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There were three men and a woman in the room. The men were commonplace as to face, and two of them were commonplace as to clothes. The third wore riding breeches, semi-field boots, and a suede jacket with a tartan lining. The extra-fuzzy polo coat and the sporty tan felt with the green feather which lay on a chair belonged to him also.

The owner of this theatrical outfit was neither a movie actor nor a rich young idler. He was a psychologist, and his name was Harold Shea. Dark, a trifle taller, a little thinner than the average, he would have been handsome if his nose were shorter and his eyes farther apart.

The woman—girl—was a tawny blonde. She was the chief nurse at the Garaden Hospital. She possessed—but did not rejoice in—the name of Gertrude Mugler.

The other two men were psychologists like Shea and members of the same group. The oldest, the director of the others’ activities, was bushy-haired, and named Reed Chalmers. He had just been asking Shea what the devil he meant by coming to work in such conspicuous garb.

Shea said, defensively: “I’m going to ride a horse when I leave this afternoon. Honest.”

“Ever ridden a horse?” asked the remaining member of the group, a large, sleepy-looking young man named Walter Bayard.

“No,” replied Shea, “but it’s about time I learned.”

Walter Bayard snorkled. “What you ought to say is that you’re going to ride a horse so as to have an excuse for looking like something out of Esquire. First there was that phony English accent you put on for a while. Then you took up fencing. Then last winter you smeared the place with patent Norwegian ski-grease, and went skiing just twice.”

“So what?” demanded Shea.

Gertrude Mugler spoke up: “Don’t let them kid you about your clothes, Harold.”

“Thanks, Gert.”

“Personally I think you look sweet in them.”

“Unh.” Shea’s expression was less grateful.

“But you’re foolish to go horseback riding. It’s a useless accomplishment anyway, with automobiles—”

Shea held up a hand. “I’ve got my own reasons, Gert.”

Gertrude looked at her wrist watch. She rose. “I have to go on duty. Don’t do anything foolish, Harold. Remember, you’re taking me to dinner tonight.”



Shea winced. “Gert!”

“So long, everybody,” said Gertrude. She departed in a rustle of starched cotton.

Walter Bayard snickered. “Big he-man. Dutch!”

Shea tried to laugh it off. “I’ve tried to train her not to pull those in public. Anyway she makes more money than I do, and if she’d rather have four dates a week Dutch than two on my budget, why not? She’s a good kid.”

Bayard said: “She thinks you’re the wistful type, Harold. She told the super—”

“She did? Goddamn it. . . .”

Chalmers said: “I cannot see, Harold, why you continue to—uh—keep company with a young woman who irritates you so.”

Shea shrugged. “I suppose it’s because she’s the one not impossible on the staff with whom I’m sure I’ll never do anything irrevocable.”

“While waiting for the dreamgirl?” grinned Bayard. Shea simply shrugged again.

“That’s not it,” said Bayard. “The real reason, Doctor, is that she got the psychological jump on him the first time he took her out. Now he’s afraid to quit.”

“It’s not a matter of being afraid,” snapped Shea. He stood up and his voice rose to a roar of surprising volume: “And furthermore, Walter, I don’t see that it’s any damn business of yours. . . .”

“Now, now, Harold,” said Chalmers. “There’s nothing to be gained by these outbursts. Aren’t you satisfied with your work here?” he asked worriedly.

Shea relaxed. “Why shouldn’t I be? We do about as we damn please, thanks to old man Garaden’s putting that requirement for a psychology institute into his bequest to the hospital. I could use more money, but so could everybody.”

“That’s not the point,” said Chalmers. “These poses of yours and these outbreaks of temper point to an inner conflict, a maladjustment with your environment.”

Shea grinned. “Call it a little suppressed romanticism. I figured it out myself long ago. Look. Walt here spends his time trying to become midwestern tennis champ. What good’ll it do him? And Gert spends hours at the beauty parlor trying to look like a fallen Russian countess, which she’s not built for. Another fixation on the distant romantic. I like to dress up. So what?”

“That’s all right,” Chalmers admitted, “if you don’t start taking your imaginings seriously.”

Bayard put in: “Like thinking dreamgirls exist.” Shea gave him a quick glare.

Chalmers continued: “Oh, well, if you start suffering from—uh—depressions, let me know. Let’s get down to business now.”

Shea asked: “More tests on hopheads?”

“No,” said Chalmers. “We will discuss the latest hypotheses in what we hope will be our new science of paraphysics, and see whether we have not reached the stage where more experimental corroboration is possible.

“I’ve told you how I checked my premise, that the world we live in is composed of impressions received through the senses. But there is an infinity of possible worlds, and if the senses can be attuned to receive a different series of impressions, we should infallibly find ourselves living in a different world. That’s where I got my second check, here at the hospital, in the examination of—uh—dements, mainly paranoiacs. You”—he nodded at Bayard—“set me on the right track with that report on the patient with Korsakov’s psychosis.

“The next step would be to translate this theoretical data into experiment: that is, to determine how to transfer persons and objects from one world into another. Among the dements, the shift is partial and involuntary, with disastrous results to the psyche. When—”

“Just a minute,” interrupted Shea. “Do you mean that a complete shift would actually transfer a man’s body into one of these other worlds?”

“Very likely,” agreed Chalmers, “since the body records whatever sensations the mind permits. For complete demonstration it would be necessary to try it, and I don’t know that the risk would be worth it. The other world might have such different laws that it would be impossible to return.”

Shea asked: “You mean, if the world were that of classical mythology, for instance, the laws would be those of Greek magic instead of modern physics?”

“Precisely. But—”

“Hey!” said Shea. “Then this new science of paraphysics is going to include the natural laws of all these different worlds, and what we call physics is just a special case of paraphysics—”

“Not so fast, young man,” said Chalmers. “For the present, I think it wise to restrict the meaning of our term ‘paraphysics’ to the branch of knowledge that concerns the relationship of these multiple universes to each other, assuming that they actually exist. You will recall that careless use of the analogous term ‘metaphysics’ has resulted in its becoming practically synonymous with ‘philosophy’.”

“Which,” said Shea, “is regarded by some as a kind of scientific knowledge; by others as a land of knowledge outside of science; and by still others as unscientific and therefore not knowledge of any kind.”

“My, my, very neatly put,” said Chalmers, fishing out a little black notebook. “E.T. Bell could not have said it more trenchantly. I shall include that statement of the status of philosophy in my next book.”

“Hey,” said Shea, sitting up sharply, “don’t I even get a commission?”

Chalmers smiled blandly. “My dear Harold, you’re at perfect liberty to write a book of your own; in fact I encourage you.”

Bayard grinned: “Harold would rather play cowboy. When I think of a verbal pearl, I don’t go around casting it promiscuously. I wait till I can use it in print and get paid for it. But to get back to our subject, how would you go about working the shift?”

Chalmers frowned. “I’ll get to that, if you give me time. As I see it, the method consists of filling your mind with the fundamental assumptions of the world in question. Now, what are the fundamental assumptions of our world? Obviously, those of scientific logic.”

“Such as—” said Shea.

“Oh, the principle of dependence, for instance. ‘Any circumstance in which alone a case of the presence of a given phenomenon differs from the case of its absence is causally relevant to that phenomenon.’ ”

“Ouch!” said Shea. “That’s almost as bad as Frege’s definition of number.”

Bayard droned: “The number of things in a given class—’ ”

“Stop it, Walter! It drives me nuts!”

“ ‘—is the class of all classes that are similar to the given class.’ ”

“Hrrm,” remarked Chalmers. “If you gentlemen are through with your joke, I’ll go on. If one of these infinite other worlds—which up to now may be said to exist in a logical but not in an empirical sense—is governed by magic, you might expect to find a principle like that of dependence invalid, but principles of magic, such as the Law of Similarity, valid.”

“What’s the Law of Similarity?” asked Bayard sharply.

“The Law of Similarity may be stated thus: Effects resemble causes. It’s not valid for us, but primitive peoples firmly believe it. For instance, they think you can make it rain by pouring water on the ground with appropriate mumbo jumbo.”

“I didn’t know you could have fixed principles of magic,” commented Shea.

“Certainly,” replied Chalmers solemnly. “Medicine men don’t merely go through hocus-pocus. They believe they are working through natural laws. In a world where everyone firmly believed in these laws, that is, in one where all minds were attuned to receive the proper impressions, the laws of magic would conceivably work, as one hears of witch-doctors’ spells working in Africa today. Frazer and Seabrook have worked out some of these magical laws. Another is the Law of Contagion: Things once in contact continue to interact from a distance after separation. As you—”

Shea snapped his fingers for attention. “Just a second, Doctor. In a world such as you’re conceiving, would the laws of magic work because people believed in them, or would people believe in them because they worked?”

Chalmers put on the smile that always accompanied his intellectual rabbit-punches. “That question, Harold, is, in Russell’s immortal phrase, a meaningless noise.”

“No, you don’t,” said Shea. “That’s the favorite dodge of modem epistemologists: every time you ask them a question they can’t answer, they smile and say you’re making a meaningless noise. I still think it’s a sensible question, and as such deserves a sensible answer.”

“Oh, but it is meaningless,” said Chalmers. “As I can very easily demonstrate, it arises from your attempt to build your—uh—conceptualistic structure on an absolutists rather than a relativistic basis. But I’ll come back to that later. Allow me to continue my exposition.

“As you know, you can build up a self-consistent logic on almost any set of assumptions—”

Bayard opened his half-closed eyes and injected another sharp observation: “Isn’t there a flaw in the structure there, Doctor? Seems to me your hypothesis makes transference to the future possible. We should then become aware of natural laws not yet discovered and inventions not yet made. But the future naturally won’t be ignorant of our method of transference. Therefore we could return to the present with a whole list of new inventions. These inventions, launched into the present, would anticipate the future, and, by anticipating, change it.”

“Very ingenious, Walter,” said Chalmers. “But I’m afraid you overlook something. You might indeed secure transference to a future, but it would not necessarily be the future, the actual future of our own empirico-positivist world. A mental frame of reference is required. That is, we need a complete set of concepts of the physical world, which concepts condition the impressions received by the mind. The concepts of the future will be the product of numerous factors not now known to us. That is—”

“I see,” said Shea. “The frame of reference for the actual future is not yet formed, whereas the frames of reference for all past worlds are fixed.”

“Precisely. I would go beyond that. Transference to any world exhibiting such a fixed pattern is possible, but to such worlds only. That is, one could secure admission to any of H.G. Wells’ numerous futures. We merely choose a series of basic assumptions. In the case of the actual future we are ignorant of the assumptions.

“But speculative extrapolation from our scanty supply of facts has already carried us—uh—halfway to Cloud-Cuckooland. So let us return to our own time and place and devote ourselves to the development of an experimental technique wherewith to attack the problems of para-physics.

“To contrive a vehicle for transposition from one world to another, we face the arduous task of extracting from the picture of such a world as that of the Iliad its basic assumptions, and expressing these in logical form—”

Shea interrupted: “In other words, building us a syllogismobile?”

Chalmers looked vexed for an instant, then laughed. “A very pithy way of expressing it, Harold. You are wasting your talents, as I have repeatedly pointed out, by not publishing more. I suggest, however, that the term ‘syllogismobile’ be confined for the present to discussions among us members of the Garaden Institute. When the time comes to try to impress our psychological colleagues with the importance of paraphysics, a somewhat more dignified mode of expression will be desirable.”


Harold Shea lay on his bed, smoked, and thought. He smoked expensive English cigarettes, not because he liked them especially, but because it was part of his pattern of affectation to smoke something unusual. He thought about Chalmers’ lecture.

It would no doubt be dangerous, as Chalmers had warned. But Shea was getting unutterably bored with life. Chalmers was able but stuffy; if brilliance and dullness could be combined in one personality, Reed Chalmers combined them. While in theory all three members of the Institute were researchers, in practice the two subordinates merely collected facts and left to the erudite Doctor the fun of assembling them and generalizing from them.

Of course, thought Shea, he did get some fun out of his little poses, but they were a poor substitute for real excitements. He liked wearing his new breeches and boots, but riding a horse had been an excruciating experience. It also had none of the imaginary thrill of swinging along in a cavalry charge, which he had half-unconsciously promised himself. All he got was the fact that his acquaintances thought him a nut. Let ’em; he didn’t care.

But he was too good a psychologist to deceive himself long or completely. He did care. He wanted to make a big impression, but he was one of those unfortunates who adopt a method that produces the effect opposite to the one they want.

Hell, he thought, no use introspecting myself into the dumps. Chalmers says it’ll work. The old bore misses fire once in a while, like the time he tried to psychoanalyze the cleaning woman and she thought he was proposing marriage. But that was an error of technique, not of general theory. Chalmers was sound enough on theory, and he had already warned of dangers in the practical application in this case.

Yes. If he said that one could transport oneself to a different place and time by formula, it could be done. The complete escape from—well, from insignificance, Shea confessed to himself. He would be the Columbus of a new kind of journey!

Harold Shea got up and began to pace the floor, excited by the trend of his own thoughts. To explore—say the world of the Iliad. Danger: one might not be able to get back. Especially not, Shea told himself grimly, if one turned out to be one of those serf soldiers who died by thousands under the gleaming walls of Troy.

Not the Iliad. The Slavic twilight? No; too full of man-eating witches and werewolves. Ireland! That was it—the Ireland of Cuchulinn and Queen Maev. Blood there, too, but what the hell, you can’t have adventure without some danger. At least, the dangers were reasonable open-eye stuff you could handle. And the girls of that world—they were something pretty slick by all description.


It is doubtful whether Shea’s colleagues noticed any change in his somewhat irregular methods of working. They would hardly have suspected him of dropping Havelock Ellis for the Ulster and Fenian legendary cycles with which he was conditioning his mind for the attempted “trip.” If any of them, entering his room suddenly, had come on a list with many erasures, which included a flashlight, a gun, and mercurochrome, they would merely have supposed that Shea intended to make a rather queer sort of camping expedition.

And Shea was too secretive about his intentions to let anyone see the equipment he selected: A Colt .38 revolver with plenty of ammunition, a stainless-steel hunting knife—they ought to be able to appreciate metal like that, he told himself—a flashlight, a box of matches to give him a reputation as a wonder worker, a notebook, a Gaelic dictionary, and, finally, the Boy Scout Handbook, edition of 1926, as the easiest source of ready reference for one who expected to live in the open air and in primitive society.

Shea went home after a weary day of asking questions of neurotics, and had a good dinner. He put on the almost-new riding clothes and strapped over his polo coat a shoulder pack to hold his kit. He put on the hat with the green feather, and sat down at his desk. There, on sheets of paper spread before him, were the logical equations, with their little horseshoes, upside-down Ts, and identity signs.

His scalp prickled a trifle as he gazed at them. But what the hell! Stand by for adventure and romance! He bent over, giving his whole attention to the formulas, trying not to focus on one spot, but to apprehend the whole:

“If P equals not-Q, Q implies not-P, which is equivalent to saying either P or Q or neither, but not both. But if not-P is not implied by not-Q, the counter-implicative form of the proposition—”

There was nothing but six sheets of paper. Just that, lying in two neat rows of three sheets, with perhaps half an inch between them. There should be strips of table showing between them. But there was nothing—nothing.

“The full argument thus consists in an epicheirematic syllogism in Barbara, the major premise of which is not the conclusion of an enthymeme, though the minor premise of which may or may not be the conclusion of a non-Aristotelian sorites—”

The papers were still there, but overlaying the picture of those six white rectangles was a whirl of faint spots of color. All the colors of the spectrum were represented, he noted with the back of his mind, but there was a strong tendency toward violet. Round and round they went—round—and round—

“If either P or Q is true or (Q or R) is true then either Q is true or (P or R) is false—”

Round and round—He could hear nothing at all. He had no sense of heat or cold, or of the pressure of the chair seat against him. There was nothing but millions of whirling spots of color.

Yes, he could feel temperature now. He was cold. There was sound, too, a distant whistling sound, like that of a wind in a chimney. The spots were fading into a general grayness. There was a sense of pressure, also, on the soles of his feet. He straightened his legs—yes, standing on something. But everything around him was gray—and bitter cold, with a wind whipping the skirts of his coat around him.

He looked down. His feet were there all right—hello, feet, pleased to meet you. But they were fixed in grayish-yellow mud which had squelched up in little ridges around them. The mud belonged to a track, only two feet wide. On both sides of it the gray-green of dying grass began. On the grass large flakes of snow were scattered, dandruffwise. More were coming, visible as dots of darker gray against the background of whirling mist, swooping down long parallel inclines, growing and striking the path with the tiniest ts. Now and then one spattered against Shea’s face.

He had done it. The formula worked!

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