Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/206

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his left hand on the glowing iron plate, which he also licked with apparent relish, and then stood upon it with his bare feet until it became black. This last exploit filled the air with a faint odor of burned horn. A sword, so sharp that it cut a piece of paper in two when drawn across the edge, was handed to the fakir, who thrust it with all his force against his throat, his breast, and his sides. The sword was then held in a horizontal position about three feet from the ground with the edge upward, by the servant who took hold of the point, which was wrapped in several folds of cloth for the protection of his hand, and by another 'Aïssaui, who held it by the hilt. The fakir placed his hands on the shoulders of the two men and, leaping up barefoot on the edge of the sword, stood there for some seconds. He then stripped and, resting his naked abdomen on the edge of the sword, balanced himself in the air without touching the floor with his feet, the sheik meanwhile pressing down upon the fakir's back with the whole weight of his body. The fakir also thrust a dagger from the inside of his mouth through his cheek, so that the point projected more than an inch. Finally, he took a serpent out of a box, and, after irritating it into fierce anger, let it bite various parts of his person; at last he himself bit off the head of the venomous reptile and devoured nearly half of its body.

Having thus gorged his barbarous appetite, he resumed his dance in the same rapid measure, in which he had finished it, but the movement became gradually slower, and in due time, after kissing the yellow turban of the sheik, he sat down again, "clothed and in his right mind."

Another fakir danced himself into a trance and fed upon snakes and scorpions, apparently relishing this limited but piquant bill of fare. In conclusion, the sheik himself performed the most marvelous feat of all: with the point of a dagger he lifted his right eye out of its socket, so that one could see into the cavity, the cornea assuming a dull, glassy appearance so long as the eye rested on the point of the dagger, but no sooner was it replaced and gently rubbed than it became clear again and seemed to be as serviceable as ever. Several medical and scientific men examined the fakir thoroughly after the performance was over, and unanimously declared that none of these feats left the slightest trace of a wound on any part of his body, nor did they draw a single drop of blood. They furthermore affirmed that, so far as they could discover, no jugglery or sleight of hand was practiced.

That these things actually happened is as conclusively established as the occurrence of any event can be by human and even expert testimony. The literature of the subject is quite voluminous and rapidly increasing in extent, corresponding in this respect