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Getting The Needle
by [?]

He was a pale, enthusiastic young man of the name of Simms; and he held forth to us at great length about his latest hobby.

“Now I’ll just show you a little experiment,” he wound up, “one that I have never known to fail. First of all I want you to hide a needle somewhere, while I am out of the room. You must stick it where it can be seen–on a chair–or on the floor if you like. Then I shall come back blindfolded and find it.”

“Oh, Mr. Simms!” we all said.

“Now, which one of you has the strongest will?”

We pushed Jack forward. Jack is at any rate a big man.

“Very well. I shall want you to take my hand when I come in, and look steadily at the needle–concentrate all your thoughts on it. I, on the other hand, shall make my mind a perfect blank. Then your thoughts will gradually pass into my brain, and I shall feel myself as it were, dragged in the direction of the needle.”

“And I shall feel myself, as it were, dragged after you?” said Jack.

“Yes; you mustn’t put any strain on my arm at all. Let me go just where I like, only will me to go in the right direction. Now then.”

He took out his handkerchief, put it hastily back, and said: “First I shall want to borrow a handkerchief or something.”

Well, we blindfolded him, and led him out of the room. Then Muriel got a needle, which, after some discussion, was stuck into the back of the Chesterfield. Simms returned and took Jack’s left hand.

They stood there together, Jack frowning earnestly at the needle, and Simms swaying uncertainly at the knees. Suddenly his knees went in altogether, and he made a little zig-zag dash across the room, as though he were taking cover. Jack lumbered after him, instinctively bending his head, too. They were brought up by the piano, which Simms struck with great force. We all laughed, and Jack apologised.

“You told me to let you go where you liked, you know,” he said.

“Yes, yes,” said Simms rather peevishly, “but you should have willed me not to hit the piano.”

As he spoke he tripped over a small stool and, flinging out an arm to save himself, swept two photograph frames off an occasional table.

“By Jove,” said Jack, “that’s jolly good. I saw you were going to do that, and I willed that the flower vase should be spared. I’m getting on.”

“I think you had better start from the door again,” I suggested. “Then you can get a clear run.”

They took up their original positions.

“You must think hard, please,” said Simms again. “My mind is a perfect blank, and yet I can feel nothing coming.”

Jack made terrible faces at the needle. Then, without warning, Simms flopped on to the floor at full length, pulling Jack after him.

“You mustn’t mind if I do that,” he said, getting up slowly.

“No,” said Jack, dusting himself.

“I felt irresistibly compelled to go down,” said Simms.

“So did I,” said Jack.

“The needle is very often hidden in the floor, you see. You are sure you are looking at it?”

They were in a corner with their back to it; and Jack, after trying in vain to get it over his right shoulder or his left, bent down and focussed it between his legs. This must have connected the current; for Simms turned right round and marched up to the needle.

“There!” he said triumphantly, taking off the bandage.

We all clapped, while Jack poured himself out a whisky. Simms turned to him.

“You have a very strong will indeed,” he said, “one of the strongest I have met. Now, would one of the ladies like to try?”

“Oh, I’m sure I couldn’t,” said all the ladies.

“I should like to do it again,” said Simms modestly. “Perhaps you, Sir?”

“All right, I’ll try,” I said.