”
“We are alone,” said Denton, “and the door is secure.”
There was an interval of thought.
“Unless I sponge,” said Denton, “your forehead will develop a tremendous bruise.”
“You can go on sponging,” said the hypnotist sulkily.